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MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
NOVEMBER 2010 FEBRUARY 2011 PARTNERS
The global aid landscape has changed
dramatically in the 10 years since
the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) were first announced.
Those goals to halve global poverty,
overseen by the United Nations, were first
announced in September 2000.
Since that time the Paris Declaration, Accra
Agenda for Action and emerging partnerships
for development have reshaped the principles of
aid engagement. Most recently the global food
and financial crises have refocused attention on
many of the issues relating to poverty.
At the same time a debate has been
underway on the effectiveness of aid, including
methods for delivering and maintaining
development. At the extremes, this debate has
even questioned the validity of aid itself.
Yet at the heart of these changes, and central
to the debate on aid effectiveness, is the desire
to help the one billion people living in poverty
find sustainable pathways into a better life.
The Millennium Development Goals were
intended as a blueprint to halve poverty in the
15 years between 2000 and 2015. Established
through the agency of the UN, the goals link
bilateral aid efforts with a collective, multilateral
This strategy fundamentally shifted aid delivery
from bilateral engagement to greater integration
with the emerging forces of globalisation. It was
a recognition that people such as Samson and
Janet Sonia of Solomon Islands (see story on
page 22) or Ida Rosida of Indonesia (page 6) could
either become part of a globalised market-driven
world, or be excluded from it.
Besides establishing the goals, the Millennium
Declaration also signalled a shift from aid to a
focus on development as the most effective
means to eliminate poverty.
Much of the recent debate on aid
effectiveness has focused on this shift and
whether aid can catalyse development or
become a barrier to development.
Dambisa Moyo, an international economist
who writes on the macroeconomy and global
affairs, has been a leading proponent of the latter
argument. Her book, Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not
Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa,
details an argument relating to the inefficiency
of development aid for poor countries.
Aid can become, Moyo argues, a form of
economic dependency. "Over-reliance on aid
has trapped developing nations in a vicious
circle of aid dependency, corruption, market
distortion, and further poverty," Moyo states on
her website (www.dambisamoyo.com).
Rather than continue the provision of aid
to governments, Moyo argues for linking with
markets and through this, investment in Africa.
A first step towards changing the existing aid
dynamics was taken prior to the publication of
Dead Aid in 2009, through the Paris Declaration
on Aid Effectiveness.
The Declaration was developed at a forum
in Paris in February--March 2005. It articulates
the responsibility of developed and developing
countries for delivering and managing aid. Five
principles were developed:
1 Ownership: Partner countries exercise
effective leadership over their development
policies and strategies, and coordinate
2 Alignment: Donors base their overall
support on partner countries' national
development strategies, institutions and
3 Harmonisation: Donors' actions are more
harmonised, transparent and collectively
4 Managing for Results: Managing resources
and improving decision-making for results.
5 Mutual Accountability: Donors and partners
are accountable for development results.
Australia signed undertakings to align its aid
program with the Paris Declaration principles in
a number of countries and regions.
The overarching link between the focus on
equal partnerships, the MDGs, and arguments
to reduce aid dependency is the need to invest
in people to help them escape poverty.
That investment is not limited to a financial
outlay; it is offering all the world's people basic
human rights as the first step up from poverty.
Australia's new Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd,
articulated this case in a recent speech to the
Australian Council for International Development
"The MDGs are our best hope, and remain
so, for ensuring the forces of globalisation are
inclusive---for all of our human family, not
just part of it," Minister Rudd said. "Part of the
mission of any government committed to the
principles of social justice is to give a voice to
"And that is what Australia seeks to do,
in partnership with other countries of good
conscience, through our aid policy."
A feature of this changing landscape is the
development of partnerships operating within
or across regions and aligning these with
the Millennium Development Goals and the
principles of the Paris Declaration.
The MDGs combined with the more recent
global food crisis has spurred an increase in
aid investment. The Australian Government
is continuing to increase its Overseas
Development Assistance budget to 0.5% of
gross national income by 2015.
These changes have also created a new
dynamic in Australian aid engagement in the
region, from a focus on what could be provided
by Australia to a genuine partnership aligning
developing-country efforts with targeted
Australian aid. The focus of these partnerships
is the Pacific island countries (PICs), through the
Pacific Partnerships for Development.
Minister Rudd articulated this process in his
speech to ACFID. "While the Partnerships for
Development give the analysis and plans to
make progress towards the MDGs, the Cairns
Compact on Strengthening Development
Coordination gives the PICs and Australia the
tools to put these plans in place," he said.
"By putting the PICs in the driver's seat in
their relationship with development partners
and providing the mechanisms for better
coordination among development partners,
again Australia's objective is to enhance aid
"The Cairns Compact was agreed by Pacific
leaders at the 2009 Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns
A shifting landscape
The way Australia participates in global aid and
development efforts is shifting as the countdown
to achieving the Millennium Development Goals
spurs the formulation of new global strategies
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