29 July 2015

MAYOWA JOEL, from Communication for Development Centre, Nigeria, writes about the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13-16 July 2015. Effective partnerships are vital for sustainable development financing, but just how effective are these partnerships?

Effective partnership: a vital condition for sustainable development financing

"The third International Conference on Financing for Development has come and gone leaving a sweet-sour taste. Regardless of how each stakeholder perceives the conference and its outcome, we all agreed it was critical for a new and transformative sustainable development agenda.

The Conference brought together high-level political representatives, including Heads of State and Government, Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation, as well as other relevant institutional stakeholders, civil society organizations and business sector entities. The outcome of the Conference was an inter-governmental negotiated and agreed outcome, which constitutes an important contribution to and support for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

The agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, was reached by the 193 UN member states in attendance and provides a foundation for implementing the global sustainable development agenda that world leaders are expected to adopt this September. The agreement, adopted after months of negotiations between countries, marks a milestone in forging an enhanced global partnership that aims to foster universal and inclusive economic prosperity and improve people’s well being while protecting the environment. The Action Agenda builds on the outcomes of two previous Financing for Development Conferences, in Monterrey, Mexico, and in Doha, Qatar.

Domestic resource mobilization is central to the agenda. In the outcome document, countries agreed to an array of measures aimed at widening the revenue base, improving tax collection, and combating tax evasion and illicit financial flows. Countries also reaffirmed their commitment to official development assistance, particularly for the least developed countries, and pledged to increase South-South cooperation. Countries also stressed the importance of nationally owned sustainable development strategies, supported by integrated national financing frameworks.

One vital condition for a well-financed development programme is effective partnership. At the national and global levels, there is an increasing quest for improved coordination and partnership within and across all sectors and partners involved in development programmes. Among other aims, this is to harness the comparative advantage of each partner to work towards effective and sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “This (Addis Ababa) agreement is a critical step forward in building a sustainable future for all. It provides a global framework for financing sustainable development.”  He added, “The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind”.

Effective partnerships between governments, sectors (intra and inter), civil society and other stakeholders are a prerequisite and vital element for sustainable development financing. Without it, any effort towards financing for development may not be successful. So the question is, how effective are the partnerships that are needed as the driving force for sustainable development financing and how can they be revitalized?

Effective partnerships will ensure the harmonization of various interests, improve coordination, planning and stakeholder engagement. They will help to harness the resources and comparative advantage of each partner, improve monitoring and accountability of programmes and help reach goals and targets. We can learn many lessons from the few existing global partnerships like the International Health Partnership and Related Initiatives (IHP+). Lessons from the success and challenges of these partnerships will be useful to build an effective partnership across all levels. Some lessons from IHP+ include: 

  • Better coordination of resources can deliver greater value for money and better results.
  • More can be achieved together than separately and being more inclusive can be effective.
  • The most pragmatic way to handle fragmentation is to get partners to align behind one sound country-led national health plan. 
  • Within development partner organizations, staff members need the incentives and the authority to work in a collaborative and coordinated manner at country level.
  • Partners need to focus on contribution, not attribution.

With improved partnership across all levels, I believe the process and outcome of the 3rd Conference on Financing for Development should be much better than the previous ones."

MAYOWA JOEL – mayowa@africadevelopment.org 

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