Statement to the UN Commission for Social Development regarding Poverty Eradication
50th Session of the Commission for Social Development
Statement by H.E. Ms. Philippa King, Ambassador and Chargé d'Affaires of Australia to the United Nations
Shared and sustained economic growth is the most powerful driver of poverty reduction and is critical to achieving development outcomes, including the Millennium Development Goals. With just over three years to go until the MDG deadline of 2015, we, the international community, must ensure a clear focus on reaching the current MDG targets.
In these difficult economic times – which, of course, are hardest for the poor – we call on all countries to maintain the focus on supporting their achievement. This means increasing aid flows – as Australia is doing by doubling its aid program to over $9 billion by 2015, and increasing our funding to help meet the needs of the Least Developed Countries. It also means supporting other measures that contribute to economic growth and provide developing countries with the resources and capabilities to reduce poverty, and deliver more and better education and health services.
For example, we need to support the creation of regulatory environments that facilitate economic activity. Reforms, including in competition policy and trade liberalisation, can support more efficient and effective markets and economic growth.
We need to give greater attention to the private flows of funds. Every year, workers overseas send more money to their communities than those communities receive in aid.
In 2009, remittances were worth $308 billion in inflows to developing countries.
In the same year, ODA from OECD countries was worth around $128 billion. Driving
down barriers to sending remittances means more money will reach the poorest
Practical measures can be taken to increase competition and transparency and drive down prices for remittance flows. This is precisely the objective of the website 'Send Money Pacific' supported by Australia and New Zealand. This initiative has contributed to reducing the costs faced by Pacific Islanders in sending money home to their families.
Australia has been actively engaged in actions to lower remittance costs, including
through the G20.
Our approach to poverty eradication also understands that food security is
critical. We are supporting developing countries to increase their agricultural
productivity and increase the ability of the poor to access food. This includes
through the current implementation of a food security initiative in our aid
program valued at $500 million and the establishment of a new Australian International
Centre for Food Security.
The Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles, agreed at the 2011 Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meeting in Australia, further embodies the priority we give
to increasing global food security efforts.
We recognise that rural livelihoods are improved by the ability of the poor,
particularly women, to earn money. Functioning markets support better livelihoods.
This includes having the right policies and regulations in place, reducing barriers
to trade, generating domestic and export market opportunities and increasing
private sector participation in food production.
Australia also acknowledges the importance of expanding access to financial services for poverty reduction. More than 2.7 billion people in developing countries are excluded from the financial services market. We need to do more to help the poor increase incomes, build assets, participate in the market economy and reduce their vulnerability in times of economic stress. Access to financial services, including savings, loans, payment services, insurance and money transfers can promote social inclusion and build self-confidence and empowerment, particularly amongst women. Australia is supporting the development of financial services for the poor in partnership with developing countries and through global policy reform.
Over the last two days we have heard many important comments about the role of social protection in alleviating distress caused by shocks, such as rapid food price increases or household level emergencies, and in preventing disadvantaged families from slipping further into poverty.
As well as our leadership role with Indonesia in the context of the G20's focus on social protection, we are actively supporting social protection programs. An example is Australia's support to the Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction program in Bangladesh. Specifically targeting women, the program offers soft loans or transfers of productive assets, a subsistence allowance, two years' free access to health care, and assistance for water, sanitation and housing. As a result of this program, many households have graduated out of extreme poverty.
We know that growth is the key to poverty eradication. But only inclusive and equitable economic growth builds sustainable, robust and resilient economies. Sustainable poverty eradication can only be achieved through balanced development approaches that provide expanded employment opportunities, improved livelihoods, and social safety nets for the poor, and which give particular attention to the needs of women and people with disabilities.
We look forward to working in partnership with others to build on successful approaches, and redouble international efforts to combat poverty.