This publication originally appeared on the eurodad website. Original Author: Nerea Craviotto Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer at the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad).
Last month, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) - a broad and high level association of governments and organisations tasked with ensuring development cooperation works - hosted its latest summit. The stakes could not have been higher as the world enters 2023.
During three days of deliberations in Geneva, the more than 500 participants referenced the current polycrisis and its impact on rising poverty numbers; the increasing levels of inequalities within and between countries; and the constant spread of climate-related disasters across the global south. Most recognised that almost 20 years after the publication of the Paris Principles on aid effectiveness, which were meant to increase the efficiency of aid delivery, and the subsequent Busan agreement in 2011, progress was nowhere near sufficient and more needed to be done.
And this time, some action did come.
The major achievement of the summit was the launch of a new monitoring framework. Following repeated calls to stop failing the “country ownership” principle and urgently support country resilience across the global south, the updated framework aims to boost this, strengthening indicators and allowing governments that receive aid to lead on monitoring its effectiveness. This framework is voluntary, and its true value will be determined when implemented, but it is nevertheless very positive news.
More on this and other highlights of the Geneva summit, which culminated in the Geneva Summit Declaration, below.
Monitoring Framework 3.0 - new opportunities for ownership and accountability
The reformed Global Partnership Monitoring Framework will provide evidence on progress in implementing the effective development co-operation commitments at the country, regional and global level. The new agreed set of indicators is stronger: on the one hand, they will help with continually tracking progress made towards reaching country ownership, transparency and accountability, and thus continue promoting these principles across all development actors. On the other, the reviewed framework will start gathering evidence on how development actors (across the spectrum) contribute to “leaving no one behind”. The goal is to also assess the effective engagement of the private sector in development cooperation, informed by the Kampala Principles - a new blueprint for making private sector partnerships more effective.
Furthermore, the collection of evidence should lead to dialogues and action plans at country level that should create political momentum and behaviour change. As mentioned above, donors' delivery of the effectiveness principles will be assessed from the perspective of the those receiving their support - and we can certainly expect countries across the global south to nail what needs to be changed. Hand-in-hand, donor profiles will be developed, aiming to point out the strengths and weaknesses in the delivery of the Effectiveness Principles. Generally speaking, the new monitoring framework elevates the relevance of the development effectiveness agenda, which is in need of political support.
The first round will start in 2023 and data collection will be complete by 2026 - so far 35 countries in the global south have submitted their interest in carrying out this exercise. For CSOs and other actors looking for a transparent, comprehensive and inclusive insight into the performance of development cooperation, this remains a vital exercise that should maintain its rigour and frequency.
The continuing fragmentation of aid flows
An issue of great concern at the summit was the ongoing fragmentation of aid flows, particularly considering that the Paris Declaration was agreed almost two decades ago. Furthermore, in Busan, donor countries committed to harmonise and coordinate their development operations. Yet, a decade later, development activities remain highly fragmented. According to WB data three out of four aid and other development cooperation flows were implemented by entities other than the recipient governments. More than half (55 per cent) of these transactions were implemented by donor government entities, multilateral institutions, and NGOs (where it is possible to track the flows). This poses questions about aid coordination.
During the Summit, African countries called for the establishment of a high-level working group to develop a roadmap and time-bound action plan to fulfill the commitments made in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Action Agenda (2008). This reminded the GPEDC community that, as their statement recognises, “much remains to be done”. This will be discussed (and hopefully agreed) at the next GPEDC Steering Committee which should take place early in 2023.
There were also commitments from South-South development cooperation actors to track more consistently their cooperation flows, which is an initiative to be welcomed. Should it materialise, it would raise the profile of South-South cooperation and give more information about the development cooperation volumes they mobilise each year.
The way forward
According to many of the CSOs that were present, this latest summit helped push the effectiveness agenda in the right direction. It also allowed fair participation from countries in the global south and civil society. One missing actor this year was the private sector - which raises questions about its interest in this agenda.
With the dawn of 2023, many of the expectations to put the effectiveness commitments into practice are held within the revised monitoring framework, and anchored in actions at country level. It remains to be seen if all these ingredients will be sufficient.
As always, real progress in 2023 will also depend on OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) membership - ie the wealthy donor nations - stepping up in the implementation of the effectiveness commitments, with countries in the global south in the lead. The active participation of DAC Chair Susanna Moorehead in the Summit sent a positive sign in terms of engagement in the GPEDC.
At the Summit, Indonesia and Sweden were announced as the new GPEDC co-Chairs. And a new programme for 2023 and beyond is currently in the making. Effective development cooperation ensures that aid becomes more effective in reducing poverty, addressing inequalities and achieving sustainable development. With the deadline to meet the Sustainable Development Goals around the corner, there is no time to lose.