Chapter 4. Good multilateral donorship for the 2030 Agenda

This chapter introduces the concept of good multilateral donorship and discusses why it is needed to forge a more effective multilateral development co-operation system that can achieve the 2030 Agenda. The chapter reviews existing international commitments to and principles of good multilateral donorship, identifying a policy gap in this area. It goes on to define building blocks of good multilateral donorship for the 2030 Agenda era. These building blocks are developed in Chapters 5 and 6 of this report.


4.1. What is good multilateral donorship?

From trends to a change in behaviour: the need for good multilateral donorship

Part I of this report examined the funding trends in the multilateral development co-operation system. It highlighted how the landscape of financing to multilateral institutions is evolving. It reviewed funding from Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members and from other sovereign states, South-South providers, corporations and private philanthropy, as well as from other multilateral institutions. It suggested that these resources are, overall, growing at a limited pace compared to what is needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda. In addition, they come with challenges and opportunities. For instance, much of the official development assistance (ODA) funding and new sources of financing to the multilateral system are scattered and piecemeal. This incentivises the delivery of project-based interventions and jeopardises the ability of the multilateral system to provide transformative, holistic and integrated solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda (Chapter 2). Part I then focused on how these funding trends are affecting the finance provided by the multilateral development co-operation system, in terms of its scope and nature. It depicted the current overall financing and division of labour of multilateral organisations. It then discussed how these will need to evolve to respond to changing country and global needs (Chapter 3).

A major responsibility for implementing the changes required to achieve the 2030 Agenda rests with multilateral organisations. A shift from funding to financing, for instance, will require substantial strengthening and re-profiling of skill sets and the scaling-up of related resources. It will also require adjustments and improvements in the co-ordination and accountability mechanisms of these institutions, as well as in their financing models and instruments.

At the same time, sovereign states will need to ensure adequate levels of financial support to multilateral institutions. Funding needs to be provided in ways that enable the effective functioning of the system. Sovereign states will need to contribute, through their policies and practices, to an enabling environment for a strong and effective multilateral system. In other words, they will need to be good multilateral donors. But what does this mean in practice? Is there evidence of what “good multilateral donorship” is? And what does it mean in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the trends observed in the first part of this report? Part II of this report attempts to answer these questions. It argues for the need to re-affirm a commitment towards multilateralism for the effective delivery of the 2030 Agenda. It suggests, however, that this commitment needs to build on evidence. Part II begins by introducing this concept and reviewing existing principles of and commitments to good multilateral donorship (Chapter 4). It builds an evidence base on two sets of building blocks for good multilateral donorship in the era of the 2030 Agenda. The evidence for the first set of building blocks is developed in Chapter 5 and concerns sovereign states’ policies, decision-making processes and monitoring practices with respect to the multilateral system. The evidence base for the second set of building blocks is developed in Chapter 6 and relates to good multilateral funding. This evidence constitutes the basis for the “Principles of good multilateral donorship for the era of the 2030 Agenda” presented in the Overview of this report.

Good multilateral donorship is part of the mutual responsibility needed for a more effective multilateral system able to achieve the 2030 Agenda

Good multilateral donorship is about how sovereign states, and providers in general, engage with and influence multilateral organisations, including through their role in the governing bodies of these organisations, their policies and their financing. Sovereign states are largely the owners, shareholders, financiers and influencers of multilateral organisations. The aggregate results of individual donors’ policies and funding practices bear profound consequences for individual multilateral organisations’ performance, and for the whole system and its ability to function well.

Good multilateral donorship is thus critical to the effectiveness of the multilateral development co-operation system. It forms an essential part of the mutual responsibility that both sovereign states and multilateral organisations hold towards forging a more effective, inclusive and accountable multilateral development co-operation system. To achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the multilateral co-operation system will need to evolve. At the same time, the multilateral system can only succeed with the support – or “good donorship” – of the sovereign states that created it and who continue to shape it as its members, funders and shareholders.

Achieving the 2030 Agenda requires a new “pact” on multilateralism. A pact founded on the recognition that sovereign states and multilateral institutions hold a mutual responsibility for a stronger and more effective multilateral system.

