|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2012 Substantive Session
19th & 20th Meetings (AM & PM)
Dramatic Changes in Global Landscape Demand Deeper Ties among Developing
Countries, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Development Cooperation Forum
Economic and Social Council Forum Concludes Third Session
With Interactive Debates, Round Tables; Council Also Wraps up General Debate
The Economic and Social Council today closed its third Development Cooperation Forum as a range of speakers described a “new world” in which non-traditional partners and innovative development arrangements were becoming increasingly prominent.
A clear message had emerged from the Forum’s discussions, said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson: “the context for global development has changed dramatically”. Shocks in food prices, natural disasters and a global financial crisis had swept across the world in rapid succession, he said in his first statement since officially taking up his post four days ago. Amid such striking events, there remained an urgent need to adapt to the “evolving landscape” of development.
“A real economic realignment is taking place in this world,” he continued. In particular, developing countries had deeper and stronger economic exchanges among themselves, and many continued to experience economic growth. The international community must now tackle the goal of enhancing global economic governance so that it was more inclusive and effective. “Let us be clear: the development challenges facing us will remain tough to meet for some time,” he said. Strong, far-reaching efforts were needed, in particular through a robust and effective Development Cooperation Forum.
“The major comparative advantage of this Forum is the platform it provides for all of us — Governments, civil society, private sector, parliamentarians and decentralized actors,” said Miloš Koterec, President of the Economic and Social Council, in his closing remarks. Summarizing the discussions over course of the two-day session, he said that many participants had issued strong calls for action to deliver on the global partnership for development, including market access, trade facilitation and technology transfer.
Many had agreed that a primary goal of development cooperation should be to eliminate long-term aid dependence. There was also broad consensus that mutual accountability and transparency were crucial to enhancing development results at the national level, he said.
Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary for Social Affairs, stressed the importance of the Forum — and the underlying commitment of Member States — in leading the way forward in development cooperation. This year’s discussions had been particularly relevant, he said, coming as they did at the heels of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which had closed in Brazil just weeks ago. The Forum should continue to tackle international policy dialogue that “does not shy away from sensitive issues”, he said, adding that the Forum must remain a venue for open and frank discussion among all relevant actors.
The day’s programme also featured four interactive debates and two round tables on topics ranging from South-South and triangular cooperation to the evolving role of philanthropic organizations in development financing. Describing the changing landscape of development cooperation, the moderator of one debate, Deborah Brautigam, a Professor at Johns Hopkins University, said that partners from the global South were now deeply involved in the provision of development financing. South-South cooperation was thought to be faster than other types of cooperation, and Southern partners were considered more respectful of State sovereignty than North partners, she said.
South-South cooperation was increasing in scope and complexity, added Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia, who took part in the same debate. Like many others throughout the day, he stressed that, while it was gaining prominence, South-South cooperation complemented — but did not replace — existing forms of development partnership. Miles Sampa, a Minister from Zambia and another panellist, agreed. He described his country’s experience as a “classic example of a South-South cooperation success story”. Zambia’s steady growth rate of 6.7 per cent annually was due in large part to its South-South — and, in particular, its triangular — development relationships, he stressed.
Other types of development cooperation would gain prominence in the coming years, many speakers said, pointing to cooperation that was aimed specifically at sustainable development. In that regard, Mr. Sha — acting as a panellist in another interactive session — said that the Rio+20 outcome document had described the difficulties that developing countries would face in implementing sustainable development and transitioning to a “green economy”. Moreover, those countries had “three mountains on their shoulders”; they needed to tackle the three pillars of sustainable development — social, economic and environmental — at the same time. In that vein, he said that official development assistance (ODA) remained a critical resource.
Rounding out the day’s discussions were panels that tackled the impacts of private philanthropy efforts, as well as the increasingly important role of decentralized development actors — namely, local and territorial governments. Agreeing with other speakers that local governments were vital leaders with their fingers on the pulse of the people, Mónica Páez of the Technical Secretariat for International Cooperation of Ecuador said that it was in local territories where development truly took place. Today, more than ever, the importance of new players — who could provide innovative responses to common development problems — was clear. “There is no single way of seeing development”, she said, adding: “It is multidimensional.”
The Forum also continued its general debate this afternoon. S peaking during that segment was the Under-Secretary for International Supra-regional Organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador.
The representatives of Cyprus (on behalf of the European Union), Croatia, Ireland, Brazil, Gabon, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Bahamas, Germany, United States, France, Sri Lanka, Bolivia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan, Israel and Dominican Republic also spoke.
Also addressing the Council was the Permanent Observer for the Holy See.
A representative of the African Economic and Social Councils, on behalf of International Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions, also spoke.
Following those interventions, representatives of the World Food Programme (also on behalf of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) addressed the Council.
Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Agewell Foundation, International Association of Applied Psychology, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology/International Society of Doctors for the Environment, Congo Civil Society Development Forum, Legion of Goodwill, Organization de Entidades Mutuales, and Service/Research Institute for Family and Children.
The Economic and Social Council will reconvene on Monday, 9 July, at 9:30 a.m., to conclude its high-level segment and hold a panel discussion on “Accountability, transparency and sustainable development: turning challenges into opportunities”.
The Economic and Social Council continued its Third Development Cooperation Forum today, during which policymakers, civil society representatives, members of parliament, local authorities and foundations were expected to address the theme “The lessons learned from South-South and triangular cooperation”, and related issues where a common understanding could be advanced to spur country-level progress.
The day would feature two interactive debates on: “What can we learn from South-South cooperation?” and “Institutions for South-South cooperation: Emerging trends”. In addition, two round tables would be held under the theme of “Global development cooperation: The evolving role of private philanthropic organizations and decentralized cooperation”. In the afternoon, two interactive discussions would be held on, respectively, “Gearing global development cooperation towards sustainable development: Where do we go from Rio?” and “Forging ahead: Partnering for the future of development”. The Council was also expected to continue its general debate.
For those discussions, delegates had before them the Secretary-General’s report on regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields (document E/2012/15/Add.1 /Add.2), as well as the World Economic and Social Survey 2012: In Search of New Development Finance (document E/2012/50). The Secretary-General’s report on Trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2012/78) builds on discussions at high-level symposiums held in Mali in May 2011, in Luxembourg in October 2011, and in Australia in May 2012. It concludes, among other things, that many Millennium Development Goal 8 (global partnership for development) commitments remain unfulfilled, and that little progress had been made on achieving coherence between development cooperation and the non-aid policies of developed countries.
Also before the Council was a 9 March 2012 letter from the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations (document E/2012/11), transmitting the Outcome Document of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 29 November to 1 December 2011. A 21 June 2012 letter from the Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations (document E/2012/83), transmitted the report of the Development Cooperation Forum High-level Symposium held in Brisbane, Australia, on 14 and 15 May 2012 on the theme “Shaping a Sustainable Future — Partners in Development Cooperation”.
At its first meeting in 2008, the Council’s Development Cooperation Forum established itself as a principal platform for global dialogue and policy review on the effectiveness and coherence of international development cooperation. It has since also become a venue for independent analysis, high-level and balanced participation by key actors, and the clear representation of multi-stakeholder positions.
Interactive Debate I
The day’s first interactive discussion — “What can we learn from South-South cooperation?” — was moderated by Deborah Brautigam, Professor and Director of the International Development Programme, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C.
It featured: Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia; Nguyen The Phuong, Vice-Minister of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam; Miles Sampa, Deputy Minister of Finance and National Planning of Zambia; Petko Draganov, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); and Birama Sidibe, Vice-President for Operations of the Islamic Development Bank.
Describing a “new world of development cooperation” — in which partners from the South were deeply involved in the provision of development financing — Ms. BRAUTIGAM said little was actually known about how South-South cooperation worked. While it was time for an investigation into the benefits of that type of cooperation, some aspects were already understood: South-South cooperation was thought to be faster than other types of development cooperation, and Southern partners were considered more respectful of State sovereignty than North partners. But many questions remained, she said, and the Forum was well positioned today to explore those questions.
