An interview with GPEDC Co-chair, Thomas Gass, on the importance of philanthropy for development co-operation

1. What is the GPEDC and how was it established?
The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC) is a unique platform that brings together governments, bilateral and multilateral organisations, civil society, the private sector, and representatives from trade unions, among others, to strengthen the effectiveness of development co-operation. We are very proud that philanthropic foundations and actors are active members of this partnership. The GPEDC supports practical implementation of effective development co-operation principles, promotes mutual accountability, and works to sustain political momentum for more effective co-operation and partnerships. The GPEDC 2020-2022 Work Programme aims to sharpen the role of philanthropic organisations in development co-operation while also contributing to address the communication gap between governments and philanthropy to improve the effectiveness of their joint efforts. This provides a unique opportunity for behaviour change both on the ground in local governments and regions while also stirring motion at the national and global level.

2. Why do you consider foundations and other philanthropic actors as relevant stakeholders in the GPEDC?
Until recently, foundations and other actors were not always given a seat at effective development co-operation discussions, but with philanthropic organisations becoming increasingly active and well-recognised in development co-operation and their contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continuing to expand, all actors are seeing the added value of philanthropic support. 

3. What is the role of philanthropy in effective development co-operation?
The classical understanding of the role of philanthropic actors providing merely financial support is a concept of the past. They have a unique, multifaceted role, and many of their strengths are being sought to improve the effectiveness of development co-operation; including specialised technical expertise to design innovative solutions for global challenges, their ability to mobilise media and public attention, and the ability to take on risks to implement novel programmes, such as in the areas of health and education. This has been extremely beneficial, in a time of uncertainty, with COVID-19 in high flight. Support of foundations and other philanthropic actors have been instrumental to the recovery in the development sector across the globe, due to their unique composition and capacity to assist where most needed in very short timeframes. 

4. What are some of the challenges in building partnerships between philanthropy and development actors?
Some challenges remain in building effective partnerships between the philanthropic sector and other development actors at the country level. They include weak country ownership, inadequate participation of local partners, and lack of transparency and accountability. These challenges cannot be addressed in silos. Strong and continuous engagement from foundations and philanthropic actors across all sectors is needed. The GPEDC provides a platform for exactly this, our work brings all stakeholders together through dialogues, capacity building and innovative solutions. This requires systematic dialogue, the regular sharing of data and the participation of philanthropic actors in the design of national development strategies and work plans from the outset and throughout project life cycles. 

5. How is the GPEDC engaging with philanthropic organisations?
The current GPEDC 2020-2022 Work Programme features effective philanthropic engagement as one of its primary action areas (Action Area 2.5), led by WINGS and supported by a coalition of actors, including Steering Committee members and other philanthropic organisations1. The aim is to promote and increase the mutually beneficial engagement of philanthropic organisations in development co-operation by scaling up effective multi-stakeholder partnerships with foundations, taking into account their innovative approaches and financial and non-financial contributions to realising sustainable development2

In this vein, the GPEDC expects to deliver a specialised toolkit to be launched at its next High-Level Meeting in 2022. This toolkit will provide a baseline informing development actors how to effectively engage in multi-stakeholder partnerships with philanthropy, building on country-level insights and tailored guidance to various stakeholders, including partner country governments, development agencies, and foundations. 

If you are interested in more information on the work of the GPEDC with philanthropic actors, please contact info@effectivecooperation.org.

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1. As of 3 February 2021, the working group supporting the activities of this action area includes: Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Reality of Aid Africa (ONG/Kenya), Sahara Foundation (Nigeria), LaCaixa Foundation (Spain), Chandler Foundation (New Zealand), Charities Aid Foundation (CAF-UK), and Grupo Tera (Honduras).

2. For more information on the action area’s detailed objectives and activities, please refer to the detailed work plan.


 

Thomas Gass

Ambassador, Assistant Director-General, Head of South-South Co-operation, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and Co-chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC). 

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