Good afternoon everyone.
It is a pleasure to be here for this discussion on the “Transparency Revolution”.
Tackling complex issues around trade, tax and transparency is essential to ensure a development which is open, transparent and focused on the most vulnerable people in most need.
At the World Bank Group, we believe that openness and transparency are essential to make development more effective.
Let me first tell you what we are already doing at the World Bank Group.
We are already committed to freedom of information and Open Data policies, since 2010 opening up our development data, and our knowledge through creative commons and open access licensing. We are increasing the quality, coverage and frequency of the aid effectiveness data we publish to the IATI standard.
We are also open about what we do - we publish transaction level financial information alongside the details of the Bank’s projects and operations in real time.
We have also put ourselves on the map, literally, geo-locating all our projects and their activities, so publics, beneficiaries, and taxpayers can track development progress and hold us accountable for results.
We will keep working with governments and international partners to establish basic standards for open government data, and are scaling up assistance for improved statistical capacity and data quality in client countries, recently signing a pathbreaking MOU with the Regional Development Banks and the UN to improve data collection.
We have also tested, and are now trying to mainstream citizen engagement and feedback tools in our operations, especially in countries supported by our fund for the poorest, IDA. This is facilitated by the use of tools such as the “Open Development Technology Alliance” which helps us give a voice to civil society, and help governments create sustainable feedback loops for improved service delivery.
But we need to do more, so I'm pleased to announce that the World Bank Group will:
Starting on July one this year, we will publish all contract awards of World Bank Group-executed contracts above $250,000. We will mainstream “open contracting” in our new procurement policy.
Following IFC’s example on disclosing contracts from its borrowers in extractive industries, we will also work with client governments to open contracts linked to World Bank Group operations.
We’ll mainstream open data approaches in our projects and operations for activities that produce or acquire data and continue to support governments and civil societies to collect, monitor and use data.
The Bank is already supporting EITI implementation in over 30 countries. Through our operations, we will support countries to move towards compliance with the new EITI standard within an agreed time frame – including encouraging countries to require disclosure by companies of their payments to governments, disaggregated at project and subnational level.
We will support governments, including in their work with private companies, to ensure beneficial ownership information on legal entities and legal arrangements is available. Transparency around beneficial ownership is crucial to halting illicit financial flows, promoting anti-corruption, recovering stolen assets, and combating terrorism financing, tax evasion and other financial crimes.
Doing things inside the World Bank Group is good, but it is not enough. The transparency revolution can be the key to accelerate development in the countries we work in.
We believe information and the participation of all stakeholders: governments, civil society, the private sector are at the core of development effectiveness.
Which is why we remain committed to build the capacity of governments to adopt and implement more transparency, whether on open data, on tax and trade policies, or on land and extractives transactions.
We are doing this, but we need to push further ahead.
So today we announce that:
We are launching the “Open Contracting Partnership” to ensure effective disclosure and participation in all public contracting. We will support the development of a global open contracting standard.
We are working to create a "trillion dollar map" in Africa. This will address the lack of modern geological data and overall knowledge of mineral potential that is one of the key barriers to improving the quality of resource deals in Africa (officially titled the Africa Mineral Geoscience Initiative).
Finally, to complement our work on open development, we are announcing the ‘Open and Collaborative Private Sector Initiative’ which aims at leveraging open data and collaborative practices to increase the impact of the private sector on development. There is a range of tools in this initiative, but let me focus on just one.
To incentivize governments to increase transparency of their corporate registries, and promote efforts related to corporate accountability, we are supporting the launch today of the pilot of the Open Company Data Index at http://registries.opencorporates.com.
This new data index looks at the state of play of how countries enable transparency of information about registered corporations. But it goes further, by aggregating open registry information, this tool generates open-source, transnational datasets that can help curb corruption, check beneficial ownership, and deepen competitiveness analysis, so that the private sector can also benefit from transparency. For instance, if you search for a particular company on this website, you can not only see corporate registration information for that company, but also, and this is revolutionary, generate a visual representation of the corporate network to which that company belongs and the registry information of all the companies in the network. This is not yet available for all jurisdictions, and that’s why the index will help. As registries become more transparent, our partners will be able to roll this out to any company.
The potential benefits for governments, media, citizens, and the private sector to be able to map the connections between companies, are enormous.
I invite you to engage with us through initiatives and platforms. Let’s all put our ideas into practice. Transparency works. If we bring our collective value-added to this agenda we believe transparency can have a transformational effect on development.