Busan conference: occupy Bexco!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After three days of CSO preparatory events, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF4) launched its official deliberations with an update of progress to date. A key focus was on the results of the Paris Declaration’s evaluation findings. In a nutshell, only one of the goals that had been established in 2006 had been met, and that was the one focused on coordination. However, what the evaluation did highlight for many governments was that the way aid was approached at a national level needed to change in many ways if the Millennium Development Goals for 2015 are to be met.

The spirit of the HLF4 was one of “Occupy Bexco” as “the 300” CSOs representing Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and the Middle East as well as women’s groups, advocacy agencies, service deliverers, people living with disabilities, relief and development NGOs, the church, farmers, etc. descended upon Bexco from their shuttle buses carting them from their hotels every half hour.

While many CSO’s, including ACT Alliance members, had been preparing for this event since Paris 2006 and Accra 2008, this high level forum was historically different because CSOs were officially at the negotiation table as development partners this time around.

We even had our very own official CSO “sherpa” negotiating directly with government “sherpas” on the final language of the Busan Outcomes Document(officially known as the “BOD) which went into its final, final round of changes.

CSO representatives actively worked until the very last moments to ensure language capturing the spirit of “a rights-based approach” to development would end up in the document, even though many were receiving real-time intelligence from their own country delegations that this did not seem likely. It was a day of ups and downs, with some highs and some lows.

The first day also presented an opportunity to contribute to the post-Busan movement which was going to consist of “Building Blocks” of thematic areas on Ownership and Accountability, Country Systems, Aid Fragmentation, Aid Predictability and Transparency, and Results.

The word in the Bexco corridors was that the Building Blocks were where the post-Busan agenda would come to life. Speaking to the credibility of the CSO movement, many CSO-Better Aid representatives were on the panels of these presentations, along with government and parliamentary representatives.

Many of the issues that had been discussed during the CSO Forum earlier in the week were discussed in a formal, official and on the record setting.

The energy was uplifting and positive, even though the buzz around Busan was that the Chinese had left the negotiation table of the BOD. However, as late as 6pm, the BOD was still being worked and CSO-ers were “Occupying Bexco” with some traditional Korean tea, food and entertainment.

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Martin Pedersen and Veronica Olazabal will be blogging on a daily basis from the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness from 29 November to 1 December. Martin and Veronica represent the ACT Alliance Busan Media Team – both are actively engaged in the ACT Alliance Working Group on Development Effectiveness.

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