The DAC Development Debates (DDD) are hosted by the OECD Development Assistance Committee. These meetings allow the DAC, the Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD) and the OECD at large to exchange ideas with top development thinkers and practitioners. A diversity of topics are discussed, in particular topics where DAC/DCD intends to do upcoming work. DDDs are structured as follows: a leading development thinker presents his/her ideas on a topic and a high level development practitioner makes some comments based on the presentation before the floor is opened for questions and discussion. DAC delegates as well as DCD, Development Centre and other OECD colleagues are invited to attend.
- The innovation revolution and its implications for development, 27 May 2013
- Time to listen: Hearing people on the receiving end of international aid, 23 April 2013
- South-South Co-operation and how it differs from ODA - Views from India and Chile, 19 March 2013
- From data poverty to a data deluge? Statistical systems and evidence-based policy making in a post-2015 development framework, 21 January 2013
- SDGs and MDGs: How to combine in a post-2015 goals framework?, 22 November 2012
- Global public goods: A concept for framing post-2015 goals?, 31 October 2012
- New approaches to measuring poverty and well-being: The Multidimensional Poverty Index and the "How Is Life?" approach, 20 September 2012
- Two major challenges for post-2015 development co-operation, 4 September 2012
- What would it take to achieve the MDGs by 2015?, 11 July 2012
- New poverty patterns: Where will the poor live?, 13 June 2012
- The resurrection of aid, 22 March 2012
- Re-imagining development and development co-operation, 15 March 2012
The innovation revolution and its implications for development (27 May 2013)
Annemie Denzer from the German Development Bank Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau and author of their recently launched paper “Innovations in developing and emerging countries” led the 12th DDD on 27 May 2013. This report is based on in depth research on the on-going innovation revolution (mobile banking, e-governance, e-health, e-education). Ms Denzer explained that today’s important challenges – such as climate change, population growth, and poverty – call for innovative solutions. To make innovation happen and to best use innovations, several things are needed. First, we need to bridge the digital divide through transfer and adaptation of technologies. Second, we need to enable access to advanced, green technologies and help partners to adapt them to local contexts. Third, we need to activate and promote local innovation potential. Development co-operation can play an important role, for instance by supporting national innovation systems, by creating incentives for pro-poor innovations and by bringing together different actors.
Burkhard Gnaerig, co-founder and Executive Director of the Berlin Civil Society Center (BCCC), an international NGO which helps global civil society organisations improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their work, took a slightly different approach to the innovation revolution. He stressed that the development community has to face disruptive change ahead, resulting for example from technological change – e-banking, e-health, e-education – and from increased competition with private companies in the delivery of development services. All this requires radical rethinking. Mr Gnaerig also pointed to huge challenges in terms of overuse of resources and the approach or even overstepping of planetary boundaries. Unsustainable production and consumption patterns and lifestyles must give way to changes in policies, lifestyles and behaviours that make space for others and lead by example.
Time to listen: Hearing people on the receiving end of international aid about their perceptions of aid and their priorities regarding post 2015 goals (23 April 2013)
The 11th DAC Development Debate (DDD) looked at two very different processes for promoting the views of those on the receiving end of development co-operation. Dayna Brown, Director at the CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, presented Time to listen: Hearing people on the receiving end of international aid. The publication outlines evidence, ideas and experiences collected between 2005 and 2009 from 6 000 people including aid recipients, government and civil society representatives and aid workers across 20 countries. Ms Brown explained that the publication questions the way international assistance is organised, whether this makes sense, whether it is working as we intend it to at the grass roots level, and whether the effects are being felt by those it is directed towards. The evidence she presented indicates that rather than more aid, people want smarter aid. They recognise the need for changes so as to overcome the dominance and “procedure-aucracy” of donors, which involves a lot of waste. They also call for real ownership by civil society (e.g. “nothing about us without us”, versus the artificially created “project society”) in order to achieve more effective and lasting results; in this regard, new technologies are seen as holding important potential.
Claire Malamed, Head of the Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), presented the latest in global community thinking gathered through the online My World Survey. She explained that the results of this survey, led by the UN and implemented in co-operation with ODI and other partners, indicate that across age ranges, gender and Human Development Index (HDI) ranking, the top three priorities for the community are: a good education, better health care and honest and responsive government. In addition, climate change is given greater priority in countries with a higher HDI. By contrast, these countries rank support for those who cannot work as a much lower priority.
