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United Nations Chief Executives Board responds to Global Financial Crisis

21 Oct 2008

Major disruptions to financial institutions and markets in developed countries have spread to emerging economies. Its repercussions are being felt by people in real economies around the world which are facing recession and the rapid loss of hard-won economic gains over the last decade. The crisis we are seeing today will impact all countries, developed and developing, but its most serious repercussions will be felt most by those who are least responsible -- the poor in developing countries.

The Executive Heads of United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) met this afternoon to undertake a wide-ranging assessment of the ongoing global crisis in financial markets and the threat of recession in the global economy that holds serious risks for people, families and communities everywhere.

The surges and volatility in the prices of essential commodities, in particular energy and food, have caused immense hardship and lowered the standard of life and nutrition in poor countries. The financial crisis, the threat of global recession and the huge volatility in commodity prices threaten the foundations of globalization that has underpinned global growth. We are seeing growth in protectionist pressures and credit contraction that can further exacerbate and deepen a global recession.

The United Nations system that has at the heart of its mission the cause of peace, justice and development, and the protection of the poor and vulnerable, expresses its full commitment to support the international community and to play its full part in addressing and alleviating the negative repercussions of this crisis worldwide. Immediate action is needed to protect people, jobs, shelter and livelihoods.

The Millennium Development Goals that were adopted eight years ago and that have become the common effort of the entire international community have seen encouraging progress in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, in improving global health and combating the scourge of disease. As we look to the next 7 years of the implementation of the Goals to 2015, we must ensure that hard-won gains by countries are not reversed and must act to avert the risk of millions in poor countries sliding back into extreme poverty.

The unique role of the United Nations system in addressing global issues must be strengthened. A defining challenge that we all face today is that of climate change. Every effort must be made to ensure that the momentum we have generated to achieve an international agreement on climate change and to strengthen efforts in mitigation, adaptation and technology transfer is not compromised.

At a time of crisis, the United Nations system must be vigilant to ensure that global norms are respected and that the poor, the vulnerable and communities do not become the casualties of this crisis. We call on the international community at this time to safeguard the norms and human values that define the multilateral system.

We must ensure that norms and agreements in the economic, social, environmental, labour and human rights area are fully respected and are at the heart of a new global solidarity that is needed for us to weather this storm together while protecting those among us that need help the most.

We call on all States to reaffirm and strengthen their commitments and pledges for development and humanitarian assistance. In the face of the current crisis, official development assistance (ODA) has become even more centrally important to the poor developing countries that are faced with financial constraints, declining liquidity and seriously worsening balance of payments positions. We express our gratitude to those world leaders who have pledged not to reduce their ODA commitments and call on leaders of all developed countries to meet their pledged commitments.

We call on all States to re-engage in efforts to conclude the Doha Trade Negotiations. A healthy, open and rule-based trading system is essential to maintaining long-term economic growth to the benefit of all. At a time of strain on economic and social systems, we must resist protectionism and promote openness and inclusiveness.

The Chief Executives Board underscores the importance and legitimacy of broader inclusiveness through the United Nations system and urges all Member States to engage with renewed vigour in preparing for the Doha Conference on financing for development in order to ensure a successful result in building up a common framework to assure our common future.

The market and regulatory failures that have led to this crisis must be addressed as a matter of urgency. We welcome the initiative to convene a G-20 summit-level meeting on 15 November to respond to this crisis. We reaffirm the need for meaningful, comprehensive and well-coordinated reform of the international financial system and pledge our support to this end.

The Chief Executives Board joins in stressing that we must respond now to prevent today’s crisis becoming tomorrow’s disaster. It will take proactive leadership among multilateral institutions to ensure coordinated and comprehensive response on trade, development, employment, finance, humanitarian assistance, the environment and the protection of global goods and norms to help build a fair and sustainable globalization.


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