From ‘Assistance’ to Cooperation and Partnership :Policy Options

The countries we help through international assistance are no longer just recipients, but partners in a global mission to meet sustainable development goals.

September 20, 2016. published in ‘Policy Options’. 

The global economic crisis of 2008, and the stagnation and political crises that followed, have made us acutely aware that our future can no longer rely on relationships with other developed countries. The North (basically OECD countries) and the South (developing countries), rich and poor, must increasingly cooperate.

Our vocabulary and thinking is changing. We are moving beyond what we used to call “assistance,” the charitable response of richer nations to global poverty, to something less paternalistic. We now talk of “development cooperation.” Today’s assistance is multifaceted, and includes more than just financial and technical aid. It can include preferential tariffs on goods from the least­developed countries (LDCs); tweaking the legal frameworks defining what constitutes a refugee; and adjusting intellectual property rules to allow for preferential transfers of technology to LDCs. Development cooperation also encompasses a topic that is particularly hot today: fair payment of taxation by foreign investors, for example, a Canadian mining company operating in a poor African country.

As the federal government reviews its international assistance policies, it should be guided by this evolving vision of development, with financial aid as just one component. The UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development will shape how the government approaches cooperation, seeing the countries it assists as partners in a collective mission to alleviate poverty, rather than mere recipients.

Building relationships through partnerships and enhanced development cooperation

Looking ahead, for political, commercial and security reasons, Canada will need to engage with a more complex array of actors. Some of these countries will be very poor. Our trading and investment partners are as likely to be emerging developing economies as they are familiar OECD countries. The BRICS and other middle­income countries (MICs) are already competing with the United States and other G­7 nations as economic actors. They are reshaping global markets as suppliers and buyers, sometimes as equity investors. The economies of these countries are growing much faster than ours is, even during this extended period of economic stagnation. Today’s BRICS superstar is India, which, despite its 300 million poor, is now growing at about 7 percent per year — faster than China.

 

Critically, more and more developing countries, even the poorest, are changing socially: they are more democratic, and their populations are better educated, with growing expectations of enhanced well­being for their sons and daughters. These expectations are often frustrated by Northern unwillingness to share old privileges and power that have been jealously guarded since the Second World War. One symbolic battlefield is around fairer, more representative governance of global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. The battle, often driven by the BRICS, has led to the creation of several parallel global financial institutions. One recent (2015) dramatic step was the creation by China of its US$50 billion+ Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank. We saw most major European countries rushing to join as founding contributors, despite very public US objections. Canada belatedly asked China if it could join, after stalling for months under US pressure.

These rapidly changing power relationships between Southern and Northern powers yield a key message: Canada, as a middle power that was substantially absent from the global dialogue for a decade, has a lot of catching up to do. We need new friends, new partnerships in the world.

Obvious candidates are the BRICS, notably China, India and Brazil; but there are also emerging lower­middle­income developing countries (LMICs) such as Ghana, Vietnam, Indonesia, even Egypt or Nigeria. These and other nations could soon be important trade and investment partners for Canada. Of course, old neighbours and friends in the OECD and the G­7 will still be important, but they won’t be enough. Indeed, some of them are already ahead of Canada in building their own new South­facing partnerships.

An enhanced development cooperation approach is a key entry point, a place where we can build relationships and demonstrate our merit as a good partner, to show mutual respect and build trust. However, such partnerships require more than a 24­hour drop­by trade mission, with Canadian politicians desperately searching for a few deals to sign. We need sustained engagements on the ground, over decades, sharing in the struggles of partner countries to end poverty.

Canada was such an engaged partner for many decades. CIDA was the vehicle for our development cooperation activities since the late 1960s — activities that were seen as innovative (the first to provide funding for multiyear programs, rather than individual NGO­led projects) and generous (our aid level peaked at 0.54 percent of GNI in 1975 under Pierre Trudeau). But our leadership presence slowly faded, first from the austerity measures under the Chrétien government, then from the very ambiguous engagement of the Harper years, when our credibility as an innovative donor decreased. Programs became more politicized, and budget cuts sent overall international assistance to a low of 0.23 percent of gross national income (GNI).

