National Co-operation Policies and Effectiveness Forums: Honduras’ Progress towards Achieving Sustainable Development

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Since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in 2015, the Government of Honduras has been committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, prioritising the goals and building key co-operation mechanisms at the country level.

With the formulation and implementation of a 2030 National Agenda for SDGs, Honduras quickly realised that to achieve the SDGs the country will need to mobilise and re-allocate financial and non-financial resources and more importantly draw on key co-operation management strategies.

During the 2017 High-Level Political Forum, Honduras presented this National Agenda in its Voluntary National Review and aligned it with the country’s National Planning System to ensure resources for the Agenda’s implementation. Consequently, the National Commission for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals was created, becoming the key governance body for effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The National Commission houses a true multi-stakeholder body called the External Co-operation Committee that is made up of three state institutions – the Secretariat of General Coordination of the Government, the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and the Secretariat of Finance –  as well as representatives of the civil society, the private sector, and academia.

Through such initiatives, during the last five years, the government has promoted a reform process to modernise the country’s public administration systems to make them more efficient, equitable and transparent. Through the use of indicators, measurable goals and instruments, Honduras is working towards better measurement of its development.

Considering the vast amount of external resources required for the SDGs, the country also identified the need for a National Co-operation Policy for Sustainable Development in Honduras. The policy plans to lay out a coordination mechanism that would work towards Honduras’ national and global development priorities. The strategic objectives of Honduras’ Co-operation Policy are mainly guided by the principles of effectiveness: national ownership, focus on results, inclusive partnerships, and transparency and mutual accountability.

This Co-operation Policy was recently approved, which in itself required extensive consultations with various government institutions, donors, civil society, foundations and academia and the private sector. The policy recognises the need for new, strengthened and systematised partnerships between different actors in development such as bilateral and multi-lateral partners and development banks, for inclusivity and strengthened national capacities.

Working with these key stakeholders, the Government of Honduras has continuously participated in the Global Partnerships’ monitoring rounds (2014 and 2016) that seek to measure progress in the implementation of the effectiveness principles. The fulfillment of these commitments depends on the country as well as on the co-operating partners and other development actors.

The 2016 monitoring round revealed the progress that Honduras has made in regard to national ownership and alignment. There was also a strong impetus for transparency of co-operation, led by the government, through tools such as the Co-operation Management Platform that showed all the development projects and programs underway in the country. However, data also revealed existing gaps such as little predictability of resources in the medium and long-term that was necessary for results-based management and multi-annual planning.

To this end, Honduras organised the First Forum on Effective Co-operation for Sustainable Development in July 2017. Approximately 200 representatives from the government, partner countries, civil society, the private sector and academia participated. As a result, a plan was adopted to inaugurate a Roundtable on Effective Co-operation for Sustainable Development in Honduras – a space that became the only multi-stakeholder roundtable dedicated to effective development co-operation and alignment of projects and programs with the demands of national priorities.

The latest legal reforms have also given rise to another key government coordination mechanism called the Non-Refundable External Co-operation Committee. The Secretariat of General Government Coordination, Secretariat of Finance, and Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation are entities of this Committee. The inter-institutional coordination system manages, evaluates and strengthens the processes of alignment and prioritisation of the co-operation received by Honduras.

Honduras is also currently conducting a Development Finance Assessment (DFA), led by the three Secretariats above, and supported and financed by UNDOCO and UNDP. The report, scheduled to publish in early 2019, will present recommendations to the Government on public policies and management of financial flows for effective implementation of Agenda 2030.

Considering the new institutional reforms in the country, Honduras has once again joined the monitoring round (2018) to gather more up-to-date evidence of progress and opportunities in the implementation of all its effective development co-operation commitments. For this exercise, Honduras has consulted with 23 development partners including private sector and South-South Co-operation partners.

From launching a National Co-operation Policy to hosting its First Forum on Co-operation Effectiveness to continued participation in monitoring effectiveness, Honduras is committed to strengthening its multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms for achieving the SDGs more effectively.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Honduras

Towards Self-Reliance: Afghanistan’s Strengthened Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships and Coordination Mechanisms

Being one of the largest beneficiaries of aid and assistance in the world, Afghanistan has made notable efforts to better align and coordinate development efforts with its development partners and national priorities.

Starting in 2010, Afghanistan produced its first Development Co-operation Report (DCR) signaling its very initial commitments to more effective development co-operation. The report summarised the outcomes of key Development Co-operation Dialogues (DCDs) held on an annual basis since 2002. The DCDs were a platform to discuss policy and program priorities, suitable financing modalities, review progress on aid effectiveness indicators and other commitments made at international fora.

