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Features

Diaspora view of the post-2015 MDGs architecture

2013-07-17, Issue 639

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/features/88291

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An abridged version of the final text submitted by the diaspora platform to the European EC Public Consultation ‘Towards a post-2015 development framework’. Drafted by Onyekachi Wambu on behalf of diaspora organisations

GENERAL COMMENTS

1. Africa-UK [1] provided a platform for up to 50 UK-based African civil society organisations and individuals to contribute to the discussions around the post-2015 development framework. The process of consultation with the African diaspora included the establishment of a drafting committee made up of diaspora policy experts [2], an open meeting on August 16, 2012 [3] , and the circulation of a draft text. This article is an abridged version of the final text submitted by the diaspora platform to the European EC Public Consultation ‘Towards a post-2015 development framework’.

2. The submission also draws on recommendations made by African representatives who were part of the workshop, ‘Toward an African Position on the Post-2015 Development Agenda’ [4], plus ideas advanced by African think tanks such as ACET – the African Center for Economic Transformation.


3. The answers provided here do not aim to be a comprehensive response to all of the critical questions raised by the International Development Committee process, but rather are narrowly focused on considering issues through the prism of migration and development and propose strategies for integrating the resources of the diaspora (as a global partner for development) into a broader overarching home-grown African policy framework that emphasizes productive structural transformation.

A. Lessons learned from the adoption of the International Development Targets and the Millennium Development Goals: in particular how effective has the MDG process been to date


4. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have provided the policy framework within which African diaspora communities have engaged with DFID in the UK, the EU, the UN, Bretton Woods and other multilateral agencies, while also engaging with the poverty reduction strategies of various African governments, which have in turn been shaped by the MDGs.

5. However, because of the lack of integration of the diaspora into official development discourses, the African diaspora is frequently operating in isolation, working towards the goals and targets, without being integrated into official frameworks. The MDG goals on poverty and health, for instance, have been indirectly funded through diaspora remittances and investment. However, the lack of engagement of the diaspora in official discourses has meant that the input of the diaspora in effectively shaping and influencing the MDGs has remained untapped.

6. Diasporas make huge contributions to their countries of heritage, through remittances and investment and through sharing knowledge and skills. The amount of remittances sent globally in 2011 was $325 billion [5], compared to $133.5 billion Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) from major donor countries who are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) [6]. Diasporas provide an invisible welfare system, paying for healthcare, education, and day to day living expenses, especially in the rural areas. [7] Any framework for impacting on the plight of the poor, especially in Africa, would need to harness much more effectively the contributions of the diaspora.

7. There is a pressing need to bring together the so-called ‘informal’ world of diaspora development activity, with the ‘formal’ world of international development practices. This would be achieved by mainstreaming the diaspora in any post-2015 framework as a ‘global partner’ for development. The African Union recognises the diaspora as the sixth region of Africa and as such this structure can provide a formal channel for this process. [8]

SIGNIFICANT FUNDING ATTRACTED

8. The MDGs have attracted significant funding for development, especially to Lower Income Countries (LICs), a large number of which are African. Increased funding has led to advances in critical areas, such as direct budget support for primary education in Kenya and Uganda, which has benefited large numbers of poor people.

9. Nevertheless, for the diaspora, the MDG framework has not dealt with the other equally pressing and underlying reasons why people remain poor: these include issues around bad governance, conflict and instability, marginalisation and discrimination, inadequate infrastructure, deeply ingrained cultural attitudes against women, particular ethnic groups or castes. Most importantly, the failure to create jobs and adequate remuneration continues to compound these underlying reasons of poverty and vulnerability.

FEATURES AND ELEMENTS OF THE MDG FRAMEWORK THAT HAVE BEEN PARTICULARLY VALUABLE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST POVERTY

10. Key features and elements of the MDGs have included a focus on critical areas of social development needs, particularly education and child maternal health and HIV AIDS, where some progress has been made. Such focus has led to increased global policy coherence which has in turn dramatically improved global partnerships for action. As noted above, the MDGs have also has attracted significant funding into developing countries. However, the narrow focus on partnerships has meant that the African diaspora with its expertise and financial contribution to the continent were not harnessed in the process.

