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22 October 2008 - Eradication of poverty and other development - related issues - Item 53 - Statement by Mr. Philippe DELACROIX

63rd GENERAL ASSEMBLY
General debate of Second Committee
Statement delivered on behalf of the European Union by Mr. Philippe DELACROIX, European Union Presidency Coordinator in New York

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION

Madam Chairperson,

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.

As regards the item on the eradication of poverty and other development-related issues, this statement will focus on the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, microfinance and industrial development cooperation.

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Eradicating poverty is a fundamental prerequisite for sustainable development, which requires not only a tailored approach to countries’ specific needs, but also global and coordinated solutions by all stakeholders. The internationally agreed development goals, in particular the Millennium Development Goals, represent the global framework for the international action relating to poverty eradication. Both high-level meetings organized this past September pursuant to the General Assembly gave governments an opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to achieving these goals, while new obstacles stand in our way because of energy, food and financial crises and which affect particularly the most vulnerable people.

Poverty affects all countries of the world whatever their level of economic development is, including the European Union, with phenomena such as social exclusion and precarity. These issues will be at the heart of the 2010 European Year against poverty and social exclusion.

The European Union has made great efforts in fighting poverty in developing countries, particularly the LDCs, and will continue working to this effect. By adopting the Consensus for Development in 2005, the EU consolidated its collective efforts. To implement the Agenda for the Accra Agenda for Action on Aid Effectiveness adopted September last, the EU has pledged to promote, support and strengthen national mechanisms to expand aid effectiveness partnerships, as well as to improve results-based management.

Coordinated, coherent and effective aid will enable reinforcing poverty eradication efforts. Implementing the United Nations Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty must be enshrined in this framework, through strenghened cooperation among all stakeholders. The role of new donors, emerging countries, foundations, academia, NGO, private sector, should also be emphasised.

The European Union would like to thank the Secretary-General for his report (A/63/190). As this report underscores, setting up national plans based on tangible goals specified by developing countries is a decisive step towards giving poverty eradication due priority. In this respect, the initiative of multilateral actors to strengthen this approach by defining coordinated strategies is essential.

It is critical to maintain a well-sequenced mechanism relating to the implementation of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, in particular as regards financing for development. The Secretariat’s Chief Executives Board will be able to fill this coordination role. The "Delivering as One" initiative will also facilitate strengthening coherence at local and central levels, and should be further developed through a pragmatic and gradual process. This coordinated approach to foster pro-poor growth must show significant coherence as poverty includes other dimensions that go beyond income, such as access to health, social services and social protection, education, gender equality, the fight against social exclusion and the lack of voting rights or representation.

Poverty is not only an economic problem. When trying to eradicate poverty, special attention must be paid to human rights and dignity for all, as the Secretary-General recalled on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This day aims to give people in poverty-hit countries, as well as in developing and developed countries, the means to play an active role in decision-making and other activities which have direct consequences on their lives. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is now more necessary than ever to recall that it states, "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his or her family". The link between human rights and extreme poverty established by the Human Rights Council, and the recent renewal of the mandate of the independent expert on this matter, illustrate this concern of the international community.

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Mechanisms such as microfinance have proved useful in fighting poverty. As outlined in the Secretary-General’s report on the role of microcredit and microfinance in the eradication of poverty (A/63/159), the growth of this sector greatly contributed to improving the situation of about one hundred million poor people throughout the world.

Under certain conditions, microfinance stimulates economic growth and improves the living conditions of the poorest people, especially women, who as a result of the opportunities offered by microfinance, are playing an increasingly greater role in the economy. Access to savings, credit, transfer and insurance services makes the poorest people less vulnerable. However, more than two billion low-income people have no access to formal financial services.

This number must be reduced, which is why the European Union fully supported the establishment of the United Nations Advisors Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors in 2006, whose work allowed the new prospects and opportunities offered by microfinance to be defined. In June 2008, the Advisors Group presented recommendations containing key messages for governments, regulators, private sector and development partners to guide the efforts of different stakeholders in building inclusive financial sectors. The political declaration adopted by the High-level meeting on Africa’s development needs underlines the importance of strengthening domestic financial sectors as a source of capital, by expanding access to financial services.

The European Union has included microfinance in its development policies, and in 2005, along with countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, implemented a framework programme for capacity-building among actors and institutions, the cofinancing of rating schemes for micro-finance institutions and financing information systems. The European Union is also committed to promoting the creation of financial and information standards to increase the transparency of microfinance institutions and improve regulatory frameworks and microfinance-related policies. Finally, this programme encourages the use of globally-recognized good practices and encourages South-South learning.

Enhancing microfinance presupposes encouraging innovative solutions which are emerging today in the field of inclusive finance, supporting the innovative work of specialized operators, while supporting microfinance institutions in diversifying their selection of financial services. These new services are part of the process to combat poverty, whether they be health micro-insurance products or credits adapted to the agricultural production cycle.

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Finally, the European Union thanks the Secretary-general for his report on industrial development cooperation (A/63/309), which calls for appropriate industrial development strategies. The European Union recalls its support for UNIDO’s priority of reducing poverty through productive activities promoting cleaner and more efficient use of energy in industry. This focus is complementary to the need for enhanced efforts towards rural and agricultural development.

The European Union supports the integrated approach to development focusing on partnership, and encourages UNIDO to work closely with United Nations system organizations and bodies. The EU also welcomes UNIDO’s cooperation with NEPAD in the context of its technical cooperation programme for African countries, and its collaboration with the African Union on implementing its Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa.

Thank you very much./.



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