19 May 2009
Secretary-General
SG/SM/12257
DEV/2739

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

WITH MANY INNOVATIVE FINANCING SCHEMES ON TABLE, I-8 MEETING’S TASK IS TO TAG MOST


USEFUL, REALISTIC, THEN DEVELOP THEM INTO CONCRETE PLANS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the I-8 (innovative eight) meeting on innovative financing for development, in Geneva today:


I am delighted to open this event.


The eight innovative financing mechanisms for development represented here provide an excellent platform for generating new ideas.  They show the potential for finding resources over and above what is available from official aid and the market.


This is timely, important work.


As you may know, I have a close personal interest in this issue.  Philippe Douste-Blazy and I have been promoting innovative financing since we were both foreign ministers.


I am glad there been such progress.


I want to highlight in particular the work of the Leading Group on Solidarity Levies.  Launched in March 2006, this pilot group established the first international framework for practical action.  It now encompasses 55 member countries, 3 observer countries, and a number of major international organizations.  It has helped to identify and initiate a number of effective mechanisms, particularly in the field of health.


We have now reached the point where we can start to analyse and synthesize the experience of our pilot projects and talk about the next steps.  That is the focus of today’s meeting.


The economic crisis makes innovative financing even more important.


Traditional forms of financing for development are under threat.  Economies are contracting.  Official development assistance (ODA) faces increased budgetary pressure.  Commodity prices, private investment and remittances are down.


Innovative financing must help to bridge the gap between what is available and what we need to reach the Millennium Development Goals.


The economic crisis makes that job even harder.  According to the World Bank, 45 million more people will fall into extreme poverty in 2009.  Four hundred thousand children will die as a result.  This comes on top of the food and energy crises, which pushed more than 130 million people into poverty in 2008.  This year we expect the number of people living in urban slums to triple.  Half the world’s population will remain below the poverty line of $2 a day.


We urgently need to strengthen and scale up existing innovative mechanisms, and explore new ones.  This meeting will create a regular network of consultation, coordination and mutual reinforcement among innovative financing efforts worldwide.  The network will be supported by a coordinating mechanism, facilitated by Mr. Douste-Blazy, my Special Adviser on Innovative Financing.


The core of this effort is the I-8 group, consisting of the eight innovative finance mechanisms represented here, along with associated international organizations and civil society representatives.


I hope that by coordinating an I-8 group, as was done for the H-8 for health, we will learn faster from each other’s experiences and stimulate best practices across institutions and initiatives.


This is critical to ensure that future initiatives -- whether brand new ideas or the extension of current initiatives -- can be implemented quickly and successfully.


I expect to meet regularly with you to receive suggestions for future United Nations cooperation.  This first meeting should agree on a common framework for sharing information and exchanging lessons.


We also need a joint message on the consequences of the economic and financial crisis for the developing world, and on how innovative financing can help overcome the challenges the crisis poses.


The group should also discuss the potential for extending these mechanisms, in close coordination with other initiatives.  This should include coordinating how funds are channelled.


We must also further explore the potential of innovative approaches to spending for development.


Above all, I urge you to continue promoting new ideas.  You have the explicit encouragement of the 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development.  And you have my personal commitment.


There are many innovative financing proposals to consider.  They differ markedly in their feasibility and the amount of political support they can gather.  Your task is to identify the most useful and realistic, and then develop them into concrete initiatives.


I wish you every success in your deliberations.


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For information media • not an official record