UN stages high-level discussions on financing for development in face of crises

15:52, July 01, 2010      

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The financial, food, and climate crises have spurred new discussions and opinions about best practices in bringing much-needed funds to less developed countries, experts from various countries said here Wednesday at a week-long high-level panel discussions on the issue of development.

One such discussion, titled “Impact of Multiple Crises: Allocating Resources Among Competing Needs,” part of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) at the High-level segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), brought four economic experts to the United Nations on Wednesday to share their ideas.

The ECOSOC is an organ of the UN system committed to examining economic and social issues with the input of many UN agencies, member states, and civil society. The DCF allows for dialogue about development at the organ's highest profile annual meeting, the high-level segment.

Carlos A. Primo Braga, acting vice president and corporate secretary of the World Bank and one of the experts present at the meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York, characterized the tone of the discussion when he said that "the series of crises we have seen over the last few years are in reality the new normal."

According to Braga and other experts, problems like climate change and volatile food prices are no longer even real crises but have become part of the fabric of highly globalized economies where events in individual countries can have very widespread effects far beyond their borders.

Much of Wednesday's discussion was devoted to evaluating how aid should best be distributed to developing countries, and panellists shared their opinion on the matter based on their own analysis or their home countries’ experiences.

Marie Josee Jacobs, the minister for development cooperation and humanitarian affairs for Luxembourg at the event, stressed that the Official Development Assistance (ODA) is extremely important, but that it alone is not enough.

ODA is the commitment of the rich countries to earmark 0.7 percent of their gross national product (GNP) for helping poor countries in their developing efforts. First pledged 35 years ago in a 1970 UN General Assembly Resolution, the 0.7 target has been affirmed in many international agreements over the years. However, only few Western countries have honored their pledge.

"Luxembourg therefore supports in a substantial manner work and development and micro-financing instruments," she said. "Inclusive financing is highlighted by the double characteristic of being on one hand socially effective, and on another and being economically profitable."

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