the_good_governance_agenda_and_its_discontents

Report
The “Good Governance” Agenda
and its Discontents
Implications for Political Voice
Alina Rocha Menocal
Presentation prepared for the “Governance, Accountability and
Citizen Empowerment” Learning Workshop
Session 1: Bringing Politics Back In
Dublin, 11 June 2014
Outline
Defining Governance
Understanding the “Good Governance” agenda
Have “Good Governance” programmes worked?
“Good Governance” agenda: challenges and
limitations
• Voice & Accountability: bring politics back in
• Key implications and principles for engagement
• Challenges to donor uptake
•
•
•
•
2
Defining Governance
• Governance means more than just ‘government’
• It has to do with the nature of relations between state
and society
• It is also process-oriented – how not just what is done
3
Defining Governance
Based on the above, governance can be understood as:
• The rules that regulate the public realm – the
space where state as well as economic and societal
actors interact to make decisions
• and the processes and institutions, both formal
and informal, through which public authority is
exercised
4
“Good Governance” agenda
• Term emerged in 1990s from growing concerns about
governance
• “Good Governance” defined as essential to promote
development, build capacity, and combat poverty (e.g. UN,
Commission for Africa, DFID, World Bank, Commonwealth
Secretariat, etc.)
• Concept of “good governance” is broad but there is
agreement on several key principles
5
“Good Governance” agenda
 Participation and inclusiveness: involvement and
ownership by a broad range of stakeholders
 Accountability: decision-makers responsible for
their actions; checks and balances in place; etc.
 Respect for institutions and laws: rules apply
equally to everyone in society; corruption is
controlled; etc.
“Good Governance” agenda
 Effectiveness: performing key functions and
delivering basic services
 Transparency: clarity and openness of decisionmaking
 Efficiency: government is effective and responsive;
functioning regulatory framework is in place; etc.
Often ‘good governance’ also implies a properly
functioning democratic system
Have “GG” interventions
worked?
 Since the 1990s, substantial resources have been
devoted to improve governance, including public
sector reform and the way the central government
works

