NEW YORK, April 2, 2008
Thank you, Mr. President.
First, let me take this opportunity to thank you, as President of the General Assembly, for convening this debate. Canada believes that this is an opportune time for this forum to recognise the achievements and address the challenges to get back on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Canada welcomes this opportunity, the first of many we will have this year, to review global progress on implementing our development commitments and increasing the overall effectiveness of aid.
The Goals provide the international community with solid objectives to which to aspire. Our progress towards them must be measured in terms of concrete results, not just in terms of spending.
And reaching the goals is only part of the equation -- it will be equally important to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the results. For example, increasing primary school enrolments and eliminating gender disparities at all levels of education need to be placed within nationally led system-wide plans so that governments will be able to sustain the achievements beyond 2015.
Canada has taken significant steps to reduce global poverty, in terms of increasing both the volume and the effectiveness of its aid.
The Government of Canada will double its international assistance by 2010-11 from 2001-02 levels, and is also committed to making our existing aid resources work more effectively, by enhancing the focus, efficiency and accountability of our international assistance efforts.
Along with increasing resources, we must all step up our efforts to ensure improved efficiency and effectiveness in development programming to ensure maximum impact from our investments and efforts to achieve development goals.
That is why we have been encouraging and supporting reform efforts within the UN development system. The recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel report on system wide coherence should help reinforce the more effective delivery of development assistance.
As Member States agreed in the outcome of the Financing for Development Conference in 2002, the “Monterrey Consensus”, each country has the primary responsibility for its own economic and social development.
The mobilization of domestic resources for development, the creation of an enabling environment to attract foreign direct investment, effectiveness of official development assistance, using international trade as an engine for development and addressing external debt were recognised as key to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Member states will review progress on implementing the Monterrey Consensus in November of this year.
Over the past few years, we have witnessed record economic growth in much of the developing world. Economic growth has been the key element that has allowed some countries to make significant progress toward reducing poverty and meeting the MDGs.
Innovative mechanisms are required to make the rapid advances needed to achieve development goals.
To that end, Canada is dedicating an initial $50 million over the next two years to a new Development Innovation Fund, to create breakthrough discoveries with the potential to significantly improve the lives of millions in the developing world.
To accelerate progress on development goals, all development actors need to be part of the discussion. Worldwide, civil society contributes more than $40 billion in aid every year. It is an important pillar of sound accountability, an innovative partner in development, and it can demonstrate concrete results.
We have an opportunity to shine a light on the role civil society organizations play as partners in development, particularly with regard to aid effectiveness. Canada strongly supports civil society engagement in an open dialogue internationally, but more importantly at the country level, in effectiveness and the achievement of results.
The engagement of women is also critical. Not only is the equality between women and men, boys and girls, and the empowerment of women, specific development goals in their own right, but they are also essential for the achievement of all internationally-agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
This is one reason why Canada supports the creation of a strong and coherent gender entity within the UN system, to support women’s empowerment, as recommended by the High Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence.
Also, democratic governance and peace and security are essential for countries to make development progress and to assure they do not lose what has already been achieved.
Countries affected by conflict will have lost much of the gains of development. Canada's focus on Haïti and Afghanistan serves to restore the fabric of society and credible institutions necessary to get back on the road to sustainable development outcomes.
As has been noted, Sub-Saharan Africa has the farthest to go to reach the MDGs. Canada is helping to achieve significant results in Africa in areas such as health and education.
Canada will also meet its commitment to double aid to Africa - the region with the farthest to go in terms of achieving the MDGs - in 2008-09 over 2003-04 levels.
Through the African Health Systems Initiative Canada and its partners is helping to strengthen national-level health strategies and systems.
Canada is meeting its commitment to increase bilateral support for basic education from $100M to $150M annually by 2010.
We are continuing to achieve results that are seeing millions more children in school and putting millions of books into the hands of students and teachers to help improve the quality of education.
Thanks to the collaboration between Canada and many African governments and partners, over 4.5 million more girls attended school in 2005-06 than in 2000 in eight African countries.
These are the kinds of concrete results each of us needs to be able to demonstrate. Our developing country partners are counting on us to fulfil our commitments and our own citizens are expecting to see their taxpayer dollars deliver results.
2008 is a pivotal year for development for several reasons with several opportunities to take stock of where we are, where we need to go and how we plan to get there.
Canada looks forward to continuing to play an active and constructive role.