Secretary-General Calls for Strategic Vision, New Model of Governance to Save World’s Seas, as United Nations Ocean Conference Opens

The inaugural United Nations Ocean Conference opened today with a call for urgent action to improve the health of the world’s seas, now in peril after decades of pollution, overfishing and the unattended effects of climate change that were decimating marine life, and in turn, livelihoods.

The Conference, which runs through 9 June, will explore how to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14:  conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Opening the event, Secretary-General António Guterres told world leaders that unless they could overcome the territorial and resource interests that had blocked progress, the state of the oceans would continue to deteriorate.  “We need a new strategic vision,” he said, a new model of ocean governance.  The first step was to end the artificial dichotomy between economic demands and the health of our seas.

Concrete steps were needed, he said, from expanding marine protected areas and managing fisheries, to reducing pollution and cleaning up plastic waste, the latter of which, if left unchecked, would outweigh fish in the sea by 2050.  The political will which had led to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda must now be translated into funding commitments.  Better data must be gathered and best practices shared.

“Improving the health of our oceans is a test for multilateralism,” he said. “We created these problems.  With decisive, coordinated global action, we can solve them.”

Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said the time had come to correct wrongful ways.  It was inexcusable that humanity tipped the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day.  Illegal fishing and harmful fisheries subsidies were driving fish stocks to collapse, he said, while greenhouse gases were causing sea levels to rise.

The task was to ensure that Goal 14 received the support necessary to meet its targets, he said.  “We are here on behalf of humanity to restore sustainability, balance and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the ocean.”

Co-President of the Conference Isabella Lövin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate of Sweden, said the ocean was 30 per cent more acidic than in pre-industrial times.  Big predatory fish stocks had declined by 70 to 90 per cent, and in some areas, there were more microplastics than plankton.  Without a healthy planet, people would not prosper.  She called on Member States, business, civil society, academia and other stakeholders to start making a real difference.

Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and Conference Co-President, said oceans were being treated as rubbish dumps.  The rich marine bounty that generations had relied on for sustenance was being destroyed.  He urged participants to act in concert to protect marine resources, stressing that no one country or Government could afford to ignore the magnitude of the threat.  Goal 14 must rocket to the top of the global agenda.

Stressing that oceans had a direct impact on poverty education, health, economic growth, food security and job creation, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, added that solutions must be put into place to ensure that oceans remained a source of life and human well-being for generations.

Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Ocean Conference and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said special attention should be paid to the means of implementation for Goal 14, including capacity-building and enhanced financing, which was critical for small island developing States, least developed countries and developing nations alike.

The afternoon featured a partnership dialogue on marine pollution, during which world leaders, along with senior officials from Government, the private sector, scientific community and civil society, explored challenges relating to particular pollutants, such as microplastics, and broader trends, such as the rapid growth of coastal cities, which would require more scientific research, knowledge sharing and governance arrangements.

The Conference — officially titled the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development — opened with a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony, featuring three calls of a ceremonial conch shell, a Kava drinking ceremony and cultural dance.

In other business, delegates elected Mr. Bainimarama and Ms. Lövin as the Presidents of the Conference.

The Conference also adopted, without a vote, its rules of procedure (document A/CONF.230/2) and agenda (document A/CONF.230/1), as well as a Secretariat note on organizational and procedural matters (document A/CONF.230/3).  Twelve Vice-Presidents were elected by acclamation:  Algeria, Croatia, Estonia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Ireland, Kenya, Morocco, New Zealand, Poland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.  Arthur Amaya Andambi (Kenya) was elected Rapporteur-General.

The nine members of the General Assembly Credentials Committee — Cameroon, China, Malawi, Netherlands, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia and the United States — were meanwhile appointed members of the Conference Credentials Committee without a vote.

The Ocean Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 6 June.

Opening Statements

ISABELLA LÖVIN, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate of Sweden, and Co-President of the Conference, described the global ocean conveyer belt as a sort of ocean bloodstream that connected everybody.  The ocean accounted for 97 per cent of the living biosphere, contained 1.3 billion cubic kilometres of water and provided 50 per cent of the planet’s oxygen.  Mankind always believed it was endless, infinite and impossible for humans to affect in any significant way, she said, but today it was 30 per cent more acidic than in pre-industrial times, big predatory fish stocks had declined by 70 to 90 per cent and surface waters were getting warmer.  In some areas, there were more microplastics than plankton.

She recalled an interview a few years ago with an Australian yachtsman who, while crossing the Pacific Ocean, saw rubbish floating everywhere, including toys, car tires and telegraph poles.  More recently, researchers on uninhabited Henderson Island, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, found 38 million plastic items on its shore.  “By now we know one thing for certain — the ocean is not endless, not infinite,” she said.  “But it has no borders.  It knows nothing about nations.  It is just one united ecosystem and we are part of it.”

Environmental protection and economic development were inseparable, she said, adding that without a healthy planet, people would not prosper.  Sweden was committed to maintaining the political momentum created by the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and called on all Member States, business, civil society, academia and other stakeholders, to start working towards making a real difference.  “We know what needs to be done.  We know the ocean is broken.  We now need to sit together and make the long to-do list we all need to be ticking off together in order to fix it,” she said, adding that a better moment to do so would never come.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister of Fiji and Co-President of the Ocean Conference, said climate change and the state of the world’s oceans could not be separated.  Rising sea levels and ocean acidity had a direct impact on people’s lives and countries’ prosperity.  “We come from opposite sides of the Earth but we are united in our determination to meet the challenges head-on,” he said, appealing to young people in particular to become agents for change, whether by collecting bottles from a beach or banding together to clean up coastal areas.  “Our waterways are choking,” he said, and oceans were being treated as rubbish dumps.  Turtles, dolphins and sharks were being caught in nets, and whales had stomachs full of rubbish.  The rich marine bounty that generations had relied on for sustenance was being destroyed.

He said the degradation must stop, appealing to the world’s people to act in concert to protect marine resources.  “That effort starts now,” he said, pressing to participants to send a message that time was running out to save our seas and oceans.  No one country or Government could afford to ignore the magnitude of the threat.  As a Fijian, he had the Pacific Ocean “running through my blood,” and it said it pained him to see the deterioration of that precious resource.  Where there once had been an abundance of fish, boat hulls were now increasingly sparse or non-existent.  Greedy nations and commercial interests were robbing countries like Fiji of food and livelihoods through over-fishing.  Noting that small island developing States lacked the means to police their economic zones, he said Goal 14 must rocket to the top of the global agenda and he encouraged all participants to make the Ocean Conference a success.

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said oceans and seas covered two thirds of the planet, providing food, energy, water, jobs and economic benefits to every country.  They were a crucial buffer against climate change and a massive resource for sustainable development.  Many nationalities, including his own, had a special relationship with the sea.  The truth was, the sea has a special relationship with all of us.  Yet pollution, over-fishing and the effects of climate change were severely damaging ocean health, he said, with one study finding that plastic in the seas could outweigh fish by 2050.

Indeed, oceans were becoming more acidic, he said, causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity, while fisheries in some places were collapsing.  Dead zones — underwater deserts where life could not survive due to a lack of oxygen — were growing rapidly.  Conflicting demands from industry, fishing, shipping, mining and tourism were stressing coastal systems.  While numerous reports, global commissions and scientific assessments had described the serious damage to the world’s most vital life support system, Governments were not making full use of the tools available, including the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“We created these problems,” he said.  “With decisive, coordinated global action, we can solve them”.  The Sustainable Development Goals must be the road map.  The essential first step must be to end the artificial dichotomy between economic demands and ocean health.  Strong political leadership and new partnerships were needed, based on the existing legal framework, and he commended all who had signed the Call for Action, to be formally adopted this week.  From expanding marine protected areas and managing fisheries, to reducing pollution to cleaning up plastic waste, he called for a step change locally, nationally and globally.  The ongoing work to create a legal framework on conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction was particularly important in that regard.

Further, the political will of the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda must be translated into funding commitments, he said, stressing that better data, information and analysis were also required, because “we can’t improve what we don’t measure”.  Finally, best practices and experiences must be shared.  For its part, the United Nations was committed to providing integrated, coordinated support for the implementation of all historic agreements of the past year.  He was personally determined to break down barriers to improve the Organization’s performance and accountability.

He said the United Nations was building partnerships with Governments, the private sector and civil society, as well as working with international financial institutions on innovative financing to release more funds.  It was harnessing big data to improve the basis for decision-making.  A new strategic vision was needed and he called on Member States to define a new model for ocean governance.  Unless the territorial and resource interests that had blocked progress for too long were overcome, the oceans would continue to deteriorate.  He urged participants to set aside short-term national gain to prevent long-term global catastrophe, stressing that “conserving our oceans and using them sustainably is preserving life itself.”

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, stressed that the Conference offered the best opportunity to reverse the cycle of decline that human activity had brought upon the seas.  Sustainable Development Goal 14 — the ocean’s goal — was humanity’s only universally agreed measure to conserve and sustainably manage its resources.  The task ahead was to ensure that the Goal received the support necessary to meet its critical targets.  “To do that, we need to hear the truth about the state of the ocean,” he said. “We are here on behalf of humanity to restore sustainability, balance and respect to our relationship with our primal mother, the source of life, the ocean.”

Indeed, he said, the time had come to correct wrongful ways.  It was inexcusable that humanity tipped the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day.  “We have unleashed a plague of plastic upon the ocean,” he said, defiling nature in tragic ways.  Illegal and destructive fishing practices, along with harmful fisheries subsidies, were driving fish stocks to collapse, while greenhouse gasses were driving climate change and causing sea-level rise through ocean warming, threatening ocean life through acidification and deoxygenation.

The central conclusion was clear, he said:  To secure a future for our species, action must be taken now on the health of the ocean and on climate change.  With Goal 14 in place within the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement ratified, it was time to demonstrate fidelity to those two life-saving agreements.  Describing the mantra of the Ocean Conference as “human-induced problems have human-devised solutions”, he pledged that participants would work to advance Goal 14 targets of 2020, 2025 and 2030.  They would follow-up with diligence on commitments made, “all along holding ourselves responsible to bequeath a conserved and sustainably managed ocean to the stewards of the future”, he declared.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the collective focus this week would be on scaling up efforts to halt ocean degradation and reverse a cycle of decline.  Urgent action needed to be taken.  Noting that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, among other agreements, had been in place for some time, he said what was now needed was implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

“The issue of conserving and sustainably using our oceans is very complex, as oceans have a direct impact on poverty eradication, health, sustained economic growth, food security and creation of sustainable livelihoods and decent work,” he said.  At the same time, biodiversity and the marine environment must be protected and the impact of climate change addressed.  Political guidance from the high-level political forum that would be held on 10-18 July under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council would be critical for promoting integrated consideration of the Sustainable Development Goals.

He described the Ocean Conference as a unique place to raise awareness and to underscore solutions that must be put into place to ensure that the world’s oceans and seas remained a source of life and human well-being for generations.  The Call to Action that would be adopted by the Conference must be a cooperative effort that ensured a pooling of financial and technical resources as well as technology sharing and capacity-building, he said.

WU HONGBO, Secretary-General of the Ocean Conference and Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that without oceans and seas, there would be no life on the planet.  Yet, oceans faced a variety of threats, including climate change, marine pollution, extraction of marine resources, and erosion and destruction of marine and coastal habitats.  Member States had committed to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas and marine resources through Sustainable Development Goal 14.  The message of the Call for Action was clear.  “The time to act is now,” he said, noting that its 22 specific actions promised to galvanize global commitments and partnerships.

He said the number of voluntary commitments was growing daily, and, importantly, covered all targets of Goal 14.  The coming days were a great opportunity to rally support at all levels, as the Conference was a platform for Governments, United Nations agencies, major groups and others to identify the ways and means to support implementation of Goal 14, by building on existing partnerships and stimulating new ones.  Special attention should focus on the means of implementation, such as capacity-building and enhanced financing, which was critical for small island developing States, least developed countries and developing nations alike.  With broad support from all stakeholders, the Conference would bring about solutions for saving the ocean and advancing implementation of Goal 14.

Partnership Dialogue

In the afternoon, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “Addressing marine pollution”.  Moderated by Elliott Harris, Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and co-chaired by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs of Indonesia, and Vidar Helgesen, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, it featured a panel discussion by Nancy Wallace, Director, Marine Debris Program, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Commerce; Kosi Latu, Director-General, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme; Peter Kershaw, Chair of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment; and Sybil Seitzinger, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, University of Victoria, Canada.

Mr. PANDJAITAN called plastic and microplastic debris a major threat to marine and coastal diversity.  Such debris resulted mostly from solid waste management.  Summarizing Indonesia’s recently launched ocean policy as well as research initiatives, he said the country had come up with a plan of action that incorporated, among other pillars, behavioural change and reducing waste leakage.  He emphasized that plastics manufacturers must be involved in fighting marine pollution.  “We can get rid of this problem because we care and we can,” he said, underscoring the need for action at the national, regional and global level.

Mr. HELGESEN said marine litter was possibly the fastest-growing environmental problem as well as a shared challenge.  Providing an example, he said 30 plastic bags and other pieces of plastic debris were found this past winter in the stomach of a beached whale in Norway.  It was both possible and necessary to act, he said, describing a programme in his country that included waste management as a key component in fighting marine litter.  He said his country was also considering extended producer responsibility, and emphasized the need for a higher level of political attention and united action.

Mr. HARRIS said it was a painful fact that oceans, seas, lakes and other waterways were being damaged — or slowly being strangled — by human activity.  Most ocean pollution originated on land, he said, adding that by some estimates there were more microplastics in the world’s oceans than stars in the galaxy.  Many countries were taking courageous action, he said, citing a Canadian ban on microplastics in personal care products, a French restriction on plastic cutlery and a prohibition on plastic bags in some African countries.  More, however, needed to be done.

Ms. WALLACE said the world’s oceans were overflowing with man-made items that did not belong there, including disposable plastic bags, cigarette butts, derelict fishing nets and abandoned vessels.  Lost and discarded items threated health, safety and wildlife.  Marine debris was a complex global problem that called for a wide array of solutions, she said, the ultimate solution being preventing such debris from getting into the oceans in the first place.  Waste management offered a myriad of solutions, but every country had unique challenges in that regard.  Programmes to increase the value of waste would encourage its collection, she said, underscoring the paramount importance of sharing information on challenges and solutions.

Mr. LATU said that countries in the Pacific region — an area that was 98 per cent water and 2 per cent land, with the world’s most important tuna fisheries — had adopted a Cleaner Pacific Strategy, which addressed all forms of waste, including marine plastics and oil leaking from World War II shipwrecks.  Poor waste disposal, mainly on land but also at sea, contributed to the problem.  Research on fishing vessels found that 37 per cent of the waste dumped overboard was comprised of plastics, he said, emphasizing the need to effectively implement relevant international conventions.  Other solutions would include awareness-raising, encouraging recycling and improved practices on vessels.

Mr. KERSHAW said marine litter was a global problem with regional differences.  Microplastics came in many forms, from those used in toothpaste and facial scrubs to plastic resin beads and the secondary fragments of larger plastic items.  A further challenge was that many durable plastics contained modifying chemicals with toxicological properties.  Some solutions were relatively easy, such as removing microplastics from personal products in which they were not needed, he said.  Others, such textile fibres and vehicle tire dust, were more problematic.  Once it was known how microplastics were leaking into the oceans, then solutions — including partnerships — could be sought.

Ms. SEITZINGER discussed the impact of excessive use of nutrients, including toxic algae blooms, hypoxic regions and coral reef degradation.  Fertilizer and manure were the leading source of inorganic nitrogen, but its impact varied between regions.  No single solution was possible because there were multiple sources related to food and energy production, she said, adding that sewage treatment facilities should be designed to capture nitrogen and phosphorous for reuse.  Noting that billions of dollars were spent on subsidies to encourage the use of fertilizers, particularly in China and India, she said that fewer subsidies could lead to reduced fertilizer use with little impact on grain production.  She went on to suggest that consideration be given to laboratory-grown meat, which would reduce land, water and fertilizer use and eliminate manure production.

In the ensuing interactive debate, ministers, other senior officials and representatives of Member States and international organizations discussed the effects of marine pollution in different parts of the world, as well as measures being taken to address the problem.

MARION HENRY, Secretary of Resource and Development for the Federated States of Micronesia, said that, on his walks along the beach in his country, he saw fewer almonds than he did in his childhood, but many plastics.  Perhaps the easiest solution to the problem would be to stop debris from entering the oceans in the first place.  Comparing ocean debris to dumping garbage over a fence onto a neighbour’s backyard, he said “the ocean is our backyard”, and requested that other States be good neighbours in that regard.

NICOS KOUYIALIS, Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, said pollution problems were more profound in enclosed or semi-enclosed seas, such as the Mediterranean.  Another serious problem was eutrophication due to treated and untreated domestic sewage and other discharges from land-based sources, he said, noting that his country, in that regard, had since the early 1980s maintained a “no drop of water in the sea” sewage policy.

KAMINA JOHNSON SMITH, Minister for Foreign affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, said marine pollution had severe consequences for her country.  Forging new partnerships and strengthening existing ones to protect and preserve the maritime space was a responsibility that Jamaica took seriously, she said, citing as an example its participation in the Global Ballast Water Management Project to address the transmission of potentially invasive species.

JOHN SILK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Marshall Islands, said his country had recently banned the importation and use of single-use plastic bags, which had become more common than fish along its shores.  He added that the Pacific was also struggling with the legacy of events it did not cause, including naval shipwrecks, unexploded ordinance and radioactive contamination.

The representative of the Netherlands said his country’s positon was simple:  litter did not belong in the marine environment.  The Netherlands was committed to an integral approach that emphasized prevention, he said, noting that a ban on plastic bags at point of sale went into effect on 1 January 2016.

The representative of the Stiftelsen Stockholm International Water Institute emphasized the importance of engaging upstream sources of marine pollution.  Otherwise, she said, communities located well away from coastal areas might not feel motivated to take relevant action.

The representative of China said his country was taking a number of steps to address marine pollution, including improving urban sewage treatment systems and adhering to the principles of recycling.  At the international level, China advocated the sharing of successful experiences.  It was also striving to reduce fertilizer use while assessing what further measures would be required.

The representative of The Ocean Cleanup said his organization was developing advanced technology to collect existing marine debris through a system that involved natural ocean currents and a fleet of artificial coast lines.  Once deployed, it could clean up 50 per cent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 5 years, he said, adding that it would be easy later on to develop spin-off systems that could intercept plastic debris before it could reach the ocean.

His counterpart from World Animal Protection said the issue of abandoned and lost fishing gear, also known as ghost fishing gear, must feature near the top of the agenda.  It represented 10 per cent of all marine debris, but it was the deadliest to marine life, and after overfishing it was most responsible for declining fish stocks, she said, inviting participants to support the Global Ghost Gear Initiative.

Responding to the discussion, Ms. SEITZINGER said an opportunity existed to address the problem of nutrient pollution.  She added that the benefits of working together should always be present in people’s minds.

Mr. KERSHAW said it was encouraging to hear so many positive initiatives, adding however that better partnerships with industry were needed to deal with solid waste before it come become microplastics.

Mr. LATU said that, in devising solutions, it was important to remember that pollution knew no boundaries.  He added that while some countries seemed to have strong waste management policies, others needed to do more work in that regard.

Ms. WALLACE said she had never seen so much commitment and passion on the marine pollution issue.  The next step would be to turn plans into action.

Mr. PANDJAITAN said that, without action, there would be more plastic in the sea than fish.  No single country could work alone, he said, emphasizing the need to strengthen regional and international measures, with the international community acting at the United Nations level to a clear timeline.

Mr. HELGESEN said he took away from today’s meeting a number of important steps, including stronger enforcements of existing measures, the need to develop new and stronger international commitments to combat marine litter, a process to further harmonize measures to monitor marine debris and forging partnership along the entire plastics value chain to promote a circular economy.  Quoting the “famous philosopher” Elvis Presley, he appealed for a little less conversation and a little more action.

Also participating in the discussion were ministers, other senior officials and representatives of Estonia, Italy, Panama, Netherlands, Peru, Turkey, Indonesia, Algeria, Israel and Honduras, as well as the European Union.

Also taking the floor were representatives of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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Raising Domestic Revenues, Resisting Protectionism Key to Funding Sustainable Development Goals, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council Forum

The Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up opened its expert segment today with a panel discussion and set of three thematic round tables dedicated to garnering the vast resources required to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Alexander Trepelkov, Director of the Financing for Development Office in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Forum’s expert segment would focus on the state of implementation in all “action areas” of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted in 2015 to fund the world’s sustainable development framework.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.

In the morning, the Forum took part in a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, formed in 2015 to follow up on the Addis Agenda.  Five panellists highlighted the report’s findings and offered proposals for spurring global growth.

Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said a central recommendation was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  While trade generated higher productivity, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization had raised concerns.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.

Another major focus must be to raise domestic revenues, said Siddarth Tiwari, Director of the Strategy Policy and Review Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While easier said than done, it required the most attention.

Richard Kozul-Wright, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said the biggest problem was the global slowdown in public and private investment.  The reasons for that included sluggish global demand following policy mistakes in advanced economies, corporate rent-seeking that had dampened productive investment, and high debt dependence.  He called for a new global strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals.

The morning also featured a round table on “domestic and international public resources”, covering action areas A and C of the Addis Agenda.  Four panellists outlined ways to mobilize resources, with Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City, stressing that subnational governments generated as much as 40 per cent of public investment.

On that point, Philippe Orliange, Director of Agence Française de Développement, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and $3 trillion in assets, the International Development Finance Club had a key role to play in domestic resource mobilization as it could finance local governments.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said his organization was catalysing investment in “Sustainable Development Goal-critical” sectors, and collaborating with the United Nations to develop the “total official support for sustainable development” – a new measure to better understand today’s global financing landscape.

Two afternoon round tables took up issues of “domestic and international private business and finance” and “debt and systemic issues”, respectively.  In the first, moderator Preeti Sinha, Senior President of the YES Institute, said “Sustainable Development Goal finance” should be led by the private sector, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

In the second round table, panellist Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development at Latindadd Fundación Jubileo in Bolivia, said that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy.  It had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.  As such, it was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

The Forum on Financing for Development follow-up will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, 25 May, to continue its expert segment.

Opening Remarks

ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Director of the Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, opened the expert segment of the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up, which he said would focus on the state of implementation in all action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  It also would allow for addressing new and emerging topics, with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development report serving as a guide for the discussion.  Led by the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report contained input from more than 50 United Nations agencies, funds, programmes and offices, regional commissions and others.  “The next two days present an excellent opportunity to identify success stories and the lessons drawn from them to apply in our countries and contexts,” he said.  The goal was for the Task Force analysis to support States in implementing the Addis Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Panel Discussion

The Forum held a panel discussion on the “2017 report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development”, moderated by Shari Spiegel, Chief, Policy Analysis and Development, Financing for Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The panel featured presentations by Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General, WTO; Siddarth Tiwari, Director, Strategy Policy and Review Department, IMF; Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD; Pedro Conceição, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; and David Kuijper, Adviser, Financing for Development, World Bank Group.

Ms. SPIEGEL said the Task Force report contained an opening segment on the implementation of the Addis Agenda, a thematic chapter, and subsequent chapters on each area of that instrument.  It had found that slow growth and a challenging economic environment, while improving, had hampered implementation of the Agenda.  It was unlikely that the goal of eliminating poverty would be achieved by 2030.  The Task Force also had found that long-term investment in infrastructure and addressing vulnerabilities through social protection floors and a global safety net were needed.  Those two issues, if done right, could create a positive cycle, by helping to achieve the Goals and fostering growth.

Mr. AGAH said one of the report’s central recommendations was that Governments should work together to resist inward-looking and protectionist pressures.  The benefits of opening trade were broad and deep.  Trade generated higher productivity, increased competition, more choice and better prices in the marketplace.  Yet, inadequate attention to those left behind by globalization, trade and technology had raised concerns about the trade system.  Governments must ensure its benefits reached more people.  The policy response should recognize that trade was only one factor contributing to economic change, along with technology and innovation.  WTO had a unique role in fostering equitable trade relations underpinned by common rules agreed by its members.  Strengthening the WTO was essential, he said, calling on Governments and institutions to ensure that the benefits were better understood.  Unequal levels of digital development had limited some countries’ participation in e-commerce.  While access to information and communications technology was necessary, it was not the only factor required for all people to benefit from online trade.

Mr. TIWARI said there was no silver bullet that would “get us to the end” of the Addis Agenda.  International, regional, national and subnational efforts across all areas were needed.  Following the 2008 financial crisis, public and private investment in infrastructure had fallen.  Yet infrastructure was vital for sustaining growth in many countries.  In more than half of low-income countries, the revenue-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio hovered around 15 per cent, which was generally inadequate to provide even basic services, minus wage and other payments.  Thus, a key focus moving forward would be to raise domestic revenues.  The Fund had increased support for doing that by one fifth since 2015.  While “easier said than done”, it required the most attention.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said the report’s first chapter called for a new growth strategy to achieve the inclusive outcomes embedded in the Goals.  “We don’t have that growth strategy yet,” he said.  Since the 2008 crisis, growth had slowed and inequality had risen, what the IMF called the “new normal”.  The biggest challenge today was the slowdown in public and private investment, and as the Goals represented a call for the biggest investment push in modern history, a major question centred on why investment had slowed.  There were three reasons, first of which was slowing global demand, which impacted profit expectations and was attributed to policy mistakes in advanced economies, notably a one-sided reliance on monetary policy to stimulate demand, which had increased global instability, and distributional constraints.  The second reason was the “financialization of corporate strategies”.  Corporations had moved into short-term, rent-seeking behaviour which was detrimental to long-term productive investment.  The third reason was the drag from high debt dependence, with debt stocks having risen by $50 trillion since 2008.  Investment had declined across the board in both developed and developing countries.  In seeking a new global growth strategy, those systemic challenges must be addressed.  There was an essential need for developing countries to expand their fiscal space, while a far more ambitious set of mechanisms must be created to address debt overhang and related problems.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said the Goals were “coming to life”, known by the public and increasingly being integrated into national plans, strategies and budgets.  Countries today were asking UNDP how to prioritize their plans to achieve the Goals, and then finance those priorities.  One Addis Agenda recommendation had to do with integrated national financing frameworks, which he called visionary, as countries required a holistic approach.  Part of those efforts involved aligning resources to implement the Goals.  The report referred to development finance assessments, which helped countries establish a baseline for financing flows and policy institutions to help them formulate national financing frameworks.  Another recommendation had to do with vulnerability.  It was becoming clear that a major risk to implementation of the Goals had to do with how countries suffered shocks, whether from conflict, trade or climate.  Thus, the report addressed social protections and financing instruments that allowed countries to address systematic shocks, and referred to State-contingent financing instruments in that context.

Mr. KUIJPER addressed the issue of countries and markets that were under stress — whether from fragility, environmental factors or displacement.  Three quarters of the global poor lived in such countries and it was important to tackle the transformation required in them in an innovative manner.  The main obligation was to connect growth opportunities to the global financial system, with a view to connecting them to long-term finance.  There were two ways to do that.  One was through official development assistance (ODA).  The fundamentals that fostered risk could not be addressed unless there were significant channels of ODA to those countries.  A second way centred on gender.  Globally, some countries were losing 5 to 30 per cent of growth due to a lack of gender-sensitive policies and others that led to the advancement of women’s position in the economy.

Mr. TIWARI, responding to a second question by Ms. Spiegel, said the medium-term forecast for developing countries was lower than projected in 2015, with growth between 2015 and 2020 weaker mainly for oil producers and exporters.  Budget revenues had fallen, as had net flows to low-income countries.  As to why investment was not increasing, he said there was no liquidity in terms of raising capital.  Before 2008, productivity and the share of labour income were falling, which likely had constrained investment.  Public balance sheets were strained.  “Productivity needs to rise,” he said.  Without it, neither public nor private investment would increase.  Innovation, a major productivity driver, also must increase and be inclusive.  He advocated skills development, without which large parts of the population would be left behind.  He cited Denmark and Singapore with national strategies and skill development programmes as two countries that had kept up with a changing landscape.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said “getting the macroeconomics right” was fundamental to building the sustainable growth path that the world needed.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was rightly ambitious.  It was unclear, however, whether there was an ambitious environment in which to pursue it.  He called 1947 “the year that multilateralism started”.  The IMF had opened, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) had been initiated, the United Nations had been established, its regional commissions had held their first conference, importantly, on trade and employment, and the Marshall Plan — the most ambitious development cooperation plan in history — had been inaugurated.  Ambition was an issue to place on the table.

Mr. CONCEIÇÃO agreed that productivity must increase, especially through technology use.  However, evidence had shown a delinking between labour productivity increases and average family earnings in both developed and developing countries.  “We have to examine the role of technology,” he said.  On one hand, there was no lack of savings.  On the other, investment needs were massive, even without the Goals and notably for infrastructure.  ODA was relevant for countries that had shifted to a higher income level but were still vulnerable.

Mr. KUIJPER agreed that the spirit of 1947 must return.  “We need to create a similar kind of momentum behind this Agenda,” he said, citing an enormous challenge of “getting the financing for development process right”.  The creation of good ideas required a process in which many ideas could flow.

Mr. AGAH said the issue of inclusive growth must start with trade, markets productive capacity and competitiveness.  Each country, depending on its economic and political situation, could adapt complementary policies in investment, infrastructure or other areas to achieve its goals.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) commented that its data and measurement frameworks were global public goods.  Bangladesh’s delegate asked Mr. Tiwari whether it was possible to address domestic resource mobilization, without addressing illicit flows, through international cooperation.  A speaker from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that page 33 of the Task Force report referred to tobacco taxation, which he called a “low-lying fruit” as a revenue stream for financing development.  Algeria’s delegate said the report’s section on trade did not fully consider recommendations of the joint report by WTO, the World Bank and IMF, and asked whether its content would be integrated into the next Task Force report.  The European Union representative welcomed the well-balanced report, and contributions by OECD, asking whether the 2018 Forum, to be held from 23 to 26 April, would have the latest data available.  Ms. SPIEGEL replied to the latter question that the Task Force could not update the report with the latest OECD data, due to printing deadlines.  However, the website could be updated.

Responding to those queries, Mr. CONCEIÇÃO said there was potential for innovative financing mechanisms.

Mr. KUIJPER, on the issue of tobacco taxation, said lessons could be learned from other experiences in innovation.

Mr. AGAH said that how well countries negotiated outcomes from the Doha round of trade talks depended on those involved.  The report by WTO, IMF and the World Bank had a slightly different focus.  Trade gains could never be equally distributed.  There would always be losers.  He advocated for examining competitiveness, and how well countries participated in markets.

Mr. TIWARI said a chapter in IMF’s World Economic Outlook examined labour income, which had fallen over the years, due in part to technology.

Mr. KOZUL-WRIGHT said trade gains were always significant in a perfectly competitive and informed marketplace and uncertain in an imperfect one.

Round Table A

Following the panel discussion, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international public resources”.  Moderated by Pooja Rangaprasad, Policy Coordinator, Financial Transparency Coalition, it featured presentations by Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City; Elfrieda Steward Tamba, Commissioner General, Liberia Revenue Authority; Philippe Orliange, Director, Agence Française de Développement; and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Cooperation Directorate, OECD.

Opening the discussion, Ms. RANGAPRASAD said that the Addis Agenda recognized the centrality of mobilizing and effectively using domestic resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and of complementing those efforts through scaled-up international public financial support, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.  Policies to increase tax revenues had important implications for gender bias since women spent a larger portion of their income on basic goods while also getting paid lower wages than men.  Therefore, it was necessary to look into gender budgeting as a tool while also increasing commitments for dedicating aid and resources for gender equality.

Mr. BRADLEY citing a recent OECD study which showed that subnational governments currently generated as much as 40 per cent of the public investment, said that, when 30 per cent of national resources were granted to local governments, they were able to produce 50 per cent of the public investment.  In Belize, cash transfers from the central Government represented only 6 per cent of the annual budget for the Belize City council and the actual sum transferred had remained constant for the past 15 years despite an increasing population.  Local governments in Belize had filled the finance gap through creative strategies, which in turn required strong local leadership with a commitment to transparency and meaningful citizen engagement.  National Governments must create and supplement the legal, structural and policy frameworks that allowed empowered local governments to develop into relevant, effective and complementary branches of government.

Ms. TAMBA, noting that Africa hosted 65 per cent of the world’s ultra-poor and Liberia stood third among the least developed countries in the region, recalled the dip in Liberia’s economy due to the Ebola outbreak.  Nevertheless domestic revenue had increased between 2006 and 2013 due to strong growth and smart reforms in revenue administration.  She cited effective tools for public financing at the local level such as budget appropriations through the Country Development Fund and social contracts with endowed countries through the Social Development Fund.  In the last five years, Liberia had received $238 million in grants and $191 million in loans from international sources, representing 9 per cent and 7 per cent of the country’s total revenue respectively.  Stressing the importance of strengthening local systems for better resource management, she said that development banks had an important role in providing financing for sustainable development in Liberia.  The impact of ODA could also be maximized by building a social contract for eliminating leaks in revenue flow caused by transfer pricing, money-laundering, poor legislation and illicit flows.

Mr. ORLIANGE, calling development finance the “third pillar of development”, said that with 23 national, regional and international development banks, and cumulative assets of $3 trillion, the International Development Finance Club had a key role in domestic resource mobilization which could finance local governments.  There was also international recognition of the role of development banks as key implementing entities for international funds such as the Green Climate Fund.  The Club provided a collaborative platform for practitioners of development finance, as members could exchange experiences, disseminate best practices, identify areas of common interest for cooperation, and combine their financial and intellectual resources.  The Club’s key aim was to advocate for measuring and mainstreaming climate finance and facilitating access to financing for projects and their preparation.  The Club was fully aligned with the development finance agenda, he said, calling on the United Nations system and the Forum to bear in mind the potential of development banks.

Mr. DA SILVA, noting that his organization was the custodian of ODA, said that development aid had reached a new peak in 2016 as refugee costs had increased.  ODA still represented as much as 70 per cent of external financing for many least developed countries, and his organization was also catalysing investment in Sustainable Development Goal-critical sectors and strengthening development finance accountability and incentives.  Going beyond ODA statistically and analytically, it was necessary to put in place better measurement frameworks.  His organization was collaborating with the United Nations systems in developing the total official support for sustainable development which would help better understand the new international financing landscape.  Turning to the global outlook on financing for development, he said that OECD was supporting that through innovative research on financing, policy synergies and trade-offs, as well as by creating a nexus between external thinkers and practitioners.

A speaker from the IMF then took the floor, saying that while there had been enormous progress, figures showed that in half of the lowest income countries, less than 15 per cent of GDP was being raised through tax revenues.  The Fund aimed to help developing countries with revenue outcomes by improving the structure and fairness of national tax systems.  Highlighting the importance of international cooperation in revenue reforms, she said that it was crucial to harness synergies between major international financial institutions.  The Fund had worked with partner institutions to create a platform for collaboration on taxation.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Algeria asked the panellists how to improve accountability in the use of public financing.  A representative of Citigroup commented on the importance of harnessing private-sector resources to improve development financing.  Belgium’s representative said his Government followed a policy of giving tax exemptions to public financing projects, while a civil society representative noted that some countries in both the North and South followed regressive taxation policies which adversely affected resources available for public financing.

Responding to those queries, Mr. DA SILVA said that total official support for sustainable development could provide an added value to the discussion on transparency and accountability.  Stressing the importance of new sources of information, he added that it was important to get the total official support for sustainable development methodology endorsed widely so that it could be used for effective stock-taking.

Mr. ORLIANGE said that development banks were built to take risks that others couldn’t take, and therefore, instead of focusing on short-term gains, they could provide financing over the long term, whether for infrastructure or social programmes.  On the question of regressive taxation, he said that it was difficult to finance public policy if taxation rates were too low.  Countries had to take national decisions about their own policies but “if you have regressive taxation, you are digging the inequalities deeper,” he said.

Ms. TAMBA said that domestic resource mobilization was especially crucial in Africa and with the changing international taxation landscape, Liberia and Africa as a whole stood to benefit.  She called on developed countries to “walk the talk.”

Mr. BRADLEY said that in order to be meaningful, all strategies and interventions for improving the quality of life should be owned by the community.  Decentralization was crucial to achieving that, and a multilevel government framework based on transparency and trust would enable people to see local government as a relevant development partner.  The magic of local government was that it was closest to people, and it was positioned to listen to the concerns of women, indigenous people and other vulnerable groups.

Round Table B

In the afternoon, the Forum held a round table on “domestic and international private business and finance”.  Moderated by Preeti Sinha, Senior President, YES Institute, it featured presentations by Courtney Rattray, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations; Hervé Duteil, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance for the Americas, BNP Paribas; Naohiro Nishiguchi, Executive Managing Director, Japan Innovation Network; Nidia Reyes, Chief of Competitive Intelligence, Banca de las Oportunidades, Colombia; and Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Development Research, World Bank Group.

Ms. SINHA quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say “the rich must live more simply so that the poor may simply live”.  All countries were developing countries in that they were struggling to address climate change and other social issues.  The 2030 Agenda offered a way to bring public and private finance together.  YES Bank, founded by Rana Kapoor, had a market capitalization of $10 billion, showing that “emerging markets do offer returns”.  Sustainable Development Goals finance should be led by the private sector, followed by the United Nations, as $3 trillion would be needed annually.  The major question hinged on balancing that need with the funds available, $218 trillion of which was in global capital markets and $75 billion in the “impact industry”.

Mr. RATTRAY said following the Addis Agenda, many felt that “something was missing”.  There was a need for a State-based mechanism that would unlock the trillions of dollars needed per year to finance development.  The new body — the Group of Friends — had 56 members, many of whom were ambassadors, along with experts from the United Nations, the private sector and think tanks.  States had a legitimate role in reorienting the financial system towards the Goals.  Most assets under its management were held by insurance, private wealth and mutual funds.  Central to its efforts to attract capital was convening a broad array of stakeholders.  The Group of Friends engaged stakeholders to holistically assess risk by having investors price in externalities.  It also worked with regulators to prevent capital from being misallocated.  There was a need to foster domestic capacity to develop “bankable” projects, he said, noting that the Group was working with Blackrock in that context.

Mr. DUTEIL described the need to place the goal of financing sustainability “on the business map”.  BNP Paribas had traditionally mapped its business along economic, civic, environmental and social pillars, but then further mapped it along the 17 Goals, setting targets and incentives.  As a result, the first of its 13 public key performance indicators was that 15 per cent of its loans to companies must finance projects or companies that directly addressed one of the Goals.  Today, that percentage was 16.5 per cent.  Realizing those 13 indicators would also directly affect the compensation of its top officers.  BNP Paribas was also implementing a shadow carbon price into the credit analysis of its counterparties in key sectors.  In unlocking private pools of capital, much of the challenge revolved around return, risk, liquidity and time horizons.  Noting that $41 trillion would change hands from the “Baby Boomers” to the “Gen X” and “Millennial” generations, he said that impact investing, which represented less than 0.5 per cent of portfolios, would remain small and “the privilege of the happy few who have a few billion to spare”.  The good news was that banks were in the business of creating bridges between capital and projects in need of funding.  As an example, he described a sustainable bond linked to the Goals that was recently issued by the World Bank and underwritten by BNP Paribas.  The bond directly financed sustainable projects around the world supported by the World Bank but offered to investors a return linked to the stock performance of a basket of equities issued by corporations which directly supported the Goals through at least 20 per cent of their activities.  While banks could create new financing tools for the Goals with the support of partners like multilateral development banks, those products still had to be distributed and bought.  That was where positive regulation that encouraged impact investing could solve part of the conundrum.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said that in 2016, UNDP and the Japan Innovation Network had launched the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform to engage the private sector in increasing the pipeline of bankable projects to help achieve the Goals.  The Platform had 300 individual members and 75 companies, with more expected to join this year.  It was critical for any private-sector player to create a “passage” between the Goals and cash flow.  To do so, it was important to understand the innovation process, especially the incubation stage.  It was important to have a high-quality incubation stage, as it would articulate the challenges (the Goals), the client value and the business model.  The operational stage captured the business plan, the finance and the roll out.  He underscored the need to look at the Goals, not as corporate social responsibility, but as a business programme.  Thematic sessions organized for specific Goals had produced hypothetical business models and involved countries including Kenya, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania.  To increase the pipeline, the private sector must regard the Goals as an innovation not an operational project, as well as connect multiple Goals as a way to deepen solutions.  A typical enemy was a silo mentality, he said, stressing that achieving the Goals required a collaborative approach.

Ms. REYES focused on collaborative approaches to ensure innovation in the provision of financial services.  Colombia’s financial inclusion policy was based on an 11-year commitment to provide resources and transfer both capital and innovation to the private sector to help meet the needs of low-income people.  Simplified mechanisms had been created, establishing limits to the amounts that could be held in products that could reach low-income people, such as inclusive insurance.  In the case of microcredit and small loans, which did not exceed $460, the bank tried to make interest rates more flexible to incorporate the risk involved in supporting a segment of the population that would otherwise not be able to access lending.  In the future, Colombia would focus on raising more financial products and using them effectively, as well as deepening financial inclusion in the rural sector, as many products in Latin American countries were concentrated in urban areas.  Alternative mechanisms were needed to help small businesses access financing.  Colombia had brought together all Government and private entities involved in raising the level of economic and financial education.

Ms. KLAPPER said today’s discussion on raising financing for Governments and the private sector must be widened to include households and small- and medium-sized firms, as well as savings and payments.  The Bank’s Findex data measured how people saved, borrowed and managed payments, she said, explaining that there had been double-digit growth since 2001, when data were first collected.  India’s biometric identification system allowed the Government to roll out 200 million such accounts for people to access cheap food and fuel.  In China, merchant store keepers could now do financial transactions in rural areas.  Indeed, access to digital payments could help achieve the Goals.  In India, the roll out of bank branches had reduced poverty by 15 percentage points, while insurance projects in Ghana had also reduced poverty.  Financial inclusion could promote innovation.  In India and Bosnia and Herzegovina, giving entrepreneurs access to savings products and credit had led to growth, and in turn, more women’s economic empowerment.  In Kenya, Nepal, the Philippines and elsewhere, offering a woman an account had led to greater spending on food and household goods, even washing machines.  There were obstacles, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which had a $2 trillion shortfall in needed credit, which was hampered by a weak credit information structure and “movable collateral registries” which made it difficult for banks to assess risks.  Research by Harvard University had found that firms investing more in sustainable standards had higher market performance and profitability.

