October 24, 2014 – World Development Information Day is about drawing attention to international development issues and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them. It is about building greater awareness of the issues—awareness that ultimately leads to support for international development efforts. In Canada we have seen this clearly many times: after the earthquake in Haiti and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and now with the Ebola crisis in Africa. Canadians want to help. They read, they watch television coverage, they become informed—and they respond. Such is the power of information sharing: it helps to mobilize us to help those most in need.
World Development Information Day is also about making sure that aid is effective, transparent and accountable.
But why is aid transparency—having access to information on priorities, objectives, funding and results—important? For developing-country governments, improving transparency means knowing how much aid is coming in, which helps them to allocate resources more efficiently, and plan and implement more effective policies and programs to reduce poverty. For donors and development agencies, transparency makes it easier to coordinate efforts and ensure that our aid is effective. For citizens of developing countries, it means being able to hold their governments to account; for citizens of donor countries, it means understanding how their tax dollars are being used to improve the lives of people in developing countries.
Canada has a long-standing commitment to ensuring aid transparency and accountability. Canada promotes greater openness and accountability through, for example, Open Data, which offers government data on international assistance in a useful, machine-readable format. Since 2004, Canada has published an online database of international development projects: the Project Browser. As a member of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) since 2011, Canada is committed to making information about aid investments and spending easier to access, use and understand. Canada now publishes information on more than 3,200 development assistance projects to IATI, and is committed to publishing an increasing range of data. In its 2014 Aid Transparency Index, Publish What You Fund, an independent advocacy group that works to promote aid transparency, ranked Canada as the fourth most transparent bilateral donor in the world and highlighted a nearly 10-percent increase in Canada’s transparency score compared to its 2013 result.
Accountability for how we spend our international development dollars is key to achieving meaningful results for people in developing countries. It means improving how we monitor and evaluate our aid programs, measuring and analyzing the results we are achieving, and building knowledge and lessons learned to inform future aid programs. Being accountable also means providing good information to Canadians. The Government of Canada regularly informs Canadians about its international development plans, activities and results through the Development for Results report, for example, which shows Canadians how their tax dollars are making a difference for the world’s poorest people.
Canadians can be confident that we are investing international development dollars wisely, transparently and in an accountable way to improve the lives of people in the poorest countries around the world.
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie