‘No Going Back on Millennium Development Goals’, Says Deputy Secretary-General, Cautioning against Trend to Roll Back Aid Commitments in Tough Economic Times

18 October 2011

‘No Going Back on Millennium Development Goals’, Says Deputy Secretary-General, Cautioning against Trend to Roll Back Aid Commitments in Tough Economic Times

18 October 2011
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

‘No Going Back on Millennium Development Goals’, Says Deputy Secretary-General,

Cautioning against Trend to Roll Back Aid Commitments in Tough Economic Times

Following are the remarks by UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to the Second High-Level Symposium on the Development Cooperation Forum, in Luxembourg today, 18 October:

It is a pleasure to join you.

On behalf of the United Nations, let me extend my gratitude to our hosts, the Government of Luxembourg.

It is fitting that we gather here.  Luxembourg has been a true development cooperation champion.  It dedicates a high share of its gross national income (GNI) to aid.  It has spearheaded efforts to improve the quality of aid.

We meet at a time of economic crisis and profound uncertainty.  The poorest are being hit hardest.  The Secretary-General and I are both deeply committed to strengthening the development work of the United Nations.  I know you are, too.

Over the past five years, the Development Cooperation Forum has evolved into a vibrant multi-stakeholder platform representing the wide reach of the United Nations’ Member States.

The [Forum] has kept us alert about trends in development cooperation and on commitments made.  It has identified aid quality issues and advanced our understanding of policy coherence and South-South cooperation.  And it has shown how to improve mutual accountability between donors and programme countries.

The Forum is now reviewing how development cooperation can best advance the outcomes of the 2010 [Millennium Development Goals] summit and the Fourth High-Level Conference on Least Developed Countries earlier this year.  It will also reflect on Rio+20 and a post-2015 development agenda.

Today’s meeting is further testimony to the ability of the [Forum] to advance our thinking on an issue of vital importance to the world’s people.

As countries around the globe develop fiscal austerity measures, aid budgets are often the first targets.  We must resist this trend.  There should be no going back on the Millennium Development Goals.  Development commitments made should be development commitments kept.  I hope that next month’s Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan will say this loud and clear.

At the same time, we must work together to maximize the development impact of aid — the theme of our Symposium.  Developing countries must find ways to raise additional domestic resources and create the conditions for investment to flourish.  Donors must find ways to leverage the impact of limited development assistance monies on other financing for development.

Both must work together so that aid helps to strengthen tax systems, promote access to inclusive financial services and attract foreign direct investment.

The mobilization of additional resources can, however, only be a first step.  We must also ensure that additional funds go where they have the greatest development benefits.  More aid needs to go to the most vulnerable.  This is critical to fight rising inequalities within countries.

We must also address the stubborn problem of so-called “aid darlings” and “aid orphans”.  Aid should be allocated based on needs.  We also have more work to do to advance policy coherence for development.

Progress on trade and investment rules, financing facilities and intellectual property rights are all essential if we are to unleash the catalytic potential of aid.

Since much aid is channelled outside the formal budget process, developing countries often do not know how much may be available to them and for what purpose.

The diverse modalities of development assistance have also made it more challenging for developing countries to use aid and other resources to best support their development priorities.

We will discuss how aid management and other policies can maximize the impact on development.  Greater mutual accountability is essential to improve aid quantity and quality.

Yet we know that progress in establishing accountability mechanisms has been soberingly slow.  I understand that yesterday’s Expert Group Meeting provided some good ideas.  Let us be sure to follow up.

As we engage in these two-day discussions, let us keep in mind what matters most.  Any policy should find its ultimate test in the improvements it brings into the lives of people, and on the poorest and most vulnerable in particular.  This should be the yardstick against which we identify good practices and policies that work.

Let us fully use the potential of the Development Cooperation Forum to build agreement and understanding on major trends and the responses we must pursue.

I wish you very fruitful deliberations.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.