Statement to the UN Joint Debate on the New Partnership for Africa's Development
Statement by H. E. Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations.
Thank you for chairing this joint debate on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and the Decade to Roll Back Malaria. As we mark the tenth anniversary of the adoption of NEPAD, and draw closer to the timelines we have set ourselves for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is essential that we take stock on these issues. I will briefly address each in turn.
Australia itself has expanded its engagement with the countries and institutions of Africa rapidly in recent years. We needed to. And we have done so because we recognise Africa's growing global role and leadership, and the opportunities and dynamism that the continent presents.
Our relationship with the African Union, and our development cooperation, are important parts of this. We have tripled development cooperation with Africa since 2007-08. We expect it to double again by 2015, in an overall development assistance budget which will also double by then – to more than 9 billion dollars.
Our development cooperation is focused on supporting African priorities, including the priorities expressed through NEPAD, in order to achieve the MDGs. We seek to make a practical and unique contribution in areas where we have expertise and experience – agriculture and food security, maternal and child health, water and sanitation, mining governance and human resource capacity-building.
NEPAD helps us, as a growing donor, by setting priorities and helping us coordinate with regional and national initiatives. We welcome the integration of NEPAD into the structures and processes of the AU.
NEPAD's Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), as an example, has helped Australia focus our food security assistance, coordinating with others and avoiding duplication.
I would also like to commend the work of the African Peer Review Mechanism, a product of NEPAD, which is providing member states with frank analysis of their progress on governance.
We should all recognise NEPAD's achievements. However, we should also note a few challenges as we go forward. These include the dangerous global economic outlook and the stalling of the Doha Round of trade negotiations. Australia will continue to press robustly for an ambitious, comprehensive outcome of Doha that liberalises trade, including, importantly, agricultural trade. Agricultural trade liberalisation, combined with effective aid-for-trade activities in the region, will assist Africa to trade its way out of poverty.
NEPAD can continue to play a useful role in supporting improved intra-regional trade, which, although increasing, remains too low. This could include supporting regional integration efforts, for example rationalisation of regional trade agreements.
NEPAD could also play an enhanced role in assisting to attract private sector investment to support much-needed – essential – infrastructure development.
When it comes to Africa's development, it is important that donor countries do what they say. That they honour their commitments – that we honour our commitments. This is what Australia seeks to do. In this spirit, we look forward to working on the process, to be facilitated by Kenya and Sweden, to establish a monitoring mechanism to follow up on commitments related to Africa's development.
I turn now, briefly, to the issue of malaria. I would like to thank the Secretary-General and the World Health Organization (WHO) for the report on the Decade to Roll Back Malaria (A/66/169). Australia acknowledges the impressive global gains that have been made in malaria control.
These include saving the lives of almost three quarters of a million children across 34 malaria-endemic African countries, representing 98 per cent of the at-risk population in Africa.
However, more needs to be done to ensure that MDG 6 and its targets are achieved by 2015. As we've heard, malaria continues to have a serious human and economic impact worldwide, and the vast majority of cases and deaths still occur in Africa. As the Permanent Representative of Kenya has just noted, over 170 million Africans are affected annually. Young children and pregnant women are particularly afflicted.
Australia's commitment to malaria prevention and control in Africa and other affected regions is demonstrated by our three-year, $210 million commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and multi-year commitment to the WHO.
We also support national malaria programs in our immediate region, the Asia-Pacific. Since 2003, for example, Australia has helped reduce malaria cases by 80 per cent in Vanuatu and by more than half in Solomon Islands. These results show that targeted action by national governments and their development partners working closely together can achieve significant progress.
But of course, bit problems remain in this region. We are, in particular, very concerned about the threat posed by the emergence of drug-resistant malaria in the Mekong region in Asia. The cost in terms of lives and economic impact could be significant, particularly if drug-resistant malaria spreads to Africa and the Pacific.
Australia, in partnership with the WHO, the Global Fund and others is commissioning research to inform a multi-donor strategy to address drug-resistant malaria in the Mekong region.
In concluding, Mr President,
I should say that Australia is firmly committed to achieving the targets for MDG 6 by 2015 and, ultimately, contributing to saving the lives of millions by bringing an end to the malaria epidemic worldwide. To do this we must accelerate global efforts, including through effective partnerships, innovative research, and increased financial investment. We are committed to doing so, but this is, of course, our collective responsibility.