Six Years Since Paris (Aid Effectiveness & The 2005 Paris Declaration)
It is now six years since the world’s aid donors and recipient countries met in Paris to see could they make aid more effective.
The meeting was inspired by the Millennium Summit, and its agreement between rich and poor countries on how to halve extreme poverty.
The 2005 Paris Declaration contained 11 points that should make aid more effective: if aid focused on “ownership” (the principle that recipient countries, not the donors, determine their development priorities), was “aligned” with the recipient countries’ financial and legal systems, and if donors improved the way in which they cooperated, then it would become more effective.
The Paris declaration was strengthened by the Accra Agenda for Action in 2008, and in November this year, countries will be meeting in Busan, in South Korea, to see whether they lived up to the promises they made.
A major evaluation of the progress made since the Paris Declaration, in which 50 countries participated, found that Governments – particularly on the donor side – have been slow to turn the Paris principles into practice.
There has been significant progress on the “local ownership” principle – that is, the understanding that partner countries themselves must take more responsibility for their own development.
The evaluation also found, however, that the poverty focus of aid still needs to be improved, and that more needs to be done to strengthen capacities in developing countries.
As the Busan summit looms nearer, there is increasing talk of a new framework agreement that may emerge from the summit, which may broaden the tent to include new actors such as China, and the private sector. While NGOs are keen to broaden the debate and the scope of any framework, NGOs are calling for donors to make progress on the existing commitments from the Paris and Accra agreements, and to deepen them.
Paris and Accra offered some real and tangible improvements to delivering more effective aid, such as local ownership, increased cooperation, and the untying of aid, and there is still a long way to go before realising their full potential.
For NGOs, global civil society have articulated their own vision of development effectiveness, “The Siem Reap Consensus”. These effectiveness principles complement the Paris declaration, and NGOs are hoping these principles will be recognised by donors at Busan as the legitimate voice of civil society.
NGOs are also hoping that donors will tackle the issue of the shrinking of civil society space in many countries across the world. NGOs can’t be effective if they are being restricted in how they operate, and local ownership is only democratic if it fully involves the voices of civil society.
Its six years since Paris, and the aid effectiveness debate continues to roll on. However, it’s clear that both donors and NGOs have still a long way to go in improving their effectiveness.
The evaluation and the various country-specific studies are available on the OECD / DAC website.