Speaking first among the panellists, Mr. SHIDE described South-South cooperation as an arrangement in which two or more developing countries engaged in the exchange of financing, as well as knowledge, experiences, and related assets. It was designed, among other things, to enhance those country’s integration and incorporation into the world economy, and was based on common experiences and solidarity. South-South cooperation was a good instrument to gain benefit from the global market, as well as build new partnerships and strengthen self-help initiatives in developing countries. It was also a means through which developing countries could expand production and diversify.
South-South cooperation was increasing in scope and complexity, he said, adding that it complemented already-existing cooperation between the global North and the South. In general, such cooperation increased the opportunities for countries to expand the market for their products, and enhanced their technology transfer. Ethiopia, for its part, was working with Turkey, China, India and other emerging countries. “[South-South cooperation] does not replace existing bilateral cooperation,” he added. Further, Ethiopia was increasingly engaged in Africa-wide and regional partnerships, and Gulf countries were increasingly investing in Ethiopia’s agricultural sector. The country’s trade was growing. “There is a lot to learn from this”, he said, in particular in the development of infrastructure and in drawing experienced companies to do the work.
Mr. PHUONG agreed that South-South cooperation was indeed a very effective form of partnership arrangement. It was the means of transfer of relevant and appropriate technologies, and it would save costs as the knowledge of experts from other developing countries had “multiplying effects”. Such cooperation also promoted partnerships in other areas, such as trade. Viet Nam had been implementing South-South cooperation for some 40 years, he said. For example, it worked closely with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, providing technical assistance, human resource training and other specific services. Viet Nam also cooperated closely with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, as well as with countries in Africa and Latin America.
There were several important issues to address, he continued. Among those, there was a need to identify areas with competitive advantages. Countries should identify key areas which would help to institute a demand-driven approach, such as education, health care and agriculture. In addition to traditional areas, new emerging spheres for cooperation should be considered, such as climate change, technology industries and green growth. Viet Nam hoped to continue its South-South and triangular cooperation with an eye towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in all countries. Finally, he stressed that North-South cooperation remained critical in such vital areas as poverty eradication, climate change, energy security and sustainable development.
Mr. SAMPA said that his country, Zambia, was a classic example of a South-South cooperation success story. For such cooperation to succeed, intercontinental partnerships were not necessary — successful models had been adopted within Africa itself. He described, in that vein, a specific partnership between Zambia and Benin; in another case, Zambia had partnered with Malaysia, with Malaysian companies coming to Zambia to establish cell phone production technologies. The project had been facilitated by Japan, he said, adding, “it wasn’t done just between two South-South countries, but along with a traditional donor”.
Thanks to such initiatives, Zambia’s growth rate was steady at about 6-7 per cent annually. It focused largely on creating a facilitating environment for South-South and triangular cooperation, namely, “leaving our doors open” to encourage investors from a wide range of countries to enter.
Mr. DRAGANOV said that it was important to trace the trends of South-South cooperation through South-South trade, of which it was a driving force. Trade among and between countries of the global South was growing 50 per cent faster than North-South trade, and it was driving the achievement of the Millennium Goals. However, such trade should always be in the best interest of the countries involved. There were interesting examples of South-South cooperation in trade, including locally based transnational corporations, which were creating new South-South trading opportunities. In that case, he said, UNCTAD was looking at the equitable distribution of gains. Monetary and financial cooperation was also interesting, with examples ranging from simple to complex payment arrangements. Such financial cooperation could provide strong support for national and regional development strategies, he said.
Regarding developmental assistance, he said that, in 2009, South-South development financing made up about 10 per cent of overall development funds, and it had gained prominence since then, following the global economic crisis. Despite those strides and the increasing prominence, however, it was important to note that “South-South cooperation is still a work in progress”.
Mr. SIDIBE said that his organization, the Islamic Development Bank, had been promoting South-South cooperation for almost 40 years. All of its members were from the developing world, and all were both providers and recipients of financing. The Bank could, therefore, be viewed as an exclusive platform and a model for South-South cooperation. The promotion of economic cooperation between members had been one of the Bank’s strategic objectives, using mechanisms that included: financing capital goods promoting investment and production capacity; giving priority to those projects benefiting two or more countries in regular asset financing; extending lines of financing; and building capacity.
The Bank had recently launched a flagship programme known as the “reverse linkage initiative”, through which member States become the primary and direct agents of expertise and best practices to other countries, with the Bank playing a facilitating role. The Bank had earmarked 20 per cent of resources annually for financing those initiatives. Highlighting some examples from that programme, he cited one in which Malaysia and Sierra Leone were partnering in the palm oil industry in Sierra Leone. In another, Malaysia was helping to enhance public administration in Uganda. In yet another, Indonesia was helping to implement integrated water resource management in Nigeria. In total, the Bank was working to create a kind of “marketplace of knowledge and experience” for its members.
Also giving his perspective was ADRIEN AKOUETE, of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Africa, who wondered if South-South cooperation was reducing poverty or creating jobs in Africa, and said that he did not believe so. In order for such cooperation to have concrete results, it must avoid certain errors, such as the lack of transparency. In addition, for South-South cooperation to succeed, it could not be “ready made”, but must be in line with the priorities of the particular country. Periodic assessment and monitoring were also needed to see if the challenges of poverty and unemployment were truly being addressed. There remained an expanding gap between the wealthy and the poor on the African continent, he said. Meanwhile, countries didn’t have “friends”; they only had interests to defend.
He asked Mr. Shide, in particular, what the role of civil society was in Ethiopia, recalling a law that forbade non-governmental organizations from receiving subsidies from abroad.
During the ensuing dialogue, a number of representatives from the global South — including members of parliament from Zambia and Bangladesh — shared their countries’ experiences with South-South and triangular cooperation, with some citing specific examples of development partnerships. They also directed a number of questions to the panellists. Several donor countries also raised questions. The representative of Ireland wondered, as donors reviewed their development assistance policies, how much emphasis should they be putting on triangular cooperation? Who should lead that type of cooperation? he asked.
Other issues raised included the lack of conditions in South-South cooperation and the excessive fatigue associated with the traditional mechanisms of development, among others. Some speakers called for a special focus on least developed countries in the context of South-South cooperation.
Responding to the representative of Ireland with regard to the leadership of South-South cooperation, Mr. SHIDE said that such cooperation should follow national priorities. In Ethiopia, therefore, the choice of partners was, therefore, fully led by the Government of the country itself. Civil society and the private sector also had integral roles to play in that regard.
Mr. SAMPA agreed that the host nation should take the lead, creating an enabling environment for cooperation programmes. “It has to be a win-win situation”, he said, referring to both investor countries and host countries, and stressing that benefits must exist for the investors. Meanwhile, Mr. SIDIBE added that it was important to build a knowledge base — in forums such as the Development Cooperation Forum itself — for countries to gain the experience with which to lead their own South-South cooperation programmes. With regard to the question about South-South cooperation’s role in reducing poverty, he cited several examples of situations in which that goal had been accomplished, stressing that they could be replicated.
Responding to a question of how comparative advantages could be identified, Mr. PHUONG stressed the large population and significant resources of his country. Large comparative advantages existed in the areas of education, health care and agricultural technology, he said.
Rounding out the discussion, Mr. DRAGANOV stressed that South-South cooperation enhanced productive capacity and diversification, thereby increasing trade. A longer-term investment in productive capacity should be a major focus going forward, he said.
Interactive Debate II
The second interactive debate, on “Institutions for South-South development cooperation: Emerging trends”, was also moderated by Ms. Brautigam. She was joined by panellists: Serdar Çam, President, Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA); Masato Watanabe, Vice-President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); and Martin Rivero, Executive Director, Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation.
Setting up dedicated development agencies has been a new trend in South-South cooperation. Panellists were asked to share their experience in institution-building, as well as foresee the potential implications of new institutions.
Ms. BRAUTIGAM said the question of trilateral and triangular cooperation was fascinating. There were traditional norms and rules set in Paris and other places for development cooperation. Although there were new actors, many countries deal with development cooperation out of their existing ministries. But today’s panellists were the heads of dedicated development agencies.
Mr. ÇAM said that as a development expert in Turkey, which had emerged as a donor country, he spent half of his time visiting development agencies of other countries to learn and exchange views, and the other half in the field trying to improve Turkey’s development activities. He had learned several key lessons. One of the most important things as a donor in development cooperation was to be sincere. Donors should understand the situation and focus on finding a solution. When Turkey launched aid to Somalia, he received a call from the Head of his Government instructing him to actually visit Somalia and produce a report.
