I am very pleased to welcome all of you to the United Nations on behalf of the Secretary-General and to address this important meeting of ECOSOC.
More than five years after the world financial and economic crisis erupted, the world economic recovery is now slowly under way. Developed and developing countries alike are growing at various rates. The economic prospects in many parts of the world are positive.
Yet, the crisis is not a phenomenon of the past. Severe effects of the crisis linger and serious risks still remain. Growth is insufficient. The employment situation is dire in many countries, particularly among young people. Inequalities are growing. The world’s wealthiest 85 people have as much wealth as the poorest half of our planet’s population. Striking figures. Income and wealth gaps are seriously widening inside a great number of countries, with negative effects both on stability and on long-term growth.
This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Bretton Woods institutions and the 50th anniversary of UNCTAD. We continue to wrestle with many of the challenges they were set up to address. Bold leadership is indeed needed for strengthened multilateralism. The initial trade reforms achieved in Bali last year show that the multilateral road is still the preferred choice. We look forward to an equal measure of success in the ongoing negotiations to close the Doha Round with a strong development content.
We rely on the World Trade Organisation and UNCTAD to provide the guidance needed in putting trade and development at the fore in the next round.
Macro-economic policies worldwide must focus on a strong, balanced and sustainable recovery, with particular emphasis on jobs. Also, I was attending preparations for the Spring Meetings in Washington last week and I listened to, among others, Christine Lagarde, the head of IMF. And she said something that is repeated in the New York Times yesterday and I think it’s interesting on the issue of growth. She says, “The overriding topic for discussion will be the topic of growth, quest for higher growth, better quality growth, more inclusive growth and sustainable growth.” I think we need to keep all these dimensions in mind for the future.
We must acknowledge the changing global landscape and not leave the emerging economies on the side-lines.
We also have to strengthen our efforts to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals.
At the same time, we have started to set the direction beyond 2015 by shaping a new development agenda with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.
I welcome the beginning of deliberations on the means of implementation, particularly on financing. The Secretary-General in his meetings just last week with the multilateral development banks in Washington has urged, as the President of ECOSOC just did here today, further cooperation with member states and the UN system to strengthen the strategies for development financing.
We know that the financial resources needed are enormous if we are to put both our peoples and our planet on a sustainable path. This is why we need to tap all sources -- public and private, as well as national and international.
Increased public financing for development is indispensable if we are to tackle poverty, address additional social needs, and provide public goods. Official development assistance (ODA) remains highly important, particularly for those countries most in need. It is vital that developed countries deliver on both ODA and climate finance commitments. The resources are there, but they are not sufficient to finance sustainable development needs.
There is still a significant gap between developed and developing countries when it comes to the capacity to raise public revenues. The challenge lies in designing policies to increase tax revenues in an equitable manner in developing countries. This not only increases domestic resources available for development, but promotes accountability and public oversight.
Countries need to strengthen and develop long-term, stable and inclusive domestic financial systems, free of corrupt practices. We cannot continue to ignore illicit financial flows which deprive countries of much-needed revenue and which reinforce corruption and criminality. It is essential that we tackle this issue, not only in the countries of origin but also in the countries of destination. Former President Thabo Mbeki and his panel on illicit financial flows have pointed to the unacceptable loss of at least 50 billion dollars yearly through such drainage in Africa alone, or from Africa alone. This is unacceptable.
All of these efforts need to be supported through concerted multilateral efforts and through effective, functioning and accountable institutions at the national level.
Our task ahead is two-fold. We must ensure that hard-won development gains are preserved. We know all too well, and I look particularly at the current tragedy, the current crisis in Syria, that decades of development can be lost in months by war and conflict. And as we now look beyond the MDGs, our agenda for post-2015 should be ambitious, inclusive and focused on the concrete challenges for us and for future generations, as well as on strong institutions to meet these challenges.
In closing, placing our world on a sustainable path needs to be infused with a new global partnership for development. This partnership must be based on equity, on cooperation and accountability. It must aim for transformative change.
The role of ECOSOC and the organizations represented here today is crucial. You can channel financing for critical long-term investments, such as infrastructure. You have the capacity to act counter-cyclically, contributing to greater stability in the financial system.
Your institutions can wield vast influence in the success of the climate and post-2015 development agendas. The third international conference on financing for development will provide a unique opportunity to foster sustainable development.
Only by acting together, Member States, international organizations and other stakeholders, can we safeguard our future. We have to prove that multilateralism works. I count on all of you to push for progress toward 2015 and beyond for the benefit of the peoples of our nations as well as the international community.
In today’s interdependent world, the good international solutions are in the national interest of individual states. That is the most logical conclusion of this interdependence, of this age of globalisation. Recognizing this will, or would, unite national and international pursuits to achieve a Life of Dignity for All, a goal in line with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.
I thank you.