Hidden Money, Hidden Resources: Financing Development with Transparency

From 13-16 October in Lima, Peru, “Hidden Money, Hidden Resources: Financing Development with Transparency” was co-convened by the Financial Transparency Coalition and the Red Latinoamericana sobre Deuda, Desarollo y Derechos (Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights), or Latindadd. Constructed as a two-day conference bookended by a smaller orientation and strategy session for journalists and civil society, the workshop addressed relevant regional issues of illicit financial flows in relation to development policy, extractive industries, taxation, governance, and accountability. Approximately 130 participants, representing governments, civil society organizations, media, and other experts from throughout Latin America, engaged in collective analysis of the regional context of illicit financial flows and outlined specific proposals to curb this trend.

Anita Nayar, Senior Policy Advisor at the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, introduced the Regions Refocus 2015 project within the context of regional cooperation and the implementation of sustainable development objectives. Regions Refocus 2015 fosters regional and cross-regional policy workshops between civil society, governments, sub-regional alliances, and the UN – including this Lima meeting and four previous workshops – and supports regionally grounded understandings of global policy processes.

The Regions Refocus 2015 project of the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation supported the participation of a feminist caucus at this regional workshop, coordinated by Nicole Bidegain of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN). The group, including feminist economists from Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, and Ecuador, met daily and raised issues of the gendered implications of illicit financial outflows in various sessions. Building on this engagement, the caucus put together a collaborative targeted outcome and strategy document (draft version available in English here and Spanish here). The statement points to targeted linkages between illicit flows, tax policies, and gender justice, particularly regarding the sufficiency of funds that states have at their disposal vis-à-vis their obligation to commit the maximum available resources to fulfilling human rights.

Participants also engaged with the linkages between illicit financial flows and public-private partnerships (PPPs), and both government and civil society representatives proposed the creation of concrete policy and criteria for private sector participation in PPPs and other types of development financing. Several participants emphasized the need to ensure adequate resources to implement the new sustainable development agenda. Directing capital flows to the benefit of people and societies, rather than strengthening the profit margins of private companies, is an important challenge that should be addressed in the global multilateral arena as well as at regional level, participants stressed.

The upcoming Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) was also discussed as an important political opportunity in which to raise many of the recommendations on international financial transparency, illicit financial flows, and a rights-based approach to sustainable development financing that arose from the Lima meeting.