The European Space Agency and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s)

By Johann-Dietrich WörnerDirector General, European Space Agency 

What do space and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have in common? What they have in common may be as remote as outer space but several examples illustrate the opposite. Space does matter for the SDGs. Since its creation in 1975, the European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a wide range of space programmes that provide useful contributions for sustainable development. And this is becoming even clearer now with the 2015 adoption of the SDGs  [1]. Consider just a few examples related to some of the 17 SDGs: Continue reading

Developing countries and the renewable energy revolution

By Prof. John A. Mathews, Professor of Strategy at Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Sydney, Australia and author of Greening of Capitalism

There was a time when arguments about development and energy were seen as different discourses. They came together in the familiar call for poor people in developing countries to have access to electricity. As for energy needed for industrialisation, fossil fuels – with all their burdens on the balance of payments and geopolitical entanglements – were tapped to fill the need.

To be sure, the Western world as it industrialised over the past 200 years enjoyed enormous benefits from fossil fuels. The transition to a carbon-based economy liberated economies from age-old Malthusian constraints. For a group of select countries representing a small slice of the global population, burning fossil fuels enabled an era of explosive growth, ushering in dramatic improvements in productivity, income, wealth and living standards. Continue reading

Unlocking Private Finance in Frontier Markets

By Dr. Nancy Lee, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation

The development landscape has changed fundamentally. Private actors and private finance increasingly drive development, and annual private financial flows to developing countries now amount to more than five times official aid flows. Potential sources of development funding — institutional investors, impact investors, foundations, diaspora communities, sovereign wealth funds — are not lacking.

The challenge is to harness more of these flows for poorer countries and for investments with more development impact — which is central to the conversation at this month’s World Economic Forum on Africa in Rwanda. Even motivated investors face two critical impediments: (1) weak and sometimes toxic policies and investment climates and (2) underinvestment in the supply of bankable projects. Continue reading

The role of South-South co-operation in the implementation process of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

By Gina Casar, Executive Director, Mexican Agency for International Development Co-operation (AMEXCID)  

The outcome document of the 2009 High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Co-operation in Nairobi remains the most internationally acknowledged document in this matter. It says that South-South co-operation is a “manifestation of solidarity among peoples and countries of the South” (article 18), “takes different and evolving forms, including the sharing of knowledge and experience, training, technology transfer, financial and monetary co-operation and in-kind contributions” (Article 12), and “embraces a multi-stakeholder approach” (Article 19).

South-South co-operation can be seen as an expression of the growing capacity and political willingness of developing countries to do their part to attain the 2030 development agenda. This builds on their own resources, which in many cases emanate from knowledge gathered by facing their own domestic experiences, and less on financial support. It is in this context that the widely accepted formulation of “South-South co-operation not being a substitute, but rather a complement to North-South co-operation” must be understood.

Indeed, South-South co-operation is an increasingly important element of international co-operation for development. The 2030 Agenda and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals strive to make co-operation impactful, focused on results, inclusive and, overall, effective.

In that regard, South-South co-operation faces some particular challenges to increase and assess its development impact, while consolidating the institutional and technical capacities of southern countries. These challenges include:

  • systematising and publishing information collected on the national level,
  • increasing predictability and strategic engagement,
  • avoiding proliferation of short-term and isolated activities,
  • establishing specific procedures for monitoring and evaluation and reinforcing results-oriented approaches, and
  • improving the means of coordination and communication.

These challenges need to be tackled to take full advantage of the potential and specific value-added of South-South co-operation. Consider the enormous promise of South-South co-operation.

  • It offers a significant resource channel that is additional to — and different from — Official Development Assistance funds.
  • It builds on “real and proven” development expertise, which is valued by partner countries because of the similarities and relevant know-how among developing countries.
  • It has lower transaction costs, is more demand-driven vis-à-vis traditional North-South co-operation and comes with fewer conditionalities than traditional development co-operation.

The strengths, increasing relevance and potential of South-South Co-operation rightfully have been acknowledged in the context of the 2030 Agenda and financing for development efforts. For example, with SDG 17 focused on revitalising the global partnership for sustainable development, the global community acknowledges the importance of South-South co-operation to fulfill the SDGs. This goal aims at enhancing North-South and South-South co-operation to support national plans to achieve all the targets. Additionally, paragraphs 56 and 57 of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda acknowledge South-South co-operation as an important element of international co-operation for development. The action agenda calls on developing countries to strengthen South-South co-operation and further improve its development effectiveness.

