Paris, 30 October 2008 - The Secretary-General of OECD, Angel Gurría, and the Chair of OECD's Development Assistance Committee, Eckhard Deutscher, have issued a call to the world's main aid donor countries to stand by their development pledges despite the economic slowdown.
In a letter (see below) to heads of state and government of the countries that are members of the Development Assistance Committee, OECD invites these nations to join an "Aid Pledge" that would confirm existing aid promises and avert cuts in budgets for development aid.
"Unless we act decisively now, we may not be able to prevent the financial crisis from generating an aid crisis," Mr Gurría and Mr Deutscher warn.
"Let us not repeat the mistakes we made following the recession of the early 1990s when many OECD governments let aid efforts decline, with the consequent impacts on developing countries in such areas as agricultural production, infrastructure, social welfare and political stability."
The proposed Aid Pledge would be modeled on the OECD Trade Pledge of 1974, under which OECD countries agreed not to introduce trade restrictions in the face of a recession provoked by sharply higher oil prices, on the grounds that a return to past protectionism would only make economic conditions worse. Regularly renewed in the years that followed, the Trade Pledge was credited with helping to restore conditions for economic growth.
Similar action is now required in relation to aid, Mr. Gurría and Mr. Deutscher declare in the joint letter:
"Declining aid budgets ... would exacerbate pressures that food and energy prices are already inflicting on these countries and constrain our ability to help them adapt to climate change. Action is essential to avoid a deepening poverty crisis, and we know that poor countries face heightened possibilities of conflict in times of economic and social stress."