Sunday, July 4, 2010

Holding the world accountable for development

Accountability for commitments is essential and a focus on implementing promises is urgently needed if acceleration of progress is to happen. The Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), a universal and respected forum, encourages participatory multi-stakeholder dialogue on major development cooperation issues. With a particular focus on the MDGs, this year’s forum aimed to also contribute to the forthcoming MDG Summit.

“This year’s Forum came at a critical juncture,” explains Under-Secretary-General Mr. Sha Zukang regarding the 2010 DCF. “The financial, food and energy crises have threatened development progress. In many countries, especially those in the South, the impacts of the crises will be long-lasting,” funding is imperative, “especially with competition for climate change financing.”

“Accountability, therefore, among development partners needs to be much stronger. These issues were paramount in the June Forum,” said Mr. Sha.

The 2010 DCF took place on 29 and 30 June 2010 in New York as part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) High-level Segment. In reviewing global trends in development cooperation, and under the theme “Development Cooperation in Times of Crises: New Commitments to Reach the MDGs,” the 2010 DCF addressed issues including the costs of the economic and financial crisis and the impact of climate change on the quantity and quality of aid.

Bringing together Ministers and high-level experts on development cooperation from governments, parliaments, local governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, the forum aimed to foster discussions on issues that can significantly improve the impact of development cooperation on the internationally agreed development goals and to give a clear political message to the United Nations High-level Plenary event on the MDGs, the “MDG Summit”, to be held in September 2010.

The objective of the DCF is to provide policy guidance and recommendations to promote and improve the impact of development cooperation. Accountability of the stakeholders is a particular focus.
The 2010 DCF and the MDGs
The Millennium Development Goals 2009 Report revealed that major advances in the fight against poverty and hunger have begun to slow or even reverse as a result of the global economic and food crises. The global economic landscape has changed fundamentally since the first DCF and the multitude of crises that have occurred have threatened to stall the projected development progress.

Mutual accountability and transparency, according to the trends and progress in the international development cooperation report of the Secretary-General, are two key ways to strengthen the International Agreed Development Goal (IADG) results. Providers need to commit to individual targets to improve aid quality, giving priority to country groups such as Sub-Saharan Africa and fragile states which are lagging behind on progress towards the IADGs. Most areas of the global partnership for development are not living up to expectations and without progress across the board development cooperation will have limited impact.

The Advisory Group of the Under-Secretary-General stresses that “the DCF has a key role as a forum for debate on whether development cooperation partners are honouring the commitments they made and achieving the results that have been agreed and clearly defined. Developing countries should hold developed countries to account on aid and aid effectiveness in the spirit of mutual accountability.”

DCF Beginnings and Expectations for Continued Progress

The DCF was established in 2005, after the World Summit mandated ECOSOC to organize the forum as a focal point within the United Nations system for consideration of global development cooperation issues. The DCF is set to continue to convene biennially.

During its first 2007-08 cycle, the DCF established a strong reputation for analysis and promoting balanced debate among stakeholder groups on development cooperation. Some key messages of the first ministerial-level DCF in 2008 were reflected in outcome documents of the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development and Accra High-level Forum on Aid effectiveness.

President of ECOSOC, Mr. Hamidon Ali explains that “the Doha Declaration re-emphasized the importance of the DCF as the focal point within the United Nations system for holistic consideration of issues of international development cooperation, with participation by all relevant stakeholders. The DCF has a unique opportunity to act as a global, independent platform to hold all answerable for the commitments made”

In order to make the 2010 DCF successful, Mr. Sha explains that “turning our ideas into concrete actions is imperative.”

Through mutual accountability and new commitments to development goals, it is strongly believed that the MDGs can be achieved. The forum, as well as the forthcoming MDG Summit is critical in ensuring results.

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