Panel at the European Development Days 2009 - 'Development Beyond 2015'

The panelists: Elisabeth Sandor, Andy Sumner, Carin Norberg, Jean Louis Sarbib, Francesca Mosca

The fourth edition of the European Development Days, with over 6000 visitors and hundreds of development organisations participating, proved to be a success. EDC 2020 hosted a side event on 22 October under the title Development Beyond 2015, the future of European development cooperation, in cooperation with EADI and Development Gateway.

Welcome by Thomas Lawo, Executive Secretary, The European Association of Development Training and Research Institutes (EADI)

Chair: Carin Norberg, Director, The Nordic Africa Institute


  • Elisabeth Sandor, Senior Policy Advisor, Development Co-operation Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Francesca Mosca, Director, Quality of Operations, EuropeAid Cooperation Office
  • Jean-Louis Sarbib, Director, General of the Development Gateway

  • Andy Sumner, Fellow of the Vulnerability and Poverty Research Team, Institute of Development Studies

Highlights and Key points of the debate:

Andy Sumner: 'The MDGs were born in an era of stability, buoyant aid budgets and good growth; the MDGs fit their time. I think a big issue is going to be maintaining the global political momentum around the MDGs in a completely different public expenditure aid environment.'

  • The world economic crisis has 'given us opportunities for action': on (i) Global governance reform, (ii) social protection and safety nets for the poorest (iií) low carbon development.
  • Think creatively about development beyond 2015: Elisabeth Sandor suggested to focus on (i) new donors, (ii) private-public, (iii) movíng beyond traditional Aid, (iv) exploring new technologies

Carin Norberg: 'There is also an emerging group of countries who have not previously been part of the conventional donor community and we have to engage much more closely with these new partners.'     

  • Preparing the ‘Beyond 2015’ without losing track of current goals: (i) Recognizing the positive dimension of the MDGs framework (ii) Maintaining pressure for more progress (iii) Refining measurement
  • Francesca Mosca highlighted the promotion of ownership of the development processes and of capacity building will be key up to and beyond 2015   

Jean-louis Sarbib: 'We need to give low income countries the tools that they need to become the masters of their fate and to gather all this information so that the international community can see whether what is being done is actually in line with the principles of harmonization and alignment.'                         

  • Aid must be aligned to the MDGs as well as to the needs of each country.
  • Uncertainty also means opportunities for action but Europe must act now.
Thomas Lawo

'Development Beyond 2015, the future of European development cooperation'

22 October 2009

The European Union is seeking a greater voice in global debates amid numerous calls for a new development narrative/paradigm.

The global economic crisis itself marks the end of a relatively benign period for development cooperation of buoyant aid budgets in the OECD-countries (“the North”) and strong commitments to public expenditures on social sectors in the South, reasonable economic growth in many developing countries, relative stability and a consensus on policy parameters and instruments in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs).

The forthcoming period is likely to be far less certain and aid effectiveness ever more critical as rich countries face post crisis fiscal limitations. Development cooperation faces multiple and inter-connected crises in climate, and energy, the end of an oligopolistic market with the emergence of new donors and (the as yet) uncertainty on a post-MDG architecture. Such uncertainties not only have the potential to impact adversely on levels of poverty, but also change the context for doing development cooperation.  With more actors and fewer resources, aid coordination and transparency will require renewed emphasis.

There is already emerging evidence that the economic crisis itself is leading to significant changes in the context for development cooperation such as in:

•           Global governance: The G8 to G20 shift means more representation and power for large developing nations but changes in the IMF and World Bank will be crucial for wider changes in governance; the new aid architecture requires better harmonization;

•           New economic policies: There is likely to be a greater tendency for developing countries to explore new development models; approaches from China, the ‘Beijing Consensus’ are more likely to be taken up than Western prescriptions; the exchange of experience and information across paradigms will be increasingly important; similarly “putting countries in the driver seat” to implement policies of their choice will require that they build the capacity and the tools needed to do so effectively; 

•           Greater social protection: The scale of food and financial crises has made a powerful case for better social protections systems.  But building ownership in governments and civil societies remains a challenge in securing long term budget allocations;

•           A green(er) economy: There is a strategic opportunity to use the fiscal stimuli to promote a shift to lower carbon development but political pressure to implement such measures as quickly as possible.

With the 2015 deadline for achieving the MDGs approaching, the development stakeholders recognise the need for a better understanding of who is doing what and which approaches produce the best results.

Questions to debate: What do these and other changes to the context for development cooperation imply for the European Union and its partner countries beyond the MDGs? How should EDC respond to these challenges? How will the new paradigm uphold standards of transparency and accountability? What instruments and tools are available to EDC to meet these challenges? What avenues lie open to the European aid architecture post 2015?