The promise and pitfalls of partnerships in tackling extreme poverty around the world


By Homi Kharas, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Global Economy and Development, Development Assistance and Governance Initiative, Brookings Institution

Erik Solheim, chairman of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee, summarized the moral case for international development cooperation by paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln’s remark that “If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.” Solheim, in a modernized version, challenged the audience to ask “If the presence of extreme poverty in the world today is not wrong, then what is?” This provided the backdrop to a discussion of how to implement the sustainable development goals and, in particular, the first goal on ending extreme poverty.

The venue was Brookings, where I was moderating a discussion and Solheim was launching the OECD’s 2015 Development Cooperation Report. In discussing the report’s findings, Solheim highlighted the significant potential for partnerships as coalitions for action. He underlined the progress that partnerships have already made, citing 7 million lives saved as a result of just one vaccination and immunization partnership.

Partnerships are an intriguing new tool for driving progress in the developing world. They are a hybrid between unilateralism and multilateralism. In today’s world, no actor, even one as large and powerful as the United States, can be successful if acting on its own. If nothing else, local ownership—by governments, business, and civil society organizations—is now generally recognized as key to any development progress, so unilateralism cannot work. But multilateralism, too, has its drawbacks. It can take a long time to achieve consensus when many different parties have a voice—witness the Doha Development Round of trade talks or the negotiations over climate change. Partnerships can provide space for action while such discussions are taking place and even change the facts on the ground to make reaching consensus easier. Solheim used the example of the U.N.’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) program to create new facts on the ground that will make it far easier to agree on net carbon emission targets at this year’s climate change negotiations. Following Solheim’s presentation, we had a highly engaging panel discussion with Elizabeth Cousens, deputy CEO of the U.N. Foundation and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council and Alex Thier, assistant to the administrator for Policy, Planning, and Learning at USAID. Cousens saw partnerships as “very possibly” a game-changer for international development. She pointed to numerous elements of the Sustainable Development Goals framework that wouldn’t be possible without the experiences of building new partnerships, and commended multilateral organizations like the U.N. and the World Bank for their leadership in many of these efforts. She also highlighted the different nature of partnerships at local and global levels and emphasized that partnerships need to invest in core foundations—trust, monitoring systems, transparent and honest learning—before they can be successful.

Thier saw partnerships as the natural bridge between official development projects and sustainable, locally owned projects. United States’ oft-cited HIV program and others are all intended to gradually be owned by their local beneficiaries, Thier said, and partnerships help this process along by bringing civil society and others into the conversation early and driving the very politics needed to make these programs self-sustaining at a local level.

I asked Solheim if successful partnerships were always based on a group of actors pooling their financial resources to achieve scale economies, like the Advanced Market Commitment of the vaccine alliance. If that was the case, then partnerships today could face difficulty as official development assistance is very difficult to mobilize.  Solheim disagreed that money was the key driver of success. He pointed toward Indonesia’s efforts to reduce deforestation. Indonesia was eligible to draw resources from the U.N.-REDD program, but chose not to do so because much of what it accomplished did not cost money—it was achieved by the political leadership shown by then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who rallied his government ministers, businesses, and civil society groups around a fundamental shift in norms and behavior that dramatically reduced forest clearing for plantation activities.

Each of the panelists warned that partnerships are not a panacea and there have been many failures when success factors (the DCR 2015 report identifies 10) are not present. For example, partnerships need good metrics of outcomes, outputs, and inputs to identify if change is happening fast enough, and, if not, what needs to be done to accelerate progress. Data on many development issues has been poor, but powerful new tools and technology are now available: satellites can measure changes in tree cover down to a single tree; governments can compare illness statistics after a vaccination program. Of course in other areas (for instance, education), outcomes, like learning, are still difficult to effectively measure and the “production function” (how do we get improvements in learning) can vary in different contexts.

Each of the panelists referred to the learning and innovation potential of successful partnerships. In too many areas of development, there is still a lot to learn about the most effective interventions. Moving from anecdotes to a systematic learning culture is not easy.

But the real obstacle to successful partnerships, the panel agreed, is risk-averse political leadership. It’s no surprise that using tax dollars to eradicate poverty in far-off places can be a risky endeavor, especially when one considers that attention must now focus on the most challenging and conflict-prone areas of the world if we are to leave no one behind. So bold bets on development are needed, but most politicians prefer not to rock the boat. Their careers can be ended when programs go awry, and they rarely get praise when programs are successful (indeed, they may have long since moved on if results only show up in the long term). But without political support and strong leadership, partnerships cannot be successful. Generating greater tolerance for risk and learning more from failure may be hardest problem in implementing the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Cross-posted from Future Development

About the Author
Homi Kharas Senior Fellow and Deputy Director, Global Economy and Development, Development Assistance and Governance Initiative at the Brookings Institution.

Business has an essential role to play in the post-2015 agenda

flickr / World Bank

By Mr. Thomas de Man, Chair of the BIAC Development Committee

Every day, businesses around the world help to deliver sustainable development. Through companies’ trade and investment, job creation, and innovation, societies benefit from stronger economic growth and higher living standards. There is enormous potential to facilitate and scale-up this positive impact in the post-2015 development agenda.

However, the challenge facing many developing markets is that the risks facing businesses often outweigh the expected returns.

For instance, while the increased demand generated by growing markets provides many opportunities for businesses, the sheer rapidity of developing countries’ population growth calls for creating tens of millions of jobs every year. Consider for example that Nigeria is expected to become the world’s third most populous country by 2050, overtaking the United States. If jobs cannot be created quickly enough, countries run the risk of chronic youth unemployment and informality.

