Mr President, excellencies, dear colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
Let me join others in thanking the Secretary-General for his comprehensive statement, as well as thanking the lead speakers. I will be brief and concentrate my remarks on the following topics: Taxation and transparency, climate change, gender, the MDGs and ODA.
Norway welcomes this opportunity to discuss important issues regarding the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, to be held in Doha. Of particular importance is the way in which the international financial crisis will impact on financing for development.
We must urgently address the consequences of this crisis. It is clear that the turmoil in the financial markets will put additional pressure on financing for development.
Firstly, leaders gathering at Doha should make tax a central focus of new initiatives on finance for development. Tax, expecially direct taxation, fosters representative democracy and strengthens the capacity and legitimacy of states. Insufficient regulation and oversight over the financial sector has been a major cause of the current crisis. The lack of transparancy in the case of many tax havens has aggravated the problem. The financial crisis illustrates the negative role of tax havens when large sums of money are hidden away from sufficient public oversight. We need to strengthen the efforts within OECD and elsewhere, to address these problems .
Secondly, climate change poses enormous global challenges in terms of financial resource mobilization – both to avoid the unthinkable and adapt to the inevitable. Adaptation to climate change alone carries a staggering price tag, if not compared to global wealth, then certainly in relation to current levels of available funding. We will need new, smart and robust funding mechanisms. The current financial turmoil, which in no uncertain terms will increase domestic revenue constraints, only adds to the imperative of innovative financial mechanisms. Norway will bring fresh ideas to Doha in this respect .
Thirdly, financing for gender equality and women’s empowerment must be effectively mainstreamed in all parts of the Doha document, recognizing the importance of this issue. We need to substantially and systematically increase investments in women and girls, taking into account the diversity of their needs and circumstances. Macro- economic policies that do not take a gender perspective into account simply do not make economic sense. Significant progress could be achieved in many countries with more women in the labour force. Restrictions and barriers to women'’s access to paid work, education and health services come at a significant economic cost. Gender inequalities in the ownership of land, housing and other property prevent women’s entrepreneurship and hamper their ability to contribute fully to economic growth and prosperity of their countries. Together with all the UN Economic Commissions, Norway will be organizing a side-event on gender and economics at the upcoming Doha conference, to focus on the positive contribution of women to growth and development.
The financial crisis illustrates the need for strong global institutions. The crisis has shown both the necessity and the weaknesses of the IMF and the World Bank. Norway welcomes the current debate on reforming the international financial architecture: While important reforms have recently been approved in both the IMF and the World Bank, Norway believes developing and emerging economies should have a larger role and influence in these institutions, including in the current reform discussions.
Finally, it is crucial that international commitments related to development and climate, like the ones made at Gleneagles in 2005, are upheld and implemented. We need to endorse the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the subsequent Accra Agenda for Action (2008) and thereby acknowledging the role of aid within the broader development agenda.
Mr. President, next year the ODA of Norway will reach 1% of GNI. In closing, clearly we must make it a priority to protect the poor and most vulnerable from the negative consequences of the present financial turmoil.
Thank you Mr President