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New Ways to Complement, Strengthen Traditional Assistance Needed, Stresses
Deputy Secretary-General at High-level Dialogue on Development Financing
Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s opening address at the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in New York on 7 December:
I am pleased to address this fifth High-level Dialogue of the General Assembly on Financing for Development.
We are meeting at a time of continued crisis and uncertainty, not only for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, but also in most donor countries. Recovery remains fragile and uneven. Unemployment and vulnerable employment persist. Poverty is on the rise due to high food and energy prices. In the Horn of Africa, famine threatens more than 13 million people.
As a result, many developing countries need additional assistance to cope with the impact of the crisis and to expand their social safety nets. Yet most donor countries, faced with mounting debts, are tightening their budgets. They face a vicious circle of low growth, low revenue and high debt.
In this difficult environment, it is critical that donor countries fulfil their commitments to official development assistance. This was the key message the Secretary-General brought to the High-level Meeting on Aid Effectiveness last week in Busan, Republic of Korea. We cannot allow the economic crisis to deflect us from our commitment to the world’s poorest people. Development cooperation is not charity; it is smart investment in security and prosperity.
The United Nations welcomes the recent decision by G-20 (Group of Twenty) leaders to “further strengthen global financial safety nets” with a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) lending facility. However, we need to do more.
While Government budgets are tight, we also have to find new ways to complement and strengthen traditional aid. We need to do more to address all the foundations of the partnership for development, as set out in the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration, including domestic resource mobilization, investment, trade, aid, debt relief and reforms of global economic governance.
We must do more to enable long-term public investments in infrastructure, green technology, human capital, public services and social protection. Poverty eradication and productive employment opportunities must remain priorities on national development agendas. Policies that promote more effective and equitable tax systems, combat tax evasion and corruption, and support financial inclusion continue to be crucial for domestic resource mobilization. There is also a need for greater investment in sustainable development, including climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
A successful conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations remains essential. I urge the States involved to achieve an “early harvest” that provides duty-free and quota-free access for all exports from the least developed countries. While many developing countries have been leading economic recovery internationally, they continue to face a wide range of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, such as agricultural subsidies, as well as creeping protectionism. Moreover, after opening up their economies in the expectation that this would lead to export-driven growth, they are now being told to produce for their small domestic markets.
This is doubly dissatisfying; first, because it cannot generate growth at the scale necessary, and second, because these countries made a deliberate transition away from their former food and other productive capacities, and hence now lack the ability to do so, even if they wanted to.
The debt picture is equally troubling. We must ensure that the spill-over effects from debt crises in the developed world do not jeopardize debt sustainability in developing countries. Fresh efforts are needed to extend debt relief to the poorest and most vulnerable countries — and, more broadly, to explore how to deal with debt distress more effectively and fairly.
In his recent report on “Global economic governance and development”, the Secretary-General called for enhanced coordination, coherence and effective policymaking across the entire United Nations system. He stressed the importance of mutually supportive engagement between the United Nations and forums such as the G-20. He called for better anticipation and management of economic and social risks, including those associated with natural hazards. And he emphasized the need for developing countries to have a greater voice. Ongoing “quota and voice” reforms at the Bretton Woods institutions are important steps in this direction.
As we begin to consider the post-2015 development framework, we should start by building on the lessons offered by a decade of experience with the Millennium Development Goals. The values and principles contained in the Millennium Declaration remain as relevant as ever, but we must think about how to operationalize them even more effectively.
We also need to recognize new development challenges that have come to the fore since the Millennium Development Goals were first articulated: issues such as inequality, climate change and food and energy security.
Next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development is a crucially important opportunity to give new life to this agenda. Today’s Dialogue, for its part, can help to advance the discussion about the global partnership that is at the heart of our efforts to protect the future well-being of our planet and its people.
I wish you a most productive meeting.
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