Yoksullukla Mücadele Stratejileri Sempozyumu


International Symposium on Poverty Alleviation Strategies: Experiences and New Ideas

Talking Points for Mr. Shahid Najam, UN RC

The General Director of Social Assistance and Solidarity,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me start by saying how honored and privileged I am to be with you to participate in this very important International Symposium on Poverty Alleviation, a subject which stands at the center of the national and international development agenda and which continues to pose a fomidable challenge to the humanity.

Beofre I dwell on the substance of my discourse, I wish to extend my appreciation and commendation to the Government of Turkey and, in particular, the General Directorate of Social Assistance and Solidarity, to have organized this Symposium and invited representatives from a wide spectrum to share knowledge and experiences and explore innovative and creative ways to emancipate the humanity from the socurge of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The occasion is indeed an eloquent testimony of the commitment of the Turkish Government to play an active and lead role in fight against poverty.    
As you may recall, three weeks ago, the representatives of UN Member States including 140 heads of state gathered in New York at the MDG Summit to demonstrate their collective will and unequivocal commitment for the accelerated achievement of the MDGs as we enter the five-year push to 2015. They reaffirmed the importance of freedom, peace and security, respect for all human rights, including the right to development, the rule of law, gender equality, and an overall commitment to just and democratic societies for development; all of which constitute the quintessence for combating poverty in all its form and manifestation. There was a deep concern that despite some progress, though differential, on poverty eradication, the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger surpassed one billion and that inequalities between and within countries remained a significant challenge to realizing a more prosperous and sustainable future for the present generation and the posterity. Ignorance and alienation, disease and deprivation and unsustainable production and consumption patterns and practices continue to afflict millions and millions of inhabitants of planet earth with ostensibly little hope to break the vicious cycle of poverty.   

Ladies and Gentlemen

Our world is assiduously facing the perils of multiple and interrelated crises. The financial and economic downturn, the volatile energy and food prices, the stress over food security and, above all, the impact of climate change, characterized by rapidity and severity and the loss of biodiversity, have enormoulsy increased vulnerabilities and inequalities and adversely impacted development gains, in particular, in developing countries.

Given the magnitude, scale and diversity of poverty, never ever in the history of mankind, a more urgent need was felt for mounting collective and concerted effort involving individuals, communities, non-government organizations, private sector, national and sub-national governments and the regional and global development partners to formulate concrete and inclusive strategies and plans of action to combat poverty.  It has to be recognized at the same time that while the past experience could enrich the decisions and solutions, “one-size fit all” strategies would not work; there has to be a conscious shift in the development architect and model with a set of composite, integrated and packaged approaches aimed at enacting and espousing pro-poor policies, institutions and processes.

I would propose a three pronged strategy: (a) sustained economic growth that benefit the poor; incorporates HR based approach; fosters market transformation to low carbon emission and paves the way for carbon resileint economies; (b) investment in critical areas including physical and social infrastrucutre; and (c) institutional changes and innovations including improved governance, effective delivery of social services to the poor, accountability and transparency of institutions.

Within this framework, I wish to underscore the following:

First and foremost, the national ownership and leadership are absolutely indispensable in the development process to combat poverty. Each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development and for formulating national policies and mobilizing domestic resources. This, however, needs to be supported by an enabling international environment e.g., less trade-distorting policies; concessions to the least developed countries on market access; removal of the domestic subsidies by the developed countries; recognition of the need to incentivize and stimulate the rural economies of LDCs; and removal of trade barriers.
Secondly, addressing the root causes of extreme poverty and hunger is an absolute imperative. For the purpose, analytical and diagnositic studies and prescriptive solutions for poverty eradication must always be embedded in and contextualized in the specificity of the country situation, cultural relativism and anthropological perspective. A standard recipe divorced from the local reality would aggravate the situation and entail huge opportunity cost besides perpetuating abject poverty.

Thirdly, poverty has been defined from various perspecitves, poverty threshold, poverty line based on both caloric needs and non- food consumption, poverty line and indigence, minimum calorie need of 2088/day as defined by FAO, human poverty –a UNDP concept which combines income poverty malnutrition and adult illiteracy. What is, however, of fundamental significance is to identify the structure of poverty; to characterize it, categorize it, and map its nature and spatial incidence. Only and only then, it will be possible to formulate more rational and responsive interventions to rid the poor from the vicious circle of poverty.

This diagnostic and assessment should be supplemented by complementary analyses to identify sectors where growth and employment generation have greatest impact on poverty paying full attention to cross-cutting themes: gender; ICT; environment; sustainability; participation; and vulnerability.

