Co-opting Coherence?

I had the honour to present in a panel at a CASID/SIDGS-organized conference on Canadian Foreign Aid at the University of Ottawa yesterday.  The panel, with Stephen Brown, Fraser Reilly-King, and Ian Smillie examined the issue of Canadian Aid’s past practices and their implications for partnership going forward, in the context of the keynote address offered by ODI’s Dr. Nilima Gulrajani.  I spoke about how policy coherence for development has been co-opted in Canada and what path might be implied for Canada’s development cooperation going forward if we are to meet our partnership obligations under the SDGs agenda.

I framed my comments under three suggestions: (1) Do more:  Canadian partnership for development requires more resources and political will to be dedicated to development become a credible partner; (2) Do it differently: In keeping with the shifting global context of development finances, I suggested Canada should explore ways to leverage and encourage other flows like remittances; (3) Do some of the same: I argued Canada should carve out a niche for its aid that does the things other actors (diplomatic, private sector, defence, etc.) will not.  In the context of the SDGs, I suggested this entail some combination of building on Canada’s track record in gender equality and support to MNCH, as well as expanding our nascent support to climate change adaptation.  In keeping with the current global aid context, much of this expansion might be possible through enhancing Canadian support to global/multilateral channels that target global challenges.

It was a very interesting panel, and an excellent meeting overall. Thanks to Rebecca Tiessen, CASID, and the U of O’s SIDGS for making it happen.