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World Summit: session financing for development

World Summit devotes special session to financing for development

In a special session devoted to financing for development, World Summit leaders today emphasized the urgent need to go beyond words to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that address deprivation and a range of other ills.

President Vicente Fox Quesada of Mexico, speaking as leader of the host country of the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development, called for reinvigorating economic growth and development, including reducing the debt burden of developing nations. "Only within the United Nations framework it is possible to build the consensus and partnerships indispensable for achieving world peace and sustainable development," he said.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that there remained "an enormous backlog of deprivation," requiring more and better aid, trade policies that give a fair chance to developing countries, more investment in the world's poorest countries, and opening up institutions to allow the developing world to have a greater voice.

"We have an opportunity to save tens of millions of lives over the next decade, and to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty," he declared. "We must not disappoint them."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who is President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for 2005, noted that there was already broad agreement on development policies and goals, and a key element was adequate financing. He said domestic resources made up an important part of that, but alone were not enough to spur rapid development. Loans, grants, foreign direct investment and export earnings were therefore necessary, along with open and equitable trade and good global governance.

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz called for developing countries to improve performance and developed countries to fulfil their promise to increase aid. "The direction we take now can help make a difference for the millions of people trapped in extreme poverty," he said. For many, it can be a difference between life and death."

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Rodrigo de Rato, shared the results of recent assessments of economic policy for assistance to low-income countries. "We must work for better policies, more trade, more aid and smarter use of aid," he said.

Among the other 35 world leaders who addressed the topic, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Percival James Patterson, spoke on behalf of the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, expressing disappointment about the current gaps in financing for development between what was available and what was needed to meet development targets. "We cannot cross this development financing chasm by any series of small steps," he said. "We need to make a giant step."

Speaking for the European Union, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom Hilary Benn said: "The EU remains strongly committed to supporting country-led sustainable development through actions on aid volume, aid effectiveness, debt relief, innovative financing mechanisms, trade and the international architecture."

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, on behalf of the African Union, said that African leaders realized their primary responsibility for addressing development challenges, particularly through the mobilization of domestic resources, the provision of an enabling environment for foreign investment, good governance and private sector involvement.

"I stand on this podium today, therefore, to remind us of the commitments we have all made including Monterrey and to call on all parties to fulfil their commitments in a spirit of partnership and mutual interdependence," he concluded.

"Innovative ways to help the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are greatly appreciated but the international community must not be distracted from commitments already made," said Mathieu Kerekou, President of Benin, speaking in his capacity as Chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of LDCs. Bold new actions would have to be taken to relieve all multilateral and bilateral debt, he added.

Representing the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Navinchandra Ram Goolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius, appealed for special attention to the unique problems faced by SIDS, such as small and narrow resource bases, limited market access, fragile natural environments, vulnerability to natural disasters, a high cost of energy, poor infrastructure, and a lack of adequate transportation and communication.

Rafael Bielsa, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of Argentina said, on behalf of the South American Rio Group said that democracy had improved conditions in the region. "Nevertheless, our democracies have not been able yet to address social demands that are today evident in our territories under the form of hunger and lack of jobs and protection," due to slow growth rates and policies imposed by multilateral lending bodies.

On behalf of the Caribbean region of CARICOM, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts and Nevis appealed for the narrowing of gaps in technology, trade and human development between countries. Along with Foreign Minister Somsavat Lengsavad of Laos, who spoke for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries (LDCs), he appealed for assistance in gaining more access to trade and broadening their countries' narrow economic bases.

"Primary responsibility to achieve MDGs rests with developing countries, but international support is critical, especially for the poorest countries and for countries handicapped by geographical isolation," Mr. Lengsavad said, echoing most other speakers at the meeting.

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