Other challenges facing businesses include political instability, policy uncertainty, corruption, and burdensome regulation, among others. Some companies can navigate these risks, but many – especially small private enterprises – cannot.

Making progress on all of these fronts will be essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and will require significant policy reform to improve the business climate and support investor confidence. In doing so, the international development community should ensure that developing countries can make use of international instruments, tools, and good practices, when implementing macroeconomic and structural policies for growth and development. The Policy Framework for Investment (PFI) is a case-and-point of an instrument that should be promoted internationally. Platforms such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) should strengthen focus on sharing knowledge and building public-private dialogue to improve the enabling environment at the country level for businesses to invest and support growth.

In summary, business has an essential role to play in the post-2015 agenda, but political leadership is central to shaping the environment in which businesses can operate. Cooperation between different actors and at all levels – national, regional and global – is therefore needed to mitigate risks and unleash the full business potential in developing markets.

About the Author
Thomas de Man is Chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC)

How to engage the private sector in development

Office workers at a meeting in Ghana. How can public-private dialogue encourage businesses to help tackle global development challenges? Photo by: Arne Hoel / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

Office workers at a meeting in Ghana. How can public-private dialogue encourage businesses to help tackle global development challenges? Photo by: Arne Hoel / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

By Kim Bettcher, Center for International Private Enterprise

As the development agenda turns toward inclusive growth, participatory decision-making and innovative partnerships, the demand has grown for private sector participation in the discovery of viable solutions. One powerful tool for propelling this participation is public-private dialogue, a structured approach to inclusive policymaking. Public-private dialogue facilitates agreement on many vital goals, among them improving the business climate, raising competitiveness and sustaining growth.

Take Kenya, for example. Betty Maina, former CEO of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, declares that “for more than 10 years, dialogue with government and all stakeholders has remained the pillar of our gains on behalf of our members.” Not only did public-private dialogue encourage a positive business environment in Kenya and regional integration, it also supported peace efforts following the disputed outcome of elections in 2007 and the ensuing violence. “Business was also instrumental in drafting and passage of the new constitution, which we gave ourselves in 2010 and continues to play a critical role in its implementation.”

Or consider the Ethiopian Public Private Consultative Forum, winner of the 2015 PPD Howard Award for long-standing achievement presented by the PPD Community of Practice. This consultative forum has advanced dialogue at federal and state levels on issues such as customs procedures, trade logistics, company registration and property rights protection. Tangible outcomes from this dialogue include a special credit window for small and medium enterprises and title deeds for more than 55,000 irregular and unprotected land holdings. Furthermore, the enthusiasm for dialogue in Ethiopia has done much to build trust between the public and private sector.

Public-private dialogue has proven to be a highly versatile tool for tackling development challenges. In fragile states, dialogue can revive private sector development and sustain policy reforms. Thus, the Nepal Business Forum played a role in building trust and prioritizing reforms in post-conflict Nepal. In a democratic transition, as occurring in Tunisia since 2011, dialogue can build consensus around how to manage the transition process. The National Dialogue in Tunisia produced a road map for social stability, which established the conditions for structural economic reforms.

At a sector level, dialogue can address issues of industry competitiveness and natural resource management. The Jordan Valley Water Forum coordinated responses by authorities and farmers to the water crisis in the region. Public-private dialogue can even be tailored to advance women’s economic empowerment, as shown by the winning entry from Bangladesh in the Global Partnership’s multistakeholder case study contest. The Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry promoted a Women’s National Business Agenda, which convinced the Central Bank to provide $93 million in loans to women-owned businesses.

So what exactly happens in the course of a dialogue process?

First, dialogue elevates policy priorities for creating a conducive investment climate and expanding markets. In Kenya, for instance, dialogue between business and government established collective leadership on economic liberalization, export promotion, regional integration and peace building. Second, dialogue gathers input from a wide range of interests. In doing so, it builds a constituency for reform among the business community. In Bangladesh, the Women’s National Business Agenda was the first advocacy campaign of its kind to give voice to the needs of women-owned businesses, and it connected with more than 180 organizations from all six geographic divisions of the country. Finally, structured dialogue improves the quality of legislation through analysis of evidence and incorporation of feedback into implementation of regulations. The Ethiopian consultative forum has done this through extensive investments in research and analysis, workshops to validate issues with the private sector, and technical committees to support the implementation of recommendations.

Although not a panacea, dialogue deserves attention from governments, business, donors and other development actors as a means toward credible and effective development cooperation. The tangible outcomes — in the form of cost savings to business — are real. More importantly, dialogue can kick-start policy reform and develop relationships that strengthen governance and economic performance. Especially in developing countries where institutions are weak and policy information is scarce, a coordinated dialogue opens a path to discovering and sustaining solutions. When done well, the legitimacy that accrues from dialogue is invaluable in preventing reversals of reforms.

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation has adopted the quality of public-private dialogue as one of its 10 monitoring indicators, by measuring the engagement and contribution of the private sector to development. While the indicator does not directly measure the business environment or private sector impact, it does capture the degree of private sector participation in policymaking and development partnerships. This indicator builds upon evaluation tools from an international community of practice and a charter of good practice.

Those policymakers and business leaders who now are ready to try dialogue can benefit from the wealth of experience accumulated by their peers around the world. When they reach out to their counterparts on the other side of the table, they are taking a big step toward the discovery of win-win solutions.

