Recreating effective development co-operation – does it matter?

By Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Co-operation and Climate and Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden

I am going to Nairobi to attend the second high-level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. This meeting comes at a critical time, as we are facing more serious development challenges than ever before. A growing number of conflicts are becoming increasingly deadly and protracted. The number of forcibly displaced people and refugees are higher than ever. Climate change threatens to undermine the progresses we made and is in the end a threat to our very existence. I was recently in Marrakesh at the COP22. While international commitment is strong to push the implementation of the Paris Agreement, we have a long way to go.

We need to act right now, but from a long-term vision, across borders and across segments of society. Last year, we all agreed on the universal 2030 Agenda with 17 goals for sustainable development. It’s a clear confirmation of the fact that we are all united by a common destiny and a joint responsibility to find a way forward. We need to rise to the challenge through strong partnerships. We need to make global development, and specifically development co-operation, more effective to face these challenges.

Hence, we need to value and safeguard the core of development co-operation – our commitment to official development assistance (ODA). We see increasing pressure to use ODA resources for purposes beyond ODA. In Europe, for example, pressure is mounting to use ODA for security-related spending, or expenses related to migration. I can understand this, as resources are scarce and as development challenges are interrelated. However, it is my firm belief that undermining ODA is the wrong way to go, and in fact the OECD Development Assistance Committee is clarifying the rules in these areas. We must never lose focus of its main goal: to eradicate poverty. Resources are limited and ODA must be used where the added value is the greatest. It should also be used to catalyse other resources for development and focus on countries in conflict and fragility, ensuring that no one is left behind.

We need to give a new impetus to the global partnership. Interest in the upcoming high-level meeting of the Global Partnership is limited, and few EU Member States are making it a priority. But to me, the Global Partnership represents a textbook example of the kind of collaborations needed to drive the 2030 Agenda forward. I have chosen to go to Nairobi to support our joint endeavour of effective development co-operation. I want to listen to stakeholders and learn from their perspectives. I go to voice my concerns – because present implementation is simply not good enough. It is only by being present and taking responsibility for the outcome that we can together recreate the Global Partnership and make it work even better. I also go to support the Kenyan efforts in making this work.

The bottom line is clear – we cannot step back on previous commitments and progress achieved. Instead, we must move forward. I see four areas as absolutely critical:

  • Broad-based ownership: A successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires that partner countries lead and own their own development. Ownership and mutual accountability are cornerstones of the development effectiveness agenda. Here, we must make better use of partner countries’ own systems. And partner countries must take the necessary steps to strengthen their systems. Our support will follow.
  • Gender equality: Development will never be effective without gender equality. Further progress on gender budgeting, economic empowerment and participation of women’s organisations is key.
  • Fragile states: Nowhere is effective development co-operation more important than in fragile states, where there is less capacity to handle unstable set-ups of development interventions. We need to reconfirm our commitments to peace and statebuilding, including increased resources to fragile states, joint development frameworks and inclusive politics, such as support for UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
  • Enabling environment for civil society: Space for civil society organisations (CSOs) is shrinking globally. We need to scale up efforts to fulfil our commitments to create an enabling environment for CSOs globally. A CSO-enabling environment is a matter of human rights as well as a prerequisite for effective multi-stakeholder partnerships in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The role of CSOs as independent development actors in their own right needs to be reconfirmed in Nairobi.

This is not business as usual. We must stand by our commitments to remain true to development partners and people living in poverty. At the same time, we need to be innovative and recreate an agenda for development effectiveness co-operation that fits our joint purposes. Towards that goal, I look forward to seeing you in Nairobi.