Around 25 CPDE members in Asia gathered to discuss the framework and steps in setting up a regional observatorio, a citizen-driven monitoring of aid and development cooperation mechanism for campaigning and policy advocacy. Attending members were from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Philippines, Myanmar, Myanmar, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Representatives from the Feminist Group, Labour, and Indigenous Peoples sectors.
Monitoring aid and development cooperation has always been the prime interest and concern of CSOs locally and regionally. Over the years, CSO work and participation in various monitoring development cooperation processes have proven to be effective not only in effecting substantial democratic participation but also in empowering grassroots communities about the socio-political and economic underpinnings of development cooperation and partnerships at the local level.
In Asia, particularly, the concept of an aid observatory is not new. CSOs in the region have been forging and sustaining meaningful partnership with all development stakeholders while remaining firm and critical on their stance on aid and development effectiveness that is anchored on human rights-based approaches to development.
The work on aid observatorio started way back in 2013 in the publication of a training course manual on CSO Aid Observatorio (Advancing Democratic Ownership: Training Manual for CSO Aid Observatories) by Reality of Aid – Asia Pacific (RoA-AP) which was developed to equip various CSOs from different countries in the region with necessary skills in setting-up and sustaining a CSO country aid Observatorio as well as to ensure informed policy recommendation.
Despite considerable gains over the past years, CSOs in Asia still face recurring challenges and barriers to accessing aid information, such as: 1) restrictive laws and policies on information dissemination; 2) lack of mechanisms for transparency and information dissemination; 3) lack of funds to sustain efforts on monitoring aid and development cooperation; and 4) low capacity for CSOs to access, manage, and use aid information.
The body agreed to work on the issue of international financial institutions (IFI) monitoring as a key priority issue in the region alongside the platform’s work on conflict and fragility. There is a need to take stock on IFIs such as ADB, IMF-WB, and AIIB as these are prominent banks notorious for facilitating development aggressions and private sector engagement. Research issues and proposals on these IFIs were formulated as part of the workshop sessions.
Participants of the workshop also had discussions on CSO positions on ODA for trade, climate change, scholarship, migration and the role of international financial institutions (IFIs). Proposals and remaining activities for the year as well as engagement plan in the upcoming IMF-WB meeting were also part of the agenda.