Strategic Commitment to Accountability

1.1 Statement from the most senior decision-maker of the organisation [GRI NGOSS: p. 25]

ActionAid International
(Reporting period: January – December 2013)

Reason for Good Practice selection: The statement of the CEO provides a thorough account of what accountability means to the organisation and why it is important for strategic decision-making processes at all levels.
As a new Chief Executive of the ActionAid federation and as a long standing ActionAider, I welcome the opportunity to submit our seventh annual report to INGO Accountability Charter. Reporting to the INGO Accountability Charter is a special way of celebrating and reflecting on our work over the year (2013), analyzing the results, achievements and challenges through an accountability lens. It is also an opportunity to invite independent feedback and scrutiny so that we can learn and improve. In the late 1990s ActionAid chose to be thoroughly accountable in the attitude and behaviour we expect from our staff and as a way of working which has huge transformational potential. As an organisation we have come a long way:

• We have continued to fight against poverty and injustice and in our own attitude and behaviour we have tried to be a role model to local governments, large multinationals and other powerful entities;
• We have exposed the formal and informal institutions that have contributed to deepening poverty, and we have strived to be open to feedback and criticism of our work;
• We have worked alongside the powerless, and further decentralised and devolved power in the ActionAid federation. Together with all our supporters around the globe we have sided with people living in poverty and demonstrated the power of solidarity.

As ActionAid grew and gained strength globally (by having more members, supporters, resources), we recognised that we needed to do more to nurture accountability.
Now that we work in 47 countries we must strengthen internal quality assurance and ways of maintaining our authenticity. This need has become even clearer as in many of the countries where we work the space for civil society is shrinking. The global economic turmoil in recent decades made this task more important, ultimately demanding huge organisational change if we are to adapt and survive.

One way of responding to this changing external and internal environment was for ActionAid to rethink and redefine the way we understood and practiced accountability. This redefinition did not mean changing the motivation [1] for accountability that is derived from our constitutional values. Our desire to be a credible and trustworthy organisation working alongside the poor (to strengthen their power and widen their influence) remained the same. Rather, redefining our accountability meant (while reaffirming our commitment to be primarily accountable to the poor) that we acknowledge our other multiple and sometimes conflicting accountabilities. We need to review how we can meet these commitments and be accountable in our strategic decision making at every level.

In 2013, following federation-wide consultation, the General Assembly approved the ActionAid Accountability Charter. By approving the Charter, all members of the federation committed to applying principles of transparency, participation and compliance. We also made a commitment to respond to complaints and learn through evaluations in our day-to-day work and in our decision making.

We are aware of the challenge of applying these principles consistently across the federation, as most success factors are not entirely under our control in the contexts in which we work. However, we can and we will constantly improve the way we work while applying accountability principles in practice. In order to ensure practical application of five accountability principles, we are incorporating them into our annual reporting and annual planning processes. This not only provides us with an opportunity to collect and analyse federation-level data in relation to accountability and track our progress, it also means we are more consistent at local, national and international levels.

As we believe accountability is part of our Theory of Change and is the principle of our human rights based approach to programming, we will further refine and streamline our approach to monitoring and evaluation. This will enable us to gather even stronger evidence to test our Theory of Change and will build our confidence about our transformational potential.

To achieve this we are working very hard towards building a stronger, more agile federation. By establishing new ways of working in the ActionAid federation, we will further devolve power, foster horizontal collaboration and increase networking between members. This will enable us to practise accountability as a dynamic and evidence-driven, decision-making process.

In this report we have tried to address all the issues raised by the Independent Panel. We embrace this opportunity to work with the INGO Accountability Charter and look forward to close collaboration in future.

World Vision International
(Reporting period: October 2011 – December 2012)

Reason for Good Practice selection: The statement of the most senior decision makers in the organisation shows a strong commitment to accountability for World Vision. It can be regarded as Good Practice to include in this a commitment to supporting the sector’s accountability standards and World Vision is giving good examples of where it has done so.

Joint Message from the WVI Board Chair and the International President:
World Vision’s on-going mission on behalf of our primary stakeholders – the children and communities with whom we work – requires the confidence of individual donors, child sponsors, governments, multilateral organisations, corporate partners and peer nongovernment and civil society organisations who support our efforts. We also depend on the passion and commitment of more than 45,000 staff who share

“our vision for every child, life in all its fullness; and
our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so”

This is our fifth annual Accountability Report. It provides system-wide disclosures of the governance and management approaches we use to ensure organisational integrity and alignment with our vision, mission and values. It explains how we strive to encourage the highest standards of personal and professional ethics. And it demonstrates our commitment to continual learning and improvement through honest assessment of our performance, acknowledgment of our mistakes and renewed effort to apply lessons learned.

While our vision, mission and values remain unchanged, many of our approaches and interventions continue to evolve in order to meet the increasingly complex challenges of the 21st century and the growing diversity of actors on the international development stage. We emphasise the need to listen to citizens at every stage of our work. We continue to improve our collection and analysis of data, especially the tracking of Child Well-being Targets, which all our offices have adopted.

World Vision is committed to playing its part in shaping the sector’s accountability standards. In 2011 and 2012, World Vision staff contributed to meetings on Aid and Development Effectiveness in Korea, the International Aid Transparency Initiative, Inter-Agency Task Forces on Accountability to Affected Populations and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, various Humanitarian Accountability initiatives and the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Brazil.

Effective governance is essential for an organisation to have a dynamic strategy and meaningful accountability. World Vision has supported initiatives such as the Global Governance Project of the International Civil Society Centre, participated in critical assessment of the governance challenges facing the humanitarian sector and encouraged confidence-building cooperation among agencies on difficult issues.

We commend our staff and partners around the world for their commitment to improving accountability and effectiveness, and look forward to continuing on the journey with you.