Second, identifying risk areas was important, and third concerned the issue of visibility, he said. Most organizations were trying to be visible, but real needs existed in places they might not be able to reach. Spending on marketing to boost visibility in the field often failed to do the job. Fourth, it was important for donors not to have expectations about their own gains. Fifth, he said that many research reports and documents lacked details, with too much focus on macro-level activities, thus missing targets. It’s important to look at the trees, not just a forest. Sixth, finding the right partners was vital. Finally, it was essential to focus on one entrepreneur in a community, rather than trying to raise the income level of an entire village, because benefits could spill over from that one to many.
Mr. WATANABE described how bilateral development cooperation could develop into regional development cooperation. A water technology centre in Ethiopia was initially designed to enhance the local water supply and maintenance capacity, but now local Ethiopians were able to provide training and disseminate technology to neighbouring nations.
Japan’s experience with ASEAN would provide some food for thought, he said. JICA-ASEAN Regional Cooperation Meeting, an institutional framework established in 2002 for matching needs with resources, was originally created to formulate good-quality South-South cooperation. But that forum had evolved and now served as a venue to discuss common development challenges in the region. ASEAN countries took ownership, with JICA facilitating that, he said, adding that that type of development cooperation generated unexpected benefits, including recipient countries becoming provider nations, and were aligned with specific country needs and cost effective.
Mr. RIVERO discussed institutional arrangements at the national, regional and global levels from Uruguay’s perspectives. He said South-South cooperation was not a new phenomenon and there was hype around this, especially in the wake of the current economic crisis. Uruguay realized it had to adjust its national cooperation institutional arrangements in 2007 as global development cooperation was transforming fast. The country had created a centralized agency, the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation (AUCI), which would be the main interlocutor between the Government and cooperation partners in ensuring appropriation, alignment, coordination, results-oriented management and accountability.
At the regional level, the Ibero-American Program to Strengthen South-South Cooperation had been one of the most important platforms for national cooperation authorities to discuss concepts, methodologies, best practices and policies regarding such cooperation, he said. In the last five years, Latin American countries had made efforts to share experiences, collect data and developed a collective view on South-South cooperation.
He said that in 2010 and 2011, a common position paper was discussed and a relevant outcome document was agreed on by 19 countries. Latin American countries were increasingly playing a role as providers of South-South cooperation projects and initiatives to assist other developing countries, but they still required the support of traditional cooperation for their development needs. It was important that Latin American countries continued to receive this traditional cooperation. Global institutional arrangements for South-South cooperation needed to be strengthened.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Mexico said empirical evidence showed that South-South cooperation needed four things: resources; predictability; procedures for performance and transparency; and coordination. A delegate of Japan said his Government was committed to enhance triangular cooperation. Japan had such arrangements with 12 countries. There was no difference in the purpose of all types of development cooperation, but he stressed the importance of avoiding duplication.
Among the other speakers, a representative of Lebanon, said that, as his was a post-conflict country, it sought advice on ways to build capacity. The delegate of Argentina agreed with Mr. Rivero’s point about systemizing South-South cooperation and said the United Nations was the most legitimate venue to discuss this topic. The representative of Canada also acknowledged the role of South-South cooperation and invited participants to a side event his Government was co-hosting.
Mr. ÇAM reiterated the importance of solving problems one by one, warning against generating outcome documents, but no real action. Mr. WATANABE said an institutional arrangement was “not an end in itself”, but “a dynamic, continuous process”. Mr. RIVERO said capacity could be enhanced through regional cooperation. His country was able to do so through working together with other Latin American nations. Wrapping up the session, Ms. BRAUTIGAM said there were many anecdotes but little real evidence in South-South cooperation, stressing the need for more systematic learning. She challenged the Development Cooperation Forum to press ahead with its work in the area, including a discussion on the establishment of a global institution for development cooperation.
Round Table A
This afternoon, the Council held two parallel round tables, the first of which covered “private philanthropic organizations”. Moderated by Ron Bruder, Founder and Chair of the Board of Education for Employment, New York, the panel included: Iqbal Noor Ali, Senior Adviser, Aga Khan Development Network; Heather Grady, Vice-President of Foundation Initiatives, Rockefeller Foundation; and Klaus Leisinger, President and Managing Director, Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development.
Kicking off the discussion, Mr. BRUDER said in the private sector, companies considered the competition as the enemy, and focused intensely on how to gain market share. But in today’s society, it was essential for non-profits to work with each other cooperatively to achieve goals. “The needs are simply too great to go it alone,” he said. He asked panellists to explore how institutional frameworks could promote partnerships with all relevant actors.
Mr. LEISINGER said competing with integrity was the first and most important step. “I want to make clear it’s not compensation for wrong behaviour.” The Development Cooperation Forum offered a platform for frank conversations, an extremely valuable opportunity. Switzerland’s Committee for Development and Cooperation brought together all relevant players to forge partnerships with the Government. There must be consensus on the problem, the solution and the expectations for the actors involved in the discussion. It also was important to acknowledge that the State could do things that civil society could not do; that civil society had strengths not found in the private sector. And that the private sector had its own valuable contributions. If they all worked constructively, they could do more and achieve sustainable success, he said.
Responding to Mr. Bruder’s query on the impacts, achievements and challenges for private philanthropic giving, Mr. ALI said the Aga Khan Development Network was devoted to improving well-being. It had started with community-based efforts, and evolved to work with institutions to improve economic, social and cultural development. Its thematic interests were in health, education, rural development, environment and strengthening civil society — areas where long-term gains could be made. From there, a new way of thinking about solutions had evolved: a “multi-area input development strategy”, which brought inputs into the Network’s agencies and focused on working with others on regional development.
To Mr. Bruder’s question about successes and failures in the philanthropic area, Ms. GRADY said the Rockefeller Foundation encouraged philanthropy around the world, and bold, visionary leadership had been important in that regard. The Foundation had sought to establish itself in the field of global public health. It had launched “green revolution” agriculture projects and had been an early supporter of both the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) and Albert Einstein.
Other successes had been working with partners — in the public sector, civil society and the private sector — as well as looking at the root causes of poverty. As for the challenges, she said it was easy to become complacent — foundations did not have to report back to shareholders. Taking a “scattershot approach” was also tempting — measuring the impact of individual grants, rather than an entire portfolio.
As for the methods for building partnerships with local partners to garner local expertise, Mr. LEISINGER said it was essential to create local ownership and understanding. On the other hand, the “cultural identity” and local skills coming from grass roots were enormously important. One intervention with AIDS orphans had supported technological development, but without local understanding, it would have been impossible. “If you’re after impact, the attitude of partnership must be cultivated,” he said.
To a question about the kind of knowledge-sharing that took place within the Aga Khan Network, Mr. ALI said it tried to derive lessons from field projects so they could cross-fertilize others in different parts of the world. For example, strong monitoring and evaluation built into a programme in Pakistan had been adapted for others in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Coordination mechanisms also brought together heads of various agencies. Best practices were shared in a similar fashion. “There’s nothing like touching and feeling things,” he said. “We believe in going to the field to meet with the beneficiaries to understand what is working.”
Asked for her predictions on the evolution of private philanthropy, Ms. GRADY said it definitely was going to grow. In the BRIC economies ( Brazil, Russian Federation, India and China) and beyond, there were networks of foundations. “The opportunities are there and the money is being mobilized,” she said. In addition, foundations would start working in new ways. Big donors were becoming interested in the field of “impact investing” — for both financial and social or environmental impact. Programme-related investments would be another new area.
Further, philanthropy would work where there were gaps in traditional sector approaches. For example, in addressing climate change, official development assistance (ODA) going towards mitigation, and less was focused on adaptation. “We saw that as an opening”, she said. The Rockefeller Foundation was now leveraging efforts with Germany, France and others to solve problems. The challenge would be in aligning working methods. At one recent conference, philanthropists and development agencies were talking past each other. Bridging those gaps would be an important way forward.
When the floor was opened to participants, one speaker from civil society asked about foundations’ role in funding public goods and programmes.
