Message to Doha Financing for Development conference is that global crisis calls for "bold action"
DOHA, Qatar, 1 December 2008 --The severity of the current financial crisis calls for "bold action" to ensure continued funding to help the world's poor nations raise living standards, UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi has urged in a statement distributed at a follow-up meeting on the issue of "financing for development."
The meeting, which opened in Doha on 29 November and concludes Tuesday, 2 December, features high-level government officials and leaders of international agencies reviewing progress achieved under the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on development and funding issues.
In his statement, Mr. Supachai explained, "At this critical juncture, in my view, the conference faces three crucial tasks: First, ensuring development financing in times of crisis; second, challenging orthodox policy prescriptions; and third, reform of the international financial system. On this last point, the Monterrey Consensus chapter on systemic issues foresaw the need for such reform, but little progress has been achieved."
Mr. Supachai focused on an issue UNCTAD has repeatedly stressed in recent years: that the international financial and monetary system needs rules to limit the damaging effects of speculation and to regulate in a reasonable way financial flows and shifts in currency exchange rates, just as international rules govern world trade. That message was echoed at a recent meeting of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board held to shape UNCTAD's contribution to the Doha conference.
An UNCTAD booklet on financing for development was distributed at the conference, repeating this call for reform of the international financial architecture and stating that "the mobilization of additional financial resources for development -- in particular increased official development assistance (ODA) to meet the Millennium Development Goals -- is becoming even more urgent with the spreading of the impact of the financial crisis."
Mr. Supachai chaired a 30 November roundtable discussion at the conference on the topic of "mobilizing international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows" -- one of six chapters of the Monterrey Consensus.
In addition, a 30 November side event was staged by UNCTAD on the subject of "The financial crisis, global imbalances, and national policy space." This event featured a roundtable discussion with five panellists: Mr. Supachai; Bert Koenders, Minister of Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, who also chaired the session; Juergen Zattler, Head of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development's Division on the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and Debt Issues; Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and Ariana Arpa of Intermon Oxfam.
Among the questions considered by these speakers was if there must be an inevitable trade-off between a national government's ability to make decisions about its economy and course of development, and the demands of international rules and disciplines. Panellists also discussed if more appropriate international rules and regulations and better macroeconomic policy surveillance might have prevented the current financial crisis and its related global financial imbalances.
The Monterrey Consensus covers six themes related to financing for development that involve not only governments but civil society and the business sector. The overall intent is to spur sustainable economic growth in developing countries.