Coherent development cooperation to accelerate progress towards the MDGs

Second biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) took place as part of the ECOSOC High-level Segment on 29 and 30 June in New York

The forum addressed an array of challenges the international community is facing to ensure greater progress in international development cooperation and towards the MDGs. The 2005 World Summit outcome mandated ECOSOC to convene the DCF to review trends in international development cooperation, including strategies, policies and financing; promote greater coherence among the development activities of different development partners and strengthen the normative and operational link in the work of the United Nations.

The first DCF held in 2008 represented the first decisive step in positioning ECOSOC as a key venue for global policy dialogue on international development cooperation. As a result of the first DCF in 2008, the outcome document of the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development acknowledges the role of the DCF as focal point within the United Nations system for holistic consideration of development cooperation with participation by all relevant stakeholders.

What makes the DCF stand out?

The most valuable asset of the DCF is its support by Member States of the United Nations and relevant stakeholders engaged in development cooperation. In order to live up to its vast mandate and large expectations in the development community, DESA facilitated an effective consultative and preparatory process based on solid substantive and technical inputs, that helped the Forum to establish its comparative advantage in producing high quality analysis, organizing balanced North-South discussions about development cooperation, and involving all necessary stakeholders in consultations on aid issues.

Both preparatory symposia in 2009 (in Vienna) and 2010 (in Helsinki) were multi-stakeholder events with the participation of senior technical experts in aid management and development cooperation from governments, parliaments, local governments, civil society organizations, foundations and the private sector. By giving voice to these stakeholders, the DCF encourages participatory multi-stakeholder dialogue on major development cooperation issues – which is the second key value added of the forum.

What were expectations for the 2010 DCF?

Since the first forum, the global economic landscape has changed dramatically. A confluence of crises still threatens to derail the development process and signs of recovery are timid at best. Hard-won development gains are still showing reversals. Yet, there are stories of progress, and the MDGs can and must be achieved. Political momentum and a focus on turning pledges into implementation are urgently needed.

Accountability on commitments made is key if acceleration of progress is to happen. With limited resources and competing demands, any type of development assistance must show tangible results at the national and local level. In this new landscape, the Development Cooperation Forum has a unique value as a universal and authoritative forum where the various stakeholders can come together.

Against this backdrop, the 2010 Forum will be structured around the following themes: (i) Promoting greater coherence; (ii) Accountable and transparent development cooperation; (iii) The role of various forms of cooperation including South-South, triangular and decentralized cooperation; (iv) The impact of multiple crises and aid allocations; and (v) Improving development cooperation to accelerate progress towards the MDGs by 2015.

The policy dialogues brought together key players in international development cooperation, including from relevant line ministries in South and North, parliamentarians, and civil society to identify ways to enhance development cooperation to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. The outcome of the forum, in the form of an official summary by the ECOSOC President, presents an important contribution of relevant development cooperation actors to the United Nations September 2010 Summit on the MDGs.

Discussions in this second DCF aimed to establish consensus on priority actions to advance the implementation of commitments on development cooperation, which will be used as guidance for the work of the United Nations System with partners on the ground.

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