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Debate on foreign development assistance must focus on concrete goals: UNDP chief

Debate on foreign development assistance must focus on concrete goals: UNDP chief

As a key United Nations forum on development moved into its second day, the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) today said the debate over official development assistance (ODA) should focus on what concrete goals spending would achieve instead of what should be spent.

These remarks by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown were made at a press conference this morning at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, where he appeared with financier George Soros, President and Chairman of Soros Fund Management.

A key issue heading into the Monterrey conference was the debate about increasing the amount of financial assistance richer countries provide to poorer ones. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has advocated a doubling of the current $50 billion in ODA, a 30-year low, in order to meet development goals.

In response to another question, Mr. Malloch Brown said that the UN must provide humanitarian assistance to ensure people were not penalized because of bad governments.

Traditional criteria for assistance had been historic friendships or strategic considerations, he noted. Today, a second funding source could be Mr. Soros’ Open Society Institute or other foundations, while a third was technical assistance such as that provided by UNDP. Such assistance could not be diverted to defence expenditures and luxury items.

As the Conference continued its Ministerial segment today, government officials and representatives of the private enterprise and civil society participated in four roundtable discussions to examine “Partnerships in Financing for Development.”