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Sustainable development

Addis Ababa meeting aims to close North-South divide

Switzerland will be pressing for more and “better” funding to enable developing countries to grow their economies in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way, according to a leading Swiss diplomat at the Addis Ababa Financing for Development conference.

The four-day conference, starting on Monday, aims to set rules for financing and implementing an ambitious United Nations-driven development agenda. That agenda seeks to promote more efficient development and reduce the economic dependence of southern countries on more developed states.

Writing in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper, chief Swiss negotiator Ambassador Michael Gerber said that “the pressure is great, and the task is not an easy one, especially since negotiations in the run-up to the conference have proven tricky”.

The Addis Ababa meeting is intended to answer a number of outstanding questions that could give developing countries “greater freedom and influence in international competition without demanding excessive concessions from the OECD states”.

Delegates will strive to find answers to ensuring more fairness in global trade, combatting corruption, improving global tax cooperation and delivering the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

“The time is right for this debate, since the old model of ‘North funding South’ is outdated,” wrote Gerber, adding that the system of rich countries dispensing financial aid to poorer nations should be replaced with a new financing model drawing money from other sources.

“Bringing about a global shift towards economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development not only requires more money than before, it also has to be ‘better’ money.”

The Addis Ababa development financing conference will attract some 7,000 international delegates, including government officials and representatives of civil society, business and academia.

It is one of three high-level international summits to be held this year. In September, the UN will meet in New York to adopt its post-2015 development agenda, whilst Paris will host crucial climate talks in December.



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