ODA in the Broader and Changing Financing for Sustainable Development Landscape

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IBON International Executive Director Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo delivered the following intervention at the dialogue between the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)-Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and civil society organisations on 19 June 2023.

CSOs believe that development cooperation and, more specifically, the quality and quantity of official development assistance (ODA), plays a unique role in supporting the national and global efforts towards the realisation of Agenda 2030. Recurring global challenges are exemplifying the resilience and countercyclical role that effective, concessional funding can play, especially in the most vulnerable countries.

Unfortunately, recent reports show that donors are missing targets on overall ODA levels, especially those going to countries that rely on ODA the most. In this time of multiple, interconnected crises, development financing and ODA resources are not enough to meet sustainable development financing needs, and suffer under immense strain of being pulled in many directions.

Take, for example, the distinction between ODA, humanitarian and climate finance:

CSOs have long argued that it is a human rights obligation of all states to receive refugees. Now many aid providers spend development budgets domestically to cover refugee costs, thus inflating aid and reducing vital resources for people living in poverty globally. In-donor refugee costs have risen considerably over the past decade and are expected to peak this year at an all-time high due to the war in Ukraine. In some cases, these costs have directly displaced aid that would have otherwise gone to the global South.

Climate finance commitments remain unmet and encroach into ODA budgets. As the climate emergency continues its devastating impacts on people living in vulnerable situations, additional climate finance is an urgent need that fails to find an adequate response.

CSOs observed that the rules on how ODA is counted have changed and are at odds with its original purpose. This slow erosion of rules can be seen with the agreement on the reporting of debt relief as ODA in 2020 and the agreement to report in-excess COVID-19 vaccine donations as ODA in 2022, among others.

ODA figures for 2022 have shifted significantly away from developing countries that are dependent on the resource. The main objective of ODA, by definition, is to promote “economic development and welfare of developing countries.” But some donor policy frameworks forward “national interests” and other strategic objectives.

How can we safeguard ODA so that it is only used to support development in developing countries where it is needed most? How can we safeguard the integrity of ODA when  donors put forward other objectives in their policy frameworks?

It is our hope that in our dialogue, we move closer to answering these questions. #