Key Concepts

Do you have doubts on the wording the Open Forum uses in its day-to-day work?
Below you can find some of the most used concepts in the Open Forum work as well links to websites to have more information on them.


CSOs can be defined to include all non-market and non-state organizations outside of the family in which people organize themselves to pursue shared interests in the public domain. They cover a wider range of organizations that include membership-based CSOs, cause-based CSOs, and service-oriented CSOs. Examples include Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, farmers’ associations, faith-based organizations, labor unions, cooperatives, international NGOs (INGOs) etc. CSOs often operate on the basis of shared values, beliefs, and objectives with the people they serve or represent.


Development effectiveness promotes sustainable change, within a democratic framework, that addresses the causes as well as the symptoms of poverty, inequality and marginalization, through the diversity and complementarity of instruments, policies and actors. Development effectiveness in relation to aid is understood as policies and practices by development actors that deepen the impact of aid and development cooperation on the capacities of poor and marginalized people to realize their rights and achieve the internationally agreed development goals. Conditions for realizing development effectiveness goals must include measureable commitments to improve the effectiveness of aid.


CSO development effectiveness speaks to the impact of CSOs actions for development. These actions for development will be effective if they bring about sustainable change that addresses the causes, as well as the symptoms, of poverty, inequality and marginalization. For CSOs, development effectiveness is linked to multi-faceted human and social development processes directly involving and empowering people living in poverty and discriminated and marginalized populations. CSOs assume no single development model, but rather focus on people and their organizations, empowering them to make choices over how they will develop.


Aid effectiveness relates to measures that improve the quality of the aid relationship, primarily focusing on the terms and conditions of the resource transfer itself. The Paris Declaration (2005) defined five principles that should guide official donors and developing country governments to improve the effectiveness of this resource transfer. These principles are: 1. Ownership; 2. Alignment; 3. Harmonisation; 4. Managing for results and 5. Mutual accountability.

Most recently, the international development discourse has shifted from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness, with the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.


It refers to the political and policy context created by governments, official donors and other development actors that affect the ways CSOs may carry out their work. CSOs, as development actors, are profoundly affected by the context in which they work. The policies and practices of developing country governments and official donors affect and shape the capacities of CSOs to engage in development. Enabling standards are a set of interrelated good practices by donors and governments – in the legal, regulatory, fiscal, informational, political and cultural areas – that support the capacity of CSO development actors to engage in development processes in a sustained and effective manner.

For more information on Enabling Environment, please click here.


The Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EFF) is a multi-stakeholder body created in 2005 to bring together donors, multilateral organisations and recipient governments to assess progress in implementing the Paris Declaration and to develop the agendas for subsequent High-Level Forums. The WP-EFF is housed at the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD (OECD-DAC) - but is not a DAC body. The DAC secretariat provides support to the WP-EFF.

In 2009 its membership has been expanded to include CSOs, foundations, parliamentary associations and local governments. CSO representation in the WP-EFF is ensured by the Coordinating Group of the BetterAid Platform (BACG). Currently, the WP-EFF counts on the participation of 80 representatives from the different sectors.

For more information on the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, click here.


The Multi-Stakeholder Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and the Enabling Environment is a group composed of government, donor and civil society representatives within Cluster A (Ownership and Accountability) under the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness of the OECD-DAC, to promote implementation of civil society-related commitments in the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA). The mandate of the Multi-Stakeholder Task team was also to address these issues in preparation of the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

For more information on the Multi-Stakeholder Task Team, click here.


They are a set of multi-stakeholders forums, the organization of which is led by the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness, to discuss and establish principles of a common development cooperation framework for development actors. Between 2002 and 2011, four Forums were organized:

First High Level Forum on Aid EffectivenessRome, 2003Rome Declaration on Harmonisation
Second High Level Forum on Aid EffectivenessParis, 2005Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness
Third High Level Forum on Aid EffectivenessAccra, 2008Accra Agenda for Action
Fourth High Level Forum on Aid EffectivenessBusan, 2011Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation

For more information on the High Level Fora processes, please click here.

Other concepts you might want to know? Write us to info at