OTHER FEATURES AND ELEMENTS OF THE MDG FRAMEWORK THAT HAVE BEEN PROBLEMATIC

11. The focus on a narrow range of goals and targets has not necessarily dealt with the underlying issues of underdevelopment and poverty. Even if all the stated goals and targets had been met, many developing countries would still remain poor and underdeveloped.

12. Successful emerging economies, such as China, South Korea , Singapore and Malaysia, made impressive advances in reducing poverty and improving health and well being without a focus on MDGs. They progressed as a result of their focus on an industrial policy that keyed in on infrastructure development, education and skills up-grade alongside low labour costs, improvements in healthcare, major Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), all driven by a critical mass of policymakers and bureaucrats with a shared development agenda. [9] In other words an agenda for structural transformation was adopted, not one that focused narrowly on poverty reduction.

MAIN GAPS IN MDG FRAMEWORK

13. The MDGs framework does not allow for the necessary structural transformational agenda which would deal with the underlying issues of development, vulnerability and poverty. This submission agrees with the ‘Outcome Document: Towards an African Position on the Post-2105 Development Agenda’,[10]. The workshop participants noted that the MDGs so far:

• Have limited focus on economic growth and transformation
• Do not sufficiently emphasise the role of domestic resource mobilization in Africa’s development agenda
• Tend to neglect issues relating to the quality of service delivery
• Are silent on inequality including spatial and horizontal inequality; and
• Disproportionately focus on outcomes with limited consideration of the enablers of development and thereby exclude the role of factors such infrastructure and peace and security in facilitating socio-economic advancement [11]

14. Beyond these points it should also be added that the MDG framework did not adequately address other important enablers of development such as good governance, human rights, gender equality, power relations, anti-corruption measures, money laundering, and protection from exploitation by transnational companies. Moreover, an emphasis on improved quality of data and its application is also predicated on the capacity of African states to have the capacity and commitment to collect and analyse this data consistently, accurately and in a timely manner.

B. The coverage of future goals: should they be for developing countries only or should progress be monitored in all countries?

15. Among the UK-based African diaspora organisations and individuals that participated in the Africa-UK open meeting there is agreement with many aspects of the overarching global architecture recommended by the UN System-wide Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda which calls for:

• A vision for the future that rests on the core values of human rights, equality and sustainability.
• A continuing agenda format based on concrete end goals and targets, but reorganized along a focused approach incorporating the four key dimensions of (1) inclusive social development; (2) inclusive economic development; (3) environmental sustainability; and (4) peace and security.
• Coupled with the need for a high degree of policy coherence at the global, regional, national and sub-national levels. [12]

16. However they go onto that argue that beyond that, to be effective and have an impact at global level, a future framework would need to acknowledge changing global enablers and integrate significant elements of the global order, such as migrants and diasporas, that are not currently included in the discourse of development and globalisation, particularly in Africa. Policy approaches to migration and development currently tend to focus on migration management which mainly handles these issues through the border controls/ security/terrorism nexus, rather than perceiving diasporas as the human face of globalisation, and appreciating their multiple development inputs and potentialities both in their host country and country of heritage.

17. Furthermore, there is agreement with the points made by UN System-wide Task Team’s ‘Realizing the future we want for all’ that in setting the agenda and encouraging policy coherence: ‘it should be recognized that there are no blueprints and that one size does not fit all. Hence, the agenda should leave ample space for national policy design and adaptation to local settings, but be guided by the overall vision and its underlying principles’. [13] There is clearly a need for a global development framework and levels of accountability on the part of developed countries and developing countries in relation to tackling global challenges in this global village; however this should not be over prescriptive.

The content of future goals: what would be a good set of global goals? What continuity should there be with the MDGs, and how should the unfulfilled MDGs be taken forward?

