Exercising our common responsibility

Speech by German De­vel­op­ment Minister Dr Gerd Müller at the Reception for Ambassadors on February 18, 2014

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Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very pleased that so many of you have accepted my invitation. I attach great importance to having a close exchange of ideas with you right at the beginning of my term as Federal Minister for Economic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment. The world is facing huge challenges, which we can only address together. Poverty, conflict, environmental degradation and climate change – all these things require a joint response from us.

We have to accomplish nothing less than the creation of a new, humane, just world order that is also a value-based order which provides opportunities for all. A world order in which something holds true again which should really be a matter of course: all people have the same right to a decent life in peace and freedom. Irrespective of all cultural differences, these are our shared fundamental values. All coun­tries of the world committed themselves to this in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The world we live in is not like that. 20 per cent of the global popu­la­tion has 80 per cent of the world's wealth and is causing two thirds of the world's environmental degradation and climate change.

There are one billion people who do not have enough to eat. And the global popu­la­tion is continuing to grow, by 230,000 people a day, by 80 million people a year. By 2050, it will have reached 9 billion.

If all people on earth had the same consumption patterns as we in Germany and Europe, we would already need three planets.

It has turned out that the free play of powers and a market without any checks cannot create justice. Markets need limits. Power needs rules. Environmental and social standards need to become part of the financial and business sector and of in­ter­national trade and investment agreements. We will be pushing for that within the EU and also within the WTO. We need to, and we want to, design globalization in such a way that it benefits all people.

To that end, we need a change of paradigm in our thinking and in our actions, worldwide, both in industrialized coun­tries and in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and emerging economies. Everyone needs to shoulder part of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for this, each in accordance with their particular role.

Germany is willing to do its part, including at home. Let me just mention the transformation of our energy system. We have been undertaking major efforts to embark on a sus­tain­able path of energy generation.

But Germany is also willing to assume more re­spon­si­bil­i­ty internationally. Even if the media have claimed otherwise in the recent past, de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion is the central factor in this regard. That is why the German gov­ern­ment increased its funding for de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion by 2 billion euros for the next four years.

Africa will continue to be the regional focus of our work. We will continue to devote more than 50 per cent of our bilateral funding to Africa. I consider Africa, above all, as a continent of tremendous opportunities. I will reach out to the German business com­mu­ni­ty to encourage them to get more involved in African coun­tries that have an adequate business en­vi­ron­ment.

Hunger and absolute pov­er­ty are an intolerable form of human rights violation. I want a world without hunger and absolute pov­er­ty. That is why I am planning to provide 1 billion euros a year for targeted support for rural de­vel­op­ment. I propose that we set up ten green value addition centers in Africa for demonstration purposes. Our vision is not agro-factories but effective family farms that contribute to local food security and local value addition. From production to consumption, we want to use the best available know-how in order to at least double productivity and achieve a massive reduction in storage losses. I would be pleased if you could help awaken the interest of your governments in this idea.

In my view, people who are suffering under violence and conflict in their home coun­tries are in a par­tic­u­lar­ly awful situ­a­tion. Displacement almost always results in a humanitarian disaster, and often it causes new tension and violence. I would like to thank all coun­tries that are hosting people from their neighboring coun­tries who were displaced from their homes. In our bilateral co­op­er­a­tion, we will expand our resources and instruments to help the refugees and the host coun­tries to deal with immediate needs and to assist them with reintegration. Taking action nationally is not enough. So Germany will be pushing for a coordinated European strategy on refugees. But above all, we want to become even more involved in fragile states so as to prevent conflict and address the factors that cause people to leave their home coun­tries.

Education will be another priority, because education is the foundation for all de­vel­op­ment. We will therefore be investing a minimum of 400 million euros a year in education.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation is one of the most urgent global challenges. Germany is already the world's second-largest donor in this field. Last year, we provided about 1.8 billion euros in support of related activities. We will continue these efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Every country's de­vel­op­ment must originate from within, and every coun­try needs to find its own specific de­vel­op­ment path. But notwithstanding all diversity, this must be based on the values that we share. They include democracy and human rights, gender equality, the rule of law, and good governance. This is our common basis, regardless of cultural differences, and on this basis we will support our partners in implementing their specific strategies for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

Two major in­ter­national processes are on the agenda for 2015, and we will only be able to bring them to a successful conclusion if we work together.

There are the new global goals for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment which are to be adopted by the United Nations in September 2015. And there is the climate conference in Paris at the end of 2015, which is to produce a new agreement on climate change.

The United Nations post-2015 agenda needs to address both de­vel­op­ing and industrialized coun­tries. It needs to take account of countries' different roles, but it also needs to highlight their common re­spon­si­bil­i­ty. It needs to focus both on people and on protecting our natural resource base.

For the agenda to be successful, it will be crucial that all players participate. In Germany, we will work with civil society, faith-based organizations and the private sector to draw up a Charter for the Future.

If 2015 is to become a success, we need to set the right course in 2014. The challenges are huge. But if we reinforce our in­ter­national co­op­er­a­tion, we can meet them. If we launch all the necessary processes of change at home, we can bring about the change of paradigm that is needed. It is possible to put an end to pandemic diseases, hunger and pov­er­ty. It is possible to build a green economy that benefits all people. And this is also the basis for lasting peace.

Germany wants to do its part, to an even greater extent than before – both through fundamental change here at home and through increased co­op­er­a­tion with you.

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