The discussion that followed compared these two community engagement processes to the “Voices of the Poor” project undertaken in the 1990s. It focused on lessons learned and the need to ensure that the voices of the South are not only heard, but actively incorporated into the on-going discourse on development policy and the post-2015 goals. DCD Director Jon Lomoy concluded that to achieve this, development co-operation needs to become more flexible and less risk adverse.
South-South Co-operation and how it differs from ODA - Views from India and Chile (19 March 2013)
On Tuesday 19 March the DAC hosted its 10th DAC Development Debate (DDD), looking at South-South Co-operation (SSC) – co-operation among economies of the global South – and how it differs from ODA. Although SSC is not new, it has undergone changes and increased in significance since it began decades ago with the movement of the non-aligned. SSC providers – such as India and Chile, whose views were presented in the debate – are increasingly important actors in development co-operation.
Dr Sachin Chaturvedi, Senior Fellow at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries in New Delhi, analysed the philosophy, context and rationale behind SSC. In this form of co-operation, he argued, both countries have responsibility for self-development; it is therefore fundamental that each country establish autonomous, domestic capacity for goal-setting, decision-making and implementation. Because the intent of SSC is to enable a country to progress on its own, knowledge and technology sharing have emerged as important mechanisms.
Dr Chaturvedi stressed that North-South Co-operation (NSC) and SSC are based on different values and motives. The concept of NSC originates from a commitment to altruism and is very much supply-driven, while SSC is rooted in mutual benefit and growth and is demand-driven. Furthermore, co-operation among the South is highly decentralised, less institutional, provided relatively quickly and generally free from conditionality. While NSC uses peer reviews and data compilations for monitoring and evaluating flows, SSC has no mechanisms in place beyond occasional data reports.
Carmen Dominguez, Deputy Permanent Representative of Chile to the OECD, described Chile’s circumstances – as a G77 and an OECD country – and position on SSC. She explained that Chile’s motivations for participating in SSC are economic development, regional stability and democracy. The main mechanism used by Chile is technical assistance on reforms, as other countries undergo sectoral reforms (for example, in the areas of education, gender equality, trade and investment) similar to those undergone by Chile.
As a country that has evolved from a recipient to a provider of aid, Chile’s development co-operation agency has experienced a major shift. The corresponding challenges, to which Chile is still adjusting, include retaining and retraining staff, accountability. In this latter regard, Ms Dominguez stressed the importance of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation as a forum for global co-operation.
The discussion that ensued focused on how to overcome the traditional North-South divide and make progress in constructing a global dialogue and governance approach (i.e. a “global compact”) that suits all. Common definitions must be found, bridges built, ideologies overcome, behaviours changed and co-operation redefined to raise the comfort level among countries from the South when engaging in dialogue with those from the North. Jon Lomøy, Director of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD), suggested that this could be achieved by placing a larger emphasis on common problems and common objectives.
From data poverty to a data deluge? Statistical systems and evidence-based policy making in a post-2015 development framework (21 January 2013)
Recent innovations in producing, processing and disseminating data present opportunities. “Big data” could be used to support early warning systems, for example, mining tweets to assess rainfall patterns or Google searches to detect spikes in illnesses. In many OECD countries, big data is already being used to produce price statistics and national accounts.
PARIS21 and the OECD/DCD co-hosted a DDD to consider these opportunities, as well as potential risks. Among the panel members – Mohamed Taamouti (Moroccan Statistical Office), Emmanuel Letouzé (Development Economist), Paul Schreyer (OECD Statistics Directorate), Isabelle Wittoek (Permanent Delegation of Belgium to the OECD) and Stephan Klasen (Göttingen University) – there was consensus that big data should complement official statistics, rather than provide an alternative. Despite the numerous problems that official data collection faces in developing countries, it offers more accurate, reliable and comparable information than big data, complying with international statistical standards. Participants stressed the need to make use of emerging technologies to strengthen official data. They also highlighted the role national statistical offices should play in quality control of data flows.
