Betteraid: Global leaders make aid deal, but business remains unfinished, say civil society organizations

1st December 2011, Busan, Republic of Korea – While civil society applauds the development agreement struck in Busan, limited progress has been made in the aid delivery progress, and more is still needed as this goes forward to better the lives and livelihoods for people, said BetterAid, the global civil society platform represented in the negotations.

The agreement, which brings in emerging donors like Brazil and China for the first time, seems to broaden aid effectiveness principles, and also sets out a range of commitments and responsibilities for a range of development actors, including civil society and the private sector.

“The challenge now is to ensure that there is a better way to hold governments and businesses to stick to their commitments – the proof of the pudding is in the eating, especially for those who are starving,” said Emele Duituturaga, co-Chair of the Open Forum on CSO Development Effectiveness and Executive Director of PIANGO, part of the BetterAid platform.

For BetterAid key advances made at Busan are:

  • Tackling corruption by making donors explain where aid money goes
  • Reaffirming commitments to promote a rights based enabling environment for civil society
  • Giving local civil society more leeway to run their own development work
  • Increasing efforts to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment

Although initially reluctant, China also threw its weight behind the deal. But development organizations were disappointed that Beijing imposed conditions on its agreement by making the agreement voluntary. “It’s a big step forward that China is as the table, but it’s a pity that they aren’t yet ready to promise to act on what they say”, said Antonio Tujan, Chair of BetterAid and CSO Sherpa. Estimates put new donor flows at around $11 billion per year and rapidly growing.

However the lack of a rights based approach, nor ensuring that aid is spent wisely in the most fragile states, such as Somalia, Haiti and The Ivory Coast, has left a sour taste for many in how the real problems for the poorest in the world, particularly women and children, will be seriously addressed.

The UN reports that women represent over 70% of the world’s poor, yet their rights, needs, voices and contributions are often invisible.

“Women’s empowerment is much more than just using them as engines of growth. This document failed to recognize women’s rights” said Kasia Staszewska from WIDE Network and BetterAid.

Civil society also notes with concern that the agreement :

  • Has no explicit commitments to adopt human-rights based approaches.
  • Has not significantly addressed the unfinished business and lack of implementation of Paris and Accra commitments.
  • Reduces commitments to common principles as mere voluntary reference for BRICS development partners in South-South Cooperation.
  • Retains overall private sector-led growth as framework for development.

The final assessment on how the promised will be monitored and followed from Busan will be made in six months time.

A formal civil society statement will be released following the conclusion of the formal meetings in Busan.

Contact Clare Birkett, BetterAid Cbirkett +32 (0)1086790769