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Reporting debt relief as ODA: civil society shut out, bad rules to be locked in?

Polly Meeks

21 Nov 2018 10:58:47

“There are negotiations being made that are going to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems. That’s all I can tell you right now.” So goes the line from The Godfather. This week at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “negotiations will be being made” about the rules for counting debt relief as Official Development Assistance (ODA – or ‘aid’). As we blogged earlier this year, these negotiations are highly unlikely to answer all the questions or solve all the problems of civil society advocates interested in ensuring that the new rules set the best incentives for eradicating poverty, tackling inequalities and preventing a new wave of debt crises in the global south. Yet, just as in The Godfather, the negotiations remain shrouded ...

Three uncomfortable truths – and some glimmers of hope – in the latest data on untying Official Development Assistance

Polly Meeks

18 Jun 2018 14:13:44

Last week the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) released its 2018 report on untying Official Development Assistance (ODA). This may sound dry and technocratic, but tied ODA has life-changing – and sometimes even life-threatening – consequences for people living in poverty in the Global South. Tied ODA can only be used to buy goods and services from the country providing the ODA – putting the commercial objectives of companies in donor countries ahead of the priorities of local people. And when commercial objectives take precedence over development objectives, it’s no surprise that the end result is wasted resources; failure to meet local needs; and /or missed opportunities to support pro-poor local growth ...

Untying should mean untying - no matter where ODA is delivered

Polly Meeks

31 May 2018 13:21:15

By Polly Meeks, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer and Vitalice Meja, Coordinator of Reality of Aid Africa and Co-Chair of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) Think of the major events of summer 2018, and what comes to mind? Perhaps the World Cup; the Jakarta Palembang Asian Games; or (depending on your location and politics) a certain royal wedding. Your mind might not immediately jump to a deadline buried deep in paragraph 21 of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Recommendation on Untying Aid. Yet for hundreds of millions of people experiencing extreme poverty and inequalities, this deadline could have life-changing implications. It states that in 2018 the DAC will review the countries which the Untying ...

Why blended finance is a feminist issue

Polly Meeks

08 Mar 2018 16:14:18

This International Women’s Day we expect to see leaders across the world speaking out in favour of women’s equality and empowerment under this year’s theme of “press for progress”. Top-level political pressure for progress plays an essential role in delivering a world where the rights of women and girls are respected, protected and fulfilled. However, strong political commitments need to be matched by coherent policies at all levels – including on all forms of development finance. One increasingly fashionable form of finance is blending – combining concessional public finance (such as aid) with commercial finance to fund development-related activities in the global south. But until recently, blending had received less attention from a women’s rights perspective. In November ...

A Knotty Problem: Turning Words into Action on Tied Aid

Polly Meeks

21 Feb 2018 08:13:03

This article was originally published in the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.   “Tied aid doesn’t work.” That was the verdict of the UK’s top development minister at a recent parliamentary hearing. And the evidence bears the minister out. Tied aid – aid that can only be used to buy goods or services from the country providing the aid – is having a negative impact on the world’s poorest people. Tied aid generally costs more than untied aid – an estimated 15 – 30 % more for many goods and services, and more still in the case of food aid. It also tends to deliver less, since it is less well suited to local contexts and preferences. This isn’t just a question of bean counting. Tied aid is used in sectors from emergency response ...

Is blended finance a silver bullet or a double-edged sword?

Polly Meeks

31 Jan 2018 08:47:04

This article was originally published in Public Finance International.More debate on the interaction between aid and the private sector is needed, but must be led by the voices and priorities of the poorest people, says Polly Meeks of Eurodad. Blended finance is dominating discussions at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development this week. Blended finance, or blending, is a slippery concept – but typically it means combining concessional public finance (such as aid) with commercial finance, to fund development-related activities in the global south. For the OECD, blending holds a big part of the answer to financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a subject explored in more depth at this week’s OECD conference on Private Finance ...

Aid subsidies for companies: a formula for leaving no-one behind?

Polly Meeks

23 Nov 2017 19:04:29

Many donor agencies argue that part of the solution to financing the Sustainable Development Goals lies in using aid money to incentivise – or subsidise – the use of private commercial finance for development purposes. This is often referred to as blended finance, or blending. Yet a growing body of independent analysis shows that the links between blended finance and the achievement of sustainable development objectives are more complex and problematic than they may first appear. Nowhere is this clearer than in the assertion that blended finance can contribute to the objective of leaving no-one behind. Next week the 5th African Union-European Union Summit will take place in Cote d’Ivoire, and blending is likely to be centre stage. In September, the European Union launched the new European ...

The OECD DAC’s proposed aid rules: a worse crunch still to come?

Polly Meeks

17 Jul 2017 13:18:05

Three months ago, we blogged that it could be crunch time for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC)’s rules on aid. These are the rules that decide how much ‘aid credit’ donors have earned, and hence how they measure up against the UN target that aid should account for at least 0.7% of national income.  When we posted that blog, DAC members had been given a deadline of 26 April to decide on the new rules, which would allow them to report more support for private sector actors in Southern countries as Official Development Assistance (ODA). We were concerned that the DAC was rushing into far-reaching changes, without having built in basic safeguards to protect the core purpose of ODA – poverty reduction. So where do ...
The Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD DAC) is seeking agreement on new rules for reporting ‘Private Sector Instruments’ (PSIs) as Official Development Assistance (ODA). PSIs are loans, ...

Blended finance and the new aid rules: a risky mix?

Maria Romero, Polly Meeks

01 Jun 2017 09:40:01

Last week’s UN Financing for Development Forum showed that blended finance – using aid money to mobilise finance from other sources, especially the private sector – continues to top the agenda for many of the big players in development finance.  In fact, upcoming decisions in Paris and Brussels are likely to confirm blending as a much bigger part of Official Development Assistance (ODA) than ever before.  In Paris, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) will shortly decide on new aid rules that allow greater official support to the private sector, including blending, to be counted as ODA.  Meanwhile in Brussels, the European Commission is currently in the process of negotiating with the European Parliament ...