13 November 2009

Ways to Make Development Aid More Effective Discussed At Vienna Symposium

VIENNA, 13 November (UN Information Service) - More than 150 participants from government, multilateral organizations, aid agencies, civil society, parliamentarians and academia have been meeting in Vienna for a High-level Symposium on "Accountable and Transparent Development Cooperation: Towards a More Inclusive Framework". The symposium is part of the preparations for the next Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) to be held in New York at the end of June 2010.

Addressing the meeting via video message, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, said that Austria shared the goal of wanting to make development assistance more effective. In view of the recent financial and economic crisis he said it was more important than ever that commitments were met. He also stressed the importance of promoting gender equality and said the empowerment of women was crucial for the development process of any country.

The ECOSOC President Sylvie Lucas also called for special attention to be paid to gender equality as well as considering the impact of climate change, the financial crisis, the food crisis and south-south cooperation.

The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang said the theme of the symposium was an issue of the highest priority for the DCF: "Building a more inclusive framework for accountable and transparent development cooperation should serve to increase the quality and impact - and thus the effectiveness - of development cooperation." Mr. Sha said the concept of mutual accountability offered a way for programme countries to hold donor countries to account on the commitments they had voluntarily undertaken. There were some mutual accountability mechanisms in place now but overall the voice of developing countries had not yet been heard sufficiently, he said.

Also speaking at the opening of the Symposium for Civil Society was Ruth Picker from Global Responsibility- Austrian Platform for Development and Humanitarian Aid who said that mutual accountability was about accounting for our actions and taking issues seriously and it needed strong civil society to do this.

Senior policy-makers from developed and developing countries, including several Ministers have been participating in the Symposium as well as representatives of civil society, parliaments and local governments. As many as 11 parliamentarians participated which is an important step in supporting greater participation of these officials in the DCF. Discussions have focussed primarily on the responsibilities of donors and recipient countries (mutual accountability) in development cooperation; ways to make aid more predictable and less volatile, ways to increase the involvement of civil society in the oversight of aid and how to enhance the impact of aid in serving the poor, including making development cooperation more accessible.

The event has been organized around eight sessions with country-based case studies, panel discussions and interactive dialogue, addressing the some of the following topics: (i) Promoting mutual accountability mechanisms at the global and regional level; (ii) Mutual accountability reviews at the country level; (iii) DCF Stakeholder consultations on global and national mutual accountability and aid transparency; (iv) Strengthening international aid transparency and information-sharing. Specific sessions will also be devoted to improving information on south-south cooperation and the role of aid policy coherence.

The two-day symposium is the first of several meetings planned in the run up to the 2010 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) biennial Development Cooperation Forum, a body tasked to review trends in development cooperation and improve coherence in the activities of various development cooperation actors.

At a time when the economic crisis puts development cooperation and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at risk, the DCF can help mobilize countries to scale up and make more effective use of aid in order to reach the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.

Meeting proceedings, summaries, and other official documents - are available through: http://www.un.org/ecosoc/newfunct/dcfvienna10.shtml


About the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

ECOSOC is the principal United Nations body for coordinating and reviewing economic and social policies, providing advice and fostering dialogue on development issues. The biennial Development Cooperation Forum, which was mandated at the 2005 World Summit, discusses issues relating to effectiveness and coherence - and provides policy guidance and recommendations on how to improve the quality and impact of development cooperation.

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For more information, contact:

Newton Kanhema
UN Department of Public Information
Telephone: (+1-212) 963-5602
Email: kanhema@un.org

Anne Thomas,
UN Information Service Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5588,
Email: anne.thomas@unvienna.org

Paul Simon,
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Telephone: (+1-917) 367-5027
Email: simonp@un.org