Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Urges All to ‘Rise to the Challenge and Make History’
ADDIS ABABA, 13 July — Opening the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this morning, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the senior national and international officials assembled to together forge a framework for a “sustainable world free of poverty”.
“Let us put aside what divides us and overcome narrow self-interest in favour of working together for the common well-being of humanity,” Mr. Ban said, at the start of a four-day meeting that was expected to bring together approximately 30 Heads of State and Government and their deputies, as well as more than 100 ministers of finance and development, lawmakers, and more than 1,000 representatives of civil society, academia and philanthropic organizations.
The Conference was spearheaded by the General Assembly, Mr. Ban recalled, to assess progress in development financing in the framework of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, to reinvigorate follow-up, and, most importantly, to create a blueprint for international development cooperation that would support the post-2015 agenda, whose adoption was expected at a summit in New York in September.
The Addis meeting, he said, was part of what he called a year for global action that began in March with the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and would proceed with the September summit. In Paris in December, Governments had committed to reach a meaningful agreement on climate change.
“But without resources, commitments will amount to little more than promises on paper,” he asserted. In that context, he hoped that the Addis Conference, through adoption of an action agenda, would be the starting point for a new era of cooperation and global partnership. The agenda thus far emphasized the harnessing of all financing sources — public, private, domestic and international — that must be bolstered by strengthened public policies and regulatory frameworks and incentives for change in consumption and production patterns.
The draft agenda, he said, included a new social compact to ensure no one was left behind, along with a package for least developed countries that included a commitment to increase official development assistance (ODA) and operationalize a technology bank for them by 2017. A technology facilitation mechanism would expedite development, and transfer and disseminate relevant technologies.
In addition, he said, greater international cooperation in tax matters to stem the tide of illicit financial flows was required as was gender equality mainstreaming. The agenda would make it very clear that all actions must be underpinned by a strong commitment to preserve the planet and its biodiversity.
Noting that the new agenda was not yet fully agreed, however, he urged world leaders to exercise flexibility and compromise to meet the expectations of the people of the world. “Let us not disappoint them,” he said.
Before delivering those remarks, Mr. Ban presided over the election as President of the Conference of Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who expressed hope that the Conference would spur the harnessing of domestic revenues, fulfilment of developed countries’ commitments, and increased South-South cooperation that prioritized the planet’s well-being. He called on the assembled to “rise to the challenge and make history”.
General Assembly President Sam Kutesa drew attention to the enormity of the additional financing needed to eradicate extreme poverty, estimated at over $66 billion annually. Investments for energy, transport, water and sanitation were estimated between $5 trillion to $7 trillion annually. In Africa, the financing gap for infrastructure was nearly $95 billion per year, he pointed out.
Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, said the Conference marked an important opportunity to move “from billions to trillions” in developing spending, as the world gathered for historic summits to agree on a new development vision. Also outlining their plans to underpin a new ambitious framework were Roberto Azevedo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO); and Min Zhu, Deputy-Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Several world leaders emphasized the primacy of international cooperation, while embracing their own responsibility for development. However, they said, their efforts, battered over time by certain global processes, would require continued international assistance if they were to succeed in unlocking their national potential.
Speaking for the least development countries, Benin’s President said that mobilization of domestic resources to strengthen production capacity was ongoing, and he urged poor countries to take hold of their own destinies and champion the proper governance of the planet’s affairs. At the same time, he acknowledged the catalytic role played by international aid.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, noting the hard-won progress made in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, said Africa was witnessing a raft of changes and was at the door of great opportunity.
In other business this morning, the Conference adopted its rules and procedures, agenda and other organizational matters, elected its officers and appointed its Credentials Committee.
Also speaking in the general debate were the Presidents of Senegal, Guyana, Kenya, Liberia, Somalia, Namibia and Comoros. The King of Lesotho also spoke.
Sudan, Seychelles, Iran, Sweden, Swaziland, Niger, Antigua and Barbuda, Finland, Germany, Denmark and Zambia were represented at high ministerial levels.
Additional participants were the Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and representatives of civil society and the business sector.
The Conference will continue in Addis Ababa at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 14 July.
HAILEMARIAM DESSALEGN, Prime Minister of Ethiopia and President of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, welcomed attendees to Addis Ababa and affirmed his country’s resolve to work for a successful meeting. Evoking an inclusive, sustainable and peaceful future as the goal of the United Nations development agenda for the next 15 years, whose adoption was expected in September in New York, he surveyed both the accomplishments and challenges of international partnership in the past 15 years.
