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German NGO Forum World Summit on Social Development

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Working Group 20/20

Putting basic services in the centre of PRSP

Statement to PrepCom2 for Copenhagen + 5

With this statement, we wish to draw your attention to the relevance of the 20/20 initiative for the present evolution of global poverty strategies. Putting basic services in the centre of poverty reduction is widely seen as an important outcome of the Copenhagen summit.

International institutions, including the World Bank, as well as governments and civil society organisations in North and South alike have come a long way in making 20/20 meaningful and operational. It now appears, however, that the World Bank has decided to circumvent this process. Its innovative Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers are blind to the crucial role of basic social services. German NGOs call on all participants in the preparatory process for Copenhagen + 5 to fully integrate 20/20 into poverty programs at all levels.

Since Copenhagen, significant developments have taken place in the global system with regard to social policies and poverty reduction. The 20/20 initiative has become a universally adopted point of reference. Follow-up meetings in Oslo and Hanoi have forged a global consensus on the sectoral definition of basic social services.

UNICEF and other international institutions have produced a series of country studies which present a rich body of empirical evidence on government spending in the South and the allocation of ODA.

The OECD´s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has come up with a statistical system which allows for a comprehensive and comparative monitoring of donor efforts towards 20/20.

In a separate move, OECD/DAC has synthesised the results of Copenhagen and other world conferences into an international development strategy ("Shaping the 21st Century"). Global poverty targets in this document are precise and time-bound. Up till today, however, the implications for donor priorities remain vague. There is no explicit commitment to the 20/20 initiative.

Building on the enhanced HIPC initiative of the Cologne Summit, World Bank and IMF have designed a new framework for adjustment programs. While their Poverty Reductions Strategy Papers (PRSPs) incorporate welcome in innovations, like country ownership and participation, they disregard the fundamental relevance of basic social services to sustainable development and human rights. This goes against the understanding of many that debt relief is to be directed to poverty reduction through provision of basic social services.

Simultaneously, most bilateral donors still stick to traditional patterns in their aid programs. Raising the national flag and other donor motives dominate. This has led to a multitude of frequently isolated projects which overstrain capacities in the South.

It remains uncertain how the OECD´s "Shaping the 21st Century" in the World Bank’s poverty reduction strategies ands bilateral activities will be linked to optimal support efforts at the national level. Also, there is a lack of unequivocal mechanisms by which 20/20 can be embedded in a macroeconomic policy framework and in aid programs.

The world community needs a clearly designated institutional set-up where the different strands of the poverty debate can be woven into a global compact for social development. To be acceptable to all sides, this needs to be located within the UN system. Principles of good social policies considered by this body must relate to all countries, North and South, in a symmetric manner.

German NGOs suggest to strengthen the UN Commission for Social Development as the legitimate forum for the evaluation of global poverty strategies including the implementation of 20/20. The Bretton Woods Institutions, other international organisations and bilateral donors should, in turn, follow the guidelines passed by this body. All national governments should be requested to periodically report on their social targets and accomplishments to facilitate global learning.

In order to promote a holistic and participatory approach, the Commission for Social Development should institutionalise new ways of consultation with parliaments, civil society and the private sector. Through this, different groups of actors can agree on a non-hierarchical division of labour. which respects their autonomy and reflects differences in resource endowment. Following a bottom-up perspective, the richness of practical experiences on the ground should be fully harnessed and broadly disseminated.

Universal access to basic social services is a prerequisite for the full attainment of human rights and people centred sustainable development. To make this happen, additional funding is indispensable. In most countries, national budgets and ODA are below the 20/20 threshold. According to a recent DAC estimate, 10 per cent of total ODA commitments go to basic social services. This includes all, and not just poverty-focused, allocations for water and sanitation. If this sector is excluded from the calculation, only 5 % of DAC members´ ODA is found to be for basic social services. German NGOs call on donors and countries of the South alike to fully implement the quantitative and qualitative dimensions of the 20/20 initiative.

Recommendations of German NGOs

The Permanent Working-Group 20/20 of the German NGO Forum World Summit Social Development exists since 1995. It takes part in the monitoring-process of the Copenhagen commitments and promotes North-South activities and dialogues for Social Development.

Members of the Working-Group are: Association of the Churches´ Development Services / AG KED, German Agro Action / DWHH (Bonn), German Association for for Cooperation in Development / EZE (Bonn), German Institute for Medical Mission / DIFÄM (Tübingen), Germanwatch (Bonn), Kindernothilfe (Duisburg), terre des hommes (Osnabrück), World Economy, Ecology and Development / WEED (Bonn).

Contact Adress: EZE – Jürgen Reichel - Mittelstrasse 37 - D 53175 Bonn - 0049 228 8101 0 - eze-policy-desk@eze.org

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