It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning: With COVID-19, now is the time to boost aid

Press release by CONCORD Europe:

Brussels, 17 April 2020 – Early figures released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show an increase of 1,4% in global development aid spending in 2019 compared to 2018. This change in donor countries’ official development assistance (ODA) levels can be attributed mainly to an increase in bilateral aid going to low income countries. CONCORD welcomes this since aid is a crucial lifeline for the world’s poorest countries and people. 

However, despite a slight increase of 0,5% in EU donors’ aid spending, EU Member States – yet again – collectively fell short of their international commitment to provide 0,7% of their gross national income in ODA – a proportion that is key for guaranteeing long-term, equitable and sustainable development.

According to the OECD figures, last year EU ODA reached only 0,47% of the collective gross national income, far below the target. Only 4 EU countries honoured their commitments on development aid spending: Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. In addition, the total aid spending of the EU institutions fell by 6,1% in real terms.

CONCORD welcomes the fact that in 2019 more aid went to countries that needed it most. The net global bilateral ODA provided to Least Developed Countries (LDCs) rose by 2,6% to USD 33 billion, with the largest share going to Sub-Saharan Africa – an increase of 1,1% in real terms. Nevertheless, CONCORD regrets that EU Member States collectively have not yet reached the 2020 target of providing 0,15% of gross national income to LDCs. That is critical to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and to realising all people’s rights, in line with the Leave No One Behind principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In light of the COVID-19 emergency, and the likelihood that it may put pressure on donors’ aid budgets in 2020 and beyond, we join the call of the OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría and the OECD Development Assistance Committee Chair Susanna Moorehead to boost support for developing countries who are hardest hit in times of crisis. CONCORD is urging the EU institutions and Member States to step up their development aid commitments to support those who will be disproportionately hit by the coronavirus emergency: mobilising new resources and reaching the 0,7% target needs to be at the heart of the new EU seven-year budget for the 2021-2027 period. The call of the OECD Secretary General for strengthened collective and multilateral action is therefore an opportunity, a new beginning for the EU to affirm its global role as the largest ODA donor bloc.

CONCORD will continue to advocate for more and better aid, which is both life-saving and puts sustainable development and the reduction of inequalities at the centre. We will, through our AidWatch Report and other advocacy actions, continue to pressure EU donors to meet their international commitments to provide genuine aid where it is needed most.

Notes to editors:

1. CONCORD is the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs, made up of 28 national associations, made up of 28 national associations, 24 international networks and 3 associate members that represent over 2.600 NGOs, supported by millions of citizens across Europe.

2. OECD global aid figures are available here.

3. On a yearly basis, CONCORD monitors European aid levels and compares official EU aid figures with the genuine amount of aid going to developing countries in its report AidWatch. For more information, please visit our AidWatch reports page.