19 February 2008
Press Conference

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

PRESS CONFERENCE BY special adviser on innovative financing for development


With official development assistance (ODA) from donor Governments lagging as the 2015 target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals nears, the United Nations’ newly-appointed Special Adviser on innovative development financing told reporters today that now was the time to promote creative strategies provided by ordinary citizens, regional authorities, or foundations and other private sector actors.


During a Headquarters press briefing, Philippe Douste-Blazy, Former Foreign Minister of France, and current Chairman of the Executive Board of UNITAID, an international drug purchase facility established in 2006 by Brazil, France, Chile, Norway and the United Kingdom, said that UNITAID was set up as an innovative funding mechanism to accelerate access to high-quality drugs and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in countries with a high burden of disease.


The results obtained by UNITAID in a relatively short period of time proved that innovative financing for development really worked, said Mr. Douste-Blazy, adding that he would use his experience at UNITAID, which deals only with medical matters and is largely funded by a “solidarity levy” on airline tickets, to promote innovative measures to fill critical gaps in the wider development agenda.


He said that, while everyone knew that we were halfway to the 2015 Millennium Goal target date, the truth was that “halfway” only applied to time frame, not results.  “The real truth is that we are late,” he asserted.  There had been progress in just about every area, but it was not enough, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.  Above all, worldwide development assistance had fallen for the first time in 10 years.


What was needed was the commitment of donors to provide sustainable, predictable funding.  UNITAID was proving, on the difficult issue of medicines at least, that the innovative development financing could work effectively with Governments, civil society and industry working together to change things for the good.


Responding to questions, he said if the international community wanted to effectively deal with the issues that sparked migration or the dangers associated with the spread of terrorism, not to mention end the deepening humiliation and marginalization affecting hundreds of millions of people in the global South, Governments, particularly in developing countries, would need help.


Mr. Douste-Blazy said that, in his new position, he would try to help spark, little by little, a worldwide citizen’s movement, including private entrepreneurs, to set up innovative development financing schemes outside, but compatible with, traditional Government initiatives.


He noted that, during last year’s presidential campaign in France, none of the candidates had spoken about development financing.  Neither were the candidates currently on the campaign trail in the United States speaking about the issue.  “But this is a very important issue for the twenty-first century,” he said, adding that it was crucial to integrate the notion of innovative financing into the global development agenda as soon as possible.  To that end, he announced that he was planning to convene in 2009 the first ever world conference devoted solely to innovative financing.


He said that his goal was, first and foremost, to raise money towards the achievement of the Millennium Goals, outside the traditional Government-driven financing mechanisms. His hope was to raise awareness that would spark action from private citizens and businesses, as well as large and small companies.  He also wanted to set up a mechanism to track the disbursement of those funds, to instil trust among possible donors in the process.


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For information media • not an official record