Your time goes in now. Start cooking!

10 July 2015

By Izabella Toth (Cordaid), CONCORD Europe’s Board member

blog destination addis ababa

Many people from the international development community are packing their suitcases as we speak to join the Third Financing for Development conference in Addis starting next Monday. So am I. And while I am selecting the outfits, I’m thinking of the week ahead. What will it bring at the end? The stakes are high, as the “new global compact for betterment of humanity”, the post 2015 sustainable development goals, are supposed to be supported by the outcomes, level of ambition and commitment of the stakeholders, especially those in power.

Yesterday’s new version of the Post 2015 outcome document is met by the call of civil society organizations under the umbrella of the Beyond 2015 campaign to have courage to listen, courage to change, to commit and to act. Yes, as it is fairly easy to enshrine political aims in beautiful papers, but the proof will be in the eating of the proverbial pudding. This goes also for the recommendations of the final draft version of the Addis Agenda for Action.

“Betterment of humanity” is a very high aim, it means the international community finally recognizes the sense of urgency of the challenge. The outcome of the Financing for Development conference must be able to meet the challenge, advance structural changes of the global financial system, if it does really want to achieve transformation.

So who has time for “red lines” at this stage? When we have ample evidence of increasing inequality, under-Developement, lack of access to opportunities? Who has the courage to listen, change, commit and act, step over its own shadow of vested political interests to allow change take place? As full generations of people in under developed countries have no prospects for a true change in their lives, and many desperately engage in dangerous journeys often at risk of losing their lives, just to find a better place to live. I understand the final negotiations are not done yet, which presents the opportunity for the civil society community to influence the decisions on the “red lines”.

But are the “agreed lines” the adequate lines? Sure, the language on many items is positive. I understand the words, but I wonder if the emphasis on various aspects and expectations from actors is the correct one. There is need for a hell of a lot of courage and commitment to act, and last but certainly not least, political will to live up to the recommendations.

So, who will step up to the plate and say, enough is enough? Now is the time to act.
Political leadership is required. The EU block, as one of the main actors in international development cooperation, must live up to commitments towards tackling inequality, poverty, reforming the global financial system and architecture. All under the framework of policy coherence for development.

The Union should use Addis as an opportunity to renew its aid promises towards the 0,7%ODA/ GNI target through binding and measurable agreements, not to the least to remain a credible stakeholder in the global arena.

It should tackle its own policies so as to stop capital flight and illicit financial flows out of developing countries. The foreseen Addis Tax Initiative, meant to double capacity building efforts in order to increase domestic resource mobilization that will be launched in Addis by a.o. the EU (EC and The Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Luxembourg, Finland and Sweden), has to be complemented by fair tax cooperation mechanisms with standards that meet the needs of countries, and be closely monitored by an intergovernmental tax body under the UN. Fair is fair. Two sides of the same coin.

Nobody would disagree that private sector is in fact an engine for development. But not at any cost. Not many will disagree that official development budget can play a catalytic role in boosting impact and outcome. However, it does not, if it is unmeasurable, opaque, not accountable to anyone. Hence, leveraging private finance should be allowed only if it respects people’s rights (including women!) at all levels.

National ownership is imperative, inclusion is an imperative, not a mere opportunity anymore. As the opposite of inclusion is exclusion, and we all know that that is one of the root causes of under development. So what we need are time tables to fully implement development effectiveness agreements from the past, enhancing country based inclusive models of local and national ownership.

For all this, political leadership of the EU is required. As proud European I shiver watching the news nowadays, see our fellow Europeans in Greece demonstrating in the streets of Athens every day, living the insecurity of the day ahead. Watching all coming to the shores of Southern Europe from developing countries, with the dream of a better life on our continent. The stakes are higher then ever, political paralysis is out of the question as borders are gone, reality is fluid, and stakes are immense. The “betterment of humanity” is the aim. Let’s step up to the plate, and kook the tastiest pudding ever made.