Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honor to speak at this historic occasion on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.
Our heads of state and government in 2005 decided to hold a biennial high-level Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) to review trends in international development cooperation, including strategies, policies and financing, promote greater coherence among the development activities of different development partners and strengthen the links between the normative and operational work of the United Nations.
It is a great honor for the EU to participate in this launch at a time where the United Nations reform is taking strides to improve the Organizations efficiency, including through the process of system-wide coherence. As we have stated in previous occasions, the EU is committed to a strong and coherent United Nations at the heart of an effective multilateralism, which is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century such as poverty eradication, sustainable development and humanitarian relief. The UN´s universal membership, neutrality and political independence enable it to play a unique role. We are seeking a United Nations better able to support developing countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals by truly country-owned approaches. We have recognized that to deliver well, the system has to constantly adapt to changing contexts, new challenges and needs. The holding of the DCF is one response of the member states to the emerging need for a deeper dialogue on development cooperation.
As a major donor, the EU is fully engaged in the ongoing discussions on system-wide coherence and in the discussions on the implementation of the Paris Declaration, both significant efforts to try to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations and of development assistance respectively. As a significant contributor of Official Development Assistance (ODA), contributing 57% of global levels, and committed to reaching the target of 0,7% of GNI for ODA by 2015, the EU welcomes the DCF as an opportunity to discuss ways and means on how best to enhance the implementation of international development cooperation and to discuss issues that affect the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals.
We recognize the increasing calls for the implementation of the global partnership for development set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus and in Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. In this regard, the EU is looking forward to the upcoming High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, taking place in New York on 22 and 23 October and to the follow-up international conference on financing for development to review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus to take place in Qatar in late 2008. It is our view that the discussions to be held in the Development Cooperation Forum will serve as a useful contribution to that process.
At this midpoint on the road to 2015, the launching of this Forum in 2007 is particularly symbolic. The EU is confident that, coupled with the Annual Ministerial Reviews of the ECOSOC, the DCF will prove its value-added toward the fulfillment and implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals. The European Union fully expects that the DCF will become an important part of the international discussion on the development cooperation agenda and the global partnership for development, as well as a crucial mechanism to emphasize the Councils role as the policy coordination body of the United Nations system for economic, social and environmental matters.
The DCF could be an important coordination and cooperation mechanism in a context of an array of multilateral and bilateral players existence, a growing number of new donor countries and increasing number of special purpose global funds, added to the growing role of Non-Governmental Organizations and the private sector in development cooperation. The very fact that this Forum is open to participation by all stakeholders, including the organizations of the United Nations, the international financial and trade institutions, the regional organizations, civil society and private sector representatives strengthens the Unions conviction of the utility of such a Forum.
It is only through a truly participatory dialogue with all development cooperation actors that gaps, challenges and obstacles to the realization of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, and responses to new developments in the aid environment can be identified. We have much to learn from one another. We warmly welcome the presence here today of our partners and stakeholders and look forward to the opportunity for concrete and substantive discussions with all of you in the coming years on our shared objective of reaching the MDGs.
The EU is committed to the success of this new Forum and would like to take note of the work done by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in organizing the first high-level symposium in Vienna last April, with particular focus on key challenges facing development cooperation. We look forward to receiving more information about possible future events of this nature.
Regarding the agenda of the DCF, the European Union considers important that the Forum could also address issues like aid architecture, the implementation of the Paris Declaration, and the role of new and emerging donors. This dialogue should also contribute to ensuring that important principles relevant to development cooperation, such as the principle of national ownership and leadership, are fully taken into account by all stakeholders.
Todays discussion in the two roundtables on the themes Identifying gaps and obstacles to enhance coherence and effectiveness and promote development cooperation: the role of national aid coordination and management and Reviewing trends and progress to promote more effective international development cooperation: South-South and triangular cooperation, will truly launch our substantive discussions on the key themes before us at this Forum and will serve as a good foundation for future discussions.
We meet here after several days of high-level discussions related to the important theme of the eradication of poverty and hunger. We have discussed the global economic situation and how to try and ensure that economic growth translates into reductions in poverty, we have looked into root causes of poverty and how best to address them and we have detailed how national, regional and international actions can lead us to attaining Millennium Goal 1 on the reduction of poverty and hunger. Certainly, the discussions that we will have during the Development Cooperation Forum, today and in the future, on development cooperation will help us take forward our implementation of all of the MDGs.
In conclusion, Mr. President, we look forward to beginning our truly global dialogue at the Development Cooperation Forum.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.