KimBAbout the Author
Kim Bettcher leads the Center for International Private Enterprise’s knowledge management initiative, which captures lessons learned in democratic and economic institution-building around the world.
Cross-posted with Devex

What’s next for the GPEDC in the post-2015 world?

World Bank Photo Collection / flickr

World Bank Photo Collection / flickr

By Manju Senapaty, Lead Planning and Policy Specialist for Development Effectiveness and Partnerships, Asian Development Bank

The second high-level meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) will take place in Kenya in 2016. In the run-up to the event, the GPEDC will need to consider some difficult questions on what to focus on for the post-2015 world.

Basically the choice is between being selective and making a big difference, or continuing with an expanded agenda taking in just about every development theme. If it opts for the former, then it will be a matter of identifying where it can really make a difference and strengthen the global partnership for sustainable development?

The GPEDC was launched at the fourth high-level forum on aid effectiveness in Busan in 2011. The aid effectiveness journey through previous high-level forums in Rome (2003), Paris (2005) and Accra (2008) established principles to improve the quality of aid for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These principles were primarily seen as applicable to OECD-DAC providers of official development assistance (ODA) and developing countries. Multilateral development banks have also been closely associated.

The results of implementing these good principles are becoming visible:

  • Countries are increasingly taking a leadership role in determining their priorities, and articulating these effectively to the development providers.
  • Transparency and the accountability for results of development assistance have improved.
  • International institutions like ADB have mainstreamed these principles, and are scaling up efforts to align their strategies and assistance with country policies, priorities, and systems.

In parallel, the global aid architecture has been changing rapidly, and becoming more complex. The share of ODA in total global development assistance has declined. Funding from nontraditional partners, including emerging donors and philanthropic organizations, and non-aid sources—such as remittances and foreign direct investment (FDI)—has increased. In Asia and the Pacific, for example, ODA is estimated at around only .004% of the potential amount of development finance that could come from combining private savings, remittances, and FDI.

ADB Vice-President Wencai Zhang participating in the first GPEDC high-level meeting in Mexico City in 2014.

ADB Vice-President Wencai Zhang participating in the first GPEDC high-level meeting in Mexico City in 2014.

Recognizing changes in the global aid architecture, the GPEDC’s agenda has continued to expand. In its first high-level meeting in Mexico in 2013, the GPEDC brought together key stakeholders to discuss a number of development themes such as importance of domestic resource mobilization, support to and from middle-income countries, south-south cooperation, triangular cooperation and knowledge sharing, the private sector as a partner in development, and climate change. The messages on traditional principles of aid effectiveness such as country ownership, focus on results, transparency and accountability were reaffirmed, but a bit subdued.

Moving forward, the GPEDC Steering Committee, at its September 2015 meeting, needs to take a candid view on the comparative value-add of staying with an expanded agenda. Similar issues—like the importance of partnerships for mobilizing knowledge and resources from all sources (both public and private), role of new players and institutions, and addressing climate change issues—are being discussed at major international development fora. The recently concluded #Fin4Dev conference in Addis Ababa has established new commitments on financing for development. By the end of 2015, two other major international agreements are expected to establish post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and a path for future action on climate change.

Proposed SDG 17, seen as a successor to the MDG 8 on global partnerships, is directly linked with the GPEDC’s agenda on global partnerships. It calls for action to “strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.” It focuses on three specific areas—financing for development, technology and trade, and data monitoring and accountability— identified as key enablers for the post-2015 global partnership agenda. If adopted in September 2015, SDG 17 is likely to be central to all other SDGs and applicable to all countries, unlike the MDG 8 on global partnership that targeted only developed countries.

The GPEDC can play an important role in supporting the implementation of the SDGs to strengthen global partnerships for sustainable development. GPEDC’s efforts in monitoring the quality of aid and its effectiveness principles are acknowledged in the Addis outcome document. This is an achievement. However, is that enough? In order to add value, the GPEDC needs to be selective, develop its niche in monitoring key aspects of quality of aid, and be a part of a formal post-2015 SDG monitoring mandate. This will also avoid duplication and help keep the transaction costs low for developing countries. The GPEDC’s Advisory Group on monitoring should do a critical review of the existing GPEDC global monitoring framework in light of its agreed priorities and the proposed SDGs, and recommend a relevant post-2015 global monitoring framework, that the GPEDC will focus on.

Kenya will provide an excellent opportunity to facilitate focused discussions and make a big difference. However, this will only happen if a precise set of issues are prioritized in light of the SDGs, based on  the GPEDC’s niche and comparative advantage. Such clarity on the GPEDC agenda is also necessary to energize its stakeholders to participate in a more meaningful way in the future.

ManjuAbout the Author
Ms. Senapaty is ADB’s focal point on aid effectiveness issues, and has also worked in the Southeast Asia Regional Department. Prior to joining ADB, she was an economist with the UK Department for International Development.

Cross-posted from the Asian Development Blog

Can we address imbalances of power in cross-sector partnerships?

By Dr Cheryl Freeman, World Vision Senior Director for Advocacy

What does effective collaboration look like when a nutrition programme for children involves a government health department, a UN agency, and local and international NGOs? Is it even possible for these partners to work together collaboratively and effectively when such different levels of influence exist?

Let’s examine the above scenario, which happened in a rural town in Malawi, where World Vision was working with community volunteers to improve children’s nutrition. Using different approaches, a local NGO, the Ministry of Health, the Red Cross and the World Food Programme (WFP) were also leading a variety of different interventions in this area. Each brought different strengths and abilities to the table.

