Vienna, 5 October 2011 –State Secretary Dr. Wolfgang Waldner invited stakeholders involved in development cooperation to the Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs today to hold the first of what is to become a series of regular meetings on development policy. The aim is to initiate a broad-based public discussion about the future of Austrian development policy. Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger had asked his State Secretary to “breathe some fresh air” into the Austrian development policy and to seek the dialogue with like-minded stakeholders in this field that is of such imminent socio-political relevance.
“The entire federal government shares responsibility for cooperation in development assistance and for reaching the ODA objectives. The more we discuss development policy the clearer becomes the need for tight networking and coherence. I am aiming for a joint mission statement, a vision shared by all Austrian actors in this field. Let us form a “Team Austria” where all those committed to cooperation in development assistance join forces – ministries, members of parliament, NGOs, companies, regional authorities and the social partners”, Waldner said in his opening address.
A permanent point of criticism, said Waldner, is the “fragmentation” of responsibilities when it comes to cooperation in development work. The Foreign Ministry, as the “coordinator” has only 10 – 12% of the entire public development assistance, the ODA, available. Another five federal ministries account for the remaining 88 – 90% of the ODA “pie”.
Add to this that the framework conditions for development policy have changed. New challenges and threats world-wide would call for more pronounced cooperation between stakeholders, Waldner said. The State Secretary underlined that development policy today means global structural policy. The civil society – both in Austria and on site in the countries where development assistance is provided – is now playing a more important role and would need to be partner, contact point and liaison in development cooperation projects.
“Networking can create synergies that increase the efficiency and effectiveness on site. A good example is the cooperation between stakeholders of the security and development policy spheres”, the State Secretary said calling to mind the “Strategic Guideline for Security and Development” adopted by the Federal Government yesterday that provides the framework for Austrian commitment in conflict prevention, crisis management, peace consolidation and development of public structures.
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