Taking the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as their point of departure, many countries have wanted to analyze the way aid is granted and used so as to make the best possible contribution to development. In adopting the MDGs, for the first time the international community clearly defined the concrete results it hopes to achieve over a 15-year period.
Since the late 1990s, the effectiveness of aid has been hotly debated, nationally and internationally. The main concern is to show that taxpayers’ money can help alleviate poverty, and does so in a sustainable way.
In 2000, under the auspices of the United Nations, the MDGs set out the first guidelines for a global approach to the major issues associated with development. Not only were the grand objectives of development outlined, but for the first time concrete indicators for measuring results were defined. Other treaties followed, emphasizing the determination of the international community to reform the way in which aid is granted and used: the Paris Declaration (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) were adopted by 150 countries and international organizations. The aim of these treaties is to improve the coordination and sharing of tasks among aid donors and to foster an increased sense of ownership and responsibility in countries receiving development assistance.
In addition, Busan represents an opportunity to bring new donors on board. Likewise, in addition to official development assistance, other sources of finance relevant to development will be considered.
The Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness took place in Busan, South Korea, at the end of 2011. It provided an opportunity to assess how far the commitments and goals of the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) have been fulfilled, and to examine whether they have led to improved results in terms of development. It also enabled the international community to reach agreement on a framework that includes all the different players in development cooperation, including traditional donors, South-South cooperation partners, emerging nations, civil society and private foundations. The Busan Declaration thus put in place the foundations of a new global partnership for effective development cooperation.
As an actor in international cooperation, SDC has oriented its development activities towards fulfilling the MDGs and has validated its methods and tools. The SDC has also made efforts to adapt its bilateral and multilateral cooperation programmes accordingly.
A new way of measuring the effectiveness of aid
The validity of a project can no longer be measured in terms of performance alone, e.g. the number of wells dug in a village. It is also necessary to assess the chain of results in developmental terms: improved access to drinking water, better general hygiene, positive influence on public health, etc.
In common with other countries, Switzerland is therefore no longer focusing solely on the outputs of its individual projects, but considers their contribution to development in the broad sense of the term – in consultation with the authorities directly concerned and other players in the development process.