Special edition: From Accra
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The HLF3: Making it happen
The Accra HLF represents the next step: a stock-taking two years before the 2010 due date for meeting the Paris Declaration targets. The preparations for the HLF3 broadened and reinforced the partnerships behind the Paris Declaration, consolidating the input of developing countries, donors of ODA, hundreds of civil society organisations from around the world, non-traditional donors, global funds and middle-income countries.
The preparatory process was driven by developing countries. A Contact Group of representatives from 15 African, Asian, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern countries – co-ordinated by Ghana – brought strong and coherent developing country input into the consultative process. In addition, over 70 developing countries took part in five roll-out workshops held in Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America and 54 countries collected national data for a monitoring survey to measure implementation of the Paris Declaration.
The results of this intensive and collaborative process were evidenced by the extraordinary turn-out for the Accra HLF: over 1700 participants, including more than 100 ministers and 80 civil society representatives. The high-level engagement at Accra will help to sustain the political will needed to implement the fundamental changes subscribed to in the Accra Agenda for Action.
What the surveys are telling us
The first survey to monitor results and progress – completed in 2006 – established a baseline. The 2008 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration offers a mid-point assessment of how donors and partners are measuring up to their commitments.
Fifty-four countries signed up and delivered data for the 2008 survey – twenty more than in 2006. This increase underlines a strong commitment by governments across the world to engage in the aid reform effort.
The benefits of the 2008 survey were felt at the Accra High Level Forum. The cross-country and cross-donor data collected provided the means to assess the state of play on aid effectiveness, allowing donors and developing countries to pinpoint common challenges and identify the actions needed to meet the 2010 targets. But beyond the statistical analysis itself, the survey promoted dialogue among governments, donors and other stakeholders as they scrutinised aid practices at the country level. In doing so, it helped partner countries to recognise and work on common challenges and led to a shared vision of what is needed to reform aid.
The results of the 2008 survey show that progress is being made across all indicators and that change is possible when there is strong commitment. Thirty-six per cent of the countries surveyed have improved the quality of their pubic financial management systems, aid untying has progressed, and donors are getting better at aligning their programmes with country needs and at harmonising activities among themselves.
Yet despite progress in these areas, the survey clearly shows that there is still much to be done to reach the 2010 targets. For instance, while countries have significantly improved their systems, donors – on the whole – have not responded by increasing the use of these systems. Developing countries still need to work on making their development strategies operational, and to develop sound frameworks for monitoring their results.
Furthermore, there are still high transaction costs associated with aid – in particular, inordinate numbers of donor missions and reports make it difficult for country authorities to focus on delivering better results. In 2007, donors made more than 14 000 visits to the 54 countries that took part in the OECD survey; Vietnam alone received 752 missions. Finally, the lack of predictability of aid flows makes it difficult for countries to plan; the Survey shows that in 2007, only 46% of aid flows were disbursed according to schedule.
All of this sent a clear message to the participants in the Accra HLF: meeting the targets and living up to commitments will take a focused and determined effort.
A new agenda for action
The AAA was developed over months of extensive and inclusive consultation and deliberation, and the final product embodies unparalleled consensus around what is needed to improve aid effectiveness. Built on solid evidence, it lays the foundations for a reinforced approach to achieving the MDGs by 2015.
Through the AAA, donors and developing countries have committed to taking – immediately – a series of concrete steps to accelerate achievement of the Paris Declaration commitments. They have agreed to focus on:
· strengthening country leadership of development programmes
· investing in human resources and institutions
· effective use of country systems
· transparency about aid plans and aid use
· establishing a new spirit of aid conditions
· reducing aid fragmentation at all levels – and thereby the associated management costs
· further untying aid
· increasing accountability for results, especially in terms of gender equality, human rights and environmental sustainability
Immediate action on these objectives implies pushing the frontiers of best practice, bringing new partners into the consensus, learning from others and changing all stakeholders’ behaviour. Achieving this will require strong and high-level political will.
Governments must allocate the human, financial, technological and natural resources available to them in a way that will truly make a difference in people’s lives. More than a matter of how many clinics are built, it is a question of whether citizens’ health has improved; not how many schools are constructed, but how many girls and boys are equipped to contribute meaningfully to society. Providing these results can only happen if there is a real commitment in word and deed.