But who now should be the beneficiaries of our development assistance? The 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development’s core target is to eliminate extreme poverty. The extremely poor population largely resides within the LDCs. Unfortunately, the Harper era saw a distortion toward countries that were considered political or commercial favourites, rather than toward the LDCs. Looking forward, the poorest, still numbering about 1 billion, are in two overlapping country groupings. These are the 48 UN­listed LDCs and some 20 “fragile” countries that are vulnerable and conflict­-afflicted, such as Haiti. An updated list of countries of focus for Canada is urgently needed, and it should consist mainly of LDCs and the ‘fragiles’. Our funding for LDCs should meet the UN aid target of 0.20 percent of GNI.

 

Aid focused on the poorest will meet our commitment under Agenda 2030’s signature principle of “No ­One Left Behind.” However, it does not preclude development cooperation with a few middle­ income countries with whom Canada has important strategic or historic ties, such as the Caribbean states. For them, there could be customized agreements, partnerships or actions that do not require diverting scarce aid. These could focus on arrangements around trade, investment, technology transfer and fairer taxation. They could include possible new cooperation instruments that seek to help engage the private sector, or so­called “triangular cooperation”: innovative aid projects involving partnerships between Canada, a new developing country donor such as Brazil or China, and an LDC or other poorer country.

The 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development as our guide

The universality principle embedded in the preamble of Agenda 2030 brings development cooperation into the heart of Canadian domestic policy. It means all countries, developing and developed, are committed to the same goals as core economic and social performance targets. It is Canada’s statement of global solidarity. This “obligation,” essentially putting Canada on equal footing with developing nations, was once seen as an unacceptable intrusion by former Conservative foreign affairs minister John Baird.

There is a synergy between many of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Trudeau government’s core domestic policy commitments such as working toward gender equity, tackling neglect of our Indigenous population and fighting climate change. This synergy is being taken very seriously as a domestic policy mandate by many Western countries. Already the leaders of Germany and Finland have made full public presentations in the UN on their “whole of government” governance structures for SDGs. Canada has been slower to act, and we have yet to announce our plan. Logically it should be driven by a powerful office that reports directly to the prime minister, and coordinates and monitors activities in partnership with the provinces and territories.

Canada is now in the middle of a complex consultation, seeking new thinking on how to be a better development cooperation partner. Drawing upon Agenda 2030, there are easy­to­select thematic priorities such as gender equity, climate change and poverty elimination. But the real challenge is how we frame and implement the new programs. The rules of the game have changed. Under the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness, recipient countries should be in the driver’s seat. Partnership is becoming the new norm of international development cooperation. We need to learn how to work differently: it is not a federal department’s choices but the recipient’s stated priorities that should dictate the framework for development cooperation. To this end we will need new cooperation strategies that are prepared jointly with our partner countries. Such strategies should be built around stable four­ to five­year budget commitments.

 

All this means we need to recognize the many practical challenges confronting Canada’s aid officials and partners like civil society organizations. We could start by reclaiming the name CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency), the brand recognized by ordinary Canadians and our partner­ recipients. Global Affairs Canada staff involved in implementing development programs need empathetic senior managers who understand that some of the most effective work is inherently risky. Tidy goals set in Ottawa often fail to internalize the challenges of working in another continent and culture. Finally, the government requires staff who are working closely with their clients on the ground. This requires decentralization — Global Affairs’ development assistance teams working out of our embassies with delegated authority.

As long as they are generous, and delivered effectively and with commitment, our development cooperation programs in the least developed and middle­income countries can be key to the future economic and political partnerships Canada needs as a middle power in a troubled world.

URL:  https://jsinclair43.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/from-assistance-to-cooperation-and-partnership-policy-options/

 

John Sinclair.    September 20, 2016

Universality and the SDGs- what’s good for the goose

What’s Good for the Goose: Universality and the SDGs

McLeod Group Blog, June 1, 2015:  John Sinclair

Universality – the idea that certain norms should apply to all countries alike – is a crucial feature of many aspects of international life, from the United Nations Charter to the Declarations of Human Rights. Still, the idea that wealthy nations should be submitted to the same standards as poor ones can be a surprisingly touchy political subject. The latest example is the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are the successors to those simple, easy-to-understand Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire at the end of 2015. The MDGs centred on core social issues: poverty, basic education, maternal health and child mortality – simple, but seriously lacking in their comprehensiveness.

