21 Member States pledged approximately $470 million today in support of United Nations development activities for 2011 and elected officials during the 2010 Pledging Conference.
Opening the Conference, Nikhil Seth, Director of the Office of Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said recovery from the global economic crisis was “losing steam” and the negative consequences of the downturn would remain for years to come, particularly among poor, vulnerable countries.
Before the pledging for 2011 began, Mr. Seth pointed out that large gaps tended to appear between aid commitments and delivery, and noted that assistance to Africa was falling well below pledges. The Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicted a shortfall of almost $30 billion in country programmable aid, compared with 2010 commitments.
In September’s Millennium Development Goals Summit participants had expressed concern that current aid levels would not enable developing countries to realize their MDG targets and had called for the timely implementation of existing aid commitments. In addition, multiple global crises had generated new demands and needs.
Mr. Seth recognized that Member States had taken steps to improve the coherence of the United Nations system and cited the example of the eight “Delivering as One” pilot countries where the UN was charting new courses to ensure coherence. However, he also warned that the Organization’s agencies were feeling the repercussions of the global crisis because some major donors had reduced their 2009-2010 contributions. Trends for 2011 were uncertain. “The Pledging Conference therefore could not be more timely,” he concluded.
Before pledging began, Ms. Gulden Turkoz-Cosselett, UN Women’s Senior Advisor on system-wide coherence, made a statement on behalf of the entity’s newly appointed Head, Ms. Michelle Bachelet. In her address, she commended member states and their governments for their commitment and support for gender equality and women’s empowerment. “I hope to encourage you to sustain and extend that support by translating your political drive… into financial pledges to fund operations,” she said.
After pledging, officials expressed concern at the slump in funding by major donors due to the global economic crisis. Representatives from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Food Programme (WFP), highlighted the need for a broader donor base and generous, robust and flexible funding to ensure their ability to implement their core activities and ensure long-term effectiveness in meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Oumar Daou (Mali), President of the 2010 United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities, said while the global economic situation remained fragile, the crisis must not become a pretext for reducing official development assistance (ODA) since needs had increased over the years.
“The collective will to implement — and indeed go beyond — aid commitments has to be revamped,” he said, noting that last year’s Pledging Conference had brought in some $58 million. He suggested that Member States reflect on how to improve the Pledging Conference further so it could deliver fully on its potential. “It is our shared responsibility to make the Pledging Conference more effective and inclusive,” he stressed.