Countries around the world have learned lessons from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in their efforts at alleviating poverty and ensuring overall development. The successes and failures of the MDG process should be the basis for the post-2015 development agenda. Out of eight MDGs, almost all countries missed one or more goals. Now the global leaders and experts are consulting and debating the post-2015 development agenda, with great potential to end poverty and to put the world on a sustainable pathway to progress. Their success will depend on how the lessons learned from the MDGs are harnessed and the new issues of global concern are addressed.
After a series of global consultation for over a year, a shared understanding has emerged that a strong sense of ownership and leadership, solidarity, cooperation and accountability must underpin the post-2015 development agenda. This can be supported by demonstrating the effectiveness of development cooperation and its ability to respond to the changing development needs. As some of the agenda of MDGs were missed because of lack of coordination and harmonized institutional mechanisms, a strong mechanism to work in unison among governments, civil society, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, parliamentarians, local governments and international organizations is imperative. The common agenda of the organizations must be to deliver sustainable development results and support an enabling environment for such outcomes.
It is not possible to make progress on the implementation of the ambitious 2015 common agenda without a global partnership. Adequate and long term financing will require pooling together of resources from global support and partnership. A mechanism to effectively monitor the different actors in the process and hold them answerable to their promises and pledges will be equally important to realize the goals. Another important lesson of MDGs is the lack of accountability -- there is no provision to ensure accountability in the process of implementation. Although the international donor communities have always preached that the concerned governments are accountable to the implementation, they were found to be without any major role in determining the funds and their allocation. The post 2015 agenda must place the national governments in the driving seat and make them accountable in the implementation of the goals. Nationally, similar kinds of confusion showed up. With several monitoring agencies, the implementation agencies had to give answers to all. There must be provisions that explicitly clarify the questions of accountability at the national level: whether the accountability lies with the line ministry, concerned department, local institution or whatever.
The challenge before the global leaders is how to engage the diverse range of development actors in a monitoring and accountability framework for development cooperation for the post-2015 era. Some of the issues of monitoring and accountability that could be considered for effective development cooperation in a post 2015 era are as follows.
Monitoring for Effective Development Cooperation
1.Global monitoring and accountability will require different stakeholders to be clear about their own roles and responsibilities within the various forms of partnership. Within the government, there are many ministries, departments, and other stakeholders. A country requires an adjusted framework for monitoring, which should be inclusive, effective and authoritative. A smart system for accountability should be designed. Effective monitoring and accountability must be the key features of a renewed global partnership for development. To secure a positive behavior change and compliance with commitments, various strands of accountability must come into interplay successfully.
2. Baseline data for the indicators at the project level or local level linking with national level should be established, while framing the monitoring framework. The data should be comparable within a certain time frame.Monitoring and evaluation plan should be the crucial part of each project.Statistical and other system capacity must be strengthened to support national monitoring and develop a robust baseline of information. Knowledge management and use of knowledge information for informed decision making process should be established. All actors should engage, on equal footing, in the design of the renewed global partnership for development, as well as its implementation and monitoring. Periodic evaluation engaging third party should serve as a crucial component of the M &E framework.
3. The partnership must serve to engage all partners and to mobilize political will. It must adequately reflect the common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities. Roles and responsibilities should be well defined to hold all actors to account for delivery on commitments they have made. Global commitments must be translated into country‐level commitments, as according to the needs of the country with specific targets to which all partners can commit through inclusive participatory processes. Country‐level commitments between the partners must be reflected in the main development planning and budgetary processes, in order to ensure implementation and end‐of‐the‐line accountability provided through parliamentary oversight. Southern partners in development cooperation have a shared interest in engaging in the shaping of a renewed global partnership for development.
4.To be transparent and transformative, the renewed global partnership should set qualitative and quantitative indicators. Universal high‐level indicators should cover qualitative and quantitative issues and ensure the development and adoption of baselines of each country individually. They should focus on quality indicators for social areas, inclusive development, innovation and technology and sustainable development. As such, the impact at national level could become measurable.