Good multilateral donorship is critical because achieving the 2030 Agenda will require more and better multilateralism

Multilateralism is not new, and the influence of sovereign states has largely shaped what it looks like today (see Box 4.1 for an historical perspective). As the world becomes more interconnected and the global challenges we face more complex, good multilateral donorship grows in importance. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for transformative shifts and integrated solutions both at country level and globally. They require, in each country, domestic policies and financing approaches that are truly holistic and sustainable. These policies should encompass development, peace, environment and humanitarian domains, and yield social, economic and environmental value. In this new context, multilateral organisations will need to adapt and strengthen their capacity to provide partner countries with policy advice to implement holistic development solutions. They should consolidate multiple sources of financing and partnerships to achieve the SDGs. They will need break silos and enhance the coherence of their approaches and interventions. They should strengthen their role in encouraging global solutions and policy co-ordination to tackle the interconnected and cross-border challenges of our time. These challenges include climate change, food security and migration, and extend to new areas essential for shared and equitable prosperity, such as science and technology, financial regulations, trade and tax evasion. Thus, the need for multilateral co-operation is greater than ever.

Good multilateral donorship is of utmost relevance in the era of the 2030 Agenda. A strong, effective and accountable multilateral system is critical to achieving integrated solutions and the cross-border responses to the most pressing challenges of our time. However, multilateralism is under strain. A rising wave of mistrust in the shared benefits of international co-operation is leading countries to pursue policy goals through unilateral or ad hoc measures, rather than by working together. These new developments put the benefits that multilateral institutions can provide at risk.

It is encouraging that DAC members share the belief that the 2030 Agenda requires more – and not less – multilateralism (Figure 4.1.). This is the opinion expressed by all, but one, respondents to the 2018 OECD Survey. Responding DAC members emphasised that it is the integrated nature of the SDGs and the complexity of the global challenges, including the provision of GPGs, that make multilateralism indispensable. Further, respondents stressed that the multilateral development co-operation system is key in establishing strategic partnerships to combine expertise and resources from multiple sources and to co-ordinate efforts towards integrated solutions.

Figure 4.1. Respondents to the 2018 OECD Survey highlight the need for multilateralism to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Source: OECD/DAC “2018 Survey on Policies and Practices vis-à-vis the Multilateral Development System” (unpublished).

Box 4.1. A historical perspective on multilateralism

Throughout history, multilateralism has emerged to manage relations between states in areas where interdependence is inescapable. Multilateral arrangements can be traced back to as early as the 17th century, when they were developed to manage property issues, such as the governance of the oceans. However, it was only in the 19th century that new multilateral treaties – on trade, transport and public health, among others – became more frequent. The International Telegraph Union, the Universal Postal Union and the International Office of Public Hygiene all had their origins in the 1800s.

Multilateralism in the 19th century was prompted by the political, social and economic transformations generated by the Industrial Revolution. Rising volumes of international transactions increased the scope for disputes between states, and impelled states to protect their sovereignty, even as they agreed to common rules to facilitate economic exchange. Most multilateral agreements in the 19th century did not generate formal organisations. The most important, the Concert of Europe, was an almost purely informal framework in which four European powers – Austria, Great Britain, Prussia, Russia (later joined by France) – agreed to consult and negotiate on matters of European peace and security. The result was peace in Europe for nearly 40 years. However, the Concert was imposed by statesmen on docile publics. Its legitimacy was gravely damaged by the revolutions of 1848 and the surge in nationalism they generated. The Concert never became a truly multilateral organisation, but it paved the way for 20th century multilateralism by establishing that issues of peace and security could be discussed in international fora. It also recognised the special roles, rights and obligations of Great Powers.

Wilsonianism and the League of Nations: In contrast to prior forms, multilateralism in the early 20th century yielded multiple formal organisations. Multilateralism thus was transformed. It came “to embody a procedural norm in its own right – though often a hotly contested one – in some instances carrying with it an international legitimacy not enjoyed by other means” ( (Ruggie, 1992[1]); emphasis in original). The advocacy of the US President Woodrow Wilson was crucial in this transformation. In 1918 Wilson urged the creation of “a general association of nations”. Wilsonianism thus became a doctrine that prescribed the spread of democracy, free trade and strong international law to create an international order that “would replace older forms of order based on the balance of power, military rivalry and alliances […] power and security competition would be decomposed and replaced by a community of nations”. Specifically, Wilson championed an international body with universal membership, binding rules and a dispute settlement mechanism. The result was the League of Nations. Its Covenant committed member states not only to renounce war, but also to accept “the understandings of international law as the actual rule of conduct among Governments”. Article 10 of the Covenant's preamble required members “to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League”. States were threatened with political and economic sanctions if they resorted to war, with force used only as a last resort. In no sense did the League’s Covenant find universal approval. Its collective security provisions were the primary reason for the US Senate’s rejection of American membership. Wilson himself was pivotal in establishing the conditions for negotiations on a new international system based on collective security with the League as a mechanism for dispute resolution. However, he failed to achieve the domestic political conditions required for US entry (see George and George 1964; Cooper 2002). The League was disbanded in 1946. It failed, first, because membership was not universal: the US never joined and major players such as the Soviet Union and Germany withdrew. Second, the League faced multiple crises during an economic depression and became deeply unpopular in a number of countries including Germany. Finally, the League’s Covenant was plagued by loopholes, ambiguity and over-ambition.

