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Jan Pronk On Social Summit Issues 8 Mar 1995

THE EARTH TIMES

MARCH 8, 1995

The Social Summit

Jan Pronk calls 20/20 essential to solving problem of global poverty

BY ASHALI VARMA

Copenhagen, Denmark: The 20/20 compact is crucial to the most important problem of development —–poverty—the Netherlands Minister of Development Cooperation said yesterday.

At a panel discussion at the Bella Centre, Minister Jan Pronk praised the idea of compact between developing and industrialized countries.

“Poverty is a global problem” and has to be addressed by all countries in a cooperative effort,” Pronk said at the Unicef–sponsored session. Pronk further said that the compact makes clear that human problems can be more effectively addressed by reallocating funds.

The 20/20 initiative calls for developing countries to increase expenditures for basic social services from the current average of about 13 percent of their national budget to 20 percent and for donor countries to increase their aid allocation in this sector to 20 percent of their total aid budget.

Pronk said, “I am very much in favor of reaching a breakthrough at this conference where heads of state are present. We need this commitment now.”

Minister Cielito Habito of the Philippines, who overseas socio-economic planning, said, “In our country we recognize we have a serious problem with human development.”

With a 40 percent poverty rate the Philippine government has had to develop twin strategies for the 90s; global competitiveness and human development.  Habito also emphasized the need for government agencies dealing with health, education and development to coordinate their efforts and to make better use of existing resources.

He also stressed that one of the problems of meeting the 20/20 initiative goals for developing countries in servicing debt.

Kari Nordheim-Larsen, Norway’s minister for development cooperation, said that her government was very positive about the 20/20 initiative and emphasized that the two important pillars to combat poverty were economic growth and an equitable distribution of resources.

Nordheim-Larsen said that Norway is very close to giving 20 percent for social programs to developing countries but ”we will be looking for political will” to see that the money is used effectively to help human needs. “I hope something concrete comes out of this Summit.  This is an opportunity for us to agree upon something worthwhile to make this meeting significant.”