A Network of ‘Think Tanks’: Achieving Effective Development Co-operation at the Local Level

On March 19-20, 30 Global Partnership Initiative (GPI) representatives gathered in Bonn, Germany to renew and strengthen their engagement to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s (GPEDC) mandate on multi-stakeholder co-operation towards country-level implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The GPIs directly contribute to two of the core functions of the GPEDC: they offer catalytic support to the implementation of the Busan commitments at country level, and they are a mechanism for exchanging knowledge and lessons learned on implementation of the development effectiveness principles.

These voluntary initiatives are led by different types of development actors (e.g. national governments, international organisations, civil society organisations, the private sector). As the ‘think tanks’ of the GPEDC, GPIs are a vibrant, substantive community of 27 partnerships working on 9 diverse areas – from tax capacity to resource mobilization – issues either closely linked to the GPEDC or contributing to specific areas of development effectiveness. The workshop encouraged each GPI to share its role as a true agent for implementation, sharing policy-relevant lessons and discussing innovative partnership models.

GPIs and development partners present at the workshop included Advancing the CSO Enabling Environment and CSO Development Effectiveness, Effective Triangular Co-operation, Effective Institutions Platform, Future International Co-operation Policy Network, International Aid Transparency Initiative, Managing Diversity and Reducing Fragmentation, New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, Results & Accountability, and Support to Tax Inspectors Without Borders.

Representatives from organisations – AMEXCID, NEPAD Agency, European Commission, OECD, UNDP – and the Global Partnership’s Steering Committee –  Germany, Mexico, El Salvador, Canada, were also present.

In her opening remarks, H.E. Mrs. Florence Eugenia, Ambassador of El Salvador to Germany quoted Benjamin Franklin saying “we must, indeed, all hand together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”, re-iterating the need to work together towards sustainable development especially by tracking and achieving progress in the four development co-operation principles.

Ms. Jacqueline Wood of the GPI Civil Society Task Team also mentioned that the GPIs are key to the “how” of achieving the SDGs as they are a network of networks working closely at the local level to implement the effective co-operation mandate.

Willem Fourie from the South Africa Sustainable Development Knowledge Hub, a new GPI, called for a need to increase face-to-face engagements such as that provided by this workshop. He also said that evidence-based policy making is founded not only on these strong relations, but also access to and use of high-quality evidence, for example that provided by GPEDC’s monitoring process. “You can’t have results if you don’t have local data. You can’t have mutual accountability if you can’t have access to open data.” Through GPI networks and resources, GPEDC has the opportunity to go “global light, country heavy” – in other words supporting country-led, on-the-ground co-operation towards achieving the SDGs.

The workshop was held in the margins of the Global Festival of Action which gathered 1,000+ delegates from all walks of life including students, practitioners, organisations and companies – a true multi-stakeholder forum. GPI delegates from Results & Accountability, CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, Tax Inspectors Without Borders, New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States and Effective Triangular Co-operation presented their initiatives at the Festival.

Click here to access the full list of GPIs supporting the Global Partnership mandate.

Taxing Multinationals is Pivotal to Financing Development

Financing the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a significant challenge, and was the rationale behind the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). The AAAA recognised the need to mobilise more domestic public resources for development, and identified them as the single largest and most important source of financing for the SDGs. One way to mobilise more domestic public resources is by increasing government tax collection, however, large-scale tax avoidance remains challenging, particularly for developing countries with weak tax administrations.

How does tax avoidance affect development?

According to the OECD, in 2015, African countries had a total tax revenue to GDP ratio of around 19 percent, with Latin America and Asia averaging at around 22 percent and 15 percent respectively. This compares to around 34 percent for OECD countries.

One of the contributors to this gap is large-scale tax avoidance. Multinational enterprises (MNEs) play a part, as they frequently engage in highly complex international tax planning strategies to shift profits from where they are earned to low or no tax jurisdictions; this is also called base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).

According to UNCTAD, an estimated US$100 billion of annual tax revenue losses for developing countries can be attributed to multi-nationals’ offshore hubs. This means that developing countries also lose out on future re-investment of this income. Adding both together, total ‘development finance loss’ is estimated in the range of $250 billion to $300 billion annually.

