Wednesday

20th Sep 2017

Opinion

How to ensure development aid is effective

  • Children in Ghana. Approximately 130 million people are dependent on humanitarian relief for their survival. (Photo: Adam Patterson/Oxfam)

Our generation faces challenges few before us have faced. The world is at a crossroads and the international landscape is changing.

There are a growing number of conflicts becoming increasingly deadly and protracted. There are more displaced people than at the end of the Second World War, and more people than ever are in need of urgent disaster relief. Effects of climate change are contributing to new crises.

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The EU needs to adapt and adjust its efforts to meet these challenges in an effective way, including making full use of its instruments. In response to these challenges, international development cooperation qualifying as official development assistance (ODA) is more important than ever.

Security questions

The Swedish government is concerned by the trend that ODA is directed towards purposes other than its aim: poverty eradication.

Climate change threatens our very existence, and 2016 is projected to be the year in recorded human history with the highest global temperature. Before 2016, 2015 held the record.

Drought and other extreme weather conditions force people to flee and many rely on humanitarian relief. Approximately 130 million people are dependent on humanitarian relief for their survival.

Today, more than 65 million people are forcibly displaced. Men, women, and children who have fled from war and persecution spend an average of 26 years as refugees.

Displacement becomes a life sentence that creates lost generations without opportunities for education, jobs or citizenship. This poses immense challenges on developing countries.

At the same time, the humanitarian situation is dire in many contexts. The humanitarian needs have quadrupled in 10 years – only about half of the appeals are met.

The 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, the 2030 Agenda that world leaders agreed on last year provide a unique possibility to jointly address the global challenges.

Together with the financing for development agenda (Addis Ababa Action Agenda), we need to make better use of the available resources for international aid and use ODA to catalyse additional financial flows for development.

Therefore, the Swedish government is deeply concerned by the ongoing trend, by which international aid is directed for purposes beyond ODA.

In our joint endeavour we need to remain true to our core values of solidarity and humanity. We need to modernise our operations and instruments, but still respect politically agreed commitments such as the definition of ODA, and development effectiveness.

For example financing security-related costs is on the EU agenda at the moment.

We fully support the objectives of capacity building for security and development. As the discussions are ongoing in Brussels, our view is clear: we need the instruments for capacity building in support of security and development, while the international definition of ODA, agreed by members of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in February this year, must be fully respected.

This is in line with the recent report from Aidwatch. We are convinced that there are ways to move forward with the important security and development agenda, while at the same time honouring ODA commitments.

Genuine partnerships

In our efforts to identify urgent responses to migration, we must recognise that migration in itself is not a problem, and keep in mind that the main objective of development cooperation is poverty eradication.

Development cooperation often directly or indirectly addresses the root causes of forced migration. We welcome reinforced EU efforts to address the root causes of forced migration, however this should be done in a spirit of genuine partnership with countries of transit and origin.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Commission and the Member States. EU is the greatest contributor of ODA and from this an important influence follows.

Therefore, I hope we can increase flexibility while respecting ODA, bridge the divide between humanitarian assistance and long-term development cooperation, realise policy coherence in practice and further broad based national ownership, including civil society.

Together we will find long-term and sustainable solutions in the interest of all. It is what the world expects of us in these challenging times.

Isabella Loevin is Sweden's deputy prime minister and minister for international development cooperation.

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