François Hollande gave the closing remarks today at the Conference on development and international solidarity, after four months of dialogue between a large group of development actors. The conference led to a step in the right direction, with the announcement of a new law to define policy objectives (planning act) and the creation of a permanent forum for dialogue between the government and the civil society; however, the approach is far too focused on economic issues and these announcements come as a disappointment after months of discussion between 600 conference participants and 12 ministers!
A planning act that will need to wake up the inter-ministerial committee (CICID)
The NGOs within Groupe Initiatives are pleased at the decision to include France’s future development policy in the planning act, which will be debated in Parliament this fall and voted on in early 2014. The preparation of this act, which has been entrusted to the CICID, an inter-ministerial administrative body that has accomplished very little over the past four years, may seem questionable. However, the creation of the National Council for Development and International Solidarity, a permanent forum for dialogue between the government and the civil society, should help ensure that this promise is kept and should be helpful in promoting the interests of people in the South. The fact that this law will be debated at the same time as the 2014 budget should ensure that the necessary resources are mobilized, as François Hollande today just repeated the same promises that have already been made, adding that development aid would increase only if France’s economy were to return to growth.
The social aspect of sustainable development has been left out!
It wouldn’t have been outrageous to expect France to include all three aspects of sustainable development in its future development policy: the economic aspect, the social aspect, and the environmental aspect. And yet, François Hollande swapped the social aspect for security. What about socially responsible development? What about fighting to reduce inequality? What about working to ensure basic rights (access to water, health, Human Rights, etc.)? Development is an economic issue because it is a lever for social change: promoting family farms, creating and supporting small businesses, the social and solidarity-based economy, etc. This social aspect must be taken into account in the new planning act.
”Sharing and inventing”: a good combination...with no strings attached!
”Sharing and inventing”: two pillars presented by French Minister for Development Pascal Canfin in his opening remarks. The combination is attractive and, in principle, responds to the need to encourage innovation in order to promote development. And yet, François Hollande made no mention of this in his closing remarks: nothing about research, nothing about financing the costs incurred by NGOs, nothing about a new framework of collaboration between the government, NGOs, and businesses. He only spoke of ”private funds that can be used” by NGOs!
Groupe Initiatives (a member of Coordination SUD) was founded in 1993 and is a collective of ten professional associations that work for international solidarity and promote development. The associations decided to band together in order to share their experiences and know-how: Apdra-, AVSF, Ciedel, Essor, Geres, GRDR, Gret, HSF, ID, and Iram.
Groupe Initiatives expects a lot to come out of the dialogue over the next few months within the National Council for Development and International Solidarity and in the period leading up to the debates on the new planning act. That way, the Conference will not result in disappointment, but in measures that meet the expectations of all those who participated!
Christophe LEBEL, 01 43 94 73 48