Principled Aid Index 2020 – Harnessing values and interests in donor pandemic response

“Principled” Aid

Principled Aid Index 2020 – Harnessing values and interests in donor pandemic response
ODI Working and discussion papers 596 | November 2020 | Nilima Gulrajani and Emily Silcock
The Principled Aid Index ranks bilateral DAC donors by how they use official development assistance to pursue their long-term national interest.

Key Messages
:: Donors provide foreign aid to advance their values and protect their interests. The Principled Aid Index measures the strength of these dual motives as revealed by donor spending choices and trends.

:: Higher ranked donors focus on plugging development gaps, investing in global institutions and challenges, and committing to public spirited behaviours that do not instrumentalise aid for narrow, short-term gain. By pursuing the values of solidarity and collective action, donors gain future benefits indirectly for their citizens by fostering greater global stability, security and prosperity.

:: This year the Index identifies a decline in principled aid scores that started before the Covid-19 pandemic. The data shows worsening scores even among donors at the top of the rankings, driven by diminished public spiritedness as aid is allocated in ways that may secure direct shor tterm commercial and geo-strategic advantages.

:: The fragmented response by bilateral donors to the coronavirus crisis over the last eight months is in keeping with this downward trajectory of principled aid.

:: Now is the time for donors to broaden their response effort and attend in parallel to the wider socio-economic consequences of the crisis in affected countries. This involves acknowledging coronavirus as a protracted, multi-faceted global shock where interventions need to extend beyond the immediate health emergency and straddle the humanitarian–development nexus.

:: Focusing on building broad-based resilience can reduce donors’ exposure and vulnerability to future pandemics, as well as other emerging global challenges. A framework of ‘principled nationalism’ can guide donor efforts to address systemic global inequalities laid bare by the coronavirus crisis, and frame international actions to recover and rebuild.