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    Address by Sri Lankan President at G77+China Summit in Bolivia

    June 16, 2014

    Your Excellency Evo Morales, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia,

    Distinguished delegates,
    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It gives me great pleasure to join you in this beautiful city of Santa Cruz de La Sierra to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Group of 77 and China.

    Your Excellency President Morales,

    Thank you for the generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation. This is my first visit to your great country. I have observed the manner in which you have guided the people of Bolivia, despite many challenges. As the Group of 77 and China marks its Golden Jubilee this year, I am confident that your leadership will revitalize our Organization. Your Excellency, your determined and far-sighted leadership was amply evident from the profound words you expressed yesterday.

    Mr Chairman,

    The G-77 and China was established when most developing countries were struggling to cast off the legacy of colonialism, and achieve development and eliminate poverty. Since the birth of the Group, much has been gained. However, there is still a long way ahead. I recall the adoption of the framework of a New International Economic Order (NIEO), with aspirations of creating a better world for all our peoples. Some parts of the NIEO have been realized others have not. The G77’s original founding vision of unity, solidarity and development, remains relevant. It is in this context that Sri Lanka has been closely associated with the work of the G77, and is currently the Chair of the Group’s Vienna Chapter.

    Mr. Chairman,

    Today, we live in a world where many developing countries are no longer dependent on ODA hand-outs from a few developed countries. Some of our members have achieved development comparable to countries in the North. Others have improved their economies to become major players in the world. We can boast that almost 40% of the world’s industrial output comes from just two of our members, India and China. Millions in the developing world have been saved from poverty by the economic surge achieved by some members of our Group.

    Literacy levels, health services and employment opportunities have improved in the countries of the South. Foreign currency reserves of G-77 States have reached record levels. It is the market for commodities and manufactured goods, and the credit provided by developing countries that sustained the economies of many advanced countries, during the recent recession. This partnership, if managed efficiently, will benefit the North and South.

    However, it is disappointing, Mr Chairman, that the commitments made to transfer 0.7% of the GNI of developed economies to those developing have not been met. Had this happened, many developing countries would have succeeded in emerging from poverty, to a more acceptable level of development. Commitments are made to be kept – not simply to grab heart-warming headlines.

    Mr. Chairman,

    Currently, development receives less significance in multi-lateral fora, and 2015 is a determining juncture of the global development agenda. The G77 and China need to focus on the inter-link between the processes of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Climate Change negotiations. Reforms of the global governance framework are critical for us in the South to secure support for a pro-development agenda. This is essential if the nations in the South are to realize their full potential.

    Mr. Chairman,

    The sovereign rights of states, non-interference and political and economic independence are linked. Continued economic dependence and the global domination of financial, economic and technological systems by a few nations have made many developing countries economically and politically vulnerable. This makes it important for countries of the South to chart their course wisely. Focus therefore, should be on development models culminating in sustainable development, balancing material progress, spiritual well-being, and protection of the environment.


    Mr. Chairman,

    Despite the burden of 27 years of terrorism, my country has succeeded in leaving behind the indignity of poverty. Sri Lanka has attained middle-income status. We have also achieved an impressive literacy rate, thanks to free education, effective free of charge healthcare system, and a low unemployment rate. We have constructed a new network of highways and railways, harbors, airports and other infrastructure facilities. Sri Lanka will utilize these new facilities to attain the Government’s goal to become an aviation, shipping, knowledge and financial hub.

    Mr. Chairman,

    Sri Lanka has taken a proactive role in the Open Working Group of the United Nations, on developing the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. We have advocated for the mainstreaming of youth aspirations and concerns in the global agenda. Sri Lanka hosted the World Conference on Youth in May this year. The Colombo Declaration on Youth, was finalized with the participation of policy makers, and young people to formulate youth initiatives in accordance with respective national requirements. Youth are not only our future but also our present.

    Mr. Chairman,

    Within the Open Working Group, Sri Lanka has also advocated industrialization as a possible solution to unemployment challenges. It was industrialization that expanded employment opportunities and generated vast wealth in many countries of the North. I note that UNIDO has endorsed industrialization to address unemployment for the future.

    Mr. Chairman,

    The eradication of poverty and hunger must remain high on our agenda. Over a billion human beings are victims of poverty. An essential part of our approach must be to provide relevant education and marketable skills to expand employment opportunities. Unemployment in Sri Lanka has come down to around 4.1% as a result of a policy approach entitled, the “Mahinda Chinthana”. The Sri Lankan model is not the only one for developing countries, but, certainly, there are lessons to be learnt from our success story. This is especially so, with regard to practical modalities for the elimination of terrorism, which has made stable government as well as economic and social progress possible.

    Mr. Chairman,

    A future knowledge based economy will need to be reliant on ICT. Sri Lanka in this context, has declared the goal of ensuring ICT literacy for over 70% of our population, by the year 2016. Many economies have surged forward dramatically, by embracing ICT. Therefore, we must have in place, clear policies for utilisation of ICT. While development of ICT must remain a firm priority, we must always be alive to the potential for abuse, which puts in danger the well-being of our youth, in particular. This is why a sense of balance is essential in formulating our policies in this field.

    Mr. Chairman,

    Oceans are of immense importance to Sri Lanka and many other countries, particularly small island states. Oceans produce 3 trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services annually. Many in the developing world are dependent on oceans for their livelihood and nutrition. However, oceans and its resources are under threat due to over-exploitation and pollution. G-77 and China must take the lead in ensuring that the oceans are adequately protected, and sustainably used.

    Mr. Chairman,

    Human activity has pushed the global climate to near tipping point. If we continue with business as usual, future generations will be condemned to an uncertain existence. The prospect of climate related refugee flows is also of serious concern. Climate change must be dealt holistically, in a practical manner in keeping with the principle of common, but differentiated responsibility.


    Mr. Chairman,

    Solidarity manifested at the highest levels among the developing countries, will help invigorate the collective efforts of the South to put economic and development concerns of the Group, on top of the global agenda. This is important to ensure that key issues of concern for developing countries receive due recognition in the post-2015 Development Agenda. By availing of South-South Cooperation towards this end, ‘a new world order for living well’, which is the theme of our deliberations today, could be achieved.

    A re-vitalized G77 will no doubt provide the necessary fillip to reach our common goal of a more equitable and just international order.

    Mr. Chairman,

    I take this opportunity to thank you once again, for hosting this event in this beautiful city of Santa Cruz.(KH/SI)

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