How governments get more bang for their buck by improving accountability

Christian Leffler, deputy secretary general in charge of economic and global issues at the European External Action Service, talks accountability with Devex associate editor Richard Jones at the Annual Democracy Forum 2015.

Due out in March 2016, the transparency and accountability indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals should leave the politics for later, Christian Leffler, deputy secretary general at the European External Action Service, told Devex at the Annual Democracy Forum 2015 in Bern, Switzerland.

“It’s very important … that we don’t reintroduce a political assessment, but that we really do have them as performance indicators,” he said.

Often the temptation when measuring accountability and transparency is to gauge progress by looking at the popularity of government administrations, but outcomes of these types of assessments don’t always result in an accurate picture, Leffler explained.

“The assessment and the politics comes … later on, once you’ve seen how countries, beneficiaries, donors, partners, perform according to this criteria,” he said. “This is not … a beauty contest, or about finger pointing, it’s more, if you like, everyone competing against themselves to do better in their specific circumstances.”

Leffler also stressed the importance of public financial management in accountability and transparency, and pointed out its oft-overlooked role in increasing domestic resource mobilization. In the oftentimes unpopular practice of increasing or imposing taxes, governments can mitigate the public’s negative response by being more accountable and transparent about what the “public is getting from it.”

“Accountability … is essential for mobilization of resources in an economic context, which will allow governments to reach out and work for greater social inclusion in that social dimension,” he said.

A key outcome from the third International Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015 was the call for new approaches to increasing domestic resource mobilization. The path less traveled, but no less impactful, Leffler explained is a renewed focus on accountability.

Watch more insights from Leffler in the above video and then have your say below on what role accountability will play towards the success of the SDGs and the Paris climate deal.

Democracy Matters is a global conversation hosted by Devex, in partnership with International IDEA, to discuss accountability as a central element of deepening democracy. Visit the campaign site and join the conversation using #DemocracyMatters.

About the author

  • Molly Anders

    Molly Anders is a former U.K. correspondent for Devex. Based in London, she reports on development finance trends with a focus on British and European institutions. She is especially interested in evidence-based development and women’s economic empowerment, as well as innovative financing for the protection of migrants and refugees. Molly is a former Fulbright Scholar and studied Arabic in Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

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