Ecosoc: The Economic Situation

9/24/2012 // Norway's Minister of International Development Mr. Heikki Holmås presented the statement in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Monday the 24th of September, 2012.

Ladies and gentlemen,

My short answer to the question is: Relevant debates. Responding appropriately. Treating the issues with the respect they deserve, not coming up with yesterday’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.

The two greatest challenges of our time are the poverty that affects more than a billion people, and the impacts of climate change, which are threatening to destroy own livelihoods. These challenges are so huge that we can only address them together. We have to make the UN, and especially ECOSOC, a forum where we meet as world leaders to debate and finally agree upon the solutions that will make a difference. Unless we take this responsibility, we cannot expect ECOSOC to be able to play an effective role in the international arena.

New times bring new challenges. Economic growth has lifted many countries out of the low-income bracket into the middle-income group. But the number of poor people remains more or less the same, which means that only a small proportion of people are benefiting from this economic growth. In other, traditionally richer countries, the financial crisis has taken its toll. While only 20 years ago, we could divide the world into rich and poor countries, rich and poor people are now found in all countries. We see a more mixed and complex situation. We need to rethink our policies for redistribution of wealth. We need broader debates. Aid will still be important. And Norway remains committed to allocating 1% of GNI to official development assistance. But aid is not enough, and it is not sustainable in the long run. We need new, innovative financing mechanisms. And countries with high economic growth need to ensure that this growth benefits the whole population, not just the elite. We know that there are enough resources in the world to meet everyone’s need, but not everybody’s greed. We need to share wealth – both between and within nations.

We need to become better diplomats. A diplomat knows how to give and take – and does not just stick to one firm position.

We are not seeking to strengthen ECOSOC or the UN for its own sake. It is for our sake. There isn’t a plan B – because there isn’t a planet B.


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