The Brazilian cooperation continues to move firmly through the challenge of combining an increased presence in world-wide solidarity. The country is while achieving higher degrees of effectiveness, coordination, transparency and accountability, in line with the current demands of the international agenda of the aid effectiveness.
After the significant quantitative growth (helped by the economic prosperity, Lula’s diplomatic presidency activism and the diversification of Brazil’s interests towards Africa and the rest of Latin America), the efforts are now focused on the qualitative improvement of the cooperation composed by around 120 federal institutions and a few others from the private sector (see my working paper “Brazilian cooperation: a model under construction for an emerging power”
Amongst other measures that are proving to be positive for this development, the Brazilian Agency of Cooperation (ABC http://www.abc.gov.br/ ) is giving priority to starting up “structural actions”. In other words, projects that create national capacities with a social and economic impact on the beneficiaries, and that ensure more ownership and sustainability. This type of project is being implemented first and foremost in Africa, as it is shown in the catalogue of the technical cooperation provided by Brazil in this continent. http://www.abc.gov.br/publicacoes/publicacoesCatalogo2010.asp
In order to generate more transparency and favour the coordination between agencies, as well as to make the effort towards solidarity more visible, a group of institutions of the federal administration (Institute Of Applied Economic Research – IPEA -, ABC and the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil Civil House) have designed and started up a system of quantitative accounting of the resources assigned by public institutions to the cooperation for development actions (COOP-BRADI is the acronym in Portuguese http://www.ipea.gov.br/portal/images/stories/PDFs/100708_bepi2.pdf ), that covers the period between 2005 and 2009. The first results show that in that five-year period 1.600 million dollars were assigned to different cooperative types (Humanitarian Aid, grants, technical assistance, scientific assistance, technological assistance, multilateral organizations and peace operations). http://www.ipea.gov.br/portal/index.php?option=com_content&view...
The concept that has been used (instrumental, rather tan political or strategic) to define these resources is as follows: “ the totality of the resources invested by the Brazilian federal government, total or non-refundable, into the government of other countries, into the citizens of other countries who lived in Brazil, or into international organizations, in order to contribute to the international development meant as the strengthening of capacities of international organizations, of groups of people or the population of other countries to improve their socio-economic conditions.
Beyond the discussion about the concept, the included or excluded means of execution or the adopted method for quantifying the different categories (all topics which are not irrelevant and should be discussed in detail, broadly and with participation of all the parties), what is relevant, is the effort made by the Brazilian government and the generation of an interesting dynamic. This will have, without any doubt, beneficial effects upon the daily practice and the external image of cooperation operated by Brazil. Furthermore it might have positive and mimetic effects on other countries that work on south-to-south cooperation
All in all, there are still remaining tasks that need to be performed by Dilma Rouseff’s government. Amongst others: the professionalization and the sanitisation of the organisational problems of the ABC (changing the statutes could be a mean); the inclusion of international actors; the involvement of civil society in defining the geographical and sector priorities; the reduction of the dispersion, fragmentation and lack of coordination in projects; the strategic planning; the budget predictability and the sustainability of the actions; the implementation of systems to evaluate the impact, and the definition of the accountability towards the public opinion and the national congress; the assignment of resources to cooperation within the federal institutions and the ABC (at least annually); and finally, legal reforms that would allow to speed up and broaden the action of the Brazilian cooperation.
Finally we need to highlight that an academic and civil society institutions net is being created, both in Brazil and in other countries (see Overseas Development report http://blogs.odi.org.uk/blogs/main/archive/2010/07/22/brazil_south_... ).
This carefully follows the first steps towards the best model of doing cooperation, and seems feasible in a country with such specific features as Brazil. The academic contribution is important, and this is well understood by the federal administration. IPEA which has already convened a group of experts http://www.ipea.gov.br/portal/images/stories/PDFs/101201_chamadapub... whose task is to develop research, during 2011, as well as to contribute with political and strategic guidelines to strengthen the South-to-South partnership.
Bruno Ayllón. firstname.lastname@example.org