“Now we have another chance to get it right,” he said, noting that despite the challenges there were hopeful trends. Tax revenues and savings rates of developing countries had increased. Aid spending had also rebounded from the crisis and was expected to reach an all-time high in 2015. The private sector had emerged as key driver for growth and poverty reduction, both domestically and internationally. Ethiopia, he said, was experiencing all those trends, which had created a very different world from the one that existed at the time of the Monterrey Conference on development financing.
He hoped that this Conference would be a turning point in integral partnerships, in which domestic revenues were adequately harnessed, developed countries met their commitments, South-South cooperation was greatly increased and the planet’s well-being was prioritized. He also hoped to see 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) in official development assistance (ODA) from industrialized countries with 0.2 earmarked for least developed countries such as his own, as well as improved arrangements for countries that had graduated from the category, as his country hoped to do soon. The obstacles to universal, sustainable development were great, but the opportunities were historical. He called on the assembled to “rise to the challenge and make history”.
SAM KAHAMBA KUTESA (Uganda), President of the General Assembly, said significant progress had been made through the Millennium Development Goals, which had lifted more than 100 billion people from extreme poverty; improved access to education, water and sanitation for millions worldwide; and promoted gender equality and women’s empowerment. Yet, 1 billion would continue to live in abject poverty, subsisting on less than $1.25 per day. More than 212 million people were unemployed globally, 30 per cent of whom were young people. Youth empowerment, in particular, required more investment in education, and the promotion of entrepreneurship and skills development. Doing so, would harness the demographic dividend and enhance young people’s contribution to sustainable development.
Against that backdrop, he said, ensuring successful outcomes of the post-2015 agenda, financing for development and climate change processes were critical. For its part, the General Assembly would place the implementation of the post-2015 agenda at the centre of its work, already striving to ensure a new agenda that was ambitious, transformative, and both improved livelihoods and protected the planet. The draft sustainable development goals, the main input of the United Nations development framework, had been created through an “unprecedented” consultative process that involved Governments, United Nations entities, the private sector, academia, and international financial institutions.
Ensuring a successful outcome of the Conference required scaled-up mobilization of resources from all sources, he said: public, private, domestic and international, as well as a renewed global partnership. Additional financing to eradicate extreme poverty was estimated at over $66 billion annually, while investments for energy, transport, water and sanitation were estimated between $5 trillion to $7 trillion annually. In Africa, the financing gap for infrastructure was nearly $95 billion per year.
He described six areas in which critical outcomes were required, stressing first the need to generate more domestic resources. Tax evasion cost developing countries more than $500 billion annually, which underlined the need for measures to combat harmful tax practices, corruption and illicit financial lows, as well as to enhance cooperation on tax matters. Next, it was important to ensure that ODA commitments were filled and resources effectively used and leveraged. Further, international financial institutions should create measures to respond better to developing countries’ need for access to long-term financing for infrastructure, at concessional rates. He welcomed the proposed infrastructure forum in that regard, as well as the proposed technology facilitation mechanism.
The private sector’s contribution to the new agenda must increase, he said, including through risk-mitigation mechanisms to incentivise long-term infrastructure investments. Finally, partnership with civil society, academia and philanthropic organizations must increase, and it was critical to promote fair, rules-based trading regimes. An inclusive framework for follow-up and review was also required for commitments made at national, regional and global levels.
JIM YONG KIM, President of the World Bank, said the Conference marked an important opportunity to move “from billions to trillions” in developing spending, as the world gathered for historic summits to agree on a new development vision. For its part, the multilateral development bank community was in the business of improving the lives of the most vulnerable. Goals such as eradicating poverty were within grasp “if we commit to work together”. Stakeholders must support countries’ economic growth, invest in people and ensure the provision of safety nets that prevented people from falling into extreme poverty. “We must be bold, we must be creative,” he said, including by forming strong partnerships and finding new resources to meet the shared goals.
