From a development perspective, accountability and transparency have been steadily growing in political importance. Development stakeholders, both providers and recipients, want improved transparency to ensure better trust, planning, predictability and evidence to assess progress towards targets. A number of initiatives have emerged in recent years to promote and support transparency, ranging from the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)17.78, the Open Government Partnership17.79, to the G8 group of countries’ Open Data Charter17.80. Target 17.16 builds on these developments and promotes both mutual partnerships and transparency between partner countries.
The Inter-agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDG) selected the
Number of countries reporting progress in multi-stakeholder development effectiveness monitoring frameworks that support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals as the indicator for this target. Two global monitoring frameworks17.81 have emerged over the past 10 or 15 years to try and measure, both from a quantitative and qualitative perspective, the extent to which developing countries are utilizing monitoring frameworks to support and improve development outcomes.
As part of the OECD/UNDP Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) monitoring framework, indicator 7 -
Mutual accountability among cooperation actors is strengthened through inclusive reviews is measured using the indicator
Proportion of countries that undertake inclusive mutual assessments of progress17.82 in implementing agreed commitments and meet at least four of the five proposed criteria. A country is considered to have a
mutual assessment of progress in place when at least four out of the five criteria are met17.83.
GPEDC (2015) report that of the 46 countries reporting in 2013, only 27 (or 59 per cent) reported having a mutual assessment review in place. The proportion of countries reporting having aid/partnership policies17.84 and country level targets17.85 was higher at 70 per cent and 72 per cent, respectively. A joint assessment of these targets was undertaken in 30 countries (or 65 per cent). Involving non-executive stakeholders and publishing results in a timely manner proved more challenging, with only around half of the countries delivering (figure 17.26). Regarding transparency, the report notes that while transparency is improving, high-level political commitment needs to trickle down through cooperation providers’ systems and procedures to allow truly transparent and predictable cooperation, where information is geared towards supporting developing countries’ own planning needs and activities.
In addition to the GPEDC monitoring framework, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) jointly conducts a complementary biennial global survey on national mutual accountability (MA) on behalf of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - mutual accountability survey. The third Global Accountability Survey17.86 was conducted during 2013-2014 and exploits a number of synergies with the measurement of indicator 7 of the GPEDC monitoring framework. The survey covers six broad areas of accountability17.87. A total of 43 countries responded to the survey at the time of preparing the report.
ECOSOC’s overall assessment is that mutual accountability is still a work in progress but is evolving in a positive direction (ECOSOC, 2012). More than half of the recipient countries (53 per cent) assessed their strength of MA at national level to be moderate, with a further 31 per cent assessing MA as high or completely achieved (figure 17.27). The majority of recipient countries believed that they have seen progress in mutual accountability since 2005. Thirty-eight per cent rated the progress as good or very good, while 43 per cent rated progress as moderate. Around a fifth of countries (19 per cent) believed that there was little or no progress in mutual accountability in their countries.
While these monitoring frameworks are useful in showing how the indicator may be measured, for the moment they focus on a too narrow range of development partners and stakeholders. To address the universal scope of the Sustainable Development Goals, the increasing role and contribution of South-South cooperation must be incorporated into these measures. Southern partners potentially have a significant impact on development cooperation at national level, yet in many instances they do not participate in formal mutual accountability structures at national level. While it is understood that the nature of South-South cooperationThe term signifies a broad framework for collaboration among countries of the South in the political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains.
more is different to traditional donor aid, it is nevertheless important that southern partners cooperate with national coordination and measurement mechanisms. Private philanthropic and private sector forms of development cooperation must also be integrated. The OECD/UNDP report also highlights the need for more investment in strengthening national monitoring, reporting and evaluation capacity (OECD and UNDP, 2014).