The aim to set aside one per cent of Sweden’s GNI for development cooperation, the one per cent target, is an expression of Sweden’s solidarity with the poorer parts of the world. It was agreed by the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) as early as 1968. Since then, it has played a central role for the scope of Swedish aid. Although the world around us and aid policy have changed, the one per cent target has remained – and it still has a broad level of support in the Riksdag.
The area of aid is therefore unique in the sense that the Riksdag has agreed to a certain level of spending in advance. This has major implications for how aid policy is translated into practice and most likely affects not only its scope but also its orientation and effectiveness. The report contains an exposé on the development of the spending target, internationally as well as in Sweden.
The report was presented during the seminar Enprocentmålet – för- och nackdelar med ett utgiftsmål inom biståndet.
- There is an obvious risk that it may lead the aid debate to focus on the wrong problem – a disproportionately large focus may be
placed on the issue of volume, when it is quality and results that should be at the centre.
- A spending target has implications for how aid is designed and can thus in itself contribute to lowering the quality of aid. The author presents several indications to show that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has sometimes received more money than it has been able to administer responsibly.
- The scope of aid should be set for a four-year period, along lines similar to how the research budget is set. It then becomes natural for the Government to invite relevant authorities and researchers to contribute input to a government bill. We then get a process in which a debate about the content of aid and the possibility to reach established goals becomes the basis for decisions regarding the size of the allocation.
Lars Anell, former Chair of the Swedish Research Council’s Board and member of the Volvo Board of Directors