Since 2000, multilateral bank support had grown from $50 billion to $127 billion through grants, guarantees and equity investments, and between 2016 and 2018, those institutions would provide more than $400 billion. “We must get children off to the right start,” he said, citing the success of the “Every Woman, Every Child” initiative in that regard. Climate change also must be tackled and, this week, the Bank would pioneer an auction facility to decrease methane gasses. On the health front, the world was “woefully” unprepared to fight pandemics. He urged support for the World Health Organization, building of health-care systems that could contain outbreaks around the world, putting in place pre-arranged agreements with all private-sector players and establishing a “ready source” of billions of dollars that could come together in days, not months, as had occurred during the Ebola outbreak. “Let’s use this year to secure the resources to give people the opportunities they need,” he said.
ROBERTO AZEVÊDO, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said the Millennium Development Goal to halve extreme poverty was reached in 2010. Around two thirds of that reduction had come from economic growth in developing countries, driven, in part, by trade. Indeed, developing countries’ share of global trade had jumped from 28 per cent to 42 per cent in the last two decades, showing that trade could bring new investment, create jobs and provide access to technologies. But financing and capacity-building were vital to ensuring that the poor could benefit from it.
He said that through the organization’s “Aid for Trade” initiative, $245 billion had been disbursed to improve developing and least developed countries’ trading ability. Reiterating the Framework’s focus on least developed countries, he encouraged partners to provide it with the necessary support. In addition, WTO members in 2013 had agreed to the historic Bali Package, which contained important decisions for those States; steps on agriculture – including on public stockholding for food security; and the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which, for the first time, would support developing countries in implementing it. That Agreement was about streamlining border procedures to dramatically cut trade costs, increasing customs revenues and creating an estimated 18 million jobs in developing countries alone.
The benefits of trade still did not reach some of the poorest, and so simply providing more trade opportunities would not be enough, he went on. A broader, more systemic approach was needed. Trade finance had been identified as a key issue, as up to 80 per cent of global trade was supported by some sort of financing or credit insurance. But, the supply of credit had not returned to normal levels, following the 2008 crisis. The estimate for the value of unmet demand for trade finance in Africa was between $110 billion and $120 billion. Bridging that gap would unlock the trading potential of thousands of individuals and small businesses across the continent. In Asia, the unmet demand was estimated at more than $1 trillion, and he welcomed the fact that trade finance was on the agenda for action being discussed this week. More broadly, WTO members were negotiating new rules on agriculture, industrial goods and services. A global deal on those issues, and a package of outcomes to support least developed countries, would be a major breakthrough in ensuring that trade supported development.
MIN ZHU, Deputy-Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), speaking on behalf of Managing Director Christine Lagarde, affirmed the Fund’s commitment to support the sustainable development agenda. Surveying positive trends in that regard, he noted, however, that severe inequality persisted with more than a billion people living in extreme poverty. Partnership, commitment and flexibility were needed to overcome that challenge.
Developing countries were in the best position to set the course for their sustainable growth, but they needed partnership to meet their goals, he said. Effective partners must meet their commitments over the long term. The Fund, in that context, would increase its financing overall, targeting the States that needed the most assistance and maintain its no-interest policy. Flexibility was needed to meet new challenges as they arose — fighting inequality, empowering women and mitigating climate change — as was universal cooperation.
NKOSAZANA DLAMINI ZUMA, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, noted progress made in the course of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the challenges remaining to create a better world for all. Africa was witnessing a raft of changes and, for that reason, was at the door of great opportunity. The African Union’s priorities were people-centred and focused on investment in people, particularly young people, to create a “skills revolution” through education. Human energy must be well utilized, and women and girls must be empowered in that context.
She said that resource mobilization, in particular domestic resource mobilization, in addition to private-sector investment in development, and aid were all necessary to reach sustainable development goals that not only eliminated extreme poverty but also poverty itself. She hoped that the Addis Ababa action agenda was ambitious enough to aim for that goal. Least developed countries in Africa were committed to implementing a people-centred agenda, but international support was necessary, and every cent of support would be well used, she affirmed.
BONI YAYI, President of Benin, speaking as Chairman of the least developed countries group, said that mobilization of domestic resources to strengthen production capacity was ongoing, with international funds providing a catalytic role and private investment critical. Adaptation for climate change was critical for the least developed countries and for that reason, they would play a very active role in the talks leading up to the Paris meeting. Poor countries must take hold of their own destinies and champion the proper governance of the planet’s affairs.
