|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Aid Is Not Charity, Says Secretary-General, but Smart Investment in Security,
Prosperity, an Engine of Growth that Creates Jobs, Expands Markets
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as delivered, to the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, in Busan, Republic of Korea, on 30 November:
It is a great honour to meet you today. Good morning. Annyong hashimnikka. President Lee [Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea], our thanks on behalf of the United Nations for hosting this important meeting. And I’d like to thank the citizens of Busan, this vibrant and dynamic city, for their warm hospitality. And I also want to thank the Honourable Secretary-General of the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development], Mr. Angel Gurría, for his leadership.
We have noted the OECD survey on aid effectiveness, conducted in preparation for this meeting. The results are “sobering”, as you said this morning. It found that development aid has become more fragmented at a time when unity of effort is much more needed. We can, and must, do better now.
We meet at a critical time. Only four years remain before we hit the target of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. And aid is everywhere under pressure. We continue to feel the bite of the global economic crisis. Many countries face growing budgetary constraints. Among the developed nations, there is pressure to cut official development assistance.
Our agenda today is clear. We are here to build on the foundations we laid in Paris, Accra, and Rome before that. We are here to ensure that aid reaches those most in need, most vulnerable people who we have to take care of, that this aid is flexible, accountable, and country-driven.
With this in mind, I have four messages to deliver to all of you. First, to the traditional donors, I say: do not let this economic crisis, do not let short-term austerity deflect you from your long-term commitment to the world’s poorest people. Aid has helped to dramatically reduce child mortality. It has slowed the spread of HIV/AIDS. It has reduced poverty worldwide.
Cutting aid will not balance your budgets. But it will hurt the poor — the most vulnerable people of the human family.
Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, despite this very difficult economic crisis, have boldly proved that it is possible to meet global commitments and domestic fiscal needs at the same time. I applaud the leadership of Prime Minister David Cameron. I call on all traditional donors to make that same choice.
Assistance is not charity. It is smart investment in security and prosperity. It is an engine of growth that creates jobs and expands markets. Aid is especially important for countries in transition from conflict. No conflict-affected country has achieved even one of the Millennium Development Goals.
That is why I am very encouraged that the “g7+” core of conflict-affected countries has been working with OECD donors and the United Nations to develop a “new deal” for more effective engagement. This new deal is an opportunity to focus much-needed attention on peacebuilding and State-building. I urge all to pursue this important work.
My second message to the countries that receive aid is equally urgent. To those aid-recipient countries, I say: Set clear development priorities and strategies. Build up your planning capacity. Deliver on your policy commitments. Enhance transparency. Stamp out corruption, which undermines trust in governance and institutions. Put in place the regulatory frameworks and incentives that will generate private investment and entrepreneurship. And engage civil society — crucial partners on the ground.
Let me turn now to the growing club of new and emerging [donor] countries. To you, I say: step up. Europe and the United States may be struggling, but in East and South Asia, in Latin America and even Africa, many economies are growing. Millions of people have been lifted from poverty. With such success comes responsibility.
This is your chance to assume your new leadership. I urge you to increase your role as donors, as our host Korea has done. I am very proud as a Korean that Korea has now become a donor country in the world from a poverty-stricken, war-devastated country. Support highly productive multilateral initiatives such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — which is in dire need of increased financial support. Work with the United Nations, alongside traditional donors, to assist the least developed countries, countries emerging from conflict, countries in transition.
The United Nations’ Delivering As One effort aligns the work of our funds and programmes — and our peacekeeping and political support — with country priorities. It offers a coherent, country-level platform for effective aid.
Fourth, my message to the private sector. To business and industry, I say: your skills, ideas and dynamism can make the difference. Partnership is the way; Governments, the international community, private enterprise, philanthropic and non-governmental organizations, working together. I have seen the power of such partnership.
I have seen it in Rwanda — President [Paul] Kagame is here with us — where the Government is setting trends in gender empowerment, service delivery, internet connectivity and green growth. I have seen it in Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh, Indonesia and Thailand, where the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health is a vivid example of development cooperation at its smartest. I have seen how strategic partnerships can work to Scale Up Nutrition — another showcase for effective aid.
I’d like to highly commend again, applaud the leadership of [United States] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton here, with whom I have been working very hard to raise awareness of Scale Up Nutrition and the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. We are building a similar alliance to ensure Sustainable Energy for All. These examples point toward the realization of the eighth Millennium Development Goal — the global partnership for development.
We must be able to measure, not only resources invested, but the results. How we can deliver these results on the ground, to the people who are in need of our support. We need to know when aid is not delivered, or lost to corruption. That is why my first principle for effective aid is accountability. And that is why I have asked the United Nations system to develop an Integrated Implementation Framework, which will enable us to monitor global commitments to the Millennium Development Goals and their delivery.
My second principle is flexibility. Countries need to be able to react swiftly to shocks and changes. Aid too often comes with strings attached. Such conditionality can add to the obstacles countries already face, especially in times of crisis. We need to work in partnership so that donors and client countries are agreed on the most appropriate use of assistance.
This leads me to my third principle: ownership. Aid can be most effective when recipients have a say in where it is most needed and how it should be used. Countries that are accountable, countries that receive flexible aid, and countries that have the most ownership — will be best placed to achieve the best results.
The discussions at this conference may get very detailed at times. But let us remember: aid is not only a technical matter, it is a path to building the future we want: sustainable, equitable, peaceful and just. Bear that in mind — bear in mind the people who need our solidarity — and I am confident we can create a virtuous circle that will benefit us all.
Ladies and gentlemen, I count on your leadership. And let us work together to make this world better for all of us. And I thank you very much for your commitment. Thank you.
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