Whatever its failings, the League of Nations was an essential precursor to international institution-building after 1945. In less than a decade, multilateral accords creating the Bretton Wood agreements and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the United Nations (UN) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were agreed.

Source: (Bouchard and Peterson, 2011[2]), “Conceptualising Multilateralism, Can We All Just Get Along?” MERCURY-paper No.1 Revised_Version.pdf

Good multilateral donorship is also about supporting multilateral organisations’ reforms to achieve the 2030 Agenda

Multilateral organisations need to work in a changing global context, to respond to new development challenges, and to change their working practices in order to operate effectively. Multilateral organisations will need to break a silo approach and support countries in developing holistic solutions for sustainable development. Synergies, trade-offs and spill-over effects across policies, previously unacknowledged or avoided, will need to be explicitly considered and accounted for. Integrated solutions will need to be mirrored in financing approaches so that, as posited in the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action (AAAA), all financing sources – public, private, domestic and international – converge towards a unified development agenda. This will require a greater and more effective level of co-ordination to work as a cohesive system. It will also require new and different skill sets to be developed to provide integrated policy advice to countries, engage with a broader set of partners and respond to new challenges. This is especially important in fragile and post-conflict states, where poverty reduction has proven to be the most elusive development goal. In addition, to achieve the SDGs, multilateral organisations will need to promote governance based on global principles and standards and global co-operative action. They need to extend their normative functions to new areas essential to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, such as climate change, food security and migration, as well as tax evasion, trade, financial regulations, and science and technology.

Responses to the 2018 OECD Survey suggest that DAC members agree that the 2030 Agenda has considerable implications for multilateral organisations on several fronts. It will affect their thematic and sector focus, partnerships and networks, financing model, functions and roles, and geographic focus (Figure 4.2). According to respondents, multilateral organisations’ thematic and sector focus of will be affected the most. This is followed by the partnerships and networks of multilateral organisations, which will need to evolve to be more inclusive and embrace a greater range of partners. Respondents also stated that the 2030 Agenda will affect the financing model of multilateral organisations, as they facilitate greater mobilisation of financial resources from all sources. The geographical focus of multilateral organisations, instead, is the area that respondents believe will be affected the least by the 2030 Agenda.

To achieve the 2030 Agenda, multilateral organisations are reforming. For instance, the United Nations Development System (UNDS) is launching a reform package that will affect how this system works in countries, at the regional and at the global level (see Box 4.2). MDB reforms are needed to mobilise the trillions required to meet the SDGs (World Bank, 2015[3]). This set of reforms can only bear results if sovereign states support it by implementing their share of changes.

Figure 4.2. DAC members believe that multilateral organisations will need to make adjustments to be fit for purpose to deliver on the 2030 Agenda

Source: OECD/DAC “2018 Survey on Policies and Practices vis-à-vis the Multilateral Development System” (unpublished).


Box 4.2. Repositioning the United Nations Development System (UNDS) to achieve the 2030 Agenda

As the world subscribed to a broader, universal development agenda, the United Nations development system has reflected on how it can contribute and the institutional adjustments required to ensure it is “fit for purpose”.

