The Millennium Development Goals: Moving from Consensus to Momentum
Notes for remarks by
Minister of International Cooperation
at International Cooperation Days: Opening Ceremony
November 1, 2004
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Good morning everyone, and welcome to International Cooperation Days.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this event. In the nearly 12 months since I was appointed Minister, I’ve met with a wide range of partners individually and in small groups ï¿½ from the non-governmental, voluntary, public, and private sectors. I’ve seen firsthand the quality of your programs, both in developing countries and here at home.
But I haven’t had the chance yet to meet with the community as a whole. That’s why it’s a great pleasure to welcome over 1,400 of you who have travelled from across Canada to be here.
International Cooperation Days is a special opportunity for me to learn more about you, and about how we can work better together in our common pursuit to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
To that end, we have quite an exciting agenda planned ï¿½ from interactive sessions and roundtables to distinguished guest speakers and panellists from all over the world to more than 25 workshops that cover all aspects of the MDGs. We also have several special events, which I will be pleased to attend.
The underlying theme for all our activities is how we move from an understanding of the Millennium Development Goals to a consensus on what needs to be done to achieve them.
As you all know, the MDGs are the global yardstick against which the world can measure progress in key areas. These goals ï¿½ which include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving basic education for all, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and forming global partnerships for development ï¿½ represent a minimum for action.
Globally, we are seeing progress on specific MDGs in certain regions. Clearly, at this pace, no region is likely to meet the goals by 2015.
In fact, according to the UNDP’s latest Human Development Report, at our current pace, we will not reach all of the MDGs in all regions before 2200. That’s why Kofi Annan recently stressed that a “major breakthrough is required.”
If we hope to achieve the MDGs, we must make radical changes in how we foster human development. Success depends on all parts of society ï¿½ citizens, the private and voluntary sectors, as well as government ï¿½ to get involved with a resolve to effect genuine and lasting change.
We need to educate and engage Canadians, to let them know what the MDGs are and why they are important. We need to better explain why what happens in Dar es Salaam matters in Halifax, and why what happens in Port-au-Prince matters in Calgary.
Engaging youth is a particular priority for CIDA. We need to better harness the enthusiasm, energy, and idealism of young Canadians. They can imagine how just one small idea or action can stir up winds of positive change across the globe.
I know we have our work cut out for us.
We live in a world where 11 million children under the age of five die every year from preventable diseases … where nearly one billion people do not have access to safe water … where so many girls and women do not enjoy the same rights and dignities as boys and men … where environmental degradation is both a cause and a symptom of poverty … and the list goes on.
But we also live in a world where more and more people are aware of the needs and are committed to change.
Here in Canada, countless individuals, NGOs, universities, professional associations, cooperatives, governments, and companies are doing their part. Our development work around the world helps create the conditions in which people are better able ï¿½ through their own efforts ï¿½ to improve their lives and those of their families and communities.
I recently went on my first mission to Africa as Minister of International Cooperation, and I saw firsthand how Canada is making a difference.
While in Sudan, I toured a camp for families who had fled their villages. Canada has provided Sudan with aid to meet basic human needs in a range of areas, including food and water, sanitation and shelter, maternal and child health care, education, and counselling to victims of sexual violence.
I was pleased to report back to Canadians through the news media about how our aid is getting to where it’s most needed.
But a larger story about my mission to Africa went unreported.
Developing countries ï¿½ especially in sub-Saharan Africa ï¿½ are increasingly taking charge of their own development. They are identifying their own priorities and creating their own plans to implement and achieve them. For our part, Canada is working closely with its developing country partners and other donors to determine how best to support these priorities.
Unfortunately, an African country’s commitment to the long-term process of sustainable development doesn’t always catch the headlines.
Consequently, our news media and their Canadian audiences can miss the victories ï¿½ large and small ï¿½ taking place in the developing world, and fail to understand Canada’s role in bringing them about.
When I visited Tanzania, for example, I saw how primary education, private sector development, and the fight against HIV/AIDS are priorities for the Tanzanian government. Girls are in school, entrepreneurs are getting increased access to savings and credit, and antiretroviral drugs are on their way to people living with AIDS.
Tanzania is very much at the forefront of harmonization efforts where everybody ï¿½ the Tanzanian people, the government, and its partners ï¿½ is working together around common programs.
Canada’s ODA budget supports developing country priorities directly related to reducing poverty and achieving the MDGs. We are focusing our aid in areas where we know we can make a lasting difference: governance and civil society; basic education; health and disease prevention ï¿½ particularly the fight against HIV/AIDS; private sector development; and humanitarian assistance.
I can assure you that the Government of Canada remains committed to our eight percent annual increases so that we reach our goal of doubling international assistance by 2010. And we remain committed to our focus on Africa where the needs are clearly the greatest.
We recognize that debt relief can be an important component of aid. And that access to markets and to lower-cost medications to fight disease is equally important to effect lasting change across the globe.
This will require working with other government departments: a whole-of-government approach.
On that note, I would like to say a few words about the International Policy Review.
As I’m sure you noted in the Throne Speech, the government intends to release the results of the review in the form of a comprehensive International Policy Statement this fall. As part of this, CIDA will bring forward its own policy paper for discussion.
While it’s true that CIDA must fit squarely within Canada’s international policy, it is equally the case that other departments can contribute a great deal to global poverty alleviation. To that end, I have been challenging my Ministerial colleagues to look critically at how their policies affect the struggle of developing countries to break out of poverty.
The government will also be moving ahead with concrete steps that embody the promise we see in Canada Corps. I think Canada Corps has great potential to contribute to Canada’s international policy.
Its mandate is first, to put our idealism to work by helping young Canadians bring their enthusiasm and energy to the world; second, to bring our skills and ideas to bear by ensuring that experts of all ages and backgrounds ï¿½ for example, in governance, health, economics, human rights ï¿½ can get to the places in the world that need them; and third, to coordinate the efforts of government and to work with civil society. The Canada Corps will bring the best of Canadian values and experience to the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, the timing for International Cooperation Days couldn’t be better. Not only does this forum allow us to put a real spotlight on the Millennium Development Goals at a critical juncture, it also puts our work into the context of the emerging policy environment in Canada.
Next September, a special session of the UN General Assembly is planned. Governments from around the world are expected to report on their progress on the MDGs and to discuss the measures needed to ensure that these goals are achieved by their 2015 target date.
CIDA is committed to doing all that it can to help achieve these goals. I know that all of you are equally committed. More can and must be done.
I want to challenge all of us to find real and concrete ways to renew Canada’s commitment to the MDGs. Communications and public engagement are critical to achieving these goals. I have no doubt that with the talent, expertise, and energy of the people in this room, we can do it.