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Building political momentum will be crucial for the way forward — Global Partnership on Effective Development Cooperation Senior Level Meeting

Added 22 Jul 2019
In this short blog, Eurodad looks back at the past senior level meeting (SLM) of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC), a multi-stakeholder platform established to make sure all development actors deliver on their commitments to ensure development cooperation is really eradicating poverty and bringing about sustainable development. The 1st SLM of the GPEDC was a good opportunity to discuss progress (or lack thereof), best practices and informing participants about the way forward. Yet, in order to achieve real progress in meeting Development Effectiveness Principles, building political momentum, which may be waning, will be crucial in the months to come.

By Nerea Craviotto Ortega and Jan Van de Poel

Last weekend – 13-14 July – the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) hosted its first Senior Level Meeting (SLM) in New York, on the heels of the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Over 600 participants from all corners of the development sector — donor countries, partner countries, parliamentarians, multilateral development banks, United Nations agencies, civil society, trade unions, foundations and the private sector — gathered to discuss progress towards more effective co-operation to help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

However, as we highlighted in our previous blog, donors still have a considerable way to go to fulfill commitments on development effectiveness. The final statement of the GPEDC SLM echoed this message, urging donor countries to take “further action to improve the alignment of development partners’ co-operation to partner country priorities and country-owned results frameworks and to increase the transparency of development cooperation” for development partners. 

In the same line the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE)*  emphasised the slow progress, to the point of backtracking (i.e. in building a enabling environment for civil society organisations,) on implementing key effectiveness commitments, notably: untying aid, the use of country systems as a first option, or ensuring mutual accountability that involves all stakeholders. And it reminded donor and partner countries that, in the context of expanding finance to meet the SDGs and leave no one behind, an even deeper commitment to the effectiveness agenda will be needed across GPEDC membership.

Today, nobody within the development community would question the Development Effectiveness Principles – country ownership, results based on country priorities, inclusive partnerships and accountability/transparency. However, this often-rhetorical commitment does not seem to translate into the political momentum required to lead to the behavior change needed within donor and partner countries for substantial progress to be made towards these agreed principles. In that sense, donor countries need to improve the alignment of their development cooperation support with partner country priorities and country-owned results frameworks, to give one example.

We welcome that the GPEDC SLM statement recognises the lack of progress in different areas of the development effectiveness agenda (“unfinished business” from Paris and Busan) and establishes a workstream to develop a Global Action Plan with time-bound action plans. Implementing these plans, however, will need actual buy-in from other stakeholders, which today is mainly supported by CSO organisations. The DAC Chair, Susanna Moorehead’s active participation in the SLM discussions was a positive sign of greater engagement in the GPEDC from the DAC. Real progress, however, will depend on DAC membership stepping up their game and committing to finalise unfinished business.

Monitoring 3.0

Comprehensive country-led monitoring of the implementation of development effectiveness principles is a unique contribution of the GPEDC, within the changing architecture of development cooperation. CSOs have been actively participating in this monitoring process and value the improved monitoring framework on which to base a realistic picture of the quality of development cooperation that looks at the performance of donors, partner countries and other stakeholders such as CSOs. For CSOs and other actors looking for a transparent, comprehensive and inclusive insight into the performance of development cooperation, this remains a vital exercise that should maintain its rigor and frequency.

The past SLM committed to a review of the monitoring process prior to the next monitoring round.  This revision will see the Kampala Principles on Effective Private Sector Engagement included as the basis for a new private sector indicator, along with other areas such as appropriate indicators for conditions of state fragility. CSOs should be part of these discussions and should seek clear accountability in the development of any new private sector indicator, within the GPEDC Monitoring Process, as well as in discussions on any review of the other Principles.

The way forward

Ahead of the meeting, Eurodad did not expect enormous progress in building political momentum for the GPEDC. Increasingly, donor countries seem to be turning away from the GPEDC as its core message on partner countries’ leadership in development processes is increasingly at odds with their political realities. The meeting, however, did manage to build interest for a new workstream that could make sure ‘unfinished business’ on vital effectiveness principles can be completed. The Kampala Principles are also a positive step towards strengthening accountability on private sector engagement in development. Yet, the ball is now in GPEDC ‘partners’ camp — notably donor and partner countries— to ensure next High Level Meeting – which has yet to be announced – can actually deliver on effective development and the SDGs.

* An open platform that unites CSOs from around the world on the issue of effective development cooperation