The NGOs had strong relationships with the local community, WFP had great technical resources, and the government had the ability to make decisions on operations and approaches. Each was doing excellent work, but in parallel rather than together. How would these different assets and approaches, including the power imbalances, play out when everyone involved embarked on a collaborative project?

Before we answer that question, let’s explore the broader issue of who holds power – the ability to influence design, implementation and ongoing decision making of projects and programmes – in development partnerships. World Vision is currently advocating for a post-2015 development agenda that allows for cross-sector partnerships to flourish, and that will ensure these partnerships focus on reaching the most vulnerable children. However, in the discussion on what will replace the Millennium Development Goals, World Vision has observed concern regarding the potential unevenness of influence between partners in cross-sector partnerships (this and other potential issues and solutions are explored in the World Vision report Advancing the Debate).

Imbalances of power exist between organisations in all partnerships and at all levels. Which partner is on the ‘lesser end’ of the imbalance will, of course, vary from one setup to another. It’s important to note that concerns regarding inappropriate influence have been levelled at all sectors, including donor governments over developing countries through to corporations with perceived influence on the development of government policy. When an imbalance exists, it’s often the poor who are disadvantaged.

IMG_3377_0The good news is that unevenness of power can be managed and mitigated, while differences in approaches can be turned into advantages. This begins with strengthening the capacity of organisations from all sectors – business, civil society, UN and governments – so they are ‘fit to partner’.

Being fit to partner requires each organisation to be conscious of their level of influence and particular expertise – and to recognise the value others bring to the table. This is the starting point from which an agreement can be entered into that allows for a more even distribution of influence; and ultimately a partnership that is greater than the sum of its parts. If one group seeks to dominate a particular project or programme, it quickly reverts to a sub-contract like arrangement – and invariably the benefits for all partners are lost.

The opposite is also true. We are seeing progressive and well-intentioned companies working with governments and organisations with strong capacity – including strong contract negotiation capacity – and the ability to make sense of how to leverage business activities for sustainable development returns. In partnerships where all groups are able to bring their best, game changing opportunities are being realised.

Equally important to the success of partnerships is empowering people to hold governments, businesses and aid agencies to account. Accountability is fundamental to mitigating the risks of power imbalances. World Vision, for example, is currently supporting more than 411 programmes in 42 countries to implement the Citizen Voice and Action social accountability approach. This approach encourages discussion and helps to transform the relationship between government and citizens.

So how might this work in practice? Returning to the example in Malawi, the partners adopted a partnership brokering approach. In the negotiations that followed, different levels of influence and expertise were recognised, while workshops were organised to explore the complementary contributions the partners could bring to a joint programme.

In so doing, ‘differences’ became ‘strengths’; reasons to work together. A revised, more effective approach and structure for working collaboratively with care groups has emerged. Ultimately each organisation had to adapt from its business-as-usual approach. Crucial to the negotiations was keeping an eye firmly on the agreed overall objective – improved nutrition for children.

Having recognised and brokered its way through the potentially disabling differences, including power imbalances, this fledgling partnership is now working cost effectively to tackle the crippling consequences of undernutrition – and most importantly, to save the lives of vulnerable children.

CF 5TAbout the Author
Dr. Cheryl Freeman is Senior Director for Advocacy & Justice for Children at World Vision International. During the post-2015 process, she has been focusing on the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships and is the co-author of three papers on their potential contribution to sustainable development.

Improving Ebola Response through Mobile Data


By Amy Sweeney, Director of Client Business Development, GeoPoll.

The Ebola crisis in West Africa has brought together aid organizations, governments, and private companies from all over the world who are donating resources and expertise to fight the spread of the disease – and although the outbreak is not yet over, progress is being made, with the lowest weekly total of new confirmed cases occurring the week up to April 5th.

But one of the most difficult things for these organizations to access has been data. Access to reliable data is imperative in humanitarian situations – it can track the spread of disease or disaster, helps on-the-ground workers track the awareness and perceptions of their response, and assesses long-term impacts after aid workers have left. However, in disaster situations data is hard to come by; countries most affected by crises often don’t have a robust system of data reporting, and it can be difficult for researchers to access areas due to disease outbreak, damaged infrastructure, or dangerous security situations.

In spite of these challenges, there are several ways technology and data have been brought together to fight the Ebola crisis– some organisations use mapping data to track spread of disease, others let people report Ebola-related issues through mobile phones. At GeoPoll, we have worked with organizations including the World Food Programme and Keystone Accountability to collect data through remote mobile phone surveys that can be used to help target aid distribution and inform on-the-ground workers of citizen perceptions. GeoPoll issues surveys through SMS or voice messages, allowing organisations to quickly gather information nationally or from key areas, which can then be viewed and analyzed in real-time.

WFP_Ebola_Sierra_LeoneWith the World Food Programme, GeoPoll has been conducting monthly surveys on food security in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. Food insecurity is one of the biggest secondary risks of Ebola, as the disease has driven food prices up and made areas with high poverty rates even more dependent on outside aid.

Through remote mobile surveys, the World Food Programme was able to get a high-level understanding of the food security situation, finding that, especially in the Ebola epicenters, it was considered “severe” for many. In November 2014 WFP released the first report of data collected using GeoPoll surveys, reporting that the Reduced Coping Strategy Index, a way to measure the severity of the behaviors households engage in when faced with crises, was high in areas hit hardest by Ebola, including Kailahun and Kenema in Sierra Leone. Over 80% of respondents in these areas reported consuming less expensive or preferred foods, and 75% reported needing to reduce the number of meals per day and portion sizes due to a lack of food. The ongoing reports created from remote mobile surveys have been published by the World Food Programme’s mVAM unit, and data is being used to target aid and create awareness around the risks of food insecurity in crisis areas.

