Civil society organizations worldwide contribute in unique and essential ways to development as independent and innovative agents of change.For the first time in the history of high level OECD events, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness will include CSOs as official participants, recognizing them as equal and important development actors in their own right.
CSOs believe that substantial progress in four inter-dependent areas of reform is essential for a meaningful and ambitious Busan Compact on Development Effectiveness.
Firstly, there should be a full evaluation and deepening of the Paris and Accra commitments. For civil society, through BetterAid (which is an open platform for all CSOs participating in aid effectiveness processes), this means taking stock of where existing commitments by governments and donors haven’t been respected, and why. It also means ensuring that future commitments bind development actors – donors and partners alike – to fulfilling these commitments, and to making their processes transparent. Most importantly, the Busan compact should promote meaningful democratic ownership of development policies, planning and actions through full engagement with, and accountability to, all development stakeholders.
Civil society would also like to see that development effectiveness is strengthened through practices based on human rights standards that focus on the eradication of the causes of poverty and inequality. Central to this idea is the respect of gender equality, human rights and decent work standards.
Thirdly, CSOs ask that the Busan Compact continues to recognize CSOs as independent development actors in their own right, and commits donors and recipient governments to facilitating an enabling environment for their work in all countries. In practice this means that signatories to the Busan Compact acknowledge the Open Forum’s International Framework on CSO Development Effectiveness as a collective global CSO statement on the principles that guide our work as development actors and how we put those guiding principles into practice. This also means committing to minimum standards for government and donor policies, laws, regulations and practices that create and sustain an enabling environment for CSOs.
Finally, beyond the HLF4, civil society calls for future aid effectiveness commitments to promote an equitable and just development cooperation architecture. As an immediate successor to the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, a fully inclusive, developing country-led multilateral forum should be created. This forum will have a clear mandate for policy dialogue and standard-setting on development effectiveness, and will take account of the important role of the United Nations in these areas.
CSOs represent a vast and diverse range of voices in development policy debates at national, regional and global levels, and will be bringing that diversity of expertise and experience to the discussion and debates at HLF4. Through BetterAid and the Open Forum, civil society organizations will be actively engaging with all of the important issues that all development actors must tackle in our collective efforts to improve the effectiveness of aid and development around the world. Indeed, we all must keep the issues of human rights, poverty reduction, gender equality, social justice, decent work and environmental sustainability at the core of our work at HLF4.
This article represents the views of global civil society. Its preparation was facilitated by BetterAid in agreement and cooperation with a wide range of international CSOs.