The Secretary General participated in the global meeting of the Policy Forum for Development in Brussels from 16 to 18 March 2015.
The meeting started with a preparatory meeting on 16 March in the morning at the Management Centre Europe (MCE). The preparatory meeting covered ways to increase support to PFD members through network consultation and research. The EU will work with task team members to select research topics and research experts and teams. The budget allocated for research is around 200,000 euros over 3 years period, which means 2/3 researches a year (at an average of 50,000/70,000 euros). It is expected that the topic for research will be explored.
The preparatory meeting further discussed the Finance for Development process. The process started with the UN conference on international finance discussions in Monterrey in 2002. This was followed by the Doha FfD conference in 2008 that took important steps on domestic resource mobilization and international tax cooperation. After the 2008 crisis, a UN conference was called to discuss the groundbreaking Stiglitz Commission report, which was adopted as a document for the General Assembly, but has been forgotten since. The report highlighted the transformational steps to be taken to tackle the systemic financial risks of the international financial order. Coming up is the Addis Ababa FfD conference from 13 to 16 July 2015.
The post 2015/SDG Finance also sets up expert recommendations on Financing Sustainable Development.
For the Addis Ababa FfD Jean Saldhana from Concord presented the 6 proposed priorities of the civil society Organizations 1. A new intergovernmental tax body; 2. Recognition of illegitimate debt; 3. Capital control and regulation of international financial flops; 4. Democratic scrutiny of Trade negotiations and capital controls; 5. More accurate information on ODA: targets, timetable, measurable real flows, additionnality; 6. Attention to systemic issues: financial reform, transparency and governance, membership reform of the Bretton Woods institutions; UN role in global economic issues with the creation of the UN Economic council, promotion of ownership and policy space for civil society in countries.
Edgardo Bilsky from UCLG explained that local authorities were not part of the debate from the beginning. The main doubt is about the need to increase the financial flows for Development and how these flows will reach the local level. Not leave anyone behind calls for a mechanism that allow grassroots people to access the funds, so that local communities are part. We need to include in the “element paper” to improve subnational inclusion in the FfD. The tax system should be decentralized to tap into the domestic resources. We call for a better sharing of resources and expenditure between the national and subnational levels of governance. Addressing the balance between different territories through territorial solidarity is also an issue, which is not reflected in the debate. The role of the Private sector in investment is very much volatile and concentrated in sectors with quick return, which is not always the case for basic services that respond to the needs of the local people and communities. The PPP should be serving more the communities. This is not been fully addressed in the debate.
Many conflicted issues are at stake for the Addis FfD conference: the 0.7 per cent commitment, the debt issue, the tax issue (tax evasion, tax avoidance, tax heavens, mobilization of national resources). The dominant debate links FfD to structural issues beyond finance, covering also on trade issues. Could we have recommendations to put on the table after the discussion on this issue? Maybe a way to influence is to use the major groups scheme to improve the dialogue among the players themselves and reach some common ground that can be validated.
On 17 March, the Policy Forum was officially open in an inaugural session where participants were welcomed by Mr. Fernando Frutuoso De Melo, Director General, DEVCO, and Chair of the PFD. He highlighted the role of PFD in nurturing the proposals of the EU commission towards a common joint EU institutions positions. The CSOs and LAs are key in representing a wakeup call for leaders. This platform is one of a constructive criticism to make progress to the creation of enabling environment for sustainable development initiatives. He cited the partnership between EU and associations of local authorities, and the roadmap for CSOs engagement as an illustration of the new openness of the EU Commission towards these key stakeholders. The new commission wants to initiate dialogue closest to the Citizen, as enshrined through the 2015 European Development Days. The EDD will be preceded by the Assises of Decentralized Cooperation organized under the auspices of the Committee of the Region.
Lotte Knudsen, director at the DG DEVCO facilitated the discussion of the inaugural panel.
Liga Andersone for the Latvia EU Presidency presented the need for a single EU voice and position. The Presidency’s conclusion on the post 2015 is important for putting forward the EU common position. The European Year for Development was launched in Riga in January 2015 and will be close in Luxemburg in December 2015. The focus is on the gender agenda and innovative financial agenda, revising the 0.7 target.
