The government's new development aid policy lacks analysis and visions

The Government's development assistance platform has too serious shortcomings in order to function as intended as the Swedish development aid policy's overall governing document. It lacks analysis of the world around us and visions of how to achieve a fair and sustainable world. It is serious, say Gabi Björsson, Aleksander Gabelic, Kristina Henschen, Jens Orback, Annica Sohlström and Ann Svensén.

Today, the government's development aid policy platform is being debated in the Riksdag, and on Tuesday the decision on the heavily criticized platform will in all probability be made.

The management of Swedish development assistance has been criticized for a long time and there has been a need for more long-term thinking and strategic thinking. In addition, it has been necessary to clarify how a flora of governing documents relate to each other. We had therefore looked forward to a process in which the government, after consultation with various actors in development assistance and not least with representatives of the target groups for development assistance, would present a modern analysis of the world around them, their views on what contributes to fair and sustainable development and finally how Swedish development assistance best contributes to this.

The frustration was therefore great when it was only after sharp criticism that civil society organizations were given the opportunity to comment on the platform at all and then under time pressure that did not allow discussion with our partners or analysis.

The disappointment and concern about the result, the development aid policy platform, is great. We have received a product that means a decline in the view of aid, which does not relate to today's world and global challenges

One of the most serious shortcomings is that the development assistance platform lacks external analysis and visions of how to achieve a fair and sustainable world. What does the government's analysis of the world around us look like? What does the government believe leads to a fair and sustainable development? How should Sweden contribute through its policy? How should Swedish development aid policy contribute? Where does Sweden have its added value?

Everyone who works with development assistance knows that long-term planning is an important prerequisite for successful and sustainable work. Then you need to know what role the government believes that aid has in a globalized world, where trade, foreign investment and migrants' repatriated money have become increasingly important. Here, the platform is empty of content, and the government's intention with the aid is obscured. It is not clear how the goals for Swedish development assistance are to be achieved. There is also no explanation of how development aid policy should be linked to other policy areas that are equally important for sustainable development.

Between the airy goals set by the government and the people who are in poor countries, there is an important intermediate perspective in the platform, namely the most important actors for change; institutions and authorities, civil society and business in poor countries. The importance of business and industry is highlighted in the platform, while the government's view of the role of the state and civil society is unclear.

The impact of government on the living conditions of poor people and their ability to fight for their rights is crucial. This applies to both support for activities that open societies and eliminate corruption, and support for social functions and social institutions. If human rights are to be respected and deepened, the institutions that are to bring about these changes must also be supported.

Civil society organizations are key players in the work to demand sustainability, human rights and development for all. We believe that the role played by civil society in Sweden as well as in the recipient countries must be described in the platform. Civil society organizations have long worked to emphasize people's autonomy and responsibility for their own development and that it is when people come together that forces are created that can demand responsibility and change. That view has been reflected in the previous goal formulation for development assistance. In the government's new platform, this view is being changed to, through development assistance, "create conditions for better living conditions for people living in poverty and oppression". This means that the government goes from seeing people in poor countries as subjects, responsible and capable, to making them objects of Swedish development assistance. Likewise, the ability of the individual is emphasized rather than the power created by organization. We ask ourselves what analysis is behind this changed approach?

The government has received a lot of criticism for how the development assistance grant has been eroded and used for other than poverty reduction. Unfortunately, the government is continuing with the erosion, which is made clear by the fact that the platform will only apply to part of the development assistance. The large items that are deducted from development assistance - Sweden continues to be the country in the world that has the highest settlements, especially for refugee reception - are not covered. The Government acknowledges here that the settlements are not "development assistance activities". Therefore, it would be only reasonable for these costs to be borne by other budget lines and not allowed to erode the XNUMX% target.

We do not think that the development assistance policy platform serves as the overall governing document that it is intended to be. It needs to be improved to be a clear guiding document for Swedish development assistance. Clarify what the biggest challenges are for a fair and sustainable world. Describe how change takes place in the desired direction. Tell how Swedish politics can contribute and describe in particular how Swedish development assistance should contribute. And above all, listen to those who are affected.

Gabi Björsson, The African Groups

Aleksander Gabelic, United Nations

Kristina Henschen, LO-TCO Biståndsnämnd

Jens Orback, Palm Center

Annica Sohlström, Forum South

Ann Svensén, Individual Human Aid IM

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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