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Christoph Eder, corporAID

Issue 90 - spring 2021

Christoph Eder, editor-in-chief of corporAID magazine
Christoph Eder, Editor-in-Chief

When politicians big and small alike speak of supposedly important issues, they like to add attributes such as green, global or digital to them. This adds weight, even mundane activities become part of a large, meaningful whole. Unfortunately, the associated problem-solving competence is just about to end when it comes to the really big questions such as climate change, digital transformation or global development. In addition, the buzzwords obscure the view of a serious dispute: If everything is somehow green, global and digital, and no one can reasonably oppose it, then the important consideration of opportunities and risks and their distribution is drastically neglected. The key question of what a state and society actually wants cannot be answered in this way. 

In Austria politics by buzzword is widespread in many areas. This is particularly common where it potentially hurts - for example, when it comes to the generation issue or climate protection. But also where hardly anyone has a valid idea or even a real plan - for example in digitization or global development. The local magic formula to do what is necessary, provided that this has not already been outsourced to the European Union, paired with subsidies for or transfer payments to one's own clientele, falls short of key questions about the future.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Austrian development cooperation in particular has a lot of experience with key words - one could sometimes get the impression that the key words are practically lived here. On the superficial level, everything is there: strategies, institutions and budgets, the latter being manageable. If you take a closer look, apart from the buzzwords, a lot is missing. For example, a strategy that not only bears this name in the headline, but also names Austrian interests and intentions and derives medium-term goals with corresponding budgets from this.

This is particularly evident in humanitarian aid - the contributions that Austria makes to people in need around the world. In an international comparison, we are among the worst performers. If a crisis makes the news and thus the perception of Austrians, the federal government approves a few million euros. That should change now. The budget was increased significantly last year, and a real strategy is currently being worked on. It is not yet foreseeable whether this commitment stems from an increased sensitivity to global issues due to Corona. In any case, global development is a grateful field to continue with overcoming the buzzword politics. Specifically, with the new three-year program, the revision of Austria's development policy strategy is pending. 

Photo: Mihai M. Mitrea