TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly | Can you work well from a basement with no electricity?

By TAI (Role at TAI)
Dear Readers, 
So much to cover this week! Opening up hidden debt, mining practices, a bank taken to court, fighting misinformation with misinformation and COVID impacts on grantee partners.Dig in!Michael,TAI´s Executive DirectorHighlights
Transparent debts, a call for action and an inspiring tool 
Today’s debt crisis is also a transparency crisis. So note Bretton Woods luminaries calling for governments to create a unified transparent database of their debts (public and private). The limitations of current data is made obvious in the update to the World Bank’s debt reporting heat map. The platform covers three dimensions: accessibility, completeness, and timeliness to evaluate public debt statistics dissemination practices. Lots more progress needed.
Mining companies vs public scrutiny
Picture Credit: BBC


Debt pressures will only increase the inclination of governments to exploit their natural resources for revenue, whatever the cost. Six Honduran environmentalists, members of the Guapinol community, are facing the all too real consequences. They’ve been convicted for opposing an open-pit mine that sits inside a protected national park that they say was sanctioned without community consultation. International organizations and experts have condemned the decision and denounced a process “mired by irregularities.”

As investors flood into “safe” mining stocks will they be willing to ask awkward questions of the mining firms? One area they might target is gender. The Responsible Mining Foundation has been tracking gender action by mining companies since 2016 and the latest results are just in. Their findings reveal that gender balance in headquarter teams is quite widely addressed, but gender in affected communities and in the workplace is largely ignored.Finally, showcasing effective advocacy – read how the work of Publish What You Pay Mali led to the commitment to now publish 800 extractive industries contracts that should be subject to public scrutiny.

Corporate climate pledges. Where is the real impact?
Do carbon offsets actually offset anything? Latest evidence suggests it is marginal at best. Data on the Clean Development Mechanism suggests 52% of offsets were allocated to projects that would very likely have been built anyway. 

 Image Credit: Greenbiz
NGO analysis questions the integrity of the net zero pledges of the top 25 global companies. The likes of Amazon and Google are leaving consumers in the dark on the realities of becoming carbon neutral. The Global Investigative Journalism Network offer a tool to help maintain scrutiny – in this case a guide designed to “help investigative reporters identify specific sources of methane emissions and hold companies and countries accountable.” Another tool – this time a Toolkit and Resource Pack for funders illustrating the role philanthropy can play on climate change in South Africa. Also, check out this guide for civil society, government and parliamentarians exploring the public budget’s role in tackling climate change. Do you choose to ride a bike instead of drive to do you part for the environment? Well that just got a bit easier for residents of Mexico City. Read how the city government used open contracting to procure an expanded, user-friendly bike share system.
Secrecy preferred-banks in the dock, happy offshores, but a welcome spotlight on following the money 
Given the role Swiss banks have played for centuries it is hard to believe that Credit Suisse became the very first Swiss bank to face criminal charges last week. Read the story on Credit Suisse, a Coke-Smuggling Wrestler and Stashes of Cash. It seems British Virgin Islanders are also happy to keep secrets. Michael Stott talks to locals who are unimpressed by demands to shine a light on their offshore financial industry. For some encouragement, get inspired by the 290 nominees from 182 countries offering digital tools for development. Congrats to Follow the Money, a globally recognized social accountability platform, which won the World Summit Award. As Hamzat Lawal, Founder of FollowTheMoney, explained, “In 10 years, FTM has impacted over 390 grassroot communities, with the help of over 8000 dedicated community champions, and the movement is present in 10 African countries, including Nigeria. Our collective reward is measured in the number of lives we have impacted and our direct action in enabling democracy.”
Picture Credit: The Sight News 

Talking of measures that can reinforce democratic governance, the period for public comment on the draft rule to implement the Corporate Transparency Act in the U.S. Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition applauded the strong draft rule that includes strong definitions for “beneficial ownership” and “substantial control”, among others. TAI was among those organizations to signal their support.

Old goal, new practices: Activists under threat
Last week, we featured a video explainer of Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs). Here, the team at the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre details how these lawsuits are presenting a serious threat to transparency, freedom of expression and defense of human rights in Latin America. It doesn’t help that local journalists must navigate oppression across the region. For example, in Cuba, the government is using not yet approved decrees to threaten human rights defenders and independent journalists. Read about two Cuban female journalists facing repression for political reasons.

 Photo Credit: elToque

Another frequent practice for governments eager to disrupt expressions of dissent is cutting off the internet.  Mariam Kiparoidze urges us to pay more attention, especially given examples are not confined to authoritarian governments. Closed spaces can also put companies in a quandry. Norwegian company Telenor agreed to sell its Myanmar business after being pressured by the junta to install eavesdropping equipment, but now faces challenges to protect customer data that might then be used by the regime to target activists. Hopefully, there are more projects coming like the Esperanza Protocol, an initiative to support local partners/organizations in building effective protection mechanisms to respond to threats against human rights defenders.