How should the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ being established following Rio +20 relate to the development goals being considered by the High-Level Panel?

18. A future framework should aim to facilitate an enabling environment that would support the achievement of structural transformation in Africa, similar to that achieved by China, South Korea and Malaysia. This transformation would be influenced by policies of effective African governments, as well as the ideas emerging from African civil society [14] and think tanks, such as –the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET).

19. As ACET has noted: ‘MDG goals and targets, a favourable international system and some generous aid transfers wisely used (by the recipient) can be conducive to the needed transformations in Africa, but while they may be necessary they are certainly not sufficient. The onus and focus must be on individual African countries and specifically on the institutions within’. [15] Too much of the international aid system is supply driven. Clever leaders from the developing world understand this and can game the system. Genuine transformation is endogenous and demand-led/driven, with, at best, policymakers and governments responding to the demand coming from citizens.

20. Economic transformation means relying less on aid or primary commodities and more on industry, manufacturing, and knowledge-based services. It also means modernizing agriculture and upgrading skills (especially of women who form a major part of the economy of Africa, especially in the agricultural sector which accounts for about 21% of the continent's GDP women are known to contribute approximately 60-80% of agricultural labour) alongside technological capabilities to compete in the global marketplace There is an urgent need to skill up. Several other institutions, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), also emphasize transformation as the sustainer of economic growth and poverty reduction.

21. A post-2015 framework would need to incorporate the critical enablers of structural transformation. The participants at the ‘Toward an African Position on the Post-2105 Development Agenda’ conference urged their adoption in the post-2015 development agenda. They identified the critical enablers as:

• Institutional capacity development:
• Domestic resource mobilization: de-emphasizing aid and external sources of financing, and encouraging domestic funding, thus enhancing ownership and accountability
• Participation and ownership at the community, national and global level:
• Social inclusiveness and [gender] equality:
• Governance and leadership: strong leadership, good governance, and political will being necessary to achieve development goals
• Peace and Security: economic and social development cannot be achieved without the basic preconditions of peace and security
• Regional integration and trade: to encourage economic growth and transformation, regional integration and trade networks must be in place.
• Infrastructure development: adequate infrastructure roads, electricity, water supply, [information technology] etc are necessary to implement the goals and targets
• Global cooperation and partnerships:
• Finally, strong global cooperation and partnerships are essential [16]

22. In addition to the enablers post-2015 development needs to be assessed by economic growth in the following areas: Economic transformation; education and technology; and human development: that together will result in structural transformation.

23. Meanwhile, as UNCTAD and others have noted, African governments face a major dilemma in pursuing a structural transform agenda – balancing ‘rising affluence and a growing population’ with ‘intensifying environmental pressures… the expanding magnitude of waste and pollution, and the growing reliance on non-renewable resources’ [17].

24. This submission supports the recommendations of the UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report 2012: Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development in Africa which: ‘argues that green industrial development must lie at the heart of sustainable structural transformation in Africa.’ [18]

The process: are the right voices being heard? What are the opportunities for and constraints to global consensus? The role of the private sector and other non-state organisations;

25. MDG-8 potentially strengthened the global partnership for development through the proposal to link official development assistance (ODA), a fair multilateral trading system, debt relief and affordable access to new technologies and essential medicines to human development. Beyond 2015, it needs to expand to incorporate the partnership and agency of diasporas and migrants as important Global Partners for Development.

26. Estimates put formal worldwide remittances last year at $325 billion. [19] Foreign-based Nigerians alone formally sent nearly $40 billion through official channels to the country over four years between 2007–2010. [20]

27. Many of the diaspora interventions have not been recognized, valued or adequately researched to assess their potential for scaling up. Expanding Target 8 to include diasporas as Global Partner for Development would enhance this potential.

