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Home > Events > Conferences > New Trends in International Development Cooperation - Inspirations for Poland

New Trends in International Development Cooperation - Inspirations for Poland

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Poland has begun preparations for drafting the country’s next multi-annual development cooperation programme for after 2020, trying to better align it with the latest international trends and implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

During the conference New Trends in International Development Cooperation: Inspirations for Poland, which took place at PISM on 23 January, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland Maciej Lang and Director of the Development Cooperation Department at the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aleksandra Piątkowska announced the beginning of work on the new strategy of Polish aid. It is to replace the current document covering the years 2016-2020. The discussion on global megatrends and new priorities in the policy of development cooperation became the starting point for reflection on this matter.

During the first session, representatives of the EU, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation in Europe (OECD), the National Bank of Poland, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) pointed out that development cooperation must take into greater account the challenges posed by climate change, the nexus between security and development, and new modalities of aid financing. Planning of activities should also pay attention to demographic trends and migration phenomena, the process of urbanisation, the impact of digitalisation and modern technologies, and the growing activity of non-OECD donors such as China. This requires, among other things, improvements in “policy coherence for development” (PCD), the creation of conditions for private sector involvement, and the promotion of win-win cooperation.

The participants agreed that the sector should move away from thinking about development aid as a charitable activity and more clearly indicate the benefits that it brings to the countries providing support. Emphasizing the links between investing in the development of developing countries, peace and stability, migration, or the economic interests of donors will also allow for greater social acceptance for spending taxpayer money in distant countries. It also means acknowledging that aid has, in fact, a political dimension, not just a moral one.

Felix Fernandez-Shaw, director at DG International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO), European Commission, pointed to a fundamental change in development cooperation in recent years, namely the end of the division between the “rich North” and “poor South”. The adoption of the SDGs at the UN forum and the signing of the Paris Agreement on climate in 2015 mean that all countries are equal in their obligations and rights in the implementation of accepted commitments. Ana Fernandes, Head of Unit, Development Cooperation Directorate, OECD  also stressed the need for stronger partnerships, dialogue with developing countries, and flexibility in actions. In her opinion, aid should be smart, meaning it should demonstrate a strategic approach in the selection of priorities, create conditions for the mobilisation of additional funds and be focused on results through an impact assessment. Increasing the political dimension of aid also means, in the opinion of Geert Laporte, deputy director of ECPDM, the admission of the need for a clearer distinction between different recipients of aid, in line with EU interests.

During the session the participants were reminded that Official Development Assistance (ODA) is just one of many sources of funding of sustainable growth in developing countries. Paweł Samecki, Board Member, Polish National Bank  pointed to the role of international financial institutions and businesses in this area. The implementation of the SDGs will not be possible without increasing investments in least-developed countries, where they have decreased by 30% in the last few years. Therefore, it is important to create enabling environment and forms of support so that companies engage in these countries. Then, it will be possible to “turn billions (of ODA) into trillions (in private investments)” while preserving the importance of development assistance in many regions.

During the second session, representatives of Polish NGOs, government administration, and businesses assessed the strengths and weaknesses of Poland’s current development cooperation policy. They indicated, among others, the huge advances made in the Polish development system in the last decade, including creating an institutional and legal framework, increasing the budget, and adopting a more strategic approach to planning activities. At the same time, they drew attention to a number of elements that could improve development policy, including the need for a significant increase in ODA spending, especially bilateral aid, improving the possibility of implementing multiannual projects (not only modular), and improving the quality of support provided. The PISM guests noted that meeting Poland’s own commitments and increasing ODA to 0.33% of GDP while focusing on a smaller number of countries would give the country the position of a major donor in selected priority countries, and thus a key role in shaping EU development policy in those countries. It was proposed that an interesting idea would be to adopt a more comprehensive approach to the issue of security, on which spending at 2.5% of GDP could also include expenditures related to ODA.

