The Arab NGO Network for Development Position on Discussion Paper in Preparation of the Future Thematic Programme on Global Public Goods and Challenges 2014-2020

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Source: ANND

keywords: ANND, Civil society, Human rights

How can CSOs and LAs contribute to the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development outcomes?

This brief document summarizes the position of the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) in light of the discussion paper in preparation of the future Thematic Programme for 2014-2020. Whereas the three questions listed in the discussion paper allows CSOs and LAs to contribute to advancement of the Thematic Programme on Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGCs) particularly on the role they can play, the ANND takes this consultation process to present additional concerns.

Overall on EU Development Policy:

The EU clearly states its commitment to reduce and in the long-term eradicate poverty in the context of sustainable development through the implementation of its development policy. This should advance through the post-2015 development framework and must contribute to tackling structural drivers of inequality and poverty in EU partner countries. In this regard, policy coherence in development is central both at policy-making and implementation levels. The EU should ensure policy coherence when it comes to trade, investment, aid, migration, environment, energy, transportation among others and development as a key remaining challenge. This necessitates a priori and a posteriori assessments of impact of these policies on development aspirations of the partner countries and on the enjoyment of human rights, especially of economic and social rights; with respects to the obligation deriving from the Article 208 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

On Global Public Goods and the related Challenges:

The discussion paper notes that through the new Thematic Programme the EU aims to promote a more strategic approach to development cooperation, contributing to the solution of global problems through global development outcomes that will be inclusive and sustainable within planetary boundaries. This integrated and holistic approach to tackle key economic, social and environmental issues is essential; yet the basis for the selection of areas of action to ensure the access to global public goods by all needs to be clarified and well elaborated.

Accordingly, the correlation presented between economic growth and environment is crucial. This means a necessity to address the environmental dimension of economic development to ensure its sustainability. However it should bring together a broader assessment of the economic development models, long promoted by the EU itself, particularly among their southern Mediterranean partner countries. Despite positive economic growth rates over the past decade, the economic and social indicators declined in terms of deepened poverty, increased unemployment and widened inequality gaps, which is contradicting “the global public goods approach”, the enhancement of development efforts and the creation of further job opportunities in southern partner countries. This requires rethinking the economic model adopted and promoted with a focus on the role of the state within this model. The people’s uprisings in Southern Mediterranean countries underlines the urgent need to create a developmental state that respects, fulfills and protects human rights for all, ensures the rule of law and that is able to implement legislations accordingly. The adopted economic model by this development state should be “rights based”; where rights adopted are universal and impartial. It should focus also on productive sectors that generate decent and sustainable jobs. The developmental state should as well pursue a redistributive role with the provision of efficient networks of services outreaching its entire people, and a taxation policy based on progressive direct taxation that contributes to the fair redistribution of wealth. Moreover, the policy of wages should be adopted within the context of the redistribution and enhancing the consumption capacities as a contribution to the domestic economic cycle.

In line with the above, trade and investment policies need to be revised in order to able to serve the new development objectives. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that global partnerships as promoted in the global discourse, including in the EU, should contribute to the creation of the enabling environment for southern partners. The said enabling environment includes fair trading relations and financial structures along with democratic and transparent global governance, based on mutual accountability and participation. Thus, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTAs) promoted by the EU (DG trade) as a tool for creating economic growth by encouraging FDIs without an accurate identification of national objectives and strategies is highly contested. The new investment framework suggested by the DCFTAs risks to restrict policy spaces of local governments and their ability to follow relevant development models and their ability to select valueadded sectors with in line with national interests. This will also affect their ability to respect the right to development. Therefore the human rights based approach should be mainstreamed while designing and implementing all EU policies and thematic programs in the neighboring countries. This should be based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the related international human rights conventions. Consequently, it is important to enhance human development objectives in the thematic programmes first and foremost “the freedom from fear and want, and the right to live in dignity” The thematic programme is stated to support a development framework that is inclusive by ensuring that all people are enabled to participate and benefit from sustainable economic growth. In this aspect, the strong emphasis on “inclusiveness” is positive and needed. However, inclusivity requires the adoption of a more comprehensive approach to growth; the latter should focus on its quality, the sectoral and productive foundations and redistribution. While the Arab uprisings clearly indicated that economic growth is not the exclusive indicator to measure development and living conditions, they also revealed the prevalent centrality of redistribution and the need to diminish gaps and inequalities in the access to “global public goods”. The fact that the 5 themes were selected based on lessons learned from the earlier sectoral programmes implemented by the EU between 2007 and 2013 is highly welcomed. However, the strong emphasis on the “private sector in development” and its engagement in the promotion of the inclusive and sustainable growth creates crucial concerns. Indeed, privatization without implementing a regulatory framework and irrespective of national development levels and priorities brings negative impacts including unemployment, wage depression and the increase of poverty rates. In this regard, the EU should ensure that the private sector is involved according to a mandatory and a systemic implementation of “Corporate Social Responsibility” principles. The role of the private sector should apply to the basic labor and environmental standards and follow binding standards based on international human rights treaties- particularly the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the additional protocol, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-, the relevant ILO conventions and last but not least the right to development. Furthermore, and in line with the extraterritorial obligations of states under international human rights law and the Maastricht Principles, the EU should avoid signing agreements that limit policy space of other countries. The engagement of the private sector should go along with the periodic implementation of transparent and accountable impact assessment on “Human Rights, environment and Social conditions”. It should respect the due diligence obligations throughout the process of operation, along with remedies to the impacted in the countries where they operate.

