Progress in the area of the Millennium Development Goals “should lead to moderate optimism”, especially in terms of the struggle against poverty and for better education, but “the rate of improvements remains too slow to allow for achievement of the goals by 2015, especially in Sub-Saharan African countries”. This was the assessment by Italian representative to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Ambassador Antonio Armellini, in his report to the Chamber of Deputies Foreign and Community Affairs on 29 January 2008, within the context of a fact-finding mission on the Millennium Goals.
Decisive leadership and clear development plans
Armellini underscored that additional efforts to achieve the goals would have to be based on a series of essential prerequisites: “decisive political leadership that places sustainable development and the struggle against poverty at the centre of government efforts; the drafting of clear and carefully targeted development plans and policies; national budgets in which resources for development are clearly identified; a firm commitment to fighting corruption; the involvement of all actors in drafting poverty-reduction strategies according to inclusive democratic principles; and, finally, a major supporting role played by the international community, and donors in particular”.
Goals to be reached by 2010
Development cooperation experience over the past 40 years, “is rife with examples of ineffectiveness, and the international community has, by now, recognised the limitations of past policies”, Armellini explained, recalling that the 2003 Rome declaration started a process that was made concrete with the 2005 Paris declaration identifying a series of goals to be reached by 2010.
The Paris declaration outlined five principles:
Ownership: recipient countries need to take charge of development processes.
Alignment: donor countries need to base their cooperation activities on local strategies, institutions and procedures, i.e. specific to the countries for which aid is earmarked, and with the increasing use of local financial systems and institutional resources and so forth.
The third principle involves coordination among donor countries, whose activities should become increasingly transparent and complementary, according to a distribution of tasks aimed at eliminating duplication and resource waste.
Managing for results: management based on results achieved rather than on the input dedicated to these programmes, and that privileges methods adequate to monitoring the results achieved.
Mutual accountability: donors and recipients mutually responsible for the results achieved.
The Paris declaration had a moment of additional impetus in September of 2008, with the forum held in the capital of Ghana, Accra. Decided on that occasion were some decisive additional actions to lead to the more rapid achievement of the 2010 goals.
Italy’s development assistance policy
The latest OECD report on Italian development assistance policy dates back to 2004, and it pointed out a series of weak points and structural problems, Armellini noted, announcing that by early April 2009 the OECD would issue a memorandum illustrating improvements made by Italy over the past five years.
In any case, the Italian G8 presidency “is seeking to collaborate with the OECD” to “introduce an integrated development cooperation concept” that shifts from the “traditional notion of the ineffectiveness of assistance to one of effective development”. An approach that considers “all the elements contributing to a developing country’s economic/financial outlook, and promotion of more balanced growth, including in sectors such as democratic governance, capacity-building, security, peace development and so forth”. A “whole-of-country” strategy regarding development, Armellini stressed.