USAID/US Advisory Committee on Foreign Aid discussion on financing for development

Last week, we were invited to attend a meeting hosted by USAID and the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid (ACVFA). Comprised of up to 30 private citizens with extensive knowledge of international development, ACVFA holds regular meetings to allow USAID senior policy officials to consult externally on key issues, foster dialogue, and share ideas about the challenges facing the development sector.

I was asked to speak at a panel discussion focusing on the third international conference on Financing for Development, which will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this July. This is a high-level meeting convened by the UN and will be a major step in the road to a new post-2015 development agenda. The panel discussed what the conference could achieve in terms of seeking commitments on financing and asked: what outcomes might be transformative?

This meeting was particularly special as it marked one of the final public USAID events that Dr Rajiv Shah, Administrator, will attend. Dr Shah is stepping down next month with his replacement yet to be confirmed. During his tenure, he has overseen important reforms at USAID, including a focus on more innovative uses of official development assistance (ODA) to address specific global challenges, and played a major role in coordinating the US’s humanitarian response to the Ebola virus in West Africa.

Outcomes we want to see at Addis: a commitment to improve the lives of the poorest 20%

In my short presentation, I outlined some of the key outcomes Development Initiatives hopes to see at the Addis conference and beyond. These include commitment from governments to ensure their investments – including private investments – are assessed for their impact on the lives of the poorest 20% globally. We want to see re-commitment at the highest political levels to ending extreme poverty by 2030, using all available resources to do so, including domestic resources where they are available. We recommend a refocusing of ODA on ending poverty, tightening its current broad mandate. We seek commitment from all governments to invest in better data – we need disaggregated, timely and detailed data on resource flows, poverty and needs. These ideas will be explored in detail in our forthcoming report Improving ODA allocations for a post-2015 world, which launches in January. Meanwhile, you can read more about these ideas in a blog from my colleague Harpinder, Targeting people not countries to end poverty by 2030.



The final push to end poverty: a universal goal

Many speakers noted the shift towards a universal development agenda and asked: how can we engage the American public in the goals? This is a debate now being examined by researchers and policymakers in many developed countries – see for example this report by the Center for American Progress, or this blog by Shannon Kindornay on the Canada context.

Other speakers outlined the importance of engaging all actors – including the private sector – in the Addis conference. The importance of IATI in improving resource flow data, and the need to engage the general public in the sustainable development goals to ensure a truly global push to end poverty, combat climate change and provide economic opportunity for all, were also addressed. The progress already made on the Millennium Development Goals was highlighted by Tom Hart, CEO of ONE, who pointed out that the development community must shout about its successes to jolt politicians out of complacency and seek commitment for the final push to end poverty.

To learn more about DI’s priorities for the Addis conference, contact me on email or on Twitter @claudie_l