Slovenia Should Open Up in Development Coop
While the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is assessing Slovenia's activities in international development cooperation as positive, it believes that the country should move its focus from Western Balkan countries to other areas.
Presenting an OECD report on Slovenia's development cooperation at the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, Michael Laird of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate pointed to many positive features recorded by the organisation between June and December 2011.
He highlighted as positive the legal foundations for development cooperation and the existence of a national coordinator of the activities, which is the Foreign Ministry. Laird also noted that the budget for development cooperation had long been increasing and was stabilizing now.
He acknowledged the efforts of the ministry in informing the public about development cooperation.
Slovenia is currently conducting a lot of "relatively small activities", which means high transaction costs, Laird said, proposing that the state should focus on fewer but bigger project instead.
Laird proposed other possible improvements at a round table debate that followed, highlighting the challenges concerning human resources, efficiency and quality of development aid, oversight and evaluation activities and promotion of development aid in public.
Philippe Besson of the OECD Development Assistance Committee also praised Slovenia's efforts.
According to him, Slovenia has acquired important competence and experience on the Western Balkans, which received the bulk of its development aid in recent years, and could forward this knowledge to others.
"The world is changing and the region is developing, so Slovenia will probably have to re-focus," Bessons said.
He proposes that the country makes a strategic shift in cooperation with other partners on the multilateral level and with other bilateral donors.
Foreign Ministry State Secretary Božo Cerar stressed in his address that key Slovenian values would not change much but that legal and strategic foundations would need to be revised.
"Our actions must be more transparent and predictable, taking into consideration the needs of developing countries. We need a better strategic approach to international development organisations," he said.
Cerar agreed that more should be done in raising awareness. "The Foreign Ministry should do more to inform the Slovenian public of the results of Slovenia's international development cooperation."
According to him, Slovenia focused on the Western Balkans in the past, due to joint history, culture and experience it has with these countries. While Slovenia still wishes to see these countries make progress, it is aware that it must also focus on other areas, he said.
In the past years, Slovenia has been annually allocating EUR 45-55m for international development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Last year it made its first contribution of EUR 5.45m to the European Development Fund, which mainly focuses on the least developed countries in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.