Rebeca Grynspan: Congratulatory Remarks at 7th Seoul ODA International Conference

Oct 8, 2013

Congratulatory Remarks by
Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator
7th Seoul ODA International Conference

Allow me to begin by thanking the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) for convening this 7th Seoul ODA International Conference. I am honored to be here today with distinguished speakers and in the company of most prominent guests.

Korea’s hosting of the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011 demonstrated Korea’s leadership and commitment to the aid and development effectiveness agenda. The Forum gave birth to the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation and now 160 countries and 45 international organisations have endorsed the Busan principles. This is truly a significant achievement.

Today’s conference is taking place at both, very exciting as well as challenging times for development. The MDGs are reaching their target date and the process of designing the post-2015 development agenda is in full force.

Yesterday we held here in Seoul the “Seoul Post-2015 Conference: Implementation and Implications”, an event co-hosted by UNDP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea centered on the "how" of the new development framework. The deliberations where extremely helpful to understand the challenges of the implementation agenda.
This goes in line with an unprecedented global conversation the UN has facilitated on what citizens of the world would like to see in the post-2015 agenda. Close to one and a half million people of 190 countries have contributed to this process through 88 national consultations, eleven thematic consultations, and through an on-line platform which includes the MY World survey. With the support of modern technology and social media we have reached out to people from all walks of life and to people who ordinarily are not asked about their priorities.

As a result, we now have a much clearer idea of people’s priorities around the world. Their messages are clear: first and foremost, the need to finish what we started. We are still just over two years away from the MDG deadline and, while we have made major progress, there is still significant work to be done.

The consultations informed us that people want to see the themes covered by the MDGs continue in the post-2015 period. Eradication of Poverty, Education and health continue to be peoples’ highest priorities. But they want not only access but quality of health and education to come up into the agenda.

They also want the agenda to be broadened to new issues such as jobs and livelihoods, justice and rule of law and violence and fragility.
Three aspects of this broader agenda need special mention:  
1. Good and responsive Government, and a participatory process.  
2. They want an agenda that does not compromise the future of the planet, but tackles the issues for development in an integrated manner.  They want an agenda that is poverty centered and planet sensitive!
3. They want an agenda that will make the world more fair, go beyond the Tyranny of averages and account for the most vulnerable and for discriminated groups, they want inequality, gender and human rights high in the agenda and operationalize in the targets framework.
And finally they want a Universal agenda but one that gives space to the national specificities and needs.
At the UN, we are very encouraged to see that these messages are being heard by Member States.
Indeed, only two weeks ago, at the Special Event on the MDGs convened by the UN General Assembly, they endorse an outcome which “Recognizes the intrinsic interlinkage between poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development, [and the] need for a coherent approach which integrates in a balanced manner the three dimensions of sustainable development.”

To this end, Member States have declared that they will “work towards a single framework and set of goals – universal in nature and applicable in all countries while taking account of differing national circumstances and respecting national policies and priorities” with “peace and security, democratic governance, the rule of law, gender equality and human rights for all” as key issues for the future agenda. This is a very important step forward in delivering an inspiring and effective agenda.

The interest that citizens around the world have shown in shaping the new development agenda is very encouraging. But it also means that expectations are high as to what the post-2015 development agenda should deliver. This is a huge responsibility for governments around the world, as well as the United Nations.

The contribution of ODA to MDG achievement

Ultimately, the credibility of the post-2015 development agenda will be determined by what we can deliver on the Millennium Development Goals ahead of their 2015 target date.

The eight MDGs have proved to be a powerful tool in mobilizing the international community around clear, concise, and measurable development objectives. Significant progress has been made and poverty rates have been halved globally, meeting the MDG target ahead of time. We are within reaching universal primary education coverage for girls and boys, improve water sources and the fight against HIV Aids Malaria and TB show encouraging signs

No doubt ODA has made a major contribution towards MDG achievement – both directly, for instance through support for specific health, education, and sanitation interventions, or indirectly, through measures which promote inclusive growth, capacity development  and democratic governance more broadly.

