PIANGO Executive Director Emele Duituturaga perceives a change in the landscape of development which has been putting pressure on island state governments.
In an interview with Radio Australia during the United Nations Development Co-operation Forum in Brisbane in May, Ms Duituturaga spells out the need for turning around the current development patterns to produce more sustainability.
Instead of putting pressure on the ecology, economy and generation of more inequalities, development from government must come from within, the people taking ownership and fronting up to their own positive growth.
Radio Australia Campbell Cooney interviews Ms Duituturaga after the first day of the two day symposium.
Read the full interview below:
DUITUTURAGA: Well it’s a two-day forum and we’ve had one day, and yesterday was very vibrant. There were lots of speakers, it’s a symposium, so everyone’s encouraged to have a discussion and a lot of issues came up Campbell.
COONEY: When we start talking about issues I think people sort of they know that there’s developments out there, sustainable development though is something that has become more and more important, that you can develop and you can create things and you can put money into projects, but it’s no good doing it unless you can make sure that this will survive and will look after the environment and communities and all that there. I’m curious, are you hearing new and better ways to do that that you probably weren’t aware of say ten, 15 years ago?
DUITUTURAGA: I think the meeting discussed what are the lessons learnt, what have we learnt since Agenda 21 1992, the last 20 years, what have we learnt about development cooperation, what do we know about the environmental development that’s not sustainable? So I guess it’s fair to say that a lot of the issues have come up in other discussions, but there were quite a lot of lessons that we discussed. For an example we need to do development cooperation better, and one of those lessons is that we need to focus on development that happens in the real lives on the ground, how do we do this, how do we greater national ownership by countries themselves? How do governments engage with their own people rather than be trapped in international and regional agendas. So while the issues may not be new Campbell, I think we are grappling with how do we do this differently, because the evidence is that the way we have been doing development, or the development models we have been following is not sustainable. It’s putting pressure on our ecology, it’s leading to poverty, it’s leading to greater inequality. So there’s a serious stocktake and I guess the big one is a realisation by multilaterals and governments around the world that what we doing it’s not good, we’ve got to turn it around. So that’s the major acceptance I guess.
COONEY: Where is that push coming from? Is it coming from government groups, is it coming from NGO groups and organisations like yourselves? I mean you mentioned there just before that at times governments development happens but they really are not sort of taking the lead on that, and I’m just curious, I mean is that still the case or is that changing?
DUITUTURAGA: It is changing. You will know that last year in Busan, Korea, there was the fifth high level forum, and that was a turning point which we’ve also been discussing here at this meeting, that the Busan Agreement recognised for the first time that development is not just the exclusive business of governments, that it needs to recognise and include civil society, parliamentarians, the private sector, because we’re all development actors acting in this development space. And for too long governments or the executive government have been trying or donors are just working with governments. So the pressure I guess it’s coming from all levels, we’ve got parliamentarians here who are getting up and talking about their role as parliamentarians, particularly in the oversight of their own executive governments. But still slightly distant from what’s happening, and they themselves are talking about how donors need to be more transparent, more accountable because it’s not just do as you do with the government of the day, but it involves and it needs to impact on wider grouping. So the pressure’s coming from different areas, but of course civil society is at the forefront of advocating, pushing and challenging.
COONEY: We often hear concerns raised about development aid coming into countries, aid-reliant nations in the form of a soft loan. It’s not tied, there’s no sort of controls coming onto it. Is that issue being raised, something that is not really helping long-term development goals?
DUITUTURAGA: Yes, yesterday there were references to, there are traditional donors through the OECD, then there are the new emerging donors, this grouping which we’re referring to as the bricks, there’s China, there’s India. And there’s reference to how some of this is like fast money and come with conditions. The conditionalities is the language that we’re using in this business, they’re tied, it’s tied aid. But the issue is with the new emerging donors or new donors on the block, they’re coming in with fast money, they’re coming up with different conditions or they’re not buying into some of the agreed principles, you know the Paris Principles which OECD donors have agreed to, how we need to harmonise, how we need to recognise national ownership and leadership. So there is a tension I have to say Campbell, it’s no longer the elephant in the room, we’re talking about it, this symposium is quite good in a way in that it’s known for its candid chatter house rules. So we don’t make particular references outside that room but I can talk about the issues, it’s all on the table. We are talking about the different behaviours, the different styles and the new and emerging, which is why we are coming together and discussing the new shape, the new landscape, how is it different and what do we do about it, particularly linking it to sustainable development because there is this big Rio+ 20 meeting happening in Brazil in June, which is a UN conference of sustainable development. And so this meeting that we’re involved in these two days is to look at how do we link the issues around aid development cooperation and sustainability.
COONEY: Just a final question before I let you wind up there, but I’m just curious when we talk about development issues and sustainable development in the Pacific region and we hear about issues such as rising sea levels, lack of resources and the cost of power generation, just these two sort of issues that I can think of off the top of my head. You’ve got people from around the world from different regions there. Are you hearing the same sort of concerns coming from them as well as you are experiencing in your part of the world?
DUITUTURAGA: Absolutely, and I think the rude awakening so to speak, that this is no longer just specific issues about us as specific small island developing states. Yes ok, so we’re islands and we’re at the forefront when you feel the brunt of rising sea levels, but there’s food crisis, there’s energy crisis, there’s financial crisis, and the big guns like the US, Australia even that have always kind of like stayed out if are all getting flooded, are all experiencing climate change in different ways, are all feeling the brunt of this energy crisis and even food. So the world has become a smaller place, and there’s no longer the north and south divide, everybody in the north, everyone in the south is feeling it in some way. So that’s a common ground that we’re coming up. But we continue to push as Pacific Islanders and representatives of the Pacific of the particular needs of small island states as we go into this global discussion.