Given the increasing role of the European financial institutions namely, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in financing public-private partnership (PPP) programmes especially in sectors which supply citizens with basic needs such as education, health care, energy and public transportation, the EU should set in place safeguard measures and adopt a rights-based approach securing accessibility to basic services by avoiding possible price increases. This should also include the adoption of a legal framework that clearly defines the responsibilities of each party in the partnership.

The second theme on sustainable energy emphases the greater use of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency and promoting climate-friendly development strategies. However, the above mentioned European financial institutions implement projects that are not environmentally sustainable and they don’t focus on technologies based on renewable and sustainable energy. Indeed, several recent experiences in many Arab countries reveal that CSOs conducted campaigns seeking the implementation of sustainability and social impact assessment surveys before implementing the projects to ensure sustainable development. (Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia…).

The “human, social and economic development” theme focuses on “gender equality”. The EU should ensure that equality and women’s rights are mainstreamed, integrated and operationalized in all aspects of cooperation and partnership with Arab countries, including in the economic, financial, trade, and investment policies. Accordingly these policies should promote opportunities for women to participate in the economic cycles and decision making, and in the access to social policies as well as benefiting from the services. The proposed flagship programmes are diverse in nature. Yet; prior to finalizing their selection, the EU should launch open consultation processes in all partner countries. Undertaken with a participatory, transparent and inclusive approach, these consultation processes can help relevant stakeholders to identify the real needs and necessities that the flagship programmes should focus on. Moreover, this process should take into consideration the different development level of each partner country, both in selecting and implementing the flagship programs.

On the role and contribution of CSOs:

The approach adopted by the EU towards the CSOs and LAs recognizing their various roles including mobilization, coalition building and networking, advocacy and accountability as well as key interlocutors in policy dialogue is essential within the partnership. However, and despite the various complications and difficulties that this inclusive approach can face, it is worth mentioning that the promotion of the enabling environment for CSOs in line with Busan commitments is imperative in this regard. CSOs in southern Mediterranean partner countries face various challenges with regards to the legislative framework, political space, access to resources and information and in terms of capacities. Thus, the EU should abide by the commitments to enhance a structured dialogue with specific actions to address those challenges. In this regard, the thematic programmes should encourage an active role of CSOs since the very early steps of the partnership; i.e. design of the flagship programmes that correspond to the identified needs and necessities. Engagement with civil society groups must be promoted through transparent processes, especially at the national level through the EU Delegations, allowing the expanded outreach and engagement to new groups over time and avoiding limitation on the process to the groups selected or outreached to by the EU institutions, especially at the national level. In addition, whereas the discussion paper notes the importance of capacity building for CSOs as development actors, adequate and consistent access to information and resources (knowledge tools, Human and financial resources) remains critical to allow civil society groups to undertake a constructive contribution.

The Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) is a regional network, working in 12 Arab countries. ANND members are 9 national networks (with an extended membership of 250 CSO) in addition to 23 individual NGO members. ANND was established in 1997 and its headquarters is located in Beirut, Lebanon since 2000. ANND aims at enhancing and strengthening the role of civil society. It also aims at promoting the values of democracy, respect of human rights and sustainable development in the region. ANND advocates for more sound and effective socioeconomic reforms in the region, which integrate the rights based approach and the concepts of sustainable development and gender justice. For more information please visit: www.annd.org

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