Sat, Apr 19, 2014 - Page 9 News List

Eradicating poverty needs improved north-south cooperation

By Sam Jones  /  The Guardian

A gaggle of world leaders, diplomats, NGOs, corporate representatives and think tanks descended on a Mexico City conference center this week to continue their search for new solutions to old problems.

According to British International Development Secretary Justine Greening the first high-level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), represents an “incredibly important opportunity” to ensure that poor countries receive the skills and investment needed to end their dependency on aid.

While few would disagree with her assessment, little was expected of the Mexico meeting.

The partnership, created in Busan, South Korea, three years ago, aims to bring together aid donors and recipients, emerging economies, civil organizations, private sector companies and foundations in the hope of eradicating poverty through better cooperation.

It is based on five principles intended to make aid more effective: ownership, alignment, harmonization, mutual accountability and results.

Central to its philosophy is the concept of ownership: letting developing countries set their own strategies for poverty reduction, improving their institutions and tackling corruption.

So far, 161 governments — including key emerging nations such as India, China, Nigeria, Indonesia and Turkey — have declared their support for the partnership.

About 1,500 development leaders are expected to congregate in Mexico.

However, despite the cheers that greeted Busan, there are fears that the partnership may not meet its self-imposed targets for next year, which include increasing transparency, boosting country ownership and untying aid.

The GPEDC’s own progress report — released at the beginning of this month — conceded that the results were mixed.

“Longstanding efforts to change the way development cooperation is delivered are paying off, but much more needs to be done to transform cooperation practices and ensure country ownership of all development efforts, as well as transparency and accountability among development partners,” it said.

The report found that commitment to the Busan principles remained strong, despite the global economic situation and individual countries’ domestic budget problems.

However, it was blunt in its conclusions: “More needs to be done... to meet the targets that the global partnership set for 2015.”

Greening, who co-chairs the GPEDC, is calling on those involved to make sure that the momentum acquired at Busan is not squandered.

“We must agree a new partnership with emerging nations and private investors to make sure every pound, yuan, peso or dollar spent on development has the greatest possible impact,” she said. “Countries like China have made remarkable progress and they are now turning their resources to help other countries. At the same time, the finance and skills of the private sector have tremendous potential for tackling global poverty.”

Campaigners such as Publish What You Fund argue the GPEDC report shows that donors are dragging their feet on promises to act as openly as possible, which does not augur well for the partnership’s aims.

“This is a timely wake-up call that more is needed for donors to fulfill their original commitments,” said David Hall-Matthews, director of Publish What You Fund.

“All donors must accelerate their efforts to publish high-quality aid data, which the report confirms is not yet happening,” he said.

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