On 15 and 16 December 2011, Ms Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under-Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator, was in Warsaw, to participate in the sixth edition of the European Development Days organized by the European Commission and the Polish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Ms Grynspan represented the UN Secretary-General in the opening session and also addressed the High-Level Panel on “Democratic Ownership after Busan – The Role of National Parliaments and Civil Society”, organized by the European Parliament.
Opening remarks by Rebeca Grynspan,
UN Under-Secretary General and
UNDP Associate Administrator, on the occasion of the
European Development Days 2011, Warsaw, Poland
Thursday 15 December, 9:00am
It is a pleasure to be here today to participate in the opening session of this year’s European Development Days. On behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki Moon, I thank the European Commission, particularly commissioner Piebalgs, and the Polish Presidency for organizing this important forum and for the special invitation to participate.
I also want to extend my personal thanks to the Polish Government that has received me with such warmth and kindness.
These are critical times for the global economy. What route will the world leaders choose out of the crisis is central for the discussion we are invited to join here today! Therefore it is important to ensure that world leaders see, as we do in the UN and do many voices around the world, that the Global challenges, the Global public “bads” (because in this case we cannot call them “goods”) like financial and economic instability, climate change, environmental degradation, price volatility and food insecurity, can only be tackle by global action.
But, not only the world is interconnected; also the issues and challenges themselves are interconnected.
In the 2011 Human Development Report we demonstrate how sustainability and equity are inextricably linked, how the poor and vulnerable bear a double burden from environmental degradation and inequality increases, how this links to peace and stability, how human rights and the development pillars of the international agenda are two faces of the same coin, and how the intersection of political, gender and economic exclusion interact as we have experience in the Arab Region.
We need to realize that reducing poverty and inequality, generating growth, strengthening democratic governance, building resilience and achieving environmental sustainability are in practice interconnected: in pursuing one, we can advance, slow, or stall progress in the other. This is precisely what Rio +20 is about.
The recent events in Busan and Durban are good examples of what we can do together.
In Busan we reaffirmed the principle of policy coherence, nurtured by the EU leadership and also reflected in the EU agenda for change, we agreed on a new deal for crisis countries, to expand South-South and triangular cooperation, on the principle of national ownership, and to make AID more transparent and predictable building a new global partnership for effective development that includes for the first time the emerging Global South.
In Durban although many feel and with good reason, that a binding agreement on carbon emissions cannot wait, the UN multilateral negotiations delivered: consensus on a clear target and timeline for reaching a legally binding agreement involving all countries; a re-commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, and advances on technology, adaptation and financing, including the Green Climate Fund.
But we cannot be complacent! As we prepare for Rio +20 and as the 2015 target date for achieving the MDG’s looms, the task before us is urgent.
Despite tremendous progress made in many countries towards the achievement of the MDGs, from reducing poverty to improving school enrollment for boys and girls, and child health (in fact two-thirds of developing countries are on target or close to being on target to achieve most of the MDGs), global challenges make our task more difficult. We are actually confronting the first famine of the 21st century in the horn of Africa.
Rio + 20 can give us a unique opportunity to galvanize the world, states and citizens, to find a route out of today’s crisis putting together a collective path towards more inclusive green growth, equitable, stable and sustainable development.
Europe’s role and leadership in this is vitally important within the multilateral setting of the UN. We see enormous potential for the post Lisbon Europe in the work of the UN, the new structures of the EU now mirror the UN in all its three pillars, peace and security, human rights and development. Europe’s own 2020 strategy has many interesting proposals and lessons to inform the process.
While not for a moment I underestimate the crisis in Europe and how extremely painful for many individuals and families it is, and how uncertain the future looks, we need to remember the impact that the crisis and our actions will unfortunately have in the poorest countries and most vulnerable populations of the world. As the SG has said “Economic times are hard. But we cannot balance budgets with the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable”.
“People are outpacing traditional institutions – in their desire for change – in their demands for democracy, justice, human rights and new social and economic opportunity.”
We cannot fail them. There are already interesting initiatives to take the agenda forward and good examples of win-win solutions. The SG initiative of energy for all is one of them (commissioner Piebalgs is part of the high level panel and in charge of one of the task forces put together by the SG).
But for this to be possible we need to mobilize public opinion and global citizenship, give citizens a chance to impact the decisions that affect them and that increases their trust and the legitimacy of the state.
We need to include the voices of women and youth, the private sector and civil society.
We need the leadership of the world to show at their best, to be ambitious in these times of change and challenges, to be united in vision and action. To think about the next generation and not only about the next election.
Let’s remember that the short and the long term start at the same time, that we cannot postpone the long term for later!!!!
There are clear self-interests of Europe and other developed economies to invest in the development of its developing country partners. However, solidarity has always been a major motivation for European citizens, as a recent opinion poll demonstrated. Surely the most compelling argument for supporting development must be Europe’s commitment to the common humanity – this lies at the heart of Europe, let’s not lose sight that it is intrinsic to who you – and we – are.