|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Malawi Showing World That Millennium Goals Remain within Reach,
Says Secretary-General in Address to National Parliament
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address to the Parliament of Malawi, in Lilongwe on 29 May:
Thank you for your warm welcome. And thank you for the honour of being the first guest to speak in this magnificent new Parliament, which was opened just a few days ago. I would like to congratulate you most sincerely for this most magnificent Parliament building. This is a fitting monument to modern democracy, representing the will of the people. This roof over us will make a great contribution to fuller democracy and the Government of this great country that is Malawi. The United Nations consists of 192 Member States. Now I understand that you have 193 members — that is one more than us.
It speaks of a nation on the move, looking to the future. You will achieve great things here, we can be sure.
And I am pleased to see so many women parliamentarians in the audience. It is often said that women are the backbone of any society. As you know, the backbone starts at the head, Madame [Vice-] President [Joyce Banda]. You can be proud of all you have accomplished since the last elections. Nearly twice as many women as before. Will it double again, next time Malawi votes?
I am excited to be in Malawi to see first hand what everyone in the development community has been talking about for so long now. In a few short years Malawi has gone from famine to feast, from food deficit to surplus, from importer to exporter. Some may call this a miracle. But there is nothing miraculous about it.
What we see in Malawi — and what we are beginning to see elsewhere in Africa — is the result of one simple truth: that is, where we try, we succeed. When we don’t try, we fail. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the message I will take to the G-20 Summit in Canada, together with President [Bingu Wa] Mutharika, and state it in harmony. I will deliver the same message to the Millennium Development Goals Summit in September in New York.
It is a message of success. We can achieve the Millennium Development Goals. We know what to do. We know how to do it. We can succeed.
As I see it, success is a matter, first of all, of commitment. The Millennium Development Goals are above all a commitment, a promise made by world leaders to the world’s most vulnerable people. We do not need new pledges. Developed countries have only to deliver what they have promised in Gleneagles, at summit meetings of the G-8 and G-20 and at the United Nations.
There are far too many promises, too often not fully delivered. The money involved is modest. Official development assistance (ODA) currently stands around $120 billion a year. Fulfilling the 0.7 per cent ODA target would take approximately $350 billion a year. If pledges already made are fulfilled, the money is there. It just needs to be better used.
In addition to more funding, there must also be more room for free trade. It is time to reach a deal in the current round of trade talks. The World Trade Organisation has promised more equitable trade — yet another promise, yet another commitment to the world’s poor. Africa must be able to export its way to prosperity. Africa’s products should not be priced out of markets by heavy import taxes. African farmers should be able to fairly compete without running up against unfair agricultural subsidies in the developed world.
This is my second element for success: we need to unleash Africa’s own potential. At the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa last January, President Mutharika had this to say: “Africa is not a poor continent,” he said, “but the people of Africa are poor.” Too many people, particularly people who do not live here, see Africa as a continent of famine, poverty and strife. This simplistic picture overlooks important developments. In fact, Africa can and will surprise us. I know, just as you know, that Africa is rich — rich in resources, rich in human potential.
Malawi is showing just how powerful a force that is. Malawi is keeping the promise. It is showing the world that the Millennium Goals are within reach. Your programme to boost small farmers is one example. You have made great strides in reducing child mortality.
So have Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger and many other countries on the African continent. Across Africa, progress is being made against disease — malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. I am particularly grateful for Malawi’s commitment to the fight against AIDS, and for the replenishment of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The Global Fund supports over 70 per cent of the 250,000 patients who started antiretroviral drugs in Malawi. And on malaria, through the work of my Special Envoy and the partners in the Roll Back Malaria partnership, we are now on track to achieve universal coverage throughout sub-Saharan Africa by the end of this year — and zero deaths from malaria by 2015.
I sometimes say that this is Africa’s moment. Africa is poised to capitalize on its potential, its amazing human and material wealth. One billion people, half of whom are under the age of 25, 90 per cent of the world’s cobalt, 64 per cent of the world’s manganese, 50 per cent of the world’s gold, 40 per cent of the world’s hydroelectric potential.
Africa’s people need neither pity nor charity. They need only the tools to create jobs and generate incomes. A level playing field when it comes to global trade — plus targeted development assistance — will go a long way towards bringing a new dawn to the continent.
This brings me to my third element for success: we need to do development differently. We should view the Millennium Development Goals as a comprehensive fight against poverty, hunger and disease. We need to address all the Goals in a coordinated manner, not make the mistake of trying to pick and choose.
We should focus on empowering countries to scale up investments in agriculture, education, health and infrastructure. At September’s MDG Summit, I will request Governments to come up with a practical and results-oriented action plan, with concrete steps and timelines. Africa needs true partnership, a partnership where donors listen to recipients and tailor their assistance to Africa’s needs.
