Euforic's Peter Ballantyne reflects on issues discussed in a round table meeting of WorldConnectors on the statement.
Important in framing the overall discussions among WorldConnectors are the principles of the Earth Charter initiative - a global network of people, organizations, and institutions that share a sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family and the living world.
The WorldConnector discussions showed that recognizing - and acting on - the interdependence of policies and actions is fundamental if we are to achieve more coherent international development cooperation. Greater coherence also calls for people and politicians, as well as governments, to share responsibilities for the ‘total costs of ownership’ of the products they buy and the policies they formulate. A narrow or short term benefit, without a proper coherence check, can have unintended negative consequences for our world.
Policy coherence for development’ is not a new concept. It is enshrined in the Maastricht Treaty and has subsequently been worked on by the European Union, its
So, what’s new?
The WorldConnector statement elaborates on three areas where coherence is required: First, within a policy area, such as within development policy or within foreign policy. Second, across the policies of a government, for instance between development and trade or development and fisheries. The third area is across the aid and non-aid policies of different countries, including in multilateral forums like the EU. These are all areas where aid effectiveness can be improved through more consistent and coherent (and inter-connected) policies and actions, especially by governments.
The discussions in
It’s one thing to push governments and civil servants to be more coherent, it’s quite another challenge to change the behavior – and the norms and values – of individuals, companies, and international organizations so they become more coherent.
What's the problem?
As examples, actions that would be considered illegal in
Companies are often fingered as the culprits, often unfairly. Other actors are often involved in a problem that requires cooperation as well as confrontation. For example, attractive tax regulations in a European country can reduce the tax receipts of a developing country government; some forms of tourism undermine rather than boost local cultures and businesses; an aid agency’s investments in medical education in a developing country can be undermined when these trained medical staff migrate to better jobs in Europe; a large carbon ‘footprint’ in a Dutch home may condemn future generations in developing countries to homes without water, or indeed cities under water.
Societal coherence thus poses tough questions: How do we encourage consumers to be ‘ethical’ in their shopping decisions? How do we know what is ethical? How do we encourage companies and their suppliers to follow, or go beyond, global standards when these are above what is locally required where they work? How do we ensure that international and development organizations are accountable to the people they aim to help? How do we enforce or regulate such activities, balancing encouragement and incentives on the one hand with sanctions or regulations on the other? How do we mobilize and sustain the political will to tackle such problems?
In setting out to tackle this ambitious agenda, the principles of interdependence and shared responsibility in the Earth Charter offer particularly relevant ‘anchors’ with which to encourage PCD – not just ‘policy coherence for development’ but also ‘personal’ and ‘political’ or ‘public’ coherence for development!
See also Euforic's dossier on coherence ; check out the EVS portals: www.eucoherence.org and www.coherentie.nl
Story by Peter Ballantyne