The Significance of Development on the G20 Agenda in Seoul

As the first non-G7 nation to chair the G20, it is particularly fitting that Korea has placed development on the agenda for the upcoming G20 Summit in Seoul.  

In June in Toronto, the G20 leaders stated their commitment to development:  

  • “We are committed to narrowing the development gap and that we must consider the impact of our policy actions on low-income countries. We will continue to support development financing, including through new approaches that encourage development financing from both public and private sources.”

Korea is well placed to help make the connection between the developed and developing countries.  In order to effectively discuss long term policy solutions, the experiences of developing countries need to be incorporated. 

Institutional Memory

Korea’s own development lessons will bring credibility to the discussions around the summit table. This credibility can help ensure that policies promoted by the G20 will be successfully received globally.

At a recent Overseas Development Institute event in London on October 20, 2010, Baroness Shriti Vadera (former UK Minister for Economic Competiveness, and now advisor to the Korean G20 Presidency) discussed the development agenda of the G20 and its potential impact:

  • Korea used international trade as an essential component of its development policy. In fact, for Korea, export promotion served as the engine of growth and the organising principle under which industrial upgrading, infrastructure development, and human resource development could be pursued… The G20 Presidency wants to avoid that people confuse aid with development and forget that the purpose is investment and not charity.

Leading by Example

In a February 2010 policy brief by Deok Ryong Yoon, he writes that:

  • “[E]conomic growth is the most effective means to exit absolute poverty and to fulfil the MDGs in a faster and enduring manner. This is why Korea has included the development issue in the discussions to be held during the G20 Summit in Seoul and seeks to re-emphasise economic growth as a vehicle to achieve the MDGs.”

Korea is a pertinent example of how to rapidly transition from “developing” to “advanced” status. As Korea expands its global development initiatives, it will share its transition experiences within the region and beyond—like in Africa.

The significance of Korea hosting the November G20 Summit, and placing development at the top of its agenda should not be lost—it has set the standard for developing countries moving forward and will be an important participant in the process.

Background Materials


Meagan Kay is a research assistant at The Centre for International Governance Innovation. She has her MA in political science from the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

(Image credit: Flickr user Byoungjin Kim)

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.