I would like to add a few thoughts and experience to the
discussion on Global Funds. What happened in the education sector with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which also has a fund, is quite interesting in this respect.
Originally (as the Fast Track Initiative, the predecessor
of the GPE) , there was no fund. The Initiative aimed to help countries develop sector plans to enable all children to have a quality education. These are inevitably and rightly context-specific. It was soon realised that there was no incentive to do this so a fund was introduced, in fact originally several funds, aimed at capacity development, actually developing the plan, and finally, implementing part of it, which essentially remains the structure now although the articulation is different.
Unlike many of the funds in the Health sector, this, the
main Global Partnership and Fund for Education has chosen to back sector plans; indeed having a sector plan is a pre-requisite for further funding. Countries in a fragile state are given more flexibility and technical assistance is available to enable plans in all contexts to be developed. There is no
blueprint either for an education plan nor a proposal to the GPE Fund. Partner Agencies unite behind the effort at all levels and provide technical assistance, while the Partnership Secretariat provides intensive advice on the whole process. Board members comprise an equal number of donor and partner country constituencies and include civil society, foundations and the private sector. It is largely the donor countries who supply the funds but others are aligning their programmes more to country policies and the Partnership enables sharing of innovation and experience.
It is not without its issues but a genuine attempt has been made to build capacity, hear all voices, and not to fragment a sector with projects. As an erstwhile Board alternate, I hold it in very high regard both for those lofty goals and for trying to iron out the bumps that inevitably appear with such a diverse membership.
Relating that experience to a Global Social Protection
floor and Fund, I would make a couple of comments:
1. Pleased to see education as part of this, we know that
education as one example cannot be achieved without broader social protection measures. But not all that is planned or ideal needs to be funded separately. The issue is to build on and utilize what is already happening. For example, early childhood education has been funded by the GPE in some countries (a predictor of future performance in the education sector and a real need for progress in other areas of life), as have measures for girls, as well as other
more formalized education efforts.
2. Experience in the GPE has shown that there is a need for an incentive to develop a plan. Social protection is more
encompassing than any one sector but an overall plan is needed. Such a plan could be a pre-requisite for funding not necessarily by a new fund but encouraged for other existing sources of funding.
3. Social Protection may or may not need a global fund of
its own. Funds run separately are expensive to manage and often have a self-perpetuating side and ambition of their own. Funds located in a partner institution also have their issues (as does that of the GPE hosted by the World Bank).
4. On balance I would probably not go for a new fund,
though I am cautious about expressing an opinion in a field in which I have limited experience. Rather, I would chase an MDG or something similar which encourages and supports countries to have a Social Protection Floor in place.This is a natural extension of the equity discussion underway and
could be built into the principles recently discussed by the High Level Panel. Regional Political organisations are a very good entry point for peer support, setting of regional goals and other processes. I would lean on donors to provide technical assistance to countries and make available the sort of information which "sells" this to countries by showing how the package aids social and economic development as well as addresses equity and rights, and
goals in other sectors. Cooordination of aid is sorely needed but donors and others have bought into the Paris Agreement (Accra and Busan also), which should require this, although we know that this commitment is not always 100% on the ground.
5. Secondly I would encourage more sharing from countries
that both do this already and monitor and evaluate it well.
6. On all counts I would discourage the emergence of new
projects and particularly of donor pet projects and approaches.
7. A very real partnership to which countries could belong would give them crucial expertise, information, and incentives around the Social Protection Floor and which encourages donors to build this into their packages of support.
8. One very real concern, however, are the countries
where the need is greatest and donors and domestic financing is not so available. Ignoring this aspect would increase inequity between countries. To me this is a crucial issue to be discussed.
So, I am not strongly "for" or "against"a fund, I am
definitely for a Social Protection Floor at national level, working with what is already in place, and influencing it, and giving serious attention to equity considerations at very level.
I hope this adds a bit of sector experience to the
Susan Durston (just in case you need some credentials I am a recent former Head of Education in UNICEF, with a lifetime of national planning and implementation experience, but the views above are entirely my own).