In September 2015 global leaders, including a hesitant Mr. Harper, will sign off on the UN’s Post-2015 Agenda. The centrepiece will be the SDGs, which apply to everybody, wherever they live. Unlike the MDGs, they are not targets designed by rich donors for poor recipients.

Universality in the SDGs has strength as a statement of solidarity, of rich with poor, of donor sharing with recipient. However, universality is not without its technical complications – for example, how can the same health target be used for Chad and Canada, yet still be a challenge for both? For some in Canada, universality has also become sensitive politically. To put it crudely: ‘How dare the UN try to judge us, a G7 country?’

In a globalized world, we need a universal agenda. The SDGs are that agenda, framed against three dimensions of sustainability – social, economic and environmental. They embrace a universe of challenges: ending extreme poverty; water for all; safe and sustainable cities; promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, with justice for all.

The new ‘universal’ targets will be voluntary. Each UN member-country will set its own targets for each SDG. This is a kind of global democracy at work. It also reflects the frustration of the less developed countries, who feel they were set up for failure by the old MDGs, which ‘imposed’ impossible targets. This humiliation was compounded by the failure of donors to deliver the financial and technical support needed by the poorest to reach those goals.

What does this all mean to Canada? As universal targets, the SDGs concern ordinary Canadians as much as Brazilians – safe births, cities without pollution and justice for everybody. Of course, solidarity involves effort, such as new funding for a neglected Statistics Canada to help collect more comprehensive data at home.

Instead, by refusing to engage actively, we have had little impact on the specifics of setting international goals, and the Harper government has had many moments of angst about the idea of universality, insisting that such rules simply cannot apply to a country like Canada. Conservative ministers say they have had enough already of busybody UN special rapporteurs coming to Canada and daring to tell us that we neglect, sometimes abuse, our indigenous people or our prison populations. In 2012, Minister Jason Kenney didn’t mince words in response to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food’s concern with hunger in Canada, stating: ‘Canada is one of the wealthiest and most democratic countries in the world. We believe that the UN should focus on development in that the UN should focus on development in countries where people are starving’. We see another example of this evasive attitude towards universality in the Harper government’s refusal to set meaningful Canadian climate-change targets ahead of this year’s UN environment summit.

The same government pontificates on the importance of accountability in multilateral fora, insisting upon tough reporting regimes for developing countries. However, when it comes to Canadians, the government seems to say that international goals are not applicable to us.

Universality is seen in Europe and even in the US as a positive thing, as an act of global solidarity, as well as an opportunity to promote international goals by acting first at home. Universality should also be seen by our blinkered government as a helpful mechanism to encourage emerging economies to share global roles that Western countries have assumed for decades – the provision of development assistance, for example. Solidarity with old OECD colleagues is not enough. As Canadians, we should worry that our government’s egocentric behaviour regarding the SDGs will leave it evading some of its shared responsibility for tackling global poverty, and at the same time discouraging others from doing so.

Not least, ordinary Canadians have to be puzzled as to why a wealthy society such as ours would not wish to accept bold international targets that might also do some good for our own most vulnerable citizens.

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What’s Good for the Goose: Universality and the SDGs

Global Partnership ready for Action?

Posted on CIPS site, Ottawa University. Feb. 25, 2015

Link: http://cips.uottawa.ca/is-the-global-partnership-ready-for-action/

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation was born at a global conference held in Busan, Korea in 2011 to confront concerns that old-fashioned aid (ODA) was not working. Billions were being spent and the Global South’s poor and vulnerable remained frozen in their fate. Grant aid had to be understood as a necessary but not sufficient condition. Out of the Busan conference came a more inclusive concept, Development Co-operation, embracing elements such as trade, private sector, human rights and environmental sustainability.

Western donors, including Canada, had warily signed on to another part of the answer, ‘country ownership’, which implies that aid succeeds only when programs are designed and implemented by the beneficiaries rather than being imposed by outsiders. Another set of actors, the BRICS and other emerging economies, has now entered the donor arena as well as being seen as the West’s saviour from the worst impact of the global financial crisis. The past decade has seen them become a major force in development co-operation.

