H.E. Mr. Geir H. Haarde, Prime Minister
26 September 2008
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GEIR H. HAARDE, Prime Minister of Iceland, said that, to eradicate the manifold causes of poverty, experience had shown that a combination of local, regional and international initiatives were required. The international community needed to fulfil promises made to the most vulnerable, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The forthcoming meeting in Doha on Financing for Development would test the world’s resolve to that end. Iceland hoped to be among the top ODA contributors, having already doubled its budget for development cooperation in the past four years, he added.
Apathy and despair were not an option when it came to the interconnected challenges of soaring food costs, underdevelopment and climate change. The cost of inaction would rise correspondingly, and urgent humanitarian and long-term structural issues needed to be addressed. 95 per cent of the people dependant on harvesting living marine resources lived in developing countries, and Iceland continued to impart its knowledge and experience to strengthen food security.
The urgency of addressing climate change had been emphasized by Iceland and other small island developing States on the frontlines of its impacts. He called for the combined efforts of the global community to tackle the threat. He welcomed the Pacific island initiative to propose a resolution in the Assembly on security and climate change, and stressed that the world’s dependence on fossil fuels could only be broken by offering efficient and economical alternatives. Iceland had offered its expertise on geothermal and hydroelectric power to developing States, and continued to host the Geothermal Training Programme of the United Nations University.
Noting the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said that, although the world no longer tolerated racial discrimination, the time had come to make sexual discrimination as universally unacceptable. Iceland continued to promote international gender equality through multilateral efforts with the United Nations, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the World Bank.
In order to bring the United Nations into the twenty-first century, it required better technology and communications, as well as more efficient management. However, despite its imperfections, the United Nations retained an indispensable role in the international system, and a high level of ambition and adaptability should be encouraged. He also rallied other Member States to follow Iceland’s example by making the purpose and work of the United Nations an integral part of national primary and secondary education programmes.