Press Release

 Distribution date: Friday, November 12, 2010


       Too Many Action Plans without Substantial Commitment


South Korea must correct the Development Strategy in line with global development goals to take the real Korea initiatives



South Korea is an emerging donor in the international development community.  It gained membership of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in 2009, thereby committing itself to harmonizing its development cooperation activities and policies with international efforts for effective and sustainable development.  At the G20 Seoul Summit, it has utilized its position as the host to push forward the development agenda. 



Market and capital oriented consensus

However, the Seoul Development Consensus, agreed on by the participants of the G20 Seoul Summit, is too broadly focused on economic growth based on infrastructure, private investment, human resources and trade.  This market- and capital-oriented neoliberal consensus stemmed from the development agenda proposed by the South Korean government, which desired to sell a ‘unique’ and ‘Korean’ development model that will help it gain more influence over developing countries.  Caught up in the fervor, however, it neglected the pro-poor, inclusive and comprehensive approach to development promoted by the international development community has been promoting in recent years, as well as important international agreements that reflect this vision, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 


The civil society including ODA Watch had hoped that this would change in the final outcome of the summit, but regrettably this did not happen.  Not only were the Seoul Development Consensus and Multi-Year Action Plan detached from the MDGs and pro-poor inclusive growth, they were a plethora of empty promises without tangible actions, commitments, tracking of results and accountability.


Promises without concrete targets

While the Development Consensus recognized the impact of the global economic crisis on the billions of extreme poor and reaffirmed the need for growth and aid for low income countries (LICs), no clear commitment was made on mobilizing and delivering resources to benefit the poor directly.  Moreover, past G20 commitments for poverty alleviation were not followed up at the Seoul Summit.  The 22 billion USD Global Food Security Initiative, agreed in September 2009 following the London G20 Summit, is already suffering from a lack of funding, but the action plan merely stated that the participants “underline the need to fulfill our existing commitments on food security” and that they will “review and monitor progress on G20 commitments”.


The Seoul Development Consensus does say that “the G20 has a role to play, complementing the efforts of aid donors, the UN system, multilateral development banks and other agencies, in assisting developing countries, particularly LICs, achieve the MDGs.”  Again, however, no commitments and action plans were made on how to align the G20’s action with MDGs or deliver past commitments to solve global development issues.


Also, while the Action Plan recognized the importance of global financial partnership for financial inclusion and effective tax systems, it did not mention any plans for innovative financing for development, such as the Financial Transaction Tax (also known as the Tobin Tax).  The financial transaction tax will be invaluable in providing financial safety nets, resolving trade imbalances and financing for poverty eradication, and should have been discussed at the G20 Summit.



The way forward

ODA Watch is concerned that the Consensus and Action Plan turned out to be a way for the G20 to avoid their obligations. Without substantial and binding commitments, the Consensus and Action Plan is but a way for the G20 to avoid their obligation for global partnership.  South Korea, the host country, should be held particularly responsible for passing on most of the responsibility and accountability for development results to the next summit in France.


The G20 only agreed on principles and relegated the responsibility to implement the action plans to the Development Working Group – multilateral development banks and international organizations.  Without concrete targets, binding promises and the will of the G20 states, ODA Watch is concerned that the Consensus and Action Plan has turned out to be a way for the G20 to shirk their obligations for global partnership for development.


South Korea, while it did promise to increase the proportion of ODA against GNI to 0.25% in 2015, the level is far below the global standard. As the host country, South Korea should have come up with bolder and more innovative commitments for poverty alleviation. Also, as the host of the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness next year, ODA Watch requests that the South Korean government implement and examine progress on the G20 Multi-Year Action Plan in ways to reduce global inequality and alleviate poverty, and calls on the Korean and international civil society to monitor and intervene with the implementation of the Action Plan.





Lee Tae Joo, Chair 

E-mail: / Tel: 010 2927 4491 (Korea)

Yun Ji Young, Program Coordinator

E-mail: / Tel: 02 518 0705 (Korea)

ODA Watch

ODA watch is a watchdog cso, working for improvement of the development effectiveness of Korea’s ODA , based on three important principles: human rights, equality and solidarity.