MACKY SALL, President of Senegal, said that the paradigm of development financing had significantly changed and the rules should change with it. The results of the past 10 years were well below expectations. Subsidies continued to undermine trade and development assistance was in decline. In Senegal, assistance was at a low level and did not make up a coherent whole. It was necessary to coordinate all aid to support Government policies and make resources accessible. Senegal’s diaspora was an important part of the equation, providing some 10 per cent of available funds. His country wanted to be a full partner in building infrastructure, and to do that, it must work with its partners in a spirit of solidarity and counter illicit financial flows, which siphoned off some $30 billion to $60 billion each year. Cooperation on fighting inequitable contracts for extractive industries, as pledged by the Group of Seven (G-7), was also critical. Access to credit was needed; if Africa was empowered it could repay its loans. He hoped all such questions would be addressed in the context of shared responsibilities.
DAVID ARTHUR GRANGER, President of Guyana, renewed his country’s commitment to work with others to solve pressing problems. Supporting the outcome’s early adoption by the Conference, he said efforts today were part of a continuum, building on platforms in Monterrey, Doha, Johannesburg, Rio and Samoa. The Conference was about strengthening confidence in the efficacy of multilateralism. Guyana’s experiences had reinforced its resolve to build an inclusive democracy. It was committed to overcoming crime, disease, ignorance and poverty. Security and stability were essential for sustainable development, and Guyana rejected the use of force or any coercive attempts by one State against another to frustrate people’s right to enjoy a good life.
He emphasized the primacy of international cooperation, while embracing Guyana’s primary responsibility for development. The Conference must contribute to the momentum towards greater cooperation, and States must renew the collective will to resolve problems in a timely manner. In addition, while Governments must exercise leadership, other stakeholders must realize their efforts would be essential for delivering results and local communities must be empowered. Developed countries must show leadership in fostering development cooperation, while developing countries must intensify their efforts. Welcoming the draft outcome’s attention to finishing work in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation and food security, he said the creation of a technology mechanism and a dedicated forum to deliberate on the follow-up on financing for development held the potential for making the Conference outcome actionable.
UHURU KENYATTA, President of Kenya, said that the country’s development priorities, in harmony with the proposed outcome document, included delivering on social protection and providing essential public services, scaling up efforts to end hunger through agriculture and rural development, bridging the infrastructure gap and boosting financial access to micro-, small and medium enterprises. To meet such goals in his country, decentralization had taken place, he added, emphasizing that devolution, however, should not come at the expense of efficiency and accountability in public service delivery. He described Kenya’s accomplishments in empowering women, youth and vulnerable groups, as well as in building infrastructure and leveraging technology to improve the lives of all of its people. The new development agenda would require enormous financial and non-financial resources, which must be realized through domestic resource mobilization in combination with domestic and international private business and international finance. He called for timely fulfilment of ODA commitments and stressed that, to assist increasing domestic revenue, fiscal constraints must be addressed as must strengthening the capacity of tax authorities and resolving the dilemma of bridging deficits without dampening growth. In those and all areas, he underlined the importance of adequate follow-up.
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF, President of Liberia, said decisions reached today would build on significant gains made over the last 15 years. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, malaria mortality had been halved and AIDS-related deaths had fallen by one third between 2005 and 2013. Primary school enrolment for girls was almost at parity with that for boys and, in more than half the countries across the region, average incomes were more than 50 per cent higher. “Very few people would have believed that, in the year 2000, this kind of progress was possible,” she said, urging States to transcend the divisions that had stood in the way of what they had set out to accomplish.
The common African position, she said, emphasized issues of local capacity, domestic resources, governance, accountability and the involvement of all in the exploitation and distribution of resources. She called for a people-centred agenda that cared for the planet and focused on gender equality, technology transfer and partnerships that considered the special needs of least developed countries. Financing for development must not be seen through a narrow prism of aid. Rather, it must encompass mechanisms that brought together resources from all those who benefitted from the planet’s endowment. She urged resolving issues of trade, taxes, environment and partnership. Due consideration also must be given to acquiring adequate indicators. Many of the measures in the draft agenda were long-sought goals and she urged bringing to a close the effort to make a good document perfect.
HASSAN SHEIKH MOHAMUD, President of Somalia, urged setting achievable goals to gradually reduce poverty, concentrating on building institutions and resolving conflicts so as to enhance children’s prospects for a better education and access to water and sanitation. It was important to combat gender inequality, ensure free primary and secondary education, upgrade the quality of teachers and achieve food security. Sharing Somalia’s experience with the New Deal Compact, which was based on flexible partnership principles, he said the goal was to harmonize aid behind national priorities and build accountable systems. Additional safeguard measures had been created to avoid mismanagement. Somalia had believed that the “country system” was a tool to gain ownership, but that had so far not fully been achieved. With the creation of different trust fund windows, “things were moving in the right direction, although a bit late”.
