NGO Accountability:  The GRI NGO Sector Supplement <ul><li>2010 Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transpar...
Overview of presentation <ul><li>Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Brief overvie...
Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability <ul><li>Upward accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily re...
Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability <ul><li>Holistic accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multidirec...
Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability <ul><li>Holistic accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multidirec...
Overview of NGO Sector Supplement <ul><li>Launched earlier today </li></ul><ul><li>Supplement to GRI G3 guidelines </li></...
Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights <ul><li>GRI NGO Sector Supplement is very welcome </li></ul><ul...
Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights :  areas for future development  <ul><li>Greater clarification ...
Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights:  areas for future development <ul><li>Restricting  scope of NG...
Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights :  areas for future development  <ul><li>Performance indicators...
Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights :  areas for future development  <ul><li>Greater clarity on  so...
Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights :  areas for future development  <ul><li>If  diversity  is a ke...
Conclusions <ul><li>What is the likely impact of the GRI NGO sector supplement on NGO accountability in developing country...
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GRI Conference - 27 May- Unerman - NGO Accountability

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GRI Conference - 27 May- Unerman - NGO Accountability

  1. 1. NGO Accountability: The GRI NGO Sector Supplement <ul><li>2010 Amsterdam Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency </li></ul><ul><li>Academic conference presentation by Jeffrey Unerman </li></ul><ul><li>Thursday 27 May 2010 </li></ul>
  2. 2. Overview of presentation <ul><li>Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Brief overview of GRI NGO Sector Supplement </li></ul><ul><li>Comparison of sector supplement provisions with insights from academic research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Suggestions of areas for future development in next version of Sector Supplement </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability <ul><li>Upward accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily relates to efficiency of aid deployment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tends to comprise rigidly formatted accounts to funders </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Downward accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily relates to effectiveness of aid deployment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires accountability dialogue to understand needs and context of beneficiaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>And to understand the impacts of programmes in practice on beneficiaries </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability <ul><li>Holistic accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multidirectional accountability to all stakeholders impacted by NGO’s policies and practices </li></ul></ul>Donors/funders Beneficiaries Stakeholders impacting Stakeholders impacted NGO Upward accountability Downward accountability Holistic accountability
  5. 5. Key insights from academic research on NGO accountability <ul><li>Holistic accountability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multidirectional accountability to all stakeholders impacted by NGO’s policies and practices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Appropriate accountability mechanisms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Suited to each type of stakeholder </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That are not so onerous they compromise viability of the NGO </li></ul></ul>Donors/funders Beneficiaries Stakeholders impacting Stakeholders impacted NGO Upward accountability Downward accountability Holistic accountability
  6. 6. Overview of NGO Sector Supplement <ul><li>Launched earlier today </li></ul><ul><li>Supplement to GRI G3 guidelines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Needs to be read in conjunction with G3 guidelines </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tailors several of the G3 guidelines and indicators to make them appropriate for NGOs </li></ul><ul><li>Introduces new ‘set’ of indicators to cover program effectiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Applies to a broad range of NGOs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly encompassing development and advocacy activities </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights <ul><li>GRI NGO Sector Supplement is very welcome </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It has clearly been very carefully and thoroughly drawn up </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It clarifies a range of NGO responsibilities and the need to practice holistic accountability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Accountability to donors/funders </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Various roles of downward accountability in enhancing effectiveness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Broader economic, social and environmental impacts of NGO operations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>As a 1 st version it is probably about as advanced and comprehensive as is practical </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perhaps subsequent versions might be able to go a little further as concerns among some NGOs dissipate in light of experience of implementing this version </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights : areas for future development <ul><li>Greater clarification of role and meaning of stakeholders </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Stakeholders for whom report is compiled and stakeholders in NGO’s activities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Introduction to Sector Supplement (along with G3 guidelines) notes a range of possible audiences for report, including affected stakeholders </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Affected stakeholders are focus of downward accountability processes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Affected stakeholders covers beneficiaries but also includes “those individuals, communities or causes that may intentionally or unintentionally be impacted positively or negatively by the work of the organization, and to whom specific accountability duties arise” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This broad definition could lead to significant differences in practice between affected stakeholders recognised/prioritized by different NGOs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Thus impacting cross-NGO comparability in reporting, and demoting key role of responsibility and accountability to beneficiaries </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So may need more detailed guidance on different types of stakeholders </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights: areas for future development <ul><li>Restricting scope of NGOs to whom Sector Supplement applies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduction explains that while Sector Supplement primarily applies to large & medium NGOs, it could be used by any NGO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Need to discourage small NGOs from engaging in inappropriate forms of accountability that could require disproportionate resources </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>IE: for many NGOs, costs of formal reporting might far outweigh benefits (of self reflection, benchmarking etc) to society and stakeholders of formal reporting </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights : areas for future development <ul><li>Performance indicators for program effectiveness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These cover key areas that should, for example, encourage downward accountability, feedback mechanisms etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But the indicators focus on reporting about systems/mechanisms rather then reporting the substance of the outcomes of these mechanisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is intentional, as introduction states that the Sector Supplement ‘is not intended for reporting on the actual findings of these processes. NGOs should report on such findings elsewhere’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But it is at variance with most GRI G3 indicators </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This seems to be a missed opportunity for seeking to ensure consistency in reporting of actual program effectiveness – a crucial issue </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It also seems inconsistent with other parts of the Sector Supplement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>EG: Environment states ‘where environmental protection is a primary focus of the NGO’s program activity … more detailed information [should] be provided under … Program Effectiveness’ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights : areas for future development <ul><li>Greater clarity on sources of reporting demands </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, in discussing overarching governance issues, the Sector Supplement states: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Transparency of the governance process … is seen to be of particular importance by [an] NGO’s key stakeholders. It is the expectation of stakeholders that NGO decision-makers ensure that their organization reflects the diversity of the society in which they operate …’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who are these ‘key stakeholders’? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Who has decided which are the key stakeholders? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data should be provided to more precisely support assertions of this nature </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Risks of imprecise data on credibility of whole process (eg: Climategate) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Comparison of NGO Sector Supplement with academic insights : areas for future development <ul><li>If diversity is a key issue, then the Sector Supplement could be more robust and comprehensive in its definition of diversity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At present defined as </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ diversity of all types (gender, ethnicity, age, etc.)’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This lack of a comprehensive list could enable an NGO to avoid addressing other areas of diversity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Such as disability, religion and sexual orientation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some of these issues might be challenging for some NGOs – especially religiously based NGOs, but are nevertheless important so should be spelt out in the Sector Supplement </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Conclusions <ul><li>What is the likely impact of the GRI NGO sector supplement on NGO accountability in developing country contexts? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Based on above analysis, the Sector Supplement is likely to be a major factor in advancing downward and holistic accountability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It sets appropriate expectations for reporting on these issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reporting generates awareness and focuses attention </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It seems pitched about right to get broad buy-in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But there are some issues that should be bourn in mind for further development in subsequent revisions of the NGO Sector Supplement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not least: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>greater clarity on: scope of stakeholders, scope of NGOs expected to report, demands for reporting, and definition of diversity; </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>reporting on substance as well as mechanisms in program effectiveness </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>

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