On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the BMZ, the DIE organised a panel discussion with international guests from science and politics to discuss the future of German development policy.
The event “60 more years? The future of German development policy – a contribution to the global common good?” took place on 1 September 2021 in an interactive, virtual format. After opening the debate, the director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge emphasised that the environment for German development policy had changed fundamentally since the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) was founded. In addition to advanced economies and the European Union, currently, large emerging economies and regional powers shape economic and political cooperation. Global challenges and megatrends such as demographic change, resource constraints and digitisation must be tackled and shaped jointly for the future. It is necessary to understand development policy as a transformative structural policy for sustainable development, and to provide it with the corresponding financial resources and political commitment.
Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Hornidge then discussed these challenges and how development policy and cooperation can effectively contribute to the global common good with the following guests: Andrea Ordóñez (Director of Southern Voice), Vera Songwe (UN Under-Secretary-General and 9th Executive Secretary, UNECA), Ariane Hildebrandt (Head of Policy Department, BMZ), Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul (former Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development) and Sébastian Treyer (Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI)).
Andrea Ordóñez emphasised that development cooperation has significant difficulties in reforming itself, which then limit its transformative power. However, Germany has a special role to play, as it has the capacity to find a new way of financing development and to respond to global challenges. For the future, it is essential to change the procedures of development cooperation in such a way that they will be more in line with the principles of ownership and accountability, which are known and agreed upon in the debate on effectiveness. Sébastian Treyer echoed this aspect and reported on the continuing political support enjoyed by the French law of 2014 on development policy and international solidarity. Overarching goals, he said, are the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as the protection of global public goods, in addition to poverty reduction. Thus, the SDGs and France’s accountability to overarching multilateral agendas played a central role in French (development) policy. Germany and France could work together to promote an international reform debate and build on the narratives that already exist for development policy in their countries. One approach would be to jointly support and use multilateral instruments as well as EU funds and instruments, while coordinating them in the best possible way.
Ariane Hildebrandt highlighted progress made in recent decades in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty, as well as in the education and health sectors, which would not have been possible without the contribution of development cooperation. German development policy, she said, is well positioned to play an even stronger role in the international community and to promote sustainable development together with its partners. However, the global challenges cannot be met with development cooperation alone – they require a coherent approach across all policy areas, in Germany as well as in Europe.
Vera Songwe focused on the situation of women worldwide, which, also in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, has improved only slowly or even partially worsened again. The COVID-19 pandemic had shown how important it was for countries to take responsibility for their own actions in order to counter crises. The COVAX initiative had not been able to achieve a good vaccine supply for Africa; therefore, the African continent had now successfully launched its own vaccine procurement initiative. However, she said, the market structures in this regard present many barriers. The EU, with Germany at the helm, could play an important role in changing these structures and strengthening public capacity to act.
The panel concluded with input from Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul. She stressed that German development policy must change, but that this should not threaten the existence of the BMZ as an independent department, since development policy and international cooperation are equally important as foreign policy or economic interests. The SDGs and the 2030 Agenda should not only play a central role in German development policy but should be increasingly integrated into Germany’s entire multilateral relations and, consequently, implemented into domestic policy. The BMZ should be expanded into a ministry for „sustainable development of globalization“ that would then be responsible for shaping the necessary cooperative relationships. This transformation would enable the BMZ to work more effectively and ensure interdepartmental coherence.