Development Centre Studies

OECD Development Centre

1990-0295 (online)
1563-4302 (print)
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This series of monographs from the OECD Development Centre covers development issues generally and in some cases issues in specific countries. It  includes Angus Maddison’s books containing long-term historical estimates of GDP for various areas of the world.

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Public Opinion and the Fight against Poverty

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OECD Development Centre

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North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, OECD
20 Mar 2003
9789264199996 (PDF) ;9789264199989(print)

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Sustaining the fight against global poverty will be possible only if the "wider civil society", i.e. citizens in richer countries, actively and critically support international development co-operation efforts. The willingness undoubtedly exists: McDonnell, Solignac Lecomte and Wegimont (2003) found that public support in OECD DAC member countries for helping poor countries has remained consistently high for almost two decades. There is no aid fatigue. One indication is that donations from the public to development and emergency NGOs have been steadily increasing, although mostly in reaction to emergencies and natural disasters in developing countries. There is concern among the public about aid effectiveness, but it exists alongside continued high support for aid.

However, people’s understanding of poverty and development issues remains very shallow. Similarly, public awareness about official development assistance (ODA) and development co-operation policies is low. Awareness does increase significantly as a result of global education, awareness raising campaigns and public debate, but the media remain a primary source of information about developing countries. However, there is some evidence of scepticism about the nature of the information. Against this background, official expenditure on global education and on information about national aid programmes, although it has been increasing in some OECD countries, remains very low. In particular, the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals so far largely remains an untapped opportunity to peg more vigorous efforts to inform and engage the public. The global anti-poverty consensus they are spearheading has hardly trickled down to national public debates, which remain (with a few noticeable exceptions) rather rare and unsophisticated.

Still available evidence shows that citizens in OECD DAC member countries want more solidarity and justice in the world. They support international development co-operation, and if they were more and better informed, if their capacity to critically engage in the policy debate was stronger, they could be a precious constituency for its reform and improvement. There lies an opportunity for governments, especially those that have pledged to increase their ODA, to kick-start a virtuous circle of transparency and reform, and effectively rise to the challenge of global poverty reduction.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Global Anti-Poverty Consensus: Driving the Reform of International Cooperation
Chapter 1. Trends in Public Opinion about International Development Cooperation in OECD Countries: An Overview
Chapter 2. Global Education in the Wider Europe
Chapter 3. Country Notes
-Australia by Mark Otter
-Austria by Ida McDonnell
-Belgium by Ida McDonnell
-Canada by Ian Smillie
-Denmark by Ida McDonnell
-European Community by Tehri Lehtinen and Anne Simon
-Finland by Eddie O'Loughlin
-France by Muriel Julien and LIam Wegimont
-Germany by Antje Fiehn and Ida McDonnel
-Greece by Ekaterini Achimandritou
-Ireland by Ida McDonnell
-Italy by Alession Surian
-Japan by Minako Morimoto
-Luxembourg by Liam Wegimont
-Netherlands by Henny Helmich
-New Zealand by Ida McDonnell
-Norway by Bodil Michelsen and Ida McDonnell
-Portugal by Miguel da Silva and Liam Wegimont
-Spain by Jose Moises Martin
-Sweden by Ida McDonnell
-Switzerland by Ida McDonnell
-United Kingdom by Ida McDonnell
-United States by Ian Smillie
Annex: List of Participants

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