GeoPoll has also been working with Keystone Accountability’s Ground Truth Solutions team to survey citizens throughout Sierra Leone on the perceptions of the Ebola response and attitudes towards checkpoints, quarantine, and welcoming Ebola survivors back into communities. This information is crucial for on-the-ground workers, as it gives them a real idea of how citizens view their progress.

We have been collecting data weekly and bi-weekly since December 2014, and the data truly does reflect the situation in Sierra Leone. The week of 3 December, 70.8% of the 350 respondents said they believed the Ebola response was making progress against the spread of the disease. This percentage climbed up steadily as the number of new cases went down, and in the week of February 10th 86.5% believed the response was making progress. However, we saw this number decline to 80.2% in the week of March 10th, and 84.8% the week of March 26th.

Why is this? We found that the perceptions of the progress went down in early March as cases spiked in Freetown, and transport restrictions which had been stopped were reinstated. Other data points show that between 54-60% of respondents say people are worried about harassment at checkpoints, and over 70% report that people are scared to visit health facilities for non-Ebola related illnesses.

The value of this data is huge. One agency has used this data to request additional funding for quarantine supplies, and another has increased their investment in educational programmes surrounding the stigma of Ebola. In addition, it is an excellent example of sharing resources and partnering for more effective development, as both Keystone and GeoPoll have made the data publicly available on our websites so that other organizations can take advantage of the findings.

Data provides increased awareness and knowledge of humanitarian situations, and allows NGOs and governments to act quickly based on accurate, timely information. In keeping with effective development co-operation as defined by the Busan principles, such data helps create transparent and equitable development, as well as ensuring a strong focus on results.

As the Ebola crisis continues, and even after the current outbreak has subsided, data will show the global community long-term effects of the disease, and eventually will inform how governments, organizations and citizens can work together to manages crises better in the future.

amyheadshot2cropAbout the Author
Amy Sweeney is the Director of Client Business Development at GeoPoll, where she collaborates with potential clients and partners such as the World Food Programme, USAID, and implementing partners on incorporating mobile data collection into projects and programs. She previously worked at Chemonics International and spent four years in Central and Southwest Asia, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan and working in Afghanistan and Turkey.

Financing for development and country ownership


By Goodall Edward Gondwe, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development of Malawi and Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation Co-Chair

In July, the international community will come together in Addis Ababa to identify ways to provide the necessary resources to achieve our sustainable development objectives over the coming years. Taking place on the African continent, the Third International Conference on Financing for Development will provide an opportunity to ensure that the wide range of development resources available – including aid, partnerships with other actors, and our own domestic resources – can be harnessed effectively by developing countries to support our development priorities.

As Co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (Global Partnership), I see a strong need to maintain a focus not only on how many resources we can raise, but to ensure they are employed effectively to support developing countries’ efforts. In January 2015, I co-chaired the 7th meeting of the Global Partnership’s Steering Committee in The Hague, which confirmed the importance of exploring better ways to use development finance tools, and the critical need for keeping the principles of effective development co-operation – country ownership, focus on results, inclusive partnerships, and transparency and accountability – front and centre of this year’s major discussions on Financing for Development and Post-2015 agenda.

At the 2015 World Bank Spring meetings, the Global Partnership held a side event on strengthening development finance, particularly from a partner country perspective. The meeting featured interventions from a range of developing countries, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Kenya and South Sudan, as well as the g7+ group of fragile states, as well as views from development partners including Development Initiatives, the Netherlands, Mexico, and UNDP. Discussions focused on how the principles of effective development co-operation can contribute to making better use of existing resources for development, as well as to leveraging more quality public and private finance to achieve sustainable development for all. Overall, the event highlighted the importance attached to the development effectiveness agenda – and particularly the centrality of country ownership – for implementing the post-2015 sustainable development goals.

This begins with keeping a focus on the commitments that have already been made to improve the effectiveness of Official Development Assistance (ODA). The first Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey in 2002 recognised the need to ensure that aid is delivered to produce maximum development impact at country level, through the harmonisation of co-operation providers’ procedures; efforts to untie aid ; and the use of development frameworks led by developing countries.

Efforts like those of the Global Partnership have helped spur progress in making development co-operation more effective in the past decade. In Malawi, for example, as part of its cloud-based Aid Management Platform, the government is using geospatial interactive maps to better understand development work, in terms of who is doing what and where. These data-driven, online maps correlate development activities by donor, type of work and poverty rates in Malawi’s 28 districts, thus helping ensure aid goes where it is most needed. Further progress is however required, calling for a collective international will to achieve development commitments.

Undeniably, development partnerships going beyond the traditional donor-recipient relationship will become increasingly important in the coming years. We will need to work with businesses, civil society, foundations, development partner governments from the South, and many more. Such partnerships will provide an immense opportunity to direct more resources to eradicating extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development – but their diversity also raises new challenges of co-ordination for developing countries. For us to take full advantage of these partnerships, we need to promote good practice so that these resources are deployed in support of our development priorities.

The surest way to promote country ownership is for us, developing countries, to mobilise our own domestic resources. At the January Steering Committee meeting of the Global Partnership, members agreed that the GPEDC will further explore how development co-operation can be scaled up, deepened and improved to strengthen institutional capacity for domestic revenue mobilisation, by improving tax transparency and accountability, and tackling tax avoidance and illicit financial flows.

