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Asia Foundation’s Beijing Conference Explores the Expanding Role of Asian NGOs in Development and South South Cooperation

Beijing, April 20, 2016 — Countries across Asia are increasingly recognizing the vital role played by non-governmental organizations in advancing development cooperation, both at home and in partner countries, according to participants at an international development conference this week.

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Government officials, policy specialists, and development practitioners from more than 10 countries gathered in Beijing from April 19-20, 2016 for the 14th meeting of the Asian Approaches to Development Cooperation (AADC) dialogue, an ongoing series which addresses how Asian countries’ engagement in development and south south cooperation is changing the global aid landscape and the development prospects for the region.

The two-day conference provided a forum for sharing perspectives and approaches among both emerging and traditional development actors on the role of civil society and non-government organizations in Asian-led development cooperation. This is the 6th year of The Asia Foundation’s partnership with the Korea Development Institute and School on the AADC program.  The Beijing dialogue was hosted by the China Association for NGO Cooperation (CANGO) and The Asia Foundation’s China office, with additional support from  Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Chinese NGOs working in humanitarian assistance and education from Nepal to Ethiopia, shared their experiences and challenges with NGO practitioners from Bangladesh, Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar and Australia.  Common challenges included navigating complex legal and regulatory environments, financial sustainability, and security.  Common strengths included people-centered programs, long term commitment and high quality staff.

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In the past decade, China has sharply expanded its foreign aid spending in both scale and scope.  In his opening address, Xiao Fenghuai, deputy director general of China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges, under the Ministry of Commerce, welcomed the role of NGOs in China’s overseas development cooperation efforts, noting that China is diversifying from a government-led approach to include more partnerships with NGOs.

The conference ended with a roundtable discussion on the need and value for Asian civil society organizations working outside their countries to increase their collaboration and coordination with external players, including international NGOs, the UN, traditional donors, and global policy forums.

In previous years, AADC conferences have focused on the changing aid landscape, rising inequality and pro-poor growth, climate change mitigation and adaptation, social mobility, and advancing south south cooperation. Ji Hongbo, The Asia Foundation’s country representative in China, described how INGOs can support capacity development of Chinese NGOs by devising handbooks, checklists, and facilitating staff exchanges.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.

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