For those who live on less than $1.25 a day, aid effectiveness is not a bureaucratic issue; it’s a practical one, of access to food, education and health care for millions of people worldwide. For development actors, aid effectiveness is about doing our work better.
Dóchas speaks about “development effectiveness”, to highlight that effectiveness is about both the impact of development actors’ actions and the promotion of sustainable change that addresses the root causes and symptoms of poverty, inequality and marginalisation.
Shared Principles for Effective Development
In 2000, the members of the United Nations agreed a new framework to coordinate the global response to the world’s most pressing problems. The “Millennium Development Goals” provided, for the first time, a universally agreed set of priorities for international development cooperation, and they prompted unprecedented international action to “make poverty history”.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focused attention not just on the quantity of overseas aid, but they also established priorities to be prioritised through aid. They inspired a new commitment among aid donors to do their utmost to improve the way they coordinated their efforts.
From 2003 onwards, the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-ordination and Development (OECD) developed a set of new principles for “Aid Effectiveness”, culminating in an agreement, endorsed by 161 countries - including Ireland - offering a blueprint for maximising the impact of development assistance.
The Global Partnership looks to help nations, businesses and organisations to work together to end poverty based on four common principles:
Ownership of development priorities by developing countries.
Partnerships for development can only succeed if they are led by the countries they are intended to benefit. Projects and interventions must be tailored to country-specific needs and situations.
Focus on results.
All investment and effort must have a lasting impact on eradiating poverty and reducing inequality. It is necessary to manage resources sustainably and enhance developing countries’ capacities. To achieve this, initiatives must be monitored to establish what works and what doesn’t.
Inclusive development partnerships.
All partnerships must be underpinned by openness, trust and mutual respect and learning. It is necessary to recognise the different but complementary roles of all actors.
Transparency and Accountability to each other.
Mutual accountability and accountability to the intended beneficiaries of development co-operation, as well as to citizens, organisations and constituents in both donor and recipient countries is critical to positive outcomes.
Importantly, these principles were agreed not just by Government donors, but also by the so-called “new actors” such as emerging donor countries, private sector companies and civil society organisations.
Moving From Aid Effectiveness to Development Effectiveness
Originally started as a conversation on how aid donors could harmonise their efforts better, the global discussions changed focus and recognised, in part due to sustained lobbying by NGOs, that aid alone would not suffice.
The Busan forum re-affirmed earlier promises on “aid effectiveness”, transparency, predictability and accountability, but it also recognised that the Effectiveness principles should extend to the broader processes of social and economic development. To make development happen and enhance the impact of co-operation, countries should be enabled to use aid to realise their own development financing potential including trade, private investment and domestic resources.
What Can Ireland Do?
The Irish NGOs in the Dóchas network will continue to apply the Development Effectiveness principles to their work. In addition, Dóchas members have developed their own principles for “development effectiveness” as applied to civil society organisations. Dóchas’ codes of conduct and professional standards articulate standards of best practice in the sector and guide the policies and practice of all Dóchas members.
Dóchas members, and Irish Aid, consistently promote the inclusion of human rights, gender equality and good governance in their work, and in the global development frameworks that inform their decisions. They also continue to work with partners overseas to improve governance structures, at local and national level, to facilitate greater transparency, accountability and oversight, while encouraging the participation of local actors in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes. For, in the end, “development” is not about imposing solutions, but about enabling people, communities and countries to take control over their own destinies.