Mexico is an important actor in South-South co-opoeration. As a provider, our priority is with our neighbors in Central America, while also focusing on Latin American and the Caribbean region as a whole. This priority does not mean excluding co-operation beyond our own region as we also undertake development projects in the Asia-Pacific area and Africa. We are increasing our development actions in these places through an enhanced strategic approach. Promoting triangular co-operation is a strategic tool to strengthen our capacities beyond our traditional areas of action, and beyond our own individual capabilities.

Through the establishment of the Agencia Mexicana de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (Mexico’s international development co-operation agency) in 2011, Mexico has tools to better and more strategically deliver its development co-operation. Notably, we continue advancing more systematic planning and monitoring frameworks, as well as a system for registering our development co-operation in monetary terms (RENCID). In terms of financing, Mexico has a national trust fund (FONCID) as well as a number of bilateral trust funds (Chile, Germany, Spain, Uruguay), which are lively tools for increased and improved delivery.

In this context, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, is serving as co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC). Within the GPEDC, we are promoting discussions on how to maximise development co-operation impact. We led sessions on this topic at the First High-Level Meeting (HLM1) of the GPEDC in Mexico City in 2014. At HLM2 to be held in Nairobi next November, we will promote a lively, constructive, open and inclusive dialogue for enhancing exchanges on South-South co-operation and triangular co-operation.

In a global community with a great diversity of actors at different development levels, we all share a responsibility to be as effective as possible. Inclusive and flexible partnerships are what we need to achieve the SDGs.

AGIR: Resilience, a buzzword or a long-term commitment?

By Julia Wanjiru, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

image-AGIR-UNICEFAfter three years of consultations following the adoption of a regional roadmap for the Global Alliance for Resilience (AGIR), the West African region can proudly announce that all 17 Sahelian and West African countries have embarked on an ambitious process to define their national resilience priorities (NRP-AGIR). To date, six countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Togo) have validated their NRPs; five countries (Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Senegal) are in the process of validation.

While some partners are growing impatient, others underline the quality and inclusiveness of a process that is laying the groundwork for future implementation. AGIR stakeholders took stock of progress made in developing the NRPs during the recent meeting of the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA) on 15 April 2016 at the OECD headquarters in Paris.

Some national representatives are asking for additional financial support (“We have advanced well, but we need more support”), while technical and financial partners want to further improve the quality of co-ordination and are eagerly awaiting the concrete next steps in implementing the NRPs. In this context, it is worth recalling that AGIR is not just another programme or initiative. It is a policy tool which aims to channel the efforts of regional and international stakeholders toward a common results-based framework to achieve the  “Zero Hunger” goal. It is also a long-term political partnership to improve the effectiveness of Sahelian and West African resilience initiatives.

In reality, the implementation of many resilience projects has already started… and for most Sahelians and West Africans, resilience has been part of their lives for a long time.

What has been achieved since the creation of AGIR?

An affirmed, strong West African leadership is the first and maybe most important achievement. The Alliance is run under the political guidance of ECOWAS and UEMOA, with the technical support of CILSS, which hosts the AGIR Support Unit that facilitates co-ordination and supports countries in their efforts to conduct inclusive dialogues. All national governments are involved in the process. AGIR is based on existing platforms and networks, in particular the RPCA, which plays a key role in implementing the Alliance and lobbying on the international scene –  a “win-win” situation for  AGIR to capitalise on and strengthen existing networks and structures.

Improved  mobilisation of development partners. Resilience had almost disappeared from the development agenda and was powerfully re-introduced in 2012 when humanitarian and development actors recognised that recurrent food crises in the Sahel can only be tackled if the root causes of food insecurity are addressed through a systematic and long-term approach. AGIR recognises that resilience-building is necessarily a long-term endeavour that can only be achieved through full national and regional ownership; it recognises that it is not only better but cheaper to invest in prevention and preparedness of the most vulnerable populations.

All stakeholders clearly acknowledge the importance of a multi-sectoral approach, recognising that agricultural production and better functioning markets alone will not be sufficient to build the resilience of vulnerable populations. In this respect, the NRP process is not a simple copy and paste of existing policy texts. On the contrary, the NRP process provides a new reading of existing policies that goes beyond agriculture and food security concerns. It involves a large number of  different ministries and portfolios: education, health, territorial planning, rural/urban development, gender issues, etc., that all contribute to reducing vulnerability and building resilience. The efficiency of multi-sectoral approaches is broadly recognised, but the actual implementation on the ground still poses immense challenges for West African policy makers and development partners alike.

