2015 is a critical year for sustainable development, some are even calling it a “once in a generation opportunity” (UNDP 2015) to address the world’s social, economic and environmental challenges.

2015 sees a range of critical global summits take place to address these challenges, including the Addis Ababa Third Financing for Development (FfD) Conference in July, the UN General Assembly meeting to agree the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September and the Paris UN Climate Conference in November/December. As illustrated by this paper, clear and strong political ambitions from EU member states on aid and commitments to pursue a genuinely development-driven catalytic approach to using this vital resource will be critical to a successful outcome to the Addis Ababa FfD Summit and possibly those that follow.

Key messages:

  • 0.7 target is one of the important barometer of EU’s commitment to development and a signal of the EU’s credibility as a negotiating partner. Slow progress in achieving the EU’s aid commitments has eroded trust in the EU as a development actor. It is therefore vital that Addis Ababa is used as an opportunity for the EU to change this narrative and renew its political emphasis on aid.
  • In pursuing an ambitious agenda on aid EU MSs must ignore views that EU aid is losing its significance in supporting sustainable development. This false rhetoric has been promoted by those looking to undermine political commitment to aid and is a misreading of the changing context for developing countries.
  • In terms of aid quality priorities, EU MSs are right to call for efforts to deepen the catalytic impact of aid. However, the current EU/donor approach to such a concept needs refocussing so that bold steps can be taken to ensure that EU aid truly catalyses sustainable development outcomes.
  • This paper concludes by presenting specific recommendations of Concord-AidWatch members for how the EU can play its fair share to ensure the Addis Ababa agenda on aid becomes a success.