All our goals can be achieved using existing tools and technologies. For example, most of the world’s poor are small farmers and their families. By targeting them, we can dramatically reduce extreme poverty and food insecurity, as well as create work for the continent’s young people.
Since last year's G-8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, there is new political and financial commitment for agriculture and food security. We need similar commitment for a global Joint Action Plan on women’s and children’s health. This is an absolutely essential investment. Women’s and children’s health is a keystone for any stable and productive society. We need to look beyond simply controlling epidemic diseases and focus on fully functional and accessible health systems.
Maternal health is the Millennium Development Goal where we have lagged furthest behind. Yet, if we can succeed here, we will touch off a virtuous ripple effect through all the Goals. Recent indicators show some progress. Now is the time to consolidate our efforts. Now is the time to step up the momentum - to push, and push hard and harder.
We need to combine the efforts of donors and recipients with private sector and civil society initiatives. By creating these new partnerships, there is no reason why we cannot achieve the same success on maternal and child health — or on HIV/AIDS — as we are seeing with malaria. Our efforts on each will reinforce each other. I am grateful the G-8 Summit has placed this issue front and centre on its agenda, in support of our ongoing global efforts.
The G-8 must also support green growth, so that Africa can leapfrog from an era of energy poverty to energy abundance. We know that climate change is a threat to development, a threat to stability and a particular threat to Africa. Africa needs help in reducing its vulnerability.
Last year’s Copenhagen Climate Conference marked a significant step forward in a number of areas: a goal of limiting global temperature rise to within 2° C by 2050; mitigation actions by all countries; progress on addressing deforestation and forest degradation; and funding for developing countries for adaptation and mitigation.
My High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing is working to mobilize new and innovative public and private funding to reach our annual $100 billion target by 2020. This funding will support mitigation and adaptation strategies in developing countries. It will help countries like Malawi to reach the Millennium Goals.
I have spoken about the developed world’s responsibilities in keeping the promise. Africa, too, has a promise to keep. This is my fourth element for success.
In January, President Mutharika pledged the African Union’s commitment to peace and security, democracy and good governance. I cannot emphasize this enough. Sustainable development can only be built on the firm bedrock of good governance. Over recent years, Africa has moved steadily from a principle of “non-interference” in one another’s affairs towards a new and more modern principle of “non-indifference”.
We cannot allow the will of the people to be thwarted by electoral fraud. We cannot accept unconstitutional changes of Government. We cannot countenance manipulations of the law to preserve the privileges of those in power.
In any democracy, power ultimately resides with the people. That means we cannot turn a blind eye to corruption, nepotism and tyranny.
Nor can we stay quiet when people are denied fundamental rights — whatever their race or faith or age or gender or sexual orientation. It is unfortunate that laws that criminalize people on the basis of their sexual orientation exist in some countries. They should be reformed. In this regard, I am delighted to learn that President Mutharika has just decided to pardon the two young men convicted and sentenced to 14 years of prison. This was a very courageous decision by President Mutharika. I highly applaud the President’s leadership.
Distinguished members of the Parliament, I am confident that you will take appropriate steps to update laws discriminating based on sexual orientation, in line with international standards. For, make no mistake, your achievements are an inspiration. That is why I am here.
Tomorrow, I will visit the Millennium Village at Mwandama with Professor Jeffrey Sachs, my Special Adviser on the Millennium Development Goals. I will meet teachers and schoolchildren. I will learn about school feeding programmes and Malawi’s outreach and training programme for primary care. I will see how Mwandama’s farmers have diversified production and increased crop yields by more than four times. I will see how new roads, improved water supplies and higher rates of school enrolment are invigorating society — not just in Mwandama, but in many other parts of the country. I will take these lessons away with me — to Canada and to New York — United Nations — in September.
There are so many examples of how we can achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Millennium Villages throughout Africa are showcasing the impact of smart, targeted development policy. We are seeing how effective an integrated strategy for health care, education, agriculture and small business can be. We are seeing how to make the most of new technologies. And we are seeing how empowering women can empower whole societies.
The bottom line is clear: we can do this. You are helping show the way. What do we need to succeed? The right policies. Delivery on promises. Adequate investment and international support. And above all, leadership — leadership by you and leadership by the President. Yes, the challenges are immense. But they can and will be overcome.
Thank you for inviting me today. It is an extraordinary honour. It has been a pleasure to be here with you today and an important part of my visit to Malawi. Please be assured: I am looking forward to telling the world the news from Malawi.
If other countries do all that you are doing, we can — and we will — achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
* *** *For information media • not an official record