Last but not least, another important achievement is the inclusiveness of the process, with a clear effort to involve civil society representatives. Eight networks of civil society organisations have participated in the work of the Alliance since the very beginning. “They have become true ambassadors for AGIR at both the regional and international levels”, confirms CILSS Technical Unit Co-ordinator Martin Issa Bikienga. This is a good starting point; the relevance of their contributions must be further enhanced and made sustainable.

What are the next steps? What are the challenges?

The most critical next step is to finalise the NRP process in the remaining countries. The RPCA meeting conclusions urged all AGIR stakeholders to “renew their commitment to the Alliance, by: i) providing support to countries working towards the validation of their priorities; and ii) providing support and guidance to national and regional actors, to ensure an effective integration of the NRP-AGIR into the next generation of national agricultural investment plans.” It will also be important to capitalise on the three-year consultation process and identify best practices so that countries can learn from each other’s experiences, success stories and difficulties.

The few outstanding NRPs should not keep other countries from advancing. This is just the first step in a long-term dialogue process that must be pursued steadfastly if AGIR wishes to consolidate a multi-sectoral approach.

In terms of implementing the NRPs, the next step will be for countries to speed up the implementation of the identified resilience priority projects by allocating national budgets (if not already done) and mobilising their partners to cover financial gaps. Some AGIR pillars, in particular pillar 3 aimed at “sustainably improving agricultural and food production, the incomes of vulnerable households and their access to food”, could also potentially benefit from climate financing.

Lastly, AGIR needs to make further headway toward improving co-ordination and measuring impacts. It is currently impossible to get an overview of the many projects already being conducted on the ground in the region and even less to measure their impact. The RPCA has started working on resilience impact measures, and an interactive mapping tool to geo-localise the many resilience, food and nutrition initiatives is under way, with the support of the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat. This work will help monitor and evaluate the Alliance’s outcomes, as well as foster synergies and the convergence of resilience initiatives.

For many West African policy makers the resilience debate that gained international interest in 2012 was nothing new. They may not have had dedicated national resilience priorities, but resilience has always been a concern for West African governments and regional organisations.

The challenges remain enormous: whether there is a good or bad harvest, every year, the region must deal with at least 3 to 4 million chronically food insecure people. Malnutrition is a serious, permanent concern: one out of five children under five in the Sahel is undernourished. This year, almost 2 million children will be affected by the most severe form of acute malnutrition, if no appropriate measures are taken.

For those who are still sceptical and for whom resilience still sounds like a buzzword, we need to convince them that building resilience is not a passing fad but requires a very urgent, yet long-term commitment.

Partnering with philanthropy to optimise a country’s resources: Mexico’s case

By Emilie Romon of the OECD Development Centre’s Global Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD)

The Government of Mexico is stepping up its engagement with its philanthropic sector. Three factors fuel this decision. First, the share of official development assistance to middle-income countries, such as Mexico, is expected to significantly decrease in coming years. In 2014, the donor community decided to increase support for least-developed and fragile states rather than middle-income countries.

This means Mexico is exploring new ways to optimise all available public and private resources for development. Second, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) endorsed in 2015 call for public and private actors to better pool and co-ordinate their resources if they are to achieve the goals. And third, as the co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, which promotes multi-stakeholder partnerships with foundations and other non-state actors, Mexico wants to lead by example. Indeed, Mexico’s move towards its domestic philanthropic sector could not be more timely. Continue reading

Entretien: Sahel, Plan d’action pour un engagement renouvelé 2015-2020

AFD-Sahel-coverEntretien avec M. Jean-Pierre Marcelli, Directeur du Département Afrique, Agence française de développement (AFD)

L’Agence française de développement (AFD) a élaboré un plan d’action pour opérationnaliser sa stratégie au Sahel pendant la période 2015-2020.1 À travers ce plan, elle développe des propositions pour une action plus lucide, plus ambitieuse et plus adaptée aux contextes sahéliens en pleine mutation. Dans une logique de stabilisation d’ensemble, le document détaille les domaines de priorité d’un engagement renouvelé avec six pays sahéliens : le Burkina Faso, la Mauritanie, le Mali, le Niger, le Sénégal et le Tchad. Il porte une attention particulière aux fragilités : une pauvreté enracinée, une population jeune en pleine expansion, avec peu d’accès à une éducation de qualité et à l’emploi. Trois priorités opérationnelles sont ainsi identifiées : 1) accroître l’activité économique et les opportunités d’emploi pour les jeunes ; 2 ) répondre aux défis démographiques au sens large ; et 3) contribuer à un développement territorial équilibré et à la sécurité alimentaire.