This process started in 2015 within the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), where the United Nations initiated a dialogue on the “longer-term positioning of the UNDS” to explore: 1) how the post-2015 development agenda would affect the functions of the UNDS; and 2) how the changing functions could be aligned effectively. A critical milestone in the UNDS repositioning process was the endorsement of strategic guidelines and policy orientations established in the 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

On 31 May 2018, the UN General Assembly adopted the final draft text of the resolution on the repositioning of the UNDS. This proposed reform in five macro areas:

  • A new generation of United Nations country teams: A new generation of more strategic, flexible and results-oriented United Nations Development Assistance Framework will be developed as the fundamental instrument for the planning and implementation of United Nations development activities in each country. The configuration of country teams will be reassessed, and appropriate criteria will be established, according to country development priorities and long-term needs. These will be used to determine the presence and composition of UN country teams and the approved UN Development Assistance Framework. Each UN entity will need to strengthen capacities, resources and skill sets to support countries in achieving the SDGs. Common operations will be promoted to generate greater efficiencies, synergies and coherence.

  • Reinvigorating the role of the resident co-ordinator system: The agreed text requested the Secretary-General “to strengthen the authority and leadership of RCs [resident co-ordinators], as the highest-ranking representatives of the UNDS, over UN country teams”, with reforms to enhance responsibility for supporting on-the-ground implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The RCs would have an independent, impartial and empowered co-ordination function, separate from the UNDP representative’s role. The managerial and oversight functions of the RC system would be undertaken by a transformed Development Operations Coordination Office. This would be under the leadership of an Assistant Secretary-General and the ownership of the members of the “UN Sustainable Development Group”. They would form a stand-alone co-ordination office within the Secretariat, reporting to the Chair of the Group (the Deputy Secretary-General). The agreed arrangement to fund this reinvigorated RC system is hybrid. Starting from 1 January 2019, on an annual basis, it calls for: 1) a 1% co-ordination levy on tightly earmarked third-party non-core contributions to the UNDS; 2) doubling the current cost-sharing among UNDS entities; and 3) voluntary, predictable, multi-year contributions to a dedicated trust fund.

  • Revamping the regional approach: The resolution reaffirms the role and functions of the United Nations regional economic commissions and the regional teams. It emphasises the need to close gaps and avoid overlaps at the regional level by optimising functions, enhancing collaboration and providing options, on a region-by-region basis, for longer-term re-profiling and restructuring of regional assets.

  • Strategic direction, oversight and accountability for system-wide results: Independent system-wide evaluation measures will be implemented. These will include improving existing capacities to better monitor and report system-wide results.

  • Funding the United Nations Development System: The resolution also addresses the funding model of the UNDS, reaffirming the need to increase voluntary and grant-based funding to reposition the UNDS. On the eve of the July 2017 ECOSOC meeting, the Secretary-General called for the UNDS to be reformed to overcome the fragmentation of funding and, ultimately, the system. He proposed the “Funding Compact”, a pact between the UNDS and its member states to ensure the level, predictability and flexibility of funding. In return, UNDS would provide increased transparency and accountability for spending and results. The resolution welcomed the proposal. It entails increasing core resources to a level of at least 30% in the next 5 years. In addition, it will double both interagency pooled funds (to a total of USD 3.4 billion) and entity-specific thematic funds (to USD 800 million) by 2023. Member states are invited to contribute to the capitalisation of the Joint Fund for the 2030 Agenda and to establish a co-ordination fund dedicated to the RC system. The UNDS is requested to provide annual reporting on system-wide results by 2021; to enhance transparency and allow access to financial information in all entities, to undergo evaluations of results; to further harmonise cost recovery; to allocate at least 15% of non-core resources for development joint activities; and to enhance the visibility of member states’ core contributions. The Secretary-General also proposed a Funding Dialogue to operationalise and follow up on the commitments taken in the Funding Compact.

In June 2018, the Secretary-General announced the setting up of a team that will initiate, manage and oversee the implementation of all provisions of the UNGA Resolution on the Repositioning of the UNDS. In the upcoming months, the Deputy Secretary-General is expected to launch discussions on the practical, concrete steps to be taken to implement the UNDS reform process.

The reform of the RC system, which posits that RCs will now be Secretariat and not UNDP, is one of the biggest changes of the reform package in operational terms. It has significant implications for how donors interact with the system. This reform may also affect the composition of funding received by the UN Secretariat, which has received significantly less earmarked funding than the funds and programmes. This situation might change after 2019. The funding arrangement for the new RC system also creates a disincentive for hard earmarking. The 1% co-ordination levy will only be imposed on non-core resources that are “tightly earmarked” and not on vertical or thematic trust funds or on self-financed or South-South contributions.

