Aid effectiveness is about ensuring impact of development aid. Photo: UN
Aid effectiveness is about ensuring impact of development aid.

Busan Aid Effectiveness Forum 2011

Aid plays a role in saving millions, but poverty continues to cast a shadow over the lives of 1.4 billion people worldwide.

At the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) global development leaders reviewed progress in improving the impact and value for money of development aid, and made new commitments to further ensure that aid helps reduce poverty and supports progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

What was the outcome of Busan?

The agreement reached at Busan on 1 December is intended to expand the commitments of the 'Paris Declaration of 2005' to accommodate new actors and contexts. In particular:

  • It attempts to broaden the application of Paris Principles beyond aid to “development cooperation”;
  • It defines how Paris Principles are intended to apply to new actors and contexts, such as emerging donors, fragile states, and the private sector; and
  • For the first time, civil society organizations have been included in formal negotiations as development stakeholders in their own right.

The title itself of the Busan outcome document – The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (pdf) – puts aid effectiveness in the broader context of development effectiveness. This is a shift that civil society organizations had been asking for, though the definition of ‘development effectiveness’ remains open to interpretation.

What next for development aid?

Negotiators at the Busan Aid Effectiveness Forum brought numerous new actors and contexts into account: emerging donors, private sector, civil society, fragile states. Most importantly they introduced language that emphasizes the link between fighting poverty and protecting human rights. And they managed to do this without adopting language that watered down the Paris Principles.

But the real question remains; what now? The Busan outcome document is full of great language, carefully arranged to meet the needs of all these different interests. Language aside, the true strength of the Paris Declaration was the fact that the governments that agreed to it agreed to publicly measure their progress on its implementation. That system of accountability expired in 2011. At Busan, governments delayed coming up with a new system until June 2012.

The first six months of 2012 will be crucial to deciding whether HLF4 has truly delivered on aid and development cooperation. Two big decisions about global monitoring and the shape of the new Global Partnership will need to be finalized by June 2012 and there are concerns that they might be taken behind closed doors.

Oxfam will be working to keep up pressure to ensure commitments made in the Busan deal are tracked and implemented.

> Blog: Busan Aid Effectiveness Forum: A win for poor people?

What came before Busan?

In the Paris Declaration of 2005, donors and recipient countries made a deal: recipient governments would do a better job managing aid, set their own strategies for poverty reduction, improve their institutions and tackle corruption and in return, donors would change their behavior improving coordination and predictability of aid flows and trust recipients more. The goal was to allow developing countries and their citizens to manage aid and drive their own development. Everyone agreed that to hold both donors and recipients to their promises, the OECD would measure how well they were doing.

Six years later, the results are in. The OECD’s latest monitoring report shows that recipient countries have mostly kept their promises. Donors have not. Out of thirteen targets donors and recipients agreed, they made significant progress on only one: donors now coordinate better with each other.

Busan 2011: a partnership for effective development

HLF-4: Building a new global partnership for effective development promotional video from BusanHLF4 which also explains how development aid has helped Korea (on Vimeo).

Read more

> Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4)

> Oxfam's Health and Education Campaign

> Good aid: the video

> The Millennium Development Goals

> Issues Oxfam works on: Effective aid in action