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Interparliamentary seminar - Final Declaration

MDGs Parliamentary Sub-Committee of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Foreign Affairs Committee
UN Millennium Campaign

The Role of National Parliaments in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals

July 2nd 2009


1. We, parliamentarians from across the globe, gathered in Rome to discuss the role of National Parliaments in Achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and to assert that the parliamentary voice be raised and heard for consideration by the forthcoming G8 Summit.

2. We express our deep concern about the devastating impact of the present crisis, pushing back tens of millions of people into hunger and poverty: the crisis affects government budgets and income, cutting investment in human development; unemployment continues to rise as producers lose markets, local and international; and reduced household income translates in less school attendance of girls and decreased health, as visits to clinics are postponed and nutrition suffers.

3. We are deeply concerned that, while the Millennium Goals towards which there has been the least progress are those regarding child and maternal mortality, the present crisis puts a disproportionate burden on children and women, the latter facing greater income insecurity and increased burdens of family care.

4. With just six years left to the 2015 deadline for the achievement of the Goals, we cannot afford to let the current economic climate threaten to undo and possibly even reverse the very significant gains that have been made towards achieving the MDGs.

5. We call for our governments to recommit to the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals as a priority on the political agenda and we pledge to use all means at our disposal as Members of Parliament to raise awareness in our countries regarding the Millennium Development Goals and the actions our countries need to take to achieve them; and hold our governments to account for them, allowing civil societies to develop and play their full role.

6. Developing countries have the primary responsibility for their development. Developing countries owe to their people to exert every effort to mobilize domestic resources, and ensure transparent pro poor policies and expenditure to keep or get on track to achieve the MDGs. Developing countries need to protect and empower the poor and vulnerable. To do so effectively, they need to redouble their efforts to improve transparency, eradicate corruption and strengthen governance.

7. But the brunt of the effort should come from rich countries: for the billions of the world’s poor, this is the worst time for rich countries to decrease their efforts. Development cooperation is an investment in our own future and our own security, as misery abroad threatens well-being at home.

8. We insist that the present situation requires more, not less, Official Development Assistance (ODA), in response to the crisis, instead of the crisis providing an excuse to avoid or delay the implementation of existing aid commitments. This time it will not do for the G8 just to reiterate the importance of fulfilling our commitments to increase aid, recalling the fundamental commitment to spend 0,7% of GNI on ODA. What is needed now is concrete timetables to fulfill these commitments including the international agreed targets to increase ODA to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). We strongly feel that not providing promised funding for the MDGs now is ultimately more expensive.

9. We note with interest the extensive discussions within the G8 regarding innovative financing mechanisms, food security, water & sanitation, global health, education, peace keeping and infrastructure. However, these would only be productive, if they result in commitments which would be additional to the present ones, which are still unfulfilled. Earmarking ODA for these causes within an overall stagnant or shrinking ODA envelop is meaningless and even runs counter to the agreed aid effectiveness agenda, demanding donors to align ODA with developing countries priorities and programs.

10. We welcome the action agreed by OECD donors in Paris and Accra to improve aid effectiveness including by strengthening country ownership, improving predictability of aid flows, and reducing fragmentation and transaction costs by improved coordination and division of labour among donors. We welcome the participation of the new emerging donor countries in this process. We particularly appreciate the commitment in the Accra Agenda for Action by developing country governments “to work more closely with Parliaments in preparing, implementing and monitoring national development policies and plans” and to “facilitate parliamentary oversight by implementing greater transparency in public financial management, including public disclosure of revenues, budgets, expenditures, procurement and audits”; and the commitment of donors to “publicly disclose regular, detailed and timely information on volume, allocation, and, when available, results of development expenditure to enable more accurate budget, accounting and audit by developing countries.

11. However, we deeply regret that according to the OECD’s progress reports the implementation of existing commitments to improve aid effectiveness is still lagging.

12. We insist that prompt implementation, aided by concrete indicators and time tables – country by country – is needed in order to allow ODA to be productive and play a catalytic role in assisting developing countries to achieve the MDGs.

13. Finally, we express our concern regarding the stalled trade talks and the increases in protectionism, despite the repeated pledges otherwise. We urge that the needs of the developing countries to be placed at the centre of the Doha Round, as promised from the outset. We urge full implementation now of the longstanding commitment to provide genuine duty and quota free access to LDCs. Moreover, as the majority of the world’s poor live in rural areas and depends on agriculture, priority should be given to the elimination of agricultural trade distorting and export subsidies. Changing these policies must be at the heart of any international effort to improve food security.

14. We, Parliamentarians, have the mandate to monitor government action and hold our government to account for promises made – including at international conferences. We believe a promise is a promise, and a promise to the world’s poor should not be taken lightly: their very survival depends upon it.

15. Thus we pledge that we will lead efforts within our own Parliaments to ensure that our governments will implement swiftly all actions they promised – over and over again – to achieve the Millennium Development Goals – thus saving tens of millions of lives.

16. We urge the national Parliaments of the five continents to establish effective tools, like Parliamentary ad hoc Committees, to monitor the international and governmental activities meant to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.