ODA allows  catalytic interventions to speed up progress in  global development challenges and MDG achievement. This includes helping to grow capacity to trade, attract investment, levy taxation, access climate finance and to put those capacities at the service of sustainable human development.  
From 2000 to 2010, considerable progress was made on both the quantity and quality of ODA.

Indeed, between 2000 and 2010 net ODA from DAC members increased almost two and half times. More aid is also untied, development interventions are better coordinated, and evidence is increasingly being used to capture success.
Now, with less than 850 days remaining until the 2015 target date for the MDGs, it is regrettable that recent data for 2012 suggest that net ODA suffered a second consecutive year of decline, decreasing by 4 per cent in real terms or down to a total of $126 billion.
In fact, fifteen of the 24 Development Assistance Committee (DAC) country members decreased their ODA in 2012, owing mainly to fiscal austerity measures.  
MDG 8 established specific targets on ODA, debt relief and access to technologies and medicines.  The MDG gap report launched a few weeks ago by the Secretary General, states that despite progress in many fronts, there is a gap between the initial level of ambition around Goal 8 and its implementation. 

At the same time, we need to recognize that the ODA landscape has, however, changed markedly over the same period. At the start of the millennium, aid was overwhelmingly provided by traditional donors, and a very important part of the financing for development, but today this is increasingly complemented with other forms of funding, including from non-DAC donors, climate finance funds, social impact investors, philanthropists, and global funds.

Indeed, in 2000, the ‘non-traditional’ component of aid flows was only an estimated $5.3 billion, or 8.1% of the total. By 2009, non-traditional flows had increased tenfold to an estimated $53.3 billion, making up around 30% of total development assistance.
At the same time, South-South and triangular co-operation is growing fast, as are remittances, trade and investment within the Global South. As I say, the Geography and Geometry of the cooperation space has changed. Fast -moving emerging economies have lifted very large numbers of people out of poverty and have many experiences to share with others seeking similar success.

It is clear that global partnerships of the future will be shaped by these significant trends, but it is important to note that while South-South cooperation is on the increase – which is very encouraging – it should not be seen as a substitute for ODA. Given the important development and poverty reduction challenges faced by the developing world we need to honor the commitments made.  ODA will continue to be very important specially for an important group of countries and we should not allow this commitments to fade away.

For that reason I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Korea for bucking the trend of decreasing ODA, and continuing to increase its level of aid, towards the target of 0.25 per cent of GNI by 2015.

In a very short period of time, Korea has moved from recipient to donor and has helped a number of countries making progress towards the MDGs, including Laos, Haiti, Colombia, and Sudan. At UNDP we are proud to have a specific ROK-UNDP Trust Fund which focuses on the MDG’s.  
This Fund has supported 9 countries to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable, empower women, expand social services and build essential infrastructure, and has supported UNDP's efforts to build and lead a strategic coalition of partners to shape the post 2015 agenda.

Experience tells us that together with resources sharing knowledge and best practices is crucial. And with its impressive development trajectory, Korea has much to share, including in public sector reform and economic and rural development.    
Less than two weeks ago I had the honor to sign a Memorandum of Understanding Mr. Dong-Ik SHIN, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs, under which UNDP and Korea commit to working together in sharing Korea's rural development  experience with developing countries around the world.
We also signed a similar MoU in the field of gender equality and women’s empowerment – another critical field for development progress and the achievement of the MDGs.
We hope that through the UNDP KOREA Seoul Policy Center we will be able to support these efforts in the future.

Mobilizing development resources in the post-2015 agenda

As the details of the 2015  agenda are yet to be determined, it is difficult to predict what the cost of implementation will be, although the amount is surely going to be significant. These financing needs will need to be met through ALL sources of financing:  remittances, domestic resource mobilization and private sources of capital will certainly be also very important, but as said before ODA will certainly continue to play a critical catalytic role, particularly in low income countries and fragile states where revenue mobilization is challenging.

It is therefore critical that in the design of the agenda, we build on the lessons of MDG8 – on the global partnership for development – to bring it to its full potential.

