Global conference calls on countries to invest in strong institutions

17 Mar 2010

Marrakech, Morocco ― To cope with challenges emanating from the financial crisis, climate change, food shortages and conflicts, developing countries need —now more than ever― to build capable institutions that will help them protect their citizens and sustain economic growth. The need to transform government institutions by investing in people’s capabilities and in providing innovative solutions and incentives that enable the delivery of effective services was a central message at the first day of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) global conference Capacity is Development, which began here today.

The three-day High-Level Conference takes place under the High Patronage of His Majesty the King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, co-hosted by UNDP and the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of France also supports the event.

“It is commonly accepted that social and economic development must be based on three main pillars: strengthening human and institutional capacities, good governance and appropriate economic reforms,” said Mohamed Ouzzine, Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Morocco. “But the first element is – undoubtedly – the keystone and the condition for the success of the other two.”

Beatrice Ravane, Acting Head of the Democratic Governance Department at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs added that "international financial institutions have long relegated the concept of ‘good governance’ to ‘sound public management’ and the fight against corruption. This approach, often linked to conditionality, has been a failure. Ultimately, the concepts of ‘capacity development’ and ‘good governance’ have merged and evolved into a concept of democratic governance that requires popular participation in defining, implementing and monitoring public policies."

“Solutions have to be scientific and politically viable, but what we now understand is that this is not enough,” said Olav Kjørven, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at UNDP. “At the end of the day you need institutions that work effectively at the national, regional and local levels to face multi-sectoral challenges of development.”

Over 120 participants from Africa, Arab States, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, among world leaders and experts from multilateral and bilateral development communities, will highlight policy choices, institutional reforms and investment decisions that enable states and societies to drive and demand a more equitable, sustainable and peaceful development.

“Institutions play a huge role in enabling people to fulfill all that they are capable of achieving in their lives,” added Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University via video message. “This key role is not only of state institutions but also of a larger network including freedom of information, a democracy that enables people to participate and express their views and a well-functioning market.”

Leadership vision, commitment and effective public management are crucial to enhancing growth and tackling socioeconomic challenges. Developing these skills contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals – eight goals to be achieved by 2015, responding to the world's main challenges, ranging from eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to reducing maternal and infant mortality. Investing in institution building has enabled countries to increase school enrollment and improve health services. For instance, by abolishing school fees, introducing double shifts in schools, scaling up teacher recruitment and other measures, Tanzania almost doubled its national enrolment rate between 1999 (50 per cent) and 2006 (98 per cent), decreasing the number of out-of-school children of primary school age from over 3 million to under 150,000. In Egypt, access to skilled delivery and emergency obstetric care helped the country reduce its maternal mortality rate by 52 per cent from 1993 to 2000.

The conference contends that by building strong institutions, more countries will be able to improve the lives of their people and set themselves on the path of sustainable development.

Contact Information

For the complete agenda of the Conference please visit: www.capacityisdevelopment.org         

For more information please contact:

Marrakesh: Leila Barakat, +212-6-61-23-96-00,  leila.barakat@undp.org

New York: Carolina Azevedo, +1-212-906-6127, carolina.azevedo@undp.org