A version of this article was originally printed in the April 2014 edition of ACF's Trust and Foundation News.
In their early recasting of the framework that will eventually replace the Millennium Development Goals, David Cameron and his colleagues on the UN High Level Panel (HLP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda laid out a plan that focuses on a universal understanding of development, rather than a narrow technical debate on the implementation of aid.
By defining development as something for all to aspire to, and breaking out of the developed v. developing world dichotomy, the report served as a qualified success of early post-2015 prospects.
It also signalled an important shift to a more inclusive partnership for development; one that would recognise the value of a larger set of stakeholders in a new development world order.
Indeed, 'other development stakeholders' may have been listed last in the HLP's set of transformative shifts, but there are clear references to the vital role they play in efforts to 'forge a new global partnership'.
Now, some may choose to be cynical about these overtures. Yes, ODA had been shrinking for consecutive years, and yes, governments felt pressure to come up with new ways of financing development. But the inclusion of non-state actors – civil society, the private sector and philanthropy – has always been essential if we ever expect to reach the next set of global goals.
Where and how to include these actors, systematically and meaningfully, is another matter entirely.
But we* think we've found a good first step, for philanthropy at least.
The Guidelines for Effective Philanthropic Engagement, developed by WINGS, OECD netFWD, UNDP, EFC, Stars Foundation and with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, offer the blueprint for how the philanthropic sector might engage with governments and other development stakeholders in the reality of post-2015 development.
Separated into three broad headlines designed to bridge the communication and collaboration gap between philanthropy and policymakers – Dialogue; Data/Knowledge Sharing; and Partnership – the Guidelines assert the comparative advantages of our sector and seek to articulate the 'collaboration aspirations' of the philanthropic community within any development cooperation paradigm.
Voluntary and non-binding, the Guidelines suggest a way forward for foundations hoping to engage in greater collaboration in order to accelerate global development progress.
Global, regional and national consultations are now underway – with country pilots to soon follow – canvassing the views and opinions of foundation leaders on how the Guidelines can be 'operationalised' most effectively.
The results will feed into a high-level focus session at the first Ministerial Meeting for the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in Mexico on April 15-16.
It is at this meeting that the Guidelines will boldly attempt to introduce collaboration standards to a sector that notoriously – and some would say necessarily – eschews standardisation.
But now is the time to embrace it.
By giving weight to partnerships in development, the High Level Panel posed a question: how can all development stakeholders work together to collaborate, coordinate and cooperate more effectively?
The Guidelines are a first, hopeful attempt at philanthropy's answer.
*"We" refers to the organisations that developed the Guidelines, as well as the growing pool of foundations and philanthropic actors that are adding their support to the Guidelines as the consultations progress.
To learn more about the Guidelines and to find out how to take part in the consultation, get in touch.