While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) list specific development targets, the less advertised Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) outline specific conditions that make achieving these goals easier. Monitored by a working party and ratified in 2005 and 2008 respectively, they represent a consensus on aid policy that supports increased participation by developing nations.
Below is an overview of the 5 principal aims of the Paris Declaration and why they’re key to achieving the MDGs.
1. Ownership - Developing countries take charge of their own development initiatives and objectives.
Why it matters: Successful initiatives cannot be forced on one country by another. Ownership helps to speed progress and promote long-run sustainability.
2. Alignment – Donors channel their activities through developing country institutions and strategies.
Why it matters: It supports developing countries in setting and meeting their own goals relevant to their individual country contexts, rather than forcing prescribed plans upon them.
3. Harmonization - Donor countries encourage coordination amongst one another.
Why it matters: This coincides with the partnership call from MDG 8. Lack of communication is inefficient since (1) some efforts are bound to be redundant and (2) divvying up resources can reduce their effectiveness.
4. Results - We should judge what we’re doing by the outcomes produced.
Why it matters: Effective measurement is the clearest way to see if what we do actually works. However, this gets tricky since measurement is arbitrary and sometimes effects don’t come to fruition until the long term.
5. Mutual Accountability - All parties involved—developed and developing—are responsible for what happens (or doesn’t happen).
Why it matters: It stresses that development is not meant to be one part of the world developing the other. Rather, ensuring the wellbeing of humanity is everyone’s responsibility—successes and failures are not isolated but shared by all.
Sound broad? These themes are evaluated by a list of 12 indicators. Moreover, the Paris Declaration is often lumped together with the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) which reemphasizes areas that had still not achieved acceptable progress by 2008. Particularly, it stresses the importance of developing countries’ leading role in fulfilling their own national development objectives as well as the importance of freedom from donors’ prescriptive conditionalities and clear communication about future aid flows.
The declarations are not without their imperfections. However, they do underline the fact that the mindset of development policy makers has come quite a long way since the structural adjustment programs and one-sided mentalities of the past. Accomplishing these tasks in practice is assuredly not simple, but they highlight the importance of a unified approach towards tackling the MDGs.