From aid effectiveness to development effectiveness

Based on notes from Ian Percy*

The process of ministerial discussions around aid effectiveness that produced the Paris Declaration in 2005 and continued in Accra 2008 with the Accra Agenda for Action will have a new High Level Forum (HLF4) in Busan, Korea, in 2011. An intergovernmental Working Party (WP-EFF), with the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and the World Bank acting as secretariat, is organizing the Busan meeting. Social Watch is part of the coordinating group of the BetterAid coalition, an alliance of civil society organizations (CSOs) that tries to influence this process and shift the discourse from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness.

A monitoring survey on the implementation of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness is currently being conducted. Global civil society, represented through the BetterAid platform is worried about the inclusion of two optional indicators on Democratic Ownership and Gender. The optional status of these indicators is an issue, as they may be ignored. To ensure that these important issues are not missed, the Reality of Aid Network, a BA member, will conduct shadow reports in a number of countries which specifically include these indicators.

For Busan, BetterAid demands that the agenda is deepened beyond the technical aid agenda, which has been the focus of the WP-EFF process, towards a more holistic view of development effectiveness. The HLF4 should focus on verifiable outcomes to avoid another meeting where lip service is paid to existing commitments and then ignored. 

In the short term, this view demands that any post Paris agreement is ambitious, political, binding on signatories and includes better indicators and time-bound targets.  In the longer term, BetterAid advocates for a Convention on Development Cooperation to pave the way for an inclusive and accountable system to coherently promote socially balanced and sustainable development. 

BetterAid would like to see a concerted effort and focus on achieving visible results on the ground, in other words a commitment to ensuring the rights of and sustainable improvements in the lives of poor and marginalized peoples.

While the WP-EFF process has made important improvements to the international aid architecture, it is an inherently illegitimate process that is mostly driven by donors, with “partner” countries having little power and therefore exercising little voice. In recognition of the power imbalances within the OECD, BetterAid is advocating for a shift in the forum for post-Busan discussions of development cooperation and effectiveness to the United Nations. 

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* Ian is working as a consultant at the Social Watch Secretariat and attended the series of meetings of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EFF) Plenary, held in Paris 25-29 October 2010.