Rome (2003) l Paris (2005) l Accra (2008) l Busan (2011)
International development co-operation surged in the early 1960s amidst post-war optimism and enthusiasm. It has since continued to evolve and is recognised as one of the key factors in advancing global development. But success has not always been evident: lack of co-ordination, overly ambitious targets, unrealistic time- and budget constraints and political self-interest have too often prevented aid from being as effective as desired.
The formulation of a set of principles for effective aid - now adhered to by over 100 countries as the blueprint for maximising the impact of aid - grew out of a need to understand why aid was not producting the development results everyone wanted to see and to step up efforts to meet the ambitious targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These principles are rooted in continuous efforts to improve the delivery of aid, marked by three notable events: the High Level Fora on Aid Effectiveness in Rome, Paris and Accra in 2003, 2005 and 2008, respectively.
The First High Level Forum (Rome, 2002) marked the first occasion at which the principles for aid effectiveness were outlined in a concrete declaration. The Rome Declaration listed the following priority actions:
- that development assistance be delivered based on the priorities and timing of the countries receiving it
- that donor efforts concentrate on delegating co-operation and increasing the flexibility of staff on country programmes and projects
- and that good practice be encouraged and monitored, backed by analytic work to help strengthen the leadership that recipient countries can take in determining their development path
» Access the event page for Rome
» Read the full Rome Declaration (pdf, 55 kB)
The Second High Level Forum (Paris, 2005) marked the first time that donors and recipients both agreet to commitments and to hold each other accountable for achieving these. The commitments were laid out in the Paris Declaration. Beyond its principles on effective aid, the Paris Declaration lays out a practical, action-oriented roadmap to improve the quality of aid and its impact on development. It puts in place a series of specific implementation measures and establishes a monitoring system to assess progress and ensure that donors and recipients hold each other accountable for their commitments.
The Paris Declaration outlines the following five fundamental principles for making aid more effective:
1. Ownership: Developing countries set their own strategies for poverty reduction, improve their institutions and tackle corruption.
2. Alignment: Donor countries align behind these objectives and use local systems.
3. Harmonisation: Donor countries coordinate, simplify procedures and share information to avoid duplication.
4. Results: Developing countries and donors shift focus to development results and results get measured.
5. Mutual accountability: Donors and partners are accountable for development results.
» Access the event page for Paris
» Access full documentation on the Paris Declaration
At the Third High Level Forum (Accra, 2008), vili society representatives also participated, broadening the stakeholders in the aid effectiveness agenda. The forum emphasised the need to deepen implementation towards the goals set in 2005 was identified, along with a set of priority areas for improvement. Designed to strengthen and deepen implementation of the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) takes stock of progress and sets the agenda for accelerated advancement towards the Paris targets.
It proposes improvement in the areas of ownership, partnerships and delivering results.
Capacity development also lies at the heart of the AAA.
» Access the event page for Accra 2008
» Access full documentation on the Paris Declaration
The principles put forward in the Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action have gained support across the development community, changing aid practice for the better. It is now the norm for aid recipients to forge their own national development strategies with their parliaments and electorates (ownership); that donors support these plans (alignment); and streamline their efforts in-country (harmonisation); for development policies to be directed to achieving clear, monitorable goals (managing for development results); and for donors and recipients to be jointly responsible for achieving these goals (mutual accountability).
These principles have also served as the foundation for other commitments, tailored to specific contexts: the Bogotá Statement (concentrating on effective aid principles in South-South co-operation), Istanbul Principles (on the role of civil society) and the Dili Declaration (on effective aid in fragile and conflict-affected states).
The Fourth High Level Forum (Busan, 2011) will turn towards whether this progress in the aid effectiveness agenda is enough to overcome even greater global challenges.
In the face of the recent financial, security, food, health, climate and energy crises, and to meet the Millennium Development Goals, the developmnet community must do more.
Busan's success hinges on:
- a broader and deeper partnership at all levels of development, including developing and developed countries, and private and non-governmental organisations
- a set of aid effectiveness principles based on persuasive evidence to eliminate policies that make development results more difficult to reach
- a revitalised global effort towards reaching the MDGs and addressing the need for global public goods
- the recognition that the world's poorest and most fragile states need security, capacity and special consideration
- the recognition that achieving results must be based on policies, laws and institutional arrangements that encourage everyone to directly participate in the development process
- the recognition that all participants in development are mutually accountable in producing and measuring results - which means that they must develop the capacity to collect, evaluate and report data that illustrates the effectiveness of programmes and their worth
» Consult an overview of Busan 2011
» Access the special event page for Busan 2011
Fourth High Level Forum: The Path to Effective Development
Paris Declaration and Accra Agenda for Action
The OECD and the Millennium Development Goals