International Conference on Financing for Development

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
18-22 March 2002

18 March 2002



The International Conference on Financing for Development was the critical middle act in a three-conference storyline that had begun with the Millennium Summit of 2000, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said in Monterrey, Mexico, this morning.

At a press conference ahead of the opening plenary session, he said that the Millennium Summit had laid out the goal of halving poverty by 2015 by reversing AIDS, malaria and environmental degradation, among other goals, and securing Western development support. The Monterrey event aimed to seek the commitment of developed countries and to create momentum for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where action plans would be presented.

He said that, while the goal of achieving a 0.7 per cent contribution of gross national product (GNP) from developed countries was important, the Monterrey Conference was much more interested in getting the kind of political will and commitment shown by United States President George W. Bush and the European Union.

The Conference wanted developing countries to commit to giving a higher priority to social spending -- on education, health and the environment -- and much higher levels of democratic governance, he said. In return, developed countries would support them with more trade, market access, investment and fresh external development support.

Also present was Jorge Castañeda, Foreign Minister of Mexico, who said the Government's first aim had been to achieve the broadest possible attendance for the Conference. At the governmental level, it had already met with huge success with 50 heads of State already present.

He said a second goal was the largest possible number of civil society participants from the private sector, non-governmental organizations and academia. The Government looked forward to seeing demonstrations and protests by Mexicans, as well as foreigners. While there would be complete freedom to demonstrate, it was hoped that protestors would avoid the violence seen during similar events in other cities.

A journalist asked how the American and European promises on official development assistance (ODA) could be considered achievements when they did not amount to even half the 0.7 per cent target.

Mr. Castañeda replied that it was necessary to strike the right balance between the solidity of the Monterrey consensus, on the one hand, and ideas emerging from the side events, on the other. The new ideas could be added to the outcome document.

He stressed that there was obviously a difference between the consensus and the documents from the preparatory process. It had been crucial to come to Monterrey with a consensus in order to avoid the confrontations seen at previous conferences.

Mr. Malloch Brown added that the Monterrey consensus would help avoid battles over minor details. Within its dry United Nations prose was a big new global deal, he added.

Responding to another question about the low profile of the ODA goals sought by the Conference, Mr. Malloch Brown replied that, while the European Union commitment and the Bush pledge fell far short of the needs of the millennium goals in monetary terms, they reversed in political terms a decades-long decline in development assistance.

Asked if there had been progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals set for 2015, he said that progress being made by the two thirds of the world population living in Asia were on track. However, the Latin America growth model had not delivered the successes seen in Asia, while Africa was falling further and further behind. In Eastern Europe, where the social safety net of the past had disappeared, there had been some success, but also small areas of significant poverty.

Another journalist asked how civil society would be convinced that they were part of the consensus when they claimed that the document had been watered down.

Mr. Malloch Brown replied that the consensus was a baseline platform on which all segments could build. Civil society participants were not the only ones disappointed by certain parts. They should see it as a glass half full, rather than half empty.

Mr. Castañeda added that some of the Mexican Government's ideas had also been left out, as had been those of others. That was the nature of consensus.

Asked what concrete steps could convince donors that corruption was being reduced, Mr. Malloch Brown said the drive for good governance must include attacks on corruption. Democratic institutions must be accountable to the people. Donors would not risk the wrath of their own public opinion by putting funds in the hands of corrupt leaders.

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