December 13, 2012

One year on (PART 1): Come together – The Pamoja/Nairobi Declaration for Development Effectiveness

It has been just over a year since the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) concluded in Busan, South Korea, and I find myself in another country, and on another continent. This past weekend, around 50 representatives from around the world and from the rural, faith based, feminist sectors and international civil society organizations (CSOs) met on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. We met to plan our future engagement around the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) and our work at the regional and national level, and to potentially launch a new collective CSO Platform for Development Effectiveness (CPDE). But coming together has not been so easy. And as incredible as it sounds, it has taken a year to get to this point, building immediate consensus with around 500 people and generating 20 drafts of the CPDE founding document!

On December 2, 2011, the day after HLF-4, BetterAid and the Open Forum for CSO Development Effectiveness met to discuss our post-Busan agenda. With a set of global standards in place, including the Istanbul Principles for CSO Development Effectiveness, everyone knew that any new structure needed to evoke the spirit of Busan, “Country Heavy, Global Light”, and to get down to the nitty-gritty of implementation. In practice, this meant that more energy and resources needed to be filtered down to the national and regional levels, to build the capacity of national CSOs to monitor and engage with national development plans and the Busan commitments, to coordinate at a regional level, to promote minimum standards around the enabling environment, and to begin implementing the Istanbul Principles.  At a global level, this meant developing a light global structure that would engage with the new GPEDC, continue to press our CSO Key Asks on the Road to Busan, and hold governments to account for their commitments.

But over the past four years, hundreds of organizations and constituencies have invested huge amounts of time, energy and identity into BetterAid and the Open Forum. While this work, and what we have accomplished, can’t ever been taken away, closing the doors on two organizations still seems quite final. It feels like we are ending two chapters before we know the conclusion of each story.  The past four years has also pitted egos, priorities and competing interests – and sometimes platforms – against one another. In the lead-up to Busan, the two platforms had held it together, but we still needed to come together. Nairobi, therefore, was an important conclusion to the often heated discussions of the last year and an effort at, as they say in Swahili, “pamoja” or “togetherness”. The Pamoja Declaration does this. It unites our collective vision, mission, principles and goals going forward (as well as key decisions reached), and finally launched the new CSO Platform for Development Effectiveness.

And so what does this entail? The Declaration itself can tell the story:

Our Vision

We envisage a world where respect for human rights, participatory democracy, social and environmental justice and sustainability, gender equality and equity, and decent work and sustainable change are achieved.

Our Mission

To promote development effectiveness in all areas of work, both our own and the work of others, including through active engagement with the GPEDC, we will be guided by a human rights based approach.

In order to develop a strong basis for CSO participation in the creation and realization of our vision, mission and goals for development, the CPDE will work with a strong focus to support country, sub-regional and regional, and sectoral civil society, combining this with the coordinated regional and global work on development effectiveness.  

To achieve this vision, we need to also address exclusion, oppression and removing structures of power that perpetuate injustice.

Therefore, we are committed to social justice approaches and mechanisms, to challenge unequal power structures, especially for women (such as by working towards a feminist approach), in order to achieve emancipation of excluded communities and people.”

“Our Goals

To realize our shared vision, we commit to work together in partnership on a global-scale in relation to development effectiveness and the GPEDC to achieve the following goals:

  • to pursue and advocate for a transformative agenda for development and development cooperation, informed by our guiding principles and a human rights-based approach to development that prioritizes gender equality, decent work, and environmental sustainability, as well as dignity, justice and improved livelihoods for all people living in poverty, including the most marginalized, victims of violence, and those with disabilities, and the full realization of human rights for all;
  • to protect and deepen policy gains made in Paris, Accra and Busan, and reverse any of the harmful provisions that continue to guide those three agendas;
  • to continue to advocate for development effectiveness in development cooperation policy and practice, in particular as it relates to the accountability of governments to the broader development effectiveness agenda, the Internationally Agreed Development Goals and to people;
  • to continuously work to improve our own effectiveness and the realization of an enabling environment for civil society as independent development actors in our own right.
These goals are informed by our CSO Key Asks on the Road to Busan, including those raised ahead of Busan by women’s organizations, the trade unions, and faith-based organizations; the Istanbul Principles and Siem Reap International Framework; and prior assessments of the Paris, Accra and Busan commitments.”

It is a tall order. But then civil society has never been short on ambition. We now need to focus on putting this into action, and perhaps above all, to truly coming together.

This blog was written by Fraser Reilly-King, Policy Analyst (Aid), CCIC. The views expressed are his own, and do not necessarily represent the views of CCIC or its members.

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