H.E. MR. NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER
HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE
UNITED NATIONS ALLIANCE OF CIVILIZATIONS
AT THE XVI INTERNATIONAL CIFA FORUM
MONACO, 21-23 May 2018
President of CIFA,
Secretary General of CIFA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to be with you today at this important Forum.
I commend the leadership of CIFA for once again convening such a diverse group of decision makers for a rich dialogue. Thank you for your efforts – You invite us to rethink how we have to go about business across the board and discover more cooperative models of growth. Financing sustainable development needs an enabling environment.
Unfortunately, looking at the world today, there is no doubt that we face major challenges.
Relationships- among and between governments, civil society, business, media, and the people we all serve – are frayed in many places.
The planet is under pressure:
We are suffering increasingly catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Protracted conflicts are tearing societies apart in different corners of the globe.
We are witnessing an overwhelming spike in migration and forced displacement- including the new phenomenon of “climate refugees.”
We face demographic pressures like never before – the earth’s population will very likely exceed 8 billion by 2030. This rapid growth is forecast to be explosive in lower-income countries, yet stagnant in many western countries with quickly ageing populations.
Cities are also growing at an unprecedented rate. 60 per cent of global populations are expected to be urbanized by 2030. But urbanization will be uneven – with dramatic contrasts between resilient, affluent cities and rapidly overcrowding slums.
In the workplace, we are contemplating mass unemployment in the face of automation, intense concentrations of wealth, and the rise of extreme inequality. These dynamics are sending shock waves through communities and markets around the world.
Politically, the post-war world order is under strain, as economic and political power is dispersed among new players and multilateralism struggles to keep up.
In the face of all this volatility and change, it is understandable why some are claiming that we are in a global crisis.
But I do not wish to convey a message of despair. I have every confidence that we have the tools, the knowledge, and the goodwill necessary to turn things around and leave a better world for future generations.
As a starting point, we must work together more effectively across sectors to address our common challenges.
The United Nations can be a valuable partner in bringing civil society, the private sector, and governments together, encouraging each of these sectors to collaborate to ensure that we leave no one behind.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda called upon governments to engage the private sector as partners in pursuit of the SDGs, encouraging private investment in areas critical to sustainable development, and urging business to shift towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Private international capital flows, particularly foreign direct investment, along with a stable international financial system, are vital complements to national development efforts. Nonetheless, we still face major investment gaps in key sectors, which will have a great impact on our SDG progress.
Foreign direct investment remains concentrated in a few sectors in many developing countries, and often overlooks countries most in need. International capital flows are often short-term oriented – we need to encourage investors to lengthen their time horizons to create long-term sustainable growth.
Thankfully, the financial sector is increasingly recognizing that the SDGs offer many high-impact investment opportunities, particularly in emerging markets. The recent Financing for Development Forum at the United Nations in New York last April 22nd demonstrated this like never before: an “SDG Investment Fair” brought together Ministries of Finance with major global investors to explore how private investment can help advance local SDG projects and priorities worldwide.
Likewise, on 18 May 2018 was held the special session on International Cooperation in Tax Matters which was hosted together by the World Bank, IMF and ECOSOC in New York, and in which CIFA has participated. The major challenge in such meetings remains to marshall the grass-root involvement of the overall private sector, and not just a few major players.
The 2030 Agenda offers a roadmap for how this can be done. I would like to mention that Qatar has demonstrated strong commitment to the implementation of this Agenda. It has hosted several conferences on Financing For Development with sound outcomes. From the Doha 10 Messages issued during the last FFD Conference I would like to highlight the fifth one:
“Global growth and ending extreme poverty cannot happen without strengthened multilateralism and more robust trade. There is no alternative to multilateralism. The United Nations, as the corner stone of multilateralism shall only be strengthened. The backlash against global trade is based on the wrong diagnostic, which leads to the wrong medicine. We should make trade work better by designing and implementing policies that tackle job losses and inequality.”
This year, the United Nations has been specifically targeting the objectives of building sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies.
We have to go to areas where it needs support in terms of finance, capacity building, technology and of course global partnerships.
To achieve the grand ambition of the 2030 Agenda, hard work, determination and goodwill alone will not be enough. We need to mobilize major new sources of financing for development if we are to achieve the global goals.
As far as UNAOC is concerned, we try to model good practice through projects that provide work to communities that would otherwise be marginalized by promoting diversity, while reducing social isolation and violence on the basis of gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity.
The Intercultural Innovation Award, a partnership between the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group, selects and supports the most innovative grassroots projects that encourage intercultural dialogue and cooperation around the world.
Here are 2 new projects that contribute in the implementation of the SDGs. They have a global approach and a local level. They demonstrate how Sustainable Development Goals are being implemented on the ground in different cultures and contexts. They also emphasize the SDGs as a framework for resilience:
Puerta Joven, a youth-led organization, visits schools and community centers in Mexico with young professional filmmakers to teach the use of arts and new technologies as a way to promote cultural interaction and appreciation of cultural diversity. Since receiving the Intercultural Innovation Award in 2013, they have expanded to three other countries in Central America including Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras.
Welcoming America, recruits and supports local governments to create immigrant-friendly environments that maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality. Since receiving the Intercultural Innovation Award in 2014, this initiative has grown from 31 communities to 190 communities across the United States. It has also been replicated in Germany and Australia.
Awardees receive one year of support from UNAOC and the BMW Group, which will assist their projects to increase their effectiveness. Support will also be provided to successful projects so that, they can be replicated in other contexts.
The solutions exist: The Sustainable Development 17 Goals are at our disposal- they are tools for a better future. This is how the UNAOC brings communities together to build peace and understanding.
As the Secretary-General has said, we need an integrated approach to crisis prevention. Prevention should inform everything we do- it should cut across all the pillars of our work, and bring us together to pursue common goals of a more sustainable future. I believe that CIFA, with its mission of building trust and integrity in the financial system, would agree with this approach.
Taking action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – an integrated, interdependent agenda – is a powerful means of building inclusion and resilience.
I ask all of you to do your part.
The solutions exist. The moment is now. We have no time to waste.