Stephen Auer, Director for Multilateral Relations and Global Issues, EEAS, EU Commission, introduced his address by reminding that 2015 is a crucial year for shaping the agenda for the future of the world. Will we be able to have sustainable development for all? There is need for a constructive dialogue, including in the means of implementation of the global agendas. Money alone cannot do a trick. Therefore, we need a more comprehensive transformative package and compact. The whole environment is changing, and the partnership should include as many stakeholders as possible to make the process more and more inclusive. Hence also the importance of good Governance and Rule of Law. Progress should be measured through appropriate indicators to provide information on the direction taken and performance in the delivery of the transformational agenda.
Jacqueline Moustache Belle for LAs welcomed the PFD as a clear headway in improving the interaction between key role players in the development agenda. She thanked the EU for this initiative and for the communication recently published on the means of implementation of the Post 2015 agenda. She commended the EU for having signed last January 2015 the framework partnership agreements with global and regional associations of local authorities. She thanked the EU for this initiative and for the communication recently published on the means of implementation of the Post 2015 agenda. She however regretted that this communication did not mention enough the role of LAs as a key stakeholder for the implementation of the Post 2015 agenda.
Jorge Balbis for CSOs insisted on the unique opportunity of the 2015 year for the future of the Human beings on Earth. We need commitments to make poverty history, to take an effective path towards sustainable Development and to implement these commitments effectively and efficiently. We have many challenges ahead, because beyond the tensions and debates, there are clear differences between countries on the way to reach the necessary agreements. As global citizen, we should be vigilant to hold the negotiators accountable on these commitments.
After the inaugural session, the PFD debated on the global scene around financing for development in the framework of the Post 2015 Agenda.
This session was open by a keynote speech by EU Commissioner Mimica who highlighted the role of PFD in inspiring the work of the EU. It is clear that the finance for development is one of the key mean of implementation of the Post 2015 agenda. The EU sets out proposals for monitoring. 3 core issues should be taken into account: comprehensiveness, universality, and multi stakeholder partnership. Only coherent policies attract financial resources for their implementation. Strengthening partnership will be one of the challenges ahead on the issue of financing development. Despite the crisis, the EU remains the main contributor of AID. EU contribution reached is 0.4 % GDP in 2014 from 3.5 % last year. The EU support the contribution of emerging Countries through South/South cooperation. Although the opinion is globally for the pursuit of development cooperation, more and more citizen are asking for the best use of public resources. The EU is in favor of blending public resources and Private sector resources to go to scale. But long term development relies mainly in internal resources in partner Countries.
Pedro Silva Pereira rapporteur for the European Parliament for Financing for Development said the Addis Ababa will be very important and risky conference. The preparatory process is key for Addis. We need a truly global approach to FfD. The Economic and financial environment has changed compared to the Monterrey conference in 2002. The meaning of shared but differentiated responsibility should evolve. In the debate, the expectations are that EU leads by example. The Council conclusion should recommit the 0.7%, present a credible timetable to reach this target, and define a monitoring mechanism in order to assess the realization of the commitment. ODA will still be important, but Addis should also address new issues such as tax cooperation, the alignment with Private sector. Is it good tactic to submit the concrete commitment by EU Countries with the commitment of others? A concrete proposal on the creation of an UN body for tax cooperation.
The debate was then introduced by Bruce Byers from ECDPM. He put forward some skepticism about number of goals on SDG, tendency to enter into the debate from the wrong hand, for example the climate debate from the consumption side and not enough on the production side.
Ms. Tove Ryding, Policy Manager, Tax Justice, EURODAD, reminded that the 0.7 was decided 20 years ago. The first FfD in Monterrey, Mexico, was about changing the financing system to enable the international community to address the issue of poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals. The Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) has identified 169 targets for SDG. The 0.7 was never achieved. Many countries have been reporting wrongly on the targets. The EU can play a key role to figure out the way to shape the new cooperation agenda. For instance, the EU would gain credibility through the promotion of tax cooperation (after the Swiss and Luxembourg Leaks). The assessment done by the Mbeki Working Group shows for example that due to tax evasion, Africa is a donor to the rest of the world. The Addis can unlock and democratize the debate on the global taking rules to hold every layer of society to account on its contribution to public taxation. Unfortunately, the way EU supports multinational private sector is bringing back the debt burden on developing countries, and the EU image is very damaged in that regard and weakens its negotiation position. To reconquer this position the EU would be better advised to come with very concrete proposals on the 0.7 target and the resolute position of taxation.
