Highlighting Myanmar’s Effective Development Co-operation Policies & Plans

Myanmar is on track to graduate from its Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2025. As one of two remaining LDCs in the Association of South East Asian Nations (the other being Laos), what progress has Myanmar made in the realm of development effectiveness (DE)?

Working towards Development Effectiveness (DE) – the idea of bringing as many relevant partners around the table to use resources as effectively as possible –  is high on Myanmar’s priorities this year with the development and launch of new policies, plans and frameworks towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

One such initiative is the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan (MSDP), the draft of which was presented at the Development Effectiveness Roundtable in February 2018, followed by a consultation process on the plan with INGOs, civil society organisations, development partners and the private sector.

With 3 pillars, 5 goals, 28 strategies and over 250 action plans, the MSDP faciliates local developmental needs and the global sustainable development agenda by aligning MSDP action plans with global SDG targets.

Looking back, Myanmar’s commitment to DE began in 2013. For the first time, the Government of Myanmar set forth principles on development effectiveness with the 2013 Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Co-operation, a country-level localization of established development co-operation principles. The Nay Pyi Taw Accord’s commitments, informed by aid effectiveness principles have been operationalized through annual action plans. To this end, government and development stakeholders met annually at the Myanmar Development Co-operation Forum (MDCF) three years in a row from 2013-2015, and through the Development Effectiveness Roundtable in Feburary 2018.

The aid effectiveness agenda has also now been strengthened with the establishment of the Development Assistance Co-ordination Unit (DACU) in 2016. This was followed by a new Myanmar Development Assistance Policy (DAP) in 2018, a national-level policy which provides an overarching framework to guide the delivery of development assistance, highlights areas for priority investment and seeks to strengthen effective and inclusive partnerships in development. The Government of Myanmar also established 10 Sector Co-ordination Groups (SCGs) along with other co-ordination bodies (on peace process funding; and the rule of law and justice sector) to support alignment of development assistance with strategic sector and issue priorities.

Financing of these plans remains central to the efforts of the government and development partners, and to this end, the Government has also partnered with UNDP on the development of a Development Finance Assessment, outlining key building blocks in Myanmar’s development financing landscape.

Myanmar also continues its commitment to promote inclusive and transparent assistance. Building on Myanmar’s formal endorsement of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in 2014, the country uses an IATI compliant, publicly accessible, Aid Information Management System (AIMS), known as ‘Mohinga’ which enables the government to share information on development finance flows with a wider range of development stakeholders, public and private, within the region and beyond.

Engaging for the first time in 2016 and again in 2018, Myanmar participates in the monitoring exercises of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC), measuring the country’s progress against the effectiveness principles as agreed to at the 2011 Busan Forum.

GPEDC monitoring, AIMS, DACU, DAP, SCGs, MSDP, DFA – these plans and co-ordination structures show that Myanmar’s government and stakeholders are taking aid effectiveness seriously to ensure that resources are used as efficiently as possible to tackle the country’s challenges, achieve the SDGs and eventually ensure that no one is left behind.

Stakeholders Embrace Country-Level Frameworks & Resilient Partnerships: 2018 UN High-Level Political Forum

Today, in the margins of the UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, the governments of Bangladesh and the Republic of Korea co-hosted a Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation side event on Enhancing the global partnership for sustainable development: Country-level frameworks for resilient, multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Attended by over 100 participants, the event brought together stakeholders from various circles including government, civil society, the private sector, academia and UN agencies to discuss good practices and progress on institutionalising multi-stakeholder frameworks at the country level to increase the effectiveness of co-operation and support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In today’s evolving international landscape, development challenges are increasingly complex, persistent and interlinked. As such, achieving sustainable development for everyone, everywhere, calls for strong, equal partnerships between all stakeholders. Participation of civil society organisations, the private sector and other local development partners in all phases of development policy-making, planning and implementation helps ensure that resources are used effectively, capitalising on the comparative advantage of every stakeholder group and sharing resources, technology and knowledge.

However, the state of play from the last round of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) shows that many countries face challenges in consolidating effective multi-stakeholder engagement, particularly facilitating meaningful stakeholder participation and maintaining collaborative relationships. The GPEDC’s monitoring framework, which measures country-level progress in this domain, also underscores similar challenges.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Ambassador Cho Tae-yul, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN, emphasized that one of GPEDC’s unique features is its multi-stakeholder platform, calling the national-level monitoring framework “a demonstration of how stakeholders and partners engage in development co-operation in the era of SDGs by measuring their development impact at the national level.” Bangladesh’s Minister of Finance, H.E. Mr. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, also recognised that to leave no one behind and meet global promises by 2030, we need to effectively engage all relevant stakeholders in development policy- making, planning and implementation, much like Bangladesh’s own local consultative processes and spaces for open dialogue and coordinated policies.

