Canada and the Changing Face of International Development Cooperation
International development is undergoing a dramatic transition in response to a tidal wave of disruptors affecting how we think about and address the most pressing issues on the way to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The traditional development paradigm is fragmented and increasingly obsolete as donor funding is declining and new forms of development finance are emerging populated by new actors, including non-OECD countries (notably China), philanthropists and social impact investors, and the private sector. New technologies - and particularly digital disruptions - have blurred the borders, engendering new development models and institutional paradigms. International trade and investment have also been disrupted by protectionist responses to strains in the globalization architecture.
Priorities have changed and continue to shift in response to increased inequalities, climate change, conflict, fragility, displacement and migration. Globally, extreme poverty is rising in countries where violence, collapse in basic services delivery, and weakened state functions are the norm. Climate change is driving conflict, poverty, displacement and migration all over the world; it is a global risk from which no individual state can effectively protect its citizens through any unilateral action.
In this era of disruption, how is Canada mitigating risks and addressing challenges to our traditional ways in development cooperation? How is the Canadian international development community responding to the new world of multiple development narratives (and distorting information), political, trade and economic disruptions, and the crowding out of inclusiveness? How relevant is aid in its current form for meeting the SDGs and tackling inequalities, fragility, climate change, women’s economic empowerment, and ensuring no one is left behind? Is Canada’s FIAP approach able to effectively meet the complex challenge of disruptive development? Is some additional positive disruption called for from Canadian professionals like us to make a bigger difference?
Invitation to Participate in a Development Dialogue
The 2019 Conference will be held on 7, 8 of October 2019 in Ottawa at the conference centre of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The aim of the conference is to provide a venue for engagement between CAIDP members and development practitioners in Canada and abroad around the challenges confronting international development today, and of opportunities to address these issues to contribute to positive global change.
For the development community in Canada, international engagement has largely been shaped by Canada’s international development assistance framework. The Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) set the context for the 2018 CAIDP Conference, with its focus on gender equality, inclusiveness, and governance. Building on those ideas, the conference this year seeks to engage participants around new challenges presented by the disruptive factors mentioned above. It sets out to explore new opportunities for Canadian engagement. We ask how representative Canada’s FIAP is today, and how effective it is amidst the widening field of other development actors.
Transformation of the Global Aid Industry
A recent survey of global development leaders conducted by the Brookings Institute entitled Global Development Disrupted (2019) reveals that international development is undergoing extensive fragmentation and is being transformed by new actors, new innovations, and new approaches to development finance. Similarly, advocates of non-traditional development models, such as Raj Kumar at Devex, offer a different perspective of aid and philanthropy; they question if official aid, such as FIAP, are effective.
There is the impression amongst many today that foreign aid is a declining industry and that the future is not aid but development finance. Drivers of these approaches include not just non-OECD countries, but increasingly the financial industry and the private sector. The OECD DAC report 2018 describes this shifting landscape of development cooperation under the Sustainable Development Goals.
For its part, Canada has been working on innovative financing methods under the FIAP, launching a new development finance institution (FINDEV). And in June 2019, the Minister of International Cooperation launched the Equality Fund, an innovative global platform bringing the granting, philanthropic and investment worlds together to mobilize unprecedented levels of resources for women’s rights organizations and movements in developing countries. At our October gathering in Ottawa, we will explore how well the current Canadian ODA narrative aligns with this new international development ecosystem.