2019 Financing for Development Review Forum
UN Headquarters, New York
15-18 April, 2019
The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) gathers a broad coalition of community organisations, trade unions, faith-based organisations, youth groups, feminist movements, indigenous groups and NGOs, which are all committed to turning the promise of an effective development cooperation into concrete actions by governments, international organisations, business and any other development actors.
Global Action on the Effectiveness Agenda
CPDE strongly supports the development effectiveness agenda and we regret that progress on meeting the commitments associated to it‑ like providing an enabling environment for civil society, untying aid, and using country systems, amongst others ‑has been slow and in some instances regressed. The "unfinished business" since the Paris Declaration is long overdue in its achievement and CPDE calls upon governments to redouble efforts and establish time bound targets to deliver on these long standing commitments. The upcoming Senior Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation is an important moment to reinvigorate efforts around meeting effectiveness commitments through a time bound Global Action Plan on unfinished business.
CPDE also supports calls for these principles to be extend beyond traditional ODA and to apply also to international financial flows more generally, and especially private finance which benefits in some way from ODA. There is a need to limit, or eliminate entirely, the possibility or risk that ODA can be used in a way that actually undermines the effectiveness principles to which it is supposed to adhere.
Billions to Trillions or Leave No One Behind?
There are two narratives which have firmly taken root since the adoption of the SDGs. One is focused on the assumed financing needs to deliver on the 2030 Agenda; the second narrative is centred on the principle that the SDGs will not be met unless they reach everyone. These narratives pose an inherent contradiction which underlies both Billions to Trillions and Leave No One Behind, which is the fact that the former risks seriously undermining the latter.
The Billions to Trillions narrative is driving policy makers to promote and consider forms of development finance that are not well suited to reach the furthest behind. This narrative is in fact being pushed in a context where net official development assistance (ODA) decreased 0.6 percent in real terms to $146.6 billion from 2016 to 2017. ODA as a share of donors’ gross national income (GNI) remains well below the 0.7 percent target, at 0.31 percent. This trend does not present an encouraging picture for effective development and is regrettable given that the overarching narrative of "Maximising Development Finance" has taken firm hold of the sustainable development finance agenda which is an approach to leverage private sector's role in development.
CPDE believe that public finance and international development cooperation/international public finance are central forms of financing to achieve the SDGs. The current trend towards solving development challenges through private finance is lacking balance and concrete evidence to indicate effectiveness of such an approach. Alternatively, there is a need to emphasise the centrality of public finance and safeguard the integrity of ODA and its ultimate goal of contributing to elimination of poverty and inequality. CPDE is seriously concerned about the effectiveness of blending and other forms of private sector instruments’ ability to deliver on many of the SDGs and targets. Most recent data from the IATF Report 2019 confirms our concerns that leveraged finance is not best suited to meet the needs of the Least Developed Countries, and is in conflict with the LNOB principle. Furthermore, this push towards private sector instruments has seen a parallel increase in the use of tied aid and levels of debt.
Corporate Capture of the Development Agenda
CPDE is concerned that greater spaces are being carved out for the private sector’s involvement in policy, partnerships and programs, which undermine the role of CSOs, including women´s rights organisations, national Parliaments and other development actors. Promoting the challenge of ‘leaving no one behind’ as an opportunity for private capital to develop markets and ensure profit is misdirected. The intensification of privatisation, liberalisation, and deregulation of public services, through blended finance and public-private partnerships runs counter to the essence of the SDGs.
International public finance, including ODA, has been increasingly used as a catalyst to attract private investments instead of directly addressing issues of poverty and inequality. This hampers the development of equal partnerships and leads to discrimination, continued restriction on CSOs in many countries, and failure to realise genuine multi-stakeholder partnerships. The current trend is to use international public finance to advance donor interests, including in the fields of security and migration, and to bring in corporations, together with international financial institutions (IFIs). With the growing private sector rhetoric dominating development partnerships, States are slowly abandoning their obligations to provide public goods and services and universal social protection, and to uphold and protect people's rights.
Instead of directly addressing such challenges in line with development effectiveness principles, donor governments are increasingly merging ODA agenda with their domestic political and economic interests. Whether through multilateral institutions such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)or through national policies, governments are pushing for the modernisation of ODA which redefines ODA to include, for example, further in-country refugee and migration control measures and costs for military and security interests especially in countries in with situations of conflict and fragility.
Putting people at the heart of South-South Development Cooperation
Strengthening and further invigorating South-South and triangular cooperation should be defined to answer the questions “for what and for whom” to understand if all recommended actions are relevant and will serve the overall goal of development. South-South and triangular cooperation should serve to contribute in achieving human development and equality within and between countries and between men and women, together with a reaffirmation of the commitments to the 2030 Agenda, Sendai Framework, and other internationally agreed development goals.
As a way to augment resources to meet the SDGs of Agenda 2030, South-South and triangular cooperation should have safeguards for accountability in inviting and welcoming support from all willing and able traditional donors and their institutions. Traditional donors must also deliver on their ODA and development effectiveness commitments and obligations, as well as commit to strict adherence to the principles of respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence, equality, non-conditionality, and non-interference in domestic affairs (without using this as an excuse to support authoritarian regimes or violate people’s rights).
While there is recognition of the importance of inclusiveness and multi-stakeholder partnerships in SSC, concrete and meaningful efforts to include communities, trade unions and civil society organisations; and uphold development effectiveness principles and human rights standards are still missing.
Only until South-South and triangular cooperation genuinely puts people’s inclusion and upholds their human rights, particularly the right to development, can it truly constitute a partnership based on solidarity for those left furthest behind and realize its full development potential.
CPDE Recommendations to the FfD Review Forum
CPDE calls on governments to address new challenges and implement existing commitments on effective development cooperation, particularly in relation to the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
At the 2019 ECOSOC FfD Review Forum, governments should:
use international public finance, including ODA, to address the root causes of poverty, fragility and conflicts and end its misuse for security, military and corporate interests
commit to endorsing credible plans to achieve the international agreed targets on quality and quantity of ODA
ensure that Private Sector entities adhere to all Development Effectiveness principles and implement Human Rights and gender equality standards, and at the same time, promote and practice decent work and adopting transparency and accountability standards
uphold principles of horizontal development cooperation – including solidarity, mutuality, human rights, respect for sovereignty, non-conditionality particularly with respect to unequal conditions of partnership that often prevail even within South-South cooperation
take concrete actions to reverse trends of shrinking and closing civic spaces in development and attacks on human rights defenders
commit to further developing and enhancing the FFD Review Forums through, introducing annual and multi-year workplans aimed to address the priority trends, such as in the case of blended finance