Ten years ago, world leaders gathered here in New York to sign the Millennium Declaration. Two weeks ago, they met again – to reconfirm their commitments to keep the most important promises of our time. We have seen progress – yet great challenges remain. Some of them are the same as in 2000 – some of them are new. The world is undergoing rapid change. We are faced with new far-reaching crises as well as deep realignment of power relationships in the global order.
Consequently, we need to find new ways of working together internationally.
During the financial crisis the G20 seemed to emerge as a main instrument for damage control and for restoring necessary confidence in world financial markets. Its main focus is still on the financial sector, but its agenda has expanded to include other global issues, including development.
This may pose a challenge to global multilateralism, including to the UN system, and to non-members of the G20. It does raise questions about representativity and legitimacy – and hence about the present constellation of its membership. It also raises the issue of necessary linkages to existing international organizations.
Norway believes that the dialogue between the UN and the G20 should be strengthened. This is a debate that Norway has engaged in actively, also as co-chair of the General Assembly’s open-ended working group on the financial crisis. The report from the working group gathers proposals to increase the complementarities between the UN and informal multilateral structures, such as the G20. These are proposals we hope will be further explored. We would also like to support the president of the General Assembly, who intends to launch an informal dialogue with the Secretary-General and the G20 host country to take place before and after the G20 summits.
Norway will keep honouring our commitment to contribute to financing international development efforts. In the Norwegian state budget for 2011, which was presented in Oslo yesterday, we once again exceeded our goal of allocating 1% of our gross national income to development assistance. This amounts to approximately 4.6 billion USD. We urge all Member States to keep up their part of the financing deal. The financial crisis must not become a pretext for cutting down on ODA spending – the need has actually grown, rather than decreased, over the last years.
Simultaneously we strongly urge developing countries to take leadership and to mobilise more of their domestic resources – through broadening their tax base, fighting corruption and increasing transparency and accountability. Norway has over the last few years engaged to put the issue of illicit financial flows from developing countries higher on the international agenda. These flows are many times higher than total annual development assistance. This is an alarming situation, and this drain of vital resources must be stopped.
Only by working together, donors and recipients will be able to succeed in achieving the noble goals set out 10 years ago.
The size of the poverty challenge requires us to scale up innovative financing. During the opening week of the UN General Assembly several countries, including Norway, agreed to work to introduce a levy on financial transactions. The levy would be applied on a large scale, and to a wide range of transactions that could provide stable and substantial financing for development.
Another real challenge to sustainable development is climate change. It is surprising that the tight relationship between development and environment – established by the Brundtland Commission more than 20 years ago – is not featuring more prominently in the discussions about the MDGs on the one hand, and in the international climate negotiations on the other. Norway believes it is of paramount importance that we link these two agendas closer together. The preparations running up to RIO +20 (2012) should be an arena for such efforts, and we encourage broad participation in this process both from the development and the environmental side.
In order to remain relevant, the UN must also continuously be willing and able to reform and adapt to new challenges. The establishment of UN Women must be seen as a system-wide coherence success-story. On Monday I had the great pleasure of meeting with Madame Bachelet, signing the first cooperation agreement between Norway and UN Women regarding the transition phase.
With the establishment of UN Women, we are faced with an historic opportunity to empower and equip the UN system to deliver for the world’s women, to promote the rights of women and to promote gender equality. UN Women should have the capacity to work effectively at country level in accordance with the delivering as one approach. We will therefore urge a focus on results and accountability from the outset.
UN Women will have an important role in providing capacity across the UN Country Teams, assisting the Resident Coordinators, and supporting national women’s machineries and civil society to advocate for change. The establishment of UN Women does of course not exonerate the rest of the UN system from their responsibilities to deliver results on gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women will have an important role in holding the entire system accountable for delivering on its commitments. The normative function of UN Women will also be vital.
Delivering as One is showing progress at country level. The country-led evaluations of the pilot countries have shown that the Delivering as One approach has strengthened national ownership and alignment to national priorities, as well as increased efficiency. Speaking with one voice has enhanced visibility and impact at country level. The message from the High Level Tripartite Conference in Hanoi is clear – there is no going back.
However, some challenges remain. The implementation of the Management and Accountability System needs to be improved, and the role of the Resident Coordinator needs to be strengthened. Reforms at HQ level are not keeping pace with those at country level, for instance when it comes to human resources and business practices. These issues are truly system-wide in their nature and must be considered across the board, not only in single committees or executive boards.
As Member States, we should recognize that we all have a crucial role to play in assisting the Secretariat in achieving greater systems coherence. At times, our general recommendations about achieving a One UN approach is undercut by our own interference and insistence on pet projects, earmarking of funds, and cross-cutting, awkward and at times internally conflicting financial reporting requirements. We cannot expect the UN to be more coherent if we are not coherent ourselves. Stovepiping does not begin at the UN. It is sometimes simply a mere reflection of the stovepiping that exists back home in our national administrations.
And - If our bold political statements are not properly reflected in budgetary fora like the 5th Committee, they end up as mere rhetorical declarations.
It is our responsibility to ensure that the UN system delivers on the visions of the Charter. In this forum we define the parameters of the UN’s operational activities and provide policy guidance on our common global challenges. This forum should be a driving force for focusing our efforts towards 2015 and beyond. We look forward to working with all Member States in moving these important agendas forward. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity, so let us ensure that we not only do the right things, but also that we do them the right way.
Thank you Madam Chair.