29 June 2010
Press Conference

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

Press Conference by European Officials on Economic, Social, Sustainable Development

 


The international community was moving towards a “new geographical level of policy planning and political decision-making in the world”, which could lend itself to the creation of a council for sustainable development at the United Nations, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Paavo Väyrynen, suggested today at a Headquarters press conference on the margins of the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council’s session.


Joining him were European Union Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs, and Chair of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee, Eckhard Deutscher.


Mr. Väyrynen said he had asked in his speech to the Council earlier today if the international community was approaching a new era in the globalization process, in which it was moving from the present international global cooperation towards a new global forum.   (See Press Release ECOSOC/6432)


“In my speech I called this humanity policy,” he said.  There were already national and regional policies, such as at the African Union and the European Union, and he wondered whether the time was ripe for a global level for policy planning and political decision-making.  It was a logical consequence of globalization “that we would need global decision-making”.


Mr. Väyrynen said that the international community had, on the basis of practical needs, already created an embryo for such a framework in the form of the G-20, and he wondered whether the G-20 should be integrated into the United Nations system and transformed into a council for sustainable development.  Such a council would have a parallel position vis-à-vis the Security Council, and would resemble it in composition, with permanent and rotating members.


“Actually, this new body would be the leading organization in the United Nations system for economic, social and environmental issues,” Mr. Väyrynen said. He went on to say that this suggestion was formulated as a question, since it was such a radical idea.


Addressing broader issues of poverty and development aid, Mr. Deutschersaid that the OECD Development Assistance Committee was working to facilitate the harmonization of major development policies among key donors.  “We are mainly looking at three issues,” he said.  “We are looking at donor commitments, donor financing, and we are following how donors are really sticking to their commitments.”


He said that the Committee was also looking at aid effectiveness and asking for mutual accountability, which was a huge step forward.  “Development is not the lone issue of the rich donor countries,” he said.  “To achieve something also requires the commitment of the partner countries.”


Those partner countries were keen to take part, he said, and he commended the “Group of 77” developing countries and China willingness to look for a common base from which to work together with donors.  New donors were coming into the arena, and it was necessary to consider who could take on the responsibility of new challenges in the future.  The Development Cooperation Forum was also an increasingly important institution in global development, he said.


Policy coherence for development was another major issue, and aid alone was not sufficient, he said.  Rather, aid must act as a catalyst to stimulate growth and mobilize domestic resources.  “We are doing, partly, the opposite of what needs to be done — we are increasing the complexity instead of reducing it,” he added.


Mr. Piebalgs said the European Union faced an array of challenges in 2010, but at the same time, enjoyed very strong public support in its continuing efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals, looking ahead to the September Summit. That was not necessarily about creating new institutions, but about achieving the Goals with minimum costs.  Poverty eradication was absolutely achievable, wherein decent living conditions would be within the reach of each person on this earth.


One questioner asked about the viability of an economic council, as had been suggested, given that the Security Council had been “deadlocked and incapable of handling world crises” for most of its history.  In response, Mr. Väyrynen said it was important to take into consideration that the proposal was very general, and means of decision making within such a body should be negotiated.


Mr. Piebalgs stressed that it was not possible to have economic and social development without sustainable environmental development, and that it was an absolute necessity to achieve such development with a broad context of some kind.


When asked what was being done to ensure that yet unpaid financial commitments by donors were met, Mr. Deutscher said it was his job to remind donors to stick to their commitments, knowing very well their economic and financial constraints.  Some countries, like Finland, had gone beyond their promises, whereas others were faltering.  Still, most donors had honoured their commitments.


Asked about the viability of bringing the G-20 into the United Nations, Mr. Deutscher said the Group should not be allowed to grow outside the United Nations system, but rather it should be integrated and modified in a very profound way.


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