In addition to the issue of the level of spending on aid from Poland, the panellists also discussed the quality of the aid. They pointed to the constant demand to improve PCD and coordination between various line ministries in this area, including a part of the Programming Council for Development Cooperation, which seems to have not yet fulfilled its role sufficiently. Jan Bazyl, Director at Grupa Zagranica (Polish NGOs platform) also stressed the need to focus more on tangible results in the future development strategy.

The experts also highlighted the need for further investment in global education, which would help explain the links between the rich and poor countries to the public and build social acceptance for the assistance. According to the NGO representatives, support is needed for building the capacity and potential of Polish NGOs so they can apply effectively for EU funds for development assistance. Wojciech Wilk, Chairman of Polish Centre for International Aid, stated that Poland now finances well-funded foreign NGOs that constantly win EU calls for proposals. The poor visibility of Polish assistance within the country and the underdeveloped system of cooperation and involvement of Polish businesses in aid activities are also considered weak. An opportunity to change this state of affairs may come in June at this year’s International Humanitarian Trade Fair in Warsaw.

At the end of the session, the participants shared their expectations regarding the process of preparing the new long-term programme of Polish aid. According to them, it will be important for the programme to be an inclusive process involving various partners and innovative and pragmatic, as well as one that meets international trends and development cooperation goals. The conference participants expressed their readiness to participate in the preparation of and consultations on the new programme.


9:00–9:25 Registration

9:25-9:30  Welcome

  • Sławomir Dębski, Director, Polish Institute of International Affairs 

9:30–9:45 Opening remarks

  • Aleksandra Piątkowska, Director, Department of Development Cooperation, MFA
  • Jorge Moreira da SilvaDirector, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD

9:45–11: 45 Panel 1: Evolution of Development Cooperation post-2015

International Development Cooperation has been undergoing profound changes in recent years as illustrated in the UN Agenda 2030 and New European Consensus on Development. While poverty eradication remains the main focus of global community the new approach integrates the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The panel will  discuss recent global trends in development cooperation from the differnet perspectives at international and European level and help to understand why we still need development assistance to support growth in Global South and leave no one behind. What are the main goals, priorities and directions of development cooperation? What are the new trends modalities and  instruments in financing of development and how to engage the private sector? What is the role of developed countries, emerging donors and partner countries as well as international organisations in implementing SDGs? Can aid help to address root causes of migration? And what we need to do beyond aid to help make the world more stable, safe and prosperous?

  • Aleksandra Piątkowska, Director, Department of Development Cooperation, MFA
  • Paweł Samecki, Board Member, Polish National Bank
  • Ana Fernandes, Head of Unit, OECD, Development Cooperation Directorate, Foresight, Outreach and Policy Reform Unit
  • Felix Fernandez-Shaw, Director, DG DEVCO, European Commission
  • Geert Laporte, Deputy Director, European Centre for Development Policy Management 
  • ModeratorSławomir Dębski, Director, Polish Institute of International Affairs 

11:45-12:00 Networking coffee break

12:00–13:45 Panel 2: Future of Poland’s Development Cooperation in New Aid Agenda

Poland has in recent years expanded aid budget, reformed its management system and gained valuable experiences in development cooperation. All this will be helpful as the country prepares for the next multiannual development cooperation strategy. The panel will offer an opportunity to take stock of past successes and shortcomings in Polish aid and draw some proposals for the future. Are Poland’s thematic and geographic priorities well selected? How Poland’s development cooperation is seen by its major partners and what can we learn from peers in Europe and in developing world? What is required to improve effectiveness and impact of Polish aid? And what needs to be done to  respond properly to global challenges and development needs and to better align Poland’s development cooperation  with new global agenda?

  • Grzegorz Gruca, Vice-Chairman of the Board, Polish Humanitarian Action
  • Wojciech Wilk, Chairman, Polish Centre for International Aid
  • Cezary Miksa, Vice-Chairman, ASECO Group
  • Maciej Aulak, Director, Ministry of Infrastructure and Development
  • Jan Bazyl, Director, Grupa Zagranica 
  • ModeratorPatryk Kugiel, Analyst, Asia-Pacific Programme, Polish Institute of International Affairs

13:45–14:00 Closing remarks

  • Maciej Lang, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

14:00–15:00  Lunch 

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