More aid, of better quality, more effectively used. That would seem to mark an important milestone in improving the international aid system. However, there is unfinished business – and if the voices of recipients are not heard clearly now, the resulting outcomes may not be what those stakeholders want or expect.
One key issue is, of course, that implementation remains a major challenge. Not all the increases in aid that have been announced are secure. Not all countries will find it easy to implement the harmonization and alignment agenda, with difficulties likely to be felt among both donors and recipient countries. And there will be particular problems in what have come to be identified as “fragile states”.
In addition, and the principal subject of this workshop, the increase in aid throws into sharp relief some strategic questions about the future architecture of the international aid system. Even with the full implementation of the Paris agenda, the industry will be characterized, all else being equal, by a large number of players, complex institutional arrangements, relatively high transactions costs, and, often, poor accountability.