The world is faced with a growing set of profound, urgent and global challenges. COVID-19 and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine have not only had devastating short-term consequences but have also precipitated longer-term economic and geopolitical shifts. Climate change, meanwhile, risks setting back the development progress of recent decades, particularly in the poorest countries. The international development architecture must respond to these challenges while supporting those most affected.

The OECD was founded in a similar moment of uncertainty to help implement the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe after the Second World War. Building on the success of this common effort, the Organisation expanded its attention to supporting the development and prosperity of countries outside its membership. With respect to official development assistance (ODA), which underpins members’ bilateral relationships with low- and middle-income countries, the OECD has emerged as the custodian of standards and data in development co-operation. We provide a forum to drive good practice, transparency and accountability. Commitments by our members have ranged from improving their practices, such as untying aid, to working more effectively with all partners including humanitarian, peace, civil society and multilateral actors. The OECD has also helped members put development on the agenda of all government ministries and departments, leveraging skills and expertise across the Organisation’s policy areas to agree a Council Recommendation on Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (2019).

Now is the time to build on these solid foundations and evolve once again to meet the challenges of today, and deliver a fairer international system, which engages all countries equally, for tomorrow. As their contributions to this report make clear, leaders of low- and middle-income countries, heads of international non-governmental and multilateral organisations, researchers, and civil society groups see a rare window of opportunity for change. OECD member countries can embrace new ways of working and thinking, and new development actors. This includes leveraging development co-operation to build from developing countries’ strengths, commit to long-term and locally led development, and tackle systemic issues such as racism and the legacies of a colonial past.

Enacting these changes will not be straightforward. ODA must adapt in the face of an increasingly complex environment, with global public goods and common challenges. International development actors will therefore need to take on and manage higher levels of complex risks. Multilateral development banks will need to make further use of their access to markets, while partners of developing countries may need to update their approaches to risk to work more directly with local stakeholders. New opportunities are also emerging, such as innovative insurance mechanisms to help transfer the risk of humanitarian disasters to private actors.

The OECD is well placed to help members navigate these fundamental changes. First, the Development Assistance Committee and its subsidiary bodies provide a unique forum for discussion and consensus among the world’s largest providers of ODA (USD 185.9 billion in 2021) and the largest stakeholders in multilateral organisations. Second, our strong partnerships with low- and middle-income countries, the United Nations system, the Group of Twenty and other providers of development co-operation make it easier to find common ground. Finally, we provide expertise in multiple policy areas to help members co-operate to tackle problems and ambitious development goals that transcend borders and institutional as well as disciplinary boundaries.

This report will help break down complex challenges into manageable areas for action and identify where our current practices and policies are lacking. This will lay the groundwork for our members and other stakeholders to share information and advice, learn from each other’s successes, and ensure development policy contributes real solutions to today’s pressing challenges.


Mathias Cormann,

OECD Secretary-General

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