The first UN-sponsored summit-level meeting to address key financial and related issues pertaining to global development and international economic cooperation was held in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2002. The scope of participation was unprecedented, with 50 heads of state and over 200 ministers of finance, foreign affairs, development and trade. They were joined by the heads of the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and by prominent business and civil society leaders. Also unprecedented was joint sponsorship by the UN, World Bank, IMF and WTO.
The six-part Monterrey Consensus that emerged from the summit is the most comprehensive and authoritative statement of development principles to which both developing and developed countries have formally subscribed. Agreement on its thematic areas of domestic resource mobilization, private capital flows, trade, aid, debt and international systemic issues helped to close the post-Cold War gap between the North and South on economic and development thinking, and also marked the beginning of a new era of cooperation between the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and the UN.
Pledges of increased development cooperation made by donors in Monterrey reversed the declining trend in official development assistance in the 1990s and initiated the ODA surge at the outset of the twenty-first century. Reforms such as those agreed to in Monterrey are credited as key contributions to the economic surge among developing and emerging economies in the five years following the FfD conference, 2003-2007.
Since 2003, the UN General Assembly has held biennial discussions on the Monterrey Consensus, and progress assessments are also held each year when the UN Economic and Social Council hosts high-level representatives of the Bretton Woods institutions, the WTO and UNCTAD. But the 2008 Follow-up Conference will stand as the first high-level intergovernmental review of the entire Monterrey Consensus and assessment of new areas for action.
2008 has seen intensive activity on the finance and economic fronts. An international credit crunch early in the year and drop in economic growth rates were matched by soaring prices of food, energy and basic commodities. Trading relations have come under strain, and sovereign wealth funds that are breaking new ground in cross-border investment have stirred both interest and unease. Overall, gains made for development and against poverty are threatened.
The United Nations is therefore paying special attention to matters related to finance and development.
This series of development-centered discussions culminated in the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, in Doha, Qatar, 29 November – 2 December. At this pivotal meeting, representatives of Governments, international agencies, civil society and the private sector took stock of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, and of new challenges and emerging issues arising since the landmark meeting in Monterrey, Mexico.