Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Speech Maarten Brouwer at Open Data for Development Camp, May 2011, Amsterdam


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Speech Maarten Brouwer at Open Data for Development Camp, May 2011, Amsterdam

  1. 1. Speech Maarten BrouwerOpen Data Development Camp 13 mei KIT Amsterdam[intro]Ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honour to be here and speak in front of such a specialaudience. I must say, I have spoken at conferences before. But this must be the most creativeand dynamic set of people I have ever addressed. Your energy and ideas are of greatimportance to the development sector. And what we have seen in the past few days hassurpassed all my expectations. I am more convinced than ever that ‘Open Data’ is the wayforward for us as DGIS of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and that it offers enormousopportunities.[Context: aid is criticized]People in the Netherlands are critical about aid. It is interesting to ask ourselves why that isso. Some people believe we achieve no results. Others believe aid is not provided efficiently.Some even argue that aid has detrimental effects. Big words as waste of money, feedingcorruption and exploiting dependency are being used. Certainly there may be instances thatsuch criticism is justified. We would al welcome the thought that such negative connotationscould be avoided. I do not know of any public or private engagement that is free from the riskof bad intentions, risk that materialise and sloppy management. But such reasoning is notenough to counter the criticism on aid. The line of thought is too defensive, too protective ofsuspected interests behind the giving of aid. The more criticism, the more defensive andclosed the world of aid may become. It is a natural reaction, but the wrong one.[Lack of transparency leads to lack of coordination….]Let’s look at that issue a bit closer. The Netherlands sometimes scores poorly on transparencyof our aid flows. One reason is the important role Dutch NGO’s play in delivering our aid,amounting to a quarter of our aid. Such aid, provided lump sum, is flowing through amultitude of organisations that are often unknown to the taxpayer. Another is the allocation offunds to big multilateral organisations. Those are often regarded as machineries producingmeetings and documents, i.e. bureaucracies of gold standard but not delivering concreteresults. And for bilateral cooperation, a third reason can be found in the wealth of informationabout promises, about funds made available without a clear understanding of benefits that are 1
  2. 2. produced. Three channels for aid delivery that are very much under suspicion. A fourth, theprivate for profit sector, has been under suspicion for a long time, but seems to have restoredits credibility. Four channels of delivery each with big problems in coordination. Thecoordination between the channels is even more difficult. The solution should be with thefinal recipients. They should be able to see how the inputs translate into real benefits.[….and undermines budgetary processes]When the minister of Finance of Rwanda calls our ambassador in Kigali to ask how muchmoney the Netherlands is giving to his country and how much we will give next year, theambassador is unable to give a decent answer. That is because the ambassador does not havean overview of total Dutch ODA spent in that country. Each channel has its own rational, itsown organisational model and its own communication. An overview is simply not available.So how should the Rwandan minister be able to provide the wanted overview of inputs andbenefits? As said, this is so by design, but we are increasingly realizing that this is a problem.It is a problem for us, in terms of understanding, and reporting results of all Dutch ODA. Forthe ambassador, in terms of having an overview of Dutch aid flows. But, most important of allit is a problem for the Rwandan minister of Finance who needs to plan his budget for thecoming year.[Open Data is part of Aid Effectiveness – Busan]This is the sort of issue that is discussed at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. Thesehave taken place in Accra in 2008 and will take place in Busan in December this year.Developing Countries want to be much better informed of what aid they receive when andwhere. So donors as well as NGOs need to be much more transparent and their aid bettercoordinated. We believe that this is important. And that is why we expressed strong politicalcommitment to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) at its foundation threeyears ago. And we plan to deliver along that commitment. We plan not just to unveil wherethe money goes, but publish our data using the internationally agreed IATI standards. At thesame time, donors want to be much better informed about results. So partner countries, localNGO’s, institutions need to get their systems up and running. They need to really becomeowner of the development process, be proud of achievements and communicate them into thepublic arena. Two parties, both putting their claims forward. And it is not all: both partiesalso have a clear interest in improving quality of aid, of cooperation. Both parties need to findnew ways to connect with new players from a diversity of backgrounds. Development itself is 2
  3. 3. an outcome of underlying processes of forced and unforced change. Co-creation can help tofacilitate such processes. Openness that will allow for co-creation needs to be encouraged.[Making the DGIS commitment explicit….]In October 2011 the Netherlands will deliver on phase one of its IATI commitment. AfterUK, the Netherlands will than be the second donor to publish actual data. During this phasemostly general data on activities will be made available such as the name of the activity,general purpose, implementing agency, recipient country, sectoral characteristics etc. Thiswill entail all activites, some 3000 in all. Data will be updated every 3 months. In the secondphase, as from October, data that are currently not generically available such as progressreports, evaluations, strategic plans, forward looking financial figures and results informationneed to be made available for publication. A decision to enter into the second phase Ianticipated for February 2012.[it is about linking the data to improve coordination and national planning]And we are of course excited that so many Dutch NGOs are equally keen to publish their datafollowing the internationally agreed IATI standards. Because that opens up hugeopportunities. It will make it possible to link aid information systems, providing overviews ofwhere our aid goes where and when. And this is not just to enable the Minister of Financethere about how much money he can expect from the Netherlands in the coming years so thathe can start planning.[Examples of what we have seen in the past few days]Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend as much of this Open Data Camp as I wouldhave liked. But I understand a number of issues have come up. (1) Alexander Kohnstam of Partos, representing Dutch Development NGOs, started out by saying that Open Data is about knowledge. (2) AKVO then followed by stating that development work is invisible and that it needs to go online. This requires a online platform to communicate the data, add context, stories, and voices to our programmes. Their pilot using data from our Ministry shows what such a platform could look like. (3) As we heard that the IATI registry is being filled with data, the question was raised: who will use these data? The answer came quickly from the representative from 3
