The Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness
Author: Ajoy Datta and Simon Burall
The OECD Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-3) follows two previous HLFs the first in Rome in 2003 and the second in Paris in 2005. HLF-3 will be held in Accra, Ghana between 2nd and 4th September. It primarily aims to review progress in implementing the Paris Declaration. The HLF-3 will have three key elements to it: 1) the Marketplace, for different actors to showcase good practices and lessons from promoting aid effectiveness 2) eight roundtable meetings, for in-depth discussion on key issues to facilitate policy work (see OECD, 2007: Annex B for draft workstreams for roundtable discussions); and 3) a ministerial-level meeting, expected to conclude the HLF 3 with an endorsement of a ministerial statement. It is expected that the Ministerial Meeting will be attended by heads of aid agencies or ministries of foreign affairs from donor countries and heads of ministries of finance from partner countries. Participation in the HLF-3 will be by invitation only.
Overall responsibility for the organisation of the HLF 3 (as well as monitoring the Paris Declaration) rests with the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness. This is an international forum in which equal numbers of bilateral donors and partner countries are represented, with participation from all the multilateral banks, the OECD, and the UN. Under the umbrella of the Working Party, the Steering Committee, chaired by the Chair of the Working Party with the World Bank and the Government of Ghana (GoG) as vice-chairs, meets on a quarterly basis to provide advice on the content of the Forum. The Core Group, comprised of the World Bank, the Government of Ghana and OECD, is undertaking much of the preparatory work, including overseeing the planning of preparatory events.
Four rounds of mini-consultation meetings with partner countries were carried out from June to September 2007 in Mauritius, Ghana, Honduras and the Philippines. These meetings identified important issues for HLF 3. Key messages from consultations were that there is varying progress across countries, they are keen to continue engagement in the process and there is strong interest to learn from one another’s experience. Participants suggested a number of themes for discussion at the HLF-3 including monitoring and implementation of the Paris commitments, aid predictability, harmonisation and alignment action plans, experiences with budget support, untying aid and strengthening ownership (OECD, 2007).These consultations are expected to be followed-up by broader regional consultations in 2008 in order to start to build consensus around key aid effectiveness issues amongst a broader range of actors.
In addition to the official HLF process, there are two parallel spaces for CSOs: the official process, led by the Advisory Group on Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness (AG-CSO), which was established by the Working Party; and CSOs own parallel process led by the International Civil Society Steering Group (ISG). The AG-CSO is a multi-stakeholder group consisting of 12 members, including three members each from developing country partner governments and donors, and civil society organizations (CSOs) from developed and developing countries. It aims to improve recognition and the voice of CSOs as development actors and in aid effectiveness debates; enrich the aid effectiveness agenda and facilitate the sharing of good practice (AG-CSO, 2007a). The ISG aims to improve the capacity of CSOs to engage in the official process, and ensure that key issues such as gender equality, human rights and solidarity amongst others are seriously addressed during the HLF-3. Some members of the AG-CSO, such as IBON and CONCORD are also responsible for the organisation of the parallel process.
The AG-CSO scheduled five regional multi-stakeholder consultations (two in Africa, two in Asia and one in Latin America) between September and November 2007 and two CSO-only consultations in Brussels and Johannesburg to receive input on the official process. Complementary consultations are being organized at the national level in a number of countries. Except for the Northern Consultation, each of the regional consultations were split into two sections: a CSOs-only section discussing proposed priorities and advocacy for the HLF-3, supported by the ISG; and a multi-stakeholder section, with Southern CSOs, government representations, donors and Northern CSOs, discussing CSO’s role in aid effectiveness, supported by the AG-CSO (Mulley, email communication, 29th November 2007). The ISG has so far engaged with the Working Party and its Steering Committee on two occasions, both in November 2007, to discuss issues of concern to CSOs for the HLF-3.
In its Issues Paper to guide consultations, the AG-CSO (2007) considers five sets of relationships:
• Between CSOs and their primary constituents (the people they serve or represent)
• Between and among CSOs at country level and beyond
• Between Northern and Southern CSOs specifically
• Between CSOs and governments
• Between donors and CSOs.
The AG-CSO will bring together approximately 150 to 200 CSOs from the South and the North as well as representatives from donor and Southern governments for an International Forum in Ottawa, Canada from 3-6 February 2008, to consider the results of the consultations. The International Forum, being organised by the CCIC (a member of the Advisory Group) will offer analysis and advice to the Advisory Group. The AG-CSO will produce a synthesis report of its consultations and provide advice on how to incorporate aid effectiveness issues relating to the role of civil society and development in the HLF-3 and beyond (AG-CSO, 2007).