Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at UNESCO
Paris, 29 June 2012
(As prepared for delivery)
Excellencies, distinguished participants,
It is only fitting that the final meeting of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness should be hosted here, at UNESCO, by the United Nations Development Group. This reflects not only a long history of collaboration between the OECD and the UN family, but also a partnership which has supported you since the inception of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness almost a decade ago. I take this opportunity to thank Mme Irina Bokova and her staff at UNESCO for hosting this special meeting in collaboration with the OECD and the United Nations Development Programme.
The collaboration between the OECD and the UN family will continue to grow as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation – that your respective leaders and ministers decided to form just over six months ago in Busan – comes to fruition.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The target date for the Millennium Development Goals lies just around the corner. One of them – Goal 8 – is central to the achievement of the others. More than ever before, we recognise that development is a common concern. Achieving it rests on our ability to form effective global partnerships. When we talk of development challenges, we are talking of challenges that are shared by all countries.
It is against this backdrop that leaders met in Busan and agreed to form the Global Partnership for Development Co-operation to strengthen trust, accountability and knowledge-sharing in development co-operation. Allow me to offer some thoughts on each of these objectives:
Trust is central to our collective action for development. Against an economic backdrop that is one of the most challenging in recent history, it is understandable that leaders and politicians focus on the immediate concerns of their citizens and taxpayers. Yet this must not come at the expense of collaboration with others. It is time to strengthen trust in the international system, and the momentum built by the Busan High Level Forum shows what is possible when a wide range of stakeholders come together in the spirit of collaboration and – often – compromise.
Accountability is equally important. And by this, I mean accountability to our respective stakeholders, as well as to each other. This is why, at the Busan High Level Forum, I made it clear that the OECD will continue to play its role in holding its member governments to account for implementing effective policies and practices. When asked by a journalist what should be done about tied aid, I made no secret of my view that OECD countries should untie it all! Through its Development Assistance Committee, the OECD has a track record of analysing its members’ development policies and practices, and of continually raising the bar. We will continue to do just this. At the same time, we must not assume that the solutions to development challenges lie only in aid provided by OECD countries. Far from it. This brings me to my third point:
We need to do an even better job of sharing knowledge, and harnessing it for development. The Working Party on Aid Effectiveness has been central to advancing knowledge of what makes good development co-operation. By creating a platform for dialogue with developing countries on aid effectiveness issues almost a decade ago, this Working Party had already recognised that the solution to improving aid lay in evidence-based – and often frank – dialogue with equals. Thanks to your good work and continued dedication, the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness is now considered by many to be the international source of good practice on aid effectiveness.
We now need to scale up and replicate this approach to working, sharing knowledge and good practice on a broader range of issues that matter for development. This is also why we have embarked on a “whole of OECD” approach to development through the new OECD Strategy for Development that was endorsed by our Ministers last month. This Strategy will further reinforce our mechanisms of knowledge sharing with developing countries to better integrate their perspectives, share policy successes and failures, and engage in mutual learning.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Busan recognised that we no longer live in a world characterised by a simple flow of “aid” from a “rich north” to a “developing south”. It made clear that public funds spent in the form of aid do achieve development results, and that the achievement of these results could be accelerated and deepened by looking at other – often more significant – sources of funding, knowledge and innovation. The Busan Partnership agreement – which you worked hard to shape – reflects this shift to a new paradigm, backed with ambition and common resolve from a wider-than-ever group of stakeholders.
The OECD looks forward to playing its role – as an equal partner with others – to support the efforts of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. I hope that through our close collaboration with UNDP and with each of you, we will continue to bring hard facts and evidence to bear on truly global discussions. It is these discussions that must deliver more effective co-operation for development, and in turn development results.
Let me take this opportunity to welcome the Honourable Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development, as one of the Co-Chairs of the Global Partnership. He has been a prominent voice calling for a more inclusive partnership going forward, and is well placed to work with the other co-chairs to sustain the momentum that this partnership needs to succeed.
Let me also extend my special thanks to Mr.Talaat Abdel-Malek who has chaired the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness since 2009. Many of you have questioned whether Busan would have been such a success without him. He has continuously challenged us to aim higher, think differently, and seek common ground in work on development co-operation. His work has built on, and been strengthened by, the work of others: I recognise the presence here of former Chairs and Co-chairs Bert Koenders and Jan Cedergren. We are equally grateful to Michel Reveyrand and Koos Richelle for their leadership. I also wish to reiterate my gratitude to the Republic of Korea, as host of the Busan High Level Forum, for its role in bringing us together. Korea is, after all, living proof of what strong ownership, sound policies and effective international co-operation can achieve for development.
On this note, Excellencies, distinguished participants, I wish to thank you, and wish you every success in your final deliberations.