In the same year, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan formally established the Aid Management Directorate (AMD) to manage the influx of development assistance and ensure that it is used as effectively as possible and responds to national priorities as identified in the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS). The ANDS established a set of 22 National Priority Programs (NPPs) representing a clear prioritisation for implementation of specific deliverables. The NPPs encouraged inter-ministerial work, involving the participation of more than one ministry, in attempt to co-operate more effectively by synchronising timetables, budgets, and shared resources.

For even more transparency and mutual accountability, the ANDS also established a consultation mechanism called the High-Level Committee on Aid Effectiveness which met on a regular basis with government and its development partners to review the aid coordination and effectiveness landscape in Afghanistan.

Since then, the Directorate has served as a bridge between several development partners, line ministries, Ministry of Finance and CSOs. In 2013, it was instrumental in crafting Afghanistan’s first-ever multi-stage consultative Aid Management Policy that embodied the commitments made at the Busan Forum in 2011. The policy was meant to serve as a partnership between the government and its development partners, including bilateral and multilateral donors, CSOs, and government departments to guide effective delivery of aid in Afghanistan. It also incorporated key elements from New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States on best practices on international engagement in fragile situations.

The main objectives of the policy mirrored the principles of effective development co-operation as it aimed to improve the effectiveness of development co-operation through greater government ownership and leadership, operationalise a process for mutual accountability, and increase transparency between development partners and the governments in better managing development co-operation. The AMP called for a renewed stronger foundation for partnerships that would support sustainable growth of Afghanistan.

Reaffirming the importance of continued mutual accountability between the government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the international community, the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework (TMAF) was introduced in 2012. The TMAF was followed by the Self-Reliance through Mutual Accountability Framework (SMAF) approved in 2015 and updated with short term deliverables in 2016. These frameworks’ principles encourage continuous donor support and ensure government’s accountability to its commitments.

Later in 2016, the Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) was developed. The ANPDF presents the government’s five-year strategic development plan targeted at achieving its overarching goal of self-reliance. The ANPDF introduced ten National Priority Programs (NPPs) in order to reduce poverty, create jobs, improve service delivery, ensure sustainable economic development, and protect Afghan citizens’ rights and peace.

To that end, it was in 2017 that Afghanistan submitted its first voluntary national review (VNR), signaling its strong support and work towards achieving the SDGs at the country level. The VNR described a national consultation process that localised and reshaped the global SDG targets and indicators into eventually 111 national targets and 178 national indicators, as well as divided the 17 goals into 8-socio-economic sectors. The government engaged all national and international stakeholders in an attempt to align the ‘A-SDGs’ with national planning processes, policies and strategies, conducting around 50 workshops, seminars, symposiums and conferences with CSOs, private sector actors, academia, media, youth, students and women’s groups.

The A-SDGs recognised that multi-stakeholder partnerships have the power to mobilise and share knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources. For these purposes, Afghanistan established an oversight commission, ‘A-SDGs Executive Committee (EC)’ that would work on data collection, data verification, reporting and follow-up mechanisms. The NEC provides high-level political support to A-SDGs implementing entities including government, NGOs, CSOs and private sector. The NEC also works as a platform for direct and sustained engagement between the various government stakeholders, the private sector actors, CSOs, NGOs, academia, youths and the international community, with the common purpose of attaining the A-SDGs.

The development of the A-SDGs and the eventual achievement of the SDG goals require a clear approach to data gathering and use. However, an overarching issue is the absence of systematic data gathering during the past forty years of insecurity in Afghanistan which resulted in a situation where development actors engaged in independently developing data sets. To combat this, the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) with technical and financial support from UNDP conducted a Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) of A-SDGs and produced a report that provides insights into how GoIRA could increase its emphasis on the achievement of SDGs, as well as improve data collection, monitoring and financing assessments.

Furthermore, in 2018 Afghanistan joined 90+ countries in reporting to the Global Partnership’s third monitoring round (previously also reporting to the 2016 round: see Afghanistan monitoring profile) – a government-led, consultative process that monitors the progress of a country and its development partners in meeting effective development co-operation commitments made at the Busan Partnership Agreement (2011).

