Since the third LDC Conference the world has changed dramatically. The climate panel has made us realise how important climate change is for development, and how interlinked the fights against poverty and climate change are. September 11th has increased our focus on global peace and stability. And the new emerging economies have changed the picture of international financial flows. Increased globalisation has tied us closer together, but also made us more vulnerable – as the recent food, energy and financial crises have shown. We have also seen how internal conflicts linked to the access to scarce resources are threatening economic growth and development.
Norway remains a highly committed partner to the Least Developed Countries. We believe that the upcoming LDC Conference in Istanbul represents an important opportunity to renew and revitalise our global partnership, based on the changes in the international economic and political context. We must do this recognising that our cooperation to improve the situation for LDCs is closely linked to our common commitment to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
We agree with the EU that the Outcome Document should recall fundamental principles including human rights, gender equality, good governance and democracy. While the LDCs have the prime responsibility for their own development, they need an enabling environment. Thus it is vital that the LDC IV Conference further strengthens the partnership between the LDC and their development partners.
The LDCs’ own priorities must serve as the foundation for the preparatory process leading up to Istanbul; while dialogue and the valuable input from all Member States will be key to fulfil our mandate as set out by the General Assembly. Securing broad participation at the Conference is vital. To achieve this goal Norway has contributed half a million USD to the LDC Trust Fund.
Norway remains committed to contribute to financing international development efforts. More than one percent of Norway’s gross national income is allocated to development assistance – a large part of which goes to the LDCs. We urge all Member States to keep up their part of the financing deal. The financial crisis must not become a pretext for cutting in ODA spending.
An unsustainable debt burden represents a major obstacle to poverty reduction for many countries. Norway is committed to provide full financing of the HIPC and MDRI. We also welcome a debate on the making of a new international debt resolution mechanism - to guarantee equivalent treatment of all creditors, just treatment of creditors and debtors, and legal predictability.
The mandate for the upcoming LDC Conference urges us to identify “effective international and domestic policies” to underpin a new Programme of Action. In this regard we underscore the need for developing countries to mobilise more of their domestic resources – through broadening their tax base, fighting corruption and increasing transparency and accountability. Norway is actively working 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 a drain on important resources for development that must be stopped.
The size of the poverty challenge also requires us to scale up innovative financing. During the opening week of the 65th 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 serious challenge to sustainable development is climate change. It is a global challenge, but we know that LDCs are particularly vulnerable in this regard. Many countries are already facing severe consequences, not least related to food security. The link between climate change, development and sustainable growth is vital, and should be given due attention in the LDC IV Outcome Document.
We also see mainstreaming the gender dimension into all aspects of our work as paramount. We know that the empowerment of women is the single most important catalyst for change and development. Finally Chair, Norway stands ready to contribute to a successful outcome of the LDC Conference in Istanbul, and we look forward to take part in the further preparations under the steady chairmanship of Finland.