States must meet aid pledges despite financial crisis, Doha forum concludes

2 December 2008 – Participants from over 160 countries meeting at a United Nations conference in Doha today stressed the need to meet existing aid commitments to poor nations, even amid the current economic slowdown, and called on the world body to hold an international meeting on the global financial crisis and its impact on development.

The four-day Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development, held in the Qatari capital, wrapped up today with the adoption of an outcome document – known as the Doha Declaration – reaffirming the landmark global partnership agreement for development agreed in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002.

Known as the Monterrey Consensus, that agreement addressed such issues as domestic resource mobilization, official development assistance (ODA), trade, foreign direct investment (FDI) and debt relief.

The Doha Declaration affirmed, in particular, that the commitment made in Monterrey for developed countries to devote 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to ODA must be maintained, despite the current financial crisis.

The text also called on donors to “untie” aid and make it more predictable, as well as encouraged efforts to increase the quality and effectiveness of assistance.

In addition, participants stressed the FDI must be funnelled to the sectors that would most advance development, reduce poverty and increase employment opportunities.

“The most serious global financial crisis since the creation of the United Nations” threatens the ability of countries to confront issues such as poverty, hunger and disease, according to a joint statement by the President of the General Assembly, Miguel D’Escoto, and the President of the Conference and Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, at the close of the meeting.

It also jeopardizes the ability of countries to provide the necessary financing to meet globally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – pledges to slash poverty, hunger, disease and other socio-economic ills by 2015, they stated.

In a separate statement, Mr. D’Escoto welcomed the adoption of the Declaration, saying “our negotiations have highlighted a new sense of solidarity and goodwill among nations at a time when we can be tempted to withdraw into our narrowly defined self-interests.”

He added that Member States must continue to monitor the unfolding financial crisis and “step up our search for viable responses to its underlying causes.” In that regard, the Doha Declaration calls for the holding of a high-level conference on the financial crisis and its impact on development. Mr. D’Escoto pledged to make preparations for this conference a priority.

The Doha meeting also agreed to consider the need to hold another follow-up conference on development financing in five years, by 2013.

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