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Speech Transcripts

January 26, 2015

Speech at the book launch seminar "Growth is Dead, Long Live Growth: The Quality of Economic Growth and Why it Matters": JICA's views on growth and the Quality of Growth

AFD Headquarters, Paris, France

Mrs. Anne Paugam, Chief Executive Officer of Agence Française de Développement,
Prof. Melissa Leach, Director of Institute of Development Studies,
Representatives of international organizations and research institutions,
All the authors of this collaborative research,
Distinguished panelists, guests, participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great privilege and honor to be with you here in Paris today to celebrate the launch of the report of the AFD-IDS-JICA tripartite research project. I would like to express my gratitude to all who participated in this collaborative research and to everybody who contributed to the organization of this event.

Before I delve into the subject matter of today's event, allow me to express my deepest condolences to the victims and their families of the tragedy on January 7th. Efforts toward the peace and stability of the world must comprise a wide ranging of activities, including the eradication of the socioeconomic causes that lie at the root of terror, the most important of which is poverty. Let me state clearly that JICA is prepared to join with the international community and particularly with France, in efforts toward removing that cause.

1. Why do we have to look into the quality of growth?

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to congratulate the project team for having chosen the issue of the quality of growth for a research project. Indeed, when we envisage the developmental challenges in the Post-2015 era, it is critically important for us to be concerned about the "quality" of growth. I share wholeheartedly the authors' view as they point out that the 20th century definition of growth must be left in the 20th century and the 21st century must have a new one.

This is because growth up to the 20th century has not necessarily led the international community to the point where it would like to be. True, we have seen a steady decline in absolute poverty overall and improvements in many indicators of the MDG framework, thanks largely to continued economic growth.

However, we have not only been unable to achieve what we wanted to achieve but we are also faced with new challenges. That is to say, on the one hand, there are still more than one billion people living in abject poverty, and on the other hand, even in regions where economic growth has been remarkable, we are seeing emerging problems.

For example, East and Southeast Asian countries are said to have succeeded in realizing magnificent economic development without worsening domestic economic disparity.

However, in recent years the disparity between the rich and poor or urban and rural areas has been widening, thus making "quality of growth" one of the hotly debated issues in the region. In addition, it is becoming increasingly apparent that global climate change is starting to take its toll. Indeed, we are at a turning point and it will be necessary to prescribe effective measures to achieve the growth that we need in the 21st century.

As the international community is becoming increasingly aware of the need to have a new mindset toward growth and development, Japan, too, is making a move in a new direction. The government is now in the process of revising its ODA Charter, originally introduced in 1992 and revised in 2003. This second revision is intended to reflect the emerging goals and targets for sustainable development for the post-2015 era, as well as the changing roles of ODA. The new charter, which will likely be called the "Development Cooperation Charter," declares the necessity of poverty reduction through "Quality Growth," and says that "Quality Growth" will only be achieved when it is "inclusive," "resilient," and "environmentally sustainable."

2. JICA's views on the qualities of growth and its business models for achieving them

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This view of the desired qualities of growth happens to coincide with that of JICA. In fact, though not using the exact term "Quality Growth" or the "quality of growth," JICA has been making great efforts to contribute to this cause. I would like to introduce to you some examples that, albeit retrospectively, can be said to have contributed to achieving "Quality Growth".

First, one of the principal aid philosophies of JICA's operation is "capacity development," and it is closely related to inclusive growth or development. Capacity development refers to the ongoing process of enhancing the problem-solving abilities of developing countries by taking into account all the factors at the individual, organizational, and societal levels.

Guided by this concept, JICA has been implementing a huge number of technical cooperation projects and human resource development programs. In other cases, we have also helped our partner countries to develop industries in such a way that jobs are created not only in urban but also in rural areas.

For example, with support from Japan, Brazil succeeded in transforming the "Cerrado" area, once believed to be futile, unusable lands, to one of the world's largest agricultural centers. The capacity development concept attaches great importance to proactive and endogenous effort (or ownership) on the part of the developing countries. Thus the CD concept can be closely related to inclusive development, in that it encourages indigenous effort and participation of all the society's members toward development, and the equitable sharing of the fruits of development.

Second, JICA has been playing a leading role in enhancing "resilience" in developing countries. While the concept of "resilience" can be applied to a wide range of development agendas, today let me focus on disaster risk reduction, or DRR, to illustrate how JICA has been tackling the resilience issue. This is based on Japan's own experience in living on an archipelago that is highly prone to seismic activity and extreme weather. We work with developing countries to improve their DRR capability through policy and institutional reforms, infrastructure development, and human resource and appropriate technology development.

In Bangladesh, for example, our cooperation has helped the country to construct and rehabilitate multiple-purpose cyclone shelters and to establish a community-based evacuation system, resulting in a sharply reduction in the number of deaths caused by cyclones. Our activities range from the development of the most scientifically sophisticated technologies, to the mobilization of inexpensive, locally available resources and materials for disaster prevention.

Third, JICA has strived to mainstream and expand Japan's operations in the field of environmental management in line with the government's various policies on climate change since the Kyoto Initiative was launched at COP3 in 1997. JICA's activities for the promotion of sustainable development have included, for example, projects for the promotion of energy-saving technologies, low-carbon urban planning, development of renewable energy, forest preservation, and many other activities.

Come to think of it, these necessary qualities of growth – inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability – all have a lot to do with a concept that Japan has been advocating for a long time: human security.

One core element of the human security concept is that it looks at the people or individuals, and as such, it demands that no one be left behind in development. Thus, realizing inclusive growth can be seen as a way to achieving human security. Another core element in human security is its emphasis on the need for the people to face the downside risks, and as such it demands that people be empowered and prepared for unforeseen shocks.

Thus resilient growth and environmentally sustainable growth are, again, ways to achieve human security.

3. What I expect from this event, and how I am determined to lead my agency for our shared goal of achieving quality growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This new book, gathering knowledge of AFD, IDS, and JICA, carries important suggestions on a 21st century definition of "quality of growth" and the effective measures for promoting growth, securing "inclusiveness", "resilience" and "environmental sustainability."

I believe that today's seminar will provide us with an opportunity to think deeply about this new concept, and how we are going to integrate it with our public policy and development assistance operations.

As JICA's President, I am honored to be able to be part of such a meaningful event, held at the beginning of a special year. That is we are to agree on the post-2015 sustainable development goals in New York in September, and the future framework on climate change here in Paris in December.

Thank you very much.


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