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H.E. Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, President

23 September 2008

Statement Summary

BHARRAT JAGDEO, President of Guyana, said the current global financial crisis, record high food and fuel prices, and the world’s belated attention to climate change’s devastating social and economic impact, made the theme for this year’s debate timely and necessary.  All delegations must make good on their previous pledges and be committed to truly changing the multilateral system on the basis of relevant mandates, accountable institutions, integration and interconnectedness.  The theme of the Assembly’s next session should emphasize accountability and coherence of action by the developed world on aid, trade and development.

The current financial crisis revealed failures by market mechanisms for governance and oversight, as well as fundamental weaknesses in the global financial governance system, he said.  Many of the standards and much of the scrutiny applied routinely to smaller countries were not applied to some larger countries that actually posed much greater systematic risk.  Small, vulnerable economies like Guyana would bear the full effect of those developments.  Economic growth and poverty reduction efforts would suffer a severe setback and the Millennium Development Goals would become even more elusive, he added.

As published statistics showed that global food demand would double by 2030, the international community should urgently increase productivity and technology transfer to stave off widespread starvation, he said.  It must also acknowledge the inextricable link between agricultural development and food security, and give agriculture high priority in national budgets.  Despite agriculture’s comparative advantage in poverty reduction, ODA for the agriculture sector had fallen from 17 per cent in 1980 to 2.9 per cent in 2006.  The 2007 World Development Report showed that agriculture-generated growth could be up to four times more effective in reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.  The global community must design and fund appropriate safety nets to ensure improved access to food and basic nutrition.

The world’s response to climate change must be expedited, he continued.  Despite some promising signs, including the emergence of a $60 billion carbon market, most of the money to fight climate change stayed in the developed world.  New high-growth, low-carbon economies and national development supporting progress towards global emissions targets were needed.  Leaders of rainforest countries were not merely poor, passive countries looking for aid.  They were critical to the climate change solution and should be leading the design of post-Kyoto climate mechanisms.  He pleaded with European Union leaders to review the economic partnership agreements it was negotiating with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries before they irretrievably harmed the good historic relations between those regions.

The reform agenda of international financial institutions should not be driven by fear that sovereign wealth funds, regional financial arrangements and new bilateral sources of development financing would make some organizations obsolete, he said.  Rather, it must be driven by what was necessary for good global governance and steady, demonstrable improvement in people’s daily lives.  Institutions must have new mandates that were relevant to current circumstances, reflective of equitable representation of their membership, flexible, responsive and with the highest standards of accountability and transparency.  The World Bank should have a revised mandate focusing on environmental protection, clean energy and certain aspects of poverty reduction, rather than attempting to address every development challenge, thus undermining its own effectiveness.

[Source: GA/10749]