What are the key factors that make development coordination structures work, in practice? How can we ensure true country ownership including all relevant stakeholders? How can information systems work better, and is the Global Partnership Monitoring really fit for the road to 2030? These were the guiding questions that set the tone for an international dialogue on effective development co-operation at the country level, and the Global Partnership Monitoring meeting, from 9-11 May in Bonn, Germany.
Representatives from nine pilot countries, practitioners from partner-country governments, civil society organisations, trade unions, and foundations came together to discuss their hands-on experiences in enhancing effectiveness on the ground, and the remaining challenges.
The first part of the workshop marked the conclusion of a pilot approach on effective implementation at country level, conducted since February 2018, in Bangladesh, Cambodia, El Salvador, Georgia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Rwanda, and Uganda. This meeting was followed by a dialogue on the Global Partnership Monitoring and its practical implications on the ground, where more practitioners and experts joined the discussion with their pilot country representatives.
How to address effectiveness challenges on the ground?
The participating pilot countries shared their experiences in implementing development effectiveness commitments, in an animated and constructive discussion. They identified lessons learnt, and key messages to share with peers, which will feed into a Global Compendium of Good Practices, and inform the Global Partnership Senior-Level Meeting in July 2019.
The group discussions led to valuable insights on how to address effectiveness challenges on the ground:
- There is a need to focus on where we have “form but not function”. Multiple overlapping coordination fora, information systems, and accountability frameworks are a recipe for failure; as are structures and systems which do not directly connect with national planning and budgeting processes. Country presentations from Kenya and Uganda gave examples for targeted reforms and showed how streamlining and linking are key to delivering results.
- In terms of transparency, good data is essential to understand needs, see who is doing what to address them, tackle gaps and overlaps, monitor results, and call people to account. Home-grown systems, such as those developed by Cambodia and Myanmar, designed from the ground up to address identified data needs at the country level, have the potential to offer useful lessons.
- Inclusivity remains a key challenge, especially on how to achieve it in practice while also managing numbers, and ensuring fairness. The usefulness of representative structures with delegates reporting back to their constituencies was highlighted by Cambodia and Uganda.
- Partner countries are well aware of the need to access new sources of finance, and moving from ‘passive’ to ‘active’ for a targeted acquisition of resources. Practical examples of this can be seen in Georgia’s gap analysis, a tool to specify where external support is needed in the national plan, and Rwanda’s promotion of division of labour for a needs-based distribution of support and contributions by development partners.
The Global Partnership Monitoring – Fit for the Road to 2030?
At the monitoring dialogue, participants reaffirmed the relevance of the Global Partnership Monitoring as a globally unique exercise. It generates highly-demanded evidence on the quality and effectiveness of development co-operation in partner countries. Being inclusive, decentralised and country-owned, it represents a key instrument to induce change for more effectiveness on the ground. This relevance was reasserted with a record participation of 86 partner countries in the 2018 monitoring round.
However, the Global Partnership will need to adjust its Monitoring in order to uphold its value in the global landscape of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants highlighted that processes around data collection – at global and country level – need refinements to enable a successful gathering of meaningful data. Moreover, a need to rethink the concepts of effectiveness, in light of the 2030 Agenda, was raised throughout the discussions:
- Results need be translated into action at the country level to spur change for greater effectiveness. It will be crucial to foster follow-up processes to make the most of the data.
- As an increasingly important development context worldwide, the current effort to adapt the Global Partnership Monitoring to fragile situations remains key to producing meaningful data, and ensuring the exercise’s relevance.
- A specific approach to monitoring the effectiveness of South-South co-operation will be increasingly relevant going forward. Mexico’s pilot approach on adapting the monitoring framework for the specific characteristics of South-South co-operation gave valuable insights on data collection, and usability. The initiative has also been taken up by Chile, South Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The upcoming Senior-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership in July in New York, just ahead of the High-Level Political Forum’s Ministerial Segment, will provide an important opportunity to showcase and further discuss the lessons and solutions formulated at both these events.
One key message, however, remains uncontested – effectiveness will remain a core driver for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
A summary report related to the monitoring dialogue will be made available soon.