Press Releases, Submissions

CID Submission – Inquiry into New Zealand’s aid to the Pacific

Posted on 02 September 2019

to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee

PDF

 

Introduction
1. The Council for International Development (CID) would like to thank the Foreign Affairs,
Defence and Trade Committee for the opportunity to make a submission on New Zealand
aid in the Pacific. This submission covers CID’s analysis of New Zealand’s role in aid in the
Pacific, the implementation of the government’s Pacific Reset agenda, representing CID’s
views and New Zealand’s international development organisations (CID’s members and their
partners). This submission will focus on aid as it relates to the funding of aid organisations
and their work.


2. The Council for International Development (CID) is the national umbrella agency of
international development organisations based in Aotearoa New Zealand. CID was formed in
1985 by a number of development NGOs and aid agencies to coordinate activities and
present a single voice on issues of common concern. Currently, CID represents over 40
members, from small community-based organisations to large international NGOs. CID is
governed by its members and a board made up of member organisations.


3. In framing this submission, CID has considered the following points from the original terms
of reference for the inquiry:
a. understanding the different aid models used in the Pacific, and their purpose and
effectiveness
b. evaluating the effectiveness of existing programmes such as the Pacific Reset
c. evaluating how other countries manage their Overseas Development Assistance
(ODA) programmes in the Pacific
d. evaluating the effectiveness of New Zealand’s domestic and international
partnerships that support ODA in the Pacific
e. considering value for money and accountability in respect of New Zealand’s ODA
commitments in the Pacific
f. investigating how New Zealand’s ODA programmes in the Pacific contribute to
human rights and environmental sustainability
g. evaluating the risks and opportunities arising from ODA spending in the Pacific and
how they affect and contribute to short and long-term outcomes (including
unintended outcomes)
h. building a social licence for ODA in the Pacific.

 

The Role of New Zealand NGOs
4. New Zealand NGOs are vital to achieving long term sustainable development impacts in the
Pacific. We bring a unique contribution that includes:


• Deep networks into Pacific communities
• Expertise and experience in development and humanitarian responses
• Experience in devolving ownership of development and humanitarian work to local
communities so they are empowered to lead their own development, and emergency
responses
• The skills to build the capacity of local groups to deliver development outcomes in their
communities
• The ability to amplify the voices of community groups in the Pacific, and ‘capture’ local
voices
• Close connections with the public of New Zealand, who still provide the bulk of funding
to New Zealand NGOs
• Long term effective partnerships with New Zealand businesses and social enterprises to
work collaboratively to get better results.

 

Prioritising the Pacific and the Pacific Reset
5. As noted in previous engagements with this Government and MFAT, CID supports the
concept of the Pacific Reset. Its aim of “shifting the dial” from the donor-recipient
relationship, into “genuine, mature political partnerships” match with the general goals of
the sector to emphasise localisation (devolving decision-making and resources to local
communities in the Pacific) and genuine partnerships.


6. However, CID is concerned that the Pacific Reset is not sufficiently collecting the views of
Pacific communities to define what the reset looks like in-country. Can we answer the
question, ‘what does the ‘reset’ mean to Pacific communities?’


7. A reset via governments requires a whole of government approach, country by country. But
it is not clear to us that all government departments active in the Pacific are involved in
defining and implementing the reset.


8. The plan for the ‘reset’ is not being shared sufficiently with groups both in New Zealand or
the Pacific, and so it’s challenging to know exactly what has changed, what’s being done,
and to hold any part of government accountable.


9. CID is concerned that not enough has been done to promote the Pacific Reset to the New
Zealand public and that attempts to genuinely engage with the public and the Pacific
diaspora community have been limited. CID dedicated its Annual Conference to the Pacific
Reset in 2018 (Rt Hon Winston Peters and the Deputy PM of the Cook Island, Mark Brown
were the keynote speakers, including a panel of Pacific diaspora leaders). But we are not
aware of other public events since then to promote the ‘reset’.