More broadly, he said infrastructure programmes would play a critical role in realizing the sustainable development goals, which required greater public and private initiatives. It was necessary to increase funding to conflict countries so they could address their priorities. He supported the World Bank’s Global Infrastructure Facility, recommending that those countries be given special attention. He also welcomed pooled funding, including via public-private partnerships and South-South partnerships. Remittances in Somalia amounted to $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion a year, about 50 per cent of its gross national income (GNI). Constraining remittances would harm the poorest. He asked Somalia’s partners to cooperate, and expressed support for reducing transaction costs of remittances to less than 3 per cent.
HAGE G. GEINGOB, President of Namibia, surveying the opportunities now presented to Africa, said that his country’s commitment to effective governance had helped its citizens meet their basic needs, according to numerous indicators. Defined as a so-called upper middle-income country, however, Namibia had been deprived of accessing concessional funding needed by the country to pursue further development objectives. “Instead of being supported for these achievements, we are now being punished and our developmental aspirations are being stifled,” he said. He urged a re-examination of the statistics that placed his country in that category. It was particularly crucial to tackle inequality in Namibia through an all-out war on poverty, for which investment in infrastructure was critical, as was adaptation to rapid urbanization.
The Government, he stressed, was committed to taking the lead in financing development needs through broadening the tax base and borrowing responsibly, first by tapping into domestic savings before seeking global capital. In that context, he called on the Conference to address the extension of concessional funding, including grant funding to upper middle-income countries. Better access to markets was also needed, as were new partnerships in which every country was considered equal, leaving behind the era in which “people sitting in boardrooms in the developed world dictate terms”.
MARIA EMMA MEJIA VELEZ, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, speaking on behalf of its President Martin Sadjik, said that with an emphasis on public, private domestic and international financing sources, the 2002 Monterrey Consensus was the major reference point for development cooperation. The world had changed since then, with the new agenda expected to deal with more complex realities. Means of implementation, especially financing, technology and capacity-building, must be reflected in the Conference’s outcome document.
While countries had the main responsibility for their development, she said, domestic resource mobilization could not happen without an enabling international environment. Public finance — domestic and international — helped to create that environment. Public investment in infrastructure and basic social services opened opportunities for job growth. Project finance would continue to drive economic growth and it must be incentivised for making long-term investments. New instruments would continue to change dramatically, with public and private players taking increasingly decisive roles. She called for a holistic framework that enabled mobilization of more domestic resources. It should offer opportunities for trade and long-term debt sustainability. A strong follow-up process would be vital to the success of those efforts. The Council’s Development Cooperation Forum would act as an inclusive global platform for cooperation.
MUKHISA KITUYI, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that in 2002, an extra $50 billion a year was an ambitious cause. Today, $2.5 trillion per year was required to achieve the sustainable development goals. He stressed the need to acknowledge changes in the global landscape over the last 15 years: development aid had more than doubled and the world was now moving towards an open, transparent trade system. Hundreds of millions of people had moved out of poverty, thanks to the successes of developing countries to harness trade, investment and technology as engines of global growth. The world economy must return to growth with the dynamic inclusion of developing nations, and ending poverty in the least developed must be realized.
Fifteen years ago, he said, no one thought that reducing social inequality would be good for economic growth or that green technologies would make sense for the poorest economies. Today, those realities were embraced. Yet greater ambitions came amid uncertain external conditions: rising public debt stocks had stalled the Doha round of trade negotiations. Implementing the sustainable development goals required simultaneous action at the national, regional and global levels. Regions could build infrastructure that connected people to markets. Globally, the focus must be on strengthening the enabling environment for implementing the new goals.
HELEN CLARK, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), speaking in her capacity as Chair of the United Nations Development Group, affirmed the importance of financing to all the critical development agendas being agreed this year. Outlining her agency’s Monterrey Plus perspective of multiple financing sources, she said all such sources were needed to make progress on sustainable development, including ODA for those in special development situations. In fact, ODA should have a much more catalytic impact and support both domestic and international mobilization of funds. Much more focus was also needed on health and human development. The financing needs were great, but there was a wealth of knowledge and resources that could be tapped. She pledged her agency’s support in building the capacity needed to mobilize all necessary sources of financing to build the future developing countries wanted.
