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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General holds Information Meeting on development Aid organized with the OECD/DAC

Director-General holds Information Meeting on development Aid organized with the OECD/DAC
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 17 September 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened an Information Meeting for Permanent Delegations on trends in official development assistance (ODA).

The meeting was organized with the participation of Mr Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and it is the second of its kind in the past 4 years.

Mr Matsuura reported that over the last few years UNESCO has significantly increased its cooperation with OECD, particularly in the field of education, and notably in collaboration with the EFA Global Monitoring Report team. “OECD is a crucial partner in this regard by providing the statistics and analysis necessary to monitor progress and influence the development landscape,” he stated.

The Director-General began his address by recalling that, as global coordinator of international efforts to achieve Education for All (EFA), and as lead agency for the UN Decades of Literacy and Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO was deeply concerned about current trends in ODA for education, especially basic education.

“Since 2000, aid to basic education in low-income countries has risen, but not fast enough. The EFA Global Monitoring Report estimates that US$11 billion a year of external financing is required to meet the EFA goals. Yet, total aid to basic education in 2006 amounted to just over US$5 billion. The drop in overall ODA in 2007 suggests a continued huge shortfall,” stated the Director-General. He explained that this scenario carried serious consequences for educational progress in low-income countries that need enough aid to support the rapid expansion of their education systems.

The Director-General continued his call for action noting that aid was still not targeted at countries most in need: “The UN Secretary-General’s MDG Africa Working Group estimates that about 75% of aid to basic education – around US$8 billion – should be directed to Africa. However, despite pledges by the G8 and the European Union to significantly increase support for Africa, funding for basic education to the region amounted to just US$2 billion in 2006.”

Referring to the compact agreed in Dakar in 2000, in which no country firmly committed to EFA would be thwarted in its efforts by a lack of resources, the Director-General underlined: “When developing countries are investing seriously in education, donors have a duty to support them.”

Mr Matsuura made reference to UNESCO’s recent efforts to increase aid to basic education and improve its effectiveness, citing the Organization’s concerted advocacy ahead of the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan, and its contribution to the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held last week in Accra, Ghana. The Director-General noted that the 2005 Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness had created powerful momentum to change the way developing countries and donors are working together on the ground. “Evidence shows that we are making progress, but not enough. One area where donors have not made sufficient progress is in providing more long-term and predictable funding. […] Furthermore, aid is still not being allocated to those countries most in need. Many donor practices need to break with patterns of the past.”

In conclusion, Mr Matsuura argued the importance of next week’s High-Level event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), organized by the UN Secretary-General in New York, as well as the eighth meeting of the EFA High-Level Group, which will take place in Oslo, Norway, December 2008. As in the past, the High-Level Group’s deliberations will be informed by the findings of the 2009 EFA Global Monitoring Report, which will take as its theme, ‘Overcoming inequality: why governance matters’. This Report will give special attention to the governance of aid and the extent to which donor practices have, or have not, created an enabling environment for achieving the EFA goals. The Director-General underscored that “at this midway point it is vital that the Oslo High-Level Group generates more sustained and effective support for EFA.” […] “We need to hold donors accountable to deliver on their promises.”

When delivering his presentation, Mr Deutscher thanked Mr Matsuura for the opportunity to address the meeting and acknowledged the key role of UNESCO in international efforts to reach the MDGs. He gave an overview of the functions and activities of the OECD/DAC, underlining its role as a unique forum bringing together donors, governments, and multilateral organizations in order to increase aid effectiveness. Referring to the Accra High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, he indicated that the endorsement of the Accra Agenda for Action was a significant step forward, in particular by focusing on key priorities identified by developing countries themselves, and recalled the role UNESCO has to play in the area of education. Mr Deutscher also provided an indication of the changing aid environment, including the emergence of new donors and the implications of new global contexts such as climate change.

Following the interventions of the Director-General and Mr Deutscher, there was a rich question and answer session with Permanent Delegations.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 121-2008
  • 19-09-2008
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