The AAA is about changing the way the partners in aid do business, so as to enable developing countries to make major advances toward their own development goals – to promote growth and attract investment. Countries like Ghana – on track to achieve middle-income country status by 2015 – are paving the way. The AAA will help other countries to follow.
BBC World Debate
News in Brief: The HLF3 Roundtables
Participants agreed on the need for a systematic approach to capacity building, supported by demand-driven technical co-operation involving South-South and triangular co-operation. On the topic of conditionality, some participants argued that it limits ownership; others felt, however, that linking important principles such as gender equality, human rights and democracy to aid frameworks would promote ownership. In any case, it was established that conditions must be mutually agreed, they must be key to country policies, and they must be limited in number.
RT 2. Alignment: Use of country systems, untying aid, aid
Panellists noted that applying the Paris principle on alignment requires building a relationship of trust based on mutually agreed principles and results. Noting the current lack of progress in using country systems, despite a significant increase in the quality of these systems, it was agreed that donors should make a real commitment to use country systems when they are of a good quality. Partner countries, at the same time, should continue their efforts to strengthen their national systems.
Making aid more predictable and aid modalities were key elements of the discussion, which concluded that decisions on which aid modalities are best suited to specific programmes should be taken jointly by developing countries and donors. Moving forward on this agenda requires not only technical commitments, but political ones as well.
RT 3. Harmonisation: Rationalising aid delivery,
complementarity, division of labour
The need to better manage division of labour includes improving capacity for aid management among both donors and developing countries, as well as having a political framework within which to discuss and address division of labour. This is all the more significant with the growing number of vertical funds and new non-DAC providers of development assistance.
The roundtable discussions also focused on cross-cutting issues. There was general agreement that benchmarking and peer review processes were needed to enable governments and donors to be accountable for their commitments on these issues. These should be integrated as goals in their own right within harmonisation efforts. Capacity to undertake assessments on human rights, gender equality, and environmental sustainability should be strengthened, including the development of relevant statistical systems.
4. Managing for development results
The roundtable discussions centered on the failure to apply MfDR throughout country systems (planning, budgeting, reporting, and auditing treated as discrete rather than linked MfDR exercises); the lack of incentives for MfDR; and the lack of conceptual clarity and communication.
Credible monitoring must not only be independent and transparent but its findings (performance of both countries and donor agencies) must also be reflected in budget allocations and disbursements. Political will, conducive policy environments, champions and change agents, capacity enhancement and South-South peer learning were viewed as essential.
5. Mutual accountability
Central to the discussion were the roles and capacities of parliaments, civil society and the media as accountability mechanisms, as well as the importance of independent reviews of mutual accountability arrangements.
Participants identified critical steps for the future: strengthening the role of developing countries and recalibrating the balance between them and donors; localizing aid policy; improving government capacity; heightening the transparency and predictability of aid flows; improving the quality of the data that inform development decisions; and respecting and supporting local accountability structures, which already exist in most countries but are too weak.
The role of civil society in advancing aid effectiveness
The roundtable’s three objectives were to:
· consolidate understanding and recognition of the roles that CSOs can play in development and in advancing the aid effectiveness agenda
· discuss action to promote CSO effectiveness
· develop a sense of momentum around a forward agenda for multi-stakeholder dialogue and action
Practical examples of CSO involvement were discussed, as well as issues and obstacles (e.g. accountability, legitimacy, capacity). Solutions were proposed to ensure that the contributions of CSOs to aid effectiveness achieve their full potential.
Future lines of work will include:
· providing a more enabling environment for CSOs, including appropriate models of donor support
· enhancing capacity development and strengthening civil society at the country level
· strengthening partnership among CSOs (North-South, South-South, global networks, national umbrella organisations, etc.)
· supporting for the independent CSO process on CSO development effectiveness
· preparing for CSO engagement in the HLF4 and ensuring that a multi-stakeholder perspective on CSO effectiveness is a major theme
RT 7. Aid effectiveness in fragile states and conflict
Donors must adopt a flexible approach in these situations, taking risks and grasping opportunities. They must staff their field operations better and empower local decision-makers. Priorities for action include the establishment of systematic monitoring of progress, state building and peace building, with the serious engagement of parliaments and civil society throughout.
