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TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly |Hiding wealth in cowboy country
By TAI
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Dear Readers,

 2022 is upon us and hopefully you are all refreshed and not quarantining. No shortage of transparency, participation and accountability needs and opportunities in the year ahead. What are your hopes for 2022? We want to hear from you – answer any or all of these three questions, and we will feature responses in the TAI Weekly newsletter during January and on TAI’s social media.

In the meantime, there is no shortage of content from the holiday period for you to dig into.

 

TAI team.

 

Highlights

  • Captured states, anti-corruption momentum, hiding wealth in cowboy country 
  • A health check for open gov, a call for humility, and energized civil society
  • Opening up big tech, digital subversion, smart communications
  • Toward net zero – following the money and mobilizing popular buy-in
  • Funding in 2022: local, participatory, accountable aspirations
  • TAI spotlight

 

Captured states, anti-corruption momentum, hiding wealth in cowboy country 

Photo Credit: BBC

Remember the Gupta scandal in South Africa? The long awaited first volume of Judge Raymond Zondo’s report on state capture is out. It documents manipulation through such institutions as South African Airways and the South African Revenue Service and recommends individual for prosecution although there are questions about the capacity of an underfunded  National Prosecuting Authority to act.
 
Want additional context? A new research paper delves into the mechanisms and impacts of state capture with a focus on South Africa and Brazil.
 
The United States isn’t yet in the category of a captured state, but intriguing to read how Wyoming has became one of the world’s top tax havens, profiting the likes of a Moscow oligarch, Argentinian matriarch, and a Dominican Polo player.
The Biden Administration is keen to tackle such weaknesses, although failure to move forward with the Build Back Better bill that included provisions for a new Corporate Profits Minimum Tax raises questions about the ability to deliver on the OECD global tax deal agreed last year. In hopes it will move, the OECD released Pillar Two Model Rules for domestic implementation of the 15% global minimum.

The U.S. has at least received praise for the anti-corruption commitments announced at the Summit for Democracy. A sign of sustained political will on that front with news that the U.S. will host the 10th Conference of the States Parties (COSP) to the UN Convention against Corruption.
 
Meantime, a leak of around 3.5 million documents obtained by the Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa and Mediapart points to possible embezzlement of $530 million in the DRC in tax advances from the country’s state-owned mining company Gécamines. Resource Matters and other collaborators partially traced the origins and the final destination of the money, including $8 million withdrawn in cash in Kinshasa by one individual – how many suitcases does that require to carry?!
 

A health check for open gov, a call for humility, and energized civil society 

The Open Government Partnership Summit mid-December provided an opportunity to check vital signs and assess whether the platform is working as intended. This report on OGP commitments towards democratic renewal provides further data points as does the forthcoming evaluation of the OGP model coming soon (funded by TAI members).  It will be interesting to compare that with findings of a new independent evaluation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative that is just getting underway.
 
One pointer for governments heading into 2022 comes from Juha Leppänen, head of Demos Helsinki, who urges governments to be humble to win back public trust.
 
Want a sense of civic society current interests on the topic, check out the data gathered by Accountability Lab regarding themes from the Summit for Democracy.

Image Credit: Summit For Democracy

 

Watch this!


Next Steps for Generation Equality: What Lessons Can OGP Offer? Watch the video of this discussion hosted by Center for Global Development to get some recommendations.
 

Opening up big tech, digital subversion, smart communications

The lack of transparency of online platforms is only set to create more furor in 2022. Nathaniel Persily urges Facebook to make available their internal research to independent scholars in order to measure how the platform “harms users,” while former Facebook executive and CrowdTangle founder Brandon Silverman is helping regulators craft legislation to make social media platforms more transparent.

Image Credit: The Conversation

Digital subversion is another rising threat. What is it you ask? This video explains Plus listen to Ronald Deibert’s lecture on the topic stressing that countering digital subversion has become an “existential imperative.” We need heightened legal accountability against malign actors and algorithms that are harder to manipulate for malicious gain.

Not that technology is the only way to undermine civil society and civic debate. Traditional and non-traditional media fuel government smear campaigns designed to undermine trust in and intimidate organizations promoting progressive causes. This guide from Liberties offers useful tips on how to build public support around the vital role of CSOs. See also this new resource: Seeing hope: A Visual Communications Guide for Human Rights.

