I am glad to join you for the fifth biennial High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum. I extend my warm greetings from the Secretary-General to everyone here in New York, and to those joining us around the world via webcast.
These are turbulent and uncertain times. Global economic growth is sluggish. Inequalities among and within countries are deep. Conflicts and terrorism are threatening the entire international community.
Global temperatures are rising, and many regions are feeling the impact of climate change. Experts warn that extreme weather events are likely to become less predictable, more frequent and more severe in years to come.
International development cooperation is based on the recognition that we cannot survive or overcome these global challenges in isolation. Collective support for the poorest and most vulnerable is in the interest of all of us.
At times of crisis, solidarity is more necessary than ever.
This solidarity and common responsibility is embodied in the major global agreements reached last year: the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Together, they form an action plan for people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.
These historic agreements demand new thinking and concrete action at the local, national, regional and international levels.
They also require better coordination and collaboration between countries and regions – which is the unique and critical contribution of this Development Cooperation Forum.
The first goal of development cooperation must be to protect the poorest and the most vulnerable from the problems that arise when conflicts rage, natural disasters strike, markets fail and when they get left behind in the path of progress.
By aligning priorities and goals, we can create opportunities for everyone to benefit from sustainable development.
Let us also recall that sources of development finance are more diverse than ever before. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognised the key role of the private sector in sustainable development. This can take the form of private direct investment, remittances from migrants and funding from philanthropic foundations and charities.
Such diversification makes cooperation and alignment around the goal of supporting the most vulnerable even more important.
Official Development Assistance – ODA – also needs to be scaled up and targeted more effectively. It should support those whose needs are greatest and who are least capable of mobilising resources.
We have already seen progress in this direction, not least at the Mid-Term Review of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries in May.
In Antalya, development partners re-committed to the target of allocating between 0.15 and 0.2 per cent of Gross National Income as ODA to the Least Developed Countries. Some indicated that they would make Least Developed Countries even more of a priority.
These are welcome developments, and we must build on them.
Second, development cooperation should create partnerships in all areas of development. This ranges from mobilization of financial and non-financial resources to technical cooperation and innovation, to South-South and Triangular Cooperation, and to strengthened regional integration.
The UN development system has a key role in nurturing these vital partnerships. It will need to adapt to the new broader and interrelated agenda.
Member States reached a consensus at the recently-concluded ECOSOC Dialogue that the core functions of the UN development system must adapt more readily to different country contexts.
For example, in middle-income countries, the UN development system should focus its partnership efforts on providing policy and technical support. I urge you to consider creative ways to move forward in this area.
Third and finally, development cooperation should promote coherence among different development agendas and activities, so that we have effective support to the implementation of Agenda 2030. This is essential given the challenges ahead, the breadth and interconnectivity of the SDGs, and resources at hand which are often limited.
For example, donor countries have spent record amounts in recent years on humanitarian aid and on supporting refugees. The number of people displaced by conflict has risen to the highest level since the Second World War.
There is a vital and unquestioned need for such aid. However, it should not come at the expense of long-term investment for sustainable development, which has an important role in building stable societies and preventing future conflict.
The strategic use of development cooperation should help to find a balance between these various priorities and programmes, on which so many millions of people depend.
Development cooperation has a great potential to be a catalyst for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
At its best, development cooperation brings lessons learned in one context to be applied in others. It ties policies closely to implementation, review and feedback, adding to accountability. It gives developing countries greater ownership of strategies and programmes.
All this gives even greater urgency to our deliberations today and tomorrow.
This Development Cooperation Forum is an opportunity to pinpoint critical progress and areas for new or intensified efforts.
I call on everyone to draw on your ingenuity, resources and political will – and your strong spirit of solidarity.
I wish you progress and success.