New Aid Architecture: Common Goals, Shared Principles, Differential Commitments

    Delegates to the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, have endorsed a global development partnership that embraces the diversity of actors in international development, a rights-based approach to development, and the use of innovative sources of development finance.

    The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation mainly touches on common goals, shared principles and differential commitments.

    A key feature of the partnership is that emerging economies such as India, Brazil and China are now on board. The three have initially indicated they would not endorse any new global aid partnership. Aid expert Owen Barder said word around Busan is that U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell was instrumental in getting China back on the negotiation table.

    The text of the partnership hints at some of the concessions that may have encouraged emerging countries to change their minds about endorsing the partnership. For one, it clearly states that the actions, principles and commitments agreed in Busan “shall be the reference for South-South partners on a voluntary basis.”

    The document also recognizes that while different actors should work toward common goals, they can achieve these by “embracing their respective and different commitments.”

    Here are some of the key aspects of the adopted partnership:

    ‘More inclusive development agenda’

    The Busan outcome document embraces the presence of development actors other than traditional donors and endorses them as integral parts of “a new and more inclusive development agenda.” These actors include emerging economies, civil society organizations and the private sector.

    The new development agenda is based on four principles that will guide development cooperation going forward: ownership of development priorities by developing countries, focus on results, inclusive development partnerships, and transparency and accountability.

    Further, the document calls for the creation of a new, inclusive Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation that will monitor the implementation of commitments at the political level. The working arrangements for this partnership, including its memberships and the schedule of meetings, would be decided by June 2012 — a deadline that aid campaign group Oxfam International said should have been more urgent.

    Aid transparency

    Donors pledged to make their aid information available to the public “subject to valid concerns about commercially sensitive information” and to help recipient countries establish transparent public financial management and aid information management systems.

    Parties to the Busan forum are also set to fully implement by 2015 a “common, open standard for electronic publication” of aid and development information. The standard is expected to complement the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s existing statistical reporting and the International Aid Transparency Initiative, among other similar projects.

    Focus on development results

    To increase focus on development results, the Busan document seeks strong support for developing countries’ efforts to strengthen their policies and core institutions, including through the creation of transparent and country-led results frameworks and platforms. Indicators for these platforms will be based on the development priorities of respective developing countries.

    Country ownership

    The document reaffirms the commitment made by parties to the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action to promote country ownership of development: using country systems as the default approach for development cooperation and placing strengthening of country systems at the heart of the development efforts.

    Reducing aid dependence

    Parties to the Busan partnership identified sustainable development results as the end goal of their commitments. They said it was necessary to improve development cooperation in order to increase recipient countries’ independence from aid.

    Further, donors highlighted the need to examine not only development policies but all other public policies to help recipient countries maximize the potential of trade and foreign investments, as well as to expand their domestic capital markets.

    Untying aid

    Donors pledged to “accelerate” their efforts to end tied aid, or the practice of requiring countries to spend aid dollars on goods and supplies from donor country companies. Donors said they would review their plans for untying aid in 2012 and pledged to improve the quality, consistency and transparency of reporting on the status of untying aid.

    Rights-based approach to development

    The Busan agreement recognizes the “vital role” of civil society organizations in helping people claim their rights and in promoting a rights-based approach to development. Donors said they will implement their respective commitments to enable CSOs act as independent development actors. In turn, they will encourage CSOs to strengthen their accountability measures and contribution to development effectiveness.

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    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.