Development
July 18, 2013

Value for Many: Good governance and development

The Lough Erne Accountability Report states that the G8 has played a constructive role in promoting better governance in the developing world. It cites the G8’s 70 percent funding of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism to promote democratic processes, citizen rights, and the rule of law. The Report goes on to highlight examples of how corruption and corporate social responsibility are being addressed.

International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino commented that “the report shows that Canada delivers on its commitments. Looking forward, Canada will continue to work with its G-8 partners to reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic growth in the developing world.” He pointed to May’s announcement of the ‘Building a Capable State’ project to assist South Africa in strengthening public institutions to deliver quality, accountable services.

Africa Governance Initiative patron Tony Blair says that “countries with good governance do best at turning economic growth into improved well-being.” The ‘Africa rising’ narrative is central to the debate on the continent’s development. Eight of the world’s top 30 countries making the greatest gains in well-being in the last five years are from sub-Saharan Africa. Their governments committed politically to reform, prioritized reforms ruthlessly, and implemented supporting structures and systems.

The international scene witnessed disparate notions and controversial measures of governance over the past decade — ‘good enough’ governance, ‘best fit’ solutions, common indicators, comparative rankings. To improve clarity, the Commonwealth embraced the following definitions to operationalize development work and gauge progress:

• ‘Governance’ involves the formation and stewardship of the formal and informal rules that regulate the public realm, including its political, economic and social dimensions; and
• ‘Good Governance’ enables the development of public value through institutions and processes that promote accountability, transparency, predictability, participation, and capacity.

Stanford’s Francis Fukuyama questions how the quality of government and its institutions should be defined conceptually and measured practically: What are the features of good governance? How has the quality of public sector management evolved? What are the key trends and drivers of change? How can reforms improve the quality of government? He sees a causal chain between the quality of governance institutions and efforts to tackle exclusion, prevent corruption, and improve service delivery.

As a founding member and the seventh-largest shareholder in the World Bank Group, Canada has a responsibility and platform to ensure that the development community achieves real results in a fragile global economy. It has a big stake in development outcomes like growth, competitiveness, and poverty reduction. Canada can be a game changer when it models good governance and champions ‘value for many’. Its domestic record and credibility have been spotty of late.

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