Busan in a Nutshell: What next for the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation?

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The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, established in Busan, South Korea in 2011, set the international standard on the principles of effective aid and good development to which all development actors should subscribe. These principles include: country leadership and ownership of development strategies
  OXFAM BRIEFING NOTE 2 OCTOBER 2012 www.oxfam.org   Alice collecting some of her ground nut crop, Copperbelt, Zambia (2006). © Emma Walsh/Oxfam BUSAN IN A NUTSHELL What next for the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation? The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, established in Busan, South Korea in 2011, set the international standard on the principles of effective aid and good development to which all development actors should subscribe. These principles include: country leadership and ownership of development strategies; a focus on results that matter to the poor in developing countries; inclusive partnerships among development actors based on mutual trust; and transparency and accountability to one another. All development stakeholders  –  including traditional donors and emerging providers  –  must respect and uphold these key principles by fulfilling the promises they made at Busan. For this to happen, the Global Partnership will need to rely on strong vision, high-level political engagement and a robust but flexible global accountability mechanism.  2 MILESTONES OF EFFECTIVE  AID AND DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION For decades, global development discussions predominantly revolved around the volume of aid given and received. But the 2002 Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development broadened the focus of discussions to include the quality   of the cooperation provided as a key determinant of progress. Both donors and recipients realized they needed to improve how aid was delivered to make it useful for beneficiaries. Oxfam has been actively involved in this debate, pushing for higher quality standards and aid that works for the people who need it most. 1  In the years that followed, three High Level Fora on Aid Effectiveness were convened by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): in Rome (2003), in Paris (2005) and Accra (2008). Each forum marked a step forward. In Rome, donor and recipient countries were asked, for the first time, to focus their discussions exclusively on aid quality, with the result that they agreed to harmonize donor practices for improved performance. 2  However, this approach left the essential contribution of recipient countries to aid effectiveness out of the equation and raised concerns that even harmonized approaches might undermine country ownership. The Paris forum acknowledged the need to include recipient governments in an ongoing dialogue on how to improve aid and shift the focus of the debate from effective donorship to effective partnership. Developing countries were invited to join the negotiating table on par with their cooperation providers. 3  The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness 4  committed signatories to respect and implement five basic principles: harmonization of donor policies and practices; alignment to national development strategies; mutual accountability; a focus on measuring and delivering results for people; and ownership of development cooperation. But, beyond making a list of good intentions, Paris also produced a clear scorecard to hold development partners accountable for what they were promising: a set of 12 indicators to measure progress in a number of crucial areas, such as the predictability of aid flows to developing country governments; the use of developing countries‟ financial and administrative systems; and the transfer of technical capacity to local staff. Each indicator included targets and a deadline to achieve them by 2010. Partners also agreed to monitor their own progress towards the governance commitments they made. Aid effectiveness was finally gaining momentum in the global development scene. The Accra Agenda for Action, 5  agreed at the Accra forum in 2008, further refined the commitments agreed in Paris and engaged other key   3 development stakeholders, like civil society organizations (CSOs) and the private sector. It went a step further in crucial areas like medium-term predictability of aid, the use of country systems, transparency, gender-equality, and conditionality. For the first time, Accra recognized CSOs as development actors in their own right, even though they still could not access the negotiating table, and acknowledged their efforts in addressing the quality of their own performance. In turn, CSOs committed to translate these efforts into a set of principles and guidelines which would improve their own effectiveness in delivering cooperation services and promoting development. In Accra, donors and partner countries were also asked to create better conditions for CSOs to operate more efficiently on the ground and to reach more people in need of assistance. Despite the ambitious agenda agreed in Paris and Accra, tangible results were slow to come. In survey after survey, results seemed harder to find on the donor side, often due to a lack of political will; 6  developing countries seemed to be performing relatively better than their provider counterparts. Meanwhile, the development landscape was changing rapidly. Outside of the traditional Western aid model, where decisions over the direction and purpose of aid were from the North to the South, developing countries were starting to experience the impact of years of cooperation with advanced Southern nations, such as China, India and Brazil. „South–South cooperation‟ had remained largely unknown to OECD members, yet it was gaining in scale and influence at an unprecedented pace in a growing number of developing regions. Without the participation of Southern donors, discussions on the quality of development cooperation would soon become either outdated or irrelevant. Likewise, some governments and observers, including CSOs, argued that the scope of the debate needed broadening from „aid effectiveness‟ to „development effectiveness‟, in order to capture how different factors at play in any given country  –  aid, but also foreign direct investment, trade regulations, debt relief, labour laws, etc.  –  affected each other and whether they actually fostered progress once taken together. Development effectiveness better reflected the goal of „policy coherence for development‟, which both donors and recipients had been discussing for years. 7   Addressing these issues and taking stock of the progress made over the last decade dominated the fourth and final High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (also known as HLF4), held in Busan, South Korea in late 2011. The results of the Paris surveys and final evaluation were clear: disappointingly little progress had been made. Only one of the agreed 13 targets had been achieved: the way technical cooperation was coordinated  –  how donors worked together on the ground. On the whole, it was confirmed that recipient countries had performed better than donors on mutual commitments; 8  they had tried harder to keep their part of the deal. CSOs had also kept their promise. By organizing themselves through the BetterAid platform and the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness, they had held national and regional  4 consultations and arrived in Busan with an agreed set of Principles and an International Framework for CSO development effectiveness. 9  At this point, some advocates and partner countries began to publicly question whether cooperation providers were really serious about fulfilling their Paris and Accra commitments. 10  There was a need to revitalize the process and renew trust among all parties involved. The HLF4 in Busan delivered on several of these challenges. It renewed the most critical commitments donors had made in Paris and Accra and focused attention on the need to keep their political engagement high. It broadened the scope of the talks by giving negotiating status to a diverse range of development stakeholders, including Southern providers, CSOs (represented by the BetterAid network), parliamentarians, and the private sector. It promoted fundamental development drivers, such as human rights, democratic ownership of development plans and activities, gender equality, and effective institutions. It recognized that the set of indicators developed in Paris had driven positive policy change and ensured accountability, but needed to be revised. Most importantly, the Busan forum created a new venue to carry the aid effectiveness conversation forward: the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, supported not just by the OECD, but also by the full UN system, especially the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Development Cooperation Forum (UNDCF). Busan also promoted a number of voluntary initiatives called „Building Blocks‟ with the aim of sharing best practices and showcasing successful examples of effective development under the leadership of developing countries. Eight Building Blocks were launched at HLF4; 11  since then some have advanced more rapidly than others. However, they do not officially report to the Global Partnership and their future remains unclear.
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