Most Countries Far Short of ODA Target Figure 10 Years after Monterrey Consensus amid Crisis-Fuelled Plans to Slash Future Aid Budgets, Second Committee Told

10 November 2011

Most Countries Far Short of ODA Target Figure 10 Years after Monterrey Consensus amid Crisis-Fuelled Plans to Slash Future Aid Budgets, Second Committee Told

10 November 2011
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-sixth General Assembly

Second Committee

34th Meeting (AM & PM)

Most Countries Far Short of ODA Target Figure 10 Years after Monterrey Consensus

amid Crisis-Fuelled Plans to Slash Future Aid Budgets, Second Committee Told

Panel Discusses Donor Accountability in Boosting International Cooperation

More than 10 years after the Monterrey Consensus was adopted, most countries remained well short of allocating 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to official development assistance (ODA), and sharp reductions planned in response to the global economic and financial crisis made for a bleak forecast of future growth in foreign aid, the President of the Economic and Social Council told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.

Speaking as a panellist during a discussion on “Financing for development:  Donor accountability in increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development”, Council President Lazarous Kapambwe (Zambia) called for a return of the “spirit of Monterrey” to boost global ODA from $128.7 billion, or 0.32 per cent of donors’ combined GNP at current figures, a far cry from the agreed target, he said, expressing fears that the crisis, and the consequent move towards fiscal austerity, would have a negative impact on foreign aid.

With Morten Wetland (Norway) as Moderator, the panel also featured panellists Gyan Chandra Acharya (Nepal), Chair of the Group of Least Developed Countries; Thomas Mayr-Harting, Head of the European UnionDelegation; and Tariq Banuri, former Director of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

“ODA commitments made should be ODA commitments kept,” Mr. Kapambwe said, appealing in particular for countries in Africa as well as least developed countries and those in special situations.  Delivering on commitments to improve aid effectiveness was important in demonstrating that “aid works”, he said, underlining the importance of mutual accountability on the part of all actors as they tried to realize the Millennium Development Goals.  Africa would likely see a decrease in aid since any increase would be outpaced by population growth, he added.  The Economic and Social Council had worked to bring important global trends to the attention of developed and developing countries, corporations and civil society representatives, he said, describing it as an important forum for holding different entities accountable.

Mr. Acharya ( Nepal) said there was a huge discrepancy between commitment and delivery, which posed a major challenge to development.  Lowering ODA would have devastating effects on least developed countries, given their dependence on foreign aid, he warned, pointing out that while “a lot of progress” had been made in building the resilience of least developed countries to internal, external and structural challenges, they still faced many constraints.  They needed cross-sector investment, which required external support, he added.

He went on to emphasize that national leadership and ownership were also crucial, underlining also that national policy alignment would help least developed countries graduate from that category in the next few years.  Given their new vulnerability due to the food and energy crises, more ODA should be directed to ensure the development of their long-term capacity, he said, urging developed countries not to use theeconomic and financial crisis as a pretext for limiting aid because least developed countries faced economic crises all the time.  Mutual accountability, fair trade and debt relief would also help those countries out of poverty, he added.

Mr. Mayr-Harting (European Union) said accountability was particularly important to the regional bloc because its members accounted for well over half of the $128.7 billion allocated to ODA globally.  While most countries had not met their ODA targets, all but one ofthose that had done so were members of the European Union, he pointed out.  On the concept of “shared responsibility”, he noted that European Union cooperation was built on agreements with its partners and focused on the particular sectors that recipient countries wished to tackle.

A “contractual relationship” was needed, with both partners mutually accountable, he said, adding that in providing ODA, the European Union was accountable to the region’s citizens, taxpayers, national parliaments and the European Parliament, in addition to development partners.  Transparency was a key part of accountability, he stressed, urging Member States to join the Aid Transparency Initiative.  He added that transparency would enhance respect for assistance, which would gain support if seen to make a difference.

Mr. Banuri, agreeing that greater transparency would lead to increased accountability, pointed out that incoherence remained although better data on ODA were now available.  Inconsistent and divergent data gave different answers to single questions, he noted, adding that more clarity would help eliminate complexities, which, if not addressed, would not go away.  Accountability would also increase with the mobilization of a global political movement in support of development, particularly sustainable development, at all levels and in all countries, he said, urging donors to concentrate assistance on budgetary support to address the imbalance between private and public resources, which “put the brakes” on development.

