Agreement on an Action Agenda - with no tangible actions

ActionAid reaction to the outcome of the Financing for Development summit

The world’s governments met in Addis Ababa this week to determine how to fund the global fight against poverty and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the end of the meeting, the member states officially adopted the outcome document, referred to as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

According to ActionAid, the outcome has resolutely failed to provide a concrete plan to fund actions that will help poor countries and people lift themselves out of poverty.

ActionAid International’s Tax Power campaign manager, Martin Hojsik, said:

“The fact that the outcome document is called an ‘action’ agenda is sadly ironic as it is almost entirely devoid of any concrete actions or new commitments. The few actions that do exist are insufficient to serve the goals of financing development for the eradication of poverty.” 

ActionAid has highlighted a number of key areas where new action-focused commitments and plans are severely lacking.

Global Tax

The failure to agree on the creation of a UN global tax body was undeniably the Financing for Development (FFD) conference’s most contentious outcome. Hojsik, said:

“The agreement made regarding a global tax body is outrageously unjust. Developing countries, which are losing billions of dollars a year to tax dodging, are not being given an equal say in fixing archaic and unfair global tax rules.

“This lost money could have gone to the provision of education, health care and other poverty-reducing public services. While the multinationals prosper, the poor and marginalised will continue to suffer.”

Private-Public Partnerships

The private sector is increasingly touted as a potential partner in the eradication of poverty. It is argued that they could assist cash-strapped governments with providing public services, like education or health care. Soren Ambrose, head of policy for ActionAid International, said:

“The Action Agenda has permitted the private sector to act as it chooses; there are no concrete requirements for respecting human rights, transparency, or accountability. There isn’t even a requirement for privately-financed projects to benefit the local community. The risk – and it is a very real one - is that private companies will pursue money rather than benefits for people in poverty.  As one of the grim jokes making the rounds at the Addis United Nations headquarters has it today, the ‘Financing for Development’ conference has become ‘Developing for Finance’.”

Climate

The Action Agenda has been applauded for tabling the issue of removing inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, but according to ActionAid, the outcome is far from a win. Climate policy manager for ActionAid International, Harjeet Singh, said:

"The question that was asked still remains: how are we going to fund climate change and address its effects?  While we were happy to see the suggestion of removing inefficient fossil fuel subsidies on the table, the document asked for no commitment by the member states and provided no plan of action. It is nothing more than empty rhetoric.

"It was a similar situation with the issue of climate finance. The conference paid lip service to the issue by merely referring to the six-year old, $100 billion pledge, with no roadmap in sight to actually deliver it. Rich nations offered no new resources or new sources of finance to the developing nations to deal with the rising challenge of climate change.”

Agriculture and Women’s Rights

ActionAid International’s Coordinator for Public Financing for Agriculture, David Adama, said:

“A commendable goal has been set to end hunger in the world by 2030, but sadly the conference completed misrepresented the situation. It focused only on nutrition and food security without discussing the quantity or quality of public investment actually needed to achieve these objectives.

“When the mode of investment in agriculture was discussed, it focused heavily on the private sector instead of public investment, good governance and good public services to help improve the farming outputs by smallholder farmers. It is through supporting local, smallholder farmers – farming is the primary livelihood for women living in poverty – that a real and sustainable difference would be made for women’s rights, nutrition and food security.”

Aid Effectiveness

Luca De Fraia, ActionAid Italy’s deputy secretary general, said:

“Forty years ago, developed countries pledged to contribute 0.7% of gross national income to development. To date, only a few countries have followed through on this promise. The Action Agenda provided no new timeline or new commitments, with the exception of the EU who said they’d reach the target by 2030 – fifteen years after their original deadline.

“While there has been repeated agreements in the past that development assistance needs to be used more effectively, which is to say, in a more transparent, accountable, predictable, and poverty-focused manner, there was no implementation plans or guidelines developed to support this idea in the Action Agenda.”

In Conclusion

Hojsik said: “The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was designed to finance eradication poverty, but instead has put corporate interests, and those of wealthy individuals and governments, over those of developing countries. The outcomes clearly indicate a strong lack of political will to make a change.

“The failure of the process, is not, however, a failure of the movement.  It will only spur civil society’s creativity as we find ways to democratize economics and politics around the world and close the rapidly widening inequality gap between the rich and poor.”

Editors' notes
For interviews with ActionAid spokespeople in Addis Ababa, please contact McKinley Charles at: +251 (0) 929 234 674 or at mckinley.charles@actionaid.org
  • Developing countries proposed the establishment of a UN global tax body where all countries would have equal say and decision making powers, unlike the OECD which currently dominates global tax rules.
  • ActionAid’s call for international tax reform, Levelling Up, can be downloaded via the following link: http://www.actionaid.org.uk/levelling-up
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