CSOs and their role in the post-2015 framework

Antonio Tujan, director of IBON International and member of the 2011 Busan Forum High-Level Panel on Aid Effectiveness. Tujan calls for civil society organizations to act as "watchdogs" to ensure governments properly execute the development programs they commit to. Photo by: Imagen en Accion / CC BY-NC-ND

With less than 1,000 days to go for the Millennium Development Goals to expire, civil society organizations are trying to find their place in the post-2015 framework.

Antonio Tujan, member of the 2011 Busan Forum High-Level Panel on Aid Effectiveness, called for CSOs to engage directly with governments to make sure that their commitments on development are fulfilled.

CSOs “should act as watchdogs,” to ensure that government programs for development are “well executed,” he said in an exclusive interview with Devex at the Brussels launch of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness. The CPDE is a new global and country-focused open platform that wants to bring together CSOs on this issue, one it says is key to the post-2015 agenda.

“Out of the almost $120 billion of aid coming from donors in assistance to the developing world per year, almost $50 billion is collected by CSOs. It is [their] responsibility to account for that money and make sure it is well spent,” noted the director of IBON International, a Philippines-based network of grassroots civil society groups.

Here are a few excerpts from our conversation with Tujan:

Considering your experience with negotiating an outcome document at the 2011 Busan conference, why do you now see a need to found a new coalition for development effectiveness?

The creation of CDPE is the consolidation of what we have built over more than seven years, from Paris up to now, concerning CSO involvement in development effectiveness. It took six years for donors and governments to understand the redefinition of effective development. Before it referred mostly to anti-corruption, transparency and harmonization. Today it is based on human rights. It is time to ensure  development effectiveness and the CDPE’s aim is to implement it in every country.

But were you satisfied with Busan’s results?

I am not. It was very political. In Busan we were able to get the commitments from the governments, now it is time to transform words into action.

How, if at all, will you link to the Open Forum of CSOs on aid effectiveness and the results of its work?

The two main platforms involved in this process — the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness and the Better Aid coalition — decided to merge, and establish CPDE in order to come up with a stronger program [that was] more strategic. The CPDE platform will coordinate CSOs and ensure they work together in a harmonized way, in the North and South.

Regarding the global monitoring network established for aid effectiveness — what results have been achieved?

Donors and governments blame each other: Donors say it is the governments’ responsibility and governments complain that donors don’t allow them to do their work because of conditionality and tied aid. As a result of that, what has been achieved since Paris is not really big.

Development effectiveness is about promoting the private sector and new actors and partnerships, moving away from traditional aid schemes toward new models of public-private partnerships. In the light of many countries needing traditional aid, what are the key issues and how will you tackle them concretely?

There is a role for the private sector, but it concerns the domestic private sector. The focus should be put on SMEs rather than multinational corporations. More investments should be made in Africa, in natural resources, transplantation and mining. Attention should be paid to domestic growth, local investments, and how entrepreneurship can really happen on the ground. In many cases consumers end up paying for the infrastructure projects and for projects that involve resource extraction. PPPs can be beneficial in developing countries only if [they are] transparent, subject to a clear consensus of the local people and approved through a democratic process, to avoid consumers ending up paying fees and taxes.

Eva Donelli contributed reporting.

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About the author

  • Richard jones profile

    Richard Jones

    In his role as Partnerships Editor Richard oversees editorial content for partner and client campaigns, leading a talented team of writers and editors, conducting high-level video interviews and moderating panels at events. Previously an associate editor, he covered the full spectrum of development aid in Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Devex. Currently based in Barcelona, Richard brings to bear 14 years of experience as an editor in institutional communications, public affairs and international development. His development experience includes stints in the Dominican Republic, Argentina and Ecuador, as well as extensive work travel in Africa and Asia.