SDGs and MDGs: How to combine in a post-2015 goals framework? (22 November 2012)
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided the benefit of a universal development framework with clear and measurable development goals. Increasingly, however, the necessary inter-relatedness – e.g. of efforts to end extreme poverty with those directed at improving the environment and tackling global challenges such as climate change – has moved to the centre of development debates and discussions. The notion of a shared framework of global goals that includes sustainable development goals (SDGs) is emerging.
Through Brice Lalonde’s (Executive Co-ordinator of Rio+20) presentation it was clear that reaching a global agreement on SDGs may prove to be difficult. Environmental issues are especially difficult to tackle because of the resulting trade-offs. Mr. Lalonde stressed, however, the need to agree on sustainable production and consumption objectives, and to remain ambitious. Guido Schmidt-Traub (United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network [UNSDSN]) called for a simple, forward looking, inclusive, outcome-focused and politically feasible framework. This framework should bring together the MDG and SDG communities.
Global public goods: A concept for framing post-2015 goals? (31 October 2012)
This DDD deliberated the potential of using a global public goods (GPG) framework for post-2015 goals. Inge Kaul (Hertie School of Governance) suggested that a GPG lens is exactly what we need to frame the emerging global challenges. While retaining the focus on poverty, such an approach would re-conceptualise develop co-operation as the provision of global public good, offering a common understanding and language among the various communities. Addressing questions of practical application, Laurence Tubiana (IDDRI) indicated that for governance for global public goods to be successful, a GPG concept needs to address and work at diverse levels. It is important to identify collective preferences around global public goods to enable policy makers to see and make best use of the benefits and efficiencies of co-operation, especially in areas where interests are aligned. Participants highlighted that by fostering the provision of global public goods, multilateralism could help globalisation to become more stable and manageable, thereby providing benefits for everyone.
New approaches to measuring poverty and well-being: The Multidimensional Poverty Index and the "How Is Life?" approach (20 September 2012)
Poverty reduction is one of the core aims of development co-operation. But how can it be measured appropriately? For a long time, poverty was primarily understood as income poverty. Today, the discourse has shifted towards a broader and more inclusive understanding, with the debate increasingly framed as a question of well-being.
The sixth DAC Development Debate introduced two prominent approaches to measuring poverty and well-being: the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI); and the OECD’s How’s Life approach.
The MPI measures deprivation using ten indicators covering three dimensions (education, health and standard of living). Worldwide, 1.65 billion people are considered to suffer from multidimensional poverty (i.e. many more than those who fall below the 1.25 USD/day international poverty line). The MPI reveals the intensity of deprivation, which is not evidenced by income classifications. Another comparative advantage of the MPI is that it can be adapted nationally or locally to inform poverty reduction policies. According to OPHI Director Sabina Akire, Director of the OPHI, who presented the framework, the MPI is now used for national poverty measures by many countries around the world and could be used in a post-2015 framework.
The second instrument, present by OECD’s Chief Statistician Martine Durand, is the How’s Life index. This index measures people’s well-being in a much more comprehensive way, including eleven dimensions: three material living conditions plus eight quality of life conditions, including subjective well-being. Similar to the MPI, the index reflects the need to move from “treasure what you measure” to “measure what you treasure”, i.e. to go beyond GDP and income. The empirical evidence gathered so far shows that health, life satisfaction and education matter most to people in OECD countries and beyond.
Participants in the debate found that these approaches share the same challenges and theoretical approach, although they focus on different ends of the spectrum. Bringing them together into a universal measurement tool would allow for tailored national approaches and international comparability while broadening the lens through which poverty and well-being can be analysed. This would be extremely helpful in conceptualising a post-2015 development framework.
Two major challenges for post-2015 development co-operation (4 September 2012)
How “development-friendly” are non-aid policies? And are there ways of measuring “policy coherence for development” and financing for development? These were the topics on the table at the DAC Development Debate (DDD) on 4 September, based on two European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) reports. The studies argue that there is no central place for ODA in the future and that citizens around the world need more transparency about what really advances or hinders development in order to be able to put pressure on governments for global public goods. The first report proposes that to define an approach to evaluating “development-friendliness” of non-aid policies, countries must first agree on key concepts and objectives. While it is important to include emerging economies in the exercise, this involves technical challenges. An incremental, twin-track approach – starting with a DAC agreement on a set of objectives and indicators – could later become part of a global framework for development post-2015. The discussion also focused on the increasing impact of non-aid policies on development co-operation.
