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Robson Speech: Financing For Development

22 March 2002

Embargoed until 3.00am Saturday 23 March 2002 (NZ) Speech Notes

New Zealand Statement

United Nations International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico

9.00am Friday 22 March 2002 (Mexico time)

Mr President

New Zealand welcomes the holding of the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development.

This landmark meeting has brought the international community together to examine in a truly cohesive way, how to better generate, mobilise and utilise resources for development.

The Monterrey Consensus marks a milestone in development thinking, in that it recognises and values the many different strands of development financing.

We need to pull all the right financing levers if we are to achieve effective development and move the world out of poverty.

We need to pull all the right policy levers if we are to address the root causes of terrorism, one of which is poverty.

In New Zealand I am both Minister for Disarmament and Minister responsible for International Development.

One of my goals is to create a greater public awareness of the contribution aid can make towards regional security in our own area of the Pacific.

The point is, aid and development policies cannot be seen in isolation.

The international community must stop giving with one hand and taking with the other. If care is not taken, national trade, economic and defence policies can undermine our development efforts.

We need to ensure that there is coherence in policy development at all levels.

There is little point in building up, say trade capacity in developing countries, if donors maintain strict market access restrictions for products of key interest to those same developing countries.

That is why the New Zealand Government decided in 2000 to remove all tariffs on goods from least developed countries. We see this as a practical step that developed nations can take to improve the livelihood of the world’s poorest producers.

Fundamentally, coherence is all about ensuring that the left and right hands are in synch.

In attempting to achieve a consensus, there have inevitably been matters left out, because it would still be impossible to get agreement on them.

I would have welcomed for example, reference in the Monterrey Consensus to the global imbalance of military and defence expenditure and expenditure on aid and development.

And yet all of us here today know that reducing poverty is our best chance of reducing violence.

Buying and supplying weapons of war is not.

We know this in our own region of the Pacific where we have seen coups in Fiji and Solomon Islands, brought about by the misuse of armaments in the hands of small groups of men behaving like bandits.

Like many others, New Zealand would have preferred to see the Monterrey Consensus include references to Global Public Goods.

New Zealand supports the establishment of an international working group to develop an agreed working definition of GPGs and to identify their parameters.

I hope that we will be able to address Global Public Goods at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa later this year.

The Monterrey Consensus is a wake up call to everyone in the development debate. Development financing issues are now firmly and very visibly on the international agenda.

For our part, this visibility could not have come at a better time.

We have just created a new aid agency in New Zealand - the New Zealand Agency for International Development or NZAID - which while semi-autonomous within our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will give primacy to development thinking and aid effectiveness.

As a result it can focus primarily on poverty elimination and support for good governance, particularly in our own region of the Pacific.

Poverty is not merely the absence of an income adequate to meet the basic necessities of life. In the Pacific, it can mean poverty of opportunity - a lack of the essential elements that facilitate a normal existence.

As the 2000 Report of the Commonwealth Secretariat/World Bank Task Force on Small States showed, small states - which dominate the Pacific - are systemically more vulnerable to poverty than larger countries, regardless of income.

The report recognises, however, the need for more work to be done on the ecological aspects of vulnerability, and its broader impact on sustainable development.

Mr President

In these difficult times, the issue of partnership is key. The international donor community cannot simply walk away from helping countries where, because of conflict, poor governance and other problems, the cause seems hopeless.

While the notion of working in partnership is not easy in situations where the government is no longer functioning effectively, the donor community can and should seek to work through alternative delivery mechanisms.

We have a moral obligation to do so.

New Zealand has successfully worked with local civil society, community and church groups in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Fiji in periods following conflict and political upheaval.

Let us not forget the commitment within the Consensus document to promote greater participation by civil society groups in processes which concern them.

Mr President,

Follow-up is critical to the success of this Conference. Present and future generations will judge us on our actions not our words.

The Consensus document before us challenges us all to do more - internationally and domestically - and to do it better.

New Zealand is committed to increasing its aid expenditure from the current level of 0.24 percent of GNP to the 0.7 percent target as revenue and resources allow.

The challenge I face on my return, and I know I am not alone in this room is to give substance to the commitments made here this week.

If we are serious about targeting poverty in developing countries, then we must:

- open our markets to goods from developing countries;

- provide suitable and timely technical assistance, as we agreed in the Doha Development Agenda;

- dovetail governmental efforts with the private sector, acting as good corporate citizens;

- help to build systems for good governance;

- explore innovative sources of finance; and

- continue our efforts to address Third World debt relief. New Zealand believes that continuing unsustainable levels of debt undermine developing countries’ ability to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Partnership implies mutual ownership and responsibility by both developing countries and donor countries.

Some developing countries have to take a good hard look at their domestic policies and the functioning of their institutions, and set their house in order.

For developed countries we need to do more than talk about coherence. We need to hold ourselves accountable for achieving it.

Just as we use an index to measure human development progress, perhaps we need a “Policy Coherence Index” to make sure that we are not taking away with one hand, for example trade barriers or trade subsidies, what we give with the other through ODA.

Then we will be able to say we have achieved real coherence and true partnership in the interests of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.


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