At the start of the new millennium, reflection on the sometimes only transient results of development cooperation efforts not only prompted a call for more support (Monterrey) and a tighter focus on goals aimed at eliminating poverty (the Millennium Development Goals, but also focused greater attention on systematically boosting the effectiveness of such support. In 2005, principles for achieving this were set out in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
DGD turned this declaration into its own action plan in 2007, since which time it has been working on the implementation of that plan. At the follow-up conference held in Accra, Ghana, in September 2008, the progress that had been made was assessed and efforts were stepped up. The principles underlying the action plan are as follows:
- Ownership: Instead of being subjected to support measures, partner countries now take charge of them .
- Alignment: Development-related priorities are set by the partner countries’ strategies.
- Harmonisation: The donors strive to enhance their mutual coordination and complementarity.
- Results: Results-oriented management, with the focus on the shorter and longer-term impact of actions.
- Mutual accountability: On the part of both the donor and the partner country.
To implement these principles in practice, Belgian Development Cooperation is working on a series of major and minor reforms in the way it approaches cooperation. In practice, this is translating into less geographical dispersion and a narrower spread of topics covered, concentrating on the countries and sectors in which Belgium has sufficient expertise and skills, coordinating actions more with other bilateral or multilateral donors, taking the development policy of the respective partner country as our point of departure, and using the financial and administrative systems already existing in partner countries. All this is going hand in hand with support for and reform of local institutions and training, efforts to make support predictable and better coordination with all the actors in our own country and institutions.