The presence of these new actors provided both an opportunity and a geopolitical challenge for the Global Partnership (GP) as a bridge between industrialized North and emerging South. But moving on is proving complex and demanding. The GP has not failed, but success is far from sure.

A key opportunity is almost ready for prime time: this September will see enactment of the UN’s Post-2015 Agenda, the principal goal of which is a world free from extreme poverty. The GP has made a substantive contribution to the implementation of Post-2015 its prime objective.

The GP’s first High Level meeting, hosted in April 2014 by Mexico, had 1500 participants: old donors, new providers, an increasingly differentiated array of recipients, civil society organizations (CSOs) and not least the private sector. The stakeholder-mix wins a prize for inclusiveness, but is still far from being successful effectiveness. Indeed, in a crowded field of competing actors, elements of a surprisingly more assertive UN system are challenging the GP on relevance. Some in the G77 (the UN caucus of developing countries) see it as lacking legitimacy and being just a revamped OECD donor instrument.

2015 will be a challenging year for the GP under its new co-chairs, the Netherlands, Mexico and Malawi, who are working with a very modest support team of officials from the OECD and the UNDP. The next six months will see the GP trying to establish its credibility as an organization that can deliver innovative support on the ground and transform from talk-shop to delivery vehicle.

But many of its members worry that the GP still has too little depth. It is fine to hold conferences and regional workshops, but the ultimate test is whether Southern partners see relevant and credible action that helps brings poverty-reducing programming and better governance at the local level. Trust was reported as a shaky commodity inside the GP, yet is essential for success. CSOs who clapped at Busan when they were formally recognized as independent development actors now grumble at being often excluded on the ground.

The key breakthrough–engaging the new emerging countries—has not happened. They do not even contribute to set-piece global meetings, except via the occasional junior official sent as a note-taker. GP thinking is still dominated by OECD countries who seem hesitant to share or boldly step forward. Equally wary ‘new’ donors see no real merit in taking up the challenge because they see no real partnership on offer.

The time frame is getting tighter, with September set for the Post-2015 Agenda Summit sign-off in New York. In July, GP member donors, Canada included, must find the will to reach consensus on how to pay for the implementation of Post-2015 at the UN global conference on Financing for Development. They are hoping to finesse this by talking of ‘innovative financial mechanisms’—which significantly means diverting scarce grant ODA to subsidize quasi-commercial lending to ‘leverage’ a stronger role for private foreign investors.

Any resolution will be a hard sell. These are hard times for OECD countries. Low-income developing countries are also wary, even if impatient to get back on the growth ladder. They know they need to raise more resources domestically, but they also need a bigger share in assured increases in grant aid (especially given that most of the proposed ‘innovations’ seem likely to only benefit middle-income developing countries rather than themselves).

Are too many eggs being placed in one rather shaky basket? Most private companies, even the big multinationals, do not see ‘pro-poor development’ as their thing, wanting open markets and more opportunities for profit. Canada’s Harper government seems more confused than most: it essentially wants already-diminished grant aid further diverted in order to facilitate Canadian commercial interests.

So what more can one hope for from the GP beyond better monitoring systems or small pilot programs called Voluntary Initiatives? To be relevant to the remaining billion poorest and to Post-2015, these initiatives need to be quickly scalable.

The GP contains the powerful donors of the North, but they are not adequately exercising the leverage of which they are capable. To succeed, they must demonstrate their commitment to partnership starting with high-level dialogue with key new donors and leading partner countries. The Partnership is only just now getting its troops together, (including the senior officials who still effectively shape the agenda of the World Bank and other multilateral institutions) to sell the practical merits of an effective Global Partnership.

Time is running out to make the partnership concrete. Hesitant steps, worse a stumble, could leave the GP unable to deliver its now core mission of becoming a key partner in implementing the Post-2015 Agenda.

Global Partnership – ready to broaden its mandate?

Global Partnership for Effective Cooperation

Updated for a global audience in February 2014 on Global Partnership/GPEDC blog site ; original published by CIPS on September 4, 2013.

