A High-Level Symposium on “A renewed global partnership for development for a post-2015 era” was convened in Addis Ababa at the meeting hall of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) this week.
Over the last decade or two, Africa has changed significantly, and for the better, after the commencement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). During this period, 11 countries have registered an average annual growth of 7 percent or more, which is considered to be sufficient to double their economies in another 10 years time. According to Carlos Lopes, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of UNECA, the continent’s collective GDP has exceeded USD 2 trillion today, which is roughly equal to Brazil’s or Russia’s GDP, and is larger than India’s. As a result, the discourse and perception of Africa has shifted and those who considered it as a hopeless continent now perceive Africa as a vibrant frontier market and an emerging partner of growth, he told attendants at the opening ceremony of the symposium, on Thursday morning. “On the economic front, the continent’s unprecedented growth over the past decade has been remarkably resilient in the face of the global economic crisis worldwide.”
However, the continent needs to deal with significant issues like poverty, rising inequality and sustainable development remains a huge challenge. Lopes stated that unemployment remains high, particularly among the youth and almost a third of children enrolled in primary schools don’t complete their studies and advance to the next level. The continent, he stated, still has the highest maternal and child deaths, nearly half population is considered poor and Africa’s progress in realizing MDG goals is not going according to plan. Global partnerships are playing a crucial role in the process of achieving MDG goals, which has helped the continent in registering significant accomplishments through the provision of aid, trade and debt relief, access to ICT and essential medicines, as well as support in other areas. These partnerships need to evolve to ensure broad support, among all actors for the delivery on commitments and for addressing new challenges and opportunities, he added.
The symposium is the first of three major consultations in preparation for the 2014 ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum, where stakeholders will advance global dialogue on the future of development cooperation in the post-2015 setting. It has brought together more than 160 high level and senior officials from developed and developing countries, south-south cooperation partners, civil society, philanthropic foundations, the private sector, parliamentarians, local governments and international organizations.
At the symposium, that aims to assess how global partnership development beyond 2015 can work in practice, attendants agreed on the need for a new framework for the post-2015 agenda. “A new framework must take into consideration the initial conditions of each country. This is important, since performance should be appreciated in light of the road traveled, relative to the point of departure. We cannot repeat the methodological mistake of increasing every country’s progress towards a universal goal as if they all started from the same departing line,” said Lopes, who also believes that the voice of the youth in particular, must be heard.
Minister Sufian Ahmed of MoFED, who believes countries like Ethiopia were challenged in successfully achieving all the MDG goals on time because of shortfalls in development finance, said in his opening remarks that, in the government’s view, the current global economic situation should never be allowed to detract attention from the critical need for development finance of low-income countries.
Sufian is hopeful that the renewed global partnership will focus on building a more equitable multilateral trade system, improving the flow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to developing countries, at the same time addressing supply-side constraints, including through improved access to new technologies and long-term investment.