On Tuesday, Brookings launched their recent publication, Catalyzing Development: A New Vision for Aid. The event featured engaging speakers and a panel of experts who assessed aid as a driver of global progress. As participants examined the changing landscape of foreign assistance, many of their recommendations for increased effectiveness aligned with MFAN’s priorities.
Inclusive partnerships and capacity development were recurring themes in the conversation. Both Kangho Park, consul general for the Republic of Korea, and Keiichiro Nakazawa, chief representative for the Japanese International Cooperation Agency’s US office, emphasized that donor countries can no longer set the agenda unilaterally. They underscored the need for broader, more effective partnerships and comprehensive strategies—including trade and private sector investment—to build capacity in developing countries.
These calls were echoed by Kyle Peters (World Bank) and Steve Pierce (USAID). Peters spoke of the need for donor coordination to harness our advantages and develop risk management strategies, and Pierce agreed that “aid, while necessary, is not sufficient.” He cited USAID Forward—especially the agency’s efforts on procurement reform—as a means of expanding partnerships on the local level.
Homi Kharas, Brookings Senior Fellow and one of the book’s authors, reviewed some challenges of foreign assistance and offered a number of recommendations, including an emphasis on transparency and South-South cooperation. Panelists expanded on these points: Hyunjoo Rhee discussed South-South knowledge exchange, the topic of her chapter in the book, saying that countries with a more equal relationship can share “the whole package of experiences.” Lindsay Coates, InterAction’s Executive Vice-President, stressed that country ownership must span the whole of society, noting that transparency is undercut without individuals and civil society organizations to hold governments accountable.
Kharas closed the conversation by looking toward the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan. As foreign assistance faces emerging challenges and opportunities—bringing in new donors, active partnerships with NGOs and the private sector, and increased transparency and accountability—his biggest fear is that the Busan proceedings will be “business as usual.” MFAN knows—and the thoughtful analysis in Catalyzing Development shows—that the changing development landscape requires a new approach.