Secretary-General's press conference
Doha, Qatar, 28 November 2008Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would first like to begin this evening by strongly condemning the violence we have seen in Mumbai in the past two days.
No cause or grievance can justify indiscriminate attacks against civilians, and the perpetrators must be brought swiftly to justice.
I send my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the wounded, and express my solidarity with the people and Government of India.
This evening the Emir of Qatar and I hosted a meeting with a group of determined and committed world leaders. The Doha conference starting tomorrow provided us with an opportunity to meet and discuss how a globally coordinated response to the financial crisis we now face can protect developing countries, underpin our drive to a green economy, and stimulate a commitment to a renewed multilateralism.
The Doha conference is crucially important for the wellbeing of people everywhere.
It is also very timely, falling just two weeks after the emergency G-20 summit on the financial crisis.
One of the main goals of the discussion we just held, and indeed of the conference itself, is to build a bridge between the G-20 and the rest of the world – the full community of nations.
The financial crisis is not the only crisis we face. We also confront a development emergency and accelerating climate change. These threats are inextricably linked. They must be dealt with as one.
Our discussion confirmed that the bridge we are trying to build must stand on three pillars.
First, we need a truly global stimulus plan that meets the needs of emerging economies and developing countries.
Rescue packages must be closely coordinated. And in the process, we must protect the poorest and most vulnerable, not only the rich and powerful.
Emerging markets will need credit, including for trade financing. Developing countries will need sustained support through ODA.
We cannot retreat from the Millennium Development Goals. The vast sums committed to bailing out banks and private companies dwarf ODA.
Surely we can find the much more modest amounts needed to sustain more than a billion lives.
We must meet the promises we have made on ODA, as it remains a crucial pillar of development finance for many countries.
Second, we should use this as an opportunity to promote development that is sustainable and the fight against climate change.
Investments in green technologies will produce pay-offs in the long-term, in terms of a safer environment and more sustainable growth.
But the record already shows that green investment can produce jobs and spur growth in the here-and-now.
We can address several challenges at once – the financial crisis and climate change together. The time is ripe for a truly sustainable development.
Third, we need a new multilateralism.
Reform begins with the financial markets but it cannot stop there. We also need fresh thinking about our food and energy systems, about financing for development and about our institutions.
Virtually all growth next year will come from emerging and developing nations. This is not just the result of the financial crisis but reflects our fundamentally changing world.
Emerging economies will require a greater voice in our institutions, one that reflects not only their growing power but also their growing responsibilities.
Developing countries should also have a greater say as they are often impacted – both positively and negatively – by the policy choices and actions of the rest of the world.
If we focus only on the financial crisis, we will find no solutions at all.
A cascading series of crises will fall upon us, each building on the last, with devastating social and political consequences for us all.
So I have been stressed to world leaders and everyone involved that we need to think big.
Solutions to any one of our crises must be solutions to all.
I would like to conclude this evening with a small illustration of how we can commit to helping those in need even when our own situations are worsening.
I read a review of Ted Turner's autobiography on my way to Doha.
In this he recounts how he lost nearly $8 billion dollars in the 2 and a half years after the stock bubble burst – equivalent to nearly $10 million each and every day.
And yet he was still willing to donate half of that remaining – one billion dollars – to the UN Foundation to help those in need.
He stood by his commitments; in the same way that I believe we should stand by ours now.
Thank you very much. I would be happy to take your questions.
Question (Qatar Asharq Daily): I represent the Qatar Asharq Daily. You mentioned the financing that is needed by countries to finance their development. How much are those resources that the world needs in order to put an end to the food crisis, the energy crisis, the financing crisis and environmental problems. The Emir of Qatar has said that world partnership is the essential pillar of this development financing. How do you see this partnership? Thank you.
