UNDP Administrator Helen Clark’s makes a speech at the IV Humanitarian Forum.
SIA reports the speech of UNDP Adminstrator.
It is my pleasure to represent United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at this opening of the IV International Humanitarian Forum. At the outset, let me thank his Excellency, the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, for convening today’s Forum which provides an important opportunity for an exchange of ideas on a wide range of issues.
In my brief address today I would like to comment on UNDP’s work with Azerbaijan aimed at promoting human development, and on a number of the initiatives developed to that end here which are very innovative. As Azerbaijan steps up its South-South Co-operation, UNDP will be delighted to partner with the country in sharing its knowledge and expertise with others who are seeking solutions to challenges similar to those which Azerbaijan has been tackling.
Azerbaijan has been endowed with large reserves of valuable natural resources. History tells us, however, that while the extraction of such resources may significantly raise Gross Domestic Product per capita, it does not necessarily lift either government revenues or the level of human development. Translating natural resource wealth into wealth for the country and greater human development requires deliberate public policy decisions which will achieve those ends. Azerbaijan has made significant decisions in this respect.
In September 1994, Azerbaijan signed what has been called the `Contract of the Century’ - a “production-sharing agreement” with a consortium of foreign oil companies. From the profits of this initial agreement to develop the country’s Caspian oil reserves, Azerbaijan was to receive eighty per cent of the profits.
Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Azerbaijan and its partners on the twentieth anniversary celebration of the Contract of the Century that took place here in Baku on 20 September. This was celebrated with the Southern Gas Corridor groundbreaking ceremony for the new pipeline which will bring Azerbaijani gas reserves all the way to Europe.
This Contract opened up major new opportunities for Azerbaijan’s development. As for other resource-rich countries, it was also a time for reflection – on how Azerbaijan’s wealth could contribute to lifting human development.
More than a decade ago, UNDP helped Azerbaijan shape the concept of turning its “Black Gold to Human Gold”. The initiative focused on developing an internationally competitive non-oil sector, and developing and strengthening the capacities of people. Over the years, Azerbaijan has seen a drastic reduction in the level of poverty, new investments in social services, the establishment of a social security system, and rising salaries.
The concept of “Black Gold to Human Gold” remains as relevant now as it was when it was launched. Continuing to lift human development will be critical for the achievement of Azerbaijan’s national development strategy, Vision 2020. At UNDP we are fully committed to supporting Azerbaijan in taking this vision forward.
The Millennium Development Goals have remained relevant for Azerbaijan, with challenges still around the goals for gender equality and women’s empowerment and a number of the health and environmental targets. As it is likely that the unfinished business of the MDGs will carry over into the post-2015 global development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals expected to be adopted by world leaders next September will also be relevant to Azerbaijan, and will contain new challenges too, given the emphasis UN Member States are placing on ensuring that no one gets left behind in development and that human development is pursued in a manner compatible with environmental sustainability.
Azerbaijan is well placed to share its development experiences with other countries through South-South and Triangular Co-operation. Indeed, UNDP and Azerbaijan have already partnered on support provided by the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies here to its Afghanistan counterpart through the UNDP offices in Baku and Kabul.
Last year, in the Plenary Session of this Forum, the former President of Turkey, Suleyman Demirel, emphasized that the Black Gold to Human Gold initiative could serve as a model for other countries to explore. At UNDP, we agree, and we see many other possibilities for sharing Azerbaijan’s innovations too.