Speaking for civil society groups, RAMA SALLA DIENG, Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development, and STEFANO PRATO, Addis CSO Coordination Group, said that the outcome as it existed did not rise to expectations in many areas. The document should state clearly the principles of country leadership with the participation of civil society. In addition, there was a lack of what she called deliverables in the text. Much stronger provisions on women’s empowerment were also needed, as were clear safeguards to ensure that the private sector was oriented to sustainable development. Equity must be promoted as an objective of all tax policies, and donors must not avoid their responsibilities by shifting them over to South-South cooperation. A critical examination of trade agreements for sustainability and human rights was also needed, along with action on indebtedness. Transparency was not improved enough in the text and a time frame for structural transformation was missing altogether, they emphasized.
CAROLINE ANSTEY, Group Managing Director and Global Head at UBS and Society, speaking as a representative of the business sector, said delivering essential services and infrastructure was no easy feat and decisions made at the Conference would impact generations to come. More inclusive growth began when nations integrated into the global goods and services market. The private sector held the key to that integration. Business needed the right economic, legal and regulatory environment, one that was competitive with reduced barriers to market entry and cross-border trade. All countries must be strategic in creating an environment that encouraged productivity growth. Leveraging the private sector required mitigating risks, which in turn, required Governments and the private sector to work better together. The last two decades had seen a significant increase in their collaboration; delivering the new development framework would require a scaling up of those efforts and new partnerships. The private sector provided 90 per cent of jobs in developing countries. “We know it is possible to simultaneously produce a healthy bottom line alongside good development outcomes,” she said, noting that profit opportunities existed for the private sector in developing countries.
IKILILOU DHOININE, President of the Comoros, said the sustainable development goals would be more ambitious – and problematic – than those in the past. Adequate financing was the main challenge. Some countries, especially least developed countries, would have to mobilize huge resources currently beyond their reach. In that context, he recalled the cost assessments which had cast doubt on countries’ ability to attain the Millennium Development Goals. That explained many of the mixed results. The Comoros’ strategy for the Goals had been deemed unrealistic by its development partners. To foster political dialogue, it had to revise the budget and draw up a scenario that was more aligned with its ability to mobilize resources. “We had to reprioritize our ambitions,” he said, stressing that the success of the new agenda depended on enabling financing mechanisms. Small island developing States expected the Conference to recommend specific instruments to foster financing for them. The tag of “island developing State” was almost ineffective, and those in that category must use another title to attract support. He expressed disappointment at the unkept promises for ODA, recalling the enthusiasm at Gleneagles when developed countries had pledged $50 billion and $75 billion in aid for poorest nations.
LETSIE III, King of Lesotho, noted that while the original Monterrey agenda had not yet been fully implemented, new challenges had arisen with enormous unmet needs facing the achievement of sustainable development. A variety of financing was needed, including ODA, a significant portion of which should be devoted to those countries in greatest need. Debt relief was another important factor, with a need to assist developing countries to attain long-term debt sustainability. South-South cooperation should be seen as a complement to, and not a substitute for North-South cooperation, which should continue to be guided by respect for national sovereignty, national ownership and independence. For all such purposes, important agreed principles, such as “common but differentiated responsibilities”, should be adequately elaborated in the outcome. Recognizing its primary responsibility for its own development, Lesotho had embarked on the preparation of a long-term development strategy, with an accompanying financing scheme that included broadening the domestic revenue base, contracting concessional external borrowing, mobilizing additional ODA and general and sector budget support, and negotiating bilateral framework agreements.
BAKRI HASSAN SALIH, First Vice-President of Sudan, said the Conference was taking place in a “thorny” international context, with the disparity between rich and poor countries requiring structural changes. It was essential to overcome obstacles to implementing the sustainable development goals. The situation in Sudan was worse than in other countries. South Sudan had seceded from Sudan, creating a new State that was enduring a civil war, which made it difficult for Sudan to fulfil its commitments. Indeed, international aid was more vital than ever. All efforts were being made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, but unilateral sanctions made it difficult for Sudan to guarantee peace. “We need to strengthen our partnerships with brotherly countries,” and with regional financial institutions. Sudan was rich in marine, land, mineral, animal and other resources, meaning it would be able to feed its people and other nations in Africa and the Arab world. Faced with unilateral sanctions since 1997, however, it was in an unfair situation. The needed financial aid not being offered, which undermined his country’s efforts. More broadly, he said the Conference should result in a declaration that was in line with country needs.
