Poverty is not falling quickly enough to end by 2030 – time to make development co-operation more effective

Every year the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development (FfD) Follow-up reviews the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) – a 15-year, intergovernmental deal on financing for development adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015, which aims to help the world achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and end poverty by 2030.

The 2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF) informed this year’s forum, which was held last month in New York. The IATF stressed that, while poverty fell worldwide last year, the international community is not on track to eradicate it by 2030. A cocktail of country-specific and global economic headwinds, natural disasters, climate change-related problems and humanitarian crises slowed efforts. Continued slow growth will mean 6.5% of the world’s population remains in extreme poverty in 2030. The report calls for more money, better spent.

Crucially, the IATF appealed for action to increase long-term and high-quality investment for sustainable development, complemented by measures to address economic vulnerabilities. This requires greater adherence to internationally-agreed principles on development co-operation: country ownership, a focus on results, inclusive partnerships and transparency and mutual accountability. These principles continue to guide the work of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (Global Partnership).

The 2017 FfD Forum’s intergovernmentally agreed Outcome Document welcomed continued efforts to improve the quality, impact and effectiveness of development co-operation across all types of partnerships and took note of the Global Partnership’s Second High-Level Meeting, which took place in Nairobi in late 2016.

But now, it’s time to move from principles and commitments to evidence-based and co-ordinated action, including:

Funding nationally-designated priorities, using countries’ own systems. Because development resources have a greater impact when they respond to specific country needs, within the priorities set by countries themselves, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda underscored that cohesive, nationally-owned development strategies are crucial for achievement of the SDGs. According to the UN Development Co-operation Forum’s National Mutual Accountability survey, 90% of countries now have them in place. However, in countries surveyed by Global Partnership monitoring, while 85% of development partners’ new projects and programmes have objectives aligned to national priorities, only 52% of results are tracked using government’s own sources and systems. On use of national public financial management systems, the same monitoring process tells us that performance is mixed.

Improving public-private dialogue. The AAAA underscores the private sector’s potential role in helping to achieve the 2030 Agenda, and according to Global Partnership monitoring, partnerships for development are becoming more inclusive overall. Public and private officials are increasingly enthusiastic about co-operating, but more can be done to ensure that dialogue is more efficient and organised at the country level. Inclusive dialogue between government, the private sector and civil society can help manage risks and gear investment toward leaving no one behind.

More transparency for stronger accountability. Transparency between partners is essential for fostering strong accountability and is improving globally, with more information on development resources available than ever before. But predictability is important too. The Global Partnership’s 2016 monitoring shows that in surveyed countries, annual predictability of resources has not improved over the past five years, falling short of the Busan commitment. Development partners should make funding increasingly predictable and transparent.

Accelerating learning and adapting our approach. The IATF report indicates that partnerships are going beyond financial contributions and North-South technical assistance. Collaborative learning models to share forward-thinking, adaptable and cost-efficient solutions to address development challenges are founded on the principle of country ownership over the development process. South-South Co-operation and other innovative mechanisms for peer learning should be further leveraged to strengthen the means of implementation for the SDGs.

Consensus is necessary, but so is action. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s diversity and renewed purpose from Nairobi is ready to help improve the quality of development co-operation for achieving the SDGs and ending poverty by 2030.

Michael O’Neill represents UNDP/UNDG on the Global Partnership’s Steering Committee

Changing the conversation on aid and investment: Designing a new dialogue framework for Tanzania

The Government of Tanzania and its development partners (DPs) recognise that the development finance landscape is changing rapidly, both globally and nationally. In 2015, Tanzania renewed its focus on its transition to a middle income country and its ambition to become a semi-industrialized nation. For decades, aid accounted for half of the country’s budget. It now stands at slightly above 10%. With Tanzania no longer aid dependent, there is an opportunity and a need for new dialogue.

Tanzania first made use of an independent group of experts to assess challenges in its aid relationship in 1995, with an arrangement later formalised in a now-discontinued Independent Monitoring Group.

Last year, a facilitation team led by Donald Kaberuka, along with Jim Adams, Steve Kayizzi Mugerwa and Mugisha Kamugisha was commissioned to provide options for new avenues for an enhanced dialogue and to discuss, at the highest levels, how to strengthen trust and confidence between Tanzania and international authorities. This ‘dialogue facilitation’ exercise entailed a full review of the existing dialogue structures and relationships, seeking to make them fit for purpose.

The case for reform

All parties are hoping the outcome of the exercise will bring about innovation and fresh ideas to ensure the private sector and non-traditional partners are better involved in and part of development initiatives in Tanzania. New financing instruments are needed to respond to investment gaps in infrastructure and other productive sectors, and to sustain gains in the social sectors. The cost of the Five Year Development Plan II (2016-21) is equivalent to TZS 107 trillion (twice the amount for the FYDP I) and is expected to rely heavily on private sector financing.

