Global alliance warns of no end to poverty unless countries pull together

Global alliance warns of no end to poverty unless countries pull together

Mexico City


The fight to end poverty is at “a critical juncture” and will require greater collaboration and stronger political will, delegates at a high-level meeting in Mexico have warned.

The first meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC), which ended on Wednesday, called for the alliance’s disparate members to work together more closely if the targets set at a meeting in Busan almost two-and-a-half years ago are to be met.

Although delegates hailed the meeting as a successful reaffirmation of the partnership’s commitment to increasing transparency, boosting country ownership and untying aid, they were blunt in their appraisal of the challenges ahead.

“The possibilities for human development are immense and we have at our disposal the means to end poverty at global scale in the course of one generation,” said the communique issued at the end of the two-day conference in Mexico City. “But to achieve this, we must muster our political will for bold and sustained action for shared development, improved gender equality, and the promotion and protection of human rights.”

The partnership, which brings together aid donors and recipients, emerging economies, civil society organisations, private sector companies and foundations, has pledged to try to eradicate poverty through better co-operation.

While its establishment was billed as a sea-change in development thinking and practice, recently the GPEDC has been accused of failing to live up to its aspirations. This month, the partnership’s own progress report noted that much more needed to be done to improve transparency, country ownership and accountability.

The communique – which recognised the pressure to generate “tangible results” – stressed the importance of south-south co-operation, the need for the proper mobilisation of public and private domestic resources, and acknowledged that a more flexible development approach was required for middle income countries (Mics).

Affording countries Mic status on the basis of income-per-capita, it said, failed to take into account the litany of problems they faced, such as inequality, climate change and vulnerability to natural disasters, as well as economic shocks and institutional weakness.

The communique also noted that Mics were home to the largest number of people living in poverty in the world. “Global development co-operation would not be effective if support to them were to be phased out,” it said.

Justine Greening, the UK international development secretary – who co-chairs the GPECD – said the meeting had underlined the necessity for greater transparency and for getting all partners talking.

“I think we’d like to see civil society engaging with the private sector and organisations like DfID [Britain’s Department for International Development] to find that common ground that we can work together on,” she said. “There is a common agenda there but it’s going to take people coming together if we’re going to unlock the opportunities.”

Among the 38 new initiatives launched at the conference were “concrete commitments” to strengthen tax administrations in developing countries to ensure they keep more of their own money, and guidelines to help the philanthropic sector engage with governments and others.

Oxfam welcomed the renewed commitment to the spirit of the Busan agreement, but said it was time for action.

“Southern countries are moving forward to make progress to end poverty; donors need to catch up in implementing their commitments,” said its Mexico director, Carlos Zarco. “Donors must act to disclose aid data, work through country systems to strengthen them, and fully untie their aid. Ultimately, this is a question of political will: are donors ready to step up to the challenge, and take action to change how they do their business?”

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