Likewise, non-ODA financial flows are becoming increasingly important in development, with the focus shifting towards the quality – rather than the quantity – of aid. More inclusive reporting on finance for development (FFD) will be a must in the post-2015 framework, which offers a window of opportunity to rethink reporting on FFD in order to incentivize a focus on development impact, as agreed at the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan.
What would it take to achieve the MDGs by 2015? (11 July 2012)
While it will be challenging, it is possible to achieve the MDGs given the right mix of good policies and financial sources. This was the premise of the fourth DAC Development Debate (DDD), on 11 July, based on the study “Can we still achieve the Millennium Development Goals? From costs to policies”. Jean-Philippe Stijns, the main author of the study, estimated that the cost doing so would be about USD 120 billion. Achieving the MDGs, however, is as much about political will and policies as it is about financing. Upgrades in the quality of public policies and institutions – with a focus on development effectiveness, tax collection, public expenditure and the investment climate – are fundamental. The MDGs, are too often thought of as “Millennium Donor Goals”, overlooking domestic and other resources available for development. Instead, all flows and resources should be taken into consideration – in particular private capital, South-South co-operation, remittances, private donations and domestic tax collection – as complements to traditional aid. At the end of the day, it is about ensuring that these resources and domestic policies contribute to sustainable, inclusive growth and social development. This implies the need for a co-ordinated approach to development, environment and climate change, and to balance the complex issues of global and national goals and targets.
New poverty patterns: Where will the poor live? (13 June 2012)
On Wednesday 13 June the DAC hosted its third DAC Development Debate (DDD). Centring on the theme New poverty patterns: Where will the poor live? the DDD discussed new data on the changing patterns of poverty, and how to handle it.
Andy Sumner of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) affirmed that about three-quarters of the world’s people living below the USD 1.25 poverty line now live in middle income countries (MICs), partly because many low income countries (LICs) have now become MICs. Growth has largely bypassed the poor in these countries. The shift in the geography of poverty comes with other important changes: pockets of fragility within otherwise stable environments and exclusion within contexts of general prosperity.
All of this has evident consequences for development co-operation. The proportion of ODA in overall future flows will diminish, while the emphasis on concessional lending, policy coherence for development and global public goods is expected to grow. ODA will remain critical, however, and the different objectives and instruments for different groups of countries will present additional challenges.
Looking beyond 2015, the challenges at hand are the following: ending global poverty by 2030, keeping inclusiveness at the core of development, expanding on Millennium Development Goal 8 to develop a global partnership for development, and shifting the focus from ODA to policies.
Jane Sautter of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) pointed out that while most of the poor may be in MICs, LICs have higher incidences of poverty, and deeper poverty. She recommended tailor-made solutions (i.e. pro-poor policies) for each national context, avoiding one-size-fits-all approaches.
Robrecht Renard (University of Antwerp) questioned the rationale for allocation of ODA, recommending that ODA be calculated per capita rather than per country. He asserted that ODA (accompanied by redistributive taxation) is important for reducing poverty, as is funding for global public goods, and ODA is also the instrument par excellence to make progress on policy coherence for development.
The ensuing discussion led to several conclusions on the policy implications of shifting poverty patterns, with a call to donors to:
- focus on the structure of growth and examine where ODA can be most effective
- pay attention to resilience and social security
- work with national as well as international poverty lines
- set the international poverty line at around USD 10/day (which would reveal that 10% of the global poor live in high income countries)
- focus on the multidimensionality of poverty
- agree on a multidimensional indicator for poverty (for example, the Multidimensional Poverty Index [MPI] developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Index [OPHI]) and change the country classifications accordingly
Jon Lomøy, Director of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD), concluded the debate by affirming that traditional aid (“compensatory ODA”) needs to evolve into “catalytic ODA”, with a focus on efficiency, rather than demand only.
Development Assistance Committee (DAC)
Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD)