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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Achieving the MDGs in Africa: Paving the way for action in 2005 and beyond.

Statement made by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Geir H. Haarde, in the absence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Davíð Oddsson, on "Achieving the MDGs in Africa: Paving the way for action in 2005 and beyond" given in NY 23 September 2004.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

[First of all, I would like to thank the Government of the United Kingdom and UNDP for organizing this meeting. ]

The Millennium Development Goals represent an international commitment to the developing countries. At the same time I believe that this commitment was as much to the developed world, because successful fulfilment of the MDGs is an important element of long term global security.

As we have been discussing here today, the progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals has been slow and uneven. While a number of countries have prospered at an unprecedented pace, others have slipped behind and need urgent attention. The situation in parts of Africa is especially grave, and at the current pace, most countries of Sub-Saharan Africa will not be able to achieve the goals by 2015.

Accelerated progress towards meeting the MDGs in Africa will necessitate both committed actions by the African countries, as well as intensified support from the international community.

The African countries need to try further to deepen macroeconomic reforms, adopt fiscal prudence, strengthen democratic institutions and good governance, and invest in human development. The international community needs to encourage and reinforce good performance, most importantly by increasing official development assistance and work towards a successful conclusion of the Doha development round. I am pleased to say that Iceland has very few tariffs on agricultural goods produced by developing countries and we have no export subsidies.

We have not yet settled exactly what kind of big event we will hold next year – but one thing is clear to me. The event must allow us to take a constructive and honest look at where we stand on the MDGs and how we can improve. We fully support the ongoing work for exploring innovative new financing mechanisms for development purposes, which we believe might be helpful in scaling up ODA volumes in order to reach the MDGs

We concentrate the bulk of our development assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa and we hope to contribute our share of attaining the MDGs in this poverty-stricken region.

Thank you



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