Investments

The 2003 Rome Declaration on Harmonization

The High-Level Forum on Harmonization saw dignitaries from bilateral and international organizations, both recipient and donor nations, and major multilateral organizations meet in Rome (HLF-Rome).The leaders promised to take action in order to reform management and grant efficacy plus taking stock of factual progress, before the next meeting in early 2005.

On February 24-25 2003, Head of Aid Organizations, IMF representatives, various Senior Officials, and Ministers represented over 40 bilateral and multilateral institutions, and 28 aid beneficiary countries endorsed the Rome Declaration of Harmonization. The dignitaries from all over the world met to reaffirm their commitment to achieving constant economic growth, eradicating poverty, and cultivating sustainable development as the nations advanced to an equitable and inclusive international economic system. The conference was a critical international effort to harmonize partner country systems with those of institutional practices to improve development effectiveness, therefore, contributing to meeting the MDGs-Millenium Development Goals. Another reason for the conference was to reconcile operational policies and procedures.

According to the deliberation, the MDGs are directly in favor of the broad agreement of the cosmopolitan development community as manifested in the Monterrey Consensus. The leaders further expressed appreciation to the governments of Vietnam, Ethiopia, Jamaica, the universal institutions and bilateral donors who sponsored and systemized regional workshops in Hanoi, Addis Ababa, and Kingston, in January 2003, in readiness for the Forum in Rome.

The concerns addressed at the forum in Rome included:

Advancement in development effectiveness

The leaders in the donor community felt concerned with burgeoning evidence, that, over time, the huge variety of requirement from donors, the totality, and the processes for preparation, delivery and monitoring the development relief are producing unproductive transaction expenditures plus drawing down the restricted sufficiency of partner countries.

The leaders further indicated that they were fully aware of partner countries’ distress that donors’ practices do not at all times fit well with ethnic development preferences. The forum further recognized that these problems require immediate, sustained and coordinated action to increase effectiveness on the ground. High importance was attached to partner countries based on the assumption of a resolute leadership role in the engineering of development assistance, and to help in fostering their capacity to do so.

Partner countries on their part also promised to put into action reforms and take up global standards or principles and apply proper practices to enable donors to rely on their systems. Of emphasis here is a nation-based approach which emphasizes government leadership and country ownership that allows participation of the civil society and the private sector.

Adept practice principles or standards

The forum acknowledged that authorizing environments, institutional mandates, and historical origins differ, but in many circumstances, countries can harmonize and simplify their requirements and lower their correlated expenses while correcting public accountability and fiduciary oversight, and improving the focus on solid development results.

The good practice work was endorsed by methodological groups of the MDBs and the DAC- OECD Task Force as they looked forward to the proposed completion of the UN harmonization project which was being facilitated by the United Nations Development Group.

The forum insisted on their readiness to adopt already existing proper practices as they discover and publish new ones. They agreed that progress made for both partner and donor countries on the ground was an essential and solid measure of their success. The leaders also agreed that such advancement could only be facilitated and improved by harmonization endeavors at regional and international levels. They also committed to the following activities to improve aid harmonization.

• Assuring delivery of development assistance according to the partner countries preferences including poverty minimization strategies and identical approaches and efforts towards harmonization are implemented to the nation’s context.

• Examining and recognizing means to amend, as appropriate the partner country’s’ policies, practices, and procedures as well as individual institutions’ to promote harmonization.
In addition, they promised to reduce donor reviews, reporting, and missions, harmonize and simplify documentation and standardize conditionals.

• Resolving progressively – there would be building on previous experiences and regional workshop messages including the proper practice principles or standards in development assistance management and delivery, which would take into account the particular country’s circumstances. Practices cultivated were to be disseminated to staff and managers in country offices and headquarters and to other development partners within the country.

• Increasing efforts from donors to work through authorized cooperation at the country level and increase the flexibility of staff based within the country so they can run country projects and programs more efficiently and effectively.

• Developing incentives at each level within the organizations which facilitates staff and management perception of the advantages of harmonization in the interest of improved relief effectiveness.

• Contributing support for country analytic tasks in ways which strengthens the government’s capability to assume a bigger leadership role and assume ownership of the development progress. The leaders promised to, in particular, work with partner countries to forge better relationships and collaborate to better the quality, policy relevance, efficiency and delivery of nation analytic work.

• Mainstream or expand the nation-led efforts – whether started in individual projects, thematic areas or specific sectors in order to streamline donor practices and procedures to include technical cooperation driven by demand. The countries which were involved included Jamaica, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kyrgyz Republic, Niger, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bolivia, Morocco, Honduras, Pacific Islands, Zambia, Senegal, Philippines, and Jamaica.

• Contributing sector, budget, or surplus of payment support in consistency with the donor’s mandate, and when appropriate fiduciary and policy arrangements are in place.
Standards or practices including alignment with the country’s poverty eradication strategy reviews and the county’s budget cycles should be practiced in the delivery of such assistance.

• Finally, promotion of harmonized approaches in regional and international programs.

The forum indicated that there were positive results of the partnership on harmonization including improved information sharing and increased understanding of differences and commonalities throughout the revision or preparation of corresponding operational procedures, policies, and practices. The collaboration was to be further discussed into the future, and there would be exploration as to how the collaboration could assist to ensure revisited or new policies were harmonized appropriately with those of donor institutions and partner countries. There was recognition of international work on assessing and monitoring handout of donor support to achieve the MDGs.

The forum promised to track and, as required, and perfect top indicators of progress on harmonization such as those discussed in the Good Practice Papers of the DAC-OECD. The probable contribution of modern ICT to facilitating and promoting harmonization was acknowledged and demonstrated through the use of video and audio conferencing equipment in the staff work and committed to adopting technology in future work.

The Next Steps

Partner countries were encouraged to come up with nation-based action plans for harmonization and made a deal with the donor community which will set out specific, monitorable and clear proposals to harmonize development help using the proposals from the MDB technical working groups and DAC-OECD Task Force as points of reference. In turn, the multilateral and bilateral agencies promised to take action to subsidize harmonization at the country level. As part of their self-evaluation processes, Multilateral & bilateral agencies and partner nations would evaluate and report on the progress in adopting good practices and their impacts as part of the self-evaluation techniques.

Whenever possible, existing mechanisms were to be put into place to advance such plans and to evaluate and report on progress, and make available to the public these plans. They also suggested strengthening and utilizing existent mechanisms for maintaining peer pressure to implement harmonization agreements through the participation of partner countries. In this regard, regional initiatives including the task by the Economic Commission for Africa were welcomed.

Finally, after the two-day experience, meetings for stocktaking were scheduled in early 2005 after the DAC-OECD review in 2004.

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