Despite growth, Africa faces 'daunting, yet not insurmountable challenges', says Deputy Secretary-General at meeting of regional coordination mechanism


NEW YORK, November 22, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro's remarks to the Regional Coordination Mechanism in Addis Ababa on 21 November:

It is a pleasure to be here. I bring you warm greetings from the Secretary-General. I also bring his strong message of support for Africa and its people.

This session comes at a time of great challenge and great hope. The continent is coping with numerous threats. At the same time, the United Nations and African Union are strengthening our cooperation. And more and more, the United Nations is striving to “Deliver as One”.

Africa is showing impressive economic growth. The continent as a whole grew by 5.5 per cent on average in recent years. Africa is home to six out of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world. And sub-Saharan Africa is one of the few regions in the world that is showing resilience in the face of the global economic crisis.

But, we know that Africa, as a whole, is still faced with daunting, yet not insurmountable challenges. From water and sanitation, child and maternal health to job creation, and from the food crisis and famine — as currently seen in the Horn of Africa — to stemming armed conflicts where they persist. In addition, climate change and natural disasters threaten to reverse hard-won development gains.

So, I welcome your focus on capacity-building.

As we take stock, we must strive to advance work on the Ten-year Capacity-Building Programme for the African Union. This initiative is a manifestation of the United Nations family's commitment to supporting the African Union. We have been working hard to make this Programme more effective. Here today, we will be hearing from our African Union partners on the results of their comprehensive institutional needs assessment. The findings can clarify the strategic objectives of the Programme. They can also help the United Nations better align our efforts with the African Union's priorities.

The next two days are also a chance to hear an update on the Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group established by the Secretary-General in 2007. As you know, this important initiative is chaired by the Secretary-General at the Steering Group level, and by the Deputy Secretary-General at the Working Group level. We are committed to supporting the national Millennium Development Goals action plans. And we will advocate for concessional and innovative financing for Africa.

In order to avoid creating parallel institutions, we will build on the experience of this Regional Coordination Mechanism. The aim is to achieve regional coordination in partnership with the Resident Coordinator system. Your wealth of operational experience can help translate the Implementation Framework into development gains and accelerate progress as the 2015 deadline approaches.

The Secretary-General has made it clear at every opportunity that the most important imperative for our world today is sustainable development. Nowhere is this more pertinent than here in Africa. The continent's economic, social and environmental challenges are all linked. The integrated approach embodied in sustainable development is our most promising path forward.

And let us not lose sight of Africa's own wealth and advantages. For the most part, Africa has avoided many destructive aspects of unsustainable development. Countries here can leapfrog straight to green technology. Many are in a strong position to move quickly.

I hope all of you will actively engage in the preparations for the “ Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The Conference is a major opportunity to produce plans for greater economic dynamism, social protection and the creation of jobs, especially for youth — all while protecting our natural resources.

With concrete plans and political will, we can make the most of Rio+20 and get the best possible outcome. The benefits will spread across the African continent.

Your work is critical to success. The regional voice must be heard. I count on you to continue your valuable contributions.