‘Governance key to economic development’

By Shin Hyon-hee
  • Published : Sept 2, 2014 - 20:29
  • Updated : Sept 2, 2014 - 20:29

Some 500 top policymakers, academics and relief workers from around the world stressed the significance of good governance in achieving sustainable economic growth and social integration during a conference in Seoul on Tuesday.

While definitions of good governance may differ, they picked transparency and credibility as key elements, calling for governments in both advanced and emerging countries to step up efforts to improve these areas.

The one-day annual event was hosted by the Korea International Cooperation Agency, the country’s grant aid organization, on the theme “Good governance and effective institutions.” It was launched in 2007 to explore top issues on official development assistance and encourage knowledge- and experience-sharing between the rich and poor worlds.
Korea International Cooperation Agency president Kim Young-mok delivers his opening address at the Seoul ODA Conference hosted by the grant aid institution in Seoul on Tuesday. (KOICA)

“Good governance and effective institutions are prerequisites for results, growth and integration of a society,” KOICA president Kim Young-mok said in his opening remarks.

“Even though controversy still exists on what type of governance fits best for a given environment or specific level of development, one big consensus is that we should all work together so that people in need can benefit from democratic and honest governance that is people-centered, and available and working institutions that make investments possible and sustainable.”

Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul introduced the role of governance in Korea’s rapid economic ascent and transformation from an aid beneficiary to a donor.

Finn Tarp, director of the United Nations University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research, said that governance has emerged over the last 25 years as a “major concern for both donors and aid recipient countries.”

He defined governance as “the exercise and organization of political power to manage a community’s affairs,” emphasizing its critical influence on development. With public sector management and transparency and accountability being overarching elements, key political components include democracy and representation, rule of law, and human rights, while public financial management and an economic regulatory framework serve as core economic values.

“Clarifying our conceptualization matters because it leads to different assessments of the quality of governance, which can affect the distribution of aid,” Tarp said during his keynote speech.

Among other participants were Kim Sung-hwan, former foreign minister and chair of Seoul National University’s Institute for Global Social Responsibility; Hiroshi Kato, vice president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency; Roel Van der Veen, an academic adviser to the Netherlands’ foreign ministry; and Dzhurabaeva Gulnar, vice chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Central Commission for Election and Referenda.

During the later sessions, they shared the experiences of donors and recipients and discussed ways to spread best practices and minimize pitfalls.

By Shin Hyon-hee (