For the international community, 2008 is an important year in many regards. We are at the mid-point on the timeline for both the Millennium Development Goals and the Paris Declaration. Collectively, we have made some important progress but much remains to be done if we are to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves.
We recognize the need not only to renew our commitment, but also to re-invigorate our actions. Expressions of commitment alone will not achieve results. Results require action. And success requires all development partners to do their part. Rest assured that the Government of Canada will do its part.
The Canadian government's development priority is to reduce global poverty. Accountability and the effectiveness of aid will be a hallmark of the Canadian International Development Agency's (CIDA) agenda. Our approach will see strengthened effectiveness of our aid program through more focus, efficiency, and targeted results. As part of the international community, we cannot alone ensure greater focus and effectiveness. We must improve the dialogue among all parties, including civil society and non-DAC providers of assistance, to achieve increased cohesion and coordination. For this reason, Canada is proud to have joined more than 100 other donors and partner countries in endorsing the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005. Together, the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action give all of us an opportunity to improve our collective efforts.
Our experience in fragile states demonstrates how donor alignment and harmonization in support of a development agenda, owned by the local government and the people, can produce tangible results. One plan, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy, is supported by a coordinated funding mechanism, the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund. It provides the basis for donors to align aid funding with Afghans' own priorities and to coordinate capacity development efforts based on the country's identified needs. It also allows donors to work collectively through common arrangements, joint missions and shared analytic work. This common approach is not unique to Afghanistan. Canada has worked with governments, other donors and civil society organizations in Tanzania, Ghana, and Vietnam. Many other partners are joining these initiatives to fully develop the potential this approach presents for poverty reduction.
Sound governance, including democratic ownership of development plans and priorities, is a key factor for poverty reduction and long-term sustainable results. A government's effectiveness is strengthened when it is accountable, promotes the rule of law, and respects fundamental human rights. By engaging citizens, through representative institutions, civil society, the media, and the private sector, the long-term sustainability of the results can be achieved. Canada will continue to strongly support partner efforts to strengthen democratic governance and ownership.
As part of the international community, Canada calls on all development actors to join its efforts for greater aid effectiveness. To accelerate progress on development goals, all need to be part of the discussion. Our partnerships must be more coordinated and inclusive. They must harness the contribution of all development partners, including non-DAC providers of assistance and civil society organizations. By supporting aid that is more cohesive, effective and accountable, we will see development results that are sustainable. In this complex landscape, we must combine our efforts in a way that maximizes resources, reduces overlaps and avoids distorting priorities.
Accountability is at the core of all that we do as governments. In the context of international development, accountability is owed to both our citizens and to those in partner countries. Strengthening public expenditure management systems, and monitoring and evaluation functions must help inform policy-making and budget decisions, as well as track progress and the results achieved.
We must seize the potential and the opportunity provided through the Accra Agenda for Action, to strengthen the effectiveness of aid and deliver results that clearly improve the lives of citizens of partner countries. Our credibility as a community depends on it. A renewed commitment, an improved basis for real, capable country ownership, and an expanded partnership that includes civil society and non-DAC providers of assistance will allow us to achieve broader development effectiveness.
Our ability to make a real difference in poverty reduction depends on it.