The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) organized the 2022 Effective Development Co-operation Summit (or HLM3) last December 12-14, 2022 at Geneva, Switzerland. The summit gathered hundreds of ministers, policymakers, civil society representatives, private sector representatives, and other development actors to tackle and address development challenges that plague the world today. As the Asia region remains to be at the forefront of these crises, the regional constituency of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) delivered their Key Asks during the Summit.
The HLM3 concluded with the release of the Geneva Summit Declaration, stipulating development actors’ renewed commitment to the development effectiveness agenda during this critical juncture. As 2023 rolls by, these commitments must be turned into action if we are to address and solve the ever-worsening political and economic instability, conflict, and climate emergency, among others, in Asia and beyond.
For 2023, these are the three commitments we are keeping track of:
1) Fostering trust and an enabling environment for CSOs
The multiplicity and complexity of ongoing crises can only be solved by the cooperation of all development actors, which does not only include donor countries, multilateral and financial institutions, private sector entities, but also civil society organizations, trade unions, community-based and people’s organizations. While CSOs have continuously shown their dedication in upholding the Istanbul Principles, the trend of shrinking civic spaces hinders them from attending to the needs of the communities and sectors they serve.
During the Summit, CSOs have repeatedly demanded for an enabling environment, through the implementation of the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society. This framework can safeguard CSOs’ rightful space and position as an independent development actor, especially those in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. Aside from legal structures, CSOs have also noted the need for actors to collectively invest in building trust in order to gain positive development outcomes.
In the Asia region, CSOs view the erosion of trust as a manifestation of the systematic issues surrounding development cooperation, and can only be attained through the shift in political will that puts people at the center of development processes. As Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo of IBON International said in the spotlight session on fostering collective efforts for sustainable development impact, “people – especially those marginalized – should be at the center, in the field, calling the shots,” which means including women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, workers, farmers, fisherfolk, migrants, urban poor, in these initiatives such as the new Global Partnership Monitoring.
2) Promoting locally-led development
CSOs welcome the strides development actors have been making towards localization, which includes the Donor Statement on Supporting Locally Led Development released during HLM3. The localization approach is seen as an opportunity to make development adaptive to various contexts, sustainable and effective. Localization necessitates the shifting of power to local actors, such as communities and local organizations, providing them the necessary support to lead solutions. Translating this promise into action will require significant changes in the current structures and ways of working.
While there were efforts to localize, the Summit continued to heed calls from businesses and corporations to privatize development. The private sector is given prominence as they are seen as important financiers in solving conflicts and the climate emergency. While there are avenues for private sector entities to intervene, such as the work of social enterprises and MSMEs towards industrialization and self-reliance, CSOs have raised alarm on their negative impacts for the sake of profit.
In Asia and other parts of the global South, Indigenous and rural communities face militarization and the exploitation of labor and natural resources by businesses through their profit-making and development activities. As Beverly Longid of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation posed in the session on private sector engagement, “Whose perspective are we doing development cooperation? Are we doing it from the perspective of profit, or are we doing it from the perspective of people’s lives?”
If not monitored and regulated properly, private sector activities can exacerbate rather than address issues on development. Development actors, especially governments, have the duty to ensure that business activities are aligned with the Kampala Principles, as well as international human rights and labor standards. Most importantly, the 0.7% GNI commitment for Official Development Assistance (ODA) must be met and even exceeded, in order to lessen the reliance on private investments and to effectively finance the localization of development.
3) Revitalizing commitment to the development effectiveness agenda
Given that the available resources are massively insufficient to address the crises the world faces, all of the commitments surrounding development cooperation must hinge on the development effectiveness agenda. A decade after Busan, the principles of country ownership, focus on results, inclusive partnerships and mutual transparency and accountability remain relevant now more than ever. Civil society actors further assert that the “effectiveness agenda must be at the center of development discourse”.
Adopting these principles translates to efforts towards meeting Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, addressing the root causes of conflict and spearheading Triple Nexus programs according to the DAC Nexus Recommendation, fostering solidarity through South-South and triangular cooperation, and delivering on pledges for climate financing. Aligning efforts with the DE agenda also means giving the marginalized and vulnerable a seat at the table in order to genuinely forward a people-centered, rights-based approach to development that sufficiently answers to the needs of the people.
The HLM3 provided an opportunity for various development actors to come together and tackle how to approach the crises the world faces. CSOs from the platform will sustain its engagement in development processes to monitor and seek accountability for the promises made during the Summit. Further strategizing for a regional engagement and continued mobilization at the national, local levels for the revised Global Partnership Monitoring will be pursued by the Asia constituency. While HLM3 is a landmark event, the implementation and follow-through of commitments from the Summit are even more crucial in order to save lives, uphold rights, pursue just peace and protect the environment.