Aid works. Much of the work on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is still to be done. Missing the MDGs through lack of financing is unforgivable. 2008 is the key to finding missing funding.
The gap between Africa and other regions of the developing world is large and challenging but it does not have to be discouraging. There are success stories.
Most importantly, the success stories show that the combination of resources and commitment on the part of African governments and African people, can make a huge difference. We need both the commitment from Africa and the political will on the part of donor governments to provide the resources. Regrettably the figures for last year show that they are faltering in their commitment.
They must have the courage, especially now at a time of slowing economic growth in their own economies, to put their aid budgets back on track to meet their Gleneagles and European Union commitments. Their message must be simple – aid can work.
We recognize that success stories do not tell the whole picture. Countries afflicted by corruption, weak governance and conflict damage themselves and their neighbours. But these countries are not a lost cause.
In these countries, known collectively as fragile states, donor governments and civil society organizations need to work together to identify partner organizations – local governments, particular ministries or government agencies, local civil society organizations and movements – that are committed to poverty reduction.
Developed countries must give more and better targeted aid, agree to a more just trading system, and seek quicker and deeper debt relief.
Developing countries must have more budget spending on health, education, transport, access to clean water and improved governance.
Climate change will increasingly become crucial for countries in the south. In countries with high poverty rates and weak capacities of adaptation, climate change is increasing their vulnerability, and the poorest are the first victims of floods, droughts and famines.
This raises questions of environmental justice: rich industrialized nations have to reduce their climate impact significantly as a first priority. They also have to take responsibility for recent climate impacts and look for adaptation and disaster preparedness measures in the south.
Over 20 million people were affected by flooding in South Asia last year, Mexico had the worst floods for 50 years, and huge swathes of Africa from the Atlantic seaboard to the Indian Ocean were under water. Caritas workers responded by providing food, medicine, shelter, solidarity and compassion.
Twenty-eight out of 40 Caritas emergency appeals in 2007 were related to climate.
Additional funds to help developing countries tackle climate change:
• adaptation in developing countries will cost US$50bn each year;
• calculated on ability to pay, and by their historic contribution to climate change, the United States of America, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia should contribute over 95 percent of the finance needed;
• this money must be in addition to, and not part of, the 0.7 percent that developing countries were promised in 1970;
• according to the UNDP Human Development report, action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions is “an essential part of our overall fight…for the MDGs” .