DANNY FAURE, Vice-President of Seychelles, said development would only be possible if the means of implementing it were identified. Domestically, modernized and efficient tax systems must be put in place. As debt burdens were significant for many African and small island developing countries, debt restructuring and cancellation, coupled with sound fiscal and monetary policies, were essential. A “debt-for-adaptation” swap was one mechanism to consider, as it both mobilized finance against climate change and improved the macroeconomic positions of vulnerable economies. Oceans, which held vast potential for development, must be used sustainably. Seychelles was exploring options to launch the world’s first “blue bond” as a vehicle for mobilizing funds for fishery recovery in Africa and small island developing States. Such a bond could mobilize private resources at affordable rates and he requested support from development institutions in that regard. On climate change, he called on developed countries to fulfil their pledges to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 for the Green Climate Fund. Noting that Seychelles had reached high-income status, he said that recognized national progress, but did not address its underlying constraints. Per capita GDP was only part of a broader picture of sustainability. A vulnerability index could help target areas that countries were least equipped to address, and trade facilitation could help meet the needs of the most vulnerable.
MOHAMMAD SHARIATMADARI, Vice-President of Executive Affairs of Iran, said that the main priority for developing countries was the stability of the international economic system, which had a profound impact on resource mobilization. Full and effective participation of developing countries in decision-making and norm-setting processes in the international financial institutions was, therefore, important. Trade as an engine for economic growth was also a vital source of financing for development, and thus a universal, rules-based and equitable multilateral trading system was needed at both the regional and global levels. Political objectives must not lead to unjustifiable sanctions or other discriminatory practices, such as in international trade. Foreign direct investment and private financial flows also had pivotal roles; creation of an intergovernmental body for tax matters within the United Nations could promote the positive impacts of investment. A variety of mechanisms would be used to mobilize financing for Iran’s upcoming development programme, while the country was also providing technical assistance to least developed countries.
STEFAN LÖFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden, said there had been plenty of scepticism about the Millennium Development Goals, but for the last 15 years, they had been the blueprint for the global community. They had helped to pool and focus efforts, and spurred progress in such areas as fighting AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis; getting more children to school than ever before; reducing maternal mortality rates; increasing access to safe water; and, more than halving poverty among the developing countries as a whole. “Goals matter. So let’s set strong new sustainable development goals,” he declared. With the summits in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris, 2015 was an unprecedented opportunity to set the world on the right path towards a sustainable future. He underscored the multi-stakeholder character of the endeavour and identified priorities for a successful development agenda, including increasing legitimate financial flows and curbing illicit ones, and delivering substantial, effective and predictable ODA. On that, he said that Sweden would continue to allocate 1 per cent of its GNI to ODA every year.
SIBUSISO DLAMINI (Swaziland), associating with the African Union and the Group of 77 and China, affirmed the need for a far-reaching outcome for the Conference, with predictable and timely means of implementation. Trade facilitation for landlocked countries, economic diversification, rural development, reform of the international financial system, agriculture and food security and cooperation in finance, capacity-building and data management were all priorities. Enhanced means of implementation must be provided to developing countries for those purposes, for which transfer of sustainable technologies was key. Thanking Swaziland’s development partners, he welcomed efforts to establish new infrastructure investment platforms. Regional investments in key priority sectors required the expansion of new financing mechanisms, he stressed, citing Swaziland’s Investor Roadmap as an example. Increased resources should be channelled to the health sector, in addition, to stem the threat of infectious diseases. He emphasized that the vulnerabilities of countries classified as lower-middle income should be taken into account to assist their further progress.
BRIGI RAFINI, Prime Minister of Niger, associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, least developed countries, and landlocked developing countries, said that any solution to the issue of sustainable development must consider the security dimension. The Conference would provide opportunities to define mechanisms to mobilize resources. In that context, he emphasized the need to combat terrorism and organized crime; fund climate change adaption and mitigation initiatives; and build capacity by funding economic and social infrastructure. Niger’s scant domestic resources were directed towards combating domestic terrorism, while “aid fatigue” had decreased the opportunities to offer infrastructure and human capital development. As a least developed country, Niger was carrying out reforms, and combating corruption, money-laundering and illicit wealth acquisition. Those efforts must be recognized through the allocation of increased resources. He called for the adoption of a negotiated outcome document that outlined concrete financing commitments.
