European Research for Development Policies
Mobilizing European Research for Development Policies
In 2007, rich expertise of European research centres and academic institutions contributing to development related issues has been linked to policy-making processes at European level through the launch of a joint initiative "Mobilizing European Research for Development Policies" . It involves the European Commission as well several EU Member States ( Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom).
On the bases of knowledge excellence and innovation, it enhances European perspective on development issues in the international arena and builds a common ground between the European research community and policymakers.
The main outcome of this process will be the annual publication of the European Report on Development (ERD), a research-led and forward-looking review of development issues and a European counterpart to other major flagship global reports.
The first ERD Report launched
The first ever European Report on Development "Overcoming Fragility in Africa ? Forging a New European Approach" has been launched during the European Development Days in Stockholm, 22-24/10/2009.
"'Fragility' needs to be tackled if progress on the MDGs is to be achieved." F. Bourguignon et al., Millennium Development Goals at Midpoint: Where do we stand and where do we need to go? .
"Nine percent of the population, and about 27 percent of the extreme poor in developing countries live in fragile states. This situation will not improve unless fragile states become less vulnerable to adverse shocks, and they increase their capacity to absorb external funds and to mobilize internal resources for sustained poverty reduction and improved economic security."
World Bank, Global Monitoring Report 2007.
"Overcoming fragility is above all an imperious moral necessity which must be addressed in order to make progress on development. But it is also in our interest, with the aim to ensure global stability and prosperity in a more and more interdependent world", Stefano Manservisi, Director General for Development of the European Commission.
This is all the more the case since fragile African countries are particularly affected by the succession of food, fuel and financial crises because of their low capacity to cope and recover from shocks. Therefore, external interventions should be driven by the long term objective of enhancing the resilience of so-called fragile countries and their societies.
Five key priorities to help fragile African countries
Countries are fragile because they struggle to adapt to the unexpected, they lack the safety nets and mechanisms needed to resist external and internal threats. It is very difficult to apply a single definition to fragile states ? they have different histories, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and cultural and political landscapes ? but their fragility shares some common causes, such as conflict and instability, poor governance, low levels of social cohesion, poor social infrastructure. And in all cases, their fragility severely affects their development prospects.
The first ERD 2009 suggests five key policy priorities for a new European approach to fragility in Sub-Saharan Africa:
- bridging the gap between short-term needs and long-term policies to enhance resilience;
- enhancing human and social capital;
- supporting state-building and social cohesion;
- supporting better governance at regional level;
- and strengthening security and development together.
In the framework of this initiative, a team of development specialists led by Professor FranÃ§ois Bourguignon (Director of the Paris School of Economics) has been formed in 2008 to express an independent commentary on progress towards the MDGs in light of the changing world economy.
Millennium Development Goals at midpoint: where do we stand, and where do we need to go?
According to the paper, the world is on track for halving poverty by 2015 (taking 1990 as the benchmark): 120 million people were out of poverty between 2000 and 2005; this means a 2.4 per cent annual decrease.
Also, between 2000 and 2005:
- 2 million lives were saved through reduced child mortality
- 30 million additional children, aged 6 to 12, are going to school
- 30 million additional families have access to drinking water
- Boys and girls in equal numbers are attending primary school
However, the progress is highly uneven and too slow in some areas. Global poverty increase is largely due to rapid growth in the Asian giants such as China, India and Indonesia. Despite a recent up-turn in growth, Sub-Saharan Africa remains the lagging region with respect to both income and non-income indicators.
Besides, new trends and global challenges such as rising food and oil prices, the financial crisis and, on a longer term, the effects of climate change are putting further strains and even threaten the sustainability of the progress achieved so far in terms of poverty reduction.
Speaking in Brussels to the development community, the group?s head Francois Bourguignon emphasised: ?Our research shows that the MDGs remain a valuable framework for development action to 2015. But progress needs to be accelerated and this requires stronger policy coherence at all levels. Progress towards the MDGs is shaped by three factors: the extent to which developing countries benefit from global economic growth; how far their own policies contribute to poverty reduction; and how well aid is delivered and used. We find cause for concern in all three areas.'
The group of researchers tables seven key recommendations in order to foster progress:
1) The MDGs must be integrated into a coherent framework that supports growth with equity and well-designed sectoral policies
2) Donors must deliver on their promises of aid volumes and improved delivery
3) Sound domestic policies in developing countries play a crucial role, but there is no "one size fits all" package
4) MDG policy coherence must be improved at the global level, particularly in the fields of trade, financial regulation, migration and security
5) The poorest need to be protected from shocks, whether caused by high food and oil prices or the emerging effect of climate change, hence the importance of social protection and insurance schemes
6) Countries with weak institutions, often embroiled in or emerging from conflicts, require specific approach combining political, technical, financial and, sometimes, military resources
7) As the geographical distribution of poverty and economic prospects of the poor are rapidly evolving, it is important to start thinking about the MDGs beyond 2015.
As the world largest donor of development aid and a major trading partner, the EU can play a special role in this new "project" to deliver on the MDGs, bringing its own experience in regional integration as well as its particular strengths as reflected in the European Consensus on Development.
More photos from event
The EU Research Paper: "Millennium Development Goals at midpoint: where do we stand, and where do we need to go?" was officially launched on the 19th September 2008 in Brussels in the presence of Professor FranÃ§ois Bourguignon and members of his research team, the European Commission and DFID representatives.
The research paper was also presented in New York on the 24th September 2008 in the margins of the United Nations High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals. Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, opened the meeting by recalling the values which are at the heart of European development policy and outlining the situation in terms of the MDGs achievement and challenges.