Thank you for this opportunity to address one of the key issues on the global agenda today: “How can all nations best work together to eradicate poverty?”
This is a comprehensive and complex task. And yet, I am confident that ongoing awareness-raising initiatives, including the Financing for Development review conference in Doha next year, will help us to move in the right direction.
While Norway attaches great importance to all six core areas of the Monterrey Consensus, today I would like to share with you some thoughts on the need for good governance. With a particular focus on the gender aspect. I would also like to highlight the need for increased development assistance and coherence between donors, as well as between providers of aid and their partner countries.
The Norwegian Government believes and has experienced that good governance is the single most important requirement for strong economic growth and sustainable development.
As we all know, but seldom emphasise, good governance is more than formal democracy and sound macro-economic management. These are fundamental ingredients. But they do little for social and sustainable economic development and poverty reduction, unless they are supplemented by other, more specific measures.
I would like to mention three such measures:
- One – a strong, transparent, and non-corrupt state is absolutely vital. First and foremost, this requires political will and the right attitudes among national elites. Including the will to imposes taxes to pay for a sound public sector, with appropriate pay for public officials in strong, accountable government institutions.
- Two – an active and ambitious policy not only towards entrepreneurship, investment and growth – but also as regards fair distribution and equal opportunities for all. While taxation and the provision of public services are important, experience from many countries shows that the single most important factor in fighting poverty is the provision of decent work. Job creation, opportunities for promotion and the protection of workers’ rights are all vital in this respect.
- And three – a pro-active policy to promote the rights and opportunities of one half of every country’s population: its women. Good governance is not possible unless gender equality is made an explicit goal. As Norway’s experience shows, promoting gender equality is a matter of human rights, and also makes very good economic sense.
The promotion of women’s rights and gender equality is not only a moral issue, and not only benefits women and girls. It is good for women’s families, for local communities and the nation at large.
Women account for the majority of the world’s poor. Women have a greater labour burden than men, because they tend to provide food for their households. In many societies, women are the major food producers.
Women have primary responsibility for unpaid housework and care-related tasks. We need to acknowledge both the part played by women and their potential as economic actors that benefit society in general.
Financing for gender equality and the empowerment of women is the main theme for the 2008 session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. We need to keep this key aspect of development in mind in the broader financing for development agenda.
While Norway stresses the crucial role of good governance at national level, it is the first to acknowledge the importance of contributions from the international community.
For a number of years, Norway has been exceeding the development assistance target rate of 0.7 per cent of GNI. In 2008, we plan to achieve a rate of 0.98 per cent. Our aim is to increase this to 1 per cent by 2010, and exceed that figure in future. Priority has been given, and will continue to be given, to funding development in the Least Developed Countries.
Norway actively supports the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and is giving special priority to MDGs 4 and 5, which aim to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. The fight against Aids, malaria and the other diseases (MDG 6) is also a priority. Norway has pledged 1 billion dollars for the vaccination of children in developing countries between 2000 and 2015.
Norway is actively promoting better cooperation and coherence among and within international institutions.
We appreciate the strong emphasis placed on the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in the Secretary General’s report to this meeting.
I would like to underline that the vision of the Paris Declaration is to contribute to better and more sustainable results – to more development. The Declaration recognises that this can best be achieved when developing countries take responsibility for their own development, and providers of aid respect their leadership.
Finally, let me add that Norway is promoting a more coherent relationship between the UN and other international organisations, including both the IFIs and the WTO. We welcome the various initiatives that have been taken in relation to policy coherence, including the recent collaboration between the ILO and the WTO on the important link between trade and employment. This is a significant breakthrough as regards ensuring better and more coherent governance at global level.