L’AFD est un bailleur historique avec une longue expérience au Sahel. Le Plan d’action 2015-2020 marque un «engagement renouvelé » de l’Agence. Il affiche la volonté de «faire mieux et différemment.» Pouvez-vous nous en dire plus sur le caractère innovant de la démarche ?

J-P.M: Cette  démarche  est  innovante  dans  le  sens  où  elle  a  souhaité  ne  pas  s’inscrire  dans  des approches déjà utilisées depuis plusieurs années par un simple effet de répétition, mais de partir d’un nouveau questionnement sur les enjeux liés à l’évolution extrêmement rapide du Sahel.

Vous semblez promouvoir la nécessité d’agir au niveau régional afin d’être mieux en phase avec la nature transfrontalière des enjeux sahéliens. Les agences de coopération ont souvent du mal à traduire ceci dans la réalité de leurs actions. Quelle est l’expérience de l’AFD ?

J-P.M: Il est vrai que les acteurs institutionnels ont, pour la plupart, une approche nationale. Pourtant, les dynamiques humaines, les bassins géographiques, les systèmes écologiques et les échanges économiques sont par nature transfrontaliers voire régionaux, et en particulier au Sahel. Ce grand espace qu’est le Sahel, bordé par le Maghreb au nord et les pays du Golfe de Guinée au sud, est beaucoup plus ouvert que d’autres géographies et nous impose de regarder au-delà des frontières si nous voulons répondre efficacement aux enjeux de développement. Trouver les moyens d’appréhender ces problématiques transfrontalières, de concert avec des acteurs nationaux et si possible régionaux, fait partie de la complexité à laquelle il nous faut répondre.

Un grand nombre de « Stratégies Sahel » a été développé par les différents acteurs actifs au Sahel. Est-ce une opportunité ou une contrainte ? Quelle est la valeur ajoutée de la stratégie de l’AFD ? Comment créer davantage des synergies avec les autres acteurs ?

J-P.M: Le grand nombre de stratégies Sahel qui a été développé ces dernières années reflète bien l’intérêt et les questionnements que suscite cette zone. Il pourrait être perçu comme une contrainte si nous tentions de vouloir en faire la synthèse ; synthèse qui risquerait d’aboutir à quelque chose de peu consistant, ou de trop global et donc n’apportant pas de valeur ajoutée par rapport à l’existant. Mais ce qu’il faut y voir,  c’est avant tout une opportunité de s’inspirer des analyses et des propositions, souvent très pertinentes et éclairées, des différents acteurs actifs au Sahel. Il faut donc utiliser cette matière déjà disponible pour en « faire notre miel » avec un souci de sélection, car nos propositions doivent pouvoir se caractériser et être articulées sur des impacts bien identifiés et mesurables.

Pour créer des synergies, il faut également savoir identifier dans chaque partenaire quelles sont ses forces, ses savoir-faire, sa valeur ajoutée, pour ne pas venir dupliquer des choses qui sont parfois bien faites par d’autres.

L’AFD souhaite « valoriser et produire de nouvelles connaissances sur le Sahel ». Comment mutualiser davantage les efforts dans ce domaine ?

J-P.M: Nous souhaitons effectivement faire un effort particulier de valorisation et de production de connaissances sur le Sahel et en priorité sur les problématiques relatives à l’éducation, la formation et l’emploi ; les dynamiques démographiques et migratoires ainsi qu’à l’enjeu des territoires.  L’important  pour  nous  sera  aussi  de  nourrir  nous-même  notre  action  et  notre réflexion sur ces sujets, tout en collaborant avec des organismes de recherche français et africains. Notre collaboration avec le CSAO sera à ce titre un bon moyen de mutualiser ces connaissances.

La quasi-totalité de la zone saharo-sahélienne est classée en zone orange ou rouge par le Ministère français des affaires étrangères. Du fait, beaucoup de zones sont aujourd’hui inaccessibles.  Comment  faire  votre  métier  de  « développeur  d’avenirs  durables »  dans ce contexte d’insécurité ?

