17 JUNE 2007
I would like to thank His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar for hosting this important event and for his generous hospitality. I would also like to thank His Excellency Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs; in particular, for his continuous support to the United Nations General Assembly and for convening this conference. Allow me to also express my personal gratitude to His Excellency Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and everyone that has helped to organize this event.
May I also thank all the participants for coming to Doha – Ministers, experts and distinguished delegates; in particular, those from the Least Developed Countries; and, the United Nations Development Programme and the Department for Economic and Social Affairs for their contribution towards the preparations for this meeting.
The internationally agreed Millennium Declaration, the Millennium Development Goals, and other internationally agreed development goals, and the outcomes of the 2002 Monterrey Financing for Development Conference and the 2005 World Summit have made an unprecedented contribution to focusing attention and galvanizing action around one of the greatest challenges of our time: the global fight against poverty and the promotion of human development for all.
In many regions good progress has been made on some of the Goals, but Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve any of the Goals. Even the best governed countries have not been able to make sufficient progress.
However, there are positive signs of economic growth in Africa; a reduction in civil conflicts; stronger domestic investment; greater transparency and more democracy.
But this progress remains fragile. Essential investment is required in agriculture, health, education and infrastructure in order to fight poverty and sustain job creation and economic growth.
We now have a crucial window of opportunity: we have reached the midpoint to the target date for achieving the MDGs in 2015 and there is a desperate need to accelerate progress.
Our ability to deliver on our promises – partner and donor countries – is also reflection of our commitment to effective multilateralism, and building greater trust among the global community.
Over the next couple of days I hope we can exchange views on the progress made so far to and identify those obstacles that threaten the achievement of the MDGs.
I would like to set the scene for the debate by taking stock of where we are and the challenges ahead. Our emphasis must be on partnership. The MDGs will only be achieved if partner countries, traditional and emerging donors, the private sector and civil society are fully engaged.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the beginning of the 21st century, a global family that is more interdependent than ever before. We also have the capacity and resources available to make sure that each member of the family is lifted out of poverty.
But in terms of development financing; aid dropped from US$106 billion in 2005 – a record high due to debt relief operation to Iraq and Nigeria – to US$104 billion in 2006. This represents a drop in real terms of 5.1%.
Excluding debt relief, Official Development Assistance (ODA) fell by 1.8% in real terms. Aid to sub-Saharan Africa, excluding debt relief, was static in 2006, leaving a challenge to meet the Gleneagles G8 summit commitment to increase aid by US$50 billion, and double aid to Africa by 2010.
Preliminary data shows that bilateral net ODA to sub-Saharan Africa rose by 23% in real terms, to about USD 28 billion. However, most of the increase was due to debt relief grants. Excluding debt relief for Nigeria, aid to sub-Saharan Africa increased by only 2%.
To meet existing commitments by the 2010 target aid will have to increase substantially in 2007 and 2008 through manageable increases. According to the OECD the present rates of increase in core development programmes will have to triple over the next four years to fulfill donor pledges.
However, we should also recognize that sixteen of the OECDs Development Assistance Committee’s 22 member countries met the 2006 targets for ODA that they set at the 2002 Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development.
And, at present the only countries to reach or exceed the United Nations target of 0.7% of GNI were Sweden, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark. Though many others have set timetables to reach this by 2015.
In addition to the quantity of aid, there also needs to be quality.
For aid to be effective each partner country needs to determine its own priorities, the pace and sequencing of reforms. National ownership and channeling aid through better use of national budgets is key.
Many partner countries have voiced concerns over the slow pace of change in donor practices as set out in the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness. Transaction costs are too high for many. In 2005 for example, 34 developing countries received over 10,500 donor missions; more than one for each working day.
Both partner countries and donors need to make better use of performance assessment frameworks and clearly definable development results.
The true test of aid effectiveness is the improvement in people’s lives. And in this area there is much more to be done.
For example, women account for two thirds of the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty. And two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women. And, in some countries, pregnancy and childbirth kill a woman every minute –- they die with no trained midwife or doctor to help.
270 million children worldwide have no access to healthcare, and four million children die each year in the first month of their short life. However, under five mortality rates have dropped, but not quickly enough to achieve the Child Mortality Goal.
Every year more than half a million women die needlessly from complications in pregnancy or child birth. That's almost one woman every minute.
We live in a world where each year malaria kills one million people, tuberculosis two million people, AIDS three million people. Every human life lost is a tragedy.
HIV infections are up to six times higher for young women than men, in Sub-Saharan Africa; and, by the end of the day 5000 more young women will be infected with HIV/AIDS,
In education, we are not on course to achieve equal enrolment of girls and boys by 2015, and net enrolment worldwide may only be around 87 per cent.
While globally we will meet the poverty reduction goal, there’s a huge challenge in Africa, which saw absolute poverty rise in the last decade.
The situation is worse in countries affected by conflict, which receive less aid but contain a higher proportion of the worlds poorest.
Almost two in three people lack access to clean drinking water. Close to half the population in developing countries suffer from health problems caused by poor water and sanitation. And, every day dirty water and inadequate sanitation kills 6,000 children.
To meet the water target we need to bring additional clean water to 300,000 people every day for the next decade.
All of these challenges are taking place in a rapidly globalizing world.
