Launch of Human Development Report 2005
UNIS Vienna, together with the Austrian Development Cooperation, launched the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report 2005, at a press briefing in Vienna, Austria, today. Ambassador Irene Freudenschuss-Reichl, Director General of Development Cooperation in the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and Gina Volynsky, Trade and Economic Development Policy Advisor, UNDP Regional Centre in Bratislava spoke on the Report. The press briefing was moderated by UNIS Director Nasra Hassan.
Underlining that Austria had agreed, along with the other EU Member States, to more than doubling its ODA to 0.51 per cent of GNP by 2010, Ambassador Freudenschuss-Reichl stated that "Next week's meeting in New York to assess progress towards the attainment of the MDGs will be a test of political will."
"As a member of the European Union (EU), Austria fully supports the forward-looking position the EU has taken to facilitate progress on many issues under discussion, in particular the quantity and quality of aid," said Ambassador Freudenschuss-Reichl, adding that the Human Development Report was a tool for prioritizing policy.
"This year's Human Development Report focuses on what the wealthier nations can do to ensure that globalization brings opportunities for improved social, physical and economic well-being, even to the most disadvantaged," stated Ms. Volynsky. "Unfortunately, many countries are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, such as halving poverty by 2015. Despite this, these goals are eminently attainable, and substantial improvements within short periods of time are possible. For example, the new EU Member States saw their Human Development Indexes rise dramatically, thanks to successful reforms, sustained effort and commitment, both in these countries, and in the rest of the EU."
The briefing was followed by a question and answer session:
In response to a question whether she expected the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be met, Ms. Volynsky stated that, if the world continued at the rate it was currently going, it would not meet the MDGs by 2015, which is why the Report identified what the international community could do to meet the MDGs. To a follow-up question, whether conditions had actually worsened, Ms. Volynsky replied that conditions had not worsened, and were in fact getting better, but not fast enough. However, in certain parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, conditions were getting worse.
A question was raised on whether donor countries attached coherence clauses to their development aid. Ms Volynsky confirmed that many countries had such clauses in place, prohibiting aid from being used to buy arms, for example.
In response to a question on the allocation of future increases in Austrian ODA between multilateral and bilateral aid, Ambassador Freudenschuss-Reichl stated that it was too early to foresee the exact interim steps on the way to fulfilling the commitment of raising aid to 0.51 per cent by 2010, and that this level would include both bilateral and multilateral aid.
In response to a question why the Human Developemnt Index did not reflect environmental damage, Ms. Volynsky replied that the environment was a UNDP priority. However, every report had a focus, and this year's Human Development Report focused on aid, trade and security.
In response to a question on whether Austria was planning to reallocate aid from South East Europe to poorer countries, Ambassador Freudenschuss-Reichl emphasized that South East Europe was a very important region for Austria. However, Austria saw the future of this region in the integration with the European Union, and therefore a re-allocation of development cooperation resources was to be expected.
A question was raised on a proposal by the Austrian Economic Chamber of increasing cooperation between Austrian companies and the Austrian Development Cooperation, as a 'win-win situation'. Ambassador Freudenschuss-Reichl responded that the Austrian Development Cooperation was mandated to look for synergies between its own work and that of Austrian commercial enterprises. Private companies could contribute to achieving development effects, while themselves benefiting commercially. It was the task of the Austrian Development Cooperation to ensure that its partner countries benefited from such cooperation.
The briefing was attended by 25 media representatives, including all leading Austrian media, such as ORF Austrian television, Der Standard, Die Presse, Wiener Zeitung, Salzburger Nachrichten, and Austrian Press Agency APA, as well as international media, including media from the region, and Agence France Press, Kathpress, China Economic Daily and Tageszeitung (Berlin) . The briefing was reported in ORF television's afternoon news.
The briefing was well attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and senior government officials.
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UNIS Vienna also arranged two one-on-one interviews on the Human Development Report 2005 for UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and the CIS, Kalman Mizsei, who was in Vienna for the Chernobyl Forum conference. The interviews were arranged with the Austrian daily Der Standard and the weekly Die Furche.