Poverty reduction has manifold repercussions within the global development agenda, especially regarding its expressions in terms of North-South and South-South efforts under the International Development Cooperation (IDC). In 2015, a new roadmap for development was established through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which means a new wave of collective action endorsement to fight common global problems (i.e., climate change). Nevertheless, this movement has presented new elements if compared to the traditional ones of IDC: donors and recipients, aid agencies, allocations based on per capita income. Therefore, this new IDC system is not free from geopolitical biases and is not yet in place, mainly regarding finance development as a whole.
In this regard, Philippe Orliange argues in the article “From poverty reduction to global challenges, a new horizon for international development cooperation?” published in vol. 63, n. 2 (special issue) that the current governance development path goes through several challenges: weak governance of the SDGs, the notion of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) itself is challenged by two decades of the transformation of the South, and a blurred conceptual line between donors and recipients since, among other things, domestic development banks have become international players. Thus, Orliange reviews these trends and analyses of how this agenda is shaping a new international development cooperation system, and, based upon these ideas; he was interviewed by Tiago Tasca, assistant editor of RBPI.
One of the main characteristics of the article is its critical assessment of International Development Cooperation (IDC) grounded in the examples of global development agendas (i.e., MDG, the 2030 Agenda, and the Paris Agreement). In this regard, you argue that “the governance of the 2030 Agenda is far more complex than […] the governance of the MGDs.” Could you give us more details about this complexity? In your opinion, is this complexity more evident in economic or political terms?
Agenda 2030 involves a large array of public policies in all countries. The MDGs were focused on poverty and social issues, mainly in a North-South vision. This is why It seems to me that the governance of Agenda 2030 is far more complex that the governance of previously approved global agendas. This complexity starts at home. Governance of environmental policies was the remit of environment ministries, like governance of health issues falls in the portfolio of health ministers. Governance of Agenda 2030 is by the very nature of the Agenda inter-departmental when it comes to public policies (and it goes beyond public actors). So it is complex both in economic and political terms. SDGs are interconnected. You cannot say that you are going to take care of SDG goals-say education, for example- and ignore the impact of your education policies in terms, say, of fighting or reducing inequalities. Fostering economic growth and disregarding the impact of growth on climate contradicts the logic of SDGs. On top, more impact indicators will be needed to follow up on the implementation of Agenda 2030
Earmarking is a modality being increasingly employed by some UN agencies. The World Health Organization (WHO), for instance, has been pointed out as an example of how these contributions can somehow divert funding from the organization’s top priorities issues, which some authors described as “philanthrocapitalism.” Bearing this in mind, how earmarking can shift the IDC priority patterns? In your opinion, how the recipient-donor relations would be affected by earmarking?
Financing for UN institutions relies increasingly on earmarked contributions. They are different sorts of earmarking, but the more stringent the conditions imposed by donors, the greater the risk of a multilateralism “à la carte,” which would not be faithful to its original objectives. As shown in the article, this is an issue that is affecting more the UN system than other multilateral and regional institutions. And it is affecting specialized institutions despite the fact that these institutions, by their founding treaties, are funded through assessed contributions (at it is the case for other UN activities like peacekeeping, for example). Now we have specialized institutions whose funding through earmarked contributions is more considerable than the core funding from assessed contributions. I think it is detrimental to the proper functioning and legitimacy of the system.
As noted in the article, “IDC is neither a subset of foreign policy nor is it the “international branch” of domestic development policies. But it is both, at the same time.” Therefore, “intermestic” is highly essential in this sense. In your opinion, is it possible to rely on a sustainable financial mechanism towards the achievement of the SDGs until 2030, even after the current COVID-19 pandemic scenario? Why?
A single financial mechanism is not the answer needed to achieve the SDGs by 2030, irrespective of the impact of the current pandemic. In many areas, what is needed in terms of finance is a shift of resources from unsustainable use to sustainable ones. Fuel subsidies are an example, and it is easier to do it now, which the current level of oil prices. A low level of taxes to GDP is another case in point. How do you expect to fund the public policies Agenda 2030 requires is your tax to GDP ratio is in the range of 15% when the average in the OECD is 35%. Public development banks are another channel of financing of the 2030 Agenda. They can and should be used much more than they are at the moment. The current pandemic and its economic and social impacts show clearly that tax and fiscal instruments, as well as increased mobilization of the financial sector, are crucial. The challenge is how do you monitor all of this so that when it comes to following up on the implementation of Agenda 2030, and in particular, SDGs 17 on global partnership. When the sole issue to be monitored was ODA, well, that was – and still is – easy. When it comes to tracking down financing for Agenda 2030, then you need to capture domestic flows, the cross border flows of public money, which is not ODA but which is required, leverage on private money. So you need both new definitions and new methods of reporting, which I think are areas in which the UN system can deliver more.
Read the article
Orliange, Philippe Andre. (2020). From poverty reduction to global challenges, a new horizon for international development cooperation?. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 63(2), e002. Epub June 05, 2020.https://doi.org/10.1590/0034-7329202000202
About the authors
Philippe Orliange, Director of Agence Française de Développement – Regional Office Brazil
Tiago Tasca, assistant editor at Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional
How to cite this interview