A changing aid environment marked by the arrival of new donors, new forms of cooperation and an increasing demand for results has challenged the application, generalizability and sustainability of the Paris Declaration after Busan. While it is important to welcome new approaches, it is also worth remembering that ‘’a new thing is often a somewhat forgotten old one’’.
The Paris Declaration, by its very nature and intent, aims to be a catalyst of real development. It focuses on systems and sustainability through promoting transparency and accountability. Changing a system and tackling the root causes of chronic problems are complex tasks. They require more time than the supply of commodities. In my opinion, many ‘’unmets’’ of the Paris Declaration targets are thus acceptable and expected, as the targets aim to build system and local capacity. The fact that some progress in indicators, although slow, can be noticed indicates that the Declaration is doable.
Development cooperation must be directed towards the reduction of the rapidly increasing gaps between the rich and the poor in developing countries. Resistance by BRIC countries towards the Paris Principles poses a danger of potential corruption and further aggravation of inequity. Adherence to agreed norms and standards of better practice and partnership is increasingly becoming the norm rather than complying with rules set as a result of the Declaration. This positive trend and dynamic should not change with the arrival of new donors and a so called ‘’new’’ agenda for aid effectiveness after Busan
The IHP+ initiative that applies the Paris Declaration principles in the health sector provides good practices and experiences that can be shared with other sectors. Inevitably, implementing the Paris Declaration in the new aid era poses many challenges, but these should not be seen as reasons to get rid of the Declaration nor to exclude new donors. They are not mutually exclusive.
Finally, we must acknowledge that it is not the Paris Declaration itself that is to blame for the slow progress of development results. It is the way the Declaration is being adapted, interpreted, applied and even measured that tends to make all the difference.