“Transparency has the potential to transform the effectiveness of aid spending,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at a recent CGD event co-hosted with Publish What You Fund to launch its 2016 Aid Transparency Index. The ranking covers 46 donors who account for 95% of official development assistance between them, and is regarded as the leading measure of the state of aid transparency.

The furor over the Panama Papers is a good illustration of how greater transparency is demanded much more these of our leaders and the decisions they make with their own money and ours.

And transparency is particularly important in making progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. With better access to information, developing countries can make smarter decisions about where to invest scarce resources; local organizations can track progress and hold decision makers to account; rich country taxpayers can know more about how aid money is spent; and policymakers can understand what works and what doesn’t.

 

For the second year running, UNDP comes out at the top of the index – and in this week's CGD Podcast, Publish What You Fund’s CEO Rupert Simons says that generally, we understand more clearly who gives what to whom and why.

“Approximately a quarter of all aid worldwide is now fully transparent,” he says. But that also means that the other three quarters are not: 

 

The top ten list, Simons tells me, “incorporates organizations with offices in hundreds of countries around the world, organizations of all shapes and sizes, delivering aid in all sorts of different ways.” And that, he says, “undoubtedly proves that full transparency is possible in aid and development.”

But publishing data won’t bring about change on its own. To achieve the global goals, we also need to change the way policymakers think about and use that information. “We’ve got a global movement to publish [data],” Simons tells me in the clip below, but “we don’t see a global movement for data use yet.”

“We need global partnerships of data users, and not just of data producers.”