The side event generated evidence-based dialogue, with a wide array of panelists presenting including Ministers from the Dominican Republic and Egypt, representatives from the government of Honduras, civil society (CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness), private sector (Center for International Private Enterprise), and multi-lateral institutions (World Bank). The discussions led an honest debate around how country-level, multi-stakeholder partnerships can help implement the SDGs and how they might be reflected in VNRs.

Joining 46 other countries who have reported to this year’s VNR process and having also participated in the GPEDC’s 2016 monitoring round, Egypt spoke to the importance of aligning development partners’ programmes with country frameworks and national priorities. Dominican Republic also appreciated the GPEDC’s monitoring process in that it allows for countries and development partners to thoroughly assess their yearly progress in effective development co-operation. Honduras also announced its ongoing plans to participate in the GPEDC’s 2018 monitoring round.

During the event, practitioners from civil society, banks and private sector embraced multi-actor partnerships. Ms. Jaehyang So, a representative from the World Bank, stressed that sharing country best practices, like GPEDC aims to do with the Global Compendium and Knowledge-Sharing Platform, is important in identifying opportunities for collaboration. Additionally, Dr. Kim Bettcher, representing the private sector, mentioned that more progress can be made with promising initiatives, such as the GPEDC’s business leader caucus, and potential SDG funding opportunities amounting to around US $12 trillion.

In a recent blog, H.E. Ms. Hyunjoo Oh, Director-General of International Co-operation of the Republic of South Korea, supported such events, calling them ‘inclusive, unique and evidence-based’ as they explore context-specific opportunities for successful development partnerships – the key to achieving the global goals for everyone, everywhere.

For more information on the event, click here.

To read a summary of the event, click here.



Impact Investments & Private Sector for the SDGs: The Case of Australia

This blog is based on Episode 9 of the Good Will Hunters Podcast, with Giles Gunesekera, Director of the Global Impact Initiative.

I recently interviewed Giles Gunesekera, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Impact Initiative. The Initiative works with businesses to create bespoke impact investments, intended to generate a positive financial return as well as a positive social return. The investments are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, for several key reasons.

Much like a “to do” list for the world, the Sustainable Development Goals function as a set of unquestionably important objectives for the common future of humanity and the planet. Each of the Goals has a combination of quantitative and qualitative targets. The use of quantitative targets enables the SDGs to be written in a language which investors are familiar with. Identifying specific benchmarks of success, means that each of the SDGs can be measured objectively, accurately and observably. It is for this reason that the impact-investing strategies pioneered by the Global Impact Initiative are predicated on the SDG benchmarks.

Australia has been a slow adopter of the SDGs, however there has been an upsurge in momentum throughout the past year, particularly in the lead up to the recent High Level Political Forum held in New York. Australia was one of the 47 countries to conduct a Voluntary National Review into progress on the SDGs.

Impact investment, using capital for social good, has the potential to revolutionise Austrailia’s approach to achieving the SDGs. Australia has the fourth largest retirement savings market in the world, with close to $2.6 trillion AUD in superannuation. Gunesekera refers to this as “lazy capital” that is often not being invested in a way which aligns with the values of the investor. Capital such as this can be invested in organisations that are working towards achieving the SDGs, thus enabling a positive financial return alongside tangible and observable social progress.

During the 2017 UN General Assembly, the UN Global Compact discussed the emergence of case studies on how the SDGs should be institutionalized in businesses. The Global Compact, known as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, encourages businesses globally to institutionalize the SDGs in their internal processes and frameworks. Impact investment provides an innovative means of doing this, by enabling companies to simultaneously focus on financial return and investment in the global goals.

Given that the majority of financial capital resides in the private sector, and not the charitable or philanthropic sectors, it is vital that businesses actualize the impact they can have on achieving the SDGs. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation too believes that given the scale and scope of the SDGs, the private sector needs to be involved.

To this end, the Global Impact Initiative has launched an impact investment strategy focused on women and girls, the first of its kind globally. Naturally, the strategy aligns with SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls.

I wrote an article recently for the Lowy Institute Interpreter, on the increase in B-Corp Certification in Australia, particularly in the wake of the Royal Commission into financial services. Increasingly, businesses want to distinguish themselves, through independent certification, as being social and environmentally responsible. Impact investment in the SDGs presents another opportunity for businesses to continue with their core mandate of generating profit, whilst simultaneously considering the interests of non-financial stakeholders and being part of the global effort to achieve the world’s most important to-do list.

Whether through creative capitalism, the green economy, sustainable corporations or social business, there is no question that the private sector can, and does, have an unrivaled impact on the achievement of the SDGs.