It was agreed that monitoring of the DAC Principles should start immediately (with Afghanistan, CAR, DRC, Timor Leste and Sierra Leone as volunteers). A process to agree on international objectives for state building and peace building was launched, with support from the DAC Secretariat and possibly the UN Peacebuilding Support Office. The examination of financing issues for fragile situations, including in the early recovery phase, will continue. And finally, to address the serious issue of coherence among international actors (particularly among the "3 Ds", the development, diplomacy and defense communities), the government of Switzerland will host a meeting of senior officials in Geneva (March 2009). The need to act fast, and to be committed and accountable was stressed.
RT 8. Sectoral application of the Paris Declaration: Health,
education, environment, agriculture and infrastructure
A sector-wide approach brings coherence, weighs trade-offs, and takes into account cross-sectoral and macroeconomic factors. It can be supported by different modalities, depending on the situations and objectives. Yet pooling of resources and co-ordinating donor requirements are critical to reduce transaction costs.
Managing complexity is the key challenge, because of the multiplicity of actors. Country policies, structures, and systems need not be perfect – they need to be good enough to be used, and can be strengthened through that use.
RT 9. Implications of the new aid architecture for aid
effectiveness: South-South partners, vertical funds
· More traditional donors may leave certain sectors without sufficient funding.
· Non-DAC donors may assist in these sectors, but their aid can be tied, they may not engage in donor coordination mechanisms, and they may use parallel systems, thereby weakening partner country systems for managing the delivery of aid in the future.
There was general agreement, however, that these diverse approaches can be complementary.
Flexibility, diversity, and responsiveness were highlighted as desirable in delivering aid. Developing countries must decide and manage new sources of financing to meet their broad national development goals. They must also take the lead in providing a common platform around which all donors can align their support.
The opportunities and challenges of global
programmes and new initiatives were outlined. They present opportunities –
new and innovative financing mechanisms, mobilisation of long-term financing
that reduces predictability challenges, and untied aid. At the same time,
however, there are concerns regarding proliferation and fragmentation. The
need for mechanisms at the international level to monitor these initiatives
was discussed. At the same time, the experience of vertical funds can provide
good examples of making aid more predictable and responsive, using innovative
mechanisms that include private-public partnerships as well as the
implementation of activities through CSOs.
A selection of key publications tabled at Accra
Progress Report on Implementing the Paris Declaration. This report is intended to underpin the Accra Agenda for Action with evidence-based material. It covers inter alia the commitments under the five Partnership Principles related to ownership, harmonisation, alignment, results and mutual accountability.
Report on the Use of Country Systems in Public Financial Management. A robust public financial management system is vital to a country’s development efforts, as well as to the effectiveness of the aid funds that support those efforts. This report takes stock of the development community's achievements.
Effective Aid: Better Health. Aid has made a significant contribution to health gains achieved so far. This report argues that greater adherence to the Paris Declaration would accelerate progress still further. As such, health is a litmus test for broader aid effectiveness efforts.
This booklet explains the reform effort embodied by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in its most accessible form ever.
Evaluation of the Implementation of the Paris Declaration: Synthesis Report. This evaluation assesses the relevance and effectiveness of the Paris Declaration, its contribution to aid effectiveness and ultimately to development effectiveness. It considers qualitative aspects, building on - and complementing - the quantitative information obtained through the monitoring of the Paris Declaration. It also helps to answer questions such as: how did it happen; why does it work or not work; and what are the reasons?
Donor Reporting on Implementing the Paris Declaration
Managing for Development Results. Incentives for Aid Effectiveness in Donor Agencies: Good Practice and Self-Assessment Tool. This evaluation underlines the importance of appropriate incentives in influencing managers and officials – and even more importantly political leaders – to reform procedures and strengthen work by management and staff towards harmonisation, alignment and results.
Advisory Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness: Synthesis of Findings and Recommendations. This report summarises the main findings and recommendations emerging from the analytical work, multi-stakeholder consultations and case studies of the Advisory Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness.
Building a New Aid Relationship. This publication provides an overview of the goals of the Paris Declaration, its underlying principles, the progress that developing countries and the donor community have made together and the challenges that lie ahead.
For more information on Accra, visit the HLF3 website.
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