Jim Adams, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific Region, was impressed.When Adams visited Timor-Leste to discuss capacity building with key government leaders, the veteran development executive left the country telling a World Bank colleague how wowed he was that TimorLeste had achieved solid growth and political stability, despite the difficult global economic climate.
It’s true. This small Southeast Asian country is eager to share its experience and already has become a model for fragile countries.
From November 29-December 1, TimorLeste will lead the g7+ countries in the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea to address key development priorities. Representing more than 350 million people, the g7+ is a network of 19 countries collectively united to optimize international donor engagement and development assistance in fragile and conflict-affected states.
“Because of [Timor-Leste’s] progress, it does have credibility in the international scene”. Jim Adams World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific Region
Represented by Minister of Finance, Her Excellency Emilia Pires, Timor-Leste has chaired the g7+ since its inception in 2010, when countries signed the Dili Declaration that called for a fundamental shift in the way development partners interact with fragile states.The group also highlighted the need to prioritize peace-building and state-building as keys to achieving their development goals.
The Busan summit is one of several global meetings taking place simultaneously. Dignitaries from around the world are expected to be in Busan for these meetings. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to attend the forum, marking the first time the U.S. is represented at such a high level.
While in Busan, member countries are expected to establish for the first time, their own national plans with development partners and to set clear development goals and priorities, culminating in the Busan Outcome Document.
The meeting in South Korea builds on the October 18-19 session in Juba, South Sudan,where government leaders from across the world came together and hammered out a development agenda in preparation for Busan. During the sessions, Prime Minister Xanana GusmaíÄo encouraged donors to consider the priorities of each country when they provide aid.
The need for such a collective voice makes sense because these countries face similar challenges, said Adams, who was an early supporter of the g7+.
“The g7+ is nice way of attempting to get more consistent focus and attention to these problems,” Adams said.
Adams is quick to point out that TimorLeste doesn’t have to be part of the consortium because its oil reserves qualify it as a mid-income country.
“Timor has taken additional responsibilities, which is interesting for two reasons: One, Timor,because of its oil wealth and good policies has certainly put some of the fragility behind,” Adams said. “It’s willingness to provide leadership as a former fragile state,if you could classify it that way,represents a level of generosity and vision which is important. Because of [Timor-Leste’s] progress, it does have credibility in the international scene.”
He lauded the government of Timor-Leste for its commitment to the g7+ and specifically praised Pires for her leadership.
“That she has spent time on this has been a tremendous compliment both to her and the government in terms of allowing her to do that,” Adams said of Pires. “For the other countries, this is a particularly strong gesture because she could be talking in a different environment with middle-income and more successful countries.”
Timor-Leste has been active in leveraging the g7+ as a platform to improve the relationship between donor and aid countries. Pires firmly believes that the relationship can be transformed. During a recent presentation at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., she spoke about aid effectiveness and said Timor-Leste strives to be transparent with donor countries.
“Actually,thedonorsinmycountryappreciate it because we are honest.And now they are honest with us as well.”For more information on the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, check out www.aideffectiveness.org/busanhlf4.