Closing Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Vienna High-Level Symposium “Accountable and Transparent Development Cooperation: Towards a more Inclusive Framework”
Vienna, 13 November 2009

Madam Chair, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

We have come to the end of a very substantive and stimulating symposium. I thank all of you for your engagement and for the frank analysis and wealth of lessons learned that you have shared. Many ideas and recommendations have emerged. I would like to highlight some of the messages I will take back from our debate.

The case studies and your interventions have sharpened our sense of urgency. First, we need to deliver by 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals. Second, the multiple crises – climate, food, fuel, financial and economic – have created new needs, while threatening the existing resources and support for development cooperation. The DCF could help to adapt development cooperation to evolving economic challenges.

The Symposium has advanced our common understanding about mutual accountability. Mutual accountability is essential at the country level. At the same time, the symposium has confirmed that the mechanisms enabling partner countries and institutions to hold each other accountable on commitments made are still weak. Programme countries have limited space and tools to hold donors to account. Mutual accountability mechanisms also rarely offer scope for oversight of development cooperation by parliamentarians, local governments and civil society.

The symposium has also pointed to the path forward. Mutual accountability has to move beyond looking at resources alone towards a focus on development results. I heard a strong shared interest in finding ways to continuously spur and review progress in improving mutual accountability mechanisms at national, regional and global levels. It is important to highlight and share good practices as a way to move forward. The Development Cooperation Forum is seen as having a clear role in this area, working closely with other processes, such as OECD/DAC and reinforcing the key objective of making progress at country level.

The symposium underscored the huge gap in the capacities of programme countries and other stakeholders to oversee development cooperation and aid. To overcome this gap, participants suggested to launch an ambitious effort for the development of the capacities of programme countries and other stakeholders. Such an effort should also build capacities to use the information on the quantity and quality of aid which is being released and improved.

At the same time, the symposium underscored the importance of encouraging and strengthening new initiatives in the area of aid transparency, while also monitoring whether they are moving in the right direction and meeting the needs of stakeholders. This is another area where the DCF can make a contribution.

The symposium also affirmed the role the DCF can play in strengthening South-South and triangular cooperation in partnership with the actors involved. It can amplify the recognition of the specific characteristics of South-South cooperation and help to share good practices and analysis on South-South and triangular cooperation. There is a sentiment that more information and data is needed on South-South cooperation flows and practices. But, this has to be done in way that is sensitive to the needs as articulated by the Southern countries themselves.

On policy coherence, great importance is attached to ensuring that the range of a country’s policy does not contradict its development cooperation objectives. This is particularly important in donor countries. The DCF can provide a forum for the voice of developing countries to be heard. At the same time, the need for policy coherence is also there in developing countries. The impact of aid in leveraging other types of financing for development should also be given due attention.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We thus have a set of concrete and actionable ideas and recommendations that we can begin to pursue between now and the next DCF high-level symposia.

Clearly, much depends on political will to move ahead. And here I do not mean political will of governments only. All of us have to take action – timely and concrete action – and to be ready to be held accountable for our contribution to development cooperation.

You all agree we have spent two unforgettable days. On behalf of the United Nations, let me close with a final word of gratitude to the Government of Austria, for its most gracious hospitality and the excellent organization of this symposium. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the interpreters and all those who worked behind the scenes for their hard work.

Thank you.