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World’s biggest aid forum to open in Busan

The world’s largest forum on development aid will kick off in Busan on Tuesday for a three-day run in which minister-level government and private-sector officials from 160 countries will take part.

The Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, or HLF-4, will follow on from the first High-Level Forum on Harmonization meeting in Rome in 2003, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in 2005 and the 2008 meeting in Accra, Ghana.

About 2,500 delegates will assess how much progress has been made in improving the effectiveness of aid, share global experiences in delivering the best results and set a new agenda for development.

Topics discussed will be reflected in a Busan Outcome Document to be endorsed on the last day of the meeting on Thursday.
Visitors look around art works at the exhibition “We Go Together” in front of the BEXCO Convention Center in Busan on Sunday, two days before the opening of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. The event also showcased installation works by 13 Korean artists under the theme of communication and culture sharing. (Yonhap News)
Visitors look around art works at the exhibition “We Go Together” in front of the BEXCO Convention Center in Busan on Sunday, two days before the opening of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. The event also showcased installation works by 13 Korean artists under the theme of communication and culture sharing. (Yonhap News)

Key participants will include Korean President Lee Myung-bak, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Queen Rania of Jordan and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Secretary-General Angel Gurria.

The detailed program on Tuesday includes a morning plenary session, “How far have we come,” with scholars and aid professionals such as Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs and OECD’s Development Assistance Committee chair Brian Atwood.

The morning and afternoon sessions will cover ownership and accountability, country systems and institutions, addressing aid fragmentation, aid predictability, capacity development and knowledge exchange, South-South cooperation and public-private cooperation.

The opening ceremony will be held on Wednesday morning where prominent participants including Gurria, Lee, Ban and Clinton are scheduled to deliver speeches.

Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan will host a dinner for delegates later on Wednesday.

On Thursday, participants will debate how to maximize the impact of development aid and seek a new consensus on aid and a post-Busan framework.

Seoul officials said the forum will focus on setting development direction for developing countries and establish new rules for international development.

“The forum will be an opportunity to share Korea’s turnaround experience from a recipient of foreign aid to a leading donor,” the Finance Ministry said. “Delegates will assess implementation of Official Development Assistance programs from the OECD and brainstorm for future strategies.”

The forum is coming at a time of global challenges such as financial crises, food security and climate change.

The Busan gathering will serve as an opportunity to cast a new perspective on development cooperation for the 21st century, experts said.

By Kim Yoon-mi and Cynthia J. Kim
(yoonmi@heraldcorp.com) (cynthiak@heraldcorp.com)
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