In the ensuing discussion, a speaker from the United Nations Global Compact said foreign direct investment and corporate capital investment should be driven by a principles-based approach.  Otherwise, fundamental rights could be undermined.  A revolution was needed for new financial instruments that cut across the asset classes and Goals alike.  He asked about public policy frameworks that could mobilize private finance.  Japan’s delegate asked for ideas on a risk-sharing mechanism, and about the Government’s role in the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform.  Chile’s delegate asked about challenges in implementing the various projects, while Uganda’s delegate asked about mobile money transfers substantively contributed to poverty reduction or simply “income smoothing”.  Peru’s delegate asked about progress in expanding financial services to people in poverty, as well as best practices for financial literacy and consumer protection.

A speaker from PRI, an association of 1,700 financial organizations managing $70 trillion, said one question commonly raised was whether a mechanism was in place to monitor the allocation of capital to be used for the Goals.  Canada’s delegate asked how the United Nations could help develop the pipeline of bankable projects, and more broadly about the asymmetry of information regarding risk, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and whether the Sustainable Development Goals Holistic Innovation Platform accepted companies from outside Japan.  A speaker representing civil society described an erosion of public interest by public-private partnerships, in part because of heavy contractual clauses with implications for Governments.  There was a great role for private financing, especially through small enterprises, which required different types of business support to build capacity and participate in markets.

Mr. RATTRAY responded that in mobilizing resources, countries must be assisted in developing capital markets, which was not simple.  They must also be encouraged to have a higher savings rate, which similarly would not happen overnight.  “We are conscious that the clock is ticking,” he stressed.

Mr. DUTEIL replied that public policy could mobilize capital at scale.  France had enacted a “90:10” scheme for companies with more than 50 employees, obliging them to offer employees access to funds that invested 5 to 10 per cent in impact investing, allocated to non-listed small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The result had been massive and offered an example of how public policy could be positive without being coercive.  Another example was the Tropical Landscapes Financing Facility, whereby investors invested in well-known entities, which in turn, redistributed the funds to small farmers.

Mr. NISHIGUCHI said the Platform would work with private sector, Governments and non-governmental organizations from any country, and was particularly interested in speaking with start-up communities.  Governments could help connect the Platform with start-ups and support the incubation stage, which would be a huge boost to creating bankable projects.

Ms. REYES said supporting the private sector in taking a risk on high-risk sectors involved co-financing incentives, as well as transferring technical assistance to them.  There was much to be done in terms of technology transfer.  On financial literacy, it was important to define objectives in a work plan coordinated among all players.

Ms. KLAPPER said financial inclusion should reduce poverty because it allowed people to invest in education and business opportunities.  It also prevented poor adults from falling into poverty during a crisis, such as the death of a family member.  There was evidence that in an emergency people received support from a geographically and socially wider group of friends.  On financial literacy, no academic literature had found that traditional textbook-based financial literacy worked.  What appeared to be better were “teachable moments” for explaining interest compounding, for example.  Fintech had positively impacted rural farmers repaying credit loans in sub-Saharan Africa, for example.

Round Table C

The Forum then held its final round table for the day, on “debt and systemic issues”.  Moderated by Siddharth Tiwari, Director, Strategy and Policy Review Department, IMF, it featured presentations by Angus Friday, Ambassador of Grenada to the United States; Camillo von Müller, Economist, Federal Ministry of Finance, Germany; Marilou Uy, Executive Director, International Group of 24 (G24) Secretariat; and Patricia Miranda, Senior Officer on Finance for Development, Latindadd Fundación Jubileo, Bolivia.

In his opening remarks, Mr. TIWARI said that the IMF was committed to strengthening global financial architecture.  The issues ranged from completing IMF quotas in governance reform to addressing gaps in global safety nets.  It was essential to provide the right framework to encourage early debtor-creditor engagement towards efficient and timely restructuring.

Mr. FRIDAY said that from the lens of a small island developing State such as his, it was necessary to acknowledge debt sustainability challenges and recognize the need for urgent solutions.  Since 1950, there had been 184 natural disasters in the Caribbean, resulting in damages worth $8 billion.  In Grenada alone, the hurricane in 2004 caused a 200 per cent loss of its GDP.  Emphasizing the links between years of extreme weather events and high levels of indebtedness, he said that debt restructuring had not worked successfully because there was a stepping up of interest rates and not enough local ownership.  The financial crisis and the impact on tourism had caused Grenada to default on its debt payments at the end of 2014.  In response, Grenada had brought together civil society and Government to create a social compact on spending and financing.  Grenada had also introduced a hurricane clause in its contracts with lenders, noting that the debts would be deferred in the event of a hurricane.  As of Tuesday, the IMF had completed its sixth review of Grenada and the country had passed with flying colours.

Mr. VON MULLER said that state-contingent debt instruments had an important role to play in the international financial architecture, in building resilience and improving sustainability.  Noting that the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 had formulated a clear mission with regard to such instruments in the Chengdu communiqué, she said that during its G-20 presidency, Germany had responded to the call for further analysis of their technicalities, opportunities and challenges.  The history of state-contingent debt instruments showed the importance of contract designs, as well as the incentives and data credibility.  While GDP-linked bonds could be beneficial instruments when designed to generate fiscal space in difficult economic times, it was necessary to take steps to reduce the costs of insurance and carefully assess international demand.

Ms. UY said that global financial reforms had a wide range of effects on developing countries.  The Addis Agenda had acknowledged the importance of creating a coherent and inclusive global financial architecture.  The international monetary system must mitigate tensions and promote stability while supporting growth strategies of individual countries.  That was particularly important for emerging economies, whose growth rates had slowed recently.  While macroeconomic and structural policies constituted the first line of defence, in a highly interconnected globe efforts to manage global economic headwinds needed to be supported by multilateral action.  While the opening of financial borders had helped create capital flows, there were persistent problems with capital flow measures.  Policy differences between different countries could cause exchange-rate volatility, which in turn, created uncertainty and disrupted investment.  Better policy coordination was necessary and the IMF could play an important role in that.

Ms. MIRANDA said that it was vital to understand the composition of debt, which could originate from a variety of sources.  Besides traditional external credits for fiscal gaps, there were also sovereign bonds issued by other countries, including lower middle-income countries.  Furthermore, there was domestic debt and corporate debt, which had been rising in the last few years.  Subnational debt, from local governments and State-owned enterprises, could lead to fiscal risk.  Moreover, public-private partnerships could also give rise to debt.  While the Addis Agenda had reaffirmed the importance of a timely and independent debt restructuring process, it was necessary to go beyond those principles.  Reminding the Council that if developed countries fell into debt distress, it would have a systemic impact on the global economy, she called attention to the negative social impacts of debt, saying that it had taken Latin America two decades to recover from the effects of debt on the most marginalized peoples.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of civil society highlighted the importance of responsible investment and safety nets, and asked about the growth of the shadow banking system, which included lightly regulated hedge funds.  Yet another representative of civil society asked about the lack of movement in regulating financial markets while a fourth representative noted that the “elephant in the room” underlying the debt issue was the classical mismatch between currencies.

Responding, Mr. FRIDAY agreed with the need for stronger safeguards and noted that more and more extreme weather events could be expected in the future.  Therefore, hurricane clauses should be automatically included, particularly for small island developing States.  Mr. MULLER said that GDP-linked bonds should be seen as part of a toolkit that contributed to debt sustainability.  Ms. UY said that it was time to assess the impact of financial sector regulatory reforms.

Mr. TIWARI said that the promise of jobs and higher incomes hinged crucially on creating the right environment for sustainable growth.  Infrastructure was a prerequisite for that kind of growth.  The strengthening of standards regulating financial instruments had resulted in unintended consequences such as the shift to shadow banks.  Ms. MIRANDA stressed the importance of transparency and open data, which she noted was a challenge not only for international financial institutions, but also for States.  Debt could be a symptom that there was something wrong in the economy, and therefore, it was necessary to look at the larger picture including tax systems, she said.

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Speeches: Trans-Africa Security: Combating Illicit Trafficking and Organized Crime in Africa

Good morning.

It is an honor to join you today at this year’s Senior Leaders Seminar hosted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS). Let me first thank ACSS for their leadership over the years in fostering critical partnerships with African nations on combating today’s transnational security threats.

Let me also thank all of you for your commitment in participating in this important program. Having studied myself at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, I believe that these peer-based learning seminars are very important, not only to assess, evaluate, and discuss the broad array of security challenges facing the continent and international community, but towards developing and harnessing more effective strategies and cross-border responses.

As you have no doubt heard throughout the week in your seminar, the United States remains a strong partner in helping safeguard communities against the threats posed by illicit trafficking networks and is keen to elevate our partnership with all of your governments.

In this regard, the U.S. Department of State is similarly committed to strengthen international cooperation in support of our U.S. law enforcement and security agencies, and the capacities of our allies and partners in Africa to disrupt and dismantle transnational organized criminals.

Converging Threats: Corruption, Crime, and Terrorism Pave Illicit Trafficking Corridor

Today’s reality is one in which we live in a world where there is no region, no country and no community who remain untouched by the destabilizing effects and corruptive influence of transnational organized crime and violent terrorism.

Their impact is truly global and their real threat centers in some cases in their convergence. In particular, we must recognize that trans-regional illicit trafficking of drugs, arms, humans, and other illicit trade goods and services, are fueling greater insecurity and instability across Africa, and in other parts of the world.

While the world’s attention has in recent months been focused on the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, or the efforts by North Korea and others on the weaponization of nuclear missiles, the threats posed by transnational organized criminals remain very real in the United States, Latin America, Africa, and globally.

This is especially true as it relates to the increasing links between cross-border narcotics trafficking and other forms of transnational organized crime across Africa that imperil not only the rule of law, economic development efforts, the promotion of trade and investment, but helps to fuel greater instability and insecurity.

In fact, according to General Thomas D. Waldhauser, U.S. Marine Corps, AFRICOM Commander, “parts of Africa remain a battleground between ideologies, interests, and values: [where] prosperity, and peace are often pitted against extremism, oppression, and conflict. The strategic environment includes instability that allows violent extremist organizations to grow and recruit disenfranchised populations.”

This strategic environment today that General Waldhauser underscores is also impacted by other transregional threats that further complicate security in Africa including issues related to the webs of corruption and cross-border criminality, and related converging threats.

Convergence: I often talk a lot about convergence, and this is something that I encourage you to examine more closely moving forward – and to view today’s transnational security threats through a prism of “convergence crime”.

Because the reality on the ground is that we can no longer simply focus on one component of a threat. In a world of converging threats – where various threats collide to form a more potent mix of insecurity globally; each is individually dangerous but whose sum represents a far greater threat across borders.

Thus, we need to see the threat environment more holistically – how, for example, corruption and complicit facilitators enable the illicit space for criminals and terrorist groups alike to thrive, and to exploit weaknesses in our borders and institutions that imperil our security.

And because as illicit trade operates in the shadow of the global economy, increasingly sophisticated traffickers are diversifying their portfolios in everything from narcotics, people, arms, and wildlife to counterfeits including fake medicines, and illicit tobacco and alcohol goods.

On the governance front, the proceeds of drug trafficking and other forms of illicit trafficking are fueling a dramatic increase in corruption among the very institutions responsible for fighting crime.

The collusion and complicity of some government officials with criminal networks have helped carve out an illicit trafficking corridor that stretches from the West African coast to the Horn of Africa, from North Africa south to the Gulf of Guinea.

Through these illicit trafficking routes, criminals and terrorists alike are moving people and products. From the coca and opium poppy fields of Colombia and Southeast Asia to the coasts of West Africa and its hashish plantations, drug cartels and other criminal networks navigate an illicit superhighway that serves illicit markets across the continent and around the globe. Along across these illicit routes, bad actors and networks are corrupting critical institutions and enforcement systems that exacerbate everyone’s security.

They employ the latest technological advances and use commercial jets, fishing vessels, and container ships to move drugs, people, small arms, crude oil, cigarettes, counterfeit and pirated goods, and toxic waste through the region, generating massive profits.

How massive are these profits? As I will point out shortly in my slides on the recent research of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, the illegal markets in Africa, and globally, are booming with staggering levels of illicit wealth in the global economy. Hundreds of millions of USD every year enable criminals and other threat networks to corrupt the regional economies and the global financial system.

At a time when many are heralding the rise of some of the world’s fastest-growing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, these criminal entrepreneurs are undermining that economic development and growth by financing flourishing illicit markets, turning many vulnerable communities into a corridor of insecurity and instability, and siphoning the real potential of the legitimate economy.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Economic Forum (WEF), Global Financial Integrity (GFI), and other international organizations, generally estimate that the illicit trade in arms, drugs, and people, and other forms of “convergence crime” generate approximately between 8–15 percent of GDP, or several USD trillions to include corrupt proceeds and illicit financial flows.

Cocaine trafficking remains among the most lucrative illicit activities. In April 2017, the UNODC reported that developing markets are fueling a resurgence of cocaine trafficking through West Africa. UNODC further added that seizures on the Atlantic island of Cabo Verde, in the Gambia, Nigeria, and Ghana had contributed to a 78 percent increase in cocaine seizures from 2009-2014 compared to the previous reporting period.

Smugglers and traffickers who intake the cocaine from the Americas will typically transport drugs and other contraband overland across the Sahel and North Africa, before crossing into destination markets in Europe and these new developing markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

West Africa has also become a major transit point for heroin destined for the United States.

Illicit markets are growing across Africa to meet global demand for arms, counterfeits, cigarettes, natural resources, diamonds and other precious minerals, wildlife, illegally-harvested timber, illegal fishing, stolen luxury cars, and other illicit commodities.

The Crime-Terror Continuum: Regional Spillover Effects

Unfortunately, what happens in Africa does not stay in Africa.

A convergence of actors is further paving the corridor of illicit trafficking and crime-terror continuum across Africa – including North Africa – as criminal insurgencies are becoming players themselves in illicit markets and using the proceeds to finance their terror campaigns, secure their training camps, establish safe havens, and export violence to other regions. Violent extremist and terrorist groups draw on public anger towards corruption as a means to radicalize, recruit new members, and deepen sectarian division.

We only have to look at some of the current regional hot spots to clearly comprehend how certain crime-terror dynamics continue to contribute to insecurity and instability that have a ripple effect across borders.

Today’s thriving illegal economy is so lucrative that terrorists are increasingly turning to criminal activities to fund their violent campaigns such as those that we are witnessing today by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and others.

In Mali, as drugs are trafficked through the country, the Sahel, and Maghreb, AQIM and its sympathizers are manipulating socio-economic conditions to further advance an illegal economy that allows them to tax the drugs through the territory that they control and finance their terror campaigns.

Libya also continues to be challenged with violence and insecurity. AQIM and ISIS are attempting to forge alliances with violent extremist networks in Libya and across the Maghreb, Sahel, and West Africa, and are involved in smuggling and trafficking in persons. Organized crime networks exploit a currency black market, irregular migration and illicit trade across borders to enrich themselves and militias that defy law and order.

Nigerian organized criminal networks remain a major player in moving cocaine and heroin worldwide, and have begun to produce and traffic methamphetamine to and around Southeast Asia. In addition to drug trafficking, some of these criminal organizations also engage in other forms of trafficking and fraud targeting citizens of the United States, Europe, and globally.

Widespread corruption in Nigeria further facilitates criminal activity, and, combined with Nigeria’s central location along major trafficking routes, enables criminal groups to flourish and make Nigeria an important trafficking hub.

Nigeria is also confronting a terrorist insurgency led by Boko Haram and its offshoot ISIS-West Africa, which remains the cause of the insecurity in the Lake Chad Basin.

Maritime crime has also captured the attention of the regional states and international community. The reported number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and the level of violence associated with those acts remain a concern.

The Economic Communities of West and Central African States, the Gulf of Guinea Commission, and their member states should be commended for the continued commitment to implement the June 2013 Yaoundé Summit. The signed Gulf of Guinea Code of Conduct (GGC) covers not only armed robbery at sea and piracy, but also other illicit maritime activity such as illegal fishing, maritime pollution, and human and drug trafficking. The Yaounde Code of Conduct, along with the updates to the Djibouti Code of Conduct to cover other transnational maritime crime, and the newly adopted Lomé Charter, provide excellent frameworks for African states to adopt strategies and implement programs to counter transnational crime in the maritime domain.

In recent years, INL has partnered with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, AFRICOM, and our African partners on maritime security and regional threat mitigation strategies and to build the capacities and capabilities to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal networks.

U.S. Diplomatic Efforts and International Cooperation in Africa

The United States strongly supports the great strides many African countries have made to improve security, good governance, rule of law, and sustainable economic development.

As President Donald J. Trump highlighted in new Executive Order on Transnational Criminal Organizations (E.O. TCO), the United States will continue to assist our partners to strengthen their security footprint and capabilities to combat today’s threat networks.

In support of the President’s E.O. TCO, the United States is committed to strengthen and sustain our resolve and capabilities to protect the homeland and break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, attack their financial underpinnings, strip them of their illicit wealth, and sever their access to the financial system.

The United States and its partners continually recognize the importance of net-centric partnerships to confront converging threats and the lethal nexus of organized crime, corruption, and terrorism along global illicit pathways and financial hubs.

For example, targeted financial actions like the 2011 311 finding against LCB can have a major impact, strengthening deterrence and showing that the international community is keeping close watch on Hizballah’s global financial architecture. Through years of cooperation with the Lebanese banking sector and the Lebanese Central Bank, the country has significantly improved its capacity to detect the kinds of behavior that led the United States to designate LCB six years ago.

