The vision laid out by African leaders and the G8 in 2005 is still unrealised, but the story of the past five years is one of progress. As the world looks beyond 2010, it is critical that unfulfilled promises be delivered and that the successes and shortcomings of Gleneagles help to inform a stronger partnership to help Africa meet the MDGs by 2015 and go on to ‘end extreme poverty in our time’
2010 IS NO FINISH LINE, IT IS ANOTHER BEGINNING
When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were launched in 2000, it was clear that sub-Saharan Africa would need support to meet its ambitious poverty reduction targets by 2015. Leaders representing Africa were first invited to the G8 Summit at Okinawa in 2000, and the relationship was strengthened in 2002 in Kananaskis and Monterrey, where the G8 put African development firmly on the agenda. Three years later in Gleneagles, world leaders unveiled a comprehensive set of qualitative and quantitative commitments to solidify their partnership with Africa, with a delivery date set for 2010. ONE applauded these commitments, noting that, although they did not address the totality of needs on the continent, if delivered, they would make a significant impact in helping the poorest people beat poverty. Every year since Gleneagles, ONE’s DATA Report has monitored progress against many of the commitments made at the summit, giving credit where promises were on track, laying out a path forward for commitments still behind schedule and evaluating the impact on the ground to the extent possible.
Some critical trends emerge from these findings. In evaluating common traits of those commitments that have been delivered, ONE finds that performance is linked partially to the strength of the original commitment (in terms of clarity and transparent budgetary planning to achieve it), partially to the strength of civil society campaigning in that country, but mostly to political will. The past five DATA Reports have run up against the importance of the first factor – the strength of the commitment – time and again, and therefore the DATA Report’s most robust evaluations have been on the ODA commitments, where pledges were individual, quantified and time-bound. However, ONE’s monitoring of the G8’s rhetorical commitments to 'make trade work for Africa' and 'prioritize water and sanitation' has been difficult and, unsurprisingly, the G8 have little to show in these areas five years later.
In addition to these critical elements of what makes individual or sectoral commitments more likely to be met, ONE finds that there is value in collective commitments. Individual countries made individual commitments – often before they arrived in Gleneagles. However, coming to Gleneagles and binding those commitments into a whole delivered better results overall. Collective commitments – and the peer pressure that is generated by collective judgments – have a positive impact on delivery. These commitments lend themselves to mutual accountability and allow themselves to be monitored by independent mechanisms. As development champions grapple with a changing global architecture, the emergence of new donors and a more competitive international agenda, this provides a critical lesson on how to structure any new global commitments to development to ensure that they are delivered.
The key findings reflect learnings from the past five years, which must all be taken into consideration as development partners regroup in 2010. As the G8, other donors, African governments and activists use 2010 to reflect on the past five years (and indeed the eight years since Monterrey and Kananaskis and the decade since the Millennium Declaration), ONE’s report this year looks not only at how this historic, interlinked set of time-bound commitments has been delivered, but also at how the lessons learned since Gleneagles can shape the outcomes of the 2010 G8 and G20 Summits, as well as the UN MDG Summit in New York. These are key moments to ensure that a roadmap for the future delivers sustainable, transformative results for the world’s poorest people.
If there is one lesson to take away from this report, it is that the exercise of setting bold, collective goals in the fight against poverty yields results.
In this section
The final veredict on 2005-10
Over the past five years there have been historic increases in effective aid flows to Africa, which have supported African efforts to deliver life-saving results in health and dramatic progress in education. Though historic, due in part to large efforts by the UK and the US, as well as varying levels of follow-through from Canada, France and Germany and Japan these increases have fallen far short of what was promised. Much of the shortfall has come from Italy’s inability to make any positive contribution to the effort. The G7 have failed on trade and have been slow on aid quality, but have delivered on debt cancellation – though a new debt crisis threatens if donor practices are not altered to preserve the gains made to date.
The new strategy 2010-15
Going forward, the global community must do more to support the vision of 'an Africa driven by its own citizens'. While existing individual country commitments will continue to drive progress, a renewed collective commitment would enhance accountability and ensure cohesion. Development partners must do better at holding accountable those who break promises, and above all do more to ensure that polices beyond development assistance are better leveraged for African development – in particular policies which strengthen governance, fight corruption and spur sustainable, equitable economic growth.