Editorial: We need a new pact on good multilateral donorship

We are living in a time of inescapable interdependence. OECD member states first formed together in the aftermath of two devastating world wars that resulted from unbridled nationalism, in an agreement to replace a divisive history with a future of multilateral solidarity and co-operation. Since then, multilateralism has worked to contain the Ebola crisis, defend nuclear non-proliferation, and increase and protect the rights of women, children, journalists, lawyers and humanitarian workers.

Today, we need multilateral co-operation to prevent forced migration from conflict-torn environments, and those ravaged by climate-related natural disasters. We need multilateral co-operation to prevent the next major financial crisis that will affect all of us – but hit hardest at the poorest – and to develop the joint capacity needed to curtail escalating environmental vulnerabilities and infectious disease threats which, left un-tackled, will push large numbers into poverty. In a world soon to host more than 10 billion people, more than 80% of the world’s poorest citizens will be living in fragile contexts by 2030, if no action is taken.

Given today’s demand for a strong multilateral system, this report takes stock of its muscle. What we find are paradoxes that require urgent action. While the 2030 Agenda calls for integrated solutions, the multilateral development system often works in siloes and lacks the necessary level of coherence in its approaches and interventions. Multilateral organisations are critical sources of funding for developing countries, but they will need to support partner countries access an array of financing sources - public and private, domestic and international – and channel these investments better, to deliver sustainable social, economic and environmental impact. Finally, multilateral organisations will need to do better in providing global public goods, including the norms and standards required to create a level playing field across actors in the global capital and trade markets in a globalised production system. In a context of increasing inequality, multilateral organisations will need to be a credible source of innovative thinking and new policy solutions that put people at the centre, and leave no one behind.

Delivering on this broader and more complex development agenda will only be possible through a renewed pact of “good donorship” of the sovereign states that have created the multilateral development system, and who continue to shape it as its members, funders and shareholders. As argued in this report, these states hold primary responsibility to ensure that resources to the multilateral development system match the ambitions the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They also have a responsibility to push back against earmark funding which can risk the multilateral system’s ability to provide the transformative, holistic and integrated solutions needed to protect global security. Finally, as multilateral organisations access greater resources from philanthropies, private corporations and other multilateral organisations, sovereign states have a role to play to push for safeguards and measures that can ensure that these resources are fully aligned to the institutions’ mandates, and the imperatives of the 2030 Agenda.

Based on the evidence and recommendations in this report, the international community has an opportunity to agree, through inclusive dialogue, on Principles of good multilateral donorship. These principles can help lay the foundations of a new ‘pact’ on multilateralism between sovereign states and multilateral organisations. A pact founded on the recognition that both sides hold a mutual responsibility towards a stronger and more effective multilateral system. A new pact to double-down on achieving the 2030 Agenda for a more secure and peaceful world, together.


Jorge Moreira da Silva


Development Co-operation Directorate

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