Development Cooperation Forum 2021

May 18, 2021

Celina Manso

On May 6 and 7, 2021, the seventh biennial high-level meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) was held virtually within the framework of ECOSOC. The 2020 DCF was scheduled for May 2020, but was postponed until the 2021 session due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forum is the main global platform for political dialogue on development cooperation. Its activity focuses on six areas: I) The strategic role of development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda, building sustainable and resilient societies leaving no one behind; (II) Strengthening the effectiveness and impact of multi-stakeholder partnerships and approaches, including blended funding; (III) Obtain better results through national development cooperation policies; (IV) Fill capacity gaps and facilitate technology development and transfer in strategic areas; (V) Enhance South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development; and (VI) Strengthen the monitoring, review, and evaluation of development cooperation at multiple levels.

The 2021 Development Cooperation Forum aimed to promote international development cooperation that reduces risk, enables recovery and builds resilience in the COVID-19 period and beyond. It also aims to inspire a wave of innovative development cooperation policies and activities to drive progress through the recovery from COVID-19 during the Decade of Action.

DCF activities were divided into two days, during which four round tables were held on different topics related to development cooperation.

In this blog we will highlight excerpts from the speeches of ECOSOC President, Munir Akram, and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Liu Zhenmin, at the opening and closing of the forum, as well as topics highlighted in the round tables.

Mr. Munir Akram was in charge of opening the Forum, and in his speech he exposed how the COVID-19 pandemic generated the worst socio-economic crisis since World War II. The challenges facing the development community are to ensure adequate global action to contain and defeat the virus, recover from the impact of the pandemic, and rekindle the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the global climate goals. In addition, he maintained that no one is safe until everyone is.

Development cooperation can help overcome vaccine nationalism. Akram raised the need to strengthen financing for sustainable development: “Development cooperation will allow countries to have the capacity to transform themselves in the face of the new world economy to enter the new global supply chains by creating new jobs,” he highlighted. 

On the other hand, Mr. Liu Zhenmin asserted that effective cooperation in the COVID-19 period leads to helping developing countries reduce risks and build resilience. He also expressed that the recovery from the pandemic must overcome the obstacles to access development cooperation in climate action, and the prevention of risks by natural disasters. The opening closed with the contribution of the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, who considers  “the recovery from the pandemic as an opportunity for all stakeholders to promote climate action and development goals”.

During the first round table, “Navigating the risk landscape through development cooperation”, the debate sought to provide knowledge to leaders and those who adopt risk-based development cooperation, highlighting that the crisis of COVID-19 has deepened development challenges and created new risks that must be addressed.

The second round table, “Strengthening health systems for vulnerable countries”, established the need to ensure affordable and equitable access to essential diagnostics, therapies and vaccines to face COVID-19. It was also stated that ways must be found to ensure that short- and medium-term response and recovery measures are effective, and are able to strengthen health systems and infrastructure in the long term, fostering resilience to future health risks.

In the third round table, “Cooperation for development to address the double challenge of pandemic recovery and climate emergency”, the speakers expressed that green and sustainable recovery is the way forward to address the emergencies of the pandemic and the climate change. The debate also pointed out how development cooperation can support the measures adopted by countries to face the challenges of the pandemic and the climate emergency in compliance with the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework.

The fourth round table, “Regional cooperation to support science, technology and innovation in the COVID-19 period”, explored regional initiatives designed to support the recovery from a pandemic in its multiple dimensions.

At the closing of the Forum, Mr. Munir Akram said that due to the pandemic “we have the opportunity to promote key measures to reduce the risk of events in the future and not only epidemic but also catastrophes” and stressed that the priority is to reach the most vulnerable and reinforce sustainable infrastructure including health and social protection systems, which are the first line to risk. He mentioned that this is the way to guarantee long-term sustainable development: “No country or company can bear the crisis and climate change alone, development cooperation in the decade of action has to allow greater coherence and support to countries so that there are national solutions in close collaboration with their populations,” he concluded .

Mr. Liu Zhenmin explained that in the context of the crisis the world is going through, it is possible to assess where international cooperation is having good results and where it is not. Recommendations emanating from their experiences in the face of the crisis promote a better vision of what to avoid in the next global socio-economic crisis and climate change.

The forum facilitated learning and knowledge sharing and the opportunity for collaboration among stakeholders. Learn more about the interventions!

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