The United Nations hosted the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) from July 13 – 16th in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The resulting document was the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing the Post 2015 Development Agenda. While The Hunger Project highlighted a number of things that we loved about the AAAA drafted prior to FfD3, we have a number of concerns surrounding the final document.
Issue #1: In the AAAA, there is ample mention of women throughout the document; on the surface it seems that gender and women’s empowerment have a firm commitment. However, the language is rather recommitments from Doha and Monterrey (highlighted by the Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development’s “Reaction to the Outcome Document”.) AAAA merely “reiterate[s] the need for gender mainstreaming including targeted actions and investments in the formulation and implementation of all financial, economic, environmental, and social policies” (Para. 6). Reiteration and recommitment is not nearly ambitious enough to really push gender mainstreaming to the forefront of development policies and give women equal access and rights to the benefits of development.This risks maintaining the status quo, which barely mainstreams gender equality to a level that will boost development and the preservation of human rights for all.
Issue#2: Another major issue surrounding the final outcome document is the heavily reliance on private sector funding. This raises serious questions about what the outcome of development will actually look like and who development is meant for. Civil Society attendees of FfD-3 and the pre-cursing CSO Forum highlighted that reliance on the private sector is without promise of significant results. This is partially due to the fact that private-sector focus often brings about “trickle-down” economics in implementation of development initiatives. Trickle-down economics has never proven to be able to reach the poorest of the poor, the most inaccessible or the most malnourished and vulnerable persons: the very group that development must target . Another concern surrounding the private sector is the ability to sue governments over national development policies if they conflict with business interests. CSO imparted its preference that national governments instill policies that mandate that the private sector make human rights and the environment business priorities, as well as develop a strong tax-base for which multilateral corporations can pay due tax to its host state and/or city. This tax revenue would ideally be used by the state for developmental initiatives, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable (which are commonly not target market populations for private sector investment).
Issue #3: While there is room for AAAA’s inclusion of an integrated approach, there are a number of top-down approaches that still linger within the FFD framework. Aid for Trade (Para 90) is particularly concerning. It is a mechanism to bolster the development of developing and least developing countries, but there is very little evidence that current trade policies are effective in reducing poverty and hunger. Strong accountability severely lacks (i.e. there need to be stronger safeguards in international trade agreements).
Issue #4: AAAA lacks deadlines for completion of goals in relation to financing. This risks lacking accountability as without specific dates it will be difficult to clearly monitor and evaluate progress. This poses the question of how issues with implementation will be managed or recognized through 2030?
AAAA should have ideally created a development assistance system that catalyzes country ownership of programs to mitigate dependency on foreign aid. The treatment of women, reliance on the private sector, and the inclusion of historically top-down development initiatives undermines the ability of countries and citizens to have ownership of development projects and risks staying within the status quo without long-term sustainable development.