Development Cooperation under Siege

NEW YORK – Protracted economic stagnation in rich countries continues to threaten the development prospects of poorer countries. Globalization and economic liberalization over the last few decades have, of course, helped to integrate developing countries into the world economy, but now that very integration is becoming a threat as developing countries are hit by the knock-on effects of the rich world’s troubles.

As a consequence of increased global integration, growth in developing countries relies more than ever on access to international markets. That access is needed, not only to export products, but also to import food and other requirements. Interdependence nowadays truly is a two-way street.

Unfortunately, the trade effects of the crisis have been compounded by its impact on development cooperation efforts, which have been floundering lately. Four decades ago, OECD countries committed to devote 0.7% of their GDP to official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries. But the total in 2010 reached only $128.7 billion, or 0.32% of GDP – less than half of what was promised.

Likewise, in 2000, United Nations member states adopted the Millennium Development Goals to provide benchmarks for tackling world poverty. But the UN’s MDG Gap Task Force Report 2011 highlights serious shortfalls in international efforts to achieve the goals, a sober reminder of the need to step up efforts and meet longstanding international commitments, especially in the current global financial crisis.