The current global economic outlook is being driven by buoyant growth in emerging economies, as well as favorable financial conditions. Globally developing countries now account for over 40 per cent of GDP – on a purchasing power parity basis; over 30 per cent of manufacturing exports; and, over one third of Foreign Direct Investment.
By 2010, 733 million more people in the developing world will be of working age. Many of them will migrate, internally and abroad, in search of a better life.
Within three decades, the urban populations of Africa, Asia and Latin America will double to nearly four billion human beings, putting an additional strain on basic services. Some countries are trading more, and are benefiting from and helping to create rising global prosperity, while others are being left behind. The stalled Doha Round was meant to address this. Concluding Doha could help to lift 140 million people out of poverty.
Climate change has the potential to cause untold damage.
In sub-Saharan Africa, a third of men, women and children are already malnourished. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that between 75 and 250 million people will be exposed to increase water stress. Higher temperatures and shorter rainy seasons could mean that food production is reduced by a fifth, making more people even hungrier and even poorer.
We do face huge challenges, but we should take hope from the progress that is being made.
In the past 40 years, life expectancy in the developing world increased by a quarter. In the past 30 years, illiteracy has fallen by half. In the past 20 years, 400 million people lifted out of absolute poverty. Smallpox has been eradicated, and we are nearly there with polio.
In 2005, the world came together and agreed to do more. The Millennium Summit, the Commission for Africa, the G8 and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. Donor countries agreed $50 billion extra in aid, with $25 billion to Africa, by 2010. And, new targets for access for all to AIDS treatment by, free basic education and health care.
The debt of 20 countries has been fully cancelled, over $81 billion, helping some to provide free health care and to build new classrooms.
The US$ 4 billion International Finance Facility for Immunization has been established to help save the lives of an additional 5 million children over the next decade.
At the fist thematic debate of the General Assembly in November 2006, the Islamic Development Bank announced US$10bn of new finance for the MDGs.
In 2007, the UAE announced a US$10 fund to improve access and the quality of education in the Muslim world.
In Germany, G8 leaders recommitted to increase development assistance and announced an additional US$60 to fight Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis.
Some Africa countries are demonstrating progress towards the MDGs is possible when strong government leadership and good policies are combined with adequate financial and technical support from the international community.
Recent examples include:
Malawi’s doubling of agricultural productivity during in one year growing season through a voucher programme for fertilizers and seeds.
Ghana is successfully implementing a national school feeding programme using locally produced foods.
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and many other countries have abolished fees for primary schools resulting in dramatic increases in enrolment during the space of a few years.
In 2006, Zambia cancelled fees for basic rural health services and Burundi introduced free medical care for mothers and children.
Many African governments, with growing donor support, are now taking to national scale the lessons of the Millennium Villages – that local leadership and a combination of interventions can transform poor communities in a short period of time.
In partnership, we have made progress in a number of areas.
We may not have made poverty history, but we are making progress. The challenge for all of us is to make good on our commitments and work in closer partnership. This includes the commitment to good governance and additional development finance.
Development doesn’t happen without effective states, capable of delivering services to their citizens and helping economies to grow. States that respond to peoples’ needs and which, in turn, can be held to account.
Social justice, human rights and gender equality is critical to economic prosperity.
This is why partnerships with civil society, NGOs, the media and private sector have such an important role in achieving the MDGs. Over the past decade the civil society organizations have become important global player in development contributing over US$10 billion in global oda.
The private sector is critical for generating jobs and higher wages, allowing higher public spending on basic services such as education and health.
The ultimate test of achieving our shared goals will be about how we manage sustainable development in this world of population growth, rapid urbanization, scarce natural resources, and climate change.
But most of all, if the MDGs are to be achieved, it is critical that both developing and developed countries work to live up to their respective commitments.
If developing countries adopt comprehensive national strategies - and implement them for the benefit of all citizens - then developed countries and emerging donors must deliver on commitments to provide additional resources to enable these strategies to succeed.
Donors need to accelerate their plans to scale up assistance, to maintain the credibility of their 2005 pledge to double aid, in particular to Africa by 2010. Moreover, donors need to issue country-by country timelines for how they are going to increase aid, so partner governments can plan for essential investments and prepare supporting macroeconomic frameworks.
Developing countries need to develop credible long term investment plans, strengthen good governance and continue to fight corruption.
Despite the lack of progress towards the MDGs, the Goals remain achievable even in most African countries. Yet time is running out to make the needed practical investments. Existing commitments made and reaffirmed by world leaders at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles and the 2005 World Summit are sufficient to meet the Goals. At the midway point of 2007, these commitments must be urgently translated into practical plans with systematic follow-through by all parties.
This global partnership for development is a compact.
When poverty is so immediate and the suffering so intense, the world has a moral and strategic obligation, to address the concerns of the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly in Africa.
The President of the United States, John Kennedy once warned us that if in a free society cannot help the many who are poor; it cannot save the few who are rich.
Each of us here today has a responsibility for delivering their share of the commitments we have promised, or, holding others to account.
We must remember that these commitments are endorsed by world leaders, and I quote;
“We, Heads of State and Government….. strongly reiterate our determination to ensure the timely and full realization of the Millennium Development Goals….. We underline the need for urgent action on all sides”. End quote.
I hope that our discussions today can cement our ongoing partnership and pave the way for new ones, in the spirit of achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.