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Add Concrete Support to Regional Preparations for Copenhagen Climate Conference,
Deputy Secretary-General Urges Coordination Mechanism of Africa Commission
Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s address to the opening of the Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa on 5 November:
I am delighted to be back with you in the warm and historic city of Addis Ababa for this Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) meeting. Last year, at our ninth session, I underscored the need for the high-level participation of all United Nations agencies and organizations in the RCM process. Your presence at this session indicates that you received my appeal positively and have acted on it. Thank you.
I am also grateful for the strong and constructive partnership we have with the African Union Commission. The United Nations General Assembly mandated the entire United Nations system to support the African Union’s NEPAD [New Partnership for Africa’s Development] programme. I thank my brothers, the Chairperson of African Union Commission, Jean Ping, and the CEO of NEPAD, Ibrahim Mayaki, for their efforts. Let me also thank the Executive Secretary of ECA, Abdoulie Janneh, under whose leadership the RCM has taken on a higher profile and become an even more effective forum for Africa’s priorities.
This is a momentous period for Africa. The broad impacts of climate change and the global financial crisis have overshadowed our hard-won development gains. Between 2000 and 2008, Africa achieved impressive economic growth that averaged more than 5 per cent per year. Prudent macroeconomic policies, good governance and an improved environment for private-sector investment all played their parts.
But that good news is in peril. The economic crisis, for which Africa bears no responsibility, has drastically reversed recent trends. Africa’s growth for 2009 is projected to hit a paltry 1.7 per cent. We have already seen dwindling export revenues and reduced remittances. Many people are losing their jobs and falling back into poverty. Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is likely to be adversely affected. The food and energy crises, as well as climate change, will also complicate our work.
Last year, many of you participated in the MDG Africa Steering Group. The Secretary-General sought to bring together the eight leading multilateral institutions working in Africa around a practical plan to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. It was gratifying to see the recommendations endorsed by the African Union last July. And we have seen some progress in implementing them. For instance, the $20 billion L’Aquila Initiative directly addresses one of our principal concerns: the need to raise agricultural productivity across Africa.
Much more remains to be done. I call on you and your institutions to join us in a concerted effort to implement the Steering Group’s recommendations. That is why the MDG Africa Secretariat recently asked you to take stock of achievements thus far. I look forward to meeting with you on 23 November as the MDG Africa Working Group to review our progress and identify areas where action needs to be intensified.
In particular, I would like to draw your attention to the work that has been done on an initial set of 10 “Gleneagles Scenarios”. These analyses have given us a clear indication of what could be achieved if donors follow through on their Gleneagles commitments to more than double aid to Africa. They also show that scaling up can be achieved without compromising the macroeconomic stability that so many African countries have fought to achieve.
The Secretary-General and I, in close collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, use every opportunity to call on donors to put forward country-by-country plans to deliver on the Gleneagles commitments. We hope you will join us in this advocacy. We also hope you will work with donors to ensure that countries have the support they need to implement their national development strategies.
I cannot overstate the urgency of this work. There are only five years left before the Millennium Development Goal target year of 2015. Despite some notable achievements, progress is off track across the continent. Our poor progress on improving maternal health is particularly troubling.
The General Assembly has endorsed the Secretary-General’s call for a high-level plenary meeting next September. We hope this gathering will catalyse action for the Goals, particularly in Africa. To ensure success in 2010, we need your input and engagement. We need you to make the meeting a key focus of your work over the next year. The threat of catastrophic climate change will continue to be a significant part of this picture. The success of next month’s United Nations Conference in Copenhagen will be crucial for Africa and the entire world.
A few weeks ago, at the Secretary General’s Summit on Climate Change in New York, we heard again how Africa is affected by climate change. We also discussed what the continent must do to respond. And more recently, African ministers agreed on a set of key priorities for the continent, including adaptation, mitigation, finance and technology transfers. And Africa has resolved to send a strong, united team to Denmark to represent these interests. Today’s meeting provides an opportunity for the RCM to add concrete support to Africa’s national and regional preparations for Copenhagen. The RCM can support African countries in making constructive contributions that will help us reach shared understandings in December.
While we have intensified our work in Africa, we must do more to engage as one United Nations family. We need to build on the complementarities and inherent synergies that make the United Nations system unique. The “Delivering as One” pilots show us how this can be done at the country level. Across the continent, the RCM and the United Nations Development Group Regional Directors’ Team (RDT) give us focused channels through which we can make our support coherent, consistent and more effective at the regional and national levels in Africa.
The RCM has come a long way since 1999. There is real cause to celebrate. The Mechanism is performing its envisaged functions. More and more United Nations agencies are showing high-level commitment to the RCM. They are participating in the work of its clusters. Interagency coordination has been strengthened. And the relationship between the United Nations and African regional and subregional organizations has been enriched.
Crucially, the RCM Secretariat is playing a more proactive and strategic role in supporting the clusters. This is possible because you have provided financial and human resources to support the work of the Secretariat. Many institutions have also taken concrete steps to align their work programmes with the priorities of the African Union. Our immediate challenge is to sustain the achievements we are celebrating today, while embracing the challenges of the future.
Looking ahead, we need to ensure that the RCM’s work is woven more fully into the architecture of the United Nations system. We must ensure a clear link with the Chief Executives’ Board for Coordination -- the CEB — and its three pillars: the High-Level Committee on Programmes, the High-Level Committee on Management, and the United Nations Development Group. The RCM should also be an implementation channel for the CEB’s nine Joint Crisis Initiatives to combat the economic and financial crisis.
The economic crisis makes the need for action even more urgent. The crisis has pushed about 100 million people back into extreme poverty. It has cost more than 50 million jobs this year alone. Although some markets are bouncing back, the so-called green shoots of recovery have not produced new jobs. The crisis will not be over until those who want to work, can.
This is why the CEB’s initiatives include the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Global Jobs Pact. And this is why we are creating a new Global Impact Vulnerability Alert System, or GIVAS. If we are to have smart, effective policymaking, it needs to be informed by real-time data and analysis on how the crisis is affecting the poorest and most vulnerable. We need your support in advancing these initiatives. We should also work on linking the RCM to the CEB’s High-Level Committee on Programmes. As a model, we may wish to look at the ways in which the RDT is linked to the United Nations Development Group.
And we need to continue building on the ever-stronger collaboration between the RCM and RDT at the regional level. There is much we can do to ensure ever greater synergy between these two regional entities. The starting point for greater collaboration should be a consensus on common goals and priorities. And from this consensus, decisions on the division of labour between the RCM and RDT can proceed, consistent with each body’s comparative advantages. Flexibility and pragmatism should be the hallmarks of this effort. We must be ambitious, but we must also be able to deliver on our ambition.
We can build in the flexibility needed to enable interaction on a selective basis. I hope that at this meeting, we can consider the division of labour between the RDT and the RCM. For instance, the RDT could focus more on operations while the RCM focuses more on policy, normative and analytical work. Similarly, the RDT could focus on countries while the RCM focuses on themes.
Doing this would make the RCM stronger and more efficient in coordinating the work of the United Nations in Africa. Indeed, this task is so crucial that we should embark on it immediately. ECA and other regional commissions, as coordinators of the RCM, should lead this process.
Let us make this tenth session another memorable one. Let us rededicate ourselves to the objectives of the RCM in support of the African Union and NEPAD. And let us play a concrete role in responding to Africa’s concerns in Copenhagen in December and on the Millennium Development Goals in New York next year.
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