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We have witnessed remarkable improvements regarding extreme poverty around the world over the last number of decades. The global extreme poverty rate is down to around ten percent, 9 out of 10 children worldwide get primary education and World Bank data show that around 45 countries have left the Low Income Country category during the last 30 years.

Long term development assistance has been instrumental for achieving these results, particularly when it comes to ensuring basic health and education. We in the development community, and Ireland as a generous donor country, should take note and be proud of these results.

Ireland’s aid programme is internationally renowned for having a clear overall vision for development cooperation and delivering effectively on commitments to international development and grounding its policies in the needs and priorities of its partner countries. Countries like Ireland set an important example when it comes to counterbalancing rhetoric in other OECD countries about national interest and directing development co-operation policies and aid spending.

Ireland is not a big donor; in 2016 it provided USD 802 million in net Official Development Assistance (ODA) (preliminary data), which represented 0.33% of its gross national income (GNI). However, this was a 12 percent increase in real terms from 2015 and the first time in seven years that the Irish government increased the ODA budget. (

However international development cooperation is not only about volume, it is also about quality through policies and practices. Here Ireland plays an important role by supporting and enabling partner governments and civil society organisations to lead their development efforts themselves. Partners value Ireland as an honest broker and for being a long-term partner, working according to international best practices and the principles for making aid more effective.

Building on this trust countries like Ireland must lead the way in transforming development co-operation to meet the challenges we face today and tomorrow.

With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development we have embarked on a bold and ambitious journey together. This calls for a transformation of development cooperation while upholding the much needed levels of ODA to support those most in need. This transformation means that we need to find the right balance between guarding the integrity of ODA and using ODA in a catalytic manner to leverage other financial resources for sustainable development.

This is central to accelerate the shift from unsustainable, carbon-based energy, production and consumption patterns.  This is also crucial when the number of refugees and displaced persons in countries of origin, in neighbouring countries and in our own countries, calls for a more comprehensive response. Finally, this is fundamental to meeting the increasing appeals from humanitarian crises around the world.

The new global framework and the challenges we face change the game and demand increased partnership, increased financial flows and increased focus on leaving no-one behind. The universality of the 2030 Agenda, the interdependence between countries and policy areas, and the effects of globalisation all call for a holistic approach to development.

Development assistance is  increasingly becoming an integrated part of a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development; and sustainable development for a country, a region or a city is more and more an agenda way beyond government, calling for a whole-of-society approach. Governments and the public sector should not shy away from their responsibilities and leading roles, but must acknowledge that others will have to lead as well.

That is why I, as Chair of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC),  am now leading a process to modernise and reform the Committee to make it more fit for purpose. The Committee will increase its focus on development impact and mobilisation of resources, learn from existing development approaches and explore new ones, reach out to influence and to be influenced, and be more transparent and support countries in holding each other to account.

I count on Ireland to be a supporter and co-leader in this work.

Charlotte Petri Gornitzka


As an independent forum, the Institute does not express any opinions of its own. The views expressed in the article are the sole responsibility of the author.