Overall, reactions to this reform package are mixed. Some remark an insufficient level of ambition and highlight the limitations of incremental, rather than transformational, measures (Baumann and Weinlich, 2018[4]). Some member states, such as the United States, expect the reforms to bring sizeable benefits, while others have highlighted some issues. For instance, the Group of 77 and China, supported by Ethiopia for the African Group, have stressed that “the UN Development Assistance Framework shall be decided in full consultation and agreement with national governments, through an open and inclusive dialogue”. Bangladesh, for the least developed countries (LDCs), has highlighted concerns about the potential additional financial burdens for LDCs and reduction in the country presence of the UNDS. Moreover, Maldives for the Alliance of Small Island States called for reform of multi-country offices. The CANZ highlighted that the Funding Dialogue should ensure an expanded funding base, beyond traditional donors. In addition, Devex has reported that other countries have called for a change in institutional culture, more transparency and a bigger focus of mandates, rather than cost minimisation. Moreover, the European Union has suggested improving co-ordination within the UN to fight sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.

In 2017 a Dalberg report outlined the functions and capacities of the UNDS, focusing on gaps in the coverage of the 2030 Agenda by the UNDS and overlaps in the work of different UNDS entities. The Dalberg review and its proposals concluded that the UNDS has a lot to offer, yet it needs substantial reforms to provide “whole-of-government” guidance on how to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The conclusions from the report have been widely discussed within the UN and the Secretary-General has drawn on them for the “Report on the UNDS Repositioning”.

4.2. Existing commitments and principles on good multilateral donorship leave a policy vacuum

The Busan effectiveness commitments highlighted the need for “an enabling environment” for a well-functioning multilateral system

Various attempts have been made internationally to affirm the need for donor actions to facilitate coherent and effective multilateral co-operation, and to establish international principles to achieve this. The broadest and most widely endorsed international commitment is enshrined in the 2011 outcome document of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. This document marked the transition from the “aid effectiveness agenda” of the Paris Declaration (OECD, 2008[5]) to broader “effective development co-operation” principles (Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, 2011[6]) among all stakeholders. It highlighted the importance of providing an enabling environment for a well-functioning multilateral co-operation system. Specifically, it committed all development partners to improve the coherence of their policies with respect to multilateral institutions, global funds and programmes. Partners are to make effective use of existing multilateral channels, focusing on those that are performing well (§25b).

To support the implementation of the commitment set out in the Busan outcome document, in 2013 members of the OECD DAC agreed to work to reduce the proliferation of multilateral channels and frameworks for programme design, delivery and assessments of development co-operation. They did so by endorsing a set of principles developed in the 2013 OECD Multilateral Aid Report (OECD, 2013[7]) and illustrated in Figure 4.3. Since then, the OECD has regularly monitored several of these principles. It has done this through the work conducted in the framework of OECD Multilateral Aid Reports, or through DAC peer reviews. The methodological framework of DAC peer reviews draws on elements from the 2013 OECD Multilateral Aid Report principles (OECD, 2017[8]). However, no formal accountability framework was ever established for these principles nor for the Busan outcome document specifically on the multilateral co-operation system.

Figure 4.3. 2013 OECD DAC Principles to reduce the proliferation of multilateral channels

Source: Authors adapted from (OECD, 2015[9]), Multilateral Aid 2015: Better Partnerships for a Post-2015 World,

At the request of DAC members, the 2015 OECD Multilateral Aid Report (OECD, 2015[9]) further informed international discussions on how development partners can provide an enabling environment for a well-functioning multilateral co-operation system. The report provided a set of recommendations (Figure 4.4), which included a specific segment on the effective use of earmarked funding. Unable to reach agreement, the DAC never officially endorsed these recommendations. In an effort to overcome this impasse, the German government produced a shorter version of the recommendations (Figure 4.5). In late 2015, these were presented to the Senior Level Donor Group on Multilateral Effectiveness, a group of like-minded DAC members that meets annually to discuss multilateral effectiveness issues. However, even within this smaller group, the recommendations were not endorsed, because of concerns over the binding character of the recommendations and because some representatives had insufficient decision-making power.

Figure 4.4. Recommendations from the 2015 Multilateral Aid Report

Source: (OECD, 2015[9]), Multilateral Aid 2015: Better Partnerships for a Post-2015 World,

Figure 4.5. Guiding principles for better management and quality of earmarked funding presented by Germany at the Senior Level Donor Meeting on Multilateral Effectiveness

Source: Authors based on (Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), 2015[10]), Guiding principles for better management and quality of earmarked funding, (unpublished).