 John Sinclair, Distinguished Associate, North-South Institute, Canada.

Global Partnership – ready to Broaden Its Mandate?

Partnership, especially global, has to be a good thing. Many saw the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation as a last-minute compromise reached at the 2011 Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea, but the Global Partnership’s first High Level meeting in Mexico on April 15-16 is the opportunity to prove its mettle.

The question remaining is whether the Global Partnership can evolve into a leading element in the new global architecture on sustainable development or risks remaining just a slightly enlarged, post-Busan technical forum.

The Global Partnership was conceived as a bridge, political as well as technical, between North and South. However for it to function, Western donors must find common cause with new development actors from an invigorated South such as China, India and Brazil. They must also respect country leadership from increasingly diverse recipient-partners ranging from lower-middle-income Vietnam to highly vulnerable Haiti.

“A Global Partnership linked ministerially to the G20, but also well co-ordinated with the UN, could be a win-win solution for development effectiveness.”

While the Global Partnership continues to find its feet, North and South are moving ahead on the Post-2015 Agenda, the stage beyond the Millennium Development Goals. Building upon his High-Level Panel and extensive consultations, the United Nations’ Secretary-General has proposed to build a consensus around two main objectives: the global elimination of extreme poverty and a set of sustainable development goals linking economic growth, social justice and environmental protection. The UN’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is accelerating its work to frame these new goals later in 2014.

An enhanced Global Partnership could play a more engaged role in building that consensus. A modest first step is already happening. The Global Partnership is informally extending beyond monitoring post-Busan performance to a role in helping frame the Post-2015 Development Agenda. But its leadership is still wary, focusing for now on their first High-Level Meeting.

Today’s Global Partnership, with its tripartite ministerial leadership from the UK, Indonesia and Nigeria, works through a committee of 15 international ‘worthies’, selected, with what some might see as only partial legitimacy, to reflect views from different country groupings, international organisations, the private sector and civil society. It has a modest secretariat drawn from the United Nations Development Programme and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This is all far from optimal for a global leadership role. The Partnership risks being left as a weak voice which will defer on strategic issues to traditional global governance fora such as the OECD Development Assistance Committee and the somewhat tired Bretton Woods’ Committees.

Why not start, even if incrementally, to move towards a stronger role? To do this the Global Partnership needs a broader mandate. Busan already saw a shift in vocabulary from aid to development effectiveness. But development post-Busan must be understood more broadly to embrace trade and investment, intellectual property rights, climate change, global governance, etc. Encouragingly that broader agenda is already entering Post-2015 thinking.

In that same spirit the Global Partnership could be reformatted to include a broader–based, more representative ministerial-level body, perhaps as an enlarged steering committee on some sort of ‘constituency’ basis like the OWG. This enlarged Ministerial membership might be broadly aligned with that of the current low-key development working group of the G20. Conveniently, two of the Partnership’s Co-Chairs already sit as nations around the G20 table.

None of this will be easy. The exact mechanics will need to be worked out within the Partnership and with the G20. The latter has its own challenges of legitimacy and flawed inclusiveness. It needs to quickly add a so-called fragile state. Conveniently one is already on the Global Partnership steering committee.

Maybe more problematically, some influential NY voices within the G77 see Busan, thus the Global Partnership, as a ‘plot’ challenging the primacy of the UN. The G77 might prefer another body, the so-called High Level Political Forum, born at Rio+20 to work on the ‘how’ of Post-2015; however, it is also seen as stunted in terms of real power.

The occasion for a first step could be the High-Level Meeting. Could ministers, especially those from countries already within the G20, in Mexico reach beyond the Global Partnership’s Development Effectiveness mandate to encompass the related challenges of merging Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals and new Sustainable Development Goals?

Their formal agenda is important but somewhat technical, including post-Busan monitoring, future roles for the private sector, South-South co-operation, domestic resource mobilization and country-level implementation. This is not the stuff that usually grabs the attention of busy ministers. Moreover, there are more problematic issues that, although raised in Busan or the UN’s Open Working Group, may require a high-level political forum such as a G20 working group enriched with some Global Partnership ministers to build consensus or frame needed compromises.