Going forward, a renewed dialogue framework should respond to alignment, predictability and transparency concerns in the delivery of Official Development Assistance (ODA). An inclusive ‘development dialogue’ that looks beyond ODA, as articulated in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, is necessary.

At the first development dialogue workshop in 2016, Servacius Likwelile, then-Permanent Secretary of the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, spoke of the Kaberuka Process as an opportunity to examine the broader strategic issues of the aid relationship, and to enable the Government and DPs to discuss and identify obstacles.

“We should not run away from addressing challenges,” then-Secretary Likwelile said.

During the second development dialogue workshop in March 2017, the Honorable Minister of Finance and Planning, Philip Mpango, invited partners to “prepare to invest in a stronger relationship.”

True, effective partnership should include professional, open and constructive dialogue about shared objectives and achievements. It should also prioritise mutual accountability for linking efforts to better results. The credibility of the renewed agenda will depend on the degree to which DPs can deliver on commitments to quality and quantity of development cooperation, and on the ability to scale up innovative approaches for the development of Tanzania.

The Kaberuka Report: recommendations and roadmap

The Kaberuka Final Report of April 2017 makes concrete recommendations for better managing sensitive issues in the aid relationship and establishing effective dialogue for a possible ‘Investment in Tanzania Week’. It identifies capacity development as one of the key priorities, based on a comprehensive review of existing and forthcoming planning and implementation requirements in the medium term.

Rebuilding the momentum of an open and effective dialogue that accommodates country-specific needs, while conforming to mutual accountability requirements, remains an important priority for the coming months.

The Kaberuka Report is creating new opportunities for open dialogue. Since May 2017, the Government of Tanzania and development partners have started to draw on past achievements and recommendations from the Final Report to propose a new Development Co-operation Framework to be endorsed in July 2017.

These efforts support Tanzania’s transition to middle income status, which necessitates a new approach to dialogue with development partners, with new tools, new stakeholders and new ways of attracting funding and driving development.

The Global Partnership’s new work programme – A message from the Co-Chairs

As Co-Chairs of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (the Global Partnership), we are glad to build on the excellent work of our predecessors. The participants of the Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership are committed to effective development co-operation as a means to achieve the universal and interrelated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This commitment is laid down in the Nairobi Outcome Document.

The aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development require that the donor-recipient relationships of the past be replaced by approaches that view all development stakeholders as equal and interdependent partners in development. Inclusive partnerships are key in realising the SDGs, with Goal 17 clearly stating the vital role of partnerships in mobilising development resources to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, especially in developing countries.

In addition to the question of resources, implementation of the 2030 Agenda also calls for collective efforts to improve the quality of our co-operation. In this context, the Global Partnership offers a unique, multi-stakeholder platform to support effective and inclusive co-operation on the ground. Since it was founded, the Global Partnership has brought together a great variety of development partners in and outside governments, including civil society, foundations, academia and the private sector, for open and fruitful dialogue. It has held two successful high-level meetings in Mexico City and Nairobi, and it has produced two Global Monitoring Reports tracking progress on enhancing the quality of development partnerships at country level.

In light of our shared commitment to effective development co-operation, the Steering Committee has agreed on a two-year work programme. This programme was adopted at the 13th Steering Committee Meeting in Washington, D.C. last month. Based on the Nairobi Outcome Document, the programme sets out strategic priorities and related activities for 2017 and 2018:

Enhancing support to effective development at country level: Supporting countries in mainstreaming effectiveness principles and ensuring that country-led evidence informs policy debates on all levels. This includes multi-stakeholder dialogues at country level in order to share good practices and lessons learned.

Focus on evidence and monitoring: Knowing that in order to make progress we will need evidence that encourages accountability, the Global Partnership will update its monitoring framework so as to reflect the challenges inherent in the 2030 Agenda and include diverse development actors. This also implies a revision of monitoring indicators in order to make them applicable for the SDGs.

Sharing knowledge: Scaling up innovative development solutions at a faster pace, driven by champion countries, partners and non-state actors, to serve as a ‘go-to’ platform for knowledge exchange, good practice and peer-to-peer learning.

Scaling up private sector engagement leveraged through development co-operation: The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) has shown that development cannot be financed exclusively through Official Development Assistance (ODA) – we need more sources of development financing and more stakeholders who are committed to sustainable development. One way of achieving this is by attracting inclusive business investments that generate shared benefit for business strategies and development goals, and by helping development partners adapt their practices and instruments to ensure transparency and accountability.

Learning from different modalities of development co-operation: Enhancing exchanges between North-South, South-South and triangular co-operation partners, gathering together options to scale up impact and learn from each other.

It is an ambitious work programme but one that is strategically designed for the equally ambitious tasks ahead. We invite everyone to join us in realising its implementation.

[Editor’s note: read the Global Partnership’s 2017-2018 work programme in English, French and Spanish.]
Abul Maal A Muhith, Honourable Finance Minister, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Uganda are the Co-Chairs of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.