The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) is a global campaign to create transparency in the records of how aid money is spent. The initiative hopes to thereby ensure that aid money reaches its intended recipients. The ultimate goal is to improve standards of living worldwide and globally reduce poverty. The IATI also publishes a standard to be used by organizations, allowing different datasets to be combined and shared.
The initiative was launched on September 4, 2008, at the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Accra, Ghana.:3 The goal of the forum was to refocus attention worldwide on the steps needed to reach the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals. It was presented by the United Kingdom's Secretary of International Development Douglas Alexander; along with Kemal Dervi?, Head of the United Nations Development Programme; James Musconi, the Rwandan finance minister; and Kumi Naidoo, then president of CIVICUS. Mr. Alexander recommended creating a common set of openness standards by which donors can be judged. 14 international donors pledged to expand transparency as a result, and an agreement was reached to develop a common format for the release of aid information by 2010. A statement was issued by the signatories, which formally accepted the policies set forth in the Accra Agenda for Action and agreed to form the IATI. The text of the statement suggests that aid donors should::1
The statement was agreed to by a variety of international donors, including the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Irish Aid, the World Bank, the UK's Department for International Development, the United Nations Development Program, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
After a period of widespread engagement of donors, governments and NGOs and consultation on the information to be shared, and how it should be shared, the IATI Standard was agreed on 9 February 2011 in Paris.
At the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Busan, Korea in November 2011, the Initiative received continued support. In the run up to the forum, over 19 donors, including 12 government and multilateral donors, and a number of small NGOs, started publishing information on their aid projects using the IATI Standard .
The IATI Standard combines a list of the information that donors publishing data as part of the Initiative should seek to publish, along with an XML schema and collection of code lists for representing that information as structured open data. Donors publishing data using the standard are encouraged to submit meta-data to the IATI Registry, which lists the available data.
The IATI Standard succeeds two previous standardisation efforts for aid activity information: the Common Exchange Format for Development Activities CEFDA (developed from 1991), and International Development Markup Language IDML (developed from 1998) and used by Development Gateway as part of the data transfer standard in the AidData database.
James Coe, a senior advocacy officer at Publish What You Fund, wrote in August 2016 that there are over 35,000 agriculture-related activities in the IATI Registry, but "only a small number provide the locations of activities and even fewer provide some form of data on the outcome", making the data difficult to use.