This post was written by Deidre Huntington, Communications Program Officer at the International Budget Partnership.
In June the IBP was a panelist in The Guardian’s Global Development Professional Network’s live chat that sought to answer two questions: 1) what does transparency that leads to accountability look like? and 2) how do you build capacity for effective transparency? Representing the IBP in the discussion was Paolo de Renzio, who joined other key players in the budget transparency field to tackle these questions. The ensuing chat identified 20 prerequisites for transparency along with ideas on which transparency efforts ultimately produce the best development outcomes. Some common themes among the participant’s ideas about how to promote transparency included the need for a legal framework to both enable citizens to seek information and compel governments to provide it; the important role of an independent, free media in publishing information and keeping the pressure on decision makers, and the need for collaboration between governments and citizens. However, as came up in this discussion and as seen in recent research, budget transparency alone is insufficient for achieving positive development outcomes; access to information must be paired with opportunities for civil society and members of the public to participate in budget processes. As Paolo pointed out “being, or becoming, transparent requires efforts and skills on the side of governments, and using available information requires efforts and skills on the side of civil society and citizens more generally. Both are equally important and deserve support.” The full summary of the chat can be found on The Guardian’s website.