Alexander de Croo, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, and Minister for Development Cooperation, said on Tuesday (26 May) that his country would not attain the spending target of 0.7% of its GNI on aid in the near future, but could make an effort to target at least 50% of this aid to the least developed countries.
De Croo spoke at an event organised by ONE, the advocacy organisation co-founded by Bono, the frontman of U2. ONE presented its DATA report 2015, showing donors missing their aid targets, and financial support for the least developed countries (LDCs) continuing to fall.
Although LDCs are increasingly home to those who live on less than $1.25 a day, they received less than a third of aid (30.3%) in 2014.
The event was scheduled to coincide with a meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers held the same day dedicated to development issues. In the context of the negotiation of the post-2015 development agenda, EU ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on “A new global partnership for poverty eradication and sustainable development after 2015” in view of the 3rd UN conference on financing for development next July, and the UN summit on post-2015 in September.
The message of the ONE report is that if the new Global Goals that will be launched in September are to succeed, world leaders must make a concerted effort to target the most disadvantaged countries – or lives will be lost and years of development progress risk being undone.
Eloise Todd, ONE’s Global Policy Director, said that despite multiple summits to debate these issues, there was a shocking lack of global leadership to deliver genuine, life changing commitments for the world’s poorest and hardest to reach.
“Politicians will gather in Brussels, Schloss Elmau and Addis Ababa in the coming weeks (see timeline). They must inject some urgency into this process,” she said.
Alexander De Croo basically agreed with the report’s main conclusions, but later said that his country, which is below the 0.7 target with 0.45% of its GNI spent on aid in 2014, would not be able to reach the target anytime soon.
The 0.7% target and the goal of spending half of the 0.7% of GNI for the least developed countries are very much linked one to another, De Croo argued.
Referring to a graph from the One report, he said that a lot of countries, including Belgium, are, for the moment, far from the 0.7% target.
“Even if Belgium is on the better half, we are not really that close. We need to commit to the 0.7%, but let’s not expect we will be there next year. But committing that half to the least development countries, that you can do very much quicker, and that’s something we need to be very firm on,” the Belgian minister said.
ONE’s analysis shows a minimum level of spending of $500 per person per year, or 10% of GDP, is needed to deliver the scale of ambition needed to meet the Global Goals. For the 27 countries that currently spend less than $150 per person, ONE recommends an interim target of $300 per person. The total cost is $152 billion for the 66 countries worldwide that are below their targets; the cost for the 37 LDCs is $34.5 billion.
Seen from a Belgian perspective however, the figures appear more modest. De Croo said that if a country wants to realise the sustainable development goals (SDGs), it needed to dedicate to it “4% of GDP more or less”.
43% of people living in Least Developed Countries live in extreme poverty, compared with 13% of the population in non-LDC developing countries. LDCs are projected to make up 50% of the global poverty burden by 2030.
In 2005, EU member states pledged to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015 and included an interim target of 0.56% ODA/GNI by 2010.
These were based on individual targets of 0.7% ODA/GNI for the EU 15 and 0.33% GNI for the 12 Member States which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007, according to the European Commission.
EU countries that were already at or above 0.7% ODA/ GNI pledged to sustain their efforts. The EU heads of state and government reaffirmed their commitment to reach the 0.7% target by 2015 at the European Council on 7/8 February 2013.
- 7-8 June: G7 Summit, hosted by Germany in Schloss Elmau
- 7-15 June: African Union Summit in South Africa
- 13-16 July: Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia