Doha, Qatar

29 November 2008

Remarks to UNDP Event on "A Time of Crisis and Opportunity: Responding with Renewed Multilateralism"

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Doha Conference had been planned for years before the financial crisis hit.

It has made our meetings here more urgent than ever.

The current turmoil in the markets is prompting some healthy reflection on the international financial architecture.

The crisis has shown us that we need fundamental improvements in a system that has fallen behind the times.

Any changes we make now could well affect the global economy for decades to come.

So we have to think carefully about what works and what doesn't, and about what is no longer needed and what is missing and needs to be brought in.

This month's G-20 Summit in Washington, D.C. was convened to begin the essential work of coordinating an effective international response to the crisis.

At the summit, I stressed that this requires a new multilateralism that is fair, flexible and responsive.

The G-20 nations account for nearly 85 per cent of world production, trade and investment.

But more than 170 other countries are not in this Group.

In formulating a truly global response to the financial crisis, we also have to listen to their voices and respond to their concerns.

As head of the world's most universal body, I am by definition an advocate for greater inclusivity in international decision-making.

But let me be clear: inclusiveness doesn't mean we just expand the number after the letter “G.”

The major issues of the day can be handled in different forums, of different sizes.

That is natural, given that different issues are relevant to different countries, and that our world is one of unequal power.

A new multilateralism should be elastic enough to accommodate different approaches and forums, and to address the range of challenges we face –poverty, hunger, and climate change.

But the views of those with a stake in the outcome must be brought in to these different forums not after decisions have been taken, but when there is still an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution.

This is inclusivity in action. This is a bedrock principle on which international decision-making must rest going forward.

We will succeed if we can balance the legitimacy that comes from universal involvement in our decision-making processes, with the efficiency that results when we delegate deliberations to a few key players.

In some cases, small committees within existing multilateral institutions might help them move more nimbly and decisively.

In other cases, we may need to build stronger links between emerging bodies, such as the bridge between the G-20 and the United Nations membership that I have called for here in Doha.

But in each case we need to make sure that all countries have a stake in multilateral processes that are both authoritative and effective.

I am confident that if we act in a spirit of trust and goodwill, we can create structures that will benefit all countries and set the world on a path toward sustainable development, greater stability and more effective


It will be important that we take this spirit with us when we meet in Poznan next month, and chart a course to Copenhagen next year for a multilateral action plan to address climate change, with both long-term goals and mid-term commitments.

I hope today's discussion on renewing multilateralism, and this Doha Conference itself, will help us seize the opportunity to improve the international system.

Thank you.