Busan HLF4 Capacity Development Thematic Session

Several members of the Learning Network collaborated to organise a thematic panel discussion “Capacity Development: Lessons Learned and Ways Forward” at HLF4 in Busan on 28 November 2011. The session aimed to identify key actions to strengthen the practice of and knowledge about country-led capacity development (CD). It consisted of a panel of speakers sharing the views and experiences of Southern partners using an actively moderated question and answer format, with additional discussants and commentators.

The session was moderated by Frannie LÉAUTIER, Executive Secretary, African Capacity Building Foundation. The panelists were:

Talaat Abdel-Malek, co-chair of the Working Party on Aid Effectiveness at the Capacity Development Session at Busan
  • Talaat ABDEL-MALEK, Co-Chair, Working Party on Aid Effectiveness
  • H.E. Chhieng YANARA, Minister attached to the Prime Minister, Secretary–General of the Cambodian Rehabilitation and Development Board of the  Council for the Development of Cambodia
  • Stella MUGABO, Executive Secretary, Public Sector Capacity Building Secretariat, Rwanda
  • Don MARUT, Executive Director, International NGO Forum of Indonesian Development
  • Ibrahim Assane MAYAKI, Chief Executive Officer, New Partnership for Africa’s Development
  • Irina Bokova, Director General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
  • Christoph BEIER, Director, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) GmbH, Germany
  • Emmanuel AKWETEY, Executive Director, Institute for Democratic Governance, Ghana
  • Wonhuyk LIM, Korean Development Institute, Korea
  • H.E. Dalmas Anyango OTIENO, Minister of State for Public Service, Kenya

Planned floor interventions were made by:

  • Gerard Van Bilzen, Ambassador for Train4Dev
  • Nils Boesen, Director, United Nations Development Program, Learning Network on Capacity Development (LenCD)
  • Akihiko Nishio, Director, World Bank Institute

Key messages—and three concrete proposals—from the Capacity Development thematic session

If there has been one resounding message over the past three days, it is this: capacity development should be front and center in our efforts to create sustainable effective institutions.  The thematic session on capacity development brought together ministers and practitioners from all over the world. We heard inspiring stories from Cambodia, Rwanda, Korea and Kenya, among others.  All testified to the importance of results-focused capacity development in their successful change processes.  In Africa, progress is being made towards concrete CD actions, with the region having developed the Capacity Development Strategic Framework (CDSF) as a policy guiding tool.

Our capacity development thematic session highlighted this consensus and put forward three concrete post-Busan actions that we wish to carry forward:

  • Result-focused transformational capacity development should be a key  focus of the country-led plans and actions for development effectiveness—The commitment should pay due attention to the building of effective institutions.
  • The strengthening of country systems and institutions within the context of national capacity development strategies linked to overall development plans. In this regard, the necessity to mainstream/integrate capacity development in all sectors and programs.
  • The need for a more systematic approach to capture and share knowledge on capacity development based on country priorities.  We propose that this becomes the focus of our work going forward, using existing national and regional platforms as well as networks to shape  the global knowledge architecture.

In Busan, we have heard over and over that capacity development is not just an add-on, an afterthought, but requires an engaged political leadership to put capacity development at the center of country-led development priorities. Now let’s take some concrete steps to make this happen.

Selected points

It was emphasized that while there is widespread agreement that capacity development is necessary for sustainable development results, and there are sporadic cases of success, there are multiple cases of failure. CD is complex, long term and involves political challenges.  

Ownership, political commitment, and sustained political engagement and leadership are critical for effective capacity development.  It is a question of self-determination. This was underscored in the discussions of the successful cases presented by  Cambodia, Rwanda, Korea and Kenya speakers. Aid can be catalytic but mutual responsibility and accountability, genuine partnership, alignment to national strategies, trust and use of country systems (planning and others), and demand-driven technical assistance that is integrated into local organizations are key to effective support for CD.   A speedier rate of change in behavior is needed of the development partners. Monitoring of practice compared to agreed actions is required post-Busan.

Rwanda, Cambodia, Korean and Kenya speakers pointed to the importance of strong national vision and focusing CD on clear national priorities.  In addition, a strong emphasis was given to the role of non-state actors as well as state actors in the development process and hence the need for CD and synergies across society.   Southern think tanks can play a critical role in identifying and analyzing home grown solutions.

Examples of good practice in CD mentioned include (i) focus on improving performance of institutions, (ii) strong results logic, (iii) systematic planning, implementation, monitoring and exit strategy, (iv) joint learning events at the country level, (v) transparent monitoring of performance, (vi) learning by doing, (vii) pragmatic solutions.

Knowledge exchange and peer learning are powerful mechanisms for capacity development when undertaken with engagement over a period of time and are mutual in nature, as highlighted by the KDI/WBI study of Korea’s Knowledge Sharing Program and new platforms such as APDev.

Capacity development goes beyond training and education – it is about institutions and processes of change, and includes women’s empowerment.

There are new realities in the CD arena – strengthening capacity of all actors, increased demand for citizen participation, and interest in south-south  learning, and also IT technologies – these can be framed as  open knowledge, open governance and open aid.  We’re now at a time for more systematic learning and sharing on results-focused capacity development –  WBI could contribute a knowledge platform jointly with others, linked to operational practice, and could support a CD forum next year.

Summarizing remarks by Dr Beier included:

  • Capacity is the number-one constraint for development
  • Multi-stakeholder country compacts are required but very difficult. A key challenge is how to empower marginalized
  • It is about joint responsibility of local leadership and development partners
  • Sector strategies as key entry point, but implementation is often lacking. Need to look at institutional framework and incentives etc. capacity with people, organizations, institutions
  • CD is a complex process – so we should define the system boundaries and the  actors/agents of change (GIZ Capacity Works approach)
  • Need to strengthen and expand knowledge networks, and need to go beyond sharing – eg. Korea, EU accession
  • Local capacity, in terms of think tanks and other southern institutions, is required to support capacity development
  • Regional networks and institutions can help to strengthen political commitment

Unofficial minutes of the session are also available for download (PDF, 186 kB)