Interregional Forum on Managing for Development Results – Stephen P. Groff

Speech | 28 November 2012

Opening remarks by ADB Vice-President Stephen P. Groff on 28 November 2012 at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines.

Secretary Abad, Minister Roberto Gallardo, distinguished guests and fellow ADB colleagues. It is indeed a pleasure for me to make a few remarks at this Interregional Forum on Managing for Development Results--with the special focus on the Changing Role of Central Finance Agencies in Decentralization and Delivering Results.

This forum is the result of an innovative partnership between three banks - the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the CAF Development Bank of Latin America, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) - that aims to increase knowledge sharing, policy dialogue and cooperation between Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

It brings together members of the Communities of Practice on MfDR of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific--both of which are sponsored by the IDB and the ADB, respectively. Even before the partnership, these two CoPs have been cooperating in promoting the results agenda of the 2005 Paris Declaration. In fact, in preparation for the 2011 High Level Forum, they worked together with the CoP on MfDR for Africa to deliver the Seoul Statement--a partner-country driven statement to the donors in support of the results orientation of public sector management as one of the key means to ensure sustainable development effectiveness.

CoPs, as we all know, are one of the most useful vehicles for promoting a common understanding of issues and for knowledge sharing. They have been identified as one of the key modalities to promote South-South dialogue among members. Sharing development knowledge and expertise can help solve common development challenges within and across regions. While developing countries have achieved substantial results in various domains, expanding opportunities for direct cooperation remains an urgent need and an area of great potential. In this respect, the regions of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia- Pacific have a lot to share that is both common and different.

I will not expound on the advantages of South-South Cooperation--as I am sure that we are all in agreement on its benefits. I will therefore briefly talk about the subject of decentralization.

Decentralization, deconcentration, devolution are the terms used to describe processes that countries have embraced in their own way--and has been driven by the realization that the most effective and accountable government is that government which is closest to the people. ADB, and I am sure the IDB, do not necessarily prescribe decentralization as the panacea for effective development, but we have been there to support the transition of many of our member countries in their desire to move from a centralized to a more decentralized form of government. This has been done through support at the policy level, through legal and regulatory reform and through various investment and technical assistance projects. There is one clear lesson that we have learned: this is not an easy road and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, countries can benefit significantly from learning from the experiences of each other. CoP meetings such as these will allow you to share your experiences and perhaps take home some new ideas.

Both regions have different lessons to share. Asia has much to share in its experiences in education systems, science and technology, outward-oriented policies that led to the formation of regional supply chains, public–private sector partnerships and regional financial cooperation initiatives. Similarly, Asia could benefit from studying Latin America's experiences in poverty reduction and social safety net policies, agriculture policies and the promotion of sustainable cities.

At the same time, there are challenges that are also similar. Both regions are comprised of countries covering a broad development spectrum - from fragile states to developed states. And even with the developed and middle income countries they share the common pardox of extreme deprivation and poverty in urban slums that share the skyline with the high-rise towers of leading cities. Reconcling these two faces is the major development challenge of our time.

In closing, I would once again like to congratulate the two Secretariats of the Communities of Practice of Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific in taking up the challenge of putting together such a forum. I wish you a productive two days.

I now have great pleasure in handing over to Secretary Abad to give opening remarks.

Thank you.