Kjell Magne Bondevik
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
At the Millennium Summit, leaders across the world declared they would spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from extreme poverty.
One and a half year later we meet again. The peoples of the world are looking to us in anticipation. They expect real steps towards realising the goals in the Millennium Declaration. Poverty is the biggest challenge of our time.
Six months ago, the terrible events of September 11 shocked the world. The terrorist attacks were an assault on everyone who values life and liberty. We stand united in the war on terrorism.
Today, the call is to fight poverty. No country can remain neutral in the battle against poverty, just like no country can stay apart from the fight against international terrorism.
Five European Prime Ministers state in an article in the International Herald Tribune today: We formed a strong coalition against terrorism. We need an equally strong coalition against poverty.
September 11 also tore down the invisible wall that divides poor and rich. Terror is not the voice of the poor. But these events brought home to us all a recognition that we have to address poverty, lack of development and social injustice in a serious manner if we are to win the long-term battle against international terrorism.
Reducing poverty by half by 2015 is the centrepiece of the Millennium
Development Goals. Therefore, we must take action to:
In order to succeed, we all have to focus on our own deliverables. My
Government has just launched its own Action Plan for Combating Poverty.
In that plan we pledge:
It also focuses on nationally owned poverty reduction strategies and the imperative need for improved donor-coordination. Here, the developed countries have to deliver. We also have to provide better market access for developing countries and contribute further to ease their debt burden and fully finance the HIPC debt initiative.
In addition, development assistance is crucial. For poverty to go down, aid must go up. The Zedillo Panel, the World Bank, the IMF and the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health have all concluded that there is a need to at least double the present level of ODA.
But the donor countries collectively provide only a third of the aid they have committed themselves to, or only 0.22 per cent of their aggregate GDP. Only five countries have reached the target of providing 0.7 per cent of our GDP as ODA. We have every reason to concentrate on the volume of ODA.
The Monterrey Consensus demonstrates that we, the international community, are in basic agreement on the means to eliminate poverty. We know what works, and what does not. We know what is needed to get where we want. That is in itself a major achievement.
What we lack is sufficient political will to mobilise the resources necessary to make a real difference in people's lives.
It has been said that the Monterrey Consensus is a good menu, and I agree. But, a menu has never fed a hungry man or a hungry woman.
We must use Monterrey to mobilise the resources that mean real improvements for people.
That is why I welcome recent announcements by the EU-countries and the US to increase development assistance. That is good. However, I strongly urge all donor countries to set specific deadlines and indicate timeframes for increase in their ODA towards 0,7. Because we still have very far to go! Status quo will not do.
We can and must win this fight against poverty. Let us agree that it is our joint responsibility to provide to all people their birth right as human beings: Life, liberty and opportunity. There cannot be a cause more noble. There cannot be a task more sublime. Now is the time to act.
Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Statements at the Conference