Comments on draft outline of lit review on democratic governance & MDG achievement

OCG is working on a few papers for both Rio+20 and post-2015. One of them is this one (ODI-Outline-Democratic-Governance-and-MDGs-23-May-2012 which has been commissioned to ODI.

Here are my comments.

1. Methodology: I am unsure whether I understood the proposed methodology. The opening paragraph argues for evidence-based contributions, but it is not clear to me where we are doing this. Section IV seems to be the place where we will be able to find this stuff, but it is not entirely clear how or what tools we will be using to do this.

2. I am unsure why participation is not part of the study. While we openly mention human rights, transparency and accountability, we seem to have left participation out of the equation. Stakeholders’ participation in the overall MDG process is critical to achieving the targets. Giving voice to people and stakeholders in decision-making processes AND implementing policies and programs is one way to ensure more effectiveness in delivery, transparency, and accountability. Actually, one critical hypothesis we could check/text here is whether the participation of non-state actors has a positive effect on MDG achievement. Seems to me also that we are using the word “democracy” as a proxy for participation

3. If we focus on participation, then we must also include the “soft” part of “service delivery,” that is, the role of voice and communications in the MDG process. Here, access to information, new technologies, institutional mechanisms that need to be developed to capture the voices of stakeholders, etc., need to be tackled to have a comprehensive approach.

4. We also need to probably highlight not only “service delivery” but “pro-poor” service delivery (poor here understood in the socio-economic and political sense). Ultimately, governments must not only deliver services but specifically focus on providing the most vulnerable populations with essential services and information and making them part of the overall process. Most governments, however, do not take such an approach (i.e., pro-poor) and instead work on the principle of trickle-down implementation (that is, the services will eventually reach the poor, but then they never really do). In collaboration with India, we have done some work on pro-poor service delivery. I can share some of our stuff if you think it will help. We, of course, include the use of ICTs in the delivery of services following the example of India, Brazil and other emerging economies that successfully deliver pro-poor service. ICTs are not JUST tools. They can indeed CHANGE how services are offered.

5. I think we should consider having some sort of framework for section 2. It is now called reflections, but we should probably make this a bit stronger, be a bit more ambitious and try to come up with an analytical framework.

6. I am surprised that we do not include MDG 1 in the analysis. Given UNDP’s relevance to inclusive growth and inequality, I think this is a must. On the other hand, we, as UNDP, do little to nothing on MDG 2.

7. If we are doing political economy analysis for some of the stuff, then I also suggest we include political economy analysis for communication. There are several books and case studies on this.

All for now.

Cheers, Raúl

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