In the past developing countries have criticised how aid is tied to the conditions and demands of the rich, developed countries who are the main donors such as the USA, Japan and Europe. They also complained that donor countries all had different priorities and so argued for better harmonisation and alignment. Donor countries for their part are concerned about gaining better results and value for money, as well as the changing patterns of influence that comes from having new aid donors such as China and India.
To resolve these difficulties many donor and developing countries met in Paris in 2005 to lay down rules for better development cooperation. These rules are known as the Paris Principles and they have guided the agenda on improving aid effectiveness ever since. The rules were updated in a further conference in Accra in 2008. Three years later in November 2011, over 3000 delegates from all parts of the world met in Busan to monitor how well the Paris Principles have been implemented and to sign a new agreement for the future.
The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation was the result of this conference. This agreement shows some limited progress from Paris and Accra agreements in the areas of:
making aid finances more transparent
giving developing countries more control over their own agenda
principles for Civil Society effectiveness
progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in fragile states
acceleration of efforts to achieve gender equality
The agreement also covered south-south cooperation and private sector involvement in delivering aid.
Volunteering for development
VSO and other development organisations that work through volunteering believe that there is little recognition in the Busan agreement of volunteering and active citizenship approaches and their value in driving development effectiveness. VSO's position paper sets out how we want to see a greater recognition of the unique contribution of volunteering for development.
VSO's Position on Development Effectiveness
Democratic ownership: strengthening our existing work with a greater focus on citizen participation and voice/ civil society strengthening to enhance local ownership of the development agenda. This is VSO's niche area: planning from the local context, build local volunteering and local capacity and promote volunteerism and active citizenship.
VSO should promote 'accountability': stronger civil society, active citizenship and volunteerism can have a greater impact on participation in decision-making and holding government to account. VSO works to achieve pro-poor policies and should scale up work on strengthening Civil Society Organisation enabling environment, civic freedoms, and advocacy work on volunteering rights.
VSO should promote greater 'accountability of Civil Society Organisations' to their members and communities: VSO can lead by example in its transparency and accountability programmes and can work towards much greater accountability to beneficiaries. VSO needs to ensure there is capacity to support our partners to attain higher CSO standards
Gender equality: This is an opportunity for VSO to engage with and promote a broader framing of the gender agenda and to show that as an organisation we are serious about investing resources to develop gender work in programmes and as a global advocacy issue. Monitoring and evaluation systems need to be strengthened.
Knowledge sharing and south-south cooperation: VSO can use its presence in China, India and Africa to be knowledge brokers, eg between Asia and Africa and vice versa.VSO is well placed to be promoters of good practice and champions of those in 'VSO south' to lead the way
In least developed countries and fragile states: VSO should ensure that it provides capacity building support to ensure that partners and volunteers are well supported and prepared. In South Sudan, for example, the 'New Deal' for fragile states will be piloted: a major opportunity for VSO to help develop good practice.
The private sector: local economic development and secure livelihoods has been a traditional area of focus for VSO but there is greater recognition now of the need for innovation, wealth creation, employment and use of domestic resources. VSO can work with partners to strengthen the pro-poor focus of this.
For further information please contact Charles Gay in VSO International Policy Group.