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To meet the deadlines and expectations of the 2030 Agenda, development cooperation needs to change more radically and at a vastly accelerated pace. Although progress has been made in adjusting development cooperation to the 2030 Agenda, big issues remain to be tackled. The situation demands both bold and inclusive leadership and timeliness of action by policymakers and practitioners at all levels. The Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) is a unique, trusted, multi-stakeholder platform which serves as the designated space within the United Nations to discuss trends and progress in international development cooperation and develop forward looking policy recommendations and normative guidance on development cooperation toward achieving the SDGs. It promotes knowledge sharing and mutual learning and encourages coherence in development policy and across diverse actors and activities. 

The DCF focuses on six areas: i) the strategic role of development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda, building sustainable and resilient societies and leaving no one behind; (ii) strengthening effectiveness and impact of multi stakeholder partnerships and approaches, including blended finance; (iii) getting better results through national development cooperation polices; (iv) bridging capacity gaps and facilitating technology development and transfer in strategic areas; (v) leveraging South-South and triangular cooperation for sustainable development; and (vi) strengthening the multilayered monitoring, review and assessment of development cooperation. 

The DCF operates on two-year cycles and is one of the key mechanisms at global level for follow-up and review of the means of implementation under the 2030 Agenda. The HLPF and ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum, by their mandates, take the work of the DCF into account. 

The Development Cooperation Forum was launched in 2007. In the 2005 World Summit outcome, global leaders agreed to create the DCF under ECOSOC in response to significant changes in development cooperation and the growing number of actors involved. In the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Member States agreed to pursue the following efforts in the Development Cooperation Forum, taking into account efforts in other global fora: 

  • Improve the quality, impact and effectiveness of development cooperation and other international efforts in public finance, including adherence to agreed development cooperation effectiveness principles; 
  • Align activities with national priorities, including by reducing fragmentation, accelerating the untying of aid, particularly for LDCs and countries most in need; 
  • Promote country ownership, results orientation and strengthen country systems, use programme-based approaches where appropriate, strengthen partnerships for development, reduce transaction costs, and increase transparency and mutual accountability; and 
  • Make development more effective and predicable by providing developing countries with regular and timely indicative information on planned support in the medium term. 

In its role as DCF Secretariat, UNDESA supports efforts to engage the range of actors in more evidence-based, balanced and inclusive global debate on international development cooperation. Activities range from research projects, analytical work and organization of symposiums, briefings and other events.

The next DCF high-level meeting will be held 12-13 March 2025 (tbc) at United Nations Headquarters in New York.