Tonga and its development partners have signed an agreement applying the five principles of the Paris Declaration for Aid Effectiveness.

The Joint Declaration on Aid Effectiveness between the Government of Tonga and Development Partners was signed at Nuku'alofa, Tonga, during the 38th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting during talks, which focused on the implementation of the Tongan Government's Strategic Development Plan. The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), New Zealand's International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID), the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank all participated in the signing ceremony.

"The agreement reflects the spirit of cooperation and coordination arising from the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness by outlining ways forward for development partners in helping the Tongan Government to meet its national development objectives," said ADB Pacific Department Director General Philip Erquiaga, who represented ADB at the signing ceremony.

"Through ownership and leadership, the Tongan Government can ensure that the people of Tonga will be better able to access the benefits of development, especially those living in poverty and hardship. We look forward to working closely with Tonga and our development partners in achieving this goal," he added.

As well as being guided by the Paris Declaration, development coordination under the agreement considers the development partners' respective policies on poverty elimination, broad-based growth and private sector development.

"The Joint Declaration is the first country level, multilateral agreement signed in the Pacific, and we would encourage other countries in the region to prepare similar agreements to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their aid," said Sirpa Jarvenpaa, Regional Director for ADB's South Pacific Subregional Office in Suva, Fiji.

The agreement harnesses opportunities for coordination to be guided by the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, including, country ownership, alignment with the national plan, harmonization of aid to avoid duplication and gaps, managing for results, and mutual accountability for aid delivery.

"The signatories of the Joint Declaration expect it will lead to a greater sharing of diagnostic analysis, joint missions, and coordination and co-financing of programs and projects, and we urge other development partners of Tonga to join the agreement," said Fernando Garcia, ADB's Principle Country Specialist and desk officer for Tonga.