If MNEs pay their fair share of taxes, it could positively influence developing countries’ ability to raise domestic resources. According to UNCTAD, the percent of MNE contributions to government revenues is around 10 percent in developing countries, compared to just 5 percent in developed countries. In Africa, the share of MNE contributions to government revenues is 14 percent. Appropriate MNE taxation is thus central to increasing the domestic resources of developing countries, so that taxes are paid where economic activity occurs and value is created.

How are we addressing the challenge?

UNDP and OECD launched a joint-initiative, called Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB) in July 2015, which is now one of 29 Global Partnership Initiatives. The aim is to support developing countries’ administrations to build tax audit capacity and increase domestic revenues. TIWB transfers tax audit knowledge and skills by providing technical assistance from highly trained independent tax audit experts to local tax officials. With 30 programmes in 25 countries so far, the initiative provides support in a variety of sectors including mining, tourism, financial services, maritime, manufacturing and telecommunications. Some technical focus areas include transfer pricing, asset valuations and risk assessment.

Results to date have been significant, with the mobilisation of an additional $328 million USD in tax revenues for developing country governments. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on the initiative, these countries can receive more than $1,000 from taxes recovered, making it an incredible return on investment.


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia has personally praised the initiative, stating, ‘we are quite sure that TIWB will be able to help our revenue authorities to be more efficient in managing our tax systems, and to reform it appropriately, to ensure greater level of revenue to support our development.’

South-South deployment is also a growing element of TIWB programmes. As a trusted development partner in this joint initiative, UNDP brings local knowledge, reach and scale to the table. It leverages field support, builds demand and political support for tax reform, ensures the initiative is embedded in national development strategies, and informs national and international policy dialogues on broader international tax reform.

What are the challenges for TIWB and the way forward?

TIWB hosted an international workshop in Paris in November 2017 for tax experts to share experiences and discuss ways of tackling common challenges, given TIWB’s ambitious goal of 100 programmes by 2020. Two major themes emerged: managing potential conflicts of interest between stakeholders, and looking beyond just the easily quantifiable tax revenue numbers. It is thus important for TIWB to strengthen its checks and balances and expand its impact measurement by veering its key indicators of success towards sustainable skills transfer, institution-building and long-term change in the tax compliance culture of developing countries.

MNE tax avoidance remains a major concern for development. Thus, given TIWB’s tremendous potential to bring about large-scale systematic change and UNDP’s focus on mobilising diverse sources of financing to effectively deploy them in support of sustainable development, TIWB is emerging as the new champion for domestic resource mobilisation and the development financing agenda.

For more information, visit the Tax Inspectors Without Borders website.

What are Global Partnership Initiatives?

29 GPIs are led by Global Partnership members from national governments, civil society organisations, foundations and members of the private sector, among others. They generate evidence, policy-relevant lessons and innovative solutions to advance country and regional-level implementation of the effective development co-operation principles and commitments. In addition, GPIs share lessons-learned and help the Global Partnership make fuller use of knowledge generated to support increased development impact.

To demonstrate your organisation’s commitment to the principles of effective development co-operation and register as a GPI, review the guidance note and submit an application to info@effectivecooperation.org. 


Original blog posted on www.undp.org 

Upcoming Workshop to Discuss Strengthening Linkages between GPIs and the Global Partnership

On March 19-20, the Global Partnership and GIZ will host a workshop on Strengthening Global Partnership Initiative’s Engagement in Bonn, Germany. Representatives from 29 Global Partnership Initiatives (GPIs), Steering Committee members and Co-Chairs will explore ways in which the Global Partnership can make better use of knowledge generated by GPIs, including how GPIs can contribute to the work of the Global Partnership through its 2017-2018 programme of work and strategic Working Groups.

GPIs are voluntary initiatives which contribute to the Global Partnership’s vision by directly implementing the internationally-agreed development effectiveness principles. Currently, there are 29 GPIs led by 58 organisations that contribute to 9 key areas of work.

This workshop will provide a mechanism for exchanging knowledge and lessons learned on implementation of the development effectiveness principles. Gathering experts from different backgrounds, including government, civil society, foundations, private sector and other development partners, the workshop will discuss the mechanisms necessary to make better use of GPI knowledge and activities, and to harness synergies between GPIs and the Global Partnership.

The workshop will take place on the eve of the Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development, which will bring together the global community, taking action to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality.

Eligible GPI representatives and Steering Committee members should register for the workshop at www.bit.ly/GPI no later than 22 February.

If you are interested in becoming a GPI, please refer to our guidance document.