January 23, 2015 – Montreal, QC
Check Against Delivery
Good afternoon, and thank you for that kind introduction. On behalf of the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Christian Paradis, it is my pleasure to be with you today.
I applaud World University Service of Canada and the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation for co-hosting this international Forum.
The two questions for this forum: What if fair, equitable and sustainable development were good for business, and does the South need aid from the North—go hand-in-hand with our government’s approach to development solutions. Through greater involvement of non-traditional partners, and through continuous innovation, we will be able to succeed where we have faced great challenges before.
Whether you represent government, academia, civil society, or the private sector, your perspective on the enduring challenges we still need to overcome will help fuel discussions over the coming days.
If we want even more effective results, we need to continuously re-examine our approaches in light of new evidence and experiences to find new and innovative solutions to challenges that have hindered us for too long.
Which is why I look forward to the rich dialogue that this conference will bring.
Canada has a proud and impressive record of making a difference in the lives of people in developing countries. Through the volunteer partnership program, each year, 5,000 Canadians work with partners overseas to help reduce poverty, promote gender equality, and protect human rights.
These volunteers give of their time to improve access to justice, health and education; enhance environmental sustainability; and promote sustainable economic growth.
They have been on the front lines of our international development work, acting as ambassadors for Canada in showing compassion and commitment to improve the lives of the vulnerable and those in need.
As someone who has worked in a fragile nation for an extended time, I can personally attest that the experience of living in another nation changed my own perspective.
My experience on the ground showed me how effective partnerships across sectors can produce remarkable development results.
In May of last year, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada launched a new call for proposals for the Volunteer Cooperation Program to fund the work of Canadian volunteers between 2015 and 2020.
With the adaptability and flexibility that volunteers provide, volunteer sending organizations continue to test new and innovative development ideas.
It is this ability to explore emerging ideas and pilot new projects that is the strength of the volunteer-sending sector. As our government has moved to include non-traditional development partners, it has been the voluntary sector that has responded the most quickly.
I am glad to see that among the more than 400 people in the room, there are representatives from the private sector.
One of the key innovations that Minister Paradis has consistently championed is the need to involve non-traditional partners in development work. Combining the experience and development knowledge of civil society with the private sector holds incredible potential for the future of development.
We are not only talking about funding. We are talking about partnerships where civil society and the private sector are able to combine their unique expertise and skills to find lasting solutions to poverty.
The crucible of competition that the private sector works in strongly drives innovation. There is a constant challenge to create new and more effective products, services and technologies—at lower costs, generating a strong incentive to innovate.
This is why private sector innovation so often outpaces civil society and government-funded incubators—and this is why, if we are to make Canada known as an innovative nation when it comes to our development programs, we need to learn lessons from our private sector counterparts.
And let us not forget that sustainable economic development is the only lasting solution to poverty.
Donors cannot fund poverty alleviation indefinitely in developing nations. There is a time when they must take ownership of their own destiny and foster a sustainable economic path for their countries and their people.
The income generated by private sector-led economic growth allows developing country governments to provide that future for their people without outside assistance.
To achieve that goal, we need robust and innovative civil society actors to partner with government and the private sector to build that economic enabling environment.
This is also why Canada is working to leverage private sector capital for development.
As part of the comprehensive solution to poverty, the private sector has a key role to play, both in delivery, as well as funding projects that have development outcomes. This is not a surprise to anyone here.
However, the real challenge is how to blend public and private resources, how to align expectations, and how to structure the partnership.
That is why my colleague, Minister Paradis, was pleased to become the first chair of the Re-Designing Development Finance Initiative.
This is a joint global project between the World Economic Forum and the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Through this initiative, Canada is working to expand the pool of foreign and domestic capital, and use it to help accelerate social and economic progress.
The focus is on promoting and scaling up effective blended finance partnerships, and identifying innovative public-private finance models.
One such model is the Impact Investing for Frontier Markets, or INFRONT project, sponsored by Sarona Asset Management.
We welcome this partnership, which will give us an opportunity to use innovative approaches to leverage private capital, know-how and networks.
The goal is to accelerate the growth of small and medium enterprises in emerging markets through private capital.
Our government is committed to strengthening its engagement with private-sector actors as partners to help reduce global poverty.
This includes leveraging local, Canadian, international and multinational private sector actors as part of the private-sector led growth in developing countries.
And your long-term relationships with Southern partners give voice to the concerns of the most vulnerable people in developing countries.
A vibrant civil society enables people to participate in decision-making that affects them, thereby allowing communities to thrive.
At the heat of it, sustainable economic growth is measured in freedom—the freedom from structural barriers that would prevent individuals from participating in the formal economy, protected by governments that enforce and respect the rule of law.
And we believe that investing in people and building a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is a key component to ensuring sustainable development.
That is why it is my pleasure today to announce that a $5.7 million contribution to a CECI project in Burkina Faso will benefit more than 5,000 women and indirectly benefit 15,000 women who work as rice parboilers.
That is a rice milling method which allows rice to retain 80 percent of its nutritional value, and improve its storage capacity. By enhancing the productivity and competitiveness of the rice value chain, women producers, processors, traders and transporters will all be able to increase their incomes.
This is an excellent example of how civil society can work with the private sector to improve economic outcomes in a developing country.
This forum provides us with the opportunity to share our ideas, to understand different perspectives and approaches, and together, to work towards our ultimate goal, which is a world where every family has the ability to provide for themselves and make a better life for their children.
So thank you, everyone, for your participation and your valued contributions.
Thank you. Merci.