The road to Busan
28 May 2011
Capacity development and aid effectiveness debates
The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness will take place in Busan, South Korea later this year. How will the question of capacity development be addressed in the forthcoming debates?
Since 2003, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has organised three forums to assess the effectiveness of development aid. The fourth, which will take place between November 29 and December 1, will be a political, multi-stakeholder event with up to 2000 participants from over 150 countries.
Organisers would like it to mark a milestone in international development cooperation and represent a culmination of the collective efforts of donors, partner countries and other stakeholders to tackle the question of managing the aid process. But how and where will capacity development feature in the forthcoming debates on aid effectiveness?
Certainly, capacity development will be one of the themes being debated in Busan, and one of the questions being tackled will be how to forge a South–North consensus on approaches to capacity development – a question that no one is naïve enough to believe will be easy to answer.
A stronger Southern voice
Over the past two years, a partnership comprising the OECD, the Learning Network on Capacity Development (LenCD) and a nascent Southern political advocacy group, CD Alliance, has been working with other partners to highlight priority areas. Their aim is to move the capacity development agenda from the donor–donor discussion that has characterised it over the last 50 years to an agenda with a stronger Southern voice – perhaps even the voice of leadership. Key to this partnership has been Talaat Abdel- Malek, senior economic advisor to the Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation. Dr Abdel-Malek is co-chair of both the CD Alliance and the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EFF), the body tasked with organising the Busan process.
This partnership is not the only group intent on enlarging the circle of Southern involvement. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), an African Union programme, is a radically new intervention pursuing new priorities and approaches to the political and socio- economic transformation of Africa. The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has a memorandum of understanding with NEPAD to help implement the principles of the Capacity Development Results Framework. The Capacity Development for Development Effectiveness (CDDE) Facility for Asia-Pacific is implementing the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda there. And the Task Team on South–South Cooperation (TT-SSC) has a strong anchor in Latin America.
Together, these partners have the potential to raise the visibility of Southern perspectives in Busan, foster better support for capacity development and translate collective knowledge about capacity development into local action. More partner country ownership will foster better donor support. Capacity is the flip side of ownership – and ownership is a precondition for capacity development.
On the horizon
It is too soon yet to be clear about what to expect from Busan, but already, the principles of good capacity development have helped to influence the direction of the aid effectiveness agenda: greater partner country ownership and leadership of aid; greater donor interest in using and supporting country systems; greater attention to the strengthening of local capacity as the foundation of sustainable development action.
It is almost certain that after Busan, capacity development will be more strongly Southern-focused than before – and will present a range of political and strategic opportunities. Already on the horizon are:
- The placement of Southern leadership at the forefront of capacity development
- Agreement on a more ‘joined-up’ approach to capacity development – a vision, language and approach that are common to both North and South
- Greater agreement to use the principles of capacity development in all key aid agency business processes, and to encourage mutually supportive learning
- Making reforms to technical cooperation that are sensitive to capacity development
- Making sectors a primary entry point for joint approaches to capacity
- Agreement to better link capacity development thinking on fragile situations with the leadership of the g7+ International Dialogue on Statebuilding and Peacekeeping
- Reforming international donor business systems to be more in line with capacity development principles: more collaborative strategic planning and results measurement; more flexible project implementation; the sending of more resources into the field; and a reduction in agency fragmentation
Using the Busan process, it may be possible to call upon emerging Southern voices to seek more joined-up and united (North and South) learning and action in some of these areas.Search Terms dialogue knowledge-sharing policy