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Canada’s approach to transparency and open dialogue in Canadian international assistance - Guidance note

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This guidance note outlines the Government of Canada’s approach to encouraging transparency and open dialogue in international assistance, which includes international development, humanitarian assistance, and peace and security initiatives.

By setting out expectations and providing guidance for Global Affairs Canada’s staff and partners, this guidance note contributes to the implementation of the 2017 Feminist International Assistance Policy; reflects the Government of Canada’s broader commitment to transparency and open government principles; and seeks to increase effectiveness in achieving sustainable development results that benefit the poorest and most vulnerable, including women and girls.

The 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness set out donors’ commitments to sharing more information about their aid activities in support of greater harmonization and effectiveness of development efforts. Subsequent multi-stakeholder efforts such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and the Open Government Partnership (launched in 2008 and 2011 respectively) further advance global efforts to enhance transparency, participation and inclusiveness. Canada is committed to advancing this agenda, including by working with partners to foster a culture of transparency and open dialogue on its aid efforts and, more broadly, progress on the global stage.

As laid out in Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, the full participation of women and marginalized groups in a country’s development is central to eradicating poverty and building a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world. They should have a voice—from setting development priorities to delivering services and evaluating impact.


What is…?

For the Government of Canada:

The mission of the Open Government Partnership is to make government more accessible to everyone through transparency and empowerment. Canada joined the partnership in 2011 and hosted the 2019 OGP Summit as the government co-chair.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the three main components of open government are transparency, accountability and participation.

Case for action

Transparency and open dialogue improve opportunities for sustainable development…

Transparency and open dialogue lead to better policies and services, promote public-sector integrity and help to secure the trust of citizens in public administrations.

… and are feminist issues.

Women, girls and marginalized or disadvantaged groups often face greater challenges in accessing information or participating. This entrenches traditional power dynamics and can limit their opportunity to push for change.

The global community has made several commitments over the years to enhancing transparency and stakeholder participation in international assistance, including through the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the World Humanitarian Summit, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Open Government Partnership and the 2030 Agenda.

Canada’s commitments

The Government of Canada has set a higher bar on openness and transparency, striving to be open by default and to exercise leadership through constructive dialogue with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including in the sphere of development innovation and effectiveness by strengthening aid transparency and the collection, analysis and use of data.

As a leader on feminist open government in support of the 2030 Agenda, Canada adheres to transparency in tracking progress on the 2030 Agenda to help ensure no one is left behind. This includes a strong emphasis on disaggregated data to support intersectional analysis.

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy adopts a human rights-based approach and commits to increasing transparency on activities and results to maximize the effectiveness of Canada’s international assistance. In addition, the Policy’s inclusive governance action area aims to foster societies in which all stakeholders interact to make decisions and allocate resources.

In its Policy for Civil Society Partnerships for International Assistance, Canada has committed to working with civil society organizations to empower citizens to assume ownership of their development and to improve access to information about the activities and results of civil society partners.

The Government of Canada has also committed to enhance the transparency of Canada’s International Assistance Envelope; improve reporting; and move to a single, consolidated international assistance report.

Feminist analysis and gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) are central to Canada’s efforts. They can provide critical entry points for engagement and programming that reflect women’s diverse roles as producers, users and subjects of information.

Canada’s approach to improving transparency and open dialogue in international assistance

Canada seeks to make its international assistance more accountable and effective by enabling stakeholders (including local and marginalized groups) to have access to comprehensive and high-quality information on Canada’s international assistance activities and opportunities to engage with Global Affairs Canada on its policies and programs.

Four key principles will guide Canada’s actions:

Building on Canada’s commitments and informed by engagement with stakeholders, the Government of Canada will take a targeted approach to transparency and open dialogue in international assistance through three main pathways to effectiveness.

Text version

Pathway 1: Provide a comprehensive picture of Canadian international assistance activities

Pathway 2: Improve dialogue with stakeholders

Pathway 3: Nurture a supportive global context

Pathway 1: Comprehensive picture

Provide a comprehensive picture of Canadian international assistance activities by improving the quality of information and reports on international assistance and by encouraging partners and other departments to share information about their activities and results.

a. Increase transparency of the Government of Canada’s international assistance

b. Strengthen partners’ transparency

Efforts in this pathway will build on Canada’s strengths such as:

Delivering on Budget 2018

Starting in March 2020, Canada will present a comprehensive story of its international assistance in a single report, leveraging its dynamic web content and interactive tools.

Pathway 2: Dialogue with stakeholders

Improve dialogue with Canadians and other stakeholders, including by enhancing access to data and information.

a. Encourage greater use of information on Canada’s international assistance

b. Encourage meaningful consultations and dialogue (including with local stakeholders)

Efforts in this pathway will build on Canada’s strengths such as:

Enhancing data on international assistance and interactive tools such as the Project Browser can enhance awareness and understanding of how Canada and its partners contribute to sustainable development results, leading to better-informed dialogue with stakeholders.

Pathway 3: Supportive global context

Nurture a supportive global context by championing open government principles at the global, regional and country level.

a. Champion open government principles at the global, regional and country level

b. Support the development of global open government norms and tools

Efforts in this pathway will build on Canada’s strengths such as:

Inclusive innovation will be key to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Enhancing transparency and open dialogue can help foster innovation that empowers the most vulnerable, including women and girls.

Implementation and results

Canada’s Theory of Change on Transparency and Open Dialogue:


Global Affairs Canada will coordinate the implementation and monitoring of Canada’s approach to transparency and open dialogue in international assistance as set out in this note.

In particular, the department will provide guidance and tools that will help staff and partners integrate this approach in their international assistance activities, in order to publish more and better information, make greater use of data, engage in dialogue and partnerships, and champion open government principles. These resources may include, for instance, more detailed “how to” notes on relevant topics and online tools to use development-related data.

Monitoring and reporting

A monitoring framework will enable Global Affairs Canada to assess progress and identify lessons learned.

The Government of Canada will monitor and report on the effectiveness of its international assistance, including transparency and open dialogue, through relevant national and global reporting mechanisms. These include in particular the new consolidated international assistance report, program evaluations, the OECD Development Assistance Committee Peer Reviews, and the monitoring process of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.


Peoples’ access to information and their participation in government affairs, from policies to program delivery and monitoring, are essential conditions to achieving sustainable development results and leaving no one behind, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda.

Canada is responding to this imperative and taking action to make its international assistance more responsive, accountable and effective.

The three pathways outlined in this note will help guide improvements to Canada’s international assistance policies and operations, resulting in greater access to high-quality information on Canada’s international assistance activities and more opportunities for stakeholders to engage with Global Affairs Canada on its policies and programs.

By setting clear expectations for itself and its partners regarding transparency and open dialogue, and by championing these principles on the global stage, Canada will better support the achievement of its Feminist International Assistance Policy and of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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