Philanthropists and private foundations are playing an increasing role in providing development aid to poor countries, a senior United Nations official said today as he called on policymakers to work more closely with the new participants to try to reach globally agreed anti-poverty targets.
Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, told a high-level symposium in Helsinki, Finland, that philanthropists, foundations and other types of non-profit organizations are clearly “serious players that can help us achieve our goals, including the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals).”
The MDGs are a series of targets – including slashing poverty, reducing maternal mortality, promoting basic education and protecting the environment – which world leaders agreed at a UN summit in 2000 to try to attain by 2015. In September, leaders will gather in New York to chart what progress has been made so far and where future efforts should be concentrated.
A study by the UN found that the flow of money from private foundations and voluntary contributions has been rising in recent years, jumping from $7 billion in 2000 to $12 billion five years later, Mr. Sha said. That amounts to about 11 per cent of total official development aid (ODA) to needy countries.
Mr. Sha said that the number of religious groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in the delivery of aid has also risen.
But, speaking at the opening of the two-day symposium, he added that many of the newer participants need to be “better integrated into the overall development cooperation architecture to enhance coherence.”
He called on governments and policymakers to “consider how the activities of these organizations could be better aligned with national priorities. Where and how can you foster more partnerships between them and government initiatives?”
In his address the Under-Secretary-General also called for greater efforts to ensure that men and women benefit equally from the delivery of aid, noting that progress has so far been too slow in this area.
The Helsinki symposium is being held as part of preparations for the 2010 Development Cooperation Forum, a biennial event that is slated to kick off at UN Headquarters in New York on 29 June.