From left to right: Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and the Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, address media at the Palais de l'Elysée after their meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. ©Cyril Bailleul/OIF
6 October 2011
“We are calling on the G20 to see themselves as trustees of the wider international community - fit to tackle global concerns and needs”
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma and the Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on 5 October to outline options for plugging the gap in development funding ahead of next month’s G20 summit.
The French President, who will be chairing the meeting in Cannes from 3-4 November, was briefed on work undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat and La Francophonie on innovative options for financing development.
Substantial money is needed to fulfil basic development objectives, and it cannot be met by traditional sources such as donor governments. The current global economic challenges mean that financing is falling critically short and there are concerns for the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable countries.
Speaking after his meeting with the French President, Mr Sharma said that the options proposed by the two organisations - which have between them over 100 member countries - are mechanisms that are not necessarily new, but ones that are already being used by countries and can be expanded and scaled up.
They include debt based instruments, private sector initiatives and instruments for raising public revenue.
Mr Sharma stressed that the work undertaken was not prescriptive, but offered a menu of options which are flexible and can be tailored to accommodate domestic needs.
“This is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ package. We are not asking all countries to adopt the same measures to generate new sources of development finance for those in need, but we are asking all countries to find ways to contribute to the development funding gap in ways that work in their national circumstances,” he said.
“The Commonwealth has both a sense of vision and practical purpose. While we advocate politically, we are also making practical suggestions to support our members.”
At their meeting with the President, the Secretaries-General underscored the importance of G20 countries agreeing ‘as a priority’ ways to address the gap.
“We are calling on the G20 to see itself as trustees of the wider international community, fit to tackle global concerns and needs,” Mr Sharma said.
The proposals will be discussed at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia at the end of this month, which will hopefully provide further impetus for the G20 to act, said Mr Sharma.
Mr Sharma and President Diouf also underlined the importance of the G20 addressing the issue of food security. The two Secretaries-General presented their shared concerns about trade, growth with resilience for small and vulnerable states, as well as financial inclusion. Both organisations have already been active with the G20’s Working Group on Development in developing policy options on these areas which are also seen as critical to future development and growth for the wider international community.
Wednesday’s meeting continues an ongoing interaction between the two organisations and incoming Chairs of the G20, which began last year when the two Secretaries-General met the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.