GASTON BROWNE, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said that access to finance was a significant obstacle to small island States such as his own and so he was disappointed that so few Heads of State and Government were attending. The Conference faced a crucial test to see if it could shift from business as usual and mobilize commitments and funding to eradicate poverty and promote prosperity. Failure in providing adequate resources for sustainable development would rebound to the detriment of rich countries as they were forced to cope with the agony of human displacement and misery. Gains since Monterrey had been too few and far between and the economies of small islands remained weak and vulnerable.
LENITA TOIVAKKA, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development of Finland, associating with the European Union, said each nation bore responsibility for its sustainable development, as well as for the means to drive it. Finland would honour its development commitments, including to reverse the declining trend of those pledges to least developed countries. Its new Government would invest in four themes: gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; well-functioning democracies; energy, water and food security; and thriving responsible private sector. It would also seek to better leverage ODA to mobilize other resources. It had decided to invest €100 million annually in concessional loans to businesses operating and creating jobs in poor countries. Businesses needed public support services, access to finance, a skilled labour force, a functioning regulatory framework and the rule of law. They also needed access to the global market. “We want to see responsible businesses that take care of their employees, the environment and pay taxes to the host Government,” she said. That went hand-in-hand with domestic resource mobilization, including a broadened tax base, increased capacity, and strengthened anti-corruption measures. Finland would leverage private-sector innovation through a €50 million “business with impact” programme over the next four years. Regarding gender equality, she called for the implementation of equal inheritance, ownership and tenure laws.
GERD MULLER, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, said that meeting the daunting challenges of sustainable development would require every country to bear its share of the overall responsibility in a global partnership, with industrialized countries playing a major role in proportion to their usage of resources. Sustainable financing required varied flows, including domestic resource mobilization in an atmosphere of transparent governance, with Germany willing to support its partners in creating fair tax systems, fighting illicit financial flows and establishing regional tax networks. As private sector and trade laid the foundation for development, it was important to create space for private initiatives, establish a clear legal regime, create opportunities by providing vocational training and achieve conformity with minimum social and ecological standards. Germany remained committed to the goal of 0.7 per cent of ODA, but such aid could never replace other financing sources. He stressed that the outcome of the Conference must be politically specific and measurable through the development of a robust monitoring and review mechanism. Germany, he pledged, would continue to deliver on all its responsibilities.
KRISTIAN JENSEN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, said progress was possible when measureable goals were set and political choices were made to reach them. “The success of the past gives us good reason to be optimists with regard to the future”, he said. Denmark was committed to providing 0.7 per cent of its GNI to ODA, having met that target since 1978. Openness to trade, investment and the market economy would allow people to build a better future. Yet, Africa had been “cruelly” punished by high transaction costs, tariffs and trade barriers. The private sector must be mobilized, he said, stressing that its technology, resources and know-how were needed to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the post-2015 agenda. His Government, together with some of the largest Danish pension funds and the Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries, would work to catalyse infrastructure investments in developing and emerging markets. Denmark would increase support to strengthen tax systems in developing countries, which would be an additional contribution to the almost half a billion kroner currently contributed in partner countries. Finally, ODA should be targeted more towards the poorest countries. In May, European Union countries agreed to a fast-track deadline for fulfilling pledges to dedicate a collective 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of GNI to least developed countries.
ALEXANDER B. CHIKWANDA, Minister of Finance of Zambia, welcomed the role of ODA in development financing, as well as efforts to both simplify and harmonize conditionalities. But ODA alone could not solve the problem of inadequate resources. “We have to be more ingenious in broadening the base for additional effective alternatives,” he said, noting that private capital flows were essential for sustainable development. A platform for shared development visions that resonated with the private sector was also needed, while policy space in which business and markets could operate should be encouraged. A vibrant private sector was essential for transitioning from ODA to internally generated resources, and he urged that balanced partnerships be forged with clear targets and based on consensus. For its part, Zambia aimed to improve its tax revenue mobilization through bilateral cooperation. An online tax payment system also had been introduced, he said, stressing that international cooperation on tax matters should consider the different needs and capacities of developing countries. Those countries required increased global trade supported by strategic investment in infrastructure and the removal of market barriers. Investment in research and development, technology and innovation should be prioritized and, in that context, he called for a technology facilitation mechanism.