J-P.M: Les questions de sécurité peuvent en effet gêner notre action et nous pouvons imaginer qu’une partie de cette insécurité vise parfois à perturber l’action du développement. S’il est nécessaire de prendre en compte ces questions sécuritaires, il faut néanmoins trouver les moyens de les surmonter, sans prise de risque inconsidérée. Nous pouvons pour cela nous appuyer davantage sur les acteurs locaux, sur ceux qui sont présents, ceux qui sont le mieux à l’écoute des besoins et qui sont les plus aptes à se positionner dans un territoire au plus proche des populations. Cela peut  être  des  organisations  de  la  société  civile,  mais  aussi  des  collectivités  locales,  des entreprises, etc.

Certains chercheurs pensent qu’au-delà du soutien logistique et en matière de formation, les gouvernements européens devraient assumer une partie des coûts des armées sahéliennes afin de stabiliser la zone et empêcher ainsi l’effondrement des efforts de développement dans la région. Qu’en pensez-vous ?

J-P.M: La sécurité est une condition très importante et c’est d’ailleurs probablement souvent l’une des aspirations premières des populations. Elle doit donc faire partie des fondamentaux à établir pour permettre une relance des processus de développement et rétablir la cohésion sociale de certains pays. Un effort sur les questions de sécurité, le plus possible porté par les pays africains, comme c’est de plus en plus souvent le cas, fait également partie des conditions nécessaires à un développement équilibré et apaisé.

L’Alliance globale pour la résilience (AGIR) vise à s’attaquer aux causes profondes de l’insécurité alimentaire chronique qui reste un défi majeur au Sahel. Elle est un cadre favorisant plus de synergie, de cohérence et d’efficacité au service des initiatives de résilience dans les 17 pays ouest-africains et sahéliens. Comment l’action de l’AFD s’inscrit-elle dans le cadre de l’Alliance ?

J-P.M: Dans ce domaine, l’action de l’AFD s’inscrit, et continuera à s’inscrire, en bonne cohérence avec l’initiative AGIR, dont il faut encourager l’approche multisectorielle et pluri acteurs. Lutter contre l’insécurité alimentaire fait partie des priorités resserrées que nous avons retenues dans le cadre de notre Plan d’action Sahel. Il faut en effet assurer la sécurité alimentaire maintenant et surtout demain, en renforçant les capacités de production vivrière ainsi que de circulation et commercialisation dans les pays sahéliens, et cela avant que de nouvelles crises surviennent. Un autre élément très important qui va au-delà de la sécurité alimentaire, c’est la nécessité de créer des  emplois.  En  effet,  dans  un  contexte  de  dynamique  démographique  exceptionnelle,  la création d’emplois et d’activités génératrices de revenus est essentielle pour offrir un devenir à cette jeunesse qui arrive chaque année plus nombreuse sur le marché de l’emploi. À ce titre, le Sahel a des avantages comparatifs à faire valoir, notamment dans les secteurs agricole et de l’élevage, en tant que principaux secteurs pourvoyeurs de revenus et d’emplois, mais avec des besoins importants à la fois de modernisation et de durabilité des systèmes suffisamment écologiques pour être pérennes.

En quelques mots, quelle est votre vision du Sahel à l’horizon 2020?

J-P.M:  Ma vision du Sahel dans 5 ans c’est un Sahel plus peuplé, toujours extrêmement jeune, donc avec un besoin d’activités économiques considérable. Il s’agira probablement aussi d’une région où la croissance des villes restera très forte tandis que les campagnes se rempliront. J’espère que nous verrons un Sahel avec un secteur agricole et d’élevage renforcé et stabilisé, une gestion durable des ressources naturelles, des services de base au niveau et davantage de moyens de communication. J’espère que le Sahel aura maintenu ou retrouvé ses équilibres politiques, retrouvé les ferments d’une cohésion nationale, indispensable pour le retour de la stabilité, avec davantage d’échanges entre les parties nord et sud des pays, mais également entre les pays, pour accélérer des dynamiques économiques indispensables à la satisfaction des attentes des populations en matière d’emploi et plus généralement de conditions de vie décentes.

1 http://www.afd.fr/webdav/site/afd/shared/L_AFD/L_AFD_s_engage/documents/Plan_action_Sahel.pdf