As prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Commissioner Hahn, for outlining that much has been done over the past few years in a close partnership between the international community and the countries of the region. We have also taken note of the Statements by Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey on the challenges they face and strategies they have put in place.
Although humanitarian assistance remains vital, we clearly need a more sustainable, robust and medium-term approach to addressing vulnerabilities and persistent poverty and high unemployment. Expanding economic and social opportunities in host communities, including for refugees and internally displaced persons, remains critical to inclusion, sustained crisis management and development. The efforts of the Government of Lebanon in the recent CEDRE Conference, which I had the pleasure to attend as the representative of the UN Secretary-General, points the way forward with an emphasis on structural reform, boosting the economy, attracting new investment and imlementing modern and strategic infrastructure.
As we look forward to a more developmental approach to managing inclusion, education and economy recovery emerge as vital and interlinked. Our keynote speakers will go into these in more detail so let me outline some key chlenges I believe we need to tackle collectively on the economic recovery side:
- First, ensuring sustained support to the capacity of host governments to define and implement economic and social development strategies, especially for large scale infrastructure programs that require strategic, public and private investment and create social benefits. New, innovative, and concessional financing, as well as structural and business environment reforms, are ways to achieve this.
- Second, developing job creation programmes that build on a better integration of activities in both the humanitarian and resilience sectors to create cost-efficiencies and that require better collaboration between humanitarian and development actors.
- Third, better tailoring access to decent and quality jobs and economic opportunities for vulnerable groups, including women and youth. This requires a differentiated approach. Vocational training is widespread, but not as effective as it could be. Education and qualification throughout the lifecycle are key to provide opportunities and to improve employability. We must focus on social elements, too, such as child care and transportation.
- Fourth, scaling up our joint efforts to ensure the private sector is the prime mover of economic growth. We must do more to galvanize the private sector – for example, by creating the right conducive environments – reformed, regulated, transparent – or by developing more active and creative approaches in partner countries;
- Fifth, further expanding access to foreign markets for the countries of the region, including making better use of the EU Jordan Rules of Origin agreement and other opportunities, and ensuring future reforms are well targeted, implemented and utilized.
In the meantime, I underline the need to ensure that our support for livelihoods is more integrated and less fragmented.
In all of this, education is another major priority and challenge given that the Syria crisis has had a devastating impact on children and youth. Therefore, investing in strong educational systems at all levels now, while addressing the basic needs of children and young people, is crucial for preparing current and future generations to enter job markets, start their businesses, and develop innovative and resilience-based coping mechanisms.
This requires sustained multi –year strategies and funding starting with coverage for the basic needs of all children – girls and boys – to access to quality education from an early age and support for irrelevant institutions.
It is my pleasure to introduce the panel who will further elaborate on the challenges and responses. Miss Penny Mordaunt, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development will now share her keynote statement on the role of Education and Mr. Martin Jäger, Germany’s BMZ Secretary of State, Germany will focus his intervention on economic reform. I also understand that we may hear from Mr. Khaled Sulaiman Aljarallah, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Kuwait, who will share overall views on the region.