5.Targets are crucial, as they bear the possibility to change behavior if they are well formulated and have credible timescales. To be able to effectively monitor development activities, the number of targets should be reduced and complemented with qualitative descriptions. They should be individual in nature, and not apply to groups of actors, to ensure greater accountability.
6.Increasing complexity of monitoring processes, collecting good and reliable data has become even more important. Monitoring and accountability have to rely on robust and high quality data. This should be made available publicly, along with broad and inclusive information. For accountability to work in practice, transparency is imperative.
7.Existing frameworks for monitoring should be better utilized and streamlined, while ensuring local contexts and realities are taken into account. Establishment of parallel monitoring systems should be avoided. Focus should be on streamlining and adjusting the monitoring frameworks into one and using already existing and agreed indicators.
8. Country systems for monitoring and accountability should be further strengthened. Maximum country ownership could be achieved by working together on a common monitoring system, with focus on national priorities. Countries should be enabled to track developments as they occur and adjust or respond at a faster pace. For this to work, all actors would need to better use existing national systems.
Accountability for Effective Development Cooperation
1. The utilization of different developmentmodels most suited to the specific circumstances and conditions is crucial for the effective implementation of the post‐2015 development agenda. This will help to fully acknowledge the sovereignty of every country and to root development cooperation in each country’s short and long‐term plans and expectations as well as capacities.
2. National Parliament is a supreme body responsible to make and unmake the government. It sanctions annual budget and allocates the money necessary for the various programs. As it controls the executive, legislature can act as a critical link between executive branches of governments and citizens. With their mandates to oversee loan agreements and development cooperation as a whole, and their knowledge of citizens’ needs, parliaments have a critical role to play in promoting effective and accountable development cooperation and the implementation of the renewed global partnership for development. Genuine partnerships have to be built upon a common understanding, transparency and accountability. Some of the tools to be used for this purpose are peer review mechanisms and measures to tackle illicit capital flight and tax evasion.
3. Commitment of realizing 0.7 per cent of GNI as ODA must be fulfilled. The modalities, principles and conditional ties of ODA need to be revisited. They should become more comprehensive and serve as a catalyst for promoting trade, investment and technology transfer for development.
4. Accountability should aim at delivering results for people at country level. At the same time, these should be anchored in a global accountability framework. For accountability to be effective, it has to be tailored to country level needs. A wide range of issues has to be taken into account at national level, including the need for national frameworks, good coordination mechanisms, strong and independent institutions, consultations at local level and engagement of sub‐national authorities. Undertakings have to be understandable to all citizens, and thus include their specific environments.
5. Strong political will and leadership at all levels is essential for effective monitoring and accountability. Institutions need to be independent, yet well coordinated and financially strong. The main focus should be placed on capacity building and inclusiveness, especially at local level. Local governments should also be held directly accountable for their actions.
6. Peer review mechanisms work and are becoming prestigious. Partners have started to volunteer to be reviewed by program countries, resulting in a shift in power relations and putting the idea of mutual accountability into practice. Performance evaluation mechanisms could also be established, scoring partners on development effectiveness criteria. The rankings could be based on individual performance and total volume of development cooperation.
7. The global partnership for development has to be located in a global forum where all voices can be heard. A high level global monitoring and accountability institutions could be established with full autonomy, transparency, and ability to guide all nations as per their needs within the agreed framework. The Development Cooperation Forum will continue to serve as a hub for candid and inclusive exchange on these issues and could promote global accountability in the post‐2015 era by monitoring the renewed global partnership for development. It also provides the space for civil society organizations, the media and parliaments, which should be further empowered to play a greater role in monitoring and accountability.
Ghimire, Joint Secretary and Focal person of UNDESA, worked in National Planning Commission Secretariat, Government of Nepal. This article is based on his views expressed at DCF-High Level Symposium Berlin Germany from 20-21March, 2014. Ghimire was one of the lead discussants of the program. For more information on this forum and for Ghimire’s interview please visit the following link.