Fourthly, ensuring the full participation of all segments of society including the poor and disadvantaged in decision-making processes  is a sine qua-non to ensure pursuit of forward-looking economic policies, responsive institutions and inclusive processes  that lead to sustained and equitable economic growth and more equitable access to economic opportunities and social services. The robustnmess of these policieis, insitutions and processes should be meticulously montired and continuously validated to ascertain if cumulatively they have led to the augmentation of the livelihood assets of the poor, increase in their resilience and mitigation of their vulnerabilities. The global and national experiences have shown that “growth” and “development” under business as usual approaches are not able to remedy the imbalances and inequalities between and within different parts of countries. The accelerated integration of the poor in the development process can only be ensured if the pro-poor dimension becomes an inalienable componet of the business and economic models with due empahsis on comprhensive system of social protection that provides universal access of the poor to essential social services.  

Fifthly, while governments are expected to take the lead in ensuring the adaptation of and implementation of concrete policies for poverty reduction, the role of the private sector and civil society is extremely vital in accelerating the efforts to reduce poverty, to expand people’s choices for a better living, and to enhance social and economic conditions for the most vulnerable parts of societies. In this regard, especially the private sector has a substantive role to play through inclusive business models that create jobs, and include the poor in both the demand and the supply side of value chains.. The benefits from inclusive business models go beyond immediate profits.

Sixthly, to overcome the poverty trap, major investments, particularly in the rural sector are needed especially in the areas of Irrigation, water and soil conservation, land improvement; Introduction of low-input farming system; non-farm rural enterprise development; and provision of financial services.

The investment in these areas will only be facilitated especially in the LDCs if the donors honour the global commtiment and deliver on their pledges to compelent the domestic resources so that no country fails to mitigate and ultimatley eradicate poverty simply because of dearth of resources. At the same time, the potential of the available frameworks and mechanisms for partnership like South-South cooperation and the regional and sub-regional economic integration organizations has to be fully harnessed to benefit the needy countries from best practices, successful innovations and technologies for sustainable development especially in the areas of energy, food security, efficient use of water resources, environment and fragile eco-system managment and mitiagation and adaptation strategies in response to the dictates and impact of climate change.

Finally, a concerted effort needs to be mounted to create a new vision for the international economic and political order in which multi-lateralism and the United Nations has to play a pivotal role in meeting the internationally agreed development goals. This would entail an adequatly resourced and financially sound system including its specialized agenices to create and accelerate the development impact. Nothing matches the legitimacy and global presence of the United Nations and its ability to bring the best expertise, the good pratices, the success stories from Fiji to Chili to enrich the development effort.
Distinguished Participants

Turkey has made significant strides in eliminating poverty and in the process Gaıned a weealth of experieince, expertise and knowledge. We, as the UNDP Turkey Country Office, have been working with the Government of Turkey to reach national poverty reduction goals through piloting development projects, connecting countries to global best practices and resources; promoting the role of women in development; bringing governments, civil society, investors and donors together to coordinate their efforts and strengthening partnership with private sector, the business community so as to engage them in development projects.

Our work in the area of poverty reduction mainly focuses on initiatives to reduce disparities within different regions of Turkey and develop pro-poor policies in the areas of poverty assistance, rights-based social policies, utilities sectors and in access to finance. In regard to reducing disparities, we are directing our efforts towards increasing the competitive strength of disadvantaged regions including Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia. Our work currently centers on selected sectors such as organic agriculture, renewable energy and tourism.

At the corporate global level, UNDP has been actively engaged in designing, advocating and implementing pro-poor and people centered develop pasradigm to help the member countries in the pursuot of their developmental priorities. Recently, an MDG break through strategy with an accompanying evidence based Acceleration Framework has been developed to help the countries meet their MDG targets by 2015. The strategy aims at attending to the followng vitally important challenges:

(a)    How to ensure accelerated achievement of the MDGs with particular reference to poverty alleviation through adopting innovative and proven technologies, experieinces and practices;
(b)    How best to identify the constraints to development, prioritise them and come up with time-bound targeted responses geared to emancipting the poor, the marginalized and disadvantaged segments from the shackles of poverty;
(c)    How to ensure that the gains and achievements made so far are not reversed by external shocks through robust safety nets and package of compensatory policies; and,
(d)    Finally, how to sensitize the decision makers and the societal players for enhanced investment in the pro-poor programmes, to ensure allocative resoource efficiency focused on vulnerable and poor; and to build effective partnership and global commitment to eradicating poverty.

I am sure that this Symposium, which is benefting from the sagacity of intellectuals and scholars, the wisdom of academics and the policy makers; and the experience of administrators and practitioners will defintiely come up with creative and innovative prescriptions and solutions to break the shackles of poverty and to contirubte to ensuring the well being of all irrespective of colour, creed, race, age or gender.

I once again wish to thank the organizers for having provided me with this opportunity to share my thoughts with you  and indeed for their laudible effort to deliberate upon the most formidable challenge facing the humanity – poverty which some feel is indeed a very sad and sordid commentary on the 21st century humanity.

Thank you

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