KOICA Eyes Sharp Rise in 'Green' ODA

The Korea International Cooperation Agency plans to significantly increase the portion of its official development assistance that is allotted to sustainable development initiatives.

The South Korean aid agency is providing more support to projects that promote environment-friendly growth through less energy use as well as improved water resource, forestry and waste management, KOICA President Park Dae-won said in a Jan. 19 interview with The Korea Times.

KOICA seeks to spend 30 percent of its entire development assistance budget for green projects by 2020, up from 11 percent in 2007, The Korea Times reports.

Park also pledged to increase awareness on volunteerism in the Asian nation.

“We had received aid and grants from foreign nations for five decades in the wake of the Korean War (1950-53). We have lots of experts who know how to wisely use foreign assistance,” he said. “But there are few who can help us design our aid packages for the nations that are anxious to know the secret of how we came to rise as a donor. We are facing a shortage of aid professionals.”

To help address the lack of aid workers, the agency has launched a two-year overseas volunteer program aimed at training aspiring development professionals. But former KOICA volunteers have raised concern over the stereotyping of overseas volunteers.

“Some employers believe that college graduates applied for overseas volunteer opportunities because they are unemployed and have no other choice but to go for the unpaid job in foreign nations. I think this is insult to KOICA volunteers like me,” a former KOICA volunteer has told The Korea Times on condition of anonymity.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.