Canada’s Gleneagles commitment was originally interpreted as a doubling of official development assistance (ODA) from a baseline of CAD$1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2003/04. After Gleneagles, Canada clarified that the 2003/04 baseline was CAD$1.05 billion ($750 million), because it spent less on ODA to sub-Saharan Africa in 2003/04 than was estimated. Using this new baseline, Canada committed to increase ODA to sub- Saharan Africa to CAD$1.7 billion ($1.5 billion) in 2008/09.
Statement from head of state
‘Canada is a global leader and continuously demonstrates this by honouring its international commitments. The importance of accountability for promises will be a defining feature of Canada’s G8 and G20 Summit year. Budget 2010 delivers on promised resources, and the Government will ensure Canada’s contributions effectively address global challenges including the economic crisis, immediate and long-term recovery in Haiti, maternal and child health, as well as food security.’
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE, CANADA. 4 MARCH 2010
Canada surpassed its modest Gleneagles commitment in 2008 and remained slightly above its target in 2009. In 2009, there was a decrease of CAD$335 million ($294 million) after a large multilateral payment in the 2008 calendar year caused ODA to spike. ONE estimates that Canada will increase its ODA to sub-Saharan Africa by an additional CAD$353 million ($309 million) in 2010, meaning that it will have met 170% ($589 million) of the increases it promised at Gleneagles.
Despite Canada’s commendable performance on its Gleneagles target, the government’s decision to cap its International Assistance Envelope at 2010–11 levels for the next five years threatens to undermine its leadership on development, especially as the host of this year’s G8 and G20 meetings. In 2010, Canada should reconsider its budget decisions, set a new, more ambitious ODA target and lead the G8 in the development of a robust post-Gleneagles partnership with sub-Saharan Africa.
Within the G8, Canada has emerged as a leader in supporting basic education as well as food security. It has also made some laudable efforts to improve the effectiveness of its aid in recent years. Canada is on track to meet its commitments to cancel debt to the world’s poorest countries, but like the rest of the G8 is failing to deliver on its commitment to 'make trade work for Africa'.
Despite a modest commitment at Gleneagles, Canada’s performance on meeting and exceeding its ODA target offers a model of accountability in this critical year of review for the G8. Over the past few years, Canada’s investments in basic education, food security and aid effectiveness have also provided leadership and have delivered impressive results in key areas of international development.
Beyond its delivery of past promises, Canada’s credibility as the G8 president and this summer’s G20 host also rests on its ambition in looking ahead. 2010 is a year for the G8 to assess progress made since 2005 and to map out the future of a post-Gleneagles partnership with sub-Saharan Africa. Despite being the host in this critical year, Canada has not set a new target for increasing development assistance and, furthermore, has announced that ODA will be flatlined at 2010–11 levels for the next five years. Despite a strong legacy of prioritising sub-Saharan Africa that dates back to the 2002 G8 summit in Kananaskis – which launched the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the Africa Action Plan – Canada’s relationship with sub-Saharan Africa is currently uncertain.
Last year CIDA announced that the number of Canada’s bilateral focus countries would be reduced, with only seven sub-Saharan African countries appearing on the list of 20. The lack of transparency in this decisionmaking process, coupled with a lack of clarity about future spending plans in the region (both multilateral and bilateral), has made Canada vulnerable to criticism that it is abandoning sub-Saharan Africa.
Given its G8 presidency and its long-term credibility as a leader in global development, in 2010 Canada should set a timetable to increase ODA to 0.7% of GNI over the next ten years, with interim targets and a clear allocation for sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, Prime Minister Harper should use the G8 presidency to ensure that development and accountability are absorbed into the G20 agenda. He should also use the opportunity to outline Canada’s vision for a new partnership with Africa that incorporates all of Canada’s tools of engagement – including ODA, trade and investment – to guide the rest of the G8 and other donors ahead of the Millennium Development Goal Review at the UN summit in September.
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