“Financing and investment for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean:Regional perspectives on the fulfillment of the Monterrey Consensus and the Plan of Implementation for Johannesburg”
Talking Points for
Kul C. Gautam, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director
Johannesburg, Tuesday 3 September
Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts on behalf of UNICEF at this important event. For this is what the success of Johannesburg hinges upon — immediate, serious follow-up, including critical allocation of necessary resources to finance development.
For Latin America and the Caribbean, if the 1980s were a lost decade for development, and the 1990s were a decade of recovery, this new decade must be decade of acceleration of progress towards meeting the millennium development goals.
The outcome of the Monterrey conference augurs well for Latin America and the Caribbean, as it does for the rest of the world. The outcome of the Johannesburg Summit must give us an added impetus for redoubling our commitment to implement the MDGs plus all other goals and targets agreed to in all major recent UN conferences and Summits.
Let us recall that the road to Johannesburg from Monterrey passed through the Special Session on Children in New York in May 2002. Many of the leaders here today – including yourself, President Fox, attended that landmark conference and committed yourselves to a set of goals aimed at creating a world fit for children.
I am happy to note that there is a long tradition of forging agreements focused on children and development at the regional level-including at the Ministerial Conferences of the Americas, and the Ibero-American Summits of Heads of States.
This region made some remarkable progress for children in the last decade. And because there is such deep understanding and commitment to children’s rights and broad-based support for children at all levels of society, the region is ahead of most others in developing the National Programmes of Action for Children to implement the outcome of the Special Session on Children.
We are hopeful that Monterrey and Johannesburg will give us all an added encouragement to pursue ever more vigorously the Millennium Development goals, which give particular priority to promoting the wellbeing of children.
But we are worried to see recent trends in the region indicating a decline in national budget allocations to the social sectors and in particular to basic social services.
Yes, the region is going through difficult economic times. But action to promote the well-being of children should not depend on the vagaries of whether or not economies are booming, whether or not a certain political party is in power, or whether or not the international climate is favourable.
Honoring the commitments made to children should be seen as a mark of good governance. There usually is no greater cause for consensus and public support than commitments made and kept for children in all of our societies.
Children have only one chance to grow. They cannot wait for better economic circumstances or new international agreements. They are not just a concern for the distant future; their present needs are urgent and immediate.
Most of the actions needed for providing basic services for children are eminently feasible and low cost. There has been widespread consensus on these actions starting with the World Summit for Children 12 years ago, the Earth Summit 10 years ago, the Millennium Summit 2 years ago, Monterrey 6 months ago, the Special Session on Children 4 months ago, and now the WSSD
If overcoming poverty is the greatest challenge for ensuring sustainable development, investing in children is clearly the best way to combat the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Building a world fit for children ought to be the ultimate objective of sustainable development. Let Johannesburg be a turning point in our resolve to keep our promises and honour our commitments to building such a world for our children.