Mugabe calls for immediate restructuring of global financial systems
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Addressing the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) which opened here yesterday, he said global financial regulatory mechanisms should be refined to avoid human-induced world economic problems such as the 2008/2009 crisis, largely triggered by speculation.
President Mugabe said small nations were invariably failing to achieve development objectives owing to punitive economic measures meted out against them by some developed countries.
He said urgent steps must be taken to address the situation, which undermines the rule of law and could attract repercussions to the United Nations and global financial institutions.
"The 2008 to 2009 economic and financial crises were spawned by activities that were not based on the real economy, but on speculative practices. We need to strengthen global monitoring as well as regulatory and accountability mechanisms," he said.
"It is unfortunate that despite its dire consequences, the financial crisis has not triggered the much-needed political commitment for the long-overdue reform of international financial structures.
"Regrettably, some quarters are downplaying the gravity of this issue and eroding the sensitive role it plays in the United Nations and international financial institutions.
"We call for the complete overhaul of the global economic and financial governance structures so that they are more responsive to the needs of poor states, particularly those that are more vulnerable."
In an environment where there are inadequate resources to meet sustainable development objectives, President Mugabe said, there are concerns that some powerful countries continue to implement punitive economic measures which curtail further the ability of small states.
"Such practices undermine confidence in multilateralism and the rule of law. Indeed, we are further concerned with the dark cloud in the form of trade protection and other defence mechanisms which are hovering over the global economy at a time when we are grappling with achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," said President Mugabe.
The Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces said the world economic crisis resulted in the marginalisation of poor countries.
He said resources allocated to development assistance under the Millennium Development Goals programme had already been depleted, three years before the expiry of a deadline for the attainment of the goals.
A new initiative to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should not supersede efforts to meet MDGs, he added.
"It is our hope that the SDGs will not undermine the MDGs. We should, therefore, not lose sight of the need to achieve set targets in the areas of, inter alia, poverty alleviation, education, combating HIV and Aids, gender mainstreaming as well as the health and welfare of mothers and children," said President Mugabe.
"The implementation of Sustainable Development Goals requires an appropriate institutional mechanism to carry the agenda forward. We expect the United Nations, in light of its international character, to remain at the centre of these efforts.
"We do not believe that creating new institutions is a panacea to implementation shortcomings. Already, the Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) provides an appropriate platform to follow up pillars of sustainable development."
The President said Ecosoc ensured all states and other stakeholders collaborate on sustainable development.
He said the United Nations Environment Programme should be strengthened for it to better play its role as the lead environmental institution.
In addition, he advocated sourcing "predictable and sustainable resources" following indications developed countries, which voluntarily committed to funding sustainable development efforts in developing nations, were dragging their feet.
"There should be no room for elitist and exclusive clubs in the field of sustainable development. We are after all in peril if we do not put our act together to save the environment and, with it, our collective future," President Mugabe said.
"We should act in common concert for the common good. Let us not allow this conference to go into the history of gatherings that promised a lot and delivered little.
"Let the presence of more than 100 world leaders and their collective resolve be reflected through outcomes that will uplift the majority of humankind out of poverty.
""Let Rio+20 be the first significant step towards critical and practical engagement on these issues. It must take the urgent and decisive action required to guarantee our collective future and the security of our environment.
". . .We need to identify resources that are predictable and more sustainable. Regrettably, when there are challenges in the global economy, such as the financial crisis, investment for the future is always the first casualty."
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe faces numerous challenges in meeting SDGs including desertification, land degradation and drought.
"It is our expectation that by adopting the green economy, we can bring relief to our rural populations. We, therefore, expect outcomes that will improve our people's livelihoods through increased access to clean water, adequate food and affordable energy," he said.
"The land and minerals found therein are, for us, infinite and critical resources. In our quest to use our land sustainably, Zimbabwe implemented a land reform programme whose objective was, in part, to decongest the rural areas. As a result of this programme, we have seen better yields, less stress on soils, greater use of crop rotation and the adoption of new techniques such as conservation agriculture. . ."
Rio+20 was officially opened by Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff who was optimistic the conference would reach consensus on sustainable development approaches.
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