Knowledge Sharing and Development Effectiveness: How can effective knowledge sharing contribute to better development results?

Stephen P. Groff, Vice-President, Operations 2, Asian Development Bank (Former Deputy Director, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD) Distinguished participants, Ladies and gentlemen, let me start by thanking the Government of Korea and the ADB for inviting me to this workshop. I am delighted to be here. I started only this week at the ADB - until last Friday I was at the OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate in Paris. ADB is not a new organization for me, but it has changed a lot since I left it in 2004. This workshop and the presence here of so many familiar faces - starting with Ambassador Hur from Paris and so many old friends from the Bank makes me feel at home, and this will certainly help my smooth transition to this new position. I have been requested to speak on “Knowledge Sharing and Development Effectiveness”. To me there is a central question here: “How knowledge sharing can contribute to better development results?”. I think the short answer is: knowledge is absolutely critical to effective institutions, building capacity and creating sustainable solutions for greater growth and equity. Therefore sharing knowledge paves the way for a greater percentage of populations in developing countries to benefit from growth. *** Both “knowledge sharing” and “development effectiveness” mean different things to different people. I think “knowledge sharing” in the context of development is a process that promotes mutual learning on development strategies and policies matched with innovative solutions. It is a two-way policy dialogue, where stakeholders participate on an equal footing. It is important to stress that this is a process and not a one-off intervention: real knowledge sharing is that where policy makers, experts and practitioners


engage on a continual basis, facilitating access to knowledge that is often tacit or difficult to codify, the kind information that is embodied in the participants themselves and within the institutions involved. As for “development effectiveness”, this concept aims to be broader than that of “aid effectiveness” by placing greater emphasis on results and on the role of actors, flows or policies and wider range of stakeholders rather than just aid agencies, ODA and development co-operation. I also believe that a working definition of “development effectiveness” should focus on the capacity of governments to implement effective policies that sustain growth and improve the well-being of their people. So, capacity and ownership by developing countries of their development process – two key elements of the aid effectiveness agenda – are also cornerstones of development effectiveness. Therefore, development effectiveness goes hand in hand with aid effectiveness. The Paris Declaration provided a clear roadmap for improving the way we deliver aid, and an independent evaluation of the implementation of the Paris Declaration recently showed that the aid effectiveness principles do matter for development. Since 2005, political momentum pushed donors and developing countries to transform the way in which they provide and use aid. The Paris Declaration set out norms, and reinforced and legitimised good practice based on decades of experience in development cooperation. Its principles have fostered greater transparency and have encouraged developing countries’ ownership of aid in particular, and of their development processes in general. It is therefore no surprise that the fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan later this year aims to focus on issues of development effectiveness rather than just aid effectiveness. And a number of issues crucial for development effectiveness will be among the topics for discussion at Busan. These include: (i) The importance of strengthening and use of country systems by providers of aid;


(ii) The importance of improving transparency and medium-term predictability of aid, as governments cannot plan if the resource envelop is not known; and (iii) The importance of addressing increased fragmentation of aid at the country level. Busan will give us an opportunity to re-assess the progress made since Paris and decide which areas we should prioritize in the future. *** Let me turn now to the question of how knowledge sharing can contribute to better development effectiveness. In so doing, I will also stress the role that international organisations, such as the UN, the OECD, and the MDBs – and here in particular the ADB – can play in this respect. Knowledge sharing has gained prominence in international debate over the last two years. As highlighted by former Minister Yoon this morning, the strong emphasis that the Korean Presidency of the G20 placed on knowledge sharing within the Seoul Consensus on Shared Growth, and the identification of knowledge sharing as one of the 9 pillars of the G20 MultiYear Action Plan on Development, certainly played a major role here. Many in the room today would probably agree that knowledge sharing has been going on for quite some time, both through traditional North-South avenues and through South-South cooperation. So, why are we emphasising knowledge sharing now? Is it because we see it as a “cheaper” substitute for financial cooperation in a moment where aid budgets are under stress? It is undeniable that there is a perception issue to be addressed here. In fact knowledge sharing is not and cannot be a substitute for development co-operation. Moreover, knowledge sharing is not necessarily free of charge. Rather, I believe the reason for knowledge sharing has gained such prominence is mainly due to the structural changes that have been taking place in the world economy over the last 15 years.


