Ms. Tarja Halonen 
President of the Republic of Finland 

at the
International Conference on Financing for Development 

Monterrey, Mexico
21 March 2002

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We agreed at the UN Millennium Summit that we would do everything in our power to free humankind – men, women and children – of misery and extreme poverty. We decided that by 2015 we would halve the proportion of people who have to survive on less than a dollar a day. It is now time for us to start putting this decision into effect. 

A lot of things – both good and bad – have happened since the Millennium Summit. The terrorist attacks that shocked all of us made the world community to give more serious thought to the state of our world. The Millennium Declaration’s message about the importance of international cooperation and building a shared world is more topical than ever. 

We share one world and we all need each other. Every country bears the primary responsibility for her own economic and social development. However, many countries need outside support to be able to develop, and they must also get that help. 

Growth in global development aid is crucial in achieving the Millennium development goals. Finland is committed to the 0.7-per-cent target and as a first step we shall be increase our aid to 0.4 per cent of GNP by 2007. 

We need imagination, fresh-mindedness and creativity to find new sources of financing to supplement official development assistance. One possibility might be the idea of a global lottery which is now being examined in Finland. 

Official development assistance cannot be the only answer to the challenges of financing for development. More than four-fifths of the foreign capital that developing countries receive is private. At the moment, only few countries, which are seen to be the economically most promising, benefit from these capital flows. The task of development cooperation is to help especially the least-developed countries create the kinds of conditions that would make it possible for them to attract investment and financing also from private sources. 

The task of the World Trade Organisation is to liberalise trade, but also to provide a framework for fair trade. The special needs of developing countries, and especially of the least-developed ones, are taken into account in many ways in the WTO Treaty. This is a good basis to continue developing a fair trade system.

The importance of providing developing countries with technical assistance and of increasing capacity in the sector of trade and investment was emphasised in the Doha Declaration. Finland is further increasing her support for technical assistance programmes and urges the international community to quickly implement the measures agreed in the Doha Declaration. 

No aid will suffice unless the developing countries are able to share in the benefits of globalisation. Products and services originating in the developing countries must have the opportunity to gain fair access to markets in the industrial countries.

In accordance with the European Union’s “Everything But Arms” decision, products from the least-developed countries enjoy tariff-free access to the EU market. Finland hopes that other countries will follow the EU’s example.

A country’s most natural trade partner is often right next door. At the same time as trade is liberalised globally, trade between developing countries should also be opened. 

Economic growth can not alone eliminate poverty. For that we also need democracy, a more equitable distribution of income and to create social security systems. 

A central means of defeating poverty is education. Especially investment in education for girls and women promotes development and reduces poverty. Education helps people themselves to improve the conditions of their own and living standards of their communities.

Globalisation has much potential for widening opportunities, raising prosperity and promoting development. Globalisation can be a resource, an instrument for progress. Yet alongside the increased prosperity there are widening gaps. These gaps exist both between and within countries.

Better cooperation and interaction between international organisations, international financial institutions, national actors and civil society is a prerequisite for managing globalisation. The UN system has a central role in this work. 

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has appointed a World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, which I have the honour of co-chairing along with President Benjamin William Mkapa of Tanzania. The goal of the World Commission is to make proposals as to how as many individuals, peoples and countries as possible will be enabled to share in the benefits of globalisation and how the number who suffer from its adverse effects can be minimised. The World Commission will not be able to do its work alone. I am counting on all of you to give your help and support in this work.

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