The Director-General opens the first UNESCO Future Lecture delivered by Kemal Derviş

The Director-General opens the first UNESCO Future Lecture delivered by Kemal DerviÅŸ
  • © UNESCO/A. Wheeler

On 18 June 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the first UNESCO Future Lecture*, organized on the theme “The G-20 Summits and the UN system: Prospects and Challenges”. The guest lecturer was Mr Kemal Derviş, former UNDP Administrator, Chair of the UN Development Group (UNDG), and Minister for Economic Affairs and the Treasury of the Republic of Turkey.

In his introduction, the Director-General welcomed Mr Derviş, recalling the important role he had played as head of UNDP and Chair of UNDG, in particular his successful launching of the “delivering as one” initiative, aimed at strengthening coherence among the 28 UN funds, programmes and agencies – globally and in particular at the country level.

The Director-General particularly emphasized Mr Derviş’s efforts to keep the “delivering as one” exercise inclusive and flexible, establishing a balance between UN funds and programmes and specialized agencies in the UN Country Teams as well as within UNDG. Mr Matsuura also acknowledged Mr Derviş’s role in reforming the Chief Executives Board (CEB), “another positive step for UNESCO and other specialized agencies, which are now fully involved in policy discussions on UN development action”, he said.

Mr Matsuura paid tribute to the support given by Mr Derviş to expand cooperation between UNDP and UNESCO especially in the fields of education and culture. The Director-General highlighted that this strengthened cooperation was crowned by the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding between UNESCO and UNDP in October 2008 (see Flash Info N° 144-2008**).

Recalling that Mr Derviş now serves as senior advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on G20 activities, and that he attended the London Summit on the global economic crisis, the Director-General argued that “we could not have a better choice of speaker to address today’s theme”.

Mr Matsuura concluded by underscoring how UNESCO “has been particularly vigorous in advocating for sustained investment in the social sectors, especially in education, as vital both to spurring a recovery and to laying the foundations for stronger and more equitable growth in the future. (…) The global nature of the present crisis has brought to the fore the need for a strong multilateral system. We are here today to discuss how the UN can meet this challenge”.

Mr Kemal Derviş started his lecture by quoting the Director-General in his speech at the first UNESCO Future Forum held in March 2009, in which he stated that “we must use this crisis to make the multilateral system more inclusive, effective and coherent”***. Mr Derviş went on to analyze the reasons why the financial crisis had escalated into an economic crisis of global proportions. He highlighted various factors, from the collapse of financial asset values and the credit crunch to the decline in world trade, remittances and tourism.

Kemal Derviş pointed out that, while the crisis was global, it had a differentiated impact across countries and regions. He said, for example, that the decline in growth was much slower in emerging economies such as China and India.

Mr Derviş noted that the response to the crisis had been essentially two fold: significant contraction in the private sector together with massive public stimulus spending. Here he warned that countries faced two dangers: generating inflationary pressures in the recovery process and withdrawing the fiscal stimulus too soon. Kemal Derviş said that the key lay in getting the right balance between stimulating growth and ensuring financial sustainability.

Adopting a more long-term perspective, Mr Derviş said that he believed the most serous threat to economic growth lay outside the financial sector, in constraints posed by climate change, natural resource limitations and the environment. He argued that these issues could no longer be disassociated from those of macro-economic policy. “The environment and the economy must be discussed together”, he stated.

On the question of climate change, Kemal Derviş said that the challenge could only be addressed in the multilateral context. “Carbon emissions are by definition a global problem that requires a global government mechanism”.

Mr Derviş argued that the G20 was a more effective forum for tackling global issues than the G8, though it still fails to represent the vast majority of the world’s countries, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. He also underlined that the G20 could only make proposals, and the real decisions would need to be taken by national governments and multilateral organizations, like the UN and the Bretton Woods institutions.

In conclusion, Kemal Derviş urged that “the crisis should be used to forge a new multilateralism, building on existing institutions. Politics have to be internationalized. They cannot remain local.”

A rich debate followed the lecture, in which both Mr Derviş and Mr Matsuura exchanged views with the audience.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 122-2009
  • 22-06-2009
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