Monday, July 18, 2011

Open Government Initiative

The Open Government Partnership is a new global effort to make governments better. We all want more transparent, effective and accountable governments -- with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations. But this work is never easy.

It takes political leadership. It takes technical knowledge. It takes sustained effort and investment. It takes collaboration between governments and civil society.

The Open Government Partnership is a new multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. 

In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee of eight governments and nine civil society organizations.

To become a member of OGP, participating countries must embrace a high-level Open Government Declaration; deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation; and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward.

Secretary Clinton and Brazilian Foreign Minister Patriota opened a day-long event at the State Department on July 12 with almost 60 nations and more than 60 civil society organizations in attendance. Representatives discussed best practices in open government through interactive panels, issue framing sessions, and idea sprints. 

Also was launched the Open Government Portal that will serve as the primary repository for all OGP country action plans.  The initiative will formally launch in September.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Low Income Countries Shrink to 35 from 63

The World Bank did its annual assessment of poor countries last week (link here). Low-income countries are those with average gross national incomes (GNIs) of less than $1,005 per person per year. And there are only 35 of them remaining out of the countries and economies that the World Bank tracks. That's down from 63 in 2000.

Each year on July 1 the World Bank revises its classification of the world’s economies based on estimates of gross national income (GNI) per capita for the previous year. Income classifications on the country pages of the Open Data site and regional and income group aggregates in the World Development Indicators, Global Development Finance, and other databases will be revised accordingly at the time of their next scheduled release.

The updated GNI per capita estimates are also used as input to the World Bank’s operational classification of economies, which determines their lending eligibility. The new listing of all economies included in the World Bank’s databases and their regional and income classifications can be found here.

Further analysis exploring how the countries have moved from poverty by Charles Kenny and Andy Sumner in The Guardian.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Millenium Development Goal - Progress 2011

MDG #1
The UN recently issued the 2011 report on the progress toward achievement of MD Goals toward 2015. The 78 page report is linked here.

The executive summary details progress along all the focus on efforts. The report also says that net aid to poor countries in 2010 was — at $128.7 billion — the "highest level of real aid ever recorded, and an increase of 6.5 per cent in real terms over 2009." 

But, of course, this was not enough since — by representing only 0.32 per cent of developed countries' combined national income, it fell far short of the UN target of 0.7 per cent.  It is a question whether successful development comes from money transfers to developing countries through aid programs or whether there is better success from conditions for national wealth creation from business and markets.

Supporting this conflicting viewpoint, as detailed in an interesting analysis by Steven Edwards of the Vancouver Sun: "Without too much fanfare, the United Nations admits in its newest report on the progress of the so-called Millennium Development Goals that wealth creation and not wealth redistribution is the main driver behind reduced levels of extreme poverty around the world".

In any case, with the two approaches working in parallel, evidence does indicate movement toward goal achievement.