In response, Ms. GRADY said it would be difficult for philanthropies to do so, as the costs involved would be great. Creating a forum for philanthropies to interact with Governments to help understand the size of the problem might be more realistic. Mr. ALI agreed, saying the Aga Khan Network would not take a 10 per cent or 50 per cent stake in any given sector.
Another participant asked whether any of the panellists supported programmes that connected gender with green initiatives, as women had a great multiplier effect in emerging markets. Responding, Ms. GRADY said the Rockefeller Foundation might be interested in that area. Generally, there were opportunities that had not yet been taken to better support gender and women’s leadership. Philanthropies should be pushed to support that area. Mr. LEISINGER said all income-generating projects were focused predominantly on women. Similarly, Mr. ALI said the Aga Khan Network had emphasized girls’ education since the 1880s.
To a question from Liberia’s delegate about the role of “aid for trade” in triangular cooperation, Mr. BRUDER said some countries in which his foundation operated had an intrinsic opportunity to export. In Egypt, for example, textiles produced for export were not what they should have been. A survey found that merchandising was poorly carried out in the industry, acting as a roadblock. Seizing that opportunity, Education for Employment had trained merchandisers, which in turn, expanded the marketplace. Mr. LEISINGER said the private sector could offer more than money — it could offer tools, human resource support and a different mindset.
Ms. GRADY added that it might be interesting for Liberia to reach out to the Council on Foundations or the European Foundations Centre to inquire if there were philanthropies specializing in the area of trade.
To a final query on programmes that would enhance the employability of young people, Mr. BRUDER said his organization focused exclusively on that issue, especially in the Middle East. It worked with employers to find jobs for and train young people. It aimed for an 85 per cent success rate in placing young people in jobs.
Round Table B
The second of the morning’s round tables was on “Decentralized development cooperation”. It was moderated by Cecile Molinier, Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Geneva Office, and featured five panellists: Carles Llorens Vila, Director-General for International Cooperation of the Government of Catalonia, Spain, and representative of FOGAR; Jürgen Nimptsch, Lord Mayor of Bonn, Germany; Anthony Egyir Aikins, Mayor of Cape Coast, Ghana; Patricia Ayala, Intendente of the Uruguayan Department of Artigas, Uruguay; Barry Vrbanovich, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Co-Chair of the Decentralized Cooperation Committee of United Cities and Local Governments. Mónica Páez, Technical Coordinator, Technical Secretariat for International Cooperation (SETEC) of Ecuador, also spoke.
Mr. LLORENS VILA said that, among other benefits, decentralized development cooperation worked closely with civil society organizations. Such cooperation was well placed to promote education, reinforce pro-development public opinion and combat poverty. It could contribute to a strengthened local and regional government, he said, advocating for those governments to be better recognized in decision-making structures. That involvement was not only a matter of legitimacy and representation, he added, it was also a contribution to effective development.
Mr. NIMPTSCH said that his city had six partnerships with six other cities, including Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and Chengdu, China, which were working in areas such as science, economy, education and climate change adaptation. There were many comparative strengths of decentralized cooperation, he said; particular among those were that decentralized cooperation took place at an equal level for all partners, with no “bottom-up” or “top-down”. In addition, such local development partners were very close to their citizens, and worked in their favour. Decentralized cooperation could also be used as an instrument of education on sustainable development.
Mr. AIKINS briefly described his city, Cape Coast, which he said was the cradle of civilization and education in Ghana. He said that decentralized cooperation was an important means of resource mobilization. His city had benefitted significantly from its partnership with Bonn in the last four years. For example, there was now a greater appreciation of the significance of climate change. Environmental degradation was being seen in a new light, and projects — such as the restoration of a lagoon — were under way.
Ms. AYALA said that the UNDP and the European Union, among other partners, were helping her department, Artigas, to protect its environment and improve the life of its citizens through education and health. In a process lasting no more than a year, the department had convened an assembly and drafted a plan with a number of projects to go forward — the first time that such local work had been done in Uruguay. It was important to note that, through that system, Artigas was able to initiate its own development partnerships, calling for the type of support it really needed.
Mr. VRBRANOVICH said that, as part of its mandate, the Decentralized Cooperation Committee of United Cities and Local Governments promoted cooperation between local governments. Coming out of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ( Rio+20), the world had, for the first time, policy that acknowledged the importance of urban centres in sustainable development. The outcome of the Conference also, therefore, acknowledged the role of local and regional governments as key players in that area.
As for why local governments mattered, he said that in the field, they had worked in international development cooperation for more than 20 years. However, if they were to convince national Governments and the international community to support local partnerships, it would be important to emphasize several key points, including the fact that local actors served as catalysts for development in their own communities.
“Local governments are vital leaders”, he said in that respect, as all faced common global challenges, and as centralized Governments were proving increasingly ineffective. They were also effective means of poverty alleviation. Having had much experience on the ground, he said, “we know what we are talking about and how to do it”.
Taking the floor, Ms. PÁEZ said the process of globalization now made it possible to see experiences that were once hidden in local territories. “There is no single way of seeing development”, she said, adding: “It is multidimensional.” It was in local territories where development took place, she stressed, bringing together local partners around the world, as well as local partners and international actors. It was important to hear the voices of local partners in international development. Today, more than ever, the importance of new players — who could provide innovative responses to common development problems — was clear. It was time to consider what local experiences could do to support global experiences, and how they could be replicated.
Interactive Debate III
This afternoon, the Forum held an interactive discussion on the topic “Gearing global development cooperation towards sustainable development: Where do we go from Rio?”. It was moderated by Luis-Alfonso de Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, and featured: Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Jean-Baptiste Mattei, Director-General of Globalization, Development Partnerships of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France; Roberto Bissio, Coordinator of Social Watch; and Juan Somavía, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Mr. DE ALBA, highlighting the results of Rio+20, said the world now had a chance to create a new global development pact. However, greater ambition was needed to change the way the United Nations traditionally dealt with sustainable development. “We have to act in ECOSOC, and we have to act in the General Assembly”, he said in that regard. Sustainable development was not synonymous with an environmental agenda, as was often believed. Instead, it was based on three distinct pillars: social, economic and environmental. The Rio outcome document spoke of a decision to move forward in a legitimate, ambitious effort to achieve the goals of sustainable development in the post-2015 era. Second, it emphasized the need to create policies to promote and fund sustainable development.
Some of the mechanisms already in place to promote sustainable development were not working, he continued. Rio had decided to strengthen the Economic and Social Council, and to establish a high-level forum following up the Rio+20 agreements. Those changes should make it possible to tackle the principle of an integrated global agenda, and to discuss what was needed to meet the “Sustainable Development Goals”. He invited speakers to react to those and other issues, asking them, specifically: What steps were needed to crystallize an agenda that was genuinely integrated, and which respected the three agreed-on pillars? What tools or actions could be adopted in the Council in order to achieve those substantive goals?
Taking the floor, Mr. MATTEI said that it was no secret that the European Union and France would have preferred more ambitious results from the Rio summit. However, the outcome achieved was “satisfactory”, and constituted a starting point on several issues. Among other matters, it considered the creation of an institutional framework for the achievement of sustainable development. It had called for a balanced approach to the three pillars of sustainable development, he said, agreeing that all three pillars were critical. It was now time to define priorities, taking a trans-regional approach and working in a pragmatic, realistic way. Those objectives must be action-oriented, easily understood by the public, limited in number, and should incorporate other development indicators outside of purely economic ones.
“There’s a challenge ahead of us”, he said, stressing that results must be achieved in less than a year and a half. The Millennium Goals were a success, he stressed, and now it was time to continue to achieve such positive results. In France, the most important issues were social protection, access to lasting energy, water, health, the sustainable use of land, among others. “We have to be consistent in our approach”, he added, noting that the approach must not ignore the central issue of poverty eradication. That matter must remain at the core of the new Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted. Finally, the issue of financing must be taken up.
Mr. BISSIO said that, while the Rio outcomes had not been up to everyone’s ambition, they had made some significant achievements. They had raised once again the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. Sustainable Development Goals must be universal, he said in that regard; they should be based on human rights and should utilize a new set of indicators. He used the metaphor of a car’s dashboard, noting that a single gauge in a car would be useless; instead, different indicators were needed to understand how much gas was in the car, what speed it was travelling, etc. Another important change going forward should be access to Internet for all, he added.
