Washington D.C., 12 October 2008
In the midst of this financial crisis of global proportions, development aid budgets will be one of the areas of public spending under pressure as donor countries face up to the fiscal effort needed to restore the financial system. At the same time the difficult economic context in many advanced countries will mean slower or negative growth which will also take its toll on development.
In this new dire context, we must keep striving to close the gap between what is needed to reach the MDGs and what is now provided.
We have already built a strong ship to take our aid initiatives forward. The Accra Agenda for Action (AAA), recently adopted in Ghana by an unprecedented alliance of development partners will improve the effectiveness of our aid efforts. Enhanced transparency and predictability are at the heart of the AAA.
These are important accomplishments.
Ladies and gentlemen: Strong winds are blowing. It is time to protect and strengthen our development commitments. For no storm should be strong enough to blow overboard our compact with the poorest of this world. Our commitment to the poorest of the world cannot falter now.
I would like to make a call to renew our efforts to advance in our development commitments, despite these difficult circumstances.
Unless we act collectively now, there is a very real risk of a systemic unravelling of our aid flows and aid commitments. If some donor countries begin to announce cuts in aid budgets or to back off from their commitments, others will find it hard to hold the line in their own countries.
In the 1970s, in the midst of recession, the OECD put together a Trade Pledge, to avert the risk of an unravelling of the trade system. Today, we need to act to avoid an unravelling of our aid efforts. I therefore propose that we put in place an “aid pledge’, under which DAC donors, and others who wish to do so, undertake not to cut their aid budgets and to maintain their current commitments on future aid flows. I hope very much that this is an idea that will inspire broad support. I am ready to commit, with the Chairman of the DAC, Mr. Deutscher, to implementing this proposal.
Written statement by OECD Secretary-General to the Development Committee meeting