Doha forum crucial to crafting global response to financial crisis – Ban

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opens high-level retreat on the global financial crisis

28 November 2008 – A United Nations conference set to begin tomorrow in Doha provides a vital opportunity to plan a globally coordinated response to the financial crisis to ensure the well-being of millions worldwide, especially the poor, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today.

Such a response “can protect developing countries, underpin our drive to a green economy, and stimulate a commitment to a renewed multilateralism,” Mr. Ban told a news conference in the Qatari capital on the eve of the Review Conference on Financing for Development.

The four-day meeting will focus on ensuring sufficient financing to meet key development goals amid mounting concern about the impact of the current global economic slowdown on poor nations.

“The Doha conference is crucially important for the well-being of people everywhere,” added the Secretary-General, who held a closed discussion attended by about 30 delegations, including 10 Heads of State, government and international agencies, on the implications of the financial crisis.

“It is also very timely, falling just two weeks after the emergency G-20 summit on the financial crisis,” he said, referring to the meeting in Washington on 15 November of the leaders of the so-called Group of 20 nations, aimed at promoting dialogue between advanced and emerging countries on key issues regarding economic growth and stability of the financial system.

One of the main goals of today's discussion, and of the conference beginning tomorrow, is “to build a bridge between the G-20 and the rest of the world – the full community of nations,” he noted.

A summary of today's discussion points out that leaders agreed that the Doha conference offers an opportunity “to listen to the perspectives and concerns of a larger group of countries. Broad participation in and support for the designs of reforms will make them more effective and sustainable.”

Mr. Ban told reporters that the financial crisis is not the only crisis the world faces. “We also confront a development emergency and accelerating climate change. These threats are inextricably linked. They must be dealt with as one.”

He emphasized the need for a truly global stimulus plan that meets the needs of emerging economies and developing countries. This includes protecting the poorest, as well as not reneging on commitments regarding official development assistance (ODA), which remains a crucial part of development finance for many countries.

It also includes ensuring resources to help countries meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015.

Also vital is to promote development that is sustainable and the fight against climate change. “Investments in green technologies will produce pay-offs in the long-term, in terms of a safer environment and more sustainable growth,” said the Secretary-General. “But the record already shows that green investment can produce jobs and spur growth in the here-and-now.”

He added that reform begins with the financial markets but it cannot stop there. “We also need fresh thinking about our food and energy systems, about financing for development and about our institutions.” This means giving a greater voice in global financial institutions to emerging economies and developing countries.

Ahead of the conference, World Bank President Robert Zoellick called on developed countries to boost aid to developing countries, which are facing a “perfect storm” of slowing world growth, higher interest rates, and a withdrawal of equity and lending from the private sector.

In a paper prepared for the conference, the World Bank says it is imperative that donors meet their previous commitments to debt relief and scaled-up aid.

Representatives of the World Bank will join those of governments, business and civil society at the forum, which is a follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development that took place in 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico, and resulted in the adoption of a landmark partnership agreement for global development.

Known as the Monterrey Consensus, the agreement covered a number of topics, including domestic resource mobilization, foreign direct investment (FDI), trade, ODA, debt relief and systemic issues.

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