I am honoured to join the President of the General Assembly in welcoming you to this launch of the substantive preparations for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development, to be held in Doha, Qatar, later this year.
The Doha Conference will review implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, one of the most significant international agreements ever achieved through the United Nations. The Monterrey Consensus lies at the heart of the global partnership for development, with its framework for mutual accountability. And the partnership itself is widely recognized as absolutely vital to achieving the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals.
The General Assembly has set out the basic modalities for the Doha Conference and its preparatory process. On behalf of the Secretary-General, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to President Kerim for his strong leadership of this process, assisted by two most able Facilitators, Ambassador Lovald of Norway and Ambassador Abdelaziz of Egypt.
The President has introduced the full roadmap to Doha, including the substantive review sessions on each of the six thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus, plus hearings with civil society and the business sector.
To contribute to a successful outcome to the Doha Conference, the review sessions should aim to assess progress made, reaffirm goals and commitments, as well as share best practices and lessons learned. They should also identify actions and initiatives to overcome obstacles and constraints, important measures for further implementation, as well as new challenges and emerging issues. All Member States and relevant stakeholders are invited to actively contribute to the preparatory process. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs, DESA, is here to serve and support you in this challenging endeavour.
The financing for development process also relates to other intergovernmental events this year, such as the spring meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, WTO and UNCTAD; UNCTAD-XII in April, ECOSOC’s first Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) in July, and the Accra meeting on aid effectiveness in September. All these and other related activities feed into the process leading up to the Doha Conference.
We have, before us, the latest substantive report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to Monterrey (A/62/217) and the summary by the President of the General Assembly of the recent High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (A/62/550).
We are also fortunate to have with us two distinguished panels of internationally renowned experts to introduce the themes of the first two review sessions, to take place today and tomorrow: “Mobilizing domestic financial resources for development” and “Mobilizing international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows”. So, allow me to make just some very brief remarks on each of the themes.
The Monterrey Consensus reaffirms the primary responsibility of developing countries to mobilize their domestic resources for development, by strengthening governance, redirecting revenues, increasing savings and supporting entrepreneurship. At the same time, it calls on developed countries to be active partners in the development process by providing assistance and ensuring that global conditions are conducive to development.
Since the adoption of the Consensus, many developing countries have improved their macroeconomic management and increased domestic savings and investments. However, despite higher social expenditures per capita and a receding share of the poor in total world population, poverty is still on the increase, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, serious income and wealth inequalities persist, economic insecurity for most workers has grown, and rates of unemployment and underemployment are still very high in many countries. In order to achieve the MDGs and the other internationally agreed development goals, national development strategies should aim at better integrating the poor into the productive economy, through more inclusive financial sectors and investing in human resources.
The Consensus calls on Governments to continue to improve the business climate. An enabling business environment is critical to attract and absorb stable and long-term capital for domestic and international investment. Some developing countries have made greater progress in this regard than others, especially in terms of legal and regulatory reform and provision of information to prospective investors.
Private capital flows play an increasingly important role in supplementing developing countries’ domestic resources. But the overall development impact of these flows is limited by their concentration in a dozen fast-growing emerging markets. Increased efforts are needed, at national and international levels, to promote green-field foreign direct investment in low-income countries, especially beyond natural resources, and to enhance that investment’s contribution to development.
According to the United Nations flagship economic report, World Economic Situation and Prospects 2008, economic growth this year will be compromised by recent global imbalances and new financial uncertainties. The stakes are high for both developed and developing countries, and especially for the poor and most vulnerable people. As the world economy slows down, Governments must strive to avoid global recession and safeguard growth against financial turmoil. The current international financial instability highlights growing international economic inter-dependence and the pressing need for a robust global partnership for development.
The preparatory process of the Doha Conference provides a unique opportunity for all States and relevant stakeholders to strengthen multilateral cooperation in development finance. Let us seize this important opportunity to advance the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus and to lay the groundwork for a successful outcome to the Review Conference in Doha.