Sunday, December 2, 2012

Deconstructing international cooperation

The investment of public resources in international cooperation has never been too generous. During the 90s, citizens pushed governments of rich countries into donating 0.7% of their gross national product to cooperation projects, but so far only five countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Norway and Sweden) meet this target. The rest of countries don’t, with an average contribution of only 0.3%. And even worse, with the current financial crisis, there have been some cuts in international cooperation budgets. In Spain, regional governments have cut in four years this budget meant for official development assistance (ODA) in 71%.
During the 10th annual meeting of NGO regional coordination held some days ago in Bilbao (Spain), regional governments were reported to go on with such dramatic cuts in 2013. Regional governments are expected to cut an extra 44% on ODA: from the current 240 millions to just 134 million euros.
This dramatic cut has direct consequences: many health, education and nourishment projects in Third World countries are now blocked, and most of the on-going projects are likely to be blocked too at this rate. Moreover, the budget for development education also suffers cuts, affecting all the programmes and campaigns of social awareness and advocacy meant to promote cooperation among Spanish citizens, as well as the importance of individual actions (like what and where we buy things) in our global world.
Contrary to the (relatively) significant social support shown in the demonstrations against the cuts in education and health, cutting the cooperation budget does not seem to be considered unacceptable, as if international cooperation could be left aside during our financial crisis. Maybe we are not aware of the importance of cooperation projects. After all, it is not such a huge budget. By cutting in international cooperation, our financial problems will not get solved: regional cooperation only means 5 euros/year per citizen. However, the defence budget represents 368 euros/year per citizen: we’d rather learn to cut better!

  1. The five countries donating 0.7% of their gross national product to cooperation:
  2. The data for this post are taken from official documents of the 10th annual meeting of NGO regional coordination (in Spanish):

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