Good Humanitarian Donorship principles and the Grand Bargain

In 2003, the international community agreed on international principles of “good donorship” and on an additional set of actions to change partners’ behaviour (“Grand Bargain”) in the area of humanitarian assistance. These principles and commitments “set the rules” for all donor entities involved in humanitarian action, and they do have implications for bilateral-multilateral partnerships, including their funding practices.

The Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles (see Box 4.3) were initially endorsed by the European Union and 17 other donors in 2003. They are now indorsed by 41 countries. They are monitored and promoted by the GHD Initiative, which acts as a donor forum and network. It provides a platform for donors to meet regularly to exchange information on policies and practices in relation to the implementation of the GHD principles. It thus encourages principled donor behaviour and contributes to improved humanitarian action. These principles are also embedded in the OECD DAC Peer Review methodological framework, where they serve as a benchmark for donor behaviour on humanitarian matters (OECD, 2017[8]).

The “Grand Bargain” is a set of 53 interdependent commitments endorsed by 22 sovereign states and 31 organisations during the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit. The main aim of the Grand Bargain is to close funding gaps and encourage more effective international responses to crises as the world faces an increasing number of large-scale emergencies, including a refugee crisis, and international assistance struggles to keep up with demand. The Grand Bargain commits donors and organisations to providing 25% of global humanitarian funding to local and national responders by 2020. In addition, they should commit a greater share of unearmarked resources and increased multi-year funding to ensure greater predictability and continuity in humanitarian responses, among other commitments. The Grand Bargain also explicitly recognises the need to work together more efficiently, transparently and harmoniously with new and existing partners, including the private sector, individuals and non-traditional sources of funding.

Box 4.3. Good Humanitarian Donorship Principles

Objectives and definition of humanitarian action

  1. 1. The objectives of humanitarian action are to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations.

  2. 2. Humanitarian action should be guided by the humanitarian principles of humanity, meaning the centrality of saving human lives and alleviating suffering wherever it is found; impartiality, meaning the implementation of actions solely on the basis of need, without discrimination between or within affected populations; neutrality, meaning that humanitarian action must not favour any side in an armed conflict or other dispute where such action is carried out; and independence, meaning the autonomy of humanitarian objectives from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented.

  3. 3. Humanitarian action includes the protection of civilians and those no longer taking part in hostilities, and the provision of food, water and sanitation, shelter, health services and other items of assistance, undertaken for the benefit of affected people and to facilitate the return to normal lives and livelihoods.

General principles

  1. 4. Respect and promote the implementation of international humanitarian law, refugee law and human rights.

  2. 5. While reaffirming the primary responsibility of states for the victims of humanitarian emergencies within their own borders, strive to ensure flexible and timely funding, on the basis of the collective obligation of striving to meet humanitarian needs.

  3. 6. Allocate humanitarian funding in proportion to needs and on the basis of needs assessments.

  4. 7. Request implementing humanitarian organisations to ensure, to the greatest possible extent, adequate involvement of beneficiaries in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of humanitarian response.

  5. 8. Strengthen the capacity of affected countries and local communities to prevent, prepare for, mitigate and respond to humanitarian crises, with the goal of ensuring that governments and local communities are better able to meet their responsibilities and co-ordinate effectively with humanitarian partners.

  6. 9. Provide humanitarian assistance in ways that are supportive of recovery and long‐term development, striving to ensure support, where appropriate, to the maintenance and return of sustainable livelihoods and transitions from humanitarian relief to recovery and development activities.

  7. 10. Support and promote the central and unique role of the United Nations in providing leadership and co-ordination of international humanitarian action, the special role of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the vital role of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in implementing humanitarian action.

Good practices in donor financing, management and accountability funding

  1. 11. Strive to ensure that funding of humanitarian action in new crises does not adversely affect the meeting of needs in ongoing crises.

  2. 12. Recognising the necessity of dynamic and flexible response to changing needs in humanitarian crises, strive to ensure predictability and flexibility in funding to United Nations agencies, funds and programmes and to other key humanitarian organisations.

  3. 13. While stressing the importance of transparent and strategic priority‐setting and financial planning by implementing organisations, explore the possibility of reducing, or enhancing the flexibility of, earmarking, and of introducing longer-term funding arrangements.