Responding to Mr. de Alba’s questions regarding the Economic and Social Council, he said that past reforms had tended to be around governance and regulation. However, it was the substance, not the bylaws, which made discussions vibrant. “When you put the real issues on the table, people will come”, he said in that regard. There was a need for a variety of actors, in working groups and expert groups, to take on those issues. Moreover, the different components of sustainable development must be discussed “in the same room”, as they were inextricable.
Mr. SOMAVÍA said that, from an ILO perspective, the Rio+20 outcome was a significant advance, because the outcome of the 1992 Earth Summit had not incorporated a labour agenda. The new outcome incorporated job creation, social protection and rights at work, as well as strong language on youth unemployment and the potential of green jobs. Moreover, the issue of employment and the Decent Work Agenda was at the heart of all three pillars of sustainable development. While jobs would be created by the green economy, he said, other jobs would be destroyed. “There is a downside to it”, he said in that respect, calling for the establishment of a social protection floor and dialogue between employers, workers and Governments. Those elements would ensure a “soft landing” during the changes to come.
“We are in the midst of a crisis today”, he stressed, noting that the creation of goals three years from now led to the misimpression that they were not part of the current reality. In order to respond to the crisis, an integrated response to the three pillars of sustainable development was needed. There was an opportunity in the midst of the crisis. “But can we do it? That is a different matter,” he said.
Mr. SHA said that Rio had reaffirmed political commitments for sustainable development. “As far as the UN system is concerned, we are ready”, he said in that regard. Now was the time for words to be followed by action. Political will needed to be translated to tangible progress on the ground. Moreover, sustainable development was about integration, coherence and implementation. Without follow-up action and without implementation, the “future we want” would become nothing more than a “high-sounding slogan”; no more slogans were needed, he stressed in that respect, reiterating his call for action on the ground.
With regard to development cooperation, the Rio outcome said that every country was responsible for its own development. It noted, however, that in implementing sustainable development and the transition to a green economy, developing countries would require international assistance and resources. Developing countries had “three mountains on their shoulders” — they needed to tackle the three pillars of sustainable development at the same time. In that vein, he said that official development assistance remained a critical resource, and noted that the Rio+20 outcome also supported South-South and triangular cooperation. What was next after Rio+20? he asked, answering: “making good on our commitments”.
In a brief question-and-answer session, several speakers also expressed their disappointment with the Rio+20 outcome, noting the lack of commitment to any real targets on sustainable development. Referring to the outcomes that were achieved, others stressed the importance of national implementation, and called for new United Nations indicators for measuring that progress.
Meanwhile, the representative of one civil society organization said she was pleased that issues of employment — which had been largely absent from the present discussion so far — had been raised by Mr. Somavía.
Interactive Debate IV
The interactive discussion on “Forging ahead: Partnering for the future of development”, was moderated by Bruce Jones, Director of the Center on International Cooperation, New York University.
The panel featured: Kim Bong-hyun, Deputy Minister of Multilateral and Global Affairs, Republic of Korea; Rogelio Granguillhome, Executive Director of the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation; Katsuji Imata, Acting Secretary-General, World Alliance for Civic Participation (CIVICUS); and Talaat Abdel Malek, Co-Chair, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)/Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Working Party on Aid Effectiveness and Economic Adviser to the Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt.
Identifying challenging areas ahead in development cooperation, Mr. JONES first highlighted the definition of the partnerships with the private sector, civil society and other actors, and then pointed to the examination of the relations between various relevant bodies. He also noted that lessons learned had shown a broad sweep of interaction among trade, finance and global goods, which could shape development options. Lastly, recognizing that countries making the least progress on the Millennium Goals were often facing conflict, he asked how a body like the Forum would help those countries move towards achieving them.
Speaking first among the panellists was Mr. KIM, who described recent shifts in development cooperation systems, notably the agreed Busan Global Partnership. He explained that that Partnership aimed at inclusiveness and legitimacy, with diverse actors working towards shared goals to ensure effective participation. It would also complement the consensus-building process for post-2015 and would connect with the Forum. He noted that key deliverables would include better coordinated and more coherent development cooperation.
Since this was a debate on the type of development that was desired, Mr. GRANGUILLHOME said it should be inclusive and sustainable. From his point of view, discussions should include the type of cooperation that was desired. A new agenda for development and international cooperation should include the private sector and civil society. In addition, employment and technology must be included, he said.
Mr. AMATA agreed, noting that the future of the Forum was the real question to answer. It was obvious that several areas of its work should be highlighted: enhancing policy coherence, women’s and gender rights and mutual accountability. On mutual accountability, he said citizens were often missing in the development equation. At the end of the day, development was about people, and development cooperation was about putting people at the centre, he said. Furthering mutual accountability should include examining tools available to citizens to hold Governments accountable.
There should be some cross-cutting principles and guides to discussions such as this, he said. The Development Cooperation Forum was a unique space because it was inclusive, with a multi-stakeholder nature. The common threads should be a people-centred approach to development and the environment. He asked participants how development could be furthered if the voices of citizens were being repressed. In conclusion, he said he wanted to see the Forum take bolder actions in the area of citizen engagement.
Mr. MALEK said the planet’s natural resources were dwindling even as the international community faced increasing challenges. Partner countries should take a stronger leadership role, and South-South and emerging economy partners should contribute more openly to share lessons they had learned to help tackle shared concerns.
Development partners needed to harmonize their efforts. He emphasized that the traditional donor-recipient modality mindset needed to change in behaviour and practice to reflect true partnership. “We need to begin to walk the talk,” he said. Aid was an area that also needed to be explored since countries were already looking at how to “graduate” from such assistance.
During the debate, a number of participants asked about accountability, and youth and civil society involvement. Answering a question that highlighted the need for agreements to be implemented, notably the Rio+20 commitments, Mr. KIM wholeheartedly agreed, as did Mr. MALEK, who said institutional development was a critical area that remained a challenge in that regard.
Stating that development partners were making unrealistic commitments they could not fulfil, a speaker said that he would rather have one partner making sure a commitment was fulfilled than 20 partners who made huge promises they could never hope to keep. In response, Mr. MALEK said that he believed that establishing partnerships would create “peer pressure”, reaffirm commitments and open the window wider so that challenges could be addressed.
As for non-governmental organization involvement, Mr. AMATA said progress had been made, pointing to the Busan document, notably paragraph 22 on civil society and participation. While he was not completely satisfied, he said the Forum was a suitable venue to have conversations about such matters.
One participant suggested that youth must have a space in the Busan Global Partnership. Agreeing that youth must be included, Mr. MALEK said that his region had millions of unemployed youth, which was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and had spurred the Arab Spring. Now, results needed to be produced on the ground, he said. Another speaker recognized that the Forum should be fully inclusive of all States, as well as civil society, and she called on Governments and Member States to scale up support for the Forum.
In response, Mr. GRANGUILLHOME underlined the importance of including civil society, and noted that Mexico’s G-20 Presidency had seen involvement of civil society in discussions there. Mr. KIM said the role of civil society was growing, and more attention should be paid to its organizations, as well as to the private sector.
Summing up the discussion, Mr. JONES emphasized that youth, civil society and gender alongside accountability were important areas for discussion. The world had changed and the debate should continue to focus on the new reality.
GEORGE PAPAGEORGIOU (Cyprus), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the situation in European Union labour markets was of major concern. Employment was one of the five headline targets of Europe 2020, a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. There was the need to promote the kind of growth whose success was not only evaluated in proportion to gross domestic product (GDP), but in a more comprehensive and balanced manner that took into account the environmental and social dimension of growth.
The European Union was taking a two-pronged approach, with measures to ensure financial stability and fiscal consolidation, as well as action to foster growth, competitiveness, and employment and to tackle the social consequences of the crisis. Abroad, the Union remained committed to the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries (2011-2020), notably with regards to productive capacities, one of the key priority areas for action.
He said the Union supported bilateral and regional cooperation with the least developed countries, in full respect of the principle of ownership and leadership over their own development. The Union welcomed the work undertaken by the Group of 20 (G-20) on employment, in particular concerning youth, and the recently adopted Los Cabos Growth and Jobs Action Plan. He also welcomed the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ( Rio+20).
