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Experts Debate "Making Aid Work" for the Developing World at Annual Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development Symposium

Published 12-07-07

Submitted by Novartis

  • Growing public debate on development cooperation and pressure to produce measurable results
  • "Performance-based funding," which is increasingly being accepted, offers a potential solution for more efficient aid activities

  • Private sector can be a positive force in promoting effective solutions for better development cooperation

    BASEL - December 7, 2007 - International experts today debated how to ensure that aid from the industrialized world succeeds in helping the developing world deal with poverty and disease. The 9th annual symposium of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development focused on "making aid work," including potential cooperative structures such as performance-based development.

    Speakers at the event in the morning discussed different theoretical and practical perspectives on how to make aid more effective and efficient, while the afternoon session explored management approaches to bring about the desired development results. Approximately 400 development agency staff, government officials, academics, students and representatives of industry attended the symposium.

    Klaus M. Leisinger, President and CEO of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, opened the symposium, saying: "Every three seconds, a person dies from extreme poverty, starvation or AIDS. To solve the problems that lead to this unacceptable state of affairs remains the single most important rationale for development assistance. So it is not the 'yes' or 'no' for development cooperation that is up for debate this time - it is 'how,' leading to the biggest 'bang for the buck.'"

    Richard Manning, chair of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), outlined three keys for more effective aid: predictability, accountability and cost-effectiveness.

    Performance-based funding (PBF), which has gained considerable acceptance as a potential solution for effective development cooperation, was discussed in the symposium from the perspectives of both "Northern" (or donor) countries and "Southern" (or recipient) countries.

    "PBF forces the 'North' to acknowledge limitations of the implementing organizations and to provide assistance for addressing them," said Manfred Störmer, a consultant in international health financing. On the other hand, he said, "PBF forces the 'South' to formulate realistic targets and to address and overcome problems for achieving them. As a result, performance-based funding provides a basis for a mutually beneficial partnership."

    Vinya Ariyaratne, executive director of The Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka, supports the PBF approach but also points to some limitations: "Dynamic organizations like Sarvodaya can be reduced to a position where they are merely asked to deliver a set of agreed outputs rather than being agents of social change, the reasons such organizations were founded in the first place." Although he understands that donors are expected to prove their money is well-spent by demonstrating positive results, he said it is quite easy to talk about achieved goals while avoiding the question of whether these goals also have brought about changes in the quality of life.

    The Foundation's annual symposium is conceived as a platform for critical reflection and controversial discussions, exploring issues and debating principles of development from a wide range of perspectives. It attracts a diverse audience of people active in international aid and development.

    Photographs and presentations from the symposium are available on the website of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development: www.novartisfoundation.org/symposium.

    About the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development

    The Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development is a nonprofit organization whose activities form part of the Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio of Novartis AG, which finances the Foundation’s operations. The Foundation’s mission is to support healthcare programs in developing countries, providing help for self-help. Its core competencies also include in-depth analysis, consulting and publications in the fields of corporate responsibility and development policy. By harnessing synergies between project work, think tank activities and the facilitation of dialogue, it elaborates innovative strategies for familiar development problems. In 2006, the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development invested approximately CHF 10 million in projects, largely in Africa and Asia.

    For more information on the Foundation and on specific projects, please visit: www.novartisfoundation.org.

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