Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year is going to be—as the Secretary-General put it—the “seminal year” for development in Africa. Much was accomplished with the Millennium Development Goals. Today we all look forward to the new ambitious Goals for a truly Sustainable Development to be achieved by 2030.
The 30th consolidated Report underlines the progress that African countries have made on all of the NEPAD priorities. This confirms the encouraging step forward made by Africa towards the extension of its capabilities. This year’s adoption by the African Union of Agenda 2063 and its first 10-Year Implementation Plan provides momentum to pursue a more effective partnership with African development partners.
Italy has the historical privilege of being a bridge between Europe and Africa. My country has always been a traditional partner of Africa by geography and cultural vocation. The partnership we have been forging needs now to keep the momentum on development and enrich a shared vision going beyond mere aid and solidarity.
Italy knows what solidarity is about. It is confirming it every day, saving thousands of lives of migrants coming from the northern shores of Africa. Ensuring first care. Assisting them. Giving them hope. But we need to do more by addressing the root causes that force migrants to leave their families, their homelands.
Being aware of its moral responsibility, my country is willing to play its part. The Italian Government is committed to increasing its Official Development Assistance by strengthening its international development cooperation and becoming a top donor among G7 nations.
Furthermore, the Italian Government is devoting attention to special categories of developing countries. We hosted, last June at the EXPO in Milan, a successful Ministerial Conference of African Least Developed Countries, which adopted the “Milan Charter” for fostering sustainable agriculture, granting access to food to all and changing unsustainable consumption patterns by avoiding food waste.
These days, again at the EXPO, we have been hosting, in collaboration with the UN, a Ministerial Conference of Small Island Developing States with a view to assessing the role of finance and innovation in stimulating investment and production in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, with the overarching goal of achieving food security and inclusive growth.
We will spare no efforts to do our part in helping Africa diversify its economy and transform its huge potential into reality at the soonest.
In a rapidly changing world, the challenge to achieve development takes on new dimensions. Developing countries need to share and benefit more from developed countries’ experience, so as to build together lasting economic pathways and social resilience. Let’s think of industrial policies, health systems, education, access to food and water for all.
We can offer our experience to stimulate investment and growth in the private sector. The Italian economic model and social structure are based on Small and Medium Enterprises and co-operatives, including an extensive system of credit institutions that are closely interconnected with the SMEs and specific local businesses. These enterprises are seeking benefits for their communities and not only a return for their shareholders. Thus they prove to be particularly suited to promoting sustainable development.
Furthermore, we have been promoting our larger companies’ engagement in building partnerships with local authorities and communities in Africa. This model can be of great help in responding to infrastructure needs and technology transfer demand. We are thinking of the energy sector, but not only. We have to fully take into account the crucial role and potential synergies between public and private finance.
In order to tackle poverty and climate change, roll back Ebola, malaria and other major diseases, and empowering African countries to overcome trade shocks, one of the innovations we are building up is the establishment of an Italian Development Bank. We thought to foster direct local investments by starting-up new joint ventures resulting in inclusive and decent employment, and urging for the emergence of responsible corporate governance practices.
To achieve those goals we need to work together—Italian and developing countries’ enterprises, especially SMEs—by sharing entrepreneurial know-how and productive technology. That leads us to what we call smart capital: risk-sharing instruments, credit enhancement and other forms of leverage of public concessional finance to attract private investors and contribute to the strengthening of the local private sector.
Developing countries need also to access science, technology and innovation on a gender equality basis. We already provide some of the best international practices in these fields. Italy hosts in Trieste, for instance, an international research and educational system that deserves to be better known and possibly replicated.
Africa is today a continent of opportunity, in a multipolar world, which legitimately aspires to be an actor in the dynamic global challenges of today. This reality needs to be acknowledged also in the United Nations peace and security architecture.
It is of utmost importance for the development of Africa to achieve the goal set by the African Union in Agenda 2063 of a conflict-free continent by 2020. The international community must step up its efforts to help Africa succeed in preventing conflict, eradicating extremism and intolerance, and re-founding peaceful and stable societies.
To do so, the UN, regional and sub-regional African organizations can play a critical role in enhancing the participation of all development actors: parliaments, civil society, NGOs, universities, philanthropic foundations, each one with its own specificity and relevance. Italy will continue to do its part also to this end.
I thank you.