New donors discussed best practice in ODA during a learning event in Bratislava

In an event co-hosted by UNDP and Slovakia, 40+ development cooperation practitioners from 13 countries shared insights and enhanced their collective capacity to address pressing global challenges through innovative development cooperation. 

Despite the annual increase in official development assistance in OECD countries, support for some areas such as climate and environment, health, hunger, peace or justice. is still undersized. The increasing number of conflicts and instability lead to further widening of the SDG finance gap. As it is not only the quantity, but the quality of funding that matters, UNDP together with its partner Slovakia organized a workshop to address the learning needs of new donors dedicated to practical strategies for effective ODA implementation.  

“The influence of non-traditional donors has been increasing in humanitarian responses as well as in development cooperation. It is not only funding that they provide, but the knowledge and experiences that they have accumulated throughout their development trajectory. We witness interest in this knowledge among our partner countries in the region, confirming this trend,” said Ivana Živković, UNDP Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (RBEC) in her opening speech for ODA Learning Series 2024 in Bratislava. 

From insight to action 

Representatives mainly of ministries of foreign affairs and development agencies from 13 countries learned about the recent trends in development cooperation, ODA stats and figures, development financing modalities, and how and why to communicate the development results. Effective communication can build political support and earn support from society for international work.  

Good ODA practices include a whole-of-government approach and a strong focus on knowledge-sharing. Most of the countries deal with similar issues, which underlines the need for deeper exchanging experiences. The importance of multilateral engagement was emphasized by Marijana Markotic from the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation’ in Sweden. “Delivering better solutions to global problems is not just about more money, but also about bringing all parties together, understanding that crises are everyone’s responsibility, and ensuring that the right solutions are delivered in the right places at the right time.”  

How to partner with different stakeholders was exemplified by UNDP initiatives with Slovakia. A trust fund with a thematic window like Public Finance for Development Programme is a one way to go. The other one is calling for proposals from private sector and start-ups through Slovak Challenge Fund. BOOST is a similar example extended to a regional level.  

Country cases highlighted similar challenges regarding ODA systems and institutional set-up. Some common challenges include coordination, limited capacities of ODA departments in MFA’s and aid agencies, and annual budget allocations that prevent them from engaging in longer-term development projects. After listening to lessons learnt and some best practice, the participants were trying to design future-ready and adaptive ODA strategies through collaborative exercises. 

ODA Learning Series 2024 was held in person from May 29 to 30 in Bratislava, Slovakia. During the 2 days, the participants enhanced their capabilities to execute ODA programs with greater relevance, efficiency, and impact. Ivana Živković believes the gathering was not just about learning, but rather “an opportunity to pave the way for actionable change, explore new avenues and further our strong cooperation”.  

About ODA Learning Series 

UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub has been implementing the new/emerging donors service line for more than a decade, working with the ODA donor countries that were once UNDP programme countries (such as Slovakia, Czechia, Poland, etc.). As part of this service line, IRH has been organizing the ODA Learning Series since 2014 with many of these countries and other interested development assistance providers in the region.