Here, the post-Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation and the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) provide complementary opportunities to engage in an inclusive dialogue on how best to do this. I sincerely hope that the high level meetings of both forums in 2014 in Mexico will make important contributions to this discussion.

Another important element of implementing the post-2015 agenda will be to improve delivery of the commitments, and enhance the transparency and accountability in development cooperation. These are certainly areas where the Global Partnership can advance the conversation.

As said before, at the national level, domestic resource mobilization is paramount and many developing countries have already shown they can make great strides in that regards. To this end, continued investment in stronger tax systems is critical, and so are efforts to broaden the tax base and to make sure that multinational corporation also contribute. And here also the transparency agenda needs to be enforced. The international community can support these efforts through initiatives as Publish hat you pay and EITI, and other international commitments for International investors, also through capacity building initiatives.
The cost of illicit transfers, unregulated multinational companies, and illegal logging on countries’ prospects are very real and very large. Momentum is shifting in the right direction – the post-2015 development agenda can build on this – to help end the use of tax havens with impunity, expand further people’s access to understandable and useable information on government budgets, expenditures and public procurement.

High expectations are also being placed on the private sector, including the financial markets, to play an increasingly major role in the financing of sustainable development.

A key topic for the post-2015 era is, therefore, how to catalyze long-term finance – especially for low-carbon development – from the private sector.  Here, public policy will play a crucial role by establishing the incentive frameworks needed to catalyse private investment, and ODA can be used smartly to leverage such investment.

We can also expect South-South and triangular cooperation to continue to grow in the post-2015 era. This is welcome and it is very positive emerging donors have been discussing more actively their role in development cooperation in various fora.

Remittance flows have also grown in recent years, and diaspora investment has created jobs and economic linkages. There is much interest in harnessing this potential event further, and Ethiopia and Kenya have recently issued diaspora targeted sovereign bonds to much success. Overall, however, it is important to take measures to ensure that these flows reach their intended beneficiaries with minimal transaction costs, and to help develop enabling systems of financial inclusion that enables people to put remittances and other resources to use.

As we move forward with the implementation of the post 2015 development agenda, we should also see how innovative sources of finance can be scaled up. Innovative financing has already a solid track record in contributing to development results, for example in the health sector. The airline ticket tax, for instance, is contributing to funds for the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis through the UNITAID initiative.   Thematic partnerships, such as the Sustainable Energy for All initiative or the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization Immunisation (GAVI), are also examples of effective multi-stakeholder partnerships that are needed no doubt to support future goals.
Other initiatives have the potential to generate even more revenue, such as carbon taxes and financial transaction taxes. Indeed carbon taxes, as a market-based climate financing instrument has the potential to generate around $30 billion a year.

New technologies have also revolutionized the ways in which resources can be mobilized from citizens and the private sector. This has been demonstrated in emergency situations like after the 2010 devastating earthquake in Haiti where social networking sites helped mobilizing a significant amount of text message donations to organizations like the American Red Cross.

At last but not least, climate finance will be playing an increasingly important role for developing countries pursuing sustainable development, with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) being the primary vehicle through which these funds should be channeled. I congratulate Korea for its hosting of the Fund.  

Now, it is very important to make the GCF fully operationalized and that adequate and sustained funding will be made available, in line with the commitment made at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Copenhagen in 2009 to mobilize climate finance of $100 billion a year by 2020.


In conclusion, let me emphasize that it is clear that successful implementation of the post-2015 agenda will require strong partnerships. An important element of this will be continued commitment to ODA, in line with the already established UN target of 0.7% of GNI.  However, with the other sources of significant funding for development now so diverse, the time is right for discussion on how to make the most effective use of all the available financing, across the three pillars of sustainable development.

As a country with an impressive development trajectory, Korea has already been active in international discussions on the design the post-2015 development framework.

I trust that this 7th Seoul ODA International Conference will contribute even further to this discussion and that come 2015 we will have a strong global compact to build more prosperous, just, secure, and sustainable future for all.
Thank you.

UNDP Around the world