FINANCING GLOBAL GOALS: ARE NEW MECHANISMS NEEDED? THE ROLE OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR AND OTHER NON-STATE ORGANISATIONS

28. A structural transformation agenda could improve development financing by involving and harnessing new financing partners – principally private sector savings and investment, FDI, and remittance flows from the diaspora. Many of the emerging economies, such as China, Brazil, India, are also already focused on a transformational agenda, and are keen to invest in the enablers of development such as infrastructure and energy, rather than in giving traditional aid.

29. Beyond that gaining appropriate government financing is critical in enabling transformation. We have seen in recent months when the sovereign borrowing rate for Spain reached 7% many analysts labelled it as a disaster zone for the country. For many African countries to be requested double digit borrowing rates is not uncommon. This is a huge hindrance for development financing of important capital intensive projects. The World Bank and other major DFI’s assisting sovereigns to raise finance is far more sustainable and could be more effective than aid.

30. Finally the African diaspora can play an important role through remittances in improving domestic private saving and investment, which are critical enablers of structural transformation. For instance, harnessing a portion of the $25 billion officially sent to Africa in remittances (and maybe up to $40 billion unofficially sent) into private saving schemes and into other forms of investment such as Diaspora Bonds, would provide an important stimulus for growth, if strategically linked and integrated to a structural transformation agenda.

31. Criticisms exist that remittances are ‘unreliable, cannot be formalised, directed towards specific objectives or made accountable’. [21] However, the provision of incentives through properly focused policy could create the reliability, formalisation and accountability desired. For instance, the creation of Diaspora and Mutual Bonds could achieve this goal. OECD governments with significant diaspora populations could support the achievement of this goal through making provision for tax relief and other measures on remittances and create an incentive for increased remittances.

ENDNOTES

[1] Africa-UK is a nationwide policy engagement programme funded through Comic Relief’s Common Ground Initiative (CGI), and delivered AFFORD. It aims to increase the diaspora’s contribution to Africa’s development by promoting dialogue and engagement between UK-based Africans involved in development on the one hand, and policy makers on the other
[2] The drafting committee comprised of Chukwu-emeka Chikezie, Angela Haynes, Effion Akpan and Onyekachi Wambu
[3] Africa-UK Diaspora Post-2015 Submission Open Meeting, held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London on 16th August 2012
[4] Outcome Document – Toward an African Position on the Post-2105 Development Agenda, ECA, 2011
[5] Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011, 2nd Edition, World Bank, Washington, P.V11
[6] Love, Patrick, OECD Insights, http://oecdinsights.org/2012/04/04/development-aid-drops-for-the-first-time-in-15-years/
[7] Faal, G, Introduction to RemitAid – Remittance Tax Relief for International Development. http://www.remitaid.org/downloads/Introduction%20to%20RemitAid%20-%20GKP%2006.pdf
[8] http://www.globaldiasporasummit.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Resolution-on-the-Diaspora.pdf
[9]Gumede, William, Delivering the democratic developmental state in South Africa, Development Planning Division, Working Paper Series No.9, DBSA, Midrand, 2009, P.4-6
[10] Which came out of a workshop convened by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union Commission (AUC) and United Nations Development Programme ‘s Regional Bureau for Africa (UNDP/RBA) on November 15th-16th 2011 in Accra, Ghana
[11] Outcome Document – Toward an African Position on the Post-2105 Development Agenda, ECA, 2011
[12] Realizing the future we want for all: Report to the Secretary-General UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda’, New York, June 2012,
[13] Ibid.
[14] Outcome Document – Toward an African Position on the Post-2105 Development Agenda, ECA, 2011
[15] Acemoglu, D and Robinson, J, ‘Why Nations Fail: the origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, Profile Books Ltd, 2012
[16] Outcome Document – Toward an African Position on the Post-2105 Development Agenda
[17] Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development in Africa, Economic Development in Africa Report 2012, UNCTAD
[18] Ibid
[19] Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011, 2nd Edition, World Bank, Washington, P.V11
[20] Beyond 2015 Submission to the EC Public Consultation – ‘Towards a post-2015 development framework’, P.18


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