[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]n our actual international scenario, international relations play a key role, not just to prevent conflicts but also to foster development and better life conditions. As a globalized international society, we live a reality of interdependence and interconnections, thus international cooperation profiles as a necessity to every country in the world.
Due to this globalization and interdependence, every action, even the most local, has a repercussion at an international level, so an international conflict has negative results, politically and economically speaking to the countries involved directly and to those indirectly involved. In this context, the countries are changing their strategies and actions at the international level, by fostering international cooperation, especially for development.
International Cooperation for Development (ICD) can be defined as the mobilization of technical, economic and human resources to foster wellness, capabilities and better life conditions in other countries.
Since the Paris Declaration of Development Aid in 2005, the efforts to foster and guide effectively ICD have been very strong, by developed and in-development countries. The Paris Declaration was a watershed in this topic, mainly by 2 facts:
The language changed from “receptors” of ICD or aid to “partners”, becoming “cooperation from donors to partners” instead of “cooperation from donors to receptors”, in this way partners are not labeled as the weak players of the relation; moreover, they become literally partners of development with donors.
And most important: the principles of ICD were established: appropriation, alignment, harmonization, results oriented management and mutual responsibility.
In appropriation, the partner countries take the agenda as their own, self-defining the key topics to receive ICD/aid. Alignment, close related to appropriation, means that donors align to the partners’ agenda and partners align to the accountability system of donors. Harmonization refers to share data and have a common database about ICD/aid, and to align procedures to facilitate the goals achievement. Mutual responsibility is very clear and results oriented management is crucial; it means that the resources have to be destined to the means for which they were received and have to be based in development plans of the countries.
In these principles there are included implicitly aspects like transparency, inclusion, accountability and obviously governance, and that is where citizen participation at national and local level gains importance.
These recent principles have made that both donors and partners restructure the way they cooperate and incorporate the principles to establish new agendas of ICD.
It is very important to note that the countries leading these efforts are not developed countries, the leading countries are emerging powers and in-development countries like China, Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Mexico, Australia and others.
With these important changes in international cooperation, non-traditional forms of ICD have been surging like horizontal or south-south and triangular cooperation.
The horizontal or south-south cooperation involves 2 or more in-developing countries or emerging powers, that’s why it is called south-south. This type of cooperation usually focuses in technical aspects and capabilities formation, for example: the cooperation projects between Mexico and Colombia.
The triangular cooperation develops when a developed country or emerging power gives financial or technical support to a country with medium development level, which aids a third country with less development level with technical and/or scientific cooperation.
These 2 types of cooperation are constituting the majority of ICD, due mainly to the rise of emerging powers like China, Russia, Brazil and others.
As stated previously one of the main goals of ICD is building governance and capabilities for in-development countries, this issue has been stated constantly at international summits about development, the most recent example of this is the sustainable development summit of RIO +20, which gave place for the post-2015 agenda and the sustainable development goals (SDG).
The Paris summit has helped the countries to focus on aspects of development such as the mentioned before, but also the Monterrey summit of international aid, realized in 2002. As the most relevant results of the summit, the majority of the emerging powers, donors and partners agreed on the necessity to include and support NGO’s (or non-profit) as leading actor of development.
Since the beginning of 21st. century, more and more donors have included the requisite of “good government” to aid developing countries, which includes aspects like transparency, accountability and governance.
To achieve governance it is needed the participation of different actors from government, and also to include local actors to achieve development goals in countries. These different actors are NGOs, businesses and community groups, not only at the national level but also at local level. Due to this, citizen participation becomes an important actor for development, especially at the local level.
Citizen participation means that citizens interact with governments, not only in the decision-making process but also in the making of public policies and programs in the communities, and that translates directly into democratic governance; which is the post-government process where different agents take part in the making and preserve of the public policies, programs and actions from the local to national level.
As NGO’s and citizen participation gains importance, the urge for including them in the ICD process becomes more and more pressing. Even to be considered at United Nations agenda as key agents to achieve development goals. However, a broader support economically, socially and politically speaking to NGOs is needed.
In addition, the lack of participation and dialogue of NGOs is considered a problem for donors when cooperating with developing countries, constituting an indicator of a “fragile State”, which may lead to corruption and misuse of the resources received for development means. That’s why the international community has been debating about including more and more the civil society (especially NGOs) in the formulation of national development plans.
Inclusion of NGOs at the local level goes hand by hand to building capabilities in local governments to foster local responsiveness, accountability and transparency. Moreover, the internationalization of local governments and paradiplomacy are actions that foster ICD and local and regional development.
This is closely related to rescaling, in which the State restructures economically and politically to adapt to the globalized and interdependent scenario, which changes the territorial, economic, political and social constitution of the countries.
The international efforts to foster development include these new focuses; local and regional development, democratic governance, paradiplomacy, and obviously ICD.
That’s why (as stated before) the newest international agenda, the post-2015 agenda, includes 17 goals which will operate until 2030 with an inclusive, innovative and integral focus to be accomplished.
The Agenda was made by the active participation of developing countries in the creation of the goals, with both governmental and nongovernmental entities contributing to the global debate. This agenda calls for a multi-stakeholder approach, which encourages local governments, civil society (NGOs, community organizations) to become development partners and take joint action with governments.
One of the key concerns of this agenda is the institutional capacity of local governments to implement the goals. Governments need to strengthen the capacity of local entities to deliver and implement the goals.
The different Stakeholders involvement will ensure the government’s accountability and responsiveness to its citizens. Therefore, all stakeholders will have an important role in the accountability measures and mechanisms.
Civil society entities, such as NGOs must play a crucial role in the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by being agents that respond to the wellbeing of citizens, by having accountability, responsiveness, transparency and being an active follower and reviewer of government actions to implement and achieve the SDGs.
Being the first year of the SDGs official launch, it is tremendously important to begin to take action now in fostering governance by including different agents such as NGOs and local businesses, the alliances will mark the success or failure of these brand-new goals; as the 17th goal establishes “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”, countries, businesses and citizenship have to be united and work together to improve development levels in the communities.
We, the people, have the right and duty to be an active part of our development.