Statement by Terri Robl, Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC, 68th UNGA Financing for Development High Level Dialogue

Terri Robl
U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council 
New York, NY
October 8, 2013


Thank you Mr. President.

This Sixth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development is being convened at a time of significant change and dynamism in the global development environment. We have fresh opportunities to think about the best ways to mobilize knowledge, innovation, and resources to move people out of extreme poverty and generate inclusive, sustained, job-rich growth for all our economies.

Let me briefly highlight a few themes

First, our ability to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to set an ambitious development agenda after 2015 will depend on our mobilizing a wide range of financial flows for development and getting the most development impact out of them. Official Development Assistance will remain crucial, particularly for sectors and countries for whom ODA remains essential in the drive to eradicate extreme poverty. That is why the United States disbursed over $30 billion in ODA in 2012, with a strong focus on least developed countries. That is why we have invested nearly $9 billion a year to fight global disease, particularly working with partners to achieve an AIDS-free generation. That is also what underpins our investments in food security through Feed the Future and in energy through Sustainable Energy for All and PowerAfrica. All of these testify to the U.S. commitment to target official development assistance in a catalytic way to achieve development results that last.

But ODA is increasingly only a small part of the development story, and we need to give fresh thought to ways to boost private investment and help countries strengthen their domestic revenue streams. The number of countries for which ODA is the dominant source of international resources has dropped precipitously since 1990 – by some estimates from 95 to 43 countries. Those countries for which foreign direct investment is the dominant international financial flow have meanwhile doubled to approximately 50 countries, and more and more countries have set goals for reducing or eliminating dependence on development assistance. Today, ODA represents a fraction of total international resource flows to developing countries, and domestic resource flows annually far outstrip international flows. International flows themselves are now dominated by private investment and remittances. Trade flows, which also have enormous potential to lessen poverty and improve people’s well-being, have also expanded, with trade volumes between developing countries significantly increased.

That is all good news. Of course the optimal mix of resource and trade flows will vary quite significantly by country, but these trends mean that we have an incredible opportunity to be much more thoughtful and sophisticated in thinking about the role international and domestic capital, trade flows, and the optimal mix of public and private investment for ending extreme poverty and achieving many of the development outcomes that are our collective priorities.

Second, we have seen a substantial transformation in the development landscape, in the growing role of developing countries on the global stage. Countries previously reliant on assistance to reduce poverty and improve basic services today have economies that are essential drivers of global economic growth. The relationship between developed and developing is much more complex than ever before, with new potential for mutually beneficial growth and investment

Third, we have a new and widespread recognition that 21st century development needs to be sustainable. We are encouraged by – and welcome - the robust global dialogue now underway on the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development, particularly related to the post-2015 agenda. Secretary Kerry noted in his recent address to the General Assembly, “...our efforts to improve people’s lives around the world mean little if we let the planet itself fall into disrepair. That is why we must strive for a development agenda that recognizes that fighting poverty, combating discrimination, and safeguarding our environment are absolutely linked together, and are not separate endeavors.”

Fourth, we have a far-sighted foundation on which to build in the form of the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration. The process launched at Monterrey foresaw and accounted for many of the changing dynamics and resource flows, and we should build on those foundations as we go forward. We look forward to the contribution of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Finance, as well as to productive discussions on aid transparency and effectiveness in the Paris-Accra-Busan work stream in order to help us identify and fill concrete gaps. We will also look to organizations like the UN, the WTO, and the international financial institutions to draw on their core competencies and best ideas to inform our debate.

Finally, the United States welcomes a dynamic and robust dialogue on financing and resource issues going forward. This needs to be informed by evidence of how the world is changing and seek to optimize the various types of financing for real and sustained development progress. As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, we have a historic opportunity to eradicate extreme poverty in the next two decades. Realizing that opportunity will take the concerted effort of all, and we should leave no stone unturned.


PRN: 2013/183