Notes from the Field

A Platform for Asian Emerging Donors

April 24, 2013

As discussions on the federal budget and sequestration continue here in Washington, D.C., The Asia Foundation’s Washington office sponsored an event to discuss how various Asian nations are approaching and, in some cases, expanding their development assistance programs.

The two panels brought together seven experts representing senior government officials and policy specialists from five countries – Korea, China, India, Indonesia, and Japan – to discuss the development landscape in Asia at an event co-hosted by USAID. Although the series of discussions on “Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation” (AADC), a partnership between The Asia Foundation and the Korea Development Institute (KDI), has taken place since 2010, this was the first event in the U.S., and it was very well attended with over 100 participants at the half-day seminar.

On the first panel, Asian government representatives from Korea, India, Indonesia, and Japan each presented their country’s approach to development cooperation. These countries of course offered a range of experiences and objectives:  from Japan, with a well-established aid program, and Korea, the first country to transform from being an aid recipient to now an OECD DAC member and provider, to India, focused on South-South Cooperation, and Indonesia in the beginning stages of institutionalizing its cooperation program. Yet, despite these different perspectives, several similarities between the approaches emerged, including:

  • Focus on Asia regionalism and an emphasis on helping neighboring countries;
  • “Demand-driven” approach to providing technical assistance; and
  • A strong interest in capacity-building and knowledge-sharing as part of their development cooperation strategies.

During the second panel, experts discussed challenges in light of the expiration of the global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. A wide range of issues were presented, including inclusive growth, access to health and education, conflict mitigation, and improved security, and international policy coherence. Speakers also noted that large, emerging actors including China and India are looking beyond 2015 to 2020.

It was very clear that both the Asian participants and our co-hosts from USAID felt that the discussion was productive, provided a useful information sharing opportunity, as well as a chance to engage the development policy community, especially during the same week as the World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington. USAID’s assistant administrator for Asia, Nisha Biswal, expressed a desire to learn and engage with Asian emerging donors to develop new partnerships. Participants noted that the “traditional donors also need to learn from emerging donors.”

As traditional development agencies  such as USAID and UNDP rethink their role and reflect on their assistance programs and the way forward, it’s clear that the Asian emerging actors are excited to be “giving back” and have much to contribute to this discussion. The Foundation is pleased to offer a platform through AADC where these critical issues can be discussed and where Asian solutions to Asian problems can be highlighted.

Following the event in Washington, D.C., panelists travel to New York City to participate in discussions at the UN Secretariat. We will soon be posting a video which was live-streamed from the D.C. event. The Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation (AADC) dialogue series is a partnership between The Asia Foundation and the Korea Development Institute (KDI). This program in Washington, D.C., is organized by The Asia Foundation and USAID, with additional support from UNDP and AusAID.

Anna Bantug-Herrera is The Asia Foundation’s associate director in the Washington, D.C., office. She can be reached at abantugherrera@asiafound-dc.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.

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