Development Centre

Statement from the new Director of the OECD Development Centre, Prof. Louka T. Katseli, for the Council meeting on 26 June 2003


Mr Chairman, Ambassadors,


                   It is an honour and a great pleasure indeed to share with you today, in summary form, our agreed lines of action to enhance the reform of the Development Centre as discussed in the 3rd of June meeting of the Centre’s Governing Board.


                   Permit me, however, first of all, on a more personal note, to thank Ambassador Claude Heller to have accepted to chair the first meetings of our new Governing Board.  I would also like to express my gratitude to Deputy Secretary-General, Seichi Kondo for his support and his advice, while I am resuming the new and challenging functions of Director of the Development Centre.  I regret that this recent collaboration has to end already;  on behalf of my colleagues at the Development Centre, I would like to thank him for his insights regarding the formulation of an OECD strategy for global development and his support and personal commitment to the reform process and the development cluster.  I would like to assure him and all my colleagues in the cluster that the Development Centre is ready to collaborate with them closely and underpin, with its analytical capacity, our joint efforts.


Our Vision


                   Let me start, however, by defining the Centre’s role and comparative advantage in the midst of all the changes that are taking place.  Development and international cooperation issues are coming fast, once again, to the top of the international policy agenda.


                   Given this shift, the Development Centre has a unique comparative advantage in bringing together developed and developing countries to examine and evaluate, through comparative policy analysis, the coherence and effectiveness of development policies and practices of all relevant stakeholders.  I am referring here to the coherence and effectiveness of development policies not just of the OECD countries towards the developing countries, but also to the effectiveness and coherence of the developing countries’ own policies – and of local institutions and practices as a whole.


                   Focusing our efforts on development policy coherence and effectiveness differentiates our work from that of other national research institutions or international organisations, and will stimulate strong interest throughout the OECD.  Exploring innovative ways to enhance coherence and effectiveness through partnerships, appropriate incentives, innovative financial mechanisms and flexible institutional and participatory arrangements will be instrumental not only in making important contributions in the policy debate but in our efforts to overcome existing budgetary bottlenecks.


                   If we want to meet the financial challenges that the Centre faces, we need to put the Development Centre at the centre of the development policy debate.


The Challenges Ahead of Us


                   The greatest challenge in front of us is to rekindle the kind of interest and enthusiasm in the work and contributions of the Development Centre that I know we are capable of.


                   This can be done if we continue to do excellent applied research work but, at the same time, do a better job to address effectively a few of the key policy concerns of our present and potential supporters and contributors.  We will go nowhere if we don’t reverse the perception that DEV is “doing a very good job but is not very relevant to our policy agenda”.


Operational Steps


                   It is important to signal changes early on, so as to create a positive momentum for change.


                   There are five operational steps or initiatives that we intend to undertake at this stage.  These are the following:


a)  To forge, through discussion and dialogue, a shared common vision about the Centre in the Governing Board and within the Development Cluster.


b)  To consolidate our partnership with our existing constituents, first and foremost through establishing collaborative networks with the appropriate Directorates in Ministries at home and maintaining open and continuous communication with them.


                   I am prepared, with your advice and support, to visit the capitals over the next three months, to talk to the relevant people and get a sense of their policy priorities and interests.  Staff members of the Centre will then do the follow-up work needed so that the Centre’s work is disseminated properly and an active dialogue is maintained.


                   In light of this priority, it has been suggested by members of the Governing Board that we arrange for a Governing Board meeting in December, at the time of the DAC senior-level annual meeting, where we invite representatives from capitals.  I think this is a great suggestion which we would pursue.


c)  We should explore ways to bring back to the Centre some of our former members and explore ways by which they can signal their renewed interest in the Centre through programme support if not full membership.


d)  We will try to expand our membership by having other developing countries and transition economies join us.  The presence of a select group of non-OECD members in the Governing Board is an important part of what makes DEV unique within the OECD and will enhance its capacity to liaise effectively developed and developing countries.  In pursuing this objective, we would like to target specific countries in each continent, such as South Africa, or perhaps China, whose participation in the Governing Board will strengthen the voice of developing countries in shaping our work programme.


                   Our forthcoming discussion on adopting a system of flexible contributions for non-OECD members and conceiving modalities that are attractive and fair is of utmost importance in that respect. 


Last but not least,


e)  We should prioritize more effectively our research output to better highlight the direct policy relevance of our findings.  For example, in pursuing our existing 2003/04 Work Programme on Trade, Competitiveness and Adaptive Capacity, we should bring out much more clearly the policy implications regarding the coherence of trade,competition and development policies, and evaluate the role of partnerships and regional arrangements in the process.  Similarly on Finance for Development we can make an important contribution in the policy debate on Global Public Goods, on the need for new and innovative methods of financing, and on best practices or bottlenecks in attracting private direct investment.  Finally, on Social Institutions in Development we could and should make proposals regarding ways to integrate indigenous social structures and institutions in modern governance structures.  Our extensive collaboration with NGOs can provide useful insights in this endeavour.


                   These are important challenges ahead of us.  I am convinced that with your support and co-operation, we can succeed in fulfilling our objectives.




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