Opening Remarks of Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women at panel event on the relevance of the UN One Programme in Middle Income Countries. Montevideo, Uruguay 9 November, 2011.
[Check against Delivery]
Excellencies, colleagues and friends, welcome to our panel on the relevance of One Programme in Middle Income Countries.
We know that the number of countries reaching middle income status in recent years has been impressive. It has reflected the lifting of the largest number of people ever out of poverty. At the same time, it has highlighted the challenge of inequality even further.
The dynamic of change to middle income status has driven a fundamental shift in the way we understand the challenges of development. We find ourselves now in a world where the majority of the poor no longer live in poor countries.
960 million poor people, or 72 percent of the world’s poor, now live in middle-income countries. Compare this with two decades ago when 93 percent of the world’s poor lived in low-income countries. It is hard to think of a single more dramatic statistic affecting the way we do business. These middle-income contexts generally contain greater capacities, stronger fiscal space, more educated citizens, and huge potential.
They are far less ODA-dependent, if at all. But they also suffer many of the problems we see everywhere, such as discrimination, violence and abuse. They are bringing to our attention the ever growing concerns of spatial inequality. Many are deeply vulnerable to economic shock, which, when experienced, hits hardest those with the least capacity to cope.
They also reach between our regions, with middle income countries spread across the world, even in the poorest regions, challenging the ways we are used to categorizing countries and doing business, sharing knowledge and experience, and calling on us to link up our work in more sophisticated ways.
How we deal with this will be critical in many areas. It must shape the way we deliver as one. It must inform our pursuit of the MDGs in these last few years until 2015, and our thinking beyond those goals to a new way of international development assistance.
Many of our colleagues are already experienced in what delivering as one means in such contexts. Five of the eight Delivering as One countries and a number of the self starters are middle income countries. Three of the countries graduated into middle income status since the Delivering as One approach started.
This panel offers us an opportunity to share, develop and build upon that experience, by looking more closely at what delivering as one can and should mean in such environments. How can the UN play a role in leveraging the capacities and skills and talents in middle income country contexts, drawing upon government, civil society, the private sector and citizens themselves, women and men, boys and girls.
How can the UN support community participation and partnerships? How can the UN address inequality, exclusion and discrimination, including through promoting more nuanced and realistic metrics of development than per capita GDP?
How can we help strengthen key institutions, including such elements as a functioning taxation system, and local accountability? How can we ensure that graduation to middle income status does not close the door for countries to enjoy the benefits of international cooperation?
How can the UN better promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as central to achieving development goals and inclusive democracy? And how we can we better advance social protection and sustainable development, and address climate change?
In order to use our time to the full, we will organize our discussion in two sections, the first looking at what we have learned about what Delivering as One can offer to middle income countries, the second focusing on the comparative advantage and role of the UN in these contexts. At the end of the discussion I will offer some conclusions, then, with the assistance of our able rapporteurs, will present a summary of our work at the synthesis session.