Noting that a small number of Governments around the world held the vast majority of public resources, he called for ODA that would boost publicly-held resources in developing countries, which would enable Governments to better help the poor.  He also cited a need for greater consistency, pointing out that Japan’s aid programme focused on predictable financing for infrastructure projects.  Similar policies from other States would be of great help, he said.  Emphasizing that support for development should go beyond ODA, he also called for coherent and coordinated policies on investment, immigration, environmental, security and agriculture.

In the ensuing discussion, Mr. Acharya responded to questions on broadening the international assistance framework beyond aid, telling the representatives of the United States and India that ODA remained the primary source of financing for development in light of the overall challenges faced by developing countries, especially least developed countries.  He also responded to a question from the representative of Cuba, agreeing that establishing a Monterrey follow-up mechanism would ensure the completion of development-financing process and full implementation of agreements reached.

Mr. Banuri, asked by the representative of Bangladesh whether ODA was a charity or an obligation, said it helped to promote peace and security “by other means”.  People hoped for improvements in their lives and blocking their progress was a recipe for potential instability, he cautioned.  With all countries pursuing a peaceful world, the development agenda was of great import.  That had informed United States decision-making in 1968 when it had donated the highest-ever proportion of GNP to ODA in an attempt to prevent political instability.  The motivation had not been solely a moral one, but also about reducing and preventing criminality and terrorism while securing global peace and security, he added.

Committee Chair Abdulkalam Abdul Momen ( Bangladesh) emphasized in earlier opening remarks that the 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development reaffirmed a new framework for development cooperation, and stressed the need for strong commitment by developed countries to maintain ODA targets irrespective of the financial crisis.  It also recognized the vital role of the United Nations in addressing new challenges and issues in financing for development, and the decision to hold a conference on the impact of the crisis.  On donors blaming reduced aid budgets on the international crisis, he pointed out that “the ODA commitments were never fulfilled even before the crisis.”

Meeting in the afternoon, the Committee heard various delegates submit draft resolutions for the Committee’s consideration.

Introduction of Draft Resolutions

The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced drafts titled, respectively, “Information and communications technologies for development” (document A/C.2/66/L.21); “Macroeconomic policy questions:  International trade and development” (document A/C.2/66/L.39) and “Commodities” (document A/C.2/66/L.34).

She then presented the following drafts relating to sustainable development:  “Oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/C.2/66/L.25); “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/66/L.30); and “Follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” (document A/C.2/66/L.26).

She went on to submit the draft resolutions:  “International Strategy for Disaster Reduction” (document A/C.2/66/L.27); “Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind” (document A/C.2/66/L.28); “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa” (document A/C.2/66/L.44); “Convention on Biological Diversity” (document A/C.2/66/L.29); “Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-sixth session” (document A/C.2/66/L.45); and “Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy” (document A/C.2/66/L.31).

The representative of Peru then tabled a draft resolution titled “Development benefits of biodiversity” (document A/C.2/66/L.32), calling for a holistic approach to sustainable development.

The representative of Kazakhstan introduced the draft “International cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan” (document A/C.2/66/L.35).

The representative of Papua New Guinea introduced, on behalf of the Pacific Island Developing States, a draft resolution titled “Protection of coral reefs for sustainable livelihoods and development” (document A/C.2/66/L.38).

The representative of Israel submitted a draft titled “Agricultural technology for development” (document A/C.2/66/L.41).

The representative of Bolivia tabled a draft resolution titled “Harmony with Nature” (document A/C.2/66/L.42).

The representative of Peru introduced a draft titled “Sustainable mountain development” (document A/C.2/66/L.33).

The representative of Argentina submitted, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the draft resolution “Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)” (document A/C.2/66/L.36).

The representative of Austria tabled the draft resolution “Promoting the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of public administration by strengthening supreme audit institutions” (document A/C.2/66/L.16).

The representative of Argentina introduced, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, three draft resolutions: “Globalization and interdependence:  Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence” (document A/C.2/66/L.23); “Science and technology for development (document A/C.2/66/L.24); and “Development cooperation with middle-income countries” (document A/C.2/66/L.18).

She also presented, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the draft resolution “Agriculture development and food security” (document A/C.2/66/L.17).

The representative of Bolivia submitted the draft “International Year of Quinoa” (document A/C.2/66/L.19).

The representative of the Philippines tabled the draft resolution “International Year of Family Farming, 2014” (document A/C.2/66/L.20).

The representative of Poland introduced, on behalf of the sponsors listed in the document, the draft resolution entitled “Towards global partnerships” (document A/C.2/66/L.43).

The representative of Argentina presented, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, the draft “People’s empowerment and a peace-centric development model” (document A/C.2/66/L.40).

The representative of Egypt submitted the draft resolution “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” (document A/C.2/66/L.22).

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.