Indeed, at the World Bank Spring Meetings side event, participants focused heavily on domestic resource mobilisation, calling for more support from co-operation providers to improve tax and revenue collection systems and capacity. Equally, the private sector needs to be kept in check to ensure that no one gets away with tax evasion and avoidance. There was repeated and clear recognition of the need for better and smarter quality development finance, beyond ODA, to achieve post-2015 objectives.

A strong commitment to progress in these areas should be a priority for the Addis Ababa conference.

Country leadership and ownership must be at the forefront of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The Global Partnership helps translate the principles of effective development co-operation into action on the ground. These principles are applicable to all forms of development co-operation, and the Global Partnership provides an inclusive platform for engaging all development stakeholders as equals.

goodall-gondweAbout the Author
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Edward Gondwe has had a long and distinguished career as an economist. Among other positions, he has worked at the Reserve Bank of Malawi, the African Development Bank and served in the IMF for 22 years. Since 2002, he has worked in the Government of Malawi, and in 2014 was appointed as Minister to Finance, Economic Planning and Development to head the amalgamation of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Planning and Development.

Social Dialogue: a “How-to” for social and economic development


By Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation

The international development community and beyond has identified inequality as one of the main and growing challenges for development. Unemployment, especially among youth, has been recognised as a core source of increasing inequality, also driven by the expanding negative impact on economic and social development of the growing informal sector, particularly for women.

As an instrument of social and economic governance for development, social dialogue can contribute effectively to the development effectiveness agenda. It provides more ownership to people, in particular workers, helps to increase accountability and strengthen domestic policies, and contributes to the design and implementation of better redistribution policies. Social dialogue also facilitates social peace and is a forceful instrument for reconciliation and reconstruction.

Productive employment and decent work for all is inherent/indispensable to sustainable development, in particular in developing countries, as recognised by the Busan Partnership Agreement. In this sense, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decent work agenda is particularly relevant to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (Global Partnership) when we become explicit about its four pillars, employment creation, workers’ rights, social dialogue and social protection. Particularly interesting to highlight with regard to the core principles of the partnership as well as the priority themes the Global Partnership has identified as its core work, is the “social dialogue.”

Stakeholder engagement/multi-level partnerships

Social dialogue refers to all types of negotiation, consultation or exchange of information between representatives of employers, workers and governments on issues generally relating to economic and social policy. It can take place from within a particular industry or between industries, from local to national or regional level.
It can produce various outcomes from collective agreements, such as international framework agreements, to national tripartite acts like the Indonesian jobs pact. According to the International Labour Organization, effectively implementing economic and social (development) policies requires three instruments of good “governance”:

  • Social Dialogue,
  • Labour inspection and
  • Economic Policy.

arton12986Because social and economic governance are critical when defining and implementing development strategies, social dialogue has been identified as one of the strongest and most effective instruments to deliver on these principles, by directly involving the institutions, and actors within these institutions, governing the economic and social spheres. Development policies should be based on genuine democratic ownership, inclusiveness, accountability and oriented towards results.

Examples from all over the world show how social dialogues help the most vulnerable people. In India, trade unions have organized rural informal workers into rural workers’ unions, with 172,270 members in 2011. The Indonesian transport workers union has reached out to informal sector workers to enhance their economic and occupational protection. Self-employed Nicaraguans now have a resource to protect their rights when working with employers and local government. (ILO 2013)

A tool for policy design and implementation

Social dialogue is not pre-ordained and requires both the political will and an environment that welcomes it. As a prerequisite, it has to allow both workers and employers representations to exist and function equally and effectively. This begins with respect for fundamental freedoms of right to association and right to collective bargaining, representative and independent employers and workers organizations, sound industrial relations practices, functioning labour administrations, including labour inspection, and respect for the “social partners” (understood as workers and employers organizations) as the other building blocks of social dialogue.

Effective social dialogue can strengthen economic and social governance, stimulate inclusive growth and combat inequality. It can foster stable and peaceful societies through social cohesion and dispute resolution, while also enhancing accountability and democratic ownership.

An increased orientation towards the role of private sector in delivering sustainable development and the enduring focus on economic growth, coupled with increasing concerns about social and income inequalities, make social dialogue indispensable. Social dialogue and functioning labour markets instruments, (e.g. minimum wages, employment protections like unemployment insurance, collective bargaining or negotiation between employers and workers ) are effective tools for reducing inequality, in terms of income and social protection, health and education provisions and public goods in general. In this way, social dialogue with supporting legislation can help reduce the gap between productivity and salaries.

In many conflict-afflicted areas, reconstruction and reconciliation are key to community and state building. In many post conflict situations and countries transitioning to democracy, social dialogue has proven to be a powerful tool to stabilise social relationships. It can pave a way forward by bringing around the table economic and social actors and governments. Examples of South Africa, Tunisia, Indonesia and many countries in the post-Soviet Eastern Europe show how social dialogue has been at the heart of transitions to democratic and free societies.

In Angola, social dialogues have played an important part in the country’s recovery from a 27-year civil war, and have helped face a number of challenges in the resource extraction sector. In May 2010, President dos Santos established a National Council for Social Dialogue consisting of Government ministries, the trade unions UNTA and CGSILA, as well as the Angola Industrial Association and Angola Chamber of Commerce, representing the employers’ side. (NORAD 2011)

Rights, legislation and policies alone do not guarantee implementation and positive development results. Participatory accountability mechanisms need to be in place in order to ensure effective implementation and to allow for different interests to be reconciled and strategies to be adjusted for improved development outcomes. Social dialogue elevates economic and social accountability from the national to the local and enterprise level, and facilitates monitoring and adjustment in view of improving effective and adequate implementation of strategies and measures.

