The adoption of SDG16’s governance targets in Agenda 2030 marked a breakthrough moment in the fight for increased government transparency and accountability. Four years into implementation, progress reports indicate that progress towards this goal is disappointing. The upcoming UN High-Level Policy Forum (HLPF) meetings in July and September 2019 will discuss what can and should be done to accelerate progress.
One promising, but underutilized, avenue for enhancing governance is civil society action to supplement government efforts. PTF has just released Expanding Civil Society Contributions to the Governance Agendas of Sustainable Development Goals and International Financial Institutions as a resource to understand the potential contribution of civil society and provide recommendations for how it can be realized. The report examines the various roles CSOs play in improving government transparency, accountability and inclusiveness and controlling corruption, reviewing the evidence on what works and what does not. It presents analysis and evidence-driven recommendations to accelerate progress.
In particular, the report highlights the role that International Financial Institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank, can play in accelerating progress towards SDG16 governance goals through the expansion of CSO led good governance programs. They are uniquely positioned to do so as they: (i) have pledged to support SDGs; (ii) have adopted targets of their own for more transparent, accountable, participatory government; (iii) have commendable policies to engage citizens and civil society in the billions of dollars of funding for projects they fund; and (iv) can influence government policies and programs through policy dialogue and demonstration effects. However, the IFIs performance in this area is also below potential for a variety of internal and external reasons.
The report makes specific recommendations for accelerating IFI contributions. These recommendations are aimed at IFIs to do more to expand citizen/CSO engagement and philanthropic organizations and bilateral donors to fund CSOs to influence and monitor IFIs actions in this area.
PTF committed to produce this report as a partner in the Transparency, Accountability and Participation (TAP) Network of hundreds of CSOs from all over the world. The main messages of the report, according to the lead author Vinay Bhargava, are:
“Progress in achieving good governance targets of SDG16 and IFIs can be accelerated significantly by expanding CSO led programs for increasing government transparency, accountability, inclusiveness and controlling corruption. Such an expansion will require supportive actions and funding from philanthropy, international NGOs, bilateral donors and IFIs. This report provides seven specific recommendations for their consideration.”