Accra Mail (Accra)

6 May 2002

Africa: Amos On Sustainable Development in Africa

Baroness Amos, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of Africa, delivered a speech at the Department of International Development (DFID) Development Policy Forum 2002, in Cardiff, Wales on 24 April. Below, are excerpts of her speech.

TAKING A TARGETED APPROACH

We know that if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and halve the proportion of people living in abject poverty by 2015 then we need to do more than just increase the level of development assistance - we need average economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa of 7% and that is only achievable if African countries can contain capital flight, attract foreign direct investment, increase their proportion of international trade, put increased resources into social sectors like health and education and demonstrate transparency in key areas of political and economic governance.

Internationally DFID have led discussion of this agenda. The 2000 White Paper on International Development which focussed on globalisation stressed the need to promote policies and measures to enhance the pro poor impact of globalisation. The work we did then remains important and I am pleased that the focus of this round of Development Policy Forums is on globalisation.

THE IMPACT OF GLOBALISATION

Globalisation has become a key word covering a large number of areas, yet is a word that few of us may have grown up with, or fully understand. But we all increasingly see the impact of global events on all our lives, whether through work, travel, culture or the many other ways in which events or actions across the globe affect us.

In a post-11 September world, we are all much more conscious of the interrelationship between countries, between developed and developing countries and the complexity of those relationships.

At the same time there are concerns about globalisation. When people express concern about globalisation it usually revolves around concerns regarding the pace of economic and social change, effects on culture and effects on the poor. People feel it is a political process they are unable to influence.

But globalisation is a human made process, which gives people the opportunity to interact with and influence the process.

[This] is a key opportunity to explore how we can manage globalisation to work better for poor people. We are specifically here to explore issues surrounding trade, the environment and the private sector - key areas on which we need to focus to ensure poor countries can lift their poorest citizens out of poverty.

We are here to discuss issues of environment and development as preparations gather pace for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg this August, 10 years after the UN Conference on the Environment and Development, in Rio in 1992.

POVERTY, THE ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The Summit in Johannesburg offers an important opportunity to carry forward the debate on the links between environment and development. The Summit's title alone - 'World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)' - reflects a growing realisation that the environment and development are inextricably linked.

WSSD will focus on the relationship between poverty, globalisation and sustainable development: issues fundamental to the Government's strategy as outlined in the 2000 White Paper 'Making Globalisation work for the Poor'.

It is also timely to be discussing today how to make trade work better for the poor, following the 4th World Trade Organisation's Ministerial which took place in Doha last November.

LIBERALISING THE MARKETS

The poorest countries need improved trading opportunities in order to help them sell their goods and therefore help the one in five of the world's population that still lives in extreme poverty to participate in the growing wealth of the planet. Africa has less than 1% of world trade. Doubling that would provide a flow of resources equal to total aid in Africa which would create the conditions to enable us to overcome deep-seated historical inequalities.

According to the latest World Bank figures, the continued opening of markets to trade could lift an additional 300 million people out of poverty, helping us make the Millennium Development Goals on poverty reduction a reality.

That is why at Doha, the UK Government pushed for the next round of World Trade Organisation negotiations to be a 'development round' - to address specifically the ways in which the liberalisation of trade can benefit the world's poor. The outcome of Doha was in many ways positive for developing countries, though much work remains to be done. That is why it is vital we all work to ensure that commitments made at Doha become a reality.

PROMOTING DEVELOPMENT THROUGH THE PRIVATE SECTOR

And many of the issues surrounding today's third theme: 'Promoting International Development Through the Private Sector', are directly linked to both environment and trade. Private sector economic activities often directly impact on the environment and in turn on the poor's livelihoods, health and vulnerability.

Consequently, there has been growing pressure for socially responsible behaviour by businesses, both in the UK and abroad. Many of these changes in the private sector's behaviour, have resulted from pressure from consumers causing businesses to realise that socially responsible business is not only a moral imperative, but also in their hard-headed business self interest.

The private sector is also at the heart of debates on trade and development. Through development of the export private sector in developing countries, more poor people will be able to capture the gains from international trade. In turn, progress can be made on reducing world poverty.

Already, foreign direct investment in developing countries is more than three times the current volume of development aid. Yet receipt of this investment is highly skewed - with little flowing into sub-Saharan Africa. We need to explore ways that all developing countries can attract investment to enable the private sector to contribute to their development. NEPAD AND THE G8

NEPAD is a continental strategy directed to the achievement of sustainable development in Africa. It gives firmer expression to the idea of African Renaissance. It recognises African responsibility to create the conditions for development by ending conflict, improving economic and political governance and strengthening regional integration.

It seeks international support to achieve these goals and to end Africa's acute economic marginalisation through such measures as increased resource flows, improved trade access and debt relief. It identifies infrastructure, agricultural diversification and human development (health and education) as priority sectors.

NEPAD's long term objectives are: to develop African machinery for achieving peace and security; to agree codes and standards for economic and political governance and a peer review mechanism for ensuring compliance with them; to develop regional infrastructure to enhance regional integration; to achieve better terms of trade for African products; to develop strategies in priority areas including human development (health and education) and agriculture. CONCLUSION

Africa is getting poorer and falling further behind. It represents our greatest challenge as a world community and that is why at last year's G8 Summit in Genoa G8 leaders committed to the development of a G8 Africa Action Plan to support the work of NEPAD. The G8 working with African leaders have a historic opportunity to develop a partnership to deliver tangible improvements to the lives of poor people. That is why the G8 is looking at the following areas: Peace and Security; Economic Growth, Trade and Investment; Education and Health; Agriculture and Water, Aid Effectiveness.

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