MAURICIO MONTALVO, Under-Secretary for International and Supra-regional Organization, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, said, despite commitments made to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals, many developed countries insisted on denying the causes of the financial crisis, favouring million-dollar relief packages for speculative structures in their own countries. Ecuador’s Constitution guaranteed the right to work, defining work as a social right. The national plan for good living enshrined such principles through guaranteeing social and dignified labour. Ecuador had incorporated the Goals into its national plans, and developed its own policies which could serve as an inspiration for regional and global efforts to address challenges.
He went on to say that employment in Ecuador had increased between 2007 and 2011, while under-employment had fallen, including for indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian populations. The integration of persons with disabilities was also a priority and, thus far, more than 14,000 people had been incorporated into the labour market. In addition, Ecuador had improved labour protections for women, including with regard to maternity and paternity leave. The “Dignified Domestic Labour” programme valued those involved in such work, while efforts to eradicate child labour had proven successful. Regionally and subregionally, Ecuador and other countries had created the Common Reserve Fund for Latin America, which played a complementary role to other initiatives and processes to strengthen cooperation. In sum, he urged the creation of a new international financial architecture and the conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, among other efforts.
RANKO VILOVIĆ ( Croatia) said that the economic crisis in his country had brought about a significant increase in unemployment but that it had responded with a range of active measures. Those initiatives had resulted in an increase in the number of unemployed people engaged in public works and in training programmes, particularly in professional fields through workplace training. The public works and educational training were intended for long-term unemployed persons and special groups while workplace training was intended for young people without work experience. The purpose of the measures was not only to provide financial assistance to unemployed persons but to also enable them to maintain and improve their knowledge and experience, as well as facilitate their social integration.
Croatia prioritized the situation of its youth and their placement in the labour market, he continued. This year, the Government had adopted a law which made it possible for an increased number of young people to participate in workplace training and to secure financial assistance in the form of training allowances. Through that law, a large number of young people had been able to gain their first work experience. Croatia also systematically assisted young people in making their education choices through the provision of career guidance. Croatia believed that in the green economy, there was great potential for creating new job opportunities, as well as for education and capacity-building. It saw green economy as having the potential to lead to a new development paradigm and a new business model where growth, new jobs in a sustainable economy, development, and environment were all mutually enforcing.
ANNE ANDERSON ( Ireland) said there was an acute need to re-examine her country’s economic model. Ireland was in the aftermath of the “Celtic Tiger years”, and its adjustment had involved tough budgetary measures, an unacceptably high rate of unemployment, and a return to the kind of emigration that it had hoped to have left behind. As the country moved towards a recovery, there was a determination to build back better.
Turning to ODA, she reported that, despite the domestic cutbacks, the Government was determined to keep its development assistance programmes substantially intact. The nation was currently allocating in excess of 0.5 per cent of GDP for ODA, ranking seventh in per capita terms internationally. She echoed an earlier statement by the Director-General of the ILO, saying that reconstruction of the institutions of global governance was urgent. But she said that his second point was perhaps even more important. That official had underlined the need to improve the international community’s negotiating and decision-making processes to make its system respond in a rapid and relevant way to current challenges. In the aftermath of Rio, “we simply have to do better”, she said.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that the global economy was at a crucial juncture. Despite signs of recovery in some developed economies, growth prospects worldwide had been dampened by renewed instability and uncertainty. The combination of slow growth, sovereign debt crises and difficulties in the banking sector in some parts of the world was still a source of concern. At the same time, excessive volatility in capital flows and commodity prices had continued to affect national economies worldwide, particularly in the poorer countries. It was critical for developed economies to avoid creating excessive global liquidity and to adopt macroeconomic policies that fostered growth and job creation. Brazil welcomed the measures recently agreed to that effect by the European Union member States.
Brazil and other developing countries, especially in Latin America, had learned from past experience how the dire effects of economic crises on employment and decent work could seriously impact a country’s social fabric, she went on. The country had endured economic downturn, unemployment, underemployment and vulnerable and informal jobs. It had learned the hard way that emphasis on fiscal austerity, deregulation and flexible labour markets in an already fragile economic environment not only jeopardized economic growth but also increased inequality. Policies aimed at the promotion of the productive capacity and decent work, particularly for women and young people, were crucial to effectively addressing the social impact of the global crisis and ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Such policies were also essential for the international efforts to reduce poverty and achieve the Millennium Goals. Since 2003, more than 30 million people had been lifted out of poverty in Brazil and over 17 million jobs had been created. The country was now moving towards the more ambitious goal of eradicating extreme poverty.
NELSON NOEL MESSONE ( Gabon) said the global financial crisis had created an employment crisis and had driven more people into poverty. Developing country growth had not translated into the creation of decent work, and the most vulnerable were young people and women. “We need to invent a new dynamic policy geared towards sustainable development”, he said, noting that the ILO had projected increased unemployment by 2016. A new model should include development strategies, diversified economies and a shift from speculation to productive sectors. Access to social services — notably to health, education and training — should be at the heart of those efforts.
Outlining priorities for his country, he said Gabon wanted to be considered an “emerging economy” by 2025. To support microenterprise, a microcredit programme was financing women entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas. Gabon also had recently created an investment and export agency to promote joint ventures with foreign enterprises. In June 2012, the first forum for Africa was held, which brought together international investors. The Government supported small and medium-sized enterprises, which also received increased support from the African Development Bank. Gabon had taken fiscal and customs measures, and worked hard to tackle food insecurity, strongly supporting the Istanbul Programme of Action. He urged all countries to review their social protection policies, saying that Gabon had established a social insurance scheme that all Gabonese could access, including women and youth.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV ( Kyrgyzstan) said the tragedy of 2010, combined with other factors, such as the worsening of the global economy, had seriously impacted his country and its labour market. Kyrgyzstan’s unemployment rate was 8.6 per cent in 2010, and 10 per cent among women. Poverty had increased from 31.7 per cent to 33.7 per cent. The Government had introduced a programme of urgent measures to fundamentally change the situation, combat corruption and reduce poverty levels. The measures were also aimed at improving transparency and effective use of income. Reform was geared towards supporting small and mid-size businesses, with greater attention paid to legal and social conditions for youth employment.
Strengthening international cooperation was crucial, and providing high-quality education was vital to prevent youth from slipping into unproductive behaviour. He said that a global strategy was needed, as labour migration was occurring at the global level and directly impacting the sustainable development of some countries. It was also impacting the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Greater attention should be paid to least developed countries and developing countries in vulnerable situations. Kyrgyzstan supported the green economy and acknowledged the important role the United Nations, particularly the Council, could play in that area. Mountainous nations were particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters but lacked resources and capacity. He urged international financial institutions and donor countries to incorporate the needs of mountainous countries into their policies.
Mr. GRANGUILLHOME, Executive Director of the International Development and Cooperation Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said that his country had made every effort to highlight the urgency of overcoming the negative effects of the current economic crisis in the international community. It had convened a Leaders Summit as part of the most recent G-20 meeting in Los Cabos where economic stabilization and the needed structural reforms for reactivating economic growth and employment had been prioritized.
In their declaration at that Summit, the leaders committed to work collectively to strengthen demand and restore confidence with the intention of supporting growth and promoting financial stability to create high-quality jobs and opportunities for all citizens. To reach those objectives, they agreed on a Los Cabos Action Plan for Growth and Employment. The leaders had also adopted a robust and relevant portfolio of initiatives which closely linked sustainable progress of the world, particularly with the most vulnerable groups, in areas as important as infrastructure, food security and green inclusive growth.
In light of the outcomes of the Rio Conference, there was an opportunity to strengthen the multilateral system and to revitalize the United Nations system as a universal, legitimate and effective forum for dialogue, definition and implementation of the world’s development agenda, he continued. The Economic and Social Council had been called upon to play a key role in that regard. That was why world leaders had decided in Rio to broaden the Council’s mandate to integrate the three pillars of sustainable development and follow up in an integral way into the economic, social and environmental areas.
