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South Korea won its first World Cup match, can it score for development, too?

Shahrokh Fardoust's picture


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (left) and Il Sakong (right)

At the same time that red jersey fever was building across Korea ahead of the World Cup, Korean officials were building a strategy to score not just on the soccer field (which resulted in Korea's first ever win against an European team away from home), but also in the development arena, where concerns about poverty, climate change and food security trump worries about all else.

So, let's look back at the policy arena in Busan from June 4-5, where G-20 members called for concerted efforts to narrow the economic gap between emerging and developing countries. They seem to have won some initial ground, since growth-oriented development issues are being included in the Toronto meetings later this month, then at the Seoul Summit in November.

The G20, with Korea as Chair, takes its responsibility of bridging the divide between emerging market G20 members and the rest of the developing world very seriously (just like their fans take football very seriously). Their compelling development story – moving from a relatively low-income country to high-income nation within a generation -- makes them the right nation to get the job done.

The job is to put in place a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth made at the G20 in Pittsburgh in September last year.

Clearly the next steps will be challenging -- how to frame the practical policies for supporting an enduring recovery need to be put in place – whether infrastructure and green growth spending, efforts to improve food security, or initiatives to expand access to finance as well as aid for trade, including trade facilitation.

These and other pressing ‘global public goods’ issues were discussed at a June 4 Korea-World Bank conference on Post Crisis Growth and Development held in the run up to the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting in Busan.

Throughout the June 4 conference, there was broad support for integrating these critical development issues related to global growth, as well as human development issues more broadly, into the G20 agenda. The group endorsed the concept of multi-polar growth, reaching a strong consensus that developing countries will have an important role in the global recovery. This would require a focus on removing obstacles to growth for developing countries through structural reforms and massive investments in infrastructure. Further, it was agreed that knowledge sharing will be critical for sustained growth.

While you are not watching matches, visit the conference page to read the speeches and papers, since development goals matter too.


Player Park Ji-Sung

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