Ladies and Gentlemen,
- I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
Let me first thank the panellists for the very interesting presentations, particularly the Bangladesh, Bolivian and Madagascar cases and give once more my congratulations to Bangladesh for the 2006 Nobel Peace Price, Prof. Muhammed Yunus, who has been a valuable contribution to find new ways of reducing poverty, such as microfinance initiatives.
Poverty eradication is truly a global challenge. As mentioned in the Issues Paper prepared for this Round Table, The international community has 8 years left to achieve those goals, which gives us much more pressure to make poverty history. This central goal remains the primary and overarching objective of the European Union’s development cooperation, particularly in what concerns African Continent and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
There are successful cases in reducing poverty and although during the period of the UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, between 1997 and 2006, the number of people living in extreme poverty declined by over 100 million, , the total number of people living in abject poverty is still more than one billion.
MDG 1 can only be achieved if other objectives are also accomplished, and vice versa, which means we can only have concrete results if we pursue a whole-of-government approach centred in policy coherence and tailored to the specific needs of each community, society and region. The Poverty Reduction Strategies Papers (PRSP) should be the guide to our work
Although this should be at the centre of donors routine, it has to be highlighted that the primary responsibility for development lies with developing countries themselves, who should take into account the views of the poor, particularly women and young people, in the policy making process. In this sense, national development strategies, and related action plans, including Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), should be developed from a broad and participatory planning process, at the local and national levels, in an ownership perspective or otherwise they wont be successful in tackling poverty.
This is the principle envisaged by the European Consensus on Development: the need for broad participation of all stakeholders in countries’ development and all society players as the civil society, including economic and social partners as the trade unions, employers´ organizations and the private sector, NGOs and other non-state actors. Indeed public-private partnerships have an important role in this context.
To regain the lost ground in fighting poverty we need to work as one, recipient and donor countries, and implement global partnerships. In fact, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals will only be possible with the active participation of all stakeholders, official, private sector and non-governmental alike. The UE would like to take this opportunity to reiterate its support to the Global Compact Initiative launched by the Secretary-General seven years ago, which has been receiving widespread support throughout the international business community, and in which several companies from developing countries have also joined.
We truly believe that global partnerships not only should focus on strategic priorities, but be useful to share, whenever possible and appropriate, best practices. The United Nations are the most appropriate place to do it, together with other international organizations, in developing partnership practices in pursuit of development and poverty eradication.
In the context of the EU-Africa Strategy, approved in December 2005, it was agreed last October to conduct a Partnership on Infrastructure and Governance Initiative. Good governance is fundamental component of development, since we cannot fully gain the benefits of an increased economic integration and trade if governance structures are week or simply dont exist. Furthermore, we cannot assume improvement in aid effectiveness if governance systems are inefficient. Improved infrastructure can contribute to the achievement of the MDGs, including poverty reduction.
National development strategies, policies and approaches for the promotion of poverty reduction through sustained economic growth have followed different models, based on the economic, social and political country-specific contexts. Practical implementation has also varied considerably but there appears to be no doubt that the impact of growth on poverty depends on the social and economic conditions, including the initial extent of income poverty, and that while growth is fundamental for sustained poverty reduction, it may not reduce inequality. On the other hand, there is evidence that education, adequate infrastructure and macroeconomic stability have a favourable effect on both growth and the distribution of income. As indicated in the Secretary Generals report for the thematic discussion, the role of productive employment is critical for pro-poor growth. Full employment and decent work for all bring together the economic and social objectives of sustainable development for the eradication of poverty.
Concerning donors, particularly to promote alignment and specially coordination, the EU has committed itself to the principles set out in the EU Voluntary Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policies. This will guide member states and the EC policy and actions and is embedded in the principles of ownership, alignment, harmonization and management for results and mutual accountability of the Paris Declaration and the commitments of the European Consensus on Development.