Over 3,000 delegates from 150 countries have gathered in Nairobi to share experiences of managing development cooperation, as well as how best to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). EurActiv Germany reports.
A culmination of development cooperation that traces its history back to Rome in 2003, Paris, and Accra, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation came into being in 2011.The pioneer meeting of the partnership was held in Mexico in 2014. Kenya is hosting the second.
Bringing together heads of states and governments, ministers, heads of international organisations, business and civil society, the forum has over the years sought to celebrate the success of development cooperation between developed and developing countries while addressing hiccups in implementation of commitments.
Crucial among its pillars include ownership of development cooperation by developing countries, a focus on results, inclusive partnerships and transparency and accountability between development partners.
But it hasn’t been smooth sailing, as the partnership has faced headwinds including slow-to-arrive donor funding by developed countries and misappropriation by certain sections of developing countries, which has slowed down the reduction of poverty.
A 2016 report by Concord, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs indicates that the European Union failed again to meet its commitment to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on development aid.
Only the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden lived up to their aid pledges, leaving a €36.9 billion aid deficit that the EU promised developing countries and never delivered.
The report further says that 17% of total EU aid meant for sustainable development was instead channelled to donor costs including student costs, and interest payments.
“The Nairobi High-Level Meeting is a chance for Europe’s leaders to step up and show leadership on aid and development effectiveness. Setting targets and clear implementation plans would be one of the most obvious ways of doing that – one that will show partner countries we are serious about keeping our promises and show other countries that it can be done,” said Izabella Toth, a CONCORD Board Member.
But this year’s meeting is equally important, as it comes just over a year since the third international Conference on Financing for Development, which spelled out some of the pillars the meeting is relying on to implement the development partnership.
It also comes a year after the United Nations member states adopted the 2030 Agenda (SDGs), which hopes to end poverty in all its form 14 years from now. The Nairobi meeting therefore has its plate full in trying to move from theory to action.
The meeting involves two days of preparatory sessions and two days of intensive and high level discussions. A final document will guide the implementation procedure of the SDGs by the year 2030. It will specifically spell out the roles of each development player working with others in order to achieve sustainable development.
The meeting comes at a time when threats like climate change are displacing the livelihoods of millions, especially in developing countries, further fanning the poverty cycle.
In a bid to escape from the bondage of hopelessness, a majority of people, mostly the younger generation, are looking for often precarious alternatives which include being radicalised into extremist groupings, or trying to look for greener pastures in developed countries, leading to the ongoing refugee crisis.
“That is why this forum is also taking into account the need to embrace inclusivity not just for the countries in developing world, but also inclusivity of women and youth, who form the bulk of the population but who are usually marginalised in major decisions that ultimately affect them. We want to use this forum to ensure that they are at the heart of every agenda and decision making process, if we are to actualize the sustainable development goals,” said Violet Muhaso, a gender and advocacy officer at the conference.
Caleb Sihanya is among the delegates. A youth leader from Western Kenya, Caleb hopes his input will be listened and acted upon.
“I have been a youth leader for over ten years. I have sat on numerous committees. We hear so often that the development partners and developed nations have committed grants and funding to programmes meant for youth or women empowerment, but we are still as we are if not worse. I want to first understand the disconnect in aid disbursement and then suggest more inclusive and revised ways of channelling this development aid if we are to address major problems like poverty,” said Caleb.
He is of the opinion that new and stricter accountability programmes should be introduced and aid should now not be channelled to governments alone but to the private sector and community-based organisations if an impact is to be felt.
Melissa Rethabile, a delegate from South Africa concurs. “We cannot be coming up with the same old narratives of aid for Africa and developing countries in general and situations haven’t changed. It is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is time we had a rethink about the effectiveness of aid distribution,” she said.
But a flicker of hope abounds. Already the EU has adopted a common position that ensures an expedited and time-bound implementation that ensures high impact, value for money interventions that change the lives of some of the world’s poorest people by genuinely delivering sustainable development.
“As we work with private businesses and firms to invest especially in Africa we will make sure that their investments contribute to the sustainable development of each country.
Our proposal is for an external investment plan €44 billion for Africa and the neighbourhood,” said EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at a press conference when unveiling the new consensus for development. Delegates insist the Nairobi meeting will define the pace of realising and implementing this cooperation.
“The Nairobi meeting has very high stakes and the onus is on the delegates to ensure that we have practical and structured outcomes that will ensure timely and inclusive implementation of the SDGs. This meeting is crucial in determining the pace with which we will actualise and realise the SDGs,” said Patrick Kimuyu of Kenya’s foreign ministry.