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What rationales for ODA? Main donors' objectives and implications for France

Working Papers N°01/2017. Iddri, 2017. 30 p.

This paper was prepared as part of the Transformative Investment for Sustainable Development (TISD) project, coordinated by IDDRI in partnership with Ferdi and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Listing and categorising the rationales underlying ODA, the authors identify five main narratives: United Kingdom, Germany, France, China, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In the case of French ODA, discourse and facts have been matched, comparing the hypothetical allocation of French aid as can be surmised from the discourses justifying it with its actual allocation. And weaknesses and conditions are identified for the success of ODA on the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development timeline.

KEY MESSAGES:

  • THE ROLE OF ODA IN THE AGENDA 2030 IN QUESTION
    The shift from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) to the universal and indivisible Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) raises the question of the role played by ODA in the new Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. Sustainable investment requirements greatly exceed ODA volumes, making the “containment” policy objectives of its origin unquestionably void. The aim of this article is to provide insights into the rationale, motivations and goals of ODA from a reading of the documents and official websites of the UK, Germany, France, China and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and identify some specific implications for French ODA.
     
  • THERE ARE MARKED DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DONORS IN THE RATIONALE FOR ODA
    The ODA of actors such as the UK or the BMGF, focusing on stabilizing fragile or failing States and alleviating extreme poverty, is qualified as “indispensable”. ODA of countries such as France or Germany aims to build global policies capable of “managing” or “correcting” the effects of globalization to the benefit of countries of the South and is thus qualified as “corrective.” Lastly, China’s “liberational” ODA offers receipient countries an alternative to conditional aid provided by erstwhile colonial powers and the potential for autonomous development driven by shared commercial interests.
     
  • THESE DEVELOPMENT AID NARRATIVES CONTAIN SOME GRAY AREAS
    Each of these narratives has its own respective gray areas. In the case of “indispensable” aid, the expected role of external financing in attaining stability and poverty reduction in fragile or failing states; in the case of “corrective” aid, the viability of financing in the form of debt and its actual leverage effect; and in the case of “liberational” ODA, the environmental sustainability of emerging development models.
     
  • FRENCH ODA: ALIGNING DISCOURSE AND PRACTICE
    A look at France’s bilateral allocation choices reveals that it only partly fulfils the aims of its discourse. The ambition to compensate for the effects of globalization is reflected in France’s allocation towards global and climate-related public goods, which has seen steady growth in recent years. However, the economic development of middle-income countries, a key objective for France, could benefit from further clarification in the discourse. Moreover, expenditure on stability and social justice is being given less importance relative to other issues.