The Addis agenda stresses the importance of transparency. In the realm of data, transparency is particularly important in order to help users access the best possible data for decision-making at all levels from the household to the State. Country needs assessments for improving data capacities are important to enabling better data provision and utilisation.
Many UN Member States are making efforts to establish national reporting platforms for SDG data. Efforts are also ongoing to provide technical assistance to such efforts in developing countries.
There has been a strong surge in the total number of organisations publishing data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard. The total now stands at over 500, an increase by more than one third from 350 in late 2015. During the same period, publishers have significantly expanded the volume of activities they publish, with spending of US$146 billion reported to IATI in 2016, rising from US$78 billion in 2015. Timeliness of reporting has improved, with 96 per cent of the data (US$140 billion) reported by publishers updating their data at least every quarter - increasing from 80 per cent in 2015; 48 per cent of data is provided by publishers updating their data at least every month - rising from 41 per cent in 2015.
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Donors have significantly increased the amount of forward-looking budget data they publish. In late 2015 published forward-looking data on planned international development cooperation expenditure rose to US$126 billion for 2017 and 2018. These improvements by publishers are helping to meet partner country requests for more timely and forward-looking data and making the data more valuable for a broad range of stakeholders. Different means of accessing and using IATI data are becoming available at country level, with systems providers beginning to include modules for importing IATI data directly into national Aid Information Management Systems. As the volume of good quality reliable data increases, partner country members of IATI such as Bangladesh, Liberia, Madagascar, Myanmar and others are now able to use the data to inform reporting and budgeting. National representatives also use it to learn more about projects reported in their constituencies not just by bilateral and multilateral donors, but also by international and national NGOs, foundations and increasingly – private sector organisations.
Also referred to as the right to information, transparency is a fundamental attribute of the freedom of expression. The freedom to seek, receive and impart information is specified in international human rights treaties. The United Nations Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics state that statistics play a fundamental role in the information system of a democratic society, and beyond serving the Government and the economy, in honouring a population’s entitlement to public information. Access to data and reports by the general public and civil society organizations is essential to the realization of the right to information, and the monitoring and realization of human rights more generally.
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The legal, institutional and policy frameworks under which national chief statisticians and statistical systems operate should be publicly available. This helps ensure trust in the statistical information produced. They should be available and standardized, as relevant, across data collectors and data collection instruments. Doing so facilitates accessibility, interpretation and trust.