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Growth in development cooperation is slowing, but it remains vital for LDCs and the attainment of the MDGs. Providers continue to diversify, with rising South-South, philanthropic and decentralized cooperation. DAC ODA is likely to stagnate over the medium-term, with receding prospects of countries reaching 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2015. More cooperation should flow via multilateral institutions
UN SG: Trends and progress in international development cooperation
New York: In accordance with General Assembly resolution 61/16, the present report [Trends and progress in international development cooperation] is submitted by the Secretary-General for consideration by the Development Cooperation Forum [to meet 5-6 July]. The report builds on discussions at high-level symposia held in Mali in May 2011, in Luxembourg in October 2011, and in Australia in May 2012. The main findings of the report are:
(1) Many MDG8 commitments remain unfulfilled. The crisis is eroding debt sustainability, trade negotiations are stalemated, and access to affordable medicines and technology is patchy. Stronger development cooperation partnerships could accelerate progress.
(2) There has been little progress on coherence between development cooperation and developed countries’ non-aid policies. However, development cooperation can play a strong role in catalyzing domestic financing for development, by increasing tax revenue and access to affordable financial services. Deliberations at DCF preparatory meetings and studies have identified best practices.
(3) Sustainable development implies rethinking the model and results underlying development cooperation, giving prominence to rights to development, equity, employment, sustainable resource use and fighting climate change. Global and national institutions will need to enhance their ability to spur coherent policies that are led by programme countries and fully involve non-executive stakeholders. Mutual accountability processes need to reflect this evolution. Funding needs to be dramatically scaled up and its delivery improved, and partnerships have to be nurtured to catalyse innovation and technology and ensure access for the poor. Best practice stories of development cooperation success need to be validated by ex-ante and ex-post impact analysis to show that they are supporting all three pillars (economic, social and environmental) of sustainable development.
(4) Growth in development cooperation is slowing, but it remains vital for LDCs and the attainment of the MDGs. Providers continue to diversify, with rising South-South, philanthropic and decentralized cooperation. DAC ODA is likely to stagnate over the medium-term, with receding prospects of countries reaching 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2015. More cooperation should flow via multilateral institutions.
(5) There has been some progress on allocating ODA to countries which need it most, but this must be accelerated. Aid modalities continue to be inconsistent with programme countries’ wish to see increased budget support and reduced technical assistance. There needs to be more investment in infrastructure, health systems, basic education and gender equality.
(6) DCF debates have emphasized the importance of a comprehensive approach to assessing the quality and results of development cooperation. Different providers assess quality differently, but programme countries and non-executive stakeholders place particular emphasis on measuring longer-term results, and on assessing progress in increasing predictability, reducing conditionality, fragmentation and tying, and maintaining concessionality, all issues on which progress is poor. Duplication of discussions and frameworks on aid quality should be avoided, for example by building more systematic linkages between post-Busan ministerial meetings and the DCF which is a universal forum.
(7) Accountability and transparency are crucial for results. UN surveys indicate that national strategies, targets for each provider and strong leadership are key to progress on national mutual accountability between provider and programme countries. Such mutual accountability in turn can have a major positive impact on programme country and provider behaviour, and increase results sharply. Mutual accountability should allow all providers and domestic stakeholders to participate much more fully. A strong global MA framework is a prerequisite for national-level progress, as is overcoming capacity constraints. Transparency is also vital, but must be more closely tailored to what is needed for accountability.
(8) Global political dialogue on South-South cooperation has increased since 2008. Flows are set to continue growing. It varies widely in terms of modalities and country focus. DCF studies indicate that South-South infrastructure support is highly cost-effective and predictable, and that well designed SSC in agriculture can boost smallholder production and food security. Triangular cooperation continues to have major advantages, especially for capacity development.
The report ends by making a number of action-oriented recommendations on the future role of development cooperation. These include measures to address the MDG8 commitments, catalyse domestic resources more effectively, promote sustainable development, improve allocation, increase quality and results, accelerate progress on accountability and transparency, and maximize the benefits of South-South and triangular cooperation. Finally, the report considers the possible future role of the Development Cooperation Forum in assisting progress on these initiatives.
A note on the Development Cooperation Forum:
The 2012 UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) will meet on 5 and 6 July at the UN headquarters in New York. It will bring together policy makers, civil society organizations, Members of Parliaments, local authorities and foundations from rich and poor countries. The Forum reviews development cooperation trends. It allows building greater coherence among various development actors. It debates ways to improve the quality and effectiveness of development cooperation and to increase its impact on development goals.
The 2012 DCF meets as development cooperation is in flux. Different actors and new ways of doing things are gaining in importance. A fortnight after the Rio+20 conference, there is broad agreement that development has to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. This is important three years before 2015, the target date for the MDGs, when the United Nations Development Agenda for the coming years is being defined. At the same time, political uncertainty and economic hardship continue to dominate many development scenarios around the globe. Prospects for development cooperation are highly uncertain. Hard-won development gains continue to be derailed by the ongoing crises.
The 2012 DCF provides an opportunity to:
- Encourage development cooperation actors to live up to promises made on aid quantity, quality and effectiveness.
- Provide a platform for all actors to share lessons learned and good practices for making effective use of development cooperation to achieve the MDGs.
- Produce agreement on how to advance sustainable development through development cooperation.
- Promote coherence of development cooperation through country-led, innovative partnerships within and between governments and with non-state actors.
- Promote people-centred accountability for better development results and further develop the role of the DCF and other UN bodies to promote coherence and accountability.
The 2012 DCF will address a few issues where it can advance common understanding among countries and stakeholders to help international negotiations and spur country-level progress.
Informality and frankness are the hallmark of DCF debates. Interactive plenary sessions and special policy dialogues will bring together Ministers of Planning, Finance, Development Cooperation and Foreign Affairs with Executive Heads of international organizations, private companies and foundations, parliamentarians, local governments, civil society representatives and media representatives. The forum will end with a forward looking session on partnering for the future of development.