28/05/2009 - Austria’s official development assistance (ODA) was 0.42% of its gross national income (GNI) in 2008, putting it in 11th place among OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors. Austria’s net ODA fell by 14% to USD1.7 billion from 2007 to 2008, due to a lower level of debt relief grants provided in 2008.
Debt relief made up 50% of Austria’s ODA during the period 2005 - 2007 and more than 40% in 2008, which is higher than any other DAC member. With the decline in debt relief, Austria must sharply increase its aid to meet its commitment to reach the EU target of 0.7% of GNI to development assistance by 2015. Reaching its interim target of 0.51% in 2010 is essential despite the current financial crisis.
The DAC commends Austria’s efforts to focus its development co-operation on the world’s poorest people and its plans to substantially increase its aid for humanitarian action, priority partner countries, and UN agencies. Austria can greatly enhance the effectiveness of its aid by increasing the share of aid that can be programmed by its partner countries.
By establishing the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), Austria has progressed with the organisational reform it started in 2004. The staffing and technical expertise in the Foreign Affairs Ministry must now be strengthened so that it can effectively carry out its mandate as the national co-ordinator for aid and development policy. Austria’s aid system must become more cohesive and its aid more predictable; the new five year budgetary cycle provides a good foundation for this. The DAC recommends increased focus on public and political awareness about global development challenges. It also recommends a medium-term development policy, endorsed by the government, which commits all ministries to reducing poverty, increasing peace and security, and preserving the environment.
The Development Assistance Committee, which groups major aid donors that are members of the OECD, issued its Main Findings and Recommendations on Austria and as part of a series of examinations of member aid policies and programmes. The peer review, led by Luxembourg and Norway, took place on 29 April 2009. The Austrian delegation attending the review meeting was headed by Ms. Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl, Director General for development co-operation at the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Helen Fisher at the OECD's Media Division (tel.  1 45 24 80 97). See also www.oecd.org/dac/peerreviews/austria