In light of the important part social dialogue may play in the Post-2015 development agenda, a joint “partnership on social dialogue” with the Global Partnership stakeholders would provide a relevant “how-to” instrument of economic and social development, particularly in the current context of the growing role of the private sector. Bringing together various actors under the aegis of the Global Partnership to explore ways to learn from and promote social dialogue at a global level and in individual donor and partner country, efforts in cooperation could go a long way in achieving some of the commitments made since the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

About the Author:  Wellington Chibebe was elected Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in 2011. Prior to taking up that position, he served as Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). He joined the ZCTU in 2001 having previously served as President of the national Railway Workers’ Union, which he joined in 1988 after serving his apprenticeship as a diesel plant fitter. Wellington Chibebe represented Zimbabwe’s trade union movement on numerous occasions at the annual ILO International Labour Conference and various other major international meetings. A champion for democracy and development, he was awarded the inaugural Arther Svensson International Award for Trade Union Rights by the Norwegian Chemical Workers’ Federation in 2010. In 2014, Wellington Chibebe was re-elected as ITUC Deputy General Secretary.

This post was originally published in Devex.

How the Green Climate Fund can help Bangladesh address climate change challenges


By Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division and National Designated Authority of Bangladesh to Green Climate Fund, Bangladesh


Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. The poor and the marginal groups stand to suffer the most from adverse climate effects. Change in the climate is also having a disproportionately large impact on the life, property and livelihoods of poor groups in Bangladesh. The concerns and vulnerability of poor and vulnerable people should be the warp and woof of our strategy for implementing a climate resilient development pathway.

The investment required for undertaking adaptation and mitigation efforts is huge. As public sources for meeting this investment demand are inadequate, it is necessary that external funding and private flows, both domestic and international, bring complementary financial resources to bridge the gap. Yearly public sector funding in Bangladesh for climate change related programmes and projects reached approximately $800 million in FY14.

One of the remarkable successes of Copenhagen Climate Summit (COP-15) in 2009 was securing firm funding commitments for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Developed countries at that meeting agreed to provide ‘new and additional’ resources to the tune of $100 billion per annum by 2020 with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation. Consequently, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established in COP-16 in 2010 under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The fund will be available for member countries coping with and adapting to the effects of climate change. The governing board of the GCF has decided to use its funds equally for adaptation and mitigation purposes on 50/50 basis. The GCF aims to mobilise $200 billion by 2020.

The recent UNFCCC process has reinforced the importance of strong national climate strategies as well as in-country institutional structures, and there were strong urgings within these discussions on “direct access.” These discourses have made me share my personal thoughts in the context of GCF, while my organisation (ERD, Ministry of Finance) has been nominated as National Designated Authority (NDA) of Bangladesh to the fund. Direct access to climate fund is a long-standing expectation of Bangladeshi institutions, as this also demonstrates recognition of the strength of our national institutions in global standard. As NDA of Bangladesh for GCF, I have been looking at the matters very carefully, and found that the process of direct access is difficult and challenging, but also brings opportunities for institutional capacity development.

climate-change_5GCF is expected to play a key role in channeling new, additional, adequate and predictable financial resources to developing countries. The GCF is different from many other global funds as it will be scalable and flexible in nature; it is meant to maximise the impact of adaptation and mitigation actions in a way that transforms the business-as-usual development, while bringing environmental, social, economic and development benefits in a more inclusive and gender-sensitive way.

Bangladesh is a member of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, and a sitting member of the Global Partnership Steering Committee. As such, our country continues to stress the strong need to use effective development co-operation principles, including country-owned development, a focus on results and inclusive partnerships, in our daily co-operation with national and international partners. These principles must also help guide the global discussions this year on Financing for Development and the Post-2105 agenda to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as how Bangladesh will work with the GCF.

The GCF provides a clear example of how using effective development co-operation principles can support country driven development to produce results that impact how Bangladesh will be able to continue to fight poverty with the added challenge of climate change, now and in the future. As established at the first Financing for Development Conference in Monterrey in 2003, and to be continued this July in Addis Ababa, development co-operation must use frameworks that are led by developing countries to be masters of their own growth and development.

The GCF will start to receive project/programme funding from least developed countries, Small Island Developing States and African states from June 2015. The Bangladeshi government is keen on accreditation of its potential National Implementing Entities (NIE) with GCF so that accredited NIEs can start implementing climate change projects immediately. NDA is trying hard to support the national entities so that a few of the national institutions are accredited to GCF and direct access is significantly enhanced.

The NDA recently organised a workshop, at which 14 national entities reviewed their capacity self-assessment with the direct guidance of GCF representatives and an international experts. We are very encouraged by the interest of the national institutions, and the way they are stepping up to get ready for accreditation is highly appreciable. However, the process is challenging and there are opportunities to gain direct access to GCF. We need to take a pragmatic path in accreditation process. I will highlight a few steps here.

Institutional Capacity
The first and most important step should be improving institutional capacity in the area of environmental and social safeguard policy and practices. We have Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) guideline, which is widely practiced both in public and private sector projects, and this EIA includes social safeguard issues as well. However, we need to improve our EIA practices at both project and programme level.

Create an Enabling Environment
The second step will be to enhance the fiduciary standards and project management capacities. This might demand strong efforts as the fiduciary standards needed might not be seen within one entity, as we follow a wider institutional architecture in fiduciary risk management of our public funds, where auditor general’s office, accounts department, finance cell of different ministries, internal audit and monitoring process of different institutions, implementation, monitoring and evaluation by IMED and accountability through public accounts committee play critical roles, and all these needs to be factored. Therefore, the task is not easy and the capacities need to be properly articulated, maintained, recorded and presented in favour of the fiduciary standards in the accreditation application process. We also need to be frank and self-stimulating in meeting the gaps, if any, in the self-assessment process.