Hans Jansens, Mayor of Oisterwijk, Rapporteur for the Committee of the Regions and Spokesperson of Platforma, expressed the support to the EU communication on the means of implementation. He insisted on the need to involve the local authorities in the process. The communication did not enough insist on the role of local and regional authorities. The notion of territorial approach is not getting enough attention. Horizontal accountability and decentralized cooperation mechanisms should be also part of the mean of implementation.
On the mean of implementation, Claude Akpokavie, Senior specialist in Workers activities, ILO, pledged for social dialogue and negotiation as a golden mean of implementation to reconcile decent work and wages with productivity and competition. Private sector shall abide by international and national labour laws and regulation and not be left to their sole good will.
Sally Nicholson from WWF, member of the Concord financing for development Task Force presented a series of points on the financial and non-financial means of implementation. She said there is a lot of money in the world but it is not going in the right direction. Coherence of action should be also elevated as a mean of implementation. Innovative financial sources should refer to financial transaction tax, and should be in addition to existing resources. Among the innovation financial sources, one can also mention CO2 emission trading schemes. She recommended to go beyond GDP and to recognize the need to put into perspectives inequalities, climate change and environment protection costs. She insisted on the need for greater participation of all stakeholders in decision-making. Accountability is not only about holding government to account but also challenging all the actors who have to deliver, including multinational companies.
Ms. Aura Saldana, Mayor of Sabana de la Mar (Dominican Republic) for local authorities insisted on the need to localize the SDG agenda under the responsibility of local authorities. The issue of funding subnational governments should be among the means of implementation. There is a lack of transparency in the transfer of funds from central to subnational governments. In OECD 70% of investment is implemented by subnational governments, this far for being the case in developing countries. The PPP is referred at as a new remedy to shortage of public funds. But, it has had different outcomes from country to country. Also local governments do not always have the competences to negotiate with the private companies (which are most of the time multinationals)fair and balanced PPP contracts. Therefore, providing improved information on public infrastructure and service provision benchmarks, contractual arrangements, and provision performances to the local authorities should also be seen as a key mean for implementation, in order not to lose sight of the need for universal and affordable access for all.
On behalf of the international organization of employers Frederic Muia first welcomed the private sector engagement with the EU Commission. The International Organization of Employers (IOE) is the largest private sector regrouping in the world. At the private sector meeting organized in the fringes of the PFD, the representation at the meeting was quite good, with top delegates from the US, New Zeland, India and Africa. The meeting highlighted the need for enabling environment for private sector development, which include sound macroeconomic policies, good governance, and building credible employers’ organization to be the spokesperson for private sector in order to keep a balanced structured dialogue between the public and private sectors. The meeting touched on infrastructure, social and human capital. The mismatch between training and labour market should be addressed urgently. Of critical importance is also a lifelong learning to adapt to innovation and the changing environment.
The last session focused on CSO-LA Thematic program. This session was chaired by Ms. Rosario Bento Pais, Head of Unit.
Paul Renier, Deputy Head of Unit presented an update Multi-Annual Action Plan (MAAP) as follows:
18 call for proposals have been launched on Priority 1. On Priority 2, 5 framework partnership agreements have been signed with global and regional associations of local authorities; 1 direct award has been granted to Concord. A call for proposals has also be launched. On Priority 3 on DEAR, a call for proposals has also been launched.
Ms. Sifa Chigoye from Cooperatives Africa reported on the multi stakeholders meeting that took place on 1 & 2 December 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya. Two main recommendations were adopted: the creation of an African multi stakeholder secretariat, and the organization of the second Africa multi stakeholders meeting at the Africities Summit to be held in Johannesburg on 29 November to 3 December 2015.
Finally, Salima Chatilia mentioned the documents developed in the framework of the PFD: capacity4development website, consultation toolkit, monitoring and evaluation tool, and other support materials.
The next meeting of the PFD is scheduled on 24-25 June 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.