Aid effectiveness: From words to action


Opening Remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at the opening ceremony of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan

30th November 2011, Busan, Korea

(As prepared for delivery)

President Lee, Your Majesty, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Secretary-General, Madame Secretary of State, Parliamentarians, Civil Society, Private Sector, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Welcome to the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. Making aid more effective is one of our highest priorities, because we know that it can make a huge contribution in eradicating the curse of global poverty.

While maintaining and even raising financial contributions to development aid is absolutely essential, it will only give its best results if we engage in a global effort to optimise the quality of official development assistance, the so called ODA. That is why for decades the OECD has been working to forge a broad consensus on aid effectiveness. Through the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action, or by providing platforms like the OECD-hosted Working Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-EFF). Busan offers a new opportunity we must seize to continue and strengthen these efforts.

This is also why we are working on a new OECD Strategy for Development, to help countries tune their development policies, share policy successes and failures and engage in mutual learning. And this also explains why we have embarked on a Project on Gender Equality, on an innovation strategy, on a green growth strategy, and skills strategy. Even on a tax and development strategy. Poverty remains the ultimate systemic threat. The financial and economic crisis has reversed several positive trends. Global unemployment has risen sharply. Global poverty is growing again. There are now more than one billion people who go to bed hungry every night and billions without access to quality water, sanitation or energy.

Thus, aid effectiveness is more than a moral imperative, it is a task of great economic urgency. But we still have a long way to go. A 2011 study by the OECD, “Aid Effectiveness 2005-10: Progress in Implementing the Paris Declaration” is sobering: at the global level, only one out of the 13 targets established for 2010 – co-ordinated technical co-operation – has been met, by a narrow margin.

While considerable progress has been made towards many of the remaining 12 targets, we have fallen behind on our promises, just as we have fallen behind in our progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We need to do more. We need a collective jolt and, most importantly, collective action.

In Busan, today, we have brought together the largest and most diverse set of development actors. Great new ideas and proposals will spring here. This Forum is a great opportunity. It can be a defining moment in a truly global effort to improve the quality of development co-operation. 


Let’s make Busan an action oriented partnership for development effectiveness

Effective aid CAN make a big difference! We have enough evidence to prove it. Thanks to effective aid, there are 400 million fewer people living in extreme poverty than in 1990; advances in health care and agriculture are saving millions of lives a year; Sub-Saharan Africa has made huge improvements in child health and in primary school enrolment over the last two decades.

One of the greatest examples of the power of effective aid is Korea. Fifty years ago, this country was a poor, war-ravaged country, dependent on assistance from others. Today, it leads the OECD in education, digital knowledge, green growth initiatives, business expenditure in R&D, and productivity, to mention a few indicators. 

Korea is now a member of our Development Assistance Committee (DAC) and its official development aid (ODA) to other countries reached 1.2 billion dollars in 2010. This is an amazing transformation. We can all learn from Korea’s experience which combined strong leadership, technical capability, innovation, an exemplary work ethic, a willingness to engage the private sector and the pursuit of excellence

Ladies and Gentlemen: This crisis has shown that only through inclusive multilateral cooperation can we build a stronger, cleaner and fairer global economy.

This time we must deliver. Busan must provide strong political impetus and leadership to step up our efforts and meet our commitments on aid effectiveness. The world population has hit the 7 billion mark; and war, famine and sicknesses continue to decimate the most vulnerable and threaten to turn back the clock on hard won human progress in many areas of the world. The OECD is ready to increase its efforts, to help countries find common grounds for concerted action, to keep exchanging best practices, and better measure our progress in fostering aid effectiveness. We are proud to have worked shoulder to shoulder with Korea, at the OECD, in the G20 and again here in Busan.  Thank you Korea, thank you President Lee. The world expects Busan to deliver better development policies for better lives. We won’t disappoint them!

Thank you!


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