Ensure well-planned programming
The third, and in my view most critical, step is to have well designed and credible bankable projects or programmes to be forwarded to GCF for funding. We have a significant number of project ideas developed by different ministries. These ideas will be translated into bankable projects for submission to GCF. This requires further effort and will probably be the most important task before us in the near future to get access to GCF.

I am hopeful that Bangladesh will be able to directly access funding from GCF in the near future. I am optimistic about the potential of GCF in transforming the development landscape in addition to the development aid that we get under ODA.

Senior_secretary_ERDAbout the Author: Mohammad Mejbahuddin is the Senior Secretary of Economic Relations Division and National Designated Authority of Bangladesh to Green Climate Fund, Bangladesh.

This post was originally published in the Daily Star newspaper in an edited format.

Local priorities to tackle economic development challenges and fight poverty


By Nomveliso Nyukwana, Mayor of Emalahleni, South Africa

How can we empower local governments as leaders of development? Before answering this important question, I wish to first address why local governments should be leaders of development strategies.

We have heard it many times before: the future is local. Developmental challenges are most evident at local level. Take, for example, my own municipality of Eastern-Cape Emalahleni Local Municipality in the South-East of South Africa. My country might meet some of the Millennium Development Goals targets as a result of the national average, but we still have much to do to tackle extreme poverty in my own area. I am really worried about opportunities for youth and for vulnerable groups in our municipality. The issue of unemployment, as well as the need for housing, is particularly problematic in my Emalahleni.

Local governments must respond to the development challenges of our citizens. Our municipality’s task is to think about innovative ways of job creation and food security. We need to localise our production, to ensure that for every product we produce, we are able to process it locally. A value chain within the municipality needs to be created.

These are absolute priorities for Emalahleni municipality. But sustainability is an issue. Projects are being started and concluded, but continuity is hardly ever ensured. I can even say that the funding itself is not the main issue for development in my municipality, but it is crucial to ensure that we, as a municipality, and with the support of our development partners, train our inhabitants and maintain skills within our territory. As a municipality, we cannot employ all inhabitants, so many capable people with entrepreneurship skills leave if we don’t provide them with opportunities. Our integrated development planning needs to initiate projects that can create sustainable jobs. If we manage to localise the production, we can create opportunities for entrepreneurship that will not depend on employment by the government.

Local governments take a leading role in development strategies

6375619585_f857c553c0_bLocal governments are on the frontline of dealing with development challenges and identifying solutions to these challenges. It is therefore only natural that they should lead development strategies for their areas.

In Emalahleni municipality, for example, it is important that we ensure education in relation to the economic demand of the area and at the same time, work on the region’s ability to attract businesses. This can also be done in partnership with development partners and our central government, but we at local government level need the capacity to create dialogue with these stakeholders.

In order to empower local governments to seize their role in development strategies, I think it is crucial to strengthen their capacities. Cross-sectoral concerns can be addressed by consultations between the national, provincial and city level officials in the areas of health, environment, housing, and others to ensure co-ordination. I believe that this vertical co-ordination and co-operation currently gets too little attention in South Africa. Strengthening local governments is crucial to achieve the development goals. A top down approach by central government can result in development policies that are ill-adapted to local needs and contexts.

How to strengthen capacities
There are various ways to strengthen local government capacity. Programmes implemented by the national government can strengthen decentralisation, possibly supported by international donors. Individual support can also come from partner local governments in the region or other parts of the world.

Emalahleni municipality is supported through the Local Government Capacity Programme, managed by VNG International, the international co-operation agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG). This type of co-operation, in which Dutch municipal experts from the City of Dordrecht (Netherlands) partner with experts from our municipality, complements other relevant support. The co-operation focuses on local economic development, a very important matter for my municipality, as I mentioned earlier.

I have found that this type of peer-to-peer decentralised co-operation has a high degree of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability in comparison to other development co-operation programmes. The themes and issues addressed in the co-operation initiatives are based on the key priorities for the municipalities involved and on long-term relationships, which are based on trust, transparency and good dialogue.

I think it is very important that this instrument of local government development co-operation be recognized as one of the ways to reach the post-2015 development goals.

United Cities and Local Governments

The global organisation of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), along with the local government associations of Canada (FCM) and the Netherlands (VNG International) have set up a group of UCLG Champions on Development Co-operation. This group of mayors from different continents aims to boost recognition for the role of local government development co-operation at all levels. I, as mayor of the municipality of Emalahleni in South Africa, am part of this group. My electorate and my municipal council understand and advocate for the important role that local governments play in development.

Within the steering committee of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, I believe we should focus on the way in which we ensure that local governments be seen as full partners in the definition of national development strategies. This should also be subject to monitoring of the Global Partnership. Also, I am sure that our challenges are shared by many other local governments. Let us share approaches, to ensure effective solutions for better development.

ChampionNyukwana.jpgAbout the Author
Nomveliso Nyukwana is mayor of Emalahleni Municipality, South Africa, since 2011, after serving many years as a councillor. Since 2012 she has been appointed as UCLG Champion on Development Cooperation for the global organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG). The UCLG Champions are supported by the UCLG Capacity and Institution Building Working Group, which has its secretariat within the International Co-operation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International). For more information contact


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