Central Asia looks to Korea for social policy inspiration

Jul 31, 2013

PHOTO: UNDP Mongolia

Central Asian experts hailed Korea's experience as an example in designing and implementing social policies at a recent workshop on human development in Central Asia held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

A number of regional experts stated that the development experience of Korea and other Asian nations holds examples for the region as it works to re-industrialize.

Well-designed social policies help mitigate the risks associated with growth and protecting those left behind and contribute to successful implementation of national development plans.

Organized by the UNDP Regional Centre for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States and hosted by UNDP Kazakhstan, the first meeting on human development reports in Central Asia brought regional experts together to tackle common development challenges.

Artemy Izmestiev, Policy Specialist from UNDP’s Seoul Policy Centre shared the outcomes from the international policy dialogue on social protection held in Seoul in October 2012.

’Many of the Republic of Korea’s social policies were closely tied to its industrialization and therefore helped the countries rapid development, as well as protecting the poor and vulnerable’ he said.

At the Seoul policy dialogue, experts agreed that social protection contributes to economic growth and reducing inequality, on top of protecting the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.

Central Asian social protection

Central Asia has bounced back from the global financial crisis in 2008, yet many groups remain vulnerable to economic shocks.

Social protection policies and programmes across the region are improving, yet incomplete policy implementation in some areas means not all are protected.

Central Asian countries face unique challenges in distinct contexts, yet broad similarities make some Korean lessons applicable, including a strong focus on education and active intervention in the labour market to boost workers capabilities and helped enable implementation of the Government’s industrial policies.

As Central Asia grows, Korea’s development model is becoming increasingly attractive. The country should include social policy in the development knowledge it shares.