10. CID also supported a group of Pacific Diaspora leaders to form an informal ‘ginger group’ to
meet on a semi-regular basis with the Ministers and the Under Secretary. There have been
some constructive meetings and we’re grateful for the opportunity, but the group has still
not seen a reset plan, and therefore it is hard to offer any constructive feedback or
comment on existing plans. We believe this is a missed opportunity.


11. CID remains supportive of the reset but is concerned that key players in the Pacific or in
New Zealand will quickly become cynical unless there is evidence of a changed relationship.


12. While we are supportive of the government’s focus on the Pacific and believe our ‘shared
Pacific identity’ requires us to prioritise the Pacific as a priority region, CID is concerned that
this could lead to the Government effectively withdrawing from other areas equally in need
of development assistance - in Africa, South America, the Middle East, and South-East Asia.
While New Zealand’s aid is most efficient in the Pacific (particularly in Polynesia) due to our
connections with the region, we still have obligations to other parts of the world, and a
balance should be considered.


13. New Zealand has engaged effectively in a number of protracted crises outside the Pacific,
including crises in Syria, South Sudan, and Rohingya/Bangladesh, through New Zealand NGOs,
their partners, international organisations, and the UN. It should continue to do its part on
the world stage. New Zealand’s support for local partners engaged in the response is highly
valued, and disengagement from areas aside from the Pacific will only compound the need
for aid in the long-term.


14. From the perspective of the aid sector, most of CID’s member organisations do not primarily
focus on the Pacific. The New Zealand Government needs to consider that aid agencies work
outside of political considerations, and should continue to support and fund agencies working
primarily in Africa, South-East Asia, and South America.

 

Mapping Influence in the Pacific
15. To understand the role of New Zealand aid to the Pacific – ODA and unofficial assistance –
work needs to be done across the Pacific to gain a better understanding of how government
departments, NGOs, social enterprises, and private sector organisations work together to
provide aid or development impact.


16. To that point, CID is disappointed that MFAT has declined to fund the proposed pilot project
to map ‘New Zealand Inc.’ presence in Vanuatu (that is, all the New Zealand businesses,
NGOs and government departments working in-country) in order to better align our
collective work, increase our development impact and, and assist Vanuatu to identity
opportunities. CID has continued to work with the Vanuatu High Commission, and other key
partners to do this mapping work, but needs further support to make this a viable project.
The long term plan is for this to be led by MFAT, and to role this approach out across all
Pacific countries.


Recommendation:
Fund the Council for International Development to continue its Vanuatu Mapping Pilot to increase
the effectiveness of the project, and with the long-term aim of extending this to other Pacific
countries, if the pilot is found to be useful. This will help inform future aid policies and directives.

Recommendation:
The government increases its funding to the Syrian crisis to reflect commitments made under the
‘The Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan’ where citizens are continuing to suffer, particularly
in Idlib where people have had to flee bombs targeting civilian areas.

 

Localisation and Partnerships – this is the key to the Pacific Reset
17. CID supports the global commitment to localisation in the Grand Bargain framework, which
requires not only 25% of ODA to go directly to local partners, but also a dialogue between
peers to use frameworks and language that resonates better with Pacific countries. Local
and national humanitarian actors are best placed as the first (and often the last) responders
in a humanitarian emergency or protracted crisis. They are most likely to respond with
appropriate and deep local knowledge in cooperation and coordination with local and
national governments, long before external assistance is available. CID supports the New
Zealand government’s strengthened commitment to localisation, and we see this as a key
part of achieving a successful ‘Pacific Reset’.


18. Stable and enduring partnerships form the basis for genuine localisation of development
and the building of local resilience. To ensure these partnerships remain strong and have
high capability, a multi-year commitment to support capacity building and organisational
strengthening which draws on skills and knowledge of local NGOs and civil society is
required.


Importance of an Inclusive Approach
19. An appropriate aid policy should address human rights with a focus on reaching and
protecting the most at-risk groups such as children, women, older people, ethnic minorities
and people with disabilities. Addressing the inclusion of these minority groups as a cross-cutting
issue will require ongoing participation from local organisations of representative groups.


20. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in humanitarian events and aid generally and
bear the brunt of things affecting their development, education and ability to reach their
potential as an adult. These effects are compounded by characteristics such as their ethnic
and religious minority status, sexual identity, disability and lower social-economic status.
Additionally, aid work should adopt an equity lens that leaves no one behind (i.e. exclusion
from assistance) and does not exacerbate the existing inequalities of children.

Recommendations:
Ensure that the New Zealand ODA programme prioritises at-risk groups such as children, women,
older people, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities.
Recognise that New Zealand-based NGOs that focus on protecting specific minority groups play an
an essential role where they have a local presence.

 

Environmental Concerns and Climate Change
21. Within the umbrella of climate change, New Zealand’s ODA focus must be focused on three
things: prevention, mitigation, and adaptation. In terms of mitigation and adaptation, New
Zealand’s development funding should focus on building capacity among Pacific countries.
Environmental/humanitarian crises are already on the rise and will continue to increase in
frequency. As such, New Zealand should take a long-term view of climate change in its aid
and development approach. According to a United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) calculation, each dollar invested in disaster preparedness saves
seven dollars in recovery.


22. Although communities around the world are already feeling the effects of climate change,
countries must continue to implement ways in which they can reduce their carbon
footprints and limit action that may negatively impact the environment. Therefore, in order
to be a credible development actor in the Pacific and beyond, New Zealand should remain
committed to the Zero Carbon Act, as well as meet carbon emission targets (zero carbon by
2050).


Cross-Government Policy
23. An effective aid programme will utilise multiple government agencies to ensure it has the
most effective system. Having a consistent cross-government policy will ensure that MFAT
and NZDF in particular, along with other organisations such as DHBs and the Ministry of
Health can work together in the most effective ways. A well-integrated and consistent
approach to policy and practise is vital to the realisation of the SDGs.

Recommendation:
Implement a cross-department policy directive to ensure effective distribution of aid (both in long
term development and before emergency responses)
Promote a deeper mutual cultural understanding between New Zealand and Pacific Islands through
public engagement, mobility opportunities within the region, and ad hoc cross-sectorial initiatives.

 

Social Licence for Aid
24. As noted in a recent MFAT survey of Public Attitudes to Overseas Aid and Development
Assistance, trust in and support of New Zealand’s ODA programme has decreased, along
with knowledge of the New Zealand aid programme. Building a social licence for aid is an
important part of the Government’s work – if not a priority – for ensuring that New Zealand
meets an international commitment of the eventual goal of 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio.


25. The main part of building that social licence needs to be in proving the effectiveness of New
Zealand’s aid, and its importance to New Zealand. Aid benefits extend beyond those who
directly receive aid. Explaining to the public the three drivers of New Zealand’s Pacific Reset
– Pacific identity, national security, and shared prosperity- should be central to this.
Properly defining the Pacific Reset itself would also go some way to improving public
perceptions.


26. Accountability and transparency are critical to the creation of a social licence for aid. The
effective and timely provision of information to the New Zealand public and the NGO
community who work in partnership with MFAT is an important mechanism for ensuring
accountability. This will also build confidence in all stakeholders, including the recipients of
New Zealand’s ODA, that lessons are being learnt and the impact upon poverty is effective.
Unfortunately, information about New Zealand’s ODA is somewhat limited, including a lack
of timely information to NGO partners in spite of a lot of time and energy being spent on
keeping MFAT up to date on our activities. This needs to change.

Recommendation:
That the government fund CID to carry out a nation-wide ‘story-telling’ campaign to communicate in
a compelling and interactive way with the public of New Zealand, about how their donations and
taxes contribute to development and humanitarian outcomes.
Promote a deeper mutual cultural understanding between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands through
public engagement, mobility opportunities within the region, and ad hoc cross-sectorial initiatives.