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Opinion

Post-Busan development architecture: five things to consider

May 16, 2012

by SHANNON KINDORNAY

The North-South Institute

At the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan, South Korea, in late 2011, donors, developing countries, South-South development co-operation (SSDC) providers and civil society organizations endorsed the creation of a Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The objective of this Global Partnership is to establish an inclusive, legitimate and effective international governing mechanism and global indicators to ‘support and ensure accountability for the implementation of [Busan] commitments at the political level.’

The structures and mandate of this Global Partnership are to be decided on by June 2012. A key issue in establishing the Global Partnership will be ensuring that the new governing structure is both legitimate and effective. Central to this will be ensuring participation of new development partners, such as SSDC providers, private sector actors, and civil society – some of whom currently operate outside the established development architecture – in the new structure.

The Post-Busan Interim Group is responsible for developing a proposal for the governing framework. It will hold its final meeting on May 21-22, when participants will review the final proposals for the governing structure and global monitoring framework ahead of the June deadline. As part of NSI’s ongoing work on the international aid architecture, NSI has released a working paper.

Historically, the legitimacy of the development cooperation architecture and its governance has been criticized for insufficient representation and feedback from recipient countries. Indeed, many have referred to the international aid architecture as a Northern donor dominated system. Our working paper argues that the success of Busan in establishing a Global Partnership, and making it truly global, will depend on the extent to which stakeholders see the governing mechanism as legitimate in terms of its inclusivity, representativeness and effectiveness. We suggest five things decision makers should consider if they want a legitimate and effective Global Partnership.

1) Developing country ownership and capacity to engage is critical. It is not enough to give everyone a seat at the table. Legitimacy of the Global Partnership will also be determined by the extent to which developing countries have ownership over the global agenda and capacity to engage in its governing structures.

2) Policy content matters. The Global Partnership promises to have a strong focus on results. But the results it achieves depend on the quality of the discussions and evidence informing policy goals. The Global Partnership will require high-quality, evidence-based analytical inputs to inform its work that move past simple monitoring and evaluation.

3) Don’t let calls for a ‘global light, country heavy’ framework empty the toolbox. The monitoring of Busan commitments at the global level should be informed by a comprehensive set of indicators that draw on existing monitoring processes to the fullest extent possible. Developing countries have made it clear that such frameworks are key to establishing mutual accountability frameworks in-country.

4) Reduce tensions between inclusiveness and effectiveness. To reduce tension between inclusivity and effectiveness, the Global Partnership needs to have a clearly defined and focused agenda that is at the same time flexible to accommodate a diversity of perspectives.

5) The times they are a-changing – let evolution happen. The Global Partnership should be structured in such a way as to allow for evolution as the issues, priorities and challenges facing development cooperation change.

It will be no easy task establishing an inclusive, representative and effective Global Partnership, especially given the diversity of perspectives coming from donors, recipients, SSDC providers, private sector actors and civil society organizations. Nevertheless, these actors are at the table, which is a step in the right direction. Where the path will lead and what tradeoffs will be made to gain consensus? We’ll find out in June.