“It is a bird? It is a plane?” It is certainly misinformation 
Fighting misinformation with, yes, misinformation. Listen to some fascinating insights from the experience of promoting a campaign that “Birds aren’t real” but really government drones used by the US government to spy on people. Crazy right, but the responses are crazier still… The first OECD Report on Public Communication looks at the role public communication can play in responding to the challenges posed by the spread of mis- and disinformation and in building more resilient media and information ecosystems. The report analyses how this government function can contribute to better policies and services, greater citizen trust, and, ultimately, stronger democracies amid an increasingly complex information environment. For all you campaigners out there, Ted Fickes details how an op-ed can change the narrative (if done right).  
Can you work well in a basement with no electricity? Access to information agencies funding and guidance 
Picture Credit: City.Data

Read how the Liberian Independent Information Commission is on life support, undermined by a lack of adequate funding. Sadly, it is not the only agency responsible for freedom of information responsibilities facing such challenges.More hopefully, a training manual for judges on International Standards on Freedom of Opinion and Expression is now live. This comprehensive toolkit is aimed to support judges to take into account international human rights standards on freedom of expression in their decisions.Knowing that battles for expression are increasingly fought online, it is is interesting to read these Visions of the Internet in 2035. “Asked to ‘imagine a better world online,’ experts hope for a ubiquitous – even immersive – digital environment that promotes fact-based knowledge, offers a better defense of individuals’ rights, empowers diverse voices and provides tools for technology breakthroughs and collaborations to solve the world’s wicked problems.

Care during COVID times, the moment for decolonizing aid was yesterday and core vs project funding
The Wellbeing Project (supported by TAI member Skoll Foundation among others) is bringing much-needed attention to supporting mental health and emotional well-being for changemakers. Hint, ‘sacrifice for the greater good’ is not the long-term answer in COVID times. Are you a funder organization struggling with evaluating how COVID-19 has affected your grantees? Take inspiration from the Fund for Global Human Rights. They surveyed nearly 200 of their grantees to find out what support they require to meet the changing needs of the communities they serve. One frequently demanded ask of funders amid the pandemic has been increased flexibility of funding, so intriguing to read this Twitter thread sparked by David Sasaki on the merits of project funding versus core support. What happened with decolonizing AID? Dylan Mathews worries that while there has been strong receptivity among INGOs to talk about structural racism in their work, “Few organisations know how to start the process of decolonising their work, and fewer know how to do it well.” That applies to funders, too. Can we avoid business as usual?  
More to read this week: 
– How Is “Omidyarism” Faring in an Age of Splashy Tech Giving?– A Global Procurement Partnership for Sustainable– Development: An International Stocktaking of Developments in Public Procurement– The Resource Curse in Renewable Energy: A framework for risk assessment– Support Africa’s civil society to meet future challenges  
TAI spotlight
MacArthur Foundation: Innovative Journalism Strengthens Accountability in Nigeria It has been good to see increased funder attention to independent media and investigative journalism of late, and this story from the On Nigeria team at MacArthur makes the case for funding so well. Ford Foundation was proud to support Lynn Nottage’s latest play, Clydes, a show changing the narrative about mass incarceration and illuminating the humanity of those impacted by America’s criminal justice system with the Art for Justice Fund. Skoll Foundation featured this video and blog where Dr. Nancy Messonnier discusses why cross-collaboration is important to combat the global pandemic. Open Society Foundations was proud to honor and celebrate the recipients of the Open Society #JusticeRisingAward: 16 visionary Black leaders whose courage, creativity, and tenacity has advanced racial justice and equality in the U.S. MacArthur Foundation announced its Instagram take over! During this week, diverse, young storytellers will give MacArthur followers a real time look at how they develop stories that matter to them and their communities. Luminate invites applications to join the 2022 program at Yes, and Laughter Lab, a competitive incubation lab, pitch program, and showcase lifting up the best writers and performers creating new comedy about social issues.   Jobs at TAI members

Featured job of the week (again): Operations – Sr Manager or Associate Director at Skoll Foundation.

Job postings at Hewlett Foundation – Ongoing

Job postings at MacArthur Foundation – Ongoing

Job postings at Open Society Foundations – Ongoing

Job postings at Luminate – Ongoing

Job postings at Ford Foundation– Ongoing

Job postings at FCDO – Ongoing

Job postings at Skoll – Ongoing

  Job listingsHead of Funding, Integrity ActionFebruary 15, 2022Development Officer, Regional Philanthropy, World Wildlife Fund- OngoingResearch coordination, Transparency International SecretariatDirector, Donor Relations & Development, Rights and Resources Initiative-OngoingBusiness and Data Analyst Team Manager at The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) – OngoingOpenings at I-APS – Ongoing           Openings  at National Democratic Institute – OngoingOpenings at The Sentry – OngoingOpenings at Contracting Resources Group– Ongoing   
Calls/OpportunitiesProgram Launch Climate Policy Training Program– February 28, 2022Soros Justice Fellowship– March 2, 2022Pacific Islands Investigative Journalism Opportunities – OngoingPhD Fellow, EU Tax Observatory– March 4, 2022Fellowship, The Project on Resources and Governance (PRG)– March 31, 2022Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub & Energy and EnvironmentWest Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) call for papers and articles – Open year-roundFree digital security training– OngoingCall for proposals: Informality, tax, and the state – Proposals accepted on a rolling basis              
CalendarEnvironmental Democracy- the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) 29 March 2022 – 31 March 2022Spring 2022 Global Economic Governance Initiative Book Talk Series – February 17, 20222nd Cross-Border Digital Policies for Africa Knowledge Dialogue – February 22, 2022RMI Report 2022 launch | Responsible mining: where is the industry at today? – February 23, 2022Adopting a Movement Mindset course, Rhize– 3 Mar 2022 – 31 Mar 2022SSRI Frontiers of Social Innovation Annual Conference –March 22-24, 2022International Convention on  Anti-Corruption, Good Governance, and Human Rights –  April 21-22, 2022 (Boston, MA)United Philanthropy Forum – July 18-20, 2022SVRI Forum – September 19- 23,  2022
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