Address by Helen Clark to the Group of 77 and China

Jun 18, 2010

ECOSOC Chamber - NLB, 18 June, 2010 at 3pm

Thank you for the invitation to address you today. I am especially grateful to His Excellency Ambassador Alsaidi, the Permanent Representative of Yemen, for organizing for me to come and for the strong support he gives to the work of UNDP.

The Group of 77 and China constitute a large majority of UNDP’s stakeholders, which makes your views, opinions, and interests of fundamental importance to all aspects of our work.

My opening statement to you today will be on the work UNDP is doing to prepare for the September Summit on the MDGs; on relating our work on climate change to our poverty reduction and MDG work; and on South-South co-operation.

MDG Summit

It is now only a little overninety days until the MDG Review Summit convenes in New York.

This Summit is a big opportunity to generate new momentum around the MDGs, and agree on an action agenda of what needs to be done to meet the MDGs by 2015.

UNDP’s position is clear: the MDGs can be achieved.

We see strong evidence of MDG achievement around the world. We see tried and tested policies which, if scaled up, adapted to national contexts, and properly resourced, can ensure progress.

UNDP and other members of UN Country Teams have been partnering with over thirty countries to prepare in depth, national MDG reports to gather the evidence of what works.

Then, drawing on this country level evidence, we have prepared an “International Assessment” of what it will take to achieve the MDGs by 2015. I released this assessment at the noon briefing yesterday.

It identifies common and underlying MDG success factors, and highlights constraints on progress. It proposes an MDG Action Agenda, emphasizing eight priority areas, which if tackled, are conducive to success:

First, we all need to support country-led development:

Development strategies must be locally-owned and based on broad national consensus. It helps where a country’s institutions are responsive and accountable, and have the capacity to implement MDG policies and programmes.

UNDP offers its expertise in helping to build the capacity of governments to plan and deliver effective policies, and get the maximum benefit from development co-operation.

In more than sixty countries, UNDP has supported MDG-based national development planning. Bhutan and Tajikistan are just two of the many countries we have assisted in this way.

Montenegro, Nepal, Laos, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda are among the countries we have supported to strengthen capacities to co-ordinate and monitor ODA flows.

Second, we need to foster inclusive economic growth:

Rapid reductions in poverty and hunger require job-rich growth. A specific focus on agriculture is needed in countries where large numbers of people live on the land. A fairer distribution of income, assets, and opportunities is also important in reducing poverty.

It is noteworthy that Ghana, to cite just one example, has managed, through a nation-wide fertilizer subsidy programme, to increase its food production by forty per cent. This initiative has contributed to the nine per cent decline in hunger in Ghana between 2003 and 2005.

Aid for trade initiatives also help. On my recent visit to Mali, I visited one of a number of women's co-operatives which are picking and processing high quality mangoes for the global market. Analysis supported by UNDP suggested that Mali could lift its export of mangoes from under 3,000 tonnes in 2005 to 200,000 tonnes. By 2008, with the support of the aid for trade initiative, mango exports had already risen to nearly 13,000 tonnes. This is providing significant extra income and opportunities for the women in the co-operatives, and for their families and communities.

Third, we must improve opportunities for women and girls:

That must include measures which reduce the burden of domestic chores and free women to generate income and send their girls to school; as well as offering broader political empowerment. Investment in women and girls has intergenerational benefits.

UNDP works across the areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment. For example:

In Malawi, we partnered with the Ministry of Women and Child Development on a parity campaign which increased the proportion of women in parliament in the most recent election from fourteen to 22 per cent.

In Timor-Leste, UNDP is supporting the national justice system to appoint qualified women as judges, public defenders, and prosecutors.

In Syria, UNDP has supported capacity building and networking for businesswomen, as well as the training of rural women in agricultural extension initiatives in all Syrian governorates.

Fourth, we need to target and scale up investments in health and education, clean water and sanitation, and in the professionals who run these services.

Countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, Nepal, and Tanzania, have seen surges in enrolment after they got rid of school fees.

While specialized UN agencies and others will take the lead in areas such as health and education, UNDP can help to build the systemic capacity which ensures that nurses and teachers are paid, that facilities have electricity, that Ministries of Health and Education have the relevant institutional capacities, and that decision-makers support investment in these areas.

Fifth, we need to scale up social protection and employment programmes and other targeted interventions:

Rather than being seen as a drain on a nation’s budget, social protection needs to be seen as a critical investment in building the resilience of families, communities, and nations to cope with present and future shocks.

Good examples include the cash transfer programmes of Latin America – such as Brazil’s Bolsa Família and Colombias’s Familias en Accion programmes and others - which target low income households. They help reduce poverty levels and increase access to education and health services.

Earlier this year, in India, I had the opportunity to see in action the world’s largest employment creation programme – the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Across India, it is providing a right to a minimum of 100 days work a year, benefiting some 46 million rural households. UNDP is proud to have been associated with the design and implementation of that programme

Sixth, we need to expand access to energy and promote low-carbon development:

Expanding energy access has a multiplier effect on MDG attainment. We can see this in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, and Senegal, where UNDP has worked with partners to bring diesel generators to villages. This has had a tremendous impact, particularly on women, as it reduces the time they spend on domestic chores and gives more time and opportunity to generate income.

In a carbon-constrained age, growth based on reduced carbon footprints is also vital for all countries. To achieve that, a climate deal which generates significant funding for low-carbon energy and development solutions is essential – and must not be allowed to fall off the international list of priorities.

Seventh, countries need be able to mobilise domestic resources to finance the MDGs.

Most of the resources needed to achieve the MDGs have to be raised from and allocated effectively by a country itself.

Thus, improving domestic resource mobilisation is critical to accelerating MDG progress - whether by improving tax collection, broadening the tax base, or through other innovative methods of raising revenue. Expanding the reach and range of financial services for people is also important.

Eighth, the international community should deliver on ODA commitments and improve the predictability and effectiveness of ODA.

Well targeted and predictable ODA can play a catalytic role in meeting the MDGs.

The shortfall between the ODA projected for 2010 and what was promised at Gleneagles in 2005 amounts to around 0.05 per cent of the OECD/DAC Members’ combined Gross National Income in 2010.

This gap can and should be filled, even in these challenging times.

Notwithstanding the importance of each of the MDG action agenda points I have just presented, based on the evidence UNDP has seen of what works, we must always keep in mind the unique context of each country.

For that reason, UNDP, working with UN Country Teams, is currently piloting an MDG acceleration framework designed to help governments identify the country-specific interventions which would have the most impact, and the policies that can sustain hard-won development gains.

This forms an important part of UNDP’s own MDG Breakthrough Strategy - a call to action to intensify our own efforts to help countries achieve the MDGs.

Meeting the 21st century’s challenges to development requires a comprehensive approach. It is therefore important that progress is made in areas which have a direct bearing on developing countries’ ability to grow and prosper – including on trade and climate negotiations.

Climate Change

This brings me to the second issue I wanted to touch upon – which is reflected in point six in the MDG Action Agenda we are advocating: the need to integrate work on poverty reduction and the MDGs with that on the environment and climate change.

Advancing and protecting both is critical – it cannot be a matter of either/or.

I believe that successful climate change adaptation, coupled with forceful mitigation, is now critical for advancing human development.

How the world handles these issues matters not only for global economic recovery, but also for the very essence of the social fabric and harmony within and across countries and continents.

The international community needs to agree urgently on a comprehensive and ambitious climate deal which addresses the concerns of developing countries.

Of great importance is the level of new funding to be made available for developing countries’ climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes.

At the Copenhagen Summit, developed countries committed to providing additional financial resources approaching US$30 billion for the period 2010-2012. These commitments now need to materialize, and be used in a way which addresses climate change and long-term sustainable development simultaneously.

While the climate negotiations continue, UNDP is taking a practical approach to supporting programme countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change with whatever resources are available.

Our Climate Change Adaptation Programme is supporting 75 countries to develop capacities for climate resilient development.

For example:

  • In Tanzania we have been working with national and regional partners to mainstream climate change risks into water resources management practices in the Pangani River Basin;
  • In the Philippines, we worked with the government to implement a programme to strengthen institutional capacity to adapt to climate change and;
  • In Kenya, UNDP, in partnership with the World Health Organization, is preparing to strengthen the national adaptive capacity for managing epidemic highland malaria.

Also, as a part of the UN-REDD programme, we are currently assisting nine countries across three regions to prepare and implement national REDD strategies in a way which safeguards and enhances the livelihoods of those who depend on forest resources.

South-South Co-operation

We all know that achieving the MDGs, fighting climate change, and tackling the global challenges we face requires strong partnerships.

It is clear, however, that 21st century development partnerships differ substantially from those of the past. This is reflected in the rise of the emerging economies and the growing importance of South-South co-operation across the board.

The strategies, policies, skills, and technical expertise which can be exchanged through South-South co-operation are often those best suited to meeting development challenges faced in the South.

As UNDP positions itself to be of the greatest possible relevance and support to developing countries in the 21st century, facilitating South-South exchanges of experience and knowledge is central to what we do.

This is part of my vision of ensuring that UNDP is truly a knowledge-based organization, which helps develop the capacities countries need to make the transformational change in development status they seek.

For example, through the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth in Brasilia, a partnership with the Government of Brazil, UNDP has facilitated efforts to make Latin American experiences with cash transfers and social protection known to other regions. In India, we helped organize a conference which shared practical experience from Latin America with Asian countries already undertaking or considering such programmes.

We also host the Special Unit for South-South Co-operation and fully support its work.

It is no longer useful for UNDP to divide its relationships into those with traditional donors and those with programme countries. We are working on establishing more strategic relationships with countries which are active partners in South-South co-operation, some of which have also asked UNDP with support for setting up their own development co-operation programmes.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to discuss these new types of partnerships with a number of the countries represented in this room.

UNDP is well aware that South-South co-operation is not only about large emerging economies, Middle Income Countries, and Net Contributing Countries assisting others. South-South co-operation takes many different forms, including expressions of solidarity between the least developed countries – as we all witnessed in the recent generosity of LDCs to Haiti. UNDP will continue to be a loyal partner in facilitating such relationships.


Allow me to conclude by emphasizing again how much I value this opportunity to meet with the Group.

Next week some of you will be at the Annual Session of UNDP’s Executive Board in Geneva, where our annual report will be presented. We look forward to the feedback of all Board members on our work.

Once again, Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to brief the Group of 77 and China on UNDP’s

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