Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first express our appreciation that there are some positive signs and trends on the road to achieving the Millenium Development Goals. Especially in East and Southeast Asia, but also partially in other places like Rwanda, as Her Excellency the Minister of Trade and Industry has told us this morning.
Nonetheless, Norway is concerned that many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Least-Developed Countries are generally off-track in terms of meeting the Millenium Development Goals. We agree with the assessment from the MDG Report 2007 that we need a broad approach to sustain and accelerate progress towards achieving the MDGs by 2015. Investment in human development has to be matched by building infrastructure and productive capacity so that better education and health services can be sustained by a stronger economy.
Regarding human development, the Norwegian Prime Minister will be co-chairing, together with Chile, Kuwait and Slovenia, the High Level Event on the MDGs in New York 25th September on Health and Education. The purpose is to set out clear actions to accelerate progress on the MDGs.
In his interesting statement this morning, the Secretary-General, Dr. Supachai, talked about the concept of the ‘enabling state’, as opposed to the ‘controlling and the non-intervening state’. I think these are very valid comments. Madam Bárcena also touched upon the new role of the state in her statement. National governments and policies are key in shaping a country’s future. In this respect, the increasing focus on good governance and the fight against corruption in many developing countries is encouraging. Still, more needs to be done. Equally important is the issue of gender equality. Sustainable growth cannot be achieved if we don’t empower women in society and release and utilise far more of their resources also in production, trade and export.
At the international level, a broad economic development approach requires an efficient division of labour and strong coherence between international organisations and financing institutions, together with partner countries. We see this as a strong argument for UN reform. To implement a broad and coherent development approach, we need a strong UN that delivers as one at the country level. This is particularly challenging for UNCTAD which does not have country presence.
UNCTAD is at a crossroads and needs to reposition itself in a rapidly changing global architecture. We very much welcome the Secretary-General’s progress report this morning, and underline the importance of following up the recommendations of the Accra Accord. Furthermore, Unctad’s three pillars need to be better balanced. The excellent analyses it produces must be transformed into tools that benefit developing countries, especially the LDCs.
Mr. President, as a strong supporter of UNCTAD, Norway underlines the need for reform. We believe the organisation needs reform to be dynamic and relevant for trade and development and a significant participant in the Global Partnership for Development. At the same time, we believe the Secretariat should be given some more time to carry on with the reforms. Norway will continue to be a important donor, and we encourage other Member States to support UNCTAD through this necessary period of change.
UNCTAD has the potential to be a vital contributor to the Aid for Trade agenda. On our part, Norway will carry on with the implementation of the Aid for Trade action plan that we presented at the Global Review in the WTO last November.
Returning to the broader development agenda : the ILO Decent Work agenda and Financing for Development are essential processes. On 5 September, an international conference on Decent Work was held in Oslo, and our Government is now establishing a seven-point strategy to strengthen and coordinate the promotion of workers’ rights at the global level.
In closing let me briefly emphasise four key points for Norway at the December Doha conference on Financing for Development:
1. Firstly, since aid volumes are lagging well behind donor commitments, we urge countries to scale up their aid delivery, and to work towards aid effectiveness in line with the Paris Declaration and the conclusions from this year’s second Accra conference a few days ago.
2. Secondly, Norway is a strong supporter of targeted debt relief to LDCs, and debt relief to the poorest countries must be achieved through additional funding.
3. Thirdly, there should be increased attention to global illicit cross-border financial flows. Half of this amount is thought to originate in developing countries, and this leakage of funds facilitates corruption and criminal activities, as well as undermining the mobilisation of domestic resources for development.
4. Fourthly, increasing the voice and representation of developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions is another area that needs closer attention.
Let me also inform you that at the Doha conference Norway, together with the UN ECE and the other UN regional economic commissions , is planning to host a high-level side-event on ‘gender as smart economics’.
Thank you for your attention.