UN chief calls for ‘flexibility, compromise’


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for ‘flexibility and compromise’ at a development financing summit that opened in Ethiopia’s capital and is seen as crucial for efforts to end poverty and tackle climate change.

The objective of the five-day talk, the third summit of its kind after talks in Monterrey in 2002 and Doha in 2008, is ambitious: laying out the ground rules for a fairer world of inclusive, low-carbon growth.

Concretely, that means deciding how to fill a colossal annual investment gap in key sustainable development sectors for developing nations — estimated at up to $2.5 trillion annually according to the UN’s trade and development body UNCTAD.

This in turn will enable the world body to push ahead with its 2015-30 Sustainable Development Goals, which are due to be formally adopted in New York in October. There are 17 in all, ranging from ending poverty to providing universal access to sustainable energy.

“I urge world leaders and ministers gathered here this week ... to exercise flexibility and compromise. Let’s put aside what divides us in favour of working together for the common well-being of humanity,” Ban told the opening of the summit.

Preparatory talks in New York failed to yield an agreement on a common summit outcome, with rich nations — many of which are embroiled in their own financing problems and reluctant to up their aid budgets — pushing for greater private sector involvement and for emerging economies like China, Brazil and India to share the burden. With much left to resolve during the summit, Oxfam Policy Advisor Claire Godfrey said success was far from guaranteed.