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 continuous effort towards modernising, deepening and broadening development co-operation and the delivery of aid has been marked by four notable events: the High Level Fora on Aid Effectiveness in Rome, Paris, Accra and Busan in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2011 respectively. These high-level events have rooted the formulation of principles towards effective aid that led in 2011 to the Busan Partnership Agreement endorsed to date by over 100 countries as the blueprint for maximising the impact of aid. The formulation of these principles grew out of a need to understand why aid was not producting the development results everyone wanted to see as well as to step up efforts to meet the ambitious targets set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (Busan, 2011) marked a turning point in international discussions on aid and development.
This event brought together over 3000 delegates to take stock of the progress made in delivering aid and furthering development activities across the globe, and to make collective plans for the future of aid and development for all stakeholders.
The forum culminated in the signing of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation by ministers of developed and developing nations, emerging economies, providers of South-South and triangular co-operation and civil society. This declaration establishes for the first time an agreed framework for development co-operation that embraces traditional donors, South-South co-operators, the BRICS, civil society organisations and private funders.
A series of Building Blocks were presented during the forum to unite development partners and organisations behind pressing development issues and to make concentrated efforts to further progress in these areas.
» Overview of Busan 2011
» Countries endorsing the Busan Partnership agreement
» Complete Busan Proceedings (pdf)
At the Third High Level Forum (Accra, 2008), an unprecedented alliance of development partners – developing and donor countries, emerging economies, UN and multilateral institutions, global funds and civil society organisations - participated in discussions, broadening the stakeholders in the aid effectiveness agenda. The forum emphasised the need to deepen implementation towards the goals set in 2005 in the Paris Declaration, along with a set of priority areas for improvement.
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.
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 Second High Level Forum on Joint Progress toward Enhanced Aid Effectiveness (Harmonisation, Alignment, and Results) (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.
» Second High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness event page
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:
» Rome Declaration (pdf, 55 kB)