Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General at the Accra High Level Forum - Ministerial Day.
Accra, Ghana, 4 September 2008
President Kufuor, President Johnson Sirleaf, Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to be here in Accra at this very important event.
I would like to give my thanks to Ghana — and to President Kufuor in particular — for hosting the High Level Forum and for such strong commitment to delivering better aid and development outcomes for the world’s poor. Ghana has been a driving force in reaching consensus on the Accra Agenda for Action. The work of KY Amoako in leading the Partner Country Contact Group has been instrumental in developing a set of actions built around the views and priorities of partner countries.
President Kufuor, we salute your achievements as you approach the end of your second term as President, and as former chairman of Economic Community of West Africa States and the African Union.
I would also like to thank World Bank President Zoellick, the UN Development Program Administrator Kemal Dervis, and the Regional Development Banks for their financial, logistical and intellectual contributions to this High Level.
The Accra Agenda for Action (the “Triple A) represents a historic step in the aid effectiveness agenda. Let us acknowledge the full measure of what we are proposing to endorse today. The Triple A is the vehicle for encouraging profound behaviour change in our donor agencies and in partner countries – the change in the aid business model envisioned in the Paris Declaration.
The Accra Agenda for Action represents a significant step forward and presents donors and partners with a series of new concrete measures to accelerate movement towards agreed development goals. It is the blueprint to make sure that we meet our commitments under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness by 2010 and significantly deepen our engagements on some crucial fronts.
It enshrines the principles of reducing conditionality and further untying aid.
It strengthens partner country ownership by engaging their Parliaments and citizens and making greater use of their own national systems to deliver aid as a first option — not as a last resort.
It builds more effective and inclusive partnerships for development — pulling together all actors into the tent. Middle-income countries, global funds, the private sector and civil society organisations are all bringing valuable experience to the table.
It increases aid’s value for money, and ensures donors work effectively in-country — not overcrowding some sectors while ignoring others.
It focuses on delivering and accounting for development results; which means being transparent to our citizens, and keeping to our promises, so we can all plan to use aid as effectively as possible.
It focuses on increasing the medium term predictability of aid, so that developing countries can effectively design and manage their development programmes over the medium term. This is especially important in sectors such as health which rely on long-term recurrent funding to deliver key services and, for obvious reasons, in the area of food aid.
And it finishes by leading us to a time when countries will no longer be dependent on aid but on mobilising their own resources, the ultimate sign of success. Examples abound in the communiqué that emerged from International Conference on Taxation, State Building and Capacity Development in Africa held in Pretoria last week and sponsored, among others, by the OECD. There, Trevor Manuel - the South African Finance Minister - made the shrewd observation that aid is spelled T-A-X.
Transparency and predictability are indispensible for good public management – for good governance –in all countries. So the message of the Triple A is: deliver what you promise and publish what you spend.
How we got to where we are today is in itself a testament to how far we are moving forward in this agenda. The draft you have before you is the result of an unprecedented and massive consultation process involving developing countries, all multilaterals and all OECD donors, hundreds of civil society organisations from around the world and many non-traditional providers of development assistance.
And let us recall that the Triple A priorities were identified by developing countries themselves in the consultation process well over a year ago. In other words, the developing countries set the agenda way upstream in this whole process. So today we have a set of significant actions in precisely those priority areas signalled by developing countries as of most concern.
President, Ministers, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I came to Accra with a different speech and expectations of discussing with you what we would be doing after Accra, how we would turn these significant commitments into concrete actions and results. Instead, I stand before you with a plea that we don’t waste this opportunity.
We came to Accra with a mission to make aid work better for the people for whom it matters most – the poor. We simply cannot afford to fail. And there is no reason why we should.
We all know what happened in the Doha trade talks in Geneva. Who were the losers in July? The poorest of the world. We in Accra must find the common ground on which to capture the considerable progress made in the past months and break through the current impasse so that we can conclude this vital agenda. Just as we must give the WTO and Mr. Lamy all the support he needs to move the Doha Round forward, we must do the necessary to reach consensus around the Triple A and send a loud message to the world that governments are serious about making development assistance work.
We need to improve aid effectiveness to make tangible improvements in the lives of the world’s poorest people. The OECD looks forward to working with you to deliver on the commitments we made in Paris and which we must renew and extend here through the Accra Agenda for Action. And we stand ready to help in whatever way I can to ensure that we achieve this outcome today. We cannot leave Accra empty-handed.
And now I would like to turn the floor to President Kufuor, thanking him again for the tremendous effort that Ghana has made to bring us to Accra and to make this conference a success.