With the Millennium Development Goals set to expire next year, this year will see key stakeholders meeting to discuss and create the post-2105 development aid framework. “As the priorities and agenda are determined, financial questions will play a key role,” says Paul Dillon, senior associate at Baird’s CMC and communications and development expert. “Who is going to pay for what? What are the financial targets? How should we deal with financial pressures? Because the reality is that without funding in place, all the goals agreed upon in various conferences and documents are merely aspirational.”
Funding and methods of financing are certainly topical issues, especially with austerity measures in place in many parts of the developed world. “The fact of the matter is,” Paul explains, “that the world has been through a difficult recession – and is still in it to some extent. People are questioning everything. While there is still significant support for government aid programmes, people are demanding greater accountability and transparency.”
How is the money being spent? Is it making a difference? Is it creating sustainable change? How are we measuring outcomes? Are there new, better methods for financing? If so, how and when should these be put in place? How is corruption being dealt with? These are some of the questions the development fraternity will be seeking to make clearer in coming months.
“I think these are reasonable questions,” says Paul. “Luckily, generally speaking, both governments and corporations have been good – and are getting better still – at accounting for spend and outcomes. However, as the debate gains momentum, political differences and agendas will also emerge more strongly. There is going to be a robust political debate on funding, thee is no doubt at all about that.”
There are some countries that have done well with regard to the target of 0.7% of national income being contributed towards Millennium Development Goals; others, however, are nowhere close to that and political interests may steer the discussion in a direction that calls for diminished contribution to overseas development aid.
Says Paul, “Ensuring support for aid is a challenge at the international level, especially because I truly believe sustainable development is of benefit globally, not just to the country being supported. A key aspect of this will lie in communication. So much of the debate is now about statistics – 10 percent of this, 50 percent of that… The more digitised and numerical the discussion becomes, the more remote it can be from the actual human condition. That’s why it’s very important to also look at the stories of individuals and communities as a whole…their situations, aspirations and voices should be an integral part of the conversation.”
This year will certainly prove to be an important one with relation to aid funding and the role of communications in the debate. Watch this space for updates.