PAULETTE BETHEL ( Bahamas) said her country’s open economy was challenged by external shocks, increased natural disasters and the continued ripple effects from the global financial crisis. Efforts to foster sustainable development were grounded in sound policies aimed at achieving faster economic growth with social equity. Employment conditions were challenging, with 15.9 per cent national unemployment registered last fall. To reverse that trend, the Government’s job creation plan would promote foreign direct investment and local entrepreneurship, remove impediments to business, and increase opportunities to expand the role of Bahamian employers. It also would work to ensure opportunities for training and retraining of the labour force.
Those efforts must be complemented by a supportive international environment, she said, reiterating the need for coherent macroeconomic policies to increase production, income and high-quality jobs. Enhanced policy dialogue and international cooperation were also, she said, an emerging issue in that regard centred on building “green economies”, which would require new investments, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building. Concluding, she drew attention to several philosophical and cultural imperatives, including an acknowledgement that poverty was ultimately a mindset that could be reversed through knowledge, training and nurturing. An enabling environment must be forged that promoted self-sufficiency.
MIGUEL BERGER ( Germany) said that one of the most significant outcomes of Rio+20 was the recognition that a green economy was one of the most important tools available to achieve sustainable development. Indeed, a green economy was a tool that could enhance social inclusion, improve human welfare and create employment opportunities and decent work for all. Rio had encouraged all countries to consider the implementation of policies that would drive sustained and inclusive growth and the creation of green and decent jobs, particularly for women, youth and the poor.
He said that it was of utmost importance to equip the targeted groups with necessary skills, including through education and vocational training. Germany was willing to share its lessons learned from the creation of green jobs with other countries. Over the last years, thousands of jobs had been created in Germany due to the decision to promote the use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels and to advocate for sustainable production patterns. When it came to creating training places and jobs for youth, private companies had a key role to play, he said, adding that Germany’s policy was to cooperate closely with all relevant social partners including employment services, schools and all major business associations.
ELIZABETH COUSENS ( United States) said the world faced unparalleled opportunities, as well as the need to overcome common hurdles to create jobs. With growth fragile and job creation lagging, some 200 million people, many of them young men and women, were out of work. “We must to do better,” she said. First, youth, and especially women, must be at the top of the global political agenda. In some countries, women and youth were the most vulnerable in terms of employment. But they in fact could represent best hopes. Women faced legal, social and cultural barriers, as well as hurdles such as inequalities in gaining access to education and inheriting property, among others. She said that women were overrepresented in domestic work but underrepresented in executive positions. In economic trying times, any barrier was hard to overcome, but it was vital to try and eliminate basic hurdles.
Among other important factors was education, which would enable people to remain productive. Securing job quality was also essential because 58 per cent of women and youth were in unsecure jobs. Broad-based inclusive growth was necessary. Such growth was a powerful force for poverty eradication. Finally, she reminded Member States that they were in this conference room to advance towards achieving Millennium Development Goals and to acknowledge the role of the Economic and Social Council in that effort.
MARTIN BRIENS ( France), aligning with the statement made earlier on behalf of the European Union, said employment was at the heart of policy agendas. Promoting employment and combating exclusion required a two-pronged approach: inclusive economic growth that took account of social realities. “We need to devise global solutions”, he said, noting that, in the G-20, France had emphasized the jobs and social dimensions of globalization during its presidency. Notable outcomes had been obtained, including recently at Los Cabos, Mexico, where the G‑20 declaration underscored that high-quality employment that ensured social coverage helped to create stable growth and reduce poverty. The ILO Global Jobs Pact and adoption of a resolution on national social protection pillars also had given concrete form to State efforts to place social protection at the heart of development actions.
To support such objectives, coherence among policies and cooperation among organizations was essential, he said, underscoring that the United Nations had a key role to play in that regard. At the Rio+20 Summit, a green and inclusive economy had been recognized as a tool to help poor countries manage natural resources. Rio+20 also placed youth at the heart of sustainable development actions. In such efforts the full involvement of civil society was required. For its part, France would continue to promote the social development dimensions in all forums, and work to develop both a post-2015 framework and Sustainable Development Goals.
SHAVENDRA SILVA ( Sri Lanka) said his country had followed a citizen-centred, socio-economic development strategy. Sharing positive experiences, he said Sri Lanka had focused on improving productive capacities and creating employment opportunities for those entering the labour force. Investments in health and education had enhanced productivity. Achieving good human development indicators had also been a focus, and Sri Lanka had exploited “synergistic” interactions among health care, basic education, improved water and sanitation and integrated rural development. The economy had maintained an 8 per cent growth rate. Women and youth were also a priority.
In that regard, he said the Government provided incentives for private and foreign investors to establish enterprises and information and communications technology outsourcing facilities outside main cities, which allowed rural women and youth to work from home. Labour laws had also been enforced. Several special small and medium-sized enterprise loan schemes also had been launched to improve access to finance. But eliminating poverty and ensuring decent work opportunities for all was a continuing challenge, especially amid increased fuel and food prices. Resource constraints had also impeded efforts to promote productive capacity. As an emerging economy, Sri Lanka was challenged to achieve sustainable rapid economic growth, while integrating into global processes. He called for development commitments to be honoured.
RAFAEL ARCHONDO ( Bolivia) welcomed the session’s theme related to eradicating poverty. Wealth must be created in the context of better harmony with nature. Following the financial crisis of 2008, the number of unemployed reached 197 million in 2009 and 200 million in 2011, with the figure expected to hit 206 million in 2016. Women were among the most vulnerable. Despite the economic crisis, Bolivia had escaped the worst effects and achieved annual growth of 4 per cent. Today, the country’s economic gains were used to keep children in school and improve the infant and maternal mortality, among other goals. His Government was successful in raising wages for those who work in hospitals and schools. Minimum wages increased by 120 per cent. Bolivia introduced a health policy providing universal insurance for children, mothers and the elderly.
WILLIAM ODISHO ( Iraq) said his country wanted to be an economic power and integrate into the global economy. Reforms had improved real incomes of Iraqis, while the local currency had stabilized. Unemployment had fallen and coverage for basic services like water had increased. Further, the oil sector had increased its contribution to GDP, as had construction, which had risen to 5.5 per cent of GDP in 2011, and agriculture, which had increased to 7 per cent of GDP. Good governance, rule of law and competitiveness had been priorities. Iraq’s 2002-2014 development plan emphasized human resources, with a special focus on developing human resources in education and training.
He went on to say that Iraq employed its human resources in an effective way to encourage a diverse, wealth-generating economy. The private sector still suffered from problems, however, despite efforts to improve it. Concluding, he noted that work was a main instrument for combating poverty, and as such, the success of any strategy hinged on creating productive capacities and increasing opportunities for education and training. He also emphasized that the role of banks in financing small and medium-sized enterprises must increase.
MOHAMMAD HASSANI ( Iran) said developing and strengthening productive capacity at the national level was the most efficient and sustained path to creating decent jobs. It also had positive ancillary impacts, particularly on poverty eradication. National development policies must be pursued, in the context of a supportive and enabling external environment. It was unfortunate to notice that the global economic outlook continued to be bleak. In the face of subdued growth, the job crisis had deepened. Irresponsible policies and misconduct of the world’s biggest economies had played the major role in creating today’s undesirable economic prospects. In the course of the last two decades, the international community had missed many unique opportunities to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.
There was serious concern that some developed countries not only eschewed undertaking any new responsibilities in the context of multilateralism but were trying to disregard and backtrack on past commitments they had made. There was further concern that those countries were attempting to shift their obligations to South-South cooperation. Such an approach had been clearly noticeable during the recent negotiations on the Rio+20 outcome document. What was even more regrettable was the concerted attempt by come countries to, under false pretexts, impose illegal and inhumane practices such as economic sanctions against developing countries and their people. Such measures were ultimately futile, he added.
JULIO RAFAEL ESCALONA OJEDA ( Venezuela) said the global financial and economic crisis had deepened over the last year, while Goldman Sachs and other firms continued to grow richer. Fiscal cutbacks and financial market speculation continued to spread fear. Such activities were associated with Malthusian solutions oriented towards the spiritual destruction of the poor. Financial capital had disassociated itself from increased demand, with accumulation now focused on speculation and the overexploitation of workers and nature.
