The future of development aid depends on the inclusive economy


In a new report commissioned by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Emmanuel Faber (Deputy General Manager of Danone) and Jay Naidoo (President of NGO GAIN) present a renewed vision of development aid. Their main idea is to draw on the principles of the inclusive economy in order to make development truly sustainable.


On Friday 20th June, Emmanuel Faber, Deputy General Manager of Danone, and Jay Naidoo, President of NGO Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), presented their report to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development: “Innovating through the mobilisation of players: 10 proposals for a new approach to development aid.” The two men both have expertise in development and the new forms it can take: Emmanuel Faber as part of a corporate company that has long been committed to social innovation, and Jay Naidoo as a former trade unionist in South Africa, a leader of the African National Congress and former minister under Nelson Mandela, and now the president of an international NGO.

At the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, they have thus overseen a months-long study on the future of development aid, meeting with experts, international leaders, and players from the public and the private sectors, NGOs and corporate companies. Their report recommends that France and Europe redefine what they call public development aid, and makes 10 proposals to implement the new approach they call for. It is also filled with concrete examples illustrating this approach, such as field experiences, local initiatives led by coalitions of players, and examples of innovations. A few key ideas can be highlighted: focusing on the local players, thinking “inclusive economy,” and promoting women’s empowerment.

 Focus on Africa

The authors have chosen to focus on Africa in their report, and more specifically Sub-Saharan Africa. The reason, they say, is that “in Africa, developments are going to take place in the next 30 years that will have major consequences in geopolitical, demographic and economic terms for Europe and for France.” But Africa is also a good example of the challenges faced by developing countries on the scale of a continent. The authors have identified four main issues:

–     Young people and their unemployment rate: by 2025, 25 million young people will be entering the labour market each year;

–     Family farming, which has been neglected by the State, but represents a potential solution for problems such as unemployment, the fight against poverty, food safety and the preservation of territories;

–      Urbanisation and living conditions in the cities, where security and environmental issues could become explosive issues if nothing is done to plan ahead;

–      Access to energy: a crucial condition for development and minimising the carbon footprint.

There is also an issue that cuts right across all four themes: women’s empowerment. Women are the first to suffer when there is any delay in development and are victims of discrimination in all areas of private, social, economic and political life (read our article on this issue here). “It is a priority to help women play a larger role in the dynamic of development, which is the first step in the development of equality, because numerous studies demonstrate the positive impact of their involvement,” say Faber and Naidoo.


The call for a new vision of development and development aid

Africa’s challenges are not the only inspiration for the report’s proposals: the work also reflects more generally on what public development aid involves at present, and what it should involve in the future. “Aid development policies, as the international community structured them right after the war, were born when the expressions ‘North’ and ‘South’ still reflected a clearly agreed reality. That was long before the European economic and budgetary crisis, long before the rise of the BRICS, Africa’s take-off and the gradual emergence of the environmental challenges of development in the collective conscience. (…) We thus propose a realistic approach in revisiting the priorities and intervention processes (of public development aid).”  For the authors, this means supporting development that is fair, sustainable and respectful of the environment.

And they believe that the principles of the inclusive economy, which is defined by “its contribution to solving problems of general interest, and its concern for the long-term and for economic viability,” can help foster this. Why? Because the inclusive economy questions not only the top-down approach that has hitherto defined business, but also development aid over the past decades (for a better understanding of what the inclusive economy is, read our article here). Faced with global challenges, no government – and incidentally  no other single player – can come up with solutions on its own, which is why the report recommends focusing on what people are already building, at local level, and to increase its impact through a co-creative approach between companies, public authorities and civil society. They believe the solution is to structure development aid through “the rich complexity of the new approaches of the inclusive economy.”

Ten proposals

To do this, Faber and Naidoo have come up with 10 proposals:

1 . To acknowledge the essential role played by women in the enduring life of development projects, and give shape to this priority with aid mechanisms

2. To fight massive youth unemployment in Africa, acknowledge the absolute priority of the dual apprenticeship system and foster the diversity of its modes of expression  (both formal and informal);

3. To respond to the UN’s declaration that 2014 is the year of family farming by investing massively in the sector through an initiative for family farming in Africa;

4. To create a laboratory of social urbanism in Sub-Saharan Africa, on the occasion of the 2014 World Urban Forum of Medellin, with the aim of achieving successful experiments in urban social integration within 5 years;

5. To prepare an economic pathway with decreasing carbon intensity to foster fair and  sustainable development in Africa;

6. To tackle a crucial issue in terms of women’s health, their work productivity and deforestation, by launching an initiative called “Healthy Cookstoves for Africa” based on a system of development impact bonds, designed to equip 50 million families between 2015 and 2025;

7. To revitalise the European voluntary carbon market in order to make it a unique tool for supporting development, and finance the African energy transition to a less carbon-intensive model by buying CO2 externalities;

8. To facilitate the inclusive economy for development by structuring public support for coalitions between players;

9. To reform the French public development aid system in order to mobilise players in the inclusive economy in favour of development.

10. To set up conditions enabling innovation in development aid: a regulatory framework, firm roots in culture, connectivity, empowerment of the players and knowledge.

With these proposals, the authors champion not only a new vision of development aid, relying less on governments and international aid mechanisms alone, but also a new vision of development itself, in line with the challenges of the 21st century. “Development will not be sustainable unless equity becomes the guiding principle of development policies. It will not be sustainable unless we reconcile development with reduction in the growth of carbon intensity, and with a concern for improved living conditions and equity, before anything else.” 

Photo © Shutterstock / Pecold; Pal Teravagimov