Regional Consultations

SUVA, FIJI ISLANDS (11 July, 2011). A Pacific regional meeting on aid and development effectiveness has reinforced an international call for people to be brought to the centre of development and that development co-operation and aid effectiveness processes are people centered, respect human rights and achieve social justice as cornerstones of aid and development effectiveness.

In recent years, the Pacific region has experienced structural adjustments, political instability and policy changes in its development assistance landscape. Threats to human rights, peace and security being experienced in some Pacific countries have impacted on the enabling environment for civil society and affected the way in which civil society works.

This was revealed at the Pacific Islands Consultation on Aid and Development Effectiveness which ended in Nadi at the weekend. The meeting was attended by civil society leaders from Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Organised by the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations (PIANGO) in partnership with the Reality of Aid Asia Pacific, the meeting acknowledged the critical importance of donor support for CSOs. It congratulated the Australian government on accepting the recommendations of an independent aid review to increase development assistance to the Pacific and its emphasis on support to Non Government Organizations. Participants also congratulated the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) on its positive decision to reinstate the post of Non State Actor Officer saying they looked forward to working closely with PIFS in supporting Pacific governments to engage more effectively with civil society.

Civil society leaders called on Pacific Island governments to revisit their commitments to Pacific people and CSOs at regional and international levels within the context of the Pacific Plan and Cairns Compact.

“As umbrella CSO bodies, we have an important role to play and collaborate with other development actors to influence regional and global agendas and give voice to the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized that we work with.  We need to bring together youth, women, men and community voices to advocate on very real and pressing issues affecting our region such as climate change, food security, human rights, gender, disabilities and trade,” says Ms Emele Duituturaga, PIANGO’s interim Executive Director.

“Commitments made on donor harmonization in international agreements such as the Paris Declaration need to be extended to dialogue, resourcing and collaboration with CSOs. Civil Society needs to have partnership agreements with governments and development partners to ensure that development takes on a human face,” she said.

Ms. Ava Danlog of Reality of Aid said that in some instances aid effectiveness processes have been very disempowering for citizens.

“There is a need for CSOs to focus on concrete, tangible outputs as there is usually a tendency to focus on donor ‘hot topics.’ Aid should be about partnerships.  Development partners must foster basic principles of partnership and acknowledge the contribution of recipients.  In addition, trade and other economic activities need to also focus on human development,” Ms. Danlog said.

An emerging issue in the Pacific region and one that is also a part of the larger development agenda issue concerns the rights of people living with disability in the region who continue to be marginalized and excluded from development processes.

Mr Katabwena Tawaka, of the Pacific Disability Forum told the meeting that present statistics (June, 2011) illustrate that over 800,000 people are living with disabilities in the Pacific.

“There is a need for governments and development partners to recognize disability as a development issue. Disability may increase the risk of poverty. In the Pacific, people with disabilities rely on their families for assistance and medical care and this must be acknowledged by stakeholders.  The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) also do not make specific reference to people with disabilities,” he said.

The Pacific meeting was organized by PIANGO and was part of Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific regional consultations in the lead-up to the HLF4 in Busan, South Korea, in November 2011.

HLF4 will assess whether or not key government commitments on aid effectiveness have been achieved since the last High Level meeting in Accra in 2008.

The Busan meeting is a key opportunity for governments to go beyond promises and commit to more effective, sustainable development assistance in terms of its real impact on the lives of all people.

Asian CSOs call for Sustainable Development

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BANGKOK, THAILAND (15 -17 August, 2011).  About 50 CSOs from 20 countries in Asia Pacific were present at the recently held Regional Conference on “Development Models: Promoting a Transformative Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

The conference aimed to raise awareness and knowledge among southern CSOs and people’s movements on the Key Issues in Busan High Level Forum this coming November, including building a new consensus on development, one that is sustainable. It was a vibrant affair which included numerous exchanges of ideas, experiences and practices as it reflected on the challenges and ways forward in tackling sustainable development.

A two- day conference, the first day affirmed the role of aid in development where it is seen as an integral factor while highlighting the question ‘for whom?’ especially in the face of seemingly new Aid Donor actors like China and India. Reality of Aid Network – Asia Pacific Chairperson Antonio Tujan Jr., in his key note speech, made the connection between the High Level Forum 4 in Busan and the Rio +20 or the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

The discussions were enriched by inputs from Nurgul Djanaeva (Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan), Lyn Pano (Asia Pacific Research Network), Suranjan Kodithuwakku (Green Movement of Sri Lanka), Dr. Azra Sayeed (APWLD) and Anselmo Lee (Korean Civil Society Forum on International Development) among others.

The second day introduced the different models of development and how they work or do not work at all just as Ms. Ujjaini Halim (IMSE) maintained as she presented on the neoliberal model of development. Other speakers were Kelly Haden of UN ESCAP on Alternative  Development Approaches as well as IBON International’s Paul Quintos on Sustainable Development.

New Delhi based intellectual Kavaljit Singh (Public Interest Research Centre) argued for China and India’s potential to challenge the OECD in its role but that it has to wait until both countries have mapped out exactly their own strategic objectives as aid donors vis a vis being a developing country still. According to him though, it is clear that both China and India have clear strategic interests, China on natural resources in exchange for infrastructure investments and India on for a greater influence in the region.

The conference produced the“Asia Pacific CSO Statement on Development Cooperation for Sustainable Development”* which highlights their key messages for Busan on Private Sector for development, Climate Finance and South- South Cooperation.

The Regional Conference was co-organized by Reality of Aid Network, Asia Pacific Research Network and IBON International.