|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
STRONG POLITICAL LEADERSHIP NEEDED TO CLOSE ‘IMPLEMENTATION GAP’ IN GLOBAL
ANTI-POVERTY GOALS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL IN SANTIAGO REMARKS
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the high-level panel on “the Global Partnership For Development” in Santiago, Chile, 8 November:
Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile,
José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, President of the Government of Spain,
José Luis Machinea, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC),
I am deeply honoured to participate in this event with Presidents Bachelet and Rodriguez Zapatero, and together with all of you. It’s a great honour and I thank you very much for your kind hospitality and warm welcome. This is my first time in this United Nations house. I was welcomed by our colleagues, and in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I would also like to welcome you all to this United Nations house.
I have listened with great interest and great admiration to the eloquent presentations made by these two Presidents just now. They are very inspirational. Your [commitment] to address all these challenges is very fortunate and correct, and I am particularly grateful for your strong support of the United Nations activities, and I count on your strong support in the years to come.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have come together today to explore ways towards a better world for all. This is a vast and ambitious objective. But it is not a theoretical exercise. It is about our global undertaking to lift millions of individual women, men and children from the very real and debilitating poverty they face each day and every day.
It is about taking concrete and practical steps to fight disease and oppression. To replace inequality with opportunity. To improve the lives of people everywhere around the world. And to advance sustainable development.
Seven years ago, world leaders [made] an inspirational and visionary decision, adopting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They agreed to use the [first] 15 years of this new century to make decisive progress on each one of these fronts. They pledged a monumental struggle for lasting development, improved health and education, gender equality and environmental sustainability. They gave us a clear, time-bound blueprint in the form of the Millennium Development Goals. [We’re] just past the midpoint this year to reach the Goals by 2015. The world’s scorecard is mixed.
There are many countries not on board. If we go to Africa, particularly in the sub-Saharan region, there is not a single country in the sub-Saharan [region] that are on board. Millions of children die every year before they reach their fifth birthday. And malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases are taking their worst toll on countries that can least afford it.
And in many cities in developing countries, more than half the population lives in slums, with little or no access to basic services.
When I visited Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, I was so struck and I was so humbled by what I saw at that time.
I think that, clearly, we are facing an emergency, and in this emergency situation we need an emergency response, collective and emergency actions. This action and vision has been provided by the MDGs, [adopted] by our respected leaders.
The 2015 target is a goalpost that can never be moved. The clock is ticking louder and louder every day. To reach the Goals on time, we have to take concerted action now.
We must redouble our efforts and form a true partnership for development, as called for in the eighth Millennium Development Goal. Implementing it in full is a prerequisite for achieving the other seven Goals.
In this task, we must recommit to the guiding principles of the Monterrey Consensus, agreed upon five years ago at the International Conference on Financing for Development. I was there, even though I was not the Secretary-General at the time; I was representing Korea.
Developing countries have the responsibility of continuing to create a favourable environment for long-term and equitable economic growth. And they must take full ownership of their development process.
For their part, developed countries must do more to keep their promises to build a global partnership for development. This means taking action on financing for development, on trade and on technology transfers.
Equally essential is the reform of global trade policy. We must ensure an early conclusion of the Doha Round of trade talks, with a meaningful development package. We must operationalize “aid for trade”. And we must make full use of this opportunity provided by the UNCTAD-XII Conference in Accra in 2008 to advance the global trade and development agenda.
We must also be actively engaged in confronting the global challenge of climate change, which is a serious threat to development everywhere. Galvanizing international action on global warming is one of my main priorities as Secretary-General. I will continue to do all I can to build momentum so that we can see concrete results at next month’s meeting in Bali.
On these and other fronts, we must pay careful attention to countries with special needs, including countries in conflict and those recovering from conflict. We must focus on places that are especially vulnerable to natural disasters, such as small island developing countries and the least-developed countries. And we must address the specific challenges facing Africa, the one region that is not on track to meeting the Goals on time.
Latin America and the Caribbean as a region is set to meet the poverty-reduction target by 2015, though several countries lag behind. According to new estimates from the UN’s ECLAC, the proportion of the region’s population living in extreme poverty has shrunk from 19 per cent in the late 1990s to 13.5 per cent last year.