 

Essential Listening #1

Engineers Against Poverty begins 2022 with a new podcast series. Over the next few months this will feature expert opinion on infrastructure and development, including accountability for managing ESG risks. Listen to their first episode now.

 

Toward net-zero: following the money and mobilizing popular buy-in

Last year saw a flood of financial commitments to limit climate change, but we will need transparency of funding to assure delivery on these commitments from public and private sectors alike. Intriguing then to read the 2021 edition of Climate Policy Initiative’s Global Landscape of Climate Finance.
 
Of course, increased financing is not all that is needed. Richard Youngs explores how national conferences in Europe on the political and social elements of a green transition could help countries widen democratic buy-in for the climate agenda.

 

Essential Listening #2
Want some inspiration for the new year? Listen to the Words to Win By podcast. Words To Win By takes listeners on a journey around the globe with renowned communications researcher and campaign advisor Anat Shenker-Osorio as she unpacks real-world narrative shifts that led to real-world victories.
 

Funding in 2022: local, participatory, accountable aspirations 

Raj Kumar lays out five international development trends to watch this year. Top of the list is the push to deliver on the localization agenda. USAID is among the converts – pledging to contribute 50% of programming funds to “Place local communities in the lead promising more funding to local actors. However, Katerina Parsons argues that civil society groups will have difficulty holding the agency accountable without significant changes to existing transparency portals.

Meantime, Simone Dietrich argues in a new book that historical tendencies of donor governments may influence the nature of aid they provide more than evidence – see Duncan Green’s review. Not that it will stop the evidence-based programming evangelists – Luke Jordan is among those betting machine learning can help gauge potential impacts of development aid projects using large datasets (Watch the webinar here).

Photo Credit: DEVEX

What of the means of engaging local actors? Accountability Research Centre shares findings on progress and internal obstacles for the World Bank to keep its commitments on engaging civic stakeholders in all investment projects.
 
How to open up philanthropy in 2022? Jane Dodson advocates external transparency and internal inclusivity while Bob Atkins advocates a few simple steps to advance equity by revealing communities that are all too often “invisible” to funders.  Based on recent TAI conversations we’d suggest participatory philanthropy will continue to evolve in 2022 – hopefully going beyond limited pilots. Based on engagement of the disability community, Nikki Brown-Booker urges funders to abandon top-down, one-sided funding.

Finally, Lucy Bernholz unpacks the philanthropy buzzwords of the year ahead (spoiler alert, technology will rule.)

 

TAI spotlight
MacArthur Foundation´s Co-Directors on Nigeria program Kole A. Shettima and Erin Sines reflected on incorporating gender equity and social inclusion into the anti-corruption strategy.
 
Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations Initiative for West Africa launched “New fund to end sexual violence in West Africa”.
 
Hewlett Foundation supported The Center for Values in International Development´s release of their initial Ethical Development Series of podcasts and videos.
 
MacArthur Foundation´s president John Palfrey talked to Marc Sims, host of the podcast Just A few Questions, about how it’s possible to reduce violence in Chicago. 
Jobs at TAI members

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 listings

Director of Global Development for Democracy, Rights, and Governance at Internews– January 21, 2022
Director, Innovation at Enel Green Power – January 27, 2022
Openings at ICLEI Africa– January 28, 2022
Business and Data Analyst Team Manager at The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) – Ongoing
Openings at I-APS – Ongoing           
Openings  at National Democratic Institute – Ongoing
Senior Advisor on Corruption and Illicit Finance (Myanmar) at The Sentry – Ongoing
Donor Finance & Compliance Manager at The Fund for Global Human Rights – Ongoing     
Openings at Contracting Resources Group– Ongoing  

   
 

Calls/Opportunities

The Project on Resources and Governance (PRG) invites expressions of interest for a new fellowship program– March 31, 2022
RightsCon call for Proposals for 11th Summit Series – January 13, 2022 
West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) call for papers and articles – Open year-round
Free digital security training– Ongoing
Call for proposals: Informality, tax, and the state – Proposals accepted on a rolling basis                          

Calendar

SSRI Frontiers of Social Innovation Annual Conference –March 22-24, 2022
International Convention on  Anti-Corruption, Good Governance, and Human Rights –  April 21-22, 2022 (Boston, MA)
United Philanthropy Forum – July 18-20, 2022
SVRI Forum – September 19- 23,  2022

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