FfD-3 Post-Analysis

The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Photo Credit: http://www.iisd.ca/ffd/ffd3/
The adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Photo Credit: http://www.iisd.ca/ffd/ffd3/

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.

PPD-6: The Basics

obama_un_speech001_16x9The Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6) was  released last week after a court order and frames U.S. development policy under  three pillar approach. Focused on sustainable development outcomes that value economic growth and democratic governance, game-changing innovations, and sustainable systems for achieving high-impact development, PPD-6 provides development policy with a new operational model and a modern architecture that elevates development to be a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

At the core of U.S. development policy is a focus on bringing models to scale, so that development work has not only a local impact, but also a national and global impact. In addition to scale impacts, PPD-6 emphasizes accountability by seeking sustained development progress consistently and greater attention being given to the pursuit of policy reforms essential for development such as diplomatic engagement, condititionality, and performance-based mechanisms. The New Operation Model under PPD-6 is more selective in where and in which sectors the United States will work, meaning hard choices will be made in allocating attention and resources across countries, regions, and sectors. In light of such necessary choices, PPD-6 lists key areas of investment that include health systems, sustainable energy, and food security.

Obama’s development policy supports capacity building in the public sector at the national and community level to provide basic services, with the goal of shifting countries away from a dependency on foreign assistance. The end goal in the PPD-6 is to put countries on a path to financing their own continued development. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. government will work  through the leadership of multiple stakeholders and experts, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Partnerships will be prioritized with NGOs and private sector actors from policy conception to implementation. Government agencies such as the Department of Treasury, Agriculture, Justice etc. also now play a larger role through collaboration and the offering their expertise on the development and implementation of the development policy.

Finally, development is now elevated to a central pillar of national security policy making it equal to diplomacy and defense. As result, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is now included in meetings of the National Security Council (NSC). Despite the elevation to equal status of development to diplomacy and defense, no mention is made of an attempt to increase development’s budget. The absence of budgetary support raises questions on the actual elevation of development within national security policy making.In addition to its new seat at NSC meetings, USAID is also required to streamline its operating methods and practices. Part of this streamlining requires the agency to be more transparent.

PPD-6 gives particular attention to investments that benefit girls and women. The emphasis on investments that benefit girls and women will lead to accelerated progress aligning PPD-6’s views on the importance of girls and women with The Hunger Project. In order to make sure the goals and action items laid out in PPD-6 are accomplished a more deliberate and rigorous policy making and review process. One important aspect to note is the creation of a U.S. Global Development Council that include leading members of the philanthropic sector, private sector, academia, and civil society.