On 16 September, the Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Gap Task force, comprising more than 20 UN agencies as well as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), released the 2011 MDG Gap Task Force report Millennium Development Goal 8 - The Global Partnership for Development: Time to Deliver. The report assesses the state of MDG 8 on developing global partnership, which was alleged to be reinforced during the 2010 MDG summit. The report addresses five main areas: official development assistance; market access (trade); debt sustainability; access to affordable essential medicines; and access to new technologies. At the launch of the report, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the challenges that lie ahead in achieving the MDGs and urged world leaders’ further cooperation on closing the gaps identified in the report.
The importance of international cooperation is underscored throughout the report, acknowledging the short time span until 2015 to achieve the MDGs. There have been many aid-related pledges made by individual donors and multilateral institutions during the past few years, yet they have been committed at different forums uncoordinatedly, rendering difficult the monitoring of the delivery process, the report points out. In this vein, the Integrated Implementation Framework (IIF) initiative, which is a new monitoring mechanism to be operational by the end of 2011, is expected to enhance the efficiency of the overall structure of aid delivery.
Another big challenge highlighted in the report is that the pledges are often unmet. In 2010, only five donor countries reached the UN’s pledged target on aid disbursement of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI). Furthermore, the growth of official development assistance (ODA) is expected to decline to 2% during 2011-2013, owing to fiscal constraints in several donor countries. Against this backdrop, strengthening aid effectiveness has been emphasized and new sources of financing have received renewed attention. South-South cooperation has also been growing significantly over the past decades.
Moreover, the report finds that the failure to push through the Doha agenda as a true “development round” has hindered the effective integration of developing countries into the global economy. Furthermore, the global economic crisis is expected to reduce the growth of developing countries’ exports to 8% in 2011 and 2012, which is significantly lower than the rate before the crisis that registered 11%. To assist the development of trade capacities of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), donors have recently launched the Aid for Trade and the Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs. Yet sustained levels of tariff duties imposed to the exports of LDCs remain critical barriers for facilitating exports over which they have comparative advantage.
On the issue of debt reduction, the IMF-World Bank Debt Sustainability Framework for low-income countries and the IMF Debt Sustainability Analysis framework for market access countries have been the major monitoring instruments. The overall debt servicing-to-export ratios of developing countries have improved this year, yet some vulnerable regions such as the Caribbean, Oceania, and Southern Asia have seen an increase in the rate.
Limited access to affordable essential medicines and new technologies are also obstacles to the holistic development of low-income countries. Structural factors such as lack of available medicines and national regulatory capacities pose challenges for many people in these countries in accessing low-cost quality medicine.
Concerning information and communication technologies (ICT), the report commends the rapid spread of ICT in developing countries during the past few decades. Yet it also points out that regional inequalities are large, and further technological support is needed to address climate change and to cope with the potential impact of the rising incidence of disasters.
On these crucial areas requiring further global cooperation - official development assistance, market access (trade), debt sustainability, access to affordable medicines, and access to new technologies - the report recommends that:
• Governments should meet all of their pledged ODA targets and work harder to improve aid effectiveness, including through the 2012 UN Development Cooperation Forum, which should expand the discussions to be held in the Fourth High-level Forum and Aid Effectiveness. Moreover, governments should provide full support for South-South cooperation and innovative sources of financing for development.
• The international community should intensify efforts to conclude the Doha Round in a development-oriented form, and remove trade restrictive measures adopted in the wake of the 2008-2009 crisis. Besides, it should accelerate the delivery of the commitments made on eliminating all forms of agriculture export subsidies by 2013.
• The international community should also institute an inter-agency technical working group on debt sustainability, and consider extending the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. It should support debt sustainability by increasing the share of aid delivery to low-income countries in the form of grants.
• The international community should further assist national governments with the provision of low-cost medicines and with the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases. Moreover, it should facilitate cooperation among developing countries to promote innovation of pharmaceutical manufacturers.
• The international community should facilitate technological transfers to developing countries through promoting research and development collaboration across borders. It should also facilitate the use of the new Technology Mechanism for climate change mitigation and adaptation which was established following the 2010 Cancun Climate Change Conference, and bolster local capacities to draw upon advanced technology to reduce natural disaster risks.
From its vantage point, the report finds the imperative for enhanced international cooperation in order to increase the coherence among policies on aid, trade, finance, employment and the environment, as well as to best facilitate the achievement of the MDGs in all countries.
To access the full report, click here.
To access a press release on the report, click here.
To access a fact sheet produced by the Task Force, click here.