As we all know, the global economic landscape has changed significantly, with strong economic performance by many developing and emerging economies, coupled with the emergence of a new geography of growth, and the shift of the economic center of gravity from North and West to South and East. Developing and emerging economies have made a large contribution to global GDP growth over the last decade, and are very likely to continue to do so. Strong economic performance has coincided with an extraordinary improvement in the per capita GDP growth performance of developing and emerging economies. Between 2000-2007, we witnessed 65 developing countries converge toward OECD income levels, with per capita growth rates double that of high-income countries. This represents a dramatic departure from past trends. This fact alone confirms that there is not a single path to development, a point made by Sec. Paderanga this morning. There may be some common ingredients, as the Growth Commission suggested, but not a single recipe to deliver growth. We also now have enough evidence on what makes growth more inclusive, and we know that the relationship between growth and poverty is complex and very much country specific. We have new success stories and new failures to analyse - stories from which lowincome countries as well as middle- and high-income countries can draw important lessons. In a nutshell, we have more and more diversified knowledge to share. But we also have more demand for knowledge. Governments in the developing world are looking with increasing scepticism at “turn-key” solutions proposed by the international community. They are keen to look at a broader set of experiences and increasingly interested in experimenting with different approaches. At the same time, we know economic growth alone usually does not deliver development, unless public policy is simultaneously broadening and deepening the benefits of growth while increasing resilience. This said, we also know that there is significant room for improvement in the


effectiveness of public policies. In this respect, low, middle and highincome countries have much to learn from each other. Sharing knowledge on the design and implementation of effective policies is a priority that should be part and parcel of the development effectiveness paradigm. But it should not be knowledge sharing for the sake of sharing information alone. Knowledge sharing must be aimed at enhancing capacity development and this requires an active relationship between the knowledge seeker and the knowledge provider. Knowledge sharing contributes to development effectiveness if it is truly demand-driven, if the knowledge seeker has the tools to identify her needs and to adapt the knowledge to his specific reality. Here, I cannot overemphasize the prominent role of country ownership for effective knowledge sharing. At this juncture, let me briefly touch on the important role that international organizations play in facilitating knowledge exchange. In fact, knowledge sharing is very much at the heart of international organisations such as the ADB and OECD. Promoting a more systematic, comprehensive and demand-driven engagement is at the core of ADB’s Strategy 2020, as well as the OECD Strategy on Development that is currently being developed. [Ambassador Hur is playing a key role in that exercise and so I will leave it to him – if he so wishes – to elaborate on this. As a regional development bank, the ADB has vast knowledge from its operations in developing member countries, and at the same time, as a multilateral international institution, ADB has access to knowledge on international best practice from outside the region. ADB’s new Knowledge Sharing Program is an important step toward tapping and sharing this knowledge more systematically, also by engaging with other international organisations. *** Mr. Chairman, let me conclude: The new global economic landscape and the emergence of new global governance structures such as the G20 have shown that there are different growth strategies and not a single path to development.


The emergence of new global players and growth poles has important implications for the development prospects of low-income countries and for the governance of international cooperation. The adoption of the Seoul Consensus by G20 Leaders last year and forthcoming international events, starting with Busan in less than 2 months, will contribute to reshaping the global development partnership for the next decade or more. Busan in particular has the potential of forging a new development partnership that recognises diversity and brings together new partners and instruments to support developing countries’ own efforts. Knowledge sharing should be an important component of this new partnership. The September 23 G20 Ministerial Declaration bears testimony to this potential in its final paragraph which recognizes the 4th High Level Forum in Busan as an opportunity to “pave new ways of cooperation” and share “diversified experience and knowledge” I am confident that with our collective attention and continuous engagement, this opportunity will turn into reality. Thank you for your attention.