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This week governments will have a chance to renew aid cooperation

Traditional donor countries must respect the voices of new players
Traditional donor countries must respect the voices of new players

In Mexico later this week, governments from around the world will have the opportunity to renew a pledge to cooperate on aid policy. Will they take it?

Three years ago the governments of both aid sending and aid receiving countries, as well as various private sector and civil society organisations, met in South Korea. Their goal was to create a new framework of global aid cooperation based on the principles of ownership, alignment, harmonisation, mutual accountability and results. Of these, ownership was the most central, as it focused improving cooperation by empowering aid receiving countries to make their own policy choices on a host of issues.

Now the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) is set to meet again in Mexico at the end of this week. The Guardian newspaper reports that there will be representatives from around 161 governments and from hundreds of other organisations as well. The total number of delegates is expected to reach 1,500, and represents a key opportunity to improve aid effectiveness. This is a pressing concern for both donors and recipients, so all eyes will be on the decisions and debates that come out of this meeting.

Mixed reviews

A report by the GPEDC itself, identifies mixed results from the resolutions and agreements made three years ago. However, Justine Greening, Secretary for Development in the UK government and co-chair of the GPEDC, is confident in the impact that the partnership can have. She is adamant that the past momentum is not lost, and that all parties can agree on a set of measures that will ensure aid is used in the best possible ways.

Not everyone is so positive about the work that the GPEDC is doing. Some campaigners are critical of the progress that has been made towards important criteria, such as transparency. Talking to the Guardian, David Hall-Matthews, director of Publish What You Fund, said that all countries must "accelerate their efforts to publish high-quality aid data." Without this, he argues, it will be difficult for partner countries to plan effectively and contribute to cooperative efforts.

Changing political landscape

This current round of talks will also have to deal with a rapidly changing global political landscape. As fast growing countries, like India, China, Turkey and Nigeria, become more able to assert themselves in these high level debates, other countries will have to react accordingly. Dr Alex Shankland, an expert of rising powers in an international development context, says that traditional donor countries must respect the voices of new players in the development arena.

Talking to the Guardian, Shankland says these countries "are coming from their own historical tradition of south-south cooperation...and don't particularly see why they should sign up to someone else's way of doing things." Creating a truly inclusive dialogue about the different approaches to development cooperation will, therefore, be essential. Equally, he says, the emphasis on private sector involvement must not come at the expense of civil society organisations. Whether these talks succeed in their stated aims or go in an alternative direction, remains to be seen over the coming week.

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