At the same time, other dogmas were being promoted, he said, including that of pro-cyclical policies to lower costs and make exports competitive as a way of achieving growth. “This has also been a failure”, he said, noting that the only viable development was one that was free from market competition. The role of banks had radically changed, from entities that once channelled savings towards productive investments, to those that now channelled funds towards speculation.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said there was no gainsaying the fact that business as usual was no longer an option and “we need to reset our economic model to promote sustained, strong and inclusive economic growth, as well as sustainable development. About 68 per cent of Pakistan’s population was under the age of 30. The labour force grew at 3 per cent annually. Like other Member States, his Government faced the formidable task of creating jobs and decent working conditions amid multiple crises. Two policy initiatives were particularly notable among the measures taken by the Government to promote productive capacity, employment and decent work.
First, Pakistan had made youth development and community engagement one of the pillars of economic growth, he said. Steps had been taken to harness the capacities of youth through vocational and technical training programmes. It was also promoting public-private partnership in this area. Second, the Benazir Income Programme (BISP) was a cash-transfer programme focusing on empowerment of women. Through this programme, female members of beneficiary families were given monthly income supplement assistance in cash. Positive policies did not make Pakistan immune to direct impact of natural and man-made disasters and global economic conditions, as well as difficulties faced by skilled and employable Pakistanis in securing productive employment abroad. Pakistan believed that enhanced employment opportunities abroad for skilled and semi-skilled labour dovetailed into poverty eradication. He stressed the need to increase investments in productive capacities and address infrastructure gaps. Improving agricultural productivity and rural non-farm income opportunities were among Pakistan’s priorities.
SHULAMIT DAVIDOVICH ( Israel) said achieving decent work for all was critical to achieving more productive economies, more cohesive societies and stronger democracies. Israel had a multi-pronged strategy to boost productive capacity and extend participation in the labour market, in part by investing in increasing school retention. Israel had implemented a range of policies to facilitate entry into the workforce, she said, noting that social support services were critical in that regard. Israel also was pursuing policies to encourage employment and ease the financial burden on families with children, including by expanding the earned income tax credit.
In other areas, she said the Government had launched job programmes adapted to different cultures. It was reforming policies to better address the unique market vulnerabilities of minority groups. One initiative focused on expanding the role of the Arab community in entrepreneurship, providing Arab entrepreneurs assistance and guidance in launching a business. Other efforts focused on integrating the Orthodox community into the labour market. Entrepreneurship was at the heart of Israel’s economy and its efforts to foster international development. Israel understood that all people had the power to be drivers of social change and economic development, but to do so, they must be nurtured. “We must invest in our citizens, empower our women and offer hope to our youth,” she said. Failing them would risk wasting enormous opportunities for economic growth and greater well-being.
MARIELA SÁNCHEZ DE CRUZ ( Dominican Republic) said the dire global social and economic situation demanded urgent action in the form of plans, targets and development cooperation. The promotion of decent work to eradicate poverty — in the context of inclusive economic growth — was a goal common to all. People should be in a position to take responsibility for their own destiny. But major economies still had not recovered from the 2008 financial crisis and approaches to overcoming difficulties were largely aimed at first addressing the health of banks, at the expense of incentives for productive activities. “We are here with an agenda centred on an uphill climb,” she said, the promotion of productive capacity that led to decent work.
Youth employment must also be placed on the agenda, she said, especially amid immense challenges posed by the fact that four of every five people in the world lacked social protection. Youth unemployment was three times that of adults. The big challenge was to generate sustainable growth while ensuring the social cohesion necessary for creating 600 million productive jobs over the next decade. In the Dominican Republic, unemployment among people aged 18 to 29 was at 34 per cent — more than double the rate for adults. The youth and employment programme, supported by the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, provided skills and vocational training. Despite such efforts, the country could not meet the crucial goal of reducing extreme poverty and hunger to the levels outlined in the Millennium Development Goals.
FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said work constituted a foundation for the formation of family life, which was a natural right and something to which man was called. Work provided the means necessary to found and support a family, and provided the means for realizing the right to property and contributing to the social life of the community. The duty of the State to guarantee the right to work was not one which required absolute control of the employment sector, but rather to provide the conditions necessary for job creation and sustaining employment opportunities.
In order to achieve full employment, there was the need to recognize the vital role of education and skills training for all people. In a rapidly changing globalized economy, education and technical skills training should not end at a young age, but should be provided throughout people’s lives so that they were more capable of responding to the unpredictable changes in employment. Such educational efforts provided not only the skills necessary to adapt to economic changes, but also the necessary spiritual, social and psychological support required to assist individuals in overcoming the challenges of unemployment or economic instability. On 1 May 2000, Pope John Paul II had issued an appeal for the creation of a global coalition in favour of “decent work”, he added.
MICHEL KAMANO, President of the Union of African Economic and Social Councils, on behalf of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions, urged promoting productive activity and decent work in a context of inclusive, sustainable and fair economic growth. Good governance was essential in that regard. National development plans required more political commitment in the areas of “orthodox” management of budgetary, monetary and credit policies; rational exploitation of natural resources by ensuring strict environmental protection; rational human resource management; and improved justice.
While the financial crisis had caused a massive destruction of jobs, the need for global regulation was more crucial than ever, he said, underscoring the inclusion of emerging economies within the G-20. Policymakers were more theoretical than practical and, as a result, the gap between rhetoric and action was growing from year to year. He called on all public and private sector decision-makers and stakeholders to better use the proliferation of alternative approaches to finance and governance. Achieving the Millennium Goals could be compromised if measures for social responsibility were not rigorously enforced, and he urged both public and private actors to adapt international political decisions to local realities.
GORDANA JERGER, World Food Programme (WFP), also on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said those bodies stressed the need for concerted attention to food and nutrition security, as well as agricultural and rural development for achievement of the Millennium Goals and the post-2015 global development targets. The agricultural sector and rural areas faced significant challenges, but could also offer great opportunities to contribute to efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, and to set more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development patterns.
She said the agricultural sectors in developing countries generated between 20 and 50 per cent of the global GDP, creating more than 1 billion jobs. As such, agriculture in particular had strong potential for reducing poverty. Yet, rural areas were still plagued by underdevelopment and a host of other inequalities, and rural women were particularly disadvantaged. Those areas also suffered from pervasive decent work deficits, including gender disparities, child labour, low wages and lack of employment opportunities for youth. Those issues needed to be rapidly addressed even as some rural and agro-based economies were undergoing major transformations, especially those shifting away from farming.
“Thus, the challenges are both complex and compelling,” she said, explaining that the United Nations agencies in Rome were emphasizing the need for action to promote gender-sensitive rural and agricultural development. She said those agencies were also responding through a common agenda, drawing on their relevant expertise and complementary capacity in fostering food security, agricultural development, reducing hunger and improving the well-being of the world’s poor. “Further, [we] have long recognized that poverty, hunger and food insecurity will not be eradicated until rural women and men have access to productive and gainful employment opportunities and decent jobs,” she declared. The Rome-based agencies encouraged the international community and national authorities to, among other things, increase investment in food and nutritional security, ensure employment concerns were considered in national agriculture and foods polices, and extend social protection to those employed in agricultural sectors.
JOSÉ MANUEL SALAZAR, International Labour Organization (ILO), said the Council’s focus on productive capacity and decent work in the eradication of poverty was timely, especially since the harsh reality was that the drag on global growth and recovery caused by the continuing repercussions of the financial crisis was stronger than the stimulus to demand that had been launched by Governments and central banks. Focus on productive capacities and decent work was, thus, not only a way to provide an immediate response to the jobs crisis; it was essential to “stopping the vicious downward spiral and creating a virtuous upward spiral”. Action for jobs now was critical for growth and development and shaping a fairer, greener and less volatile globalization, he added.
“A policy agenda centred on decent jobs and productive capacities has positive short-term and long-term effects in addressing labour market vulnerabilities and inadequate patterns of growth and development,” he said, adding that measures to generate employment and safeguard workers were critical tools to building future productive capacities and triggering long-term broad-based economic transformation and development. He went on to call for vigorous action to tackle youth unemployment, including through bolstering education and vocational training systems. Further, there was a need to scale up investment in infrastructure and other job-intensive sectors, with respect to transport, housing, energy, water and schools.
* *** *For information media • not an official record