  4. 4. Kenya: WE ALREADY DO!, he said. And this was repeated when we talked to Sam from Nai-lab (via Skype) who requested participants to provide more data. (4) The World Bank emphasised the importance of feedback loops of citizens to service providers following the concept of the World Development Report of 2004 of which I am a great fan. We saw the Kibera community map and they made us realise that ICT innovations including mobile phones makes it much easier to engage communities in the design and monitoring of programmes. It provides poor communities with a voice! And is that not what development is about? We need Apps for Development stores and to better enable academics, ICT specialists and NGOS to help with further development of these tools. The NAI-lab in Nairobi you saw is a very good example of this (5) There were many more interesting discussions. Including about IATI and that it shouldn’t just be about aid, that links to national budgets are essential.[Open data should be also about involving beneficiaries in project monitoring]Opening up aid data using agreed standards will also make it possible to develop applicationsthat present project portfolios online in an attractive and accessible fashion. An example is theapplication developed by AKVO presented yesterday. It enables implementing agencies toadd information on implementation progress of their own programmes and results. Mostinteresting of all are the community feedback mechanisms that AKVO has developed. Thisenables beneficiaries to comment on progress of projects and programmes and add visualsusing their mobile phones. This provides a whole new dimension to monitoring. This is not adream. We can make this a reality if we want to. But it implies that all donors and NGOsshould where possible follow this route. And it will improve the effectiveness of our aid somuch.[Open Data and Transparency are not so much about accountability]Transparency is not a goal in itself. We need to ask ourselves, what do we want to achievewith increased transparency? Is it limited to improve the accountability of our aid? Or is itaimed at better information for parliament and or for the public about what we spend andwhat we achieve? Should it be focused on substantiating claims about the quality of our aid,about coordination and participation? 4
  5. 5. Transparency will be instrumental to all of these goals. I would personally wantb to stress thelatter. So much talk is about transparency as a form of accountability, that the potential tounleash broad participation, to enable co-creation and to build shared values is oftenoverlooked. I strongly believe that in the end, these are the issues that will benefit most fromimproved transparency. The AKVO pilot has shown us the potential of linking aidinformation from different organizations and for improved coordination. We are not going toopen up our information system for the sake of it, just because we want ‘to be open’. We arenot doing this to account for money flows and the results we achieve. The results we achieveare not so easy to present. Taking a more narrow accountability perspective is putting toenemies at one table. ‘Transparency’ aiming to disclose anything, good or bad, success orfailure. And ‘Implementor’ aiming to show a good job done, successes achieved, money wellspent. That perspective will not hold and transparency will loose out. Therefore learning mustbe an objective for promoting transparency, as must be co-creation, participation, linking andengagement.[Development and aid are about taking small steps]There are no big solutions to solve the development problem. There is no magic bullet. Andthe political constraints in many developing countries are real. But it is possible to makeprogress through the accumulation of a set of small steps. It is possible to make smallincremental adjustments at a time to improve institutions and policies and strengthen servicedelivery.[Transparency should support a stronger focus on learning]The role of our aid is to contribute to these change processes. In a recent book that isgenerating quite a lot of interest in the development economics world at the moment, Banerjeeand Duflo (Poor Economics: a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty) arguethat we need to accept the possibility of error. Where we need to improve is learn. We need tostrengthen our learning loops, based on good testing of our interventions. We need to monitorand evaluate our interventions carefully, learn and then adapt them, based on the evidence thatthese tests have generated. We need to be more open what works and what doesn’t so that wecan learn. Transparency and Open Data in my view is about being open on what we do, whatwe achieve and what we learn. It is about an open search for solutions that work and theconditions under which they work. 5
  6. 6. [Open Data to involve the crowd in designing programmes and policies]I have talked about the importance of Open Data and transparency to improve coordination. Ihave talked about my most important point to involve the crowd in the testing of ourinterventions. To involve the crowd in the design of our programmes, in the drafting of ourpolicies and in the making of our decisions. That is the direction in which we want to move. Iam talking about ‘Open Government’. We need a much stronger mobilization of knowledgemanagement to learn about what works best, when and where. Stronger networks are requiredthat enable mass collaboration to shape our efforts and improve them over time. And thebeneficiaries in developing countries should be strongly involved. If anything has come outfrom this conference it is a demonstration of the power of involving beneficiaries.Our next results report will be based in Open Data principles and collaboration with outsiders.We, together with the NGOs and other partners we work with will make information on aidand results available online and involve others including journalists in turning this into acommunication product. It is let’s hope this works. But we want to try.Let me conclude by emphasing the need for more collaboration and sharing of experiencesand solutions in the field of Open Data. There is a felt need for stronger networks for peopleworking on open data and data applications for development. I hope this conference hasprovided an important boost to that. We are excited to see an important organisation like theWorld Bank being front runners in this area. And we are happy to see so much energy andinterest in our data from software developers in our partner countries. This should give usenough confidence that we are doing the right thing. But we need to keep the momentum.From our side we will continue to seek the dialogue with NGOs and others in this area.Finally let me thank the people who worked hard to make this Open Data Camp a success. Iwould like to thanks the Open For Change Team: Rolf Kleef, Anne-Marie Heemskerk, PelleAardema, Annemiek Mion, Mariken Gaanderse, Plus all volunteers. Also a big thanks to theRoyal Tropic Institute for making this beautiful building available.Thank you. 6