This week (13 and 14 June), together with the World Bank Institute and the European Commission, we will be meeting with emerging European donors to discuss the support they have received so far to develop their capacities for development cooperation, and plans for future support.
What are our thoughts going into this discussion? UNDP has been working with new partners in development cooperation in Europe for the past ten years, and it has been a fascinating learning experience. One that we think matters for the future of development cooperation globally.
What have we learned?
- We learned about the value of knowledge as an asset in development cooperation.
Many new donors in Europe carry a resource more valuable than assistance in the form of money. It is the specific, recent, hard won transition experience that is their main asset. So, with very modest funding, the emerging donor countries can add a lot of value, as in the case of UNDP-supported Slovak, Czech and Hungarian Trust Funds, as well as Slovakia’s public finance management programme benefiting Montenegro and Moldova or Romania’s work to share experience on elections with Egypt and Tunisia or Croatia’s recently launched efforts to share experience on European Union (EU) accession preparation with its neighbors. This means that we can achieve more with less, if the knowledge is right.
- We learned how powerful it is to connect countries in search of development solutions.
No matter how anecdotal, but the story goes: it took the Iraqi government several attempts to find a good partner to learn from on the subject of developing small and medium enterprises, as well as on social mitigation policies and measures accompanying economic reforms. A connection was forged between Iraq and Poland, and now there is a growing triangular cooperation programme between Iraq, Poland and UNDP. This is a model which Poland now seeks to scale up with UNDP support (in Myanmar, Egypt, and Kyrgyzstan), with a mutual benefit: finding real development solutions and fulfilling important international relations goals for Poland. And the number of possible connections is almost unlimited.
- We learned how important it is that state and non-state actors work together.
From ten years of supporting capacity building of emerging donors, we see the crucial role that development non governmental development organizations (NGDOs) and academia play as partners in implementing assistance projects, but they are also a valuable source of knowledge and expertise. NGOs such as FOND in Romania are key partners to governments and multilateral agencies alike in making development cooperation effective and sustainable. The private sector is another major partner, and we hope that the Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector in Development – a joint initiative of the Turkish International Development and Cooperation Agency (TIKA) and UNDP – launched last year, will contribute to a new wave of initiatives that promote constructive, bottom-line driven and impactful involvement of business in development.
- We learned how much professionalization matters.
The best outcome of any capacity building support in the area of aid management is a sustainable and well-functioning system, complemented by professional staffing.
UNDP is privileged to have supported the Czech and Slovak governments in creating their development cooperation agencies, which have institutionalized the unique assistance profiles of these countries.
In similar ways, we have been supporting Turkey’s International Development and Cooperation Agency (TIKA). Recent discussions on Turkey’s possible entry into the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is proof of how much progress has been made.
So, all in all, there are a wealth of experiences to learn from. In the past ten years UNDP has learned a lot from emerging European donors. And the emerging European donors can learn from each other.
Finally, what we learned can and should be useful as the international community is working on making the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation a reality.
Can global development cooperation become more knowledge driven, professional and inclusive?
What else is unique about emerging European donors?
How can multilateral partners, such as the World Bank Institute, UNDP and the European Commission, support effective development cooperation?