ODA modernisation- for whose benefit?

17 february 2016

Fiona Coyle, Programme Manager at Dóchas, looks ahead to tomorrow's OECD DAC meeting and the key questions on the table when it comes to Official Development Assistance


“Development assistance, like love, truth, and beauty, is an important idea with a fuzzy boundary.” - David Roodman, Center for Global Development. Never has this quote been more pertinent ahead of tomorrow's OECD DAC meeting in Paris. In September 2015, world leaders agreed a new international framework which set out the Sustainable Development Goals- a series of 17 ambitious targets to end extreme poverty and inequality and tackle climate change by 2030. A solemn promise was made to leave no one behind and implement the new goals by reaching the most deprived first. The implementation of this ambitious framework does not come without additional costs. But where will this money come from? That is the key question on the table at tomorrow’s meeting. 

A number of commentators have referred to the need for a paradigm shift to move the discussion from “billions” in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to “trillions” proposing a radically different financing model – one which requires a comprehensive approach to financing, embracing all sources of public and private finance available to developing countries.

ODA is the official financing and other forms of assistance, given by governments to developing countries to promote and implement development. The modern day definition of ODA, of what can or can’t be ODA, was put forward by the OECD in 1972. Though ODA is not the largest financial flow to developing countries its importance cannot be overlooked and it still remains a key source of development finance. More than other financial flows, ODA is targeted at the Least Developed Countries, and it is more stable and predictable than the more volatile international financial flows. 

What is being proposed?

Just as the world is about to take the first steps to implement the ambitious and historic SDG agreement, the resources needed are under threat. Tomorrow the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) will convene its next High Level Meeting (HLM) from 18-19 February 2016 in Paris, the first such meeting since December 2014 when ministers agreed to modernise the DAC's statistical system and its measurement of development finance.

Through this modernisation process major donors are proposing to cut aid budgets and to spend an increasing share of development assistance to support costs of refugees and asylum seekers at home.  Donors are also seeking to link aid to security related concerns such as intelligence gathering and counter terrorism activities.

While as Dóchas we welcome an open debate on ODA, changes to the ODA definition should serve the interests of developing countries and should not help inflate the GNI/ODA ratio of those countries who have failed to meet the 0.7% target.

What you can do?

Dóchas has joined forces with the ONE campaign and a number of other organisations including Save the Children, Global Citizen, CONCORD, BOND and Eurodad. And together we’re calling on leaders to make sure the choices they make on aid in the coming months don’t mean the poorest people lose out on an education or on healthcare.

Please click here to share and sign a petition to ask European leaders to protect the poorest. 

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