SG: First of all, I'd like to express my appreciation to the Government of Qatar and the Emir of Qatar for their strong commitment and generous contributions to the United Nations development and goals in the area of peace and stability, in the area of development, and in the area of human rights and humanitarian assistance. When I had a meeting with the Emir of Qatar this morning I told him that I count on the Qatari Government's continued support
Now, we didn't discuss the exact amounts of finance we need. If we talk only on the food crisis, during the high-level task force which I created and convened, it was our estimate that we may need at least $30-35 billion annually for the coming three years. In energy sectors and in other development areas – for example fighting against preventable diseases including HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and tropical diseases – we still need billions of dollars, and we count on generous contributions from government, NGOs, philanthropists, business communities. As I said, just look at the trillions of dollars which were used to save banks and companies. We are not talking about a very modest amount?(inaudible)? to address all these Millennium Development Goal pillars. We must pool all the resources possible to help the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable countries. We need to fight against the phenomenon of global warming. We must help those people who are suffering from abject poverty and who are suffering from diseases. This is what we need at this time. We are going through financial difficulties but how to overcome this financial crisis may be very important but we need to look at the mid- and longer-term so that the whole international community can live in balanced prosperity and harmony.
Q: There has been large participants who will be coming, there is growing concern on unemployment, and how do you think this will impact in other areas?
SG: Loss of jobs will have serious consequences in our societies because of the financial crisis.
The Director-General of the ILO recently predicted that there maybe tens of millions of job losses, at least 20 million in the coming few years time. These are very alarming predictions which we must prevent. There are many migratory workers whose social and economic situations will be endangered.
Now, we must think big, we must think creatively. The crises and challenges provide us with good opportunities. What I urge to leaders this time, in the past and in the future will be that we must invest in green economy by developing technological innovations.
We can create millions of jobs. This is what I think we need to focus on very creatively to overcome this financial crisis. By creating millions of jobs and help overcome this crisis. Therefore I have been urging the leaders at least they must earmark a certain portion of their national stimulus package to invest in green economy.
If I may cite an example, the Chinese Government recently announced very bold national stimulus package out of which a third of their stimulus package will be invested in this green technology. This is one way we can overcome this financial crisis.
Q: First of al, Mr. Secretary-General, who was there at your meeting of leaders this afternoon? Second, do you not believe the absence of a great number of Heads of State and Government of rich countries and representatives of international institutions, does this not reflect hesitancy and the fear that this will increase their economic burden? Thank you.
SG: I was very heartened and encouraged by such strong commitment and leadership from many countries – leaders from many countries – who participated at this evening's retreat meeting. We have at least 40 Heads of State or Government who will be participating from tomorrow on this Financing for Development conference and there are a number of cabinet ministers, including financing ministers, and also many other important and senior government delegations. Of course, we hoped that more high-level delegations would have been represented – that would have been much better. But, at the same time, the G-20 is now represented by President Sarkozy of France (which has the Presidency of the European Union), President Barroso of the European Commission, the Prime Minister of Korea, and many other countries have sent their finance ministers, their cabinet ministers, to reaffirm their commitment to contribute and to help those developing countries, particularly the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable countries. They reaffirmed ODA will not be reduced, they reaffirmed their commitment to meet the target of the Millennium Development Goals, and they also reaffirmed their commitment to addressing global warming issues, the food crisis and the energy crisis.
I sincerely hope that Member States will affirm, through their outcome document, all this commitment and leadership, so that the whole international community will be able to overcome this impending financial crisis and the aid can flow continuously, so that developing countries can meet their challenges without much difficulty. This is exactly why I convened an informal retreat meeting, to galvanize political will among many important and committed leaders of the world, both from developed and developing countries.
The G-20 summit meeting in Washington two weeks ago set in motion broad and committed actions for the international community to address this issue in Doha. We can demonstrate and reaffirm our commitment and leadership, that these commitments which were demonstrated in Washington will be translated recommendations. And they have also agreed to meet again in early April for a second G-20 summit meeting in the United Kingdom, and I sincerely hope that by the time we meet for this meeting, we'll be able to have much more concrete recommendations and guidelines to address these issues. Thank you very much.
Q: Who participated in the meeting this evening Mr. Secretary-General? Who was there?
SG: The President of the European Commission, Mr. Barosso, Prime Minister Han of the Republic of Korea, the President of the African Union, President Kikwete – I think we can distribute the list of all the participants.
There were ten Heads of State and Government: Tanzania, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, Croatia, Malawi, Tajikistan, and Benin.
And there were six International Organizations: the Secretary-General of OECD, the President of the European Commission, the Senior Vice-President of World Bank and the Administrator of UNDP.
And there were cabinet ministers from Algeria, Egypt, Norway, Germany, South Africa, Denmark, Brazil, Netherlands and Italy.