Paul Magnette to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations

date: 21 September 2012

Minister for Development Cooperation Paul Magnette will attend the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York next week. Key items on the agenda include the follow-up processes to the Rio+20 Summit on sustainable development and the post-2015 Development Agenda, building on the Millennium Development Goals. The General Assembly will also focus on themes including international safety and peace, the development of Africa, human rights, the coordination of humanitarian aid and international justice and law. In New York, Minister Magnette will attend the official opening ceremony, in the presence of US President Barack Obama, as well as participate in a number of ministerial meetings and hold bilateral discussions with representatives both of partner countries and of international organisations.

ECOSOC

After the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Minister Paul Magnette did not hide his disappointment, stating: “The results of this summit are clearly insufficient. The text lacks sufficient ambition and clear commitments. But we must not adopt a defeatist attitude. With a view to the UN General Assembly in September, we need to immediately get back to work. We know what is required for the sustainable development of our planet. First and foremost we need to break free from the current mentality which is oriented towards economic development and replace it with a sustainable consumption and production model.”

In that sense the decision was made in Rio to continue the work which had been started within the framework of the ECOSOC. The ministerial ECOSOC meeting will therefore have to examine how ECOSOC can continue to play its key role more efficiently to better incorporate the economic, social and environmental pillars in the development agenda. Aside from this, the relation between ECOSOC and the High Level Political Forum, which was established in Rio and which is chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, needs to be redefined.

Although the discussion about the reform of ECOSOC is not new, the recognition of its key role in Rio now provides the necessary leverage to finally and radically reform it. Because although the traditional divisions between North and South continue to exist, the homogeneity of the South is increasingly coming under pressure. Paul Magnette: “In an increasingly globalising world, development cooperation also has to adapt. Currently, development cooperation aid accounts for only 13% of the North-South capital flows. It used to be 70% in the 1970s. Several new forms of development cooperation are seeing the light of day and the triangular and the South-South cooperation are becoming increasingly important as a result.”

Belgium very actively contributed to the development of an institutional framework in Rio and Paul Magnette will be the first speaker to take the floor, on behalf of Belgium, after the panel’s session. In addition, the panel will also examine how global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be formulated in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

High level panel post-2015

The deadline for the Millennium Development Goals is 2015. For this reason, Paul Magnette will participate in the high level event regarding the post-2015 development agenda. Belgium would like to develop one set of goals, which pursue the sustainable development of our planet at global level, and which of course take into account the specific situation of a number of countries such as the least developed countries (LDCs). In this context Paul Magnette will hold a bilateral meeting with Mrs Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser to Ban Ki-moon.

High Level Meeting on the Sahel

In the Sahel, 18 million people, 1 million of whom are children, are currently suffering from severe malnutrition. As a result of the climate, the increase in food prices and the conflicts in the region, the entire region is experiencing great food insecurity. The most recent estimates indicate that no financing has yet been found for half of the needs (being approximately EUR 600 million). Belgium’s contribution in Mali is chiefly in the humanitarian sphere, to an amount of approximately EUR 30 million and primarily in a multilateral context. Minister Magnette confirmed that he will be continuing this line of assistance.

The High Level Meeting is intended to draw up a comprehensive strategy for the Sahel region.

Ministerial side event on the Least Developed Countries

In Rio, Belgium co-organised an event on the LDCs, with the support of the Secretary General of the UN. There are 48 LDCs with a combined population of about 1 billion inhabitants. Ten of the 18 Belgian partner countries are classified as LDCs and as a result our country’s expertise on this subject matter is internationally recognised. Belgium will also host a side-event on this subject matter in New York, together with Nepal and Turkey. The reflection on the role of a green economy in the eradication of poverty and the related institutional framework for sustainable development are for no country more relevant than they are for the LDCs. The aim is therefore to formulate a number of specific measures based on “The Future We Want”, the outcome document of the Rio+20 Summit. For Minister Magnette, any development strategy, especially in the LDCs, has to be based on the fight against poverty. Eradicating poverty is only meaningful if it is done sustainably.

Bilateral discussions and meetings

Finally, the Minister for Development Cooperation will also hold a number of bilateral meetings, among others with Benin and Mozambique on their mixed commissions, with Burundi on the aid incentive of EUR 50 million and the donor conference at the end of October, with the ICRC on the situation in Syria and the Sahel, with UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on health and, together with Prime Minister Di Rupo, with the Secretary General of the United Nations.

The Minister will also use his presence in New York to meet with the directors of the contemporary arts museum, PS.1, in the context of his plans for the opening of a new museum for modern and contemporary art in Brussels.