Let me now share how the Department of State helps fight transnational crime, and in particular the organization I work for, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

INL training efforts help countries build effective rule of law institutions, strengthening criminal justice systems, and strengthening their police, courts, and anti-crime efforts—everything from anti-corruption money laundering, cybercrime, and intellectual property theft to trafficking in goods, people, weapons, drugs, or endangered wildlife.

In coordination with partners in sub-Saharan and North Africa, INL develops and executes foreign assistance programming to promote civilian security and criminal justice sector reform in support of U.S. policy objectives. INL programs improve access to justice, promote stability and democratic reform, professionalize law enforcement entities, support local justice sector officials, and strengthen correction systems.

INL’s sub-Saharan and North Africa projects support partner governments’ efforts to respond effectively to the growing demand for peace and security. INL’s four main objectives are to assist African partners in combating transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism, and their effects; support post-conflict stabilization operations and security sector reform; strengthen criminal justice systems to be accountable to the public and to respect human rights; and promote regional cooperation. INL implements its Africa program through a comprehensive range of bilateral and regional initiatives designed to maximize positive change in host countries and regions.

Let me highlight a few examples of these bilateral INL projects across Africa on criminal justice reform, anti-crime, and in support of counter-terrorism efforts:

Deployment of Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs) and Senior Legal Advisors: U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors embedded in U.S. Embassies to support justice sector development and capacity building: Some countries hosting RLAs include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, and others.

Kenya: Build the capacity of vetted units within the National Police Service and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission investigations unit to investigate and prosecute high-level and government-wide corruption

Tanzania: enhance the criminal justice system in Tanzania to successfully prosecute wildlife crimes.

Benin: Build capacity of Benin’s law enforcement and judicial sectors to investigate and prosecute cases involving transnational organized crime, particularly drug trafficking; support to Benin’s border security agency; training of Formed Police Units (FPUs) for peacekeeping deployment; support to the Office Central de Répression du Trafic Illicite de Drogue et des Précurseurs

Ghana: Training police-prosecutors, creating a counternarcotics unit, training police SWAT unit; training FPUs for peacekeeping deployment; and improving the investigations and administration of justice related to maritime crimes, cyber-crime, and border-related crimes

Nigeria: Advise and support the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Justice and security dialogues project with law enforcement and civil society; international police education and training; curriculum reform; forensics support; Embedding advisors to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

South Africa: Senior law enforcement advisor support to professionalize law enforcement and fundamental police operations; building investigative and enforcement capacities to combat wildlife trafficking

Finally, INL also administers the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program (TOCRP) which offers rewards up to $5 million for information, leads, and tips that help hobble transnational criminal organizations involved in activities beyond drug trafficking, such as human trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in arms, counterfeits and pirated goods, and other illicit trade areas.

Our embassies and/or our INL offices would be happy to share further information on INL bilateral and regional programming in specific countries in Africa as requested.

Let me say also few words on several regional initiatives that INL supports:

The West Africa Regional Security Initiative (WARSI)

WARSI funds assist the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members to establish and sustain effective, professional, and accountable criminal justice and civilian security sectors. Technical assistance facilitates partner-country efforts to counter transnational threats including illicit trafficking and to strengthen conflict mitigation and state legitimacy. WARSI focuses on security sector reform (SSR) in countries with more foundational assistance needs and criminal justice sector reform to counter transnational organized crime (TOC) in countries with more stable institutions. Counter-TOC assistance is more advanced, and often includes training specialized units, such as counter narcotics task forces.

The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership

The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) is a multi-faceted, multi-year U.S. strategy aimed at developing resilient institutions that are capable of preventing and responding to terrorism in a holistic, long term manner. INL TSCTP programs in Africa work to counter and prevent violent extremism by empowering partner countries to (1) provide effective and accountable security and justice services to enhance citizen cooperation with and trust in law enforcement and (2) develop the institutional foundation for counterterrorism and related capabilities, including border security and prison security and reintegration efforts. In doing so, INL focuses on enhancing and institutionalizing cooperation among TSCTP countries so that they increasingly learn with and from each other. Partner countries include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia.

The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism

The Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) is the U.S. government’s multi-year, multi-sector initiative to build the long-term capabilities of East African partners to contain, disrupt, and marginalize terrorist networks in the region. INL’s PREACT funds empower East African criminal justice institutions to confront complex challenges posed by cross-border terrorism. INL’s active PREACT partners include Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania.

Security Governance Initiative

The Security Governance Initiative (SGI) is a multi-year effort between the United States and partner countries to improve security sector governance and capacity to address threats. SGI partners with countries to undertake strategic and institutional reforms required to tackle key security challenges. Together with six current partners – Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia – SGI focuses on shared security priorities and enhance security sector management. SGI is managed by the State Department’s Africa Bureau but leverages expertise and experience from across the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Counterterrorism Center. Coordination and collaboration both within the U.S. government and with partner countries is a hallmark of SGI. INL’s activities undertaken as part of SGI seek to develop, support, and strengthen criminal justice institutions and capabilities to ensure citizen security and promote the rule of law, including sound policies, institutional structures, systems, processes, and effective management methods so that governments can efficiently and effectively deliver security and justice in a sustainable manner.

Regional Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Efforts

As many of you are aware, the United States continues to partner with the international community to combat the illegal wildlife trade.

INL is part of a whole of government approach to combating wildlife trafficking. We work closely with other parts of the Department and other agencies to support the global fight against wildlife trafficking through assistance to multiple countries in Africa. Under the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (CWT), INL builds the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute wildlife crimes and develops regional cooperation mechanisms.

Activities can include training, mentoring, and equipment provision for park rangers, police, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, and civil society entities to address the multiple dimensions of poaching and wildlife trafficking. Our first projects began in Kenya and South Africa, followed by Namibia and Tanzania. Future projects will cover larger areas of central and southern Africa, and address both source and transit countries.

Regional Law Enforcement Training

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not highlight INL’s International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Gaborone, Botswana. The ILEA program delivers courses on a wide range of law enforcement topics, and builds regional law enforcement networks to detect, disrupt, and dismantle transnational criminal organizations regardless of their means of operation and income.

Since inception in 2001, ILEA Gaborone has trained thousands of mid- and senior-level criminal justice officers in specialized skills on counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics operations, forensic accounting, customs interdiction, various forms of trafficking, document fraud, and illegal immigration. The program also engages with senior officials on the factors that facilitate these criminal networks, addressing public corruption, discussing modern community-oriented policing models, and cooperative international security networks that hinder illicit networks from flourishing.

As an outbranch of the successful ILEA network, INL opened the West Africa Regional Training Center (RTC) in Accra, Ghana, in January 2013. The RTC has convened hundreds of law enforcement, security, and judicial officials from multiple countries in West Africa and the Sahel, creating relationships across the region, and building knowledge and skills on topics ranging from investigative analysis to anti-corruption to counternarcotics.

We continue to explore future areas of assistance to include strengthening capabilities to preserve crime scenes for complex investigations, create strong case packages, and build more effective, evidence-based trials.

Conclusion: Partnerships for Sustainable Security

In closing, I want to again extend the appreciation on behalf of the U.S. Department of State for your commitment to work across borders, improve coordination and information-sharing, and leverage our respective capabilities and capacities to defeat our common adversaries.

We must continue to leverage all national economic, intelligence, and diplomatic powers to make it riskier, harder, and costlier for threat networks to do business within Africa, and externally.

Illicit trafficking remains the lifeblood of the numerous bad actors and networks, creating vulnerabilities for nations.

We must crackdown on corruption at all levels and cut off the ability of kleptocrats, criminals, and terrorists to enjoy the fruits of illicit enterprise and that enable the financial capacity to execute their operations.

By combating corruption, we can also shut the door and keep violent extremists from exploiting their grievances to wage jihad. We must prevent narco-corruption from destroying countries like Guinea and Guinea-Bissau.

In addition to our law enforcement and security cooperation, we also need to address underlying causes that are contributing to today’s conflicts and insecurity in Africa: food and water security, poverty, economic integration and development, and other socio-economic areas that empower communities and nurture growth markets, investment frontiers, and resiliency.

With careful, targeted assistance, and smart diplomatic engagement, together we can advance our common objectives and strategic interests.

If we do not act decisively, the region will remain an exporter of terror and a provider of safe havens where terrorists from other conflicts all over the world find refuge, illicit trafficking will continue to expand, arms and weapons will dangerously proliferate, women, men, and children will be trafficked, and drugs and illicit enterprise will corrode the rule of law and the gains of globalization.

We can only tackle these threats effectively if we work together and jointly synchronize our full spectrum capabilities and capacities. We must stay connected and continue to harness our network of networks at every level – local, regional, and global to win our fight against convergence crime.

If we do this, we can create hope, stability, opportunity, and an enduring peace.

Thank you.

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