Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to take part in the official launch of the high-level Development Cooperation Forum of the Economic and Social Council.
As I look around this room today, I am heartened by the level and wide range of participation at this launch. It bodes very well for the future of this Forum and for its ability to deliver.
Establishing the Forum forms an integral part of the process to strengthen ECOSOC. It is a decisive step forward in the implementation of the global partnership for development. And it is proof of the commitment of Governments to strengthen the coherence and effectiveness of international development cooperation.
Over the years, the international system for development assistance has expanded in a haphazard fashion. Today, it appears unnecessarily fragmented and complicated.
Donor aid flows tend to be concentrated in a few countries, while other low-income countries suffer from under-funding. The number of donors is increasing, and the interface with partner countries is becoming more demanding and multifaceted. Donor policies and procedures are varied, and the process of harmonization is proving difficult. National administrative systems are burdened with responding to different frameworks and to demands by various stakeholders.
The emergence of new and increasingly specialized funds makes the system even more complex. And we have yet to gauge the volume and impact of the welcomed impetus provided by South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation.
The challenges ahead are daunting. In responding to them, let us ensure that all voices be heard and that all stakeholders participate actively in building a broad consensus on the governance of international development cooperation.
As an initiative supported by the Heads of State at the 2005 World Summit, the Forum must play a critical role in the consensus-building process. It will bring together key actors to advance the internationally agreed development goals through development cooperation. But this global effort will bear fruit only if all stakeholders – Governments, UN system organizations, civil society, parliaments, private sector and academia – understand that they are accountable to one another.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Back in 2002, the Conference on Financing for Development recognized that if development efforts are to have a lasting impact, they must be based on national ownership of development goals and strategies, combined with sound policies and good governance at all levels. Just as the global partnership for development is instrumental in achieving the development goals, so too are national ownership and leadership instrumental in driving the process.
The Monterrey Consensus also affirmed the importance of substantially increased and predictable official development assistance and of its effective use in supporting efforts to achieve development objectives, including the Millennium Development Goals.
In the five years that have passed since Monterrey, donors have committed to substantial increases in ODA and debt relief. Until recently, the long-term decline in development assistance was reversed. And The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007 tells us that in this mid-point year, the Goals are still achievable in most countries – if we act now.
But as we are reminded by the decrease in ODA flows in 2006, we can take nothing for granted. I urge donors to commit to timelines for scaling up aid to reach the 2010 and 2015 commitments. Fresh funding is required if we are to overcome the financing gap and reach the Millennium Development Goals on time.
And I call on all countries in the Doha Development Round to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and collaboration and conclude the trade negotiations in a way that benefits those who need it most.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I see this body as a venue for consensus-building and forging strong partnerships through a participatory and inclusive approach. And I am confident that it will become a vehicle recognized for producing quality results – for generating meaningful and actionable policy guidance and recommendations of value to all stakeholders.
I am confident that in your deliberations this year and next, you will contribute to action on the Monterrey Consensus, and notably to next year's International Follow-up Conference on Financing for Development in Doha.
Together, let us make the most of the great opportunity presented by this Development Cooperation Forum, so as to improve the quality and impact of development cooperation, for the benefit of all the world's people. I wish you a most productive meeting.
Thank you very much.