In spite of this advance, poverty and hunger continue to pose significant challenges. Latin American and the Caribbean still have almost 200 million people living in poverty; 70 million of them live in extreme poverty, 50 million of whom are undernourished. These figures are too high.
At the same time, the region’s share of official development assistance (ODA) has declined. This decline is probably due to the fact that the Latin America and Caribbean countries comprise mostly middle-income countries.
No doubt the least developed countries deserve the highest priority when it comes to ODA flows. But sustained international support for the development efforts of middle-income countries is also necessary. Your countries still face formidable challenges in the shape of persistent poverty and high inequality levels. And in today’s globalized economy, you must be able to cope with vulnerability to external factors, as well.
In this regard, I commend Spain for doubling its ODA since 2004, and for its commitment to reaching the ODA target of 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010; this is five years before the target. Congratulations in advance. Even during my transition period, I was so impressed and grateful when President Zapatero came to the United Nations and [committed], together with the [Administrator] of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), [to] this official development assistance target. Spain continues to support the development efforts of middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America.
On this point, I would like to emphasize what is most important at this time. What I would like to urge as Secretary-General of the United Nations is to have strong political will and strong political leadership, where we address climate change issues and where we address the MDGs. We need strong political will. I think we have the resources. We have the technology. We have all the theories. What we lack [the] most is political will.
When leaders met in summit meetings in 2000 and 2005, there was much generated excitement among [them]. If I may say it jokingly: when they were flying out of JFK in New York, the leaders all [became] immersed in their domestic agendas, domestic challenges. When they arrived at their respective capitals, they almost forgot or their commitment had waned.
This is why I felt very sorry, and that is why I convened a high-level meeting on 24September, inviting all the leaders of the world to generate very strong political will and commitment, and I was very much encouraged by the demonstration of political will by the leaders. More than 80 leaders participated; 170 countries participated and expressed their strong commitment to address global warming issues.
Tomorrow, I am heading to Antarctica with the strong support and logistical support of President Bachelet, and I am very much grateful. I’m going to make this trip to Antarctica and Punta Arenas, and my visit to the Amazon region an opportunity to raise alarm bells to the world’s leaders that we must address this issue with a concerted effort. We need strong political will.
International cooperation with middle-income countries is needed to help safeguard their past development gains, particularly in view of the high volatility of their economic growth. I note again that this is a serious issue even among middle-income countries in Latin America. Such cooperation also bolsters the capacity of these countries to serve as hubs for development within their respective regions. And it strengthens their efforts to contribute to international public goods -- like protecting our global environment, helping to ensure a stable global economy, and supporting our peacekeeping operations in trouble spots around the world.
By the same token, middle-income countries should play a larger part in South-South cooperation, both amongst themselves and with lower-income countries. A good example is the prominent role played by Chile, under the leadership of President Bachelet, which -- alongside Brazil, France and Spain and with the support of the United Nations -- sponsored the Action against Hunger and Poverty initiative.
The international community, for its part, must try to make our multilateral development programmes more effective and coherent, to better integrate our efforts in health, education, agriculture and infrastructure, so as to deliver better results.
There can be no more important mission for the United Nations than reducing poverty and helping the people of the poorest countries share in the world’s prosperity.
That is partly why I have pushed so hard for UN reform -- to make the UN faster, more effective and more results-oriented. To make it more transparent, accountable, and efficient. To make a better UN that delivers on our most critical missions -- including development. If the world has faith that we use our resources effectively and wisely, they will be encouraged to provide increased resources for development.
After all, sustainable development is not only vital to building better, healthier and decent lives for millions of people around the world. It is also essential to global peace and security.
We have come a long way in advancing our shared development agenda. All stakeholders and especially the developing countries can be proud of what has been achieved so far. Still, many disparities exist, among regions and among nations. And an implementation gap remains, between promises and delivery.
Let us demonstrate the political will to close these gaps and end poverty once and for all. Let us pledge to step up our efforts to build support for the MDGs. And let us create a better, more peaceful and more prosperous world for all.
* *** *For information media • not an official record