Most recently, in the Geneva Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan, which marked the midpoint of what is known as the ‘Transformation Decade’ (2014-2024), agreed on a set of new indicators and short-term deliverables for the 2019-2020 period called the Geneva Mutual Accountability Framework (GMAF). The GMAF, continuing to build on and strengthen partnership and co-operation between the Afghan government and the international community, will frame and guide the government and international community’s reform activities in 2019 and 2020 in pursuit of increased self-reliance towards the end of Transformation Decade (2024). GMAF indicators aim at reducing poverty, and achieving peace, development and welfare of the Afghan people.

Given the ever-changing political landscape of Afghanistan, challenges for working together towards effective delivery and monitoring of development do exist. However, the ANPDF, NPPs, AMP, A-SDGs, EC, and GMAF, are all progressive steps towards formalising multi-stakeholder engagement processes to deliver effectively together on Afghanistan’s development targets.

Lao PDR Then & Now: Implementing Partnership Mechanisms Since the 2006 Vientiane Declaration

Ensuring Least Developed Country graduation, pursuing un-met MDGs and SDGs, and achieving better development results, are all high on Lao PDR’s development agenda. Working alongside development partners and other stakeholders such as the private sector, civil society, academia and others to meet these objectives is also a key priority for the country since 2006.

In 2006, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and 22 development partners signed the ‘Vientiane Declaration on Aid Effectiveness’ at the 9th High-Level Round Table Meeting [1] in an attempt to localize the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The document lays down the foundations and principles of aid coordination, giving way to a new partnership in 2015 at the 12th High-Level Forum called the Vientiane Declaration on Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’.

The Declaration, signed by the Government and more than 30 development partners after the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation’s first high-level meeting in 2014, was a signal to renew commitments to effective co-operation principles and work towards the global 2030 Agenda. It reflected lessons learnt from the previous partnership mechanism (2006 Declaration) and added the importance of working with emerging donors, the private sector, civil society and Southern partners. Most importantly, it stressed a more diverse and equal partnership, over bilateral donor-recipient type of approaches, a core principle of effective development co-operation. The Declaration also aligned strongly with elements of the SDG 16 on building peaceful and inclusive societies and with SDG 17 on partnerships.

The Declaration as well as the design and implementation of subsequent national development plans and processes, such as 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP 2016-2020),  10-year Socio-Economic Development Strategy (2016-2025) and the National Vision 2030, form a broad development framework to guide an inclusive dialogue mechanism called the Round Table Process. This structured partnership mechanism along with Laos’ 10 Sector Working Groups have greatly contributed to development effectiveness.  The setting allows government and partners, such as traditional and South-South co-operation development partners, civil society and the private sector, academia and others to engage in direct dialogue and come to a common understanding on key policy priorities and programmes. Moreover, it promotes greater national ownership, partners’ alignment with national priorities/goals and better harmonization for development among various partners.

Adhering to the principles of inclusive partnership, Lao PDR’s 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) was prepared with the participation of all government ministries, provincial authorities, and citizens across the country. Consultations were also extended to donor and developing countries, UN agencies, business and civil society organizations working to lay the foundations for action in implementing the 8th Plan. The plan emphasized the need for ‘actively widening international co-operation with ownership in various forms oriented towards benefit for all, enhancing favorable conditions for regional and international integration’. To this end, the common objectives of participating partners included poverty reduction, graduation from Least Developed Country status and achievement of the 2030 Agenda – ultimately, to improve the lives of the people in Lao PDR.

To measure progress against the plan, the Government also developed a comprehensive NSEDP monitoring and evaluation framework incorporating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and relevant SDGs. Currently, around 60 percent of the SDG indicators are integrated into this M&E framework.

Having participated in the Global Partnership’s 2016 monitoring round and now the 2018 round, Lao PDR has also been actively working to monitor its progress against achieving effective development co-operation at the country level, directly measuring progress on SDG 5 and 17.

Additionally, Lao PDR has also engaged in evidence gathering and analysis to assess its development financing situation. The country has recently completed a Development Finance Assessment (DFA) which has been instrumental in providing recommendations to the government on the sources of development finance available and how to strengthen institutions and policies in addressing some of the financing challenges to achieving sustainable development. For example, the 2018 DFA, outlined potential challenges in maintaining levels of investment as Lao PDR’s graduation from LDC Status may mean receiving different forms of official development assistance.

From the Vientiane Declaration and High-Level Meetings to the NSEDP, DFA and Global Partnership monitoring process, these partnership exercises highlight Laos’ ongoing commitment towards effective delivery of development and in achieving Laos’ 2025 national and 2030 global goals.

[1] A national development co-operation forum chaired by the Government and co-chaired by the UNDP