Politics of Poverty

Busan Outcomes One Year Later: 2 Commitments and 3 Challenges

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Navigating the new post-Busan dynamics

Guest post by Lidia Fromm Cea, Viceminister for Social Policies, Honduras Ministry of Social Development

Lidia Fromm Cea of the Honduras Ministry of Social Development was a government representative at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan last year. Photo courtesy Lidia Fromm Cea.

The Busan Outcome Document was negotiated one year ago. Being a sherpa in this process was not a simple nor an easy task for me. Diverse and multiple stakeholders were engaged in complex consultative processes before and after the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. But one year later, representatives from governments, donors, and civil society still share the will and common ground to keep strengthening aid and improving development outcomes. It is important for us to consider two commitments which should not be overlooked, as well as three challenges that must be still be overcome:

Commitment #1: Aid transparency

From the Honduran perspective, publishing user-friendly aid information on a timely basis under the International Aid Transparency Initiative standard will allow our citizens to track what aid is being used for and especially to monitor what it is achieving. This will also help the government manage aid more effectively, so that every dollar destined towards fighting poverty does so. We recently established a set of software tools called the Aid Management Platform, which improves the accessibility of aid information in Honduras through the web. This means advancing towards accountability to our citizens.

Commitment #2: Intensifying efforts for unfinished business

Negotiating conditionalities and use of country systems in Busan was one of the most difficult challenges for those representing developing countries, as there was opposition from some donors just as in prior high level forums in Paris and Accra. We must keep this mandate alive in the new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) that was created in Busan. The role that representatives from the developing world will play in the GPEDC Steering Committee is key to this. It is important for us to come together and define actions to advance on unfinished business, regardless of what country or region we come from. Africa, Asia, and Latin American representatives must be cohesive, for the sake of all of citizens around the globe. This requires strong leadership and lots of dialogue.

Lidia Fromm Cea (second from right) participating on a panel in Busan. Photo courtesy Lidia Fromm Cea.

Challenge #1: Learning to lead

Many developing countries are still learning how to lead mutual accountability processes with local ownership, and many of us are still exploring the best way to hold donors accountable on the basis of results. Still there was a 100% increase in developing countries that applied the Paris Declaration global monitoring framework between 2006 and 2011.  Despite the heavy workload that implementing the Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration meant for developing countries, governments increasingly came on board to monitor progress: 32 partner countries applied the survey in 2006, 54 countries in 2008, and 80 countries in 2011. Many countries are still just discovering the power of results and this is one of the reasons why the learning process that was sped up after Paris and Accra must not be aborted.

Challenge #2: The “global-light” formula

The risk that lurks in the new post-Busan dynamics is that conversations shift to the country level, making the global dimension too light. We expect that the GPEDC Steering Committee will make concerted efforts to maintain a proper balance between the global and the country level. From our perspective in Honduras, we learned that having indicators that were monitored at the global level has been key to shaping dialogue with donors in Tegucigalpa. We also learned that having results from monitoring exercises at the global level helped us take stock of recurrent behaviors and certain ways of managing aid that need to evolve. We have been giving our partners many friendly reminders…

Challenge #3: Leaving “business as usual” practices behind

In many ways, the new Global Partnership structure must engage in managing institutional and organizational change, ensuring that OECD and UNDP leadership have the know-how to reduce barriers, revise incentives, and ensure effective dialogue across multiple partners and sectors under this new Global Partnership. Who can develop capacities of those in the developed countries to deliver effectively in this new phase? Their understanding of what change means for developing countries is key, considering the last monitoring survey revealed that we achieved more advances compared to developed countries.

I strongly believe it is us, developing countries, who can most effectively enable them to understand the way aid is delivered in practice, across the different sectors where the aid funding really flows, like health, education, environment, social protection, etc. We partner countries can help developed countries and the OECD and UNDP to adequately link theory to practice; surely, this know-how may result in them providing the type of quality support the Busan commitments demand from all of us.

This guest post is part of an Oxfam-sponsored feature on Devex entitled, “One year later, where do we stand on commitments made in Busan?” 

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