OECD Secretary-General

Launch of the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Development Co-operation Report


Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
OECD Paris, 4 October 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the 2011 Development Cooperation Report. I am glad to see so many people here to celebrate this auspicious occasion. Development cooperation has never been so important. The triple shock of the economic, energy and food crises has had wide-ranging negative social outcomes for the most vulnerable, both in developing and developed countries.

We have made significant progress promoting development. However, the levels of world poverty are still unacceptably high. The number of people living in extreme poverty is growing again and the crisis threatens to throw many more hardworking people into poverty through chronic unemployment and underemployment.

The global economy is definitely in a turning point and this is a most appropriate moment to assess our development cooperation strategies. What have we done right? Where have we failed? How have the world and the concept of development changed in the past decades? Where are we moving to in development cooperation? This report addresses these and many other crucial questions.

It is quite a special report. Firstly, because it marks 50 years of work in development cooperation. As you know, in 2011 the OECD is turning 50, and throughout these five decades development cooperation has been at the core of our mission. In fact, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), held its first meeting on October 5, 1961; becoming one of the first-established committees of the OECD.

This report is also special because it brings together the views of distinguished and recognised global leaders in development, who have partnered with the OECD over time in their various capacities. Here you will find the ideas of people like Wolfensohn, Clark, Clinton, Kaberuka, Bachelet, Pachauri and several others.

We are presenting to you a plethora of assessments, reflections and proposals on a wide range of development issues: from lessons learned in 50 years of development assistance; to gender equality, empowerment, human rights and the environment; and finally concluding with a discussion of the future for official development assistance.

The variety of topics covered in this report reminds us of the importance of looking at all policy decisions in the light of development obstacles and opportunities.

This book is also a tribute to our DAC, an institution in itself, which has played a key role in promoting development cooperation throughout these five decades. Like the rest of the OECD, the DAC has built its contributions on time-tested methods: sharing good practice, using peer reviews to encourage mutual learning, and providing reliable, comparable statistics. The leadership and wisdom of its Chair, our friend Brian Atwood, have been key drivers in this success. I am so glad to have him on board.

But this is certainly no time to sleep on our laurels. The development landscape is changing so rapidly and we have to adapt to new challenges. For example:

  • Development finance today includes much more than aid and covers a much broader spectrum of actors with diverse methods and modalities.
  • Domestic resource mobilisation has become a fundamental source of development, even in low-income countries. Migrant remittances and private voluntary giving, as well as all kinds of civil-society resources in cash and in kind, are also important and must be effectively deployed.
  • Developing countries are increasingly sharing resources and expertise among themselves; many have been successfully engaged in development co-operation for years, if not decades, using their own models.
  • Foundations are offering innovative combinations of public and private financing; and investment and trade add to the picture.

In this complex and changing development landscape, the role of stable, capable and accountable governments is decisive: they are the ones who must ensure that economic growth translates into real improvements for all members of society. Supporting the emergence of such states in least developed and developing countries demands an internationally coordinated effort. The OECD has been working to support this effort; promoting partnerships to produce home-grown solutions that address development challenges at their core.

And we are increasingly aware that development is a mutually learning and enriching process, that our solutions do not always apply to the complex realities of developing countries, and that development is now also an issue in OECD countries, where inequalities keep growing. More than ever, we are convinced that we have to work together.

With these concerns in mind, our Ministers gave us a very strong mandate at our 2011 Ministerial Council Meeting, to build an ambitious, institution-wide Development Strategy that will support countries in achieving higher, more inclusive and sustainable growth.

The OECD is drawing on its unique range of assets to undertake this work, as well as on the engagement of many other development actors, including the emerging economies that have assumed such a central role in the global economy and have become key development partners.

In this context – and with the approaching “due-date” for the Millennium Development Goals – the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in Busan at the end of this year offers us an important opportunity.

This will be an occasion to look at the role of development co-operation within the full spectrum of evolving forms of financing, knowledge and partnerships. It is a chance to encourage more coherent policies for development and to better align all development actors and actions. If we seize this opportunity, we will be a step closer to our ultimate goal: the end of development cooperation; in other words a world where no country will depend on aid.

I hope that you enjoy this report and that your discussions today make a ground breaking contribution.
With that, I leave you with the DAC Chair, Mr J. Brian Atwood, under whose authority and initiative this report is issued.


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