OECD governments spend over US$10 billion a year
on governance interventions

Yet, results have been disappointing—e.g., anticorruption commissions and civil service reforms.
“GG” agenda: challenges and limitations
Three particular areas should be highlighted:
• Normative slant of the GG agenda
• Technocratic approach to development
• Excessively comprehensive and demanding agenda
9
“GG” agenda: Normative slant
• Overly idealistic and normative view of the political
process
• Reliance on blueprints and best practices transplanted
from the developed world despite mantra of “no one
size fits all”
• Excessive reliance on standardised approaches
focused almost exclusively on formal institutions.
• Fresh perspectives rooted in local realities have been
lacking.
10
“GG” agenda: Technocratic approach
• Tendency to see development as a technocratic
exercise.
• Implicit assumption that “all good things go together”
without sufficiently recognising that politics matter.
• Lack of awareness of the political nature of reform
processes: reforms entail changes in formal
arrangements but more fundamentally are about
changing informal behaviours and altering power
relations.
• Changing the way governments work poses political
risks: e.g., trade-offs between providing public goods
and serving powerful vested interests.
11
“GG” agenda: Agenda overload
• The “GG” paradigm implies a very wide range of
institutional preconditions for development.
• It calls for improvements that touch virtually all
aspects of the public sector.
• But the long list may be beyond what is needed or
feasible and is a-historic.
• Asking institutions to do too much too soon threatens
to undermine longer-term capacity.
• There is little guidance about what is and what is not,
what should come first and what should follow, etc.
12
Voice & Accountability: What
• Defined as people’s ability to express their views to
influence decision-making processes.
• The past two decades have seen an explosion of
political voice across the developing world.
• This is an extraordinarily diverse and complex
landscape, with people everywhere grabbing
opportunities to express their views in a multitude of
ways:
• (See also “What is Political Voice?” publication for
Development Progress – more analysis and
infographics there!)
13
Voice & Accountability: Why
• Critical area of engagement both in domestic
processes of change and international efforts to
support them.
• Seen as having both intrinsic and instrumental value –
eg post-2015 HLP.
• Informed and aware population who can participate
and hold state to account is considered essential in
strengthening governance and state-society relations
15
Voice and Accountability: How
• The chain of causality, whether implicit or explicit, is
generally as follows:
• Direct effects:
V  A  improved developmental outcomes (e.g.
poverty reduction; meeting other MDGs)
• Indirect effects:
V  A  intermediate variables (eg improved
governance; stronger democracy)  improved
developmental outcomes
16
V&A: donor assumptions
Donor expectations are based on a
assumptions that are not always realistic:
set
of
• Assumed automatic relationship between voice and
improved accountability.
• Assumption that citizens’ voice represents the
interests, needs and demands of “the people”.
• Assumption that more effective and efficient
institutions will be more transparent, responsive and
accountable.
17
V&A: donor assumptions
Donor expectations are based on a set of
assumptions that are not always realistic:
• Assumption that CV&A interventions can be supported
via a focus on capacity building and formal
institutions.
• Assumption that democracy leads to improved
developmental
outcomes
(including
poverty
reduction).
18
V&A: Bringing politics back in
But Informal institutions, processes and power
relations are key:
• Fundamentally shape the way formal institutions operate.
• May limit the outcomes and impact of CV&A interventions
intended to transform formal institutions.
• Significant political relationships and personal incentives
shape the behaviour of both state and non-state actors.
• These include social
corruption, etc.
19
and
cultural
norms,
clientelism,
V&A: Bringing politics back in
• Voice is often treated as an unproblematic concept
often assumed that the poor can exercise their voice
easily.
• Essential to ask whose voice is being heard (eg ICTs!)
• The voices of the poor are far from homogeneous.
• Many voices may compete with one another.
• There are power differentials within civil society, and
different organisations have different motivations,
interests and capacities to engage.
• The state may be responsive/ accountable to some
groups and not others.
20
V&A: Bringing politics back in
• So the struggle for greater voice, inclusion,
accountability and representation is an ongoing
process of negotiation, contestation, and even
confrontation,
• And it is about nothing if it is not about altering
existing power relations.
21
Key lessons and implications
• Starting with the local context:
– Develop solid understanding of domestic dynamics
at work, and
– Tailor interventions accordingly.
• Moving away from normative prescriptions encouraging
multiple paths to institutional performance:
– “Best fit” over “best practice”
• Recognising development as fundamentally political:
– Be realistic about what is feasible
– Focus on fostering enabling environment and
influencing incentives
22
Key lessons and implications
• Focusing first on basic reforms and sequencing
reforms accordingly:
– Modest and selective entry points can have
partial success and can lay the basis for later
progress.
• Recognising long-term nature of promoting
development.
23
Principles of engagement
• Build/sharpen ability to engage in a politically
aware
manner
in
CV&A
policies
and
interventions on the ground:
• Undertake strategic PEA: focus on interaction between
formal and informal institutions and actor incentives.
• Analyse
operational
implications
for
CV&A
interventions.
• Share lessons emerging from such work to develop
shared understanding.
• Monitor and update analysis continuously in order to
inform on-going donor programming.
24
Principles of engagement
• Work with the institutions you have, and not the
ones you wish you had:
• Learn to live with the informal institutions and
practices that continue to predominate/trump formal
ones in the country settings they work in.
• Engage with these informal systems more thoroughly
and explicitly rather than ignoring them or dismissing
them.
• Focus on how to best work ‘with the grain’ (i.e. what
is already in-country) rather than transplant formal
institutional frameworks from the outside.
25
Principles of engagement
• Focus capacity building not only on technical but
also on political skills:
• Continue to support technical capacity building of both
civil society and state actors, particularly at the local
level.
• But focus on political capacity of both state and nonstate actors: the capacity to forge alliances, build a
case and influence others.
26
Principles of engagement
• Continue to explore and exploit opportunities to
support CV&A mechanisms that address both
sides of the equation within the same
intervention:
• Support interventions that work with both V and A
more consistently, strategically, and systematically.
• Strengthen national mechanisms that bring the state
and citizen together: e.g. parliaments, ombudsmen.
• Strengthen mechanisms at the local level: local
development committees and consultative councils.
• Support to media & RtI also essential (but based on
principles)
27
Principles of engagement
• Diversify
channels
and
mechanisms
of
engagement:
• Move beyond “usual suspects”
• Work more with non-traditional civil society
organisations like religious organisations, trade unions
and social movements, and MPs!
• Pay attention to issues of integrity, quality and
capacity.
• Choose experienced partners that can reach otherwise
marginalised and isolated groups (especially in the
rural areas).
28
Principles of engagement
• Improve
key
design
and
implementation
features of CV&A interventions:
• Establish more realistic expectations for interventions.
• Provide longer term and more flexible support.
• Build in sustainability features and exit strategies.
• Empower partners to take over donor roles and work
to build the sustainability of projects.
• Explore ways to join up small and focused projects at
the local level to a broader national programme to
facilitate scaling up.
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Challenges to donor uptake
• Donors have begun to grapple more seriously with the
limitations of the GG agenda, take context as the
starting point, and recognise the political nature of
development.
• But there is still a big gap between rhetoric and
practice.
• It has proven difficult for donors to absorb and act on
lessons .
• Truly internalising these would require undertaking
reforms to their own organisation, values, practices
and behaviour, which is not easy.
30
ODI is the UK’s leading independent think tank on
international development and humanitarian issues.
We aim to inspire and inform policy and practice to
reduce poverty by locking together high-quality
applied research and practical policy advice.
The views presented here are those of the speaker,
and do not necessarily represent the views of ODI or
our partners.
Overseas Development Institute
203 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8NJ
T: +44 207 9220 300
www.odi.org.uk
www.developmentprogress.org/political-voice
[email protected]

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