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UN Chief Urges Corporate Community to Help Fight Poverty


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa. VOA Picture.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa. VOA Picture.

The Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) continued in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuesday with world leaders discussing how to pay for the elimination of global poverty and hunger.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, meeting with CEOs, heads of state and ministers at a forum on the sidelines of the global finance summit, called on the corporate community “to be our partners in supporting and financing this agenda.”

The call came on the second day of a global conference on “financing for development”, tasked with finding resources for a 17-point, 15-year plan on meeting human needs, protecting the planet and ending poverty.

The Sustainable Development Goals will be up for final approval at the UN General Assembly in September.

“I urge private sector leaders — including CEOs and institutional investors — to be part of the solution, and to consider new commitments for investment in sustainable development,” the Secretary-General said.

The four-day meeting has brought together Heads of State and Government, ministers, and representatives from civil society and business with discussions revolving around key issues of financing for development and the post 2015 development agenda.

Challenges

Economic Commission for Africa Executive Secretary, Carlos Lopes, Tuesday addressed the challenges Africa faces for its structural transformation such as low agricultural productivity and the fact that Africa is the biggest largest continent in exporting jobs.

“We are late comers but we can learn,” said Mr. Lopes. “We need Africa to become a prime destination for decolonization and green industrialization and should make no apologies for promoting industrial policies.”

“The sustainable development goals have to avoid a cappuccino approach of considering that coffee has the basis to which we add milk and then sprinkle chocolate,” Carlos wrote on his Facebook profile after attending one of the key meetings at the conference. “The correct interpretation of green economy should be one that perceives the potential of a humanized and environmentally friendly economy.”

He added: “The test for Africa is to get the best out of the deal but not let the deal affect our future.”

African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma urged developing nations to help each other financially, promising that “every dollar will be put to good use”.

Dlamini-Zuma echoed Mr. Ban’s sentiments that the solution for financing development lies in using all sources of finance; private, public, local and international.

Ebola

Speaking in plenary Tuesday, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said the new financing framework due to be agreed in Addis Ababa for the universal post-2015 development agenda needs to be bold and transformative in supporting countries to tackle the challenges of eradicating poverty, environmental degradation, vulnerability to natural hazards, and protracted conflicts.

“All sources of finance, public and private, domestic and international are needed,” said Clark. “We must ensure that all countries, and in particular the poorest and most vulnerable, are able to access the financing opportunities which are available.”

Noting the reversal of development gains in some West African countries due the recent Ebola outbreak, Helen Clark emphasized the need to invest in building human capital, as rising levels of education, skills, and health status are the backbone of development.

She also called for focus on sectors which will generate decent work and create the virtuous cycle of rising incomes which boosts demand and rates of savings to finance further investments.

Rural Communities

The United Nation’s only international financing institution, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is playing a lead role at the meeting, highlighting that the world’s poorest people, the majority of whom live in rural areas, are also a tremendous resource and must be included in the new vision for a sustainable future.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, speaking at the beginning of the conference said: "We are standing at a point of fateful decision. But between discussions around funding and goals, lie billions of rural people who are trying to feed themselves."

“It’s not just about the money. The key to a sustainable future free of poverty and hunger is people. Those gathering in Addis need look no further than the continent where they are meeting to see this. Given the right support, rural people can transform their own communities while helping to secure the world’s most essential public goods, including clean air and fresh water.”

In the draft FfD agreement – known as the Addis Ababa Accord – it is expected governments will agree to strengthen international cooperation to support investment in sustainable agriculture, with a focus on smallholder and family farmers.

“There are things that money can’t buy,” Nwanze said. “Leadership, good governance, commitment to the rule of law, and an enabling environment to attract investment.”

The Third International Conference on Financing for Development is one of four major development-related UN processes occurring this year, from that on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan in March, to the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals in September in New York, USA, and the climate change conference in Paris, France where a new global climate agreement is due to be reached.

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