International aid, development finance and foreign direct investment from the world’s wealthiest nations is in danger of drying up as the financial crisis and recession spreads and deepens, compounding systemic, long-term problems in the poorest countries related to climate change, poverty, lack of water and sanitation, agriculture and food supplies. Speaking at a development finance conference in Doha, Qatar November 29, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for “bold and effective efforts” to ensure that “today’s emergency does not become tomorrow’s human crisis.”
Attended by representatives from government, business and civil society, the four-day meeting in Doha was meant to follow through on the 2002 adoption of a partnership agreement between developed and developing countries to focus on issues such as local resource mobilization, foreign direct investment, overseas development aid, trade and debt relief known as the Monterrey Consensus. In addition to assessing progress, participants focused on “ensuring there is sufficient financing to meet key development goals amid mounting concern about the impact the current global economic slowdown on poor nations,” according to a UN press release.
During the meeting, Secretary General Ban noted that the global financial crisis has brought “an abrupt end to a long era of global growth,” compounding other major threats such as climate change, food insecurity and extreme poverty. “Without exaggeration, we can say that the well-being of our people and the health of our societies – even the future of our planet – depend on what we do today and in the weeks to come,” he stated.
Efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change can be key factors and part of the solution to the current financial crisis and economic downturn, the Secretary-General said. “Investments in green technologies will yield pay-offs in the long term, for a safer environment and more sustainable growth. Already, the record shows that green investment can produce jobs and spur growth.”
Poor countries are already among the worst affected by shifting weather patterns, climate change and lack of access to clean water, energy and food supplies, as well as modern, basic education and medical services, Ban continued. He called on developed nations to hold to the pledges of assistance made as per the Monterey Consensus, whose fundamental guiding principles of cooperation, sustainability and inclusive governance hold out the promise of bridging the North-South divide, as well as the means of addressing the current financial crisis and economic slowdown.
“If not handled correctly, today”s financial crisis will become tomorrow’s human crisis. Social unrest and political instability will grow, exacerbating all other problems. The danger, ultimately, is a cascading series of crises, each building on the other, with potentially devastating consequences for all…
“Like wayfarers in a boat on troubled seas, we are all in this together. I cannot stress enough that now, more than ever, we must be bold and summon the will to lead,” he stated.