To move forward global leaders, from South and North, need to agree that there is no one ‘right’ global forum for decision-making or dialogue. Many ideas have their roots in the UN system; others emerge in fora such as the G20 or the Bretton Woods Institutions. None of these fora should have an exclusive right to global power and leadership. Indeed, in our multi-polar world enhanced inclusivity is ever more the institutional challenge.

With this opportunity and also institutional ambiguity, maybe the Partnership even at this late hour might add an informal session in Mexico on its own mandate and future place in global governance? After all this will be first time the Global Partnership comes together as 100+ ministers at a meeting of old and new donors/partners and recipients. The session might be difficult, but still an invaluable exploration. Even to deal with its original Busan mandate, the Global Partnership needs greater legitimacy and empowerment. In a G20 context, North and South have learned to work as partners countering the global financial crisis. Extending that spirit to break the traditionalism within OECD and G77 circles might be a big boost towards the mindset needed for an effective Partnership.

An important caveat is that some low-income, still aid-dependent, developing countries find an enhanced Global Partnership role a worrying concept.  They fear it could distract traditional donors from maintaining the essential flow of conventional aid. Emerging Economies, the BRICS (that is, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), need to reassure them that this new broader development agenda will have space for both their own needs and those of the fragile states and LICs (Low Income Countries).

A Global Partnership linked ministerially to the G20 will be institutionally a bold step. But, especially if it is also well co-ordinated with the UN, it could be a win-win solution for development effectiveness. Its first challenge could be to assist with the trouble-shooting and consensus–building essential for a successful outcome on the Post-2015 Agenda and its new Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond that, an enhanced ministerial leadership of the Global Partnership building upon its development effectiveness focus, could play a key role in pushing the G20 itself, still overly focused on the global financial crisis, towards a broader geo-political agenda, including issues of equitable and inclusive global development. This would hopefully finally displace any lingering G8 dreams of continuing exclusivity in global leadership. Voices of moderation and partnership in North and South should welcome and support this transition.

 

Global Partnership – ready to Broaden Its Mandate?

Global Partnership for Effective Cooperation

 Updated for a global audience in February 2014 on Global Partnership/GPEDC blog site ; original published by CIPS on September 4, 2013.

John Sinclair, Distinguished Associate, North-South Institute, Canada.

Partnership, especially global, has to be a good thing. Many saw the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation as a last-minute compromise reached at the 2011 Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea, but the Global Partnership’s first High Level meeting in Mexico on April 15-16 is the opportunity to prove its mettle.

The question remaining is whether the Global Partnership can evolve into a leading element in the new global architecture on sustainable development or risks remaining just a slightly enlarged, post-Busan technical forum.

The Global Partnership was conceived as a bridge, political as well as technical, between North and South. However for it to function, Western donors must find common cause with new development actors from an invigorated South such as China, India and Brazil. They must also respect country leadership from increasingly diverse recipient-partners ranging from lower-middle-income Vietnam to highly vulnerable Haiti.

“A Global Partnership linked ministerially to the G20, but also well co-ordinated with the UN, could be a win-win solution for development effectiveness.”

While the Global Partnership continues to find its feet, North and South are moving ahead on the Post-2015 Agenda, the stage beyond the Millennium Development Goals. Building upon his High-Level Panel and extensive consultations, the United Nations’ Secretary-General has proposed to build a consensus around two main objectives: the global elimination of extreme poverty and a set of sustainable development goals linking economic growth, social justice and environmental protection. The UN’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is accelerating its work to frame these new goals later in 2014.

An enhanced Global Partnership could play a more engaged role in building that consensus. A modest first step is already happening. The Global Partnership is informally extending beyond monitoring post-Busan performance to a role in helping frame the Post-2015 Development Agenda. But its leadership is still wary, focusing for now on their first High-Level Meeting.

Today’s Global Partnership, with its tripartite ministerial leadership from the UK, Indonesia and Nigeria, works through a committee of 15 international ‘worthies’, selected, with what some might see as only partial legitimacy, to reflect views from different country groupings, international organisations, the private sector and civil society. It has a modest secretariat drawn from the United Nations Development Programme and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This is all far from optimal for a global leadership role. The Partnership risks being left as a weak voice which will defer on strategic issues to traditional global governance fora such as the OECD Development Assistance Committee and the somewhat tired Bretton Woods’ Committees.

