The 12 goals put forward by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel cannot be met without meeting several economic goals as well, UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said yesterday at the organization's fourth Public Symposium.
Dr. Supachai was opening the UNCTAD Public Symposium, which brought together representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations, think tanks and academia for two days of discussion on the post-2015 development agenda.
Also addressing the opening meeting was Mukhtar Tileuberdi, President of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Board, who said the Symposium should consider the views of the multiple stakeholders present, with their diverse backgrounds. He added that all should share their experiences and aspirations for the post-2015 development agenda, as they can enlighten the international community on how best to tackle the challenges now facing the world.
In his address, Dr. Supachai highlighted the economic reforms needed in order to meet specific goals set out by the high-level panel. The panel, which is chaired by the leaders of Indonesia, Liberia and the United Kingdom, recently submitted a report to the United Nations expanding the number of development goals from 8 to 12.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi addresses the fourth Public Symposium
Goal 1, to End Poverty, requires a model for sustainable social protection that does not land economies in debt, as has happened in some European countries.
Goal 4, to Ensure Healthy Lives, raises the question of how countries are going to sustain their health systems. Countries should also build their capacity to produce generic medicines, which would require further improvements to Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) rules.
On Goal 5, to Ensure Food Security and Good Nutrition, he pointed out that under the Millennium Development Goals, governments had been asked to invest 10 per cent of national budgets in agriculture, but had mobilized only half of that. The funding shortfall should now be made up by the private sector, but questions remained about how to avoid market manipulation by private firms.
Regarding Goal 8, to Create Jobs, Sustainable Livelihoods and Equitable Growth, he said that new pathways for economic growth should be found. National governments had "killed off" domestic demand using fiscal austerity.
Finally, on Goal 12, to Create a Global Enabling Environment and Catalyse Long-Term Finance, he warned about unfinished reform of the financial system. The International Monetary Fund was still promoting procyclical policies such as fiscal austerity that had made bad economies worse: the Greek economy had been shrinking for five years now, he said.
Dr. Supachai also expressed scepticism about the impact of quantitative easing, when governments buy financial assets from private banks. Quantitative easing had been deployed by several central banks since the financial crisis. It had inflated stock market and currency bubbles, and had pumped more money into a broken banking system, he said.
Dr. Supachai ended by thanking the supporters of the 2013 Public Symposium: the Austrian, Chinese, Indian and Indonesian Governments, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. He also thanked the President of the Trade and Development Board, Ambassador Tileuberdi; the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service; and the Webster University team for providing social media coverage.