  4. 14. Contribute responsibly, and on the basis of burden‐sharing, to United Nations Consolidated Inter‐ Agency Appeals and to International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement appeals, and actively support the formulation of Common Humanitarian Action Plans (CHAP) as the primary instrument for strategic planning, prioritisation and co-ordination in complex emergencies.

Promoting standards and enhancing implementation

  1. 15. Request that implementing humanitarian organisations fully adhere to good practice and are committed to promoting accountability, efficiency and effectiveness in implementing humanitarian action.

  2. 16. Promote the use of Inter-Agency Standing Committee guidelines and principles on humanitarian activities, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the 1994 Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non‐Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief.

  3. 17. Maintain readiness to offer support to the implementation of humanitarian action, including the facilitation of safe humanitarian access.

  4. 18. Support mechanisms for contingency planning by humanitarian organisations, including, as appropriate, allocation of funding, to strengthen capacities for response.

  5. 19. Affirm the primary position of civilian organisations in implementing humanitarian action, particularly in areas affected by armed conflict. In situations where military capacity and assets are used to support the implementation of humanitarian action, ensure that such use is in conformity with international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles, and recognises the leading role of humanitarian organisations.

  6. 20. Support the implementation of the 1994 Guidelines on the Use of Military and Civil Defence Assets in Disaster Relief and the 2003 Guidelines on the Use of Military and Civil Defence Assets to Support United Nations Humanitarian Activities in Complex Emergencies. Learning and Accountability.

  7. 21. Support learning and accountability initiatives for the effective and efficient implementation of humanitarian action.

  8. 22. Encourage regular evaluations of international responses to humanitarian crises, including assessments of donor performance.

  9. 23. Ensure a high degree of accuracy, timeliness, and transparency in donor reporting on official humanitarian assistance spending, and encourage the development of standardised formats for such reporting.

Source: (Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) Initiative, 2003[11]), Principles on Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship, 20Practice/79.%2023%20Principles%20and%20Good%20Practice%20of%20Humanitarian%20Donorship.pdf

4.3. Lessons for good multilateral donorship to support the 2030 Agenda

Re-affirm a strong commitment towards multilateralism to achieve the 2030 Agenda

This chapter highlighted how good multilateral donorship is critical to the effectiveness of the multilateral development co-operation system. It is an essential part of the responsibility that both sovereign states and multilateral organisations hold towards forging a more effective, inclusive and accountable multilateral development co-operation system.

However, the review presented in this chapter shows that “good multilateral donorship” is only partially covered by the commitments and effectiveness principles currently available internationally. This leaves a substantial gap in the system of soft laws in support of multilateralism. How sovereign states should behave to facilitate an effective multilateral co-operation system is either not the primary focus of the principles available (e.g. GHD) or is formulated in high-level terms that have limited actionability (e.g. Busan commitment).

The current principles and commitments relating to good donorship, however, do highlight the importance of some specific elements. These include donors’ funding practices and policies, with respect to the multilateral system. Therefore, to elucidate what good multilateral donorship means in the context of the 2030 Agenda, the next two chapters build an evidence base on some specific elements. They identify two sets of building blocks for good multilateral donorship. The first set, developed in Chapter 5, concerns sovereign states’ policies, decision-making processes and monitoring practices vis-à-vis the multilateral system. The second set, developed in Chapter 6, relates to good multilateral funding. This evidence constitutes the basis for the “Principles of good multilateral donorship for the era of the 2030 Agenda”.


[4] Baumann, M. and S. Weinlich (2018), Unfinished Business: An Appraisal of the Latest UNDS Reform Resolution,

[2] Bouchard, C. and J. Peterson (2011), Conceptualising Multilateralism. Can We All Just Get Along?, Mercury, (accessed on  2018).

[10] Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (2015), Guiding principles for better management and quality of earmarked funding presented by Germany at the Senior Level Donor Meeting on Multilateral Effectiveness.

[6] Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (2011), Effective Co-operation Principles,

[11] Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) Initiative (2003), Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship,

[8] OECD (2017), Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[9] OECD (2015), Multilateral Aid 2015: Better Partnerships for a Post-2015 World, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[7] OECD (2013), Multilateral Aid Report, OECD, Paris,

[5] OECD (2008), The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action (2008), OECD, Paris,

[1] Ruggie, J. (1992), “Multilateralism: the Anatomy of an Institution”, International Organization.

[3] World Bank (2015), "From billions to trillions: MDB contributions to financing for development", World Bank Group, Washington, D.C.,

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