Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Framing development cooperation with the private sector

By Noshua Watson

As the awareness of the private sector’s role in development grows, a variety of parties are becoming interested. The United Nations Economic and Social Council is hosting a Special Policy Dialogue next week on ‘Private philanthropic organizations in international development cooperation:New opportunities and specific challenges’  in preparation for the 2012 Development Cooperation Forum.

Some of the challenges faced by aid agencies working more closely with private foundations include:
  • engaging foundations in solutions that strengthen systems, not just addressing single issues
  • getting foundations to sign up to international aid reporting standards (like the International Aid Transparency Initiative)
  • reducing overlap in new projects and helping to scale existing projects
  • increasing innovation in new forms of development finance. 
Foundations can be brought more closely into existing development cooperation frameworks like the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness for multilateral aid donors and the Millennium Development Goals discussions for new post-2015 goals.

Another event, ‘A New Architecture of Aid: The Role of Private Capital’, is being sponsored by the UK charity Article 25 and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Knowledge Communities. This event will look at private sector finance of all sorts, not just philanthropy.

I believe that as the private sector influence on development becomes explicit, the development community will need to convince private sector actors of the value of local community voices and resources, bottom-up solutions, and non-material outcomes like wellbeing, dignity and social capital.