Why not start, even if incrementally, to move towards a stronger role? To do this the Global Partnership needs a broader mandate. Busan already saw a shift in vocabulary from aid to development effectiveness. But development post-Busan must be understood more broadly to embrace trade and investment, intellectual property rights, climate change, global governance, etc. Encouragingly that broader agenda is already entering Post-2015 thinking.

In that same spirit the Global Partnership could be reformatted to include a broader–based, more representative ministerial-level body, perhaps as an enlarged steering committee on some sort of ‘constituency’ basis like the OWG. This enlarged Ministerial membership might be broadly aligned with that of the current low-key development working group of the G20. Conveniently, two of the Partnership’s Co-Chairs already sit as nations around the G20 table.

None of this will be easy. The exact mechanics will need to be worked out within the Partnership and with the G20. The latter has its own challenges of legitimacy and flawed inclusiveness. It needs to quickly add a so-called fragile state. Conveniently one is already on the Global Partnership steering committee.

Maybe more problematically, some influential NY voices within the G77 see Busan, thus the Global Partnership, as a ‘plot’ challenging the primacy of the UN. The G77 might prefer another body, the so-called High Level Political Forum, born at Rio+20 to work on the ‘how’ of Post-2015; however, it is also seen as stunted in terms of real power.

The occasion for a first step could be the High-Level Meeting. Could ministers, especially those from countries already within the G20, in Mexico reach beyond the Global Partnership’s Development Effectiveness mandate to encompass the related challenges of merging Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals and new Sustainable Development Goals?

Their formal agenda is important but somewhat technical, including post-Busan monitoring, future roles for the private sector, South-South co-operation, domestic resource mobilization and country-level implementation. This is not the stuff that usually grabs the attention of busy ministers. Moreover, there are more problematic issues that, although raised in Busan or the UN’s Open Working Group, may require a high-level political forum such as a G20 working group enriched with some Global Partnership ministers to build consensus or frame needed compromises.

To move forward global leaders, from South and North, need to agree that there is no one ‘right’ global forum for decision-making or dialogue. Many ideas have their roots in the UN system; others emerge in fora such as the G20 or the Bretton Woods Institutions. None of these fora should have an exclusive right to global power and leadership. Indeed, in our multi-polar world enhanced inclusivity is ever more the institutional challenge.

With this opportunity and also institutional ambiguity, maybe the Partnership even at this late hour might add an informal session in Mexico on its own mandate and future place in global governance? After all this will be first time the Global Partnership comes together as 100+ ministers at a meeting of old and new donors/partners and recipients. The session might be difficult, but still an invaluable exploration. Even to deal with its original Busan mandate, the Global Partnership needs greater legitimacy and empowerment. In a G20 context, North and South have learned to work as partners countering the global financial crisis. Extending that spirit to break the traditionalism within OECD and G77 circles might be a big boost towards the mindset needed for an effective Partnership.

An important caveat is that some low-income, still aid-dependent, developing countries find an enhanced Global Partnership role a worrying concept.  They fear it could distract traditional donors from maintaining the essential flow of conventional aid. Emerging Economies, the BRICS (that is, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), need to reassure them that this new broader development agenda will have space for both their own needs and those of the fragile states and LICs (Low Income Countries).

A Global Partnership linked ministerially to the G20 will be institutionally a bold step. But, especially if it is also well co-ordinated with the UN, it could be a win-win solution for development effectiveness. Its first challenge could be to assist with the trouble-shooting and consensus–building essential for a successful outcome on the Post-2015 Agenda and its new Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond that, an enhanced ministerial leadership of the Global Partnership building upon its development effectiveness focus, could play a key role in pushing the G20 itself, still overly focused on the global financial crisis, towards a broader geo-political agenda, including issues of equitable and inclusive global development. This would hopefully finally displace any lingering G8 dreams of continuing exclusivity in global leadership. Voices of moderation and partnership in North and South should welcome and support this transition.