Lisa Ann Elges of Task Force coordinating committee member Transparency International praised the latest draft of the G20′s “Future We Want” document on Monday for including a goal of anti-corruption. Indeed, as climate change becomes a greater problem that requires mobilization of finances, the current level of corruption will threaten any form of assistance, aid, and prevention.
After the 2009 cyclone Aila, for instance, Khadija Begum of Bangladesh complained to Transparency International that the builders constructing her new home, financed by foreign aid, sold the iron and concrete they were given and, instead, constructed a wall-less home of tin and sand. Elges worries that the estimated $100 billion required annually for battling climate change by 2020 will have a comparable effect if finances are not protected.
Climate finance flows need to be made visible and understandable. At present, data is hard to come by and difficult to compare. A 2011 study by Publish What You Fund spotlighted bewilderingly low standards of aid information provided by donors. The only data found on one of France’s top aid recipients, Cote d’Ivoire, was about a project commemorating thirty years of research on chimpanzees. Information provided by Austria purported that the fourth largest recipient of funding from the country’s aid agency was the government of Austria.
When money arrives in-country, strangleholds on access to information can make it hard to track. Our national chapters in Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico and Peru have been attempting to map out climate finance spending in their countries. Beyond the path the money takes, they want to know who’s managing it, who decides how it’s spent, and who’s checking that it’s achieving what it should. In some cases, these questions are unanswerable; either the information isn’t documented or the public isn’t privy to it.
Governments gathered in Rio this week can take a first step to achieving sustainable development by opening up their books to public scrutiny. The International Aid Transparency Initiative will show them how; it’s a laudable initiative aimed at standardising aid data so as to ensure that it’s detailed, timely, comparable and trackable over time. Climate finance should figure here too.
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Disclaimer: Unless specifically stated to be the views of the Task Force, the opinions expressed on this blog are solely the opinions of the individual blogger and are not necessarily those of the Task Force on Financial Integrity & Economic Development.