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D+C Vol.42.2015:2 5 Böthling/Photography Unequal power relations between stake- holders must be addressed. Effective statehood must provide an en­ abling environment for a diversity of ac- tors. All actors must be held accountable through independent mechanisms and institutions. CSOs must be allowed to fulfil their po- tential, get access to funding and be in- volved in policy-making. SDG funding should be guided by actual conditions of poverty and inequality, not by arbitrary per-capita income statistics. South-south cooperation must be de- signed in ways that serve poor and mar- ginalised people. In 2011, the multilateral Busan High- Level Forum acknowledged the importance of CSOs when launching the Global Partner- ship for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC). According to the RoA Report, that has not made much difference. CSOs tend to be marginalised by governments, public- private partnerships (PPPs) and south- south cooperation (SSC), the authors state. The RoA Report includes case studies to prove that point. The report also notes some positive ­cases however. In Mozambique, CSOs are increasingly accepted as “equal develop- ment partners“, writes Taurai Chiraerae from the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) in his contribution to the publication. In his view, CSOs are participating effectively in deci- sion-making, implementation and monitor- ing in regard to public policies and pro- grammes. Chiraerae stresses that govern- ments and donor agencies can make part- nerships effective if they want to. The RoA Report similarly appreciates that CSOs play a strong role particularly in developmental matters in Bangladesh (see Marianne Scholte in D+C/E+Z 2014/12, p. 463 ff.). There are limits, however, as the govern- ment does not accept CSO interventions in issues such as human rights, law enforce- ment and governance in general. This case is made by Ahmad Swapan Mahmud and Farjana Akter of Voice, a CSO, in another contribution. Privatisation of UN The RoA Network also finds fault with mul- tilateral institutions. The recent publication speaks of a trend towards the “privatisation of the UN agenda”. One reason that is given is that ODA is stagnating, so funding is be- ing sought from other sources, including private-sector corporations. Moreover, de- velopment paradigms are increasingly geared to private-sector success, the activ- ists warn. In his contribution, Christopher John Chanco of IBON International, a Ma- nila-based foundation, argues that ODA conditions concerning issues such as trade liberalisation, investment rules, fiscal aus- terity and tax reforms have weakened the Philippines’ socio-economic development over the decades. He adds that infrastruc- ture provided in PPPs often does not grant poor and marginalised people access. The report contributors emphasise the watchdog role of CSOs. In their eyes, there can be no transparent multilateral policy- making unless activists monitor the perfor- mance of international institutions, govern- ments and other relevant actors. They appreciate that some donor governments want to see democratic ownership in devel- oping countries and insist on human rights. The report praises donors that take a rights- based approach in regard to things like la- bour conditions, social responsibility or tax compliance. South-south cooperation (SSC) is be- coming more important, according to the RoA Report. The authors point out that some emerging economies like Brazil, China and India have joined the GPEDC as observ- ers, but are reluctant to apply its rules them- selves. Vitalice Meja’s, a RoA coordinator, questions whether SSC really brings sub- stantial benefits for Africa. He states that SSC projects too often lead to poor and vul- nerable people being displaced from their land. According to him, moreover, African governments tend to clear SSC projects without any meaningful prior public partici- pation. To improve matters, Meja wants Af- rican governments to implement legal re- forms and involve CSOs in policy-making. The RoA emphasises that CSOs at the grass- roots level have tremendous experience and a deep knowledge of local politics and social dynamics. Unless this expertise is utilised, the publication warns, the SDGs will not be achieved, so local CSOs in developing coun- tries have an important role to play. Theresa Krinninger Link: Reality of Aid Report 2014: in-a-post-2015-world-towards-equitable-inclusive-and- sustainable-development/ New president in Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena has won the presidential elections in Sri Lanka. He beat incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa who had been increasingly criticised for authori- tarian rule, nepotism and corrup- tion before the election. Sirisena is a former political ally of Raja- paksa whom he served as health minister as well as in other of- fices. He announced his candi- dacy shortly after Rajapaksa de- clared he would hold a snap election. Rajapaksa used to be very popular among the Sinhalese majority population. He was the president who triumphed in the civil war in which government troops fought insurgents from the Tamil minority. Sri Lanka’s Tamils are predominantly Hindus. The war ended in a bloodbath in which many Tamil civilians were killed. Rajapaksa did not show any interest in reconciliation, but kept emphasising the supremacy of the mostly Buddhist Sinhalese. Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority has increasingly been suffering dis- crimination in recent years as well. Voter turnout among mi- norities was high. Moreover, many Sinhalese are said to be disappointed because fast eco- nomic growth under Rajapaksa did not result in higher living standards for many people. (dem) Assessing the state of biodiversity The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Eco-System Services (IPBES) now has 123 member countries. Its mission is to serve a similar func- tion in the context of the UN Con- vention on Biodiversity as the Intergovernmental Panel on Cli- mate Change does in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A multilateral meeting in Bonn in January set the IPBES agenda for the next few years. One of the top topics to be researched is the pollination of plants. The issue is urgent in view of dwindling honey-bee popula- tions in many countries. Experts reckon that the use of pesticides is an important reason for this dangerous trend. The IPBES is likely to run into political contro- versies similar to those experi- enced by the IPCC if it spells out the causes of environmental deg- radation in correct and unmistak- able scientific terms, the German newspaper taz expects. (dem) In brief