Transparency: a bridge towards trust

30 July 2018

[This post was originally published by Transparify and was written by the communications team at Transnational Institute.]

The Transnational Institute’s mission is to strengthen international social movements with rigorous research, reliable information, sound analysis and constructive proposals that advance progressive, democratic policy change and common solutions to global problems. For more than 40 years, TNI has served as a unique nexus between social movements, engaged scholars, and policy makers.  All the different strands of our work have an important element at their core: the element of trust.

If our research is to be useful to the social movements we work with, they must know that we do not spearhead ulterior agendas. This is a trust we have cultivated with our partners for decades.

TNI’s sense of integrity and commitment to the independence and intellectual rigor of the knowledge we produce are what draw the bright intellectual lights who work with us to our team. They know that a reverence for truth and intellectual probity are key to credibility, and thus to effective advocacy.  Policymakers, even those who may not necessarily agree with us, have to rely on rigorous thought and analysis to make decisions that impact lives and shape the societies we live in.

TNI holds firm to the notion that ideas have consequences. For instance, our research was used in support of the telecoms trade union in Cali, Colombia, and played a role in halting the planned privatization of the public telecoms company EMCALI. We have worked with rural communities in South Africa who are fighting the destruction of their communal lands in the name of development. Our research has also been used to fight back against free trade agreements that undermine human rights and democracy in South East Asia.

The nature of our work, of creating bold and well researched radical critiques, has made us many friends. It has also, necessarily, ruffled the feathers of many, particularly those who find themselves the subjects of our examinations. It is no surprise then that transparency has always been important to us to keep the confidence of our allies and to deflect the barbs of those who would see our work diminished.

In a context where established knowledge is under attack, where skepticism toward intellectual authority is growing, and where fake news is rampant, it is ever more important that think-tanks and knowledge producers not only profess their own transparency, but seek ways to independently show who funds their work, and for what purposes.

It is TNI’s pleasure to be granted the maximum rating of five stars by Transparify.  The rating shows that TNI is “highly transparent” about its funding sources, shows all its donors, and clearly identifies funding amounts and sources of funding for particular projects. It is external confirmation of the practices and due diligence we have always meticulously followed, and verifies that we operate according to the same ethics and rules that we consistently demand from others.

We hope that in submitting to the Transparify process, we lend steam and momentum to wider-ranging transparency across the entire think tank sector, and ultimately, that we can contribute to collectively maintaining public trust in our work.