Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


CGD Podcast


Owen Barder

I recently interviewed Owen Barder, CGD senior fellow and director for Europe, shortly after his return from the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. Did the December forum, with some 3,000 participants from around the world, matter to development?

We begin our interview by discussing the city of Busan itself, and South Korea’s dramatic transformation from aid recipient to donor. Busan is now a bustling city and the 5th largest port in the world. We then consider four conference outcomes that Owen identified in a blog post soon after the conference: increased participation by emerging donors; a new deal for fragile states; significant progress on transparency, including a U.S. decision to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI); and significant changes in the international governance of the aid system.

I end the Wonkcast with questioning the importance of aid. Are things like trade, migration, and climate policy not more important to the lives of poor people? Owen argues that aid can be a catalyst for broader changes in society and the economy that can open the way for an economic take-off. Have your doubts? Me, too. But listen to the Wonkcast and perhaps you will be persuaded!

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to get new episodes delivered straight to your computer every week. My thanks to Alexandra Gordon for her production assistance on the Wonkcast recording and for assistance in drafting this blog post.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.