Former French minister chosen to spearhead UN development financing efforts

19 February 2008

With official development assistance (ODA) still insufficient to achieve global anti-poverty targets by 2015, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed France’s former foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy to develop and promote new sources of funding, citing the urgent need to fill this critical gap.

Mr. Douste-Blazy, appointed as Mr. Ban’s Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development, currently serves as Chairman of the Executive Board of UNITAID – the international drug purchase facility hosted by the UN World Health Organization (WHO).

A doctor by profession, he has held ministerial posts in the French Government in health, culture and foreign affairs. During his tenure as France’s foreign minister, Mr. Douste-Blazy strongly advocated for the creation of UNITAID and the implementation in France of a solidarity levy on airline tickets aimed at supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Among his tasks in his new post will be to promote UNITAID and other sources of innovative financing for the achievement of the MDGs and to ensure they are coordinated with the global development agenda.

“We are halfway in the timetable with the deadline in 2015, but we are not halfway in terms of results,” Mr. Douste-Blazy told reporters today in New York. “The truth is we are late.”

He noted that there has been progress in just about every area, but it was not enough, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Above all, global development assistance has fallen for the first time in 10 years.

“This is a very important issue for the twenty-first century,” he said, adding that it is crucial to integrate the notion of innovative financing into the global development agenda as soon as possible.

To that end, he is planning to convene next year the first-ever world conference devoted solely to innovative financing, which will focus on the development funds provided by citizens, local and regional authorities, foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), economic and social representatives, faith groups and the private sector.

Born in 1953, Mr. Douste-Blazy graduated in medical studies in Toulouse and worked as a cardiologist. He became Professor of Medicine at the Toulouse Sciences University in 1988. In addition to holding posts in the French Government, he also served in the European Parliament.

 

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