TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly | You need a stick as well as a carrot

By TAI (Role at TAI)
Access to information, energy data demands, open government commitments and tracking COVID funds. 
An accountability mechanism, i.e., an independent appeals process, assures better project outcomes from access to information (ATI) policies. The existence of a policy alone does not. So finds a fascinating new study (partly funded by TAI Member Hewlett Foundation) based on review of 20,000 aid projects. With a flood of aid money going out the door with fewer questions asked amid the COVID pandemic, Jocelyn Medallo, Nadeen Madkour and Siddharth Akali are among those asking where that money has gone. One tool to help provide answers has been the COVID-19 DFI Tracker and the International Accountability Project team reflect on that process, noting how “without safe access to early and accessible information, affected communities are unable to meaningfully participate and contribute their vital knowledge and expertise to bettering project outcomes and avoiding adverse environmental and social impacts.”  They offer some great examples of how NGOs have pushed to fill the information gaps. 
Image credit: Tableu Public 

What if useful data exists but is behind a paywall? That’s the case for much of the International Energy Agency’s data that is essential to analyze countless aspects of the energy transition. Funded by OECD governments, why is it not publicly accessible? A new campaign seeks to rectify that. (Consider co-signing!) There are at least promises of proactive disclosure in the UK’s newly published fifth national action plan for open government. Check out commitments ranging from open contracting and open justice to algorithmic transparency. Talking of all things open, Peter Low details progress on beneficial ownership in Colombia even though its register is only accessible to government officials. Want one final illustration of data utility? Check out Thomas Blanchet, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman new tool that estimates changes in income distribution in real time using US data sources. Is the data available to replicate in your country?

Image credit: Realtime inequality
Corruption, trust, and the COVID relief fraudsters 

Returning to the pandemic, a new study in The Lancet confirms the importance of trust and corruption rates in reducing COVID incidence. It finds that “measures of trust in the government and interpersonal trust, as well as less government corruption, had larger, statistically significant associations with lower standardised infection rates.” Dig in for more insights! What trust there is will only be further eroded by the proliferation of stories of COVID related fraud. In the U.S., a former Florida mayor’s daughter was sentenced for lying to obtain $300,000 in relief funds, while an Illinois company is facing multiple probes of a testing scam. In India, amid government denials, health workers allege widespread vaccine certificate fraud. In the U.K., decisions to get money in the economy quickly, such as not allowing banks to run credit checks for loan applicants, led to an astonishing $4.9bn in COVID loan fraud.


Land measures, infrastructure, transparency and mapping natural resources 
Image Credit: Landportal 

Six years since the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Land Portal is re-examining progress on land-related aspects. The newly updated SDG Land Tracker features revised and updated narratives for 13 indicators. The non-profit Building Transparency just shared their global roadmap “to align global efforts to understand, measure and reduce the emissions associated with the building industry.” Staying at the nexus of infrastructure and climate change, Chen Heang from Future Forum calls from more transparency in Cambodia’s infrastructure projects financed by China, following a case study on the Tatay hydro dam, financed by the China Export-Import Bank, that found significant issues. Armando.info and El País who launched the first map – using satellite images and artificial intelligence – of the strategic points that smuggling networks have established to move illicit mining and drug shipments by air in Venezuela.

Image credit: ArmandoInfo
Watch and listen!
Watch the trailer of Navalny, the documentary about jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny that won top awards at the Sundance film festival We had been looking forward to the latest episode of the Natural Resources podcast, where they interview Jack Farchy, author of World For Sale – detailing how commodity traders pull the invisible strings that move natural resources around the world.


Why should you worry about SLAPP lawsuits? This segment serves as a helpful explainer of why such suits are bad for democracy and rule of law.

State racketeering, undermining judicial independence and corruption ranking regional variations 
In South Africa, the Zondo Commission published part two of its report into state capture. Some astonishing details of the extent of the Gupta family machinations, including $2.7bn in irregular business with state freight operator, Transnet. Ferial Haffajee further details the racketeering charges. In related vein, Gloria Porras, a former constitutional court justice of Guatemala, examines (in Spanish) how corruption transcends borders and is affecting judicial independence in the Northern Triangle countries.   Perhaps no surprise that the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) shows a lack of progress in the Americas. In the last 10 years, only Guyana and Paraguay have had meaningful improvements. Central America is currently at its lowest point  and Argentina has experienced the steepest decline in the region, dropping down 18 positions in the ranking.
Image Credit: Transparency.org 
In contrast, Indonesia is a positive surprise with a six-level improvement in its rating, but William Pesek wonders whether that improvement can survive the plan to move the capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. Big infrastructure projects tend to create lots of opportunities for graft.
Organizational accountability (grantee and funder alike), human rights principles, and getting to systemic action on racial equity and justice 
Remember the #ShiftThePower Manifesto for Change that we featured last year? If not, remind yourself with these animated versions of the manifesto statements coming in four languages.Kudos to CIVICUS for asking themselves “How accountable are our resourcing practices?” A five-part blog series delves into the way that they fund, who they fund, and why and how to encourage a culture of organizational accountability and listening.You’ll see some overlap with elements in the Human Rights Grantmaking Principles developed by the Human Rights Funders Network and partners. Good to see accountability near the top of the list. Check out the principles microsite. What about racial equity and justice in philanthropy? Mae Hong points out that funders have mostly addressed racial disparities at the individual level. The next frontier is to address it as a systemic issue. Oh, and you can register to hear a Valentine’s Day conversation with the heads of two TAI member foundations discussing how philanthropic funding can enable social justice.  
More to read this week: 
– Coups: Odinkalu blames ECOWAS, AU failure to condemn corrupt elections  – Big Tech Must Stop Hiding– Intersectional Indigenous Identities: Afro-Indigenous and Black Indigenous Peoples– Democracy Funders Are Forgetting About One of the Biggest Threats to Democracy  
TAI spotlight
TAI: Last week we joined 22 human rights and transparency organizations in applauding the Treasury Departmentfor New Rule to Counter Anonymous Shell Companies. Find more.Hewlett Foundation´s Norma Altshuler reflects on How governments can use better, faster, and cheaper evidence to improve people’s lives Open Society Foundation: Former TAI Steering Committee member, Megan Colnar, has written a helpful brief summarizing early successes and lessons from the Economic Justice Program’s pilot Organizational Health Fund. Read stories of success as well as lessons learned and recommendations.Ford Foundation is proud to support a new CECP report on the role companies must play in the well-being of their Frontline Workers and our economy at large. Recommendations include improving stability of pay, paid time off, safety, shift schedule and flexibility.Skoll Foundation‘s Nadir Shams joined Angeline Chin, Nina Gené, Naina S Batra and Tim Hanstad on a panel to discuss how funders can better support and partner with grantees advancing social progress.Luminate launched the new #YouthAndDemocracyInLatAm report highlighting how young people in Latin America perceive democracy, consume information and interact with politics.   Jobs at TAI members

The featured job of the week: 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- OngoingDirector, 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 Contracting Resources Group– Ongoing   
Calls/OpportunitiesSoros Justice Fellowship– March 2, 2022Pacific Islands Investigative Journalism Opportunities – OngoingThe Project on Resources and Governance (PRG) invites expressions of interest for a new fellowship program– March 31, 2022RightsCon call for Proposals for 11th Summit Series – January 13, 2022 Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub & Energy and Environment Program Launch Climate Policy Training Program– February 28, 2022West 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                          
CalendarPhilanthropy and Social Justice: how can philanthropic funding deliver social justice? – February 14, 20223 Spring 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, 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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