December 17, 2018

Opening remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, at the High-Level Panel Discussion of the Global Civil Society Forum, Nicosia, 23 November

“The World We Want – Global Civil Society Symposium: Food Security and Nutrition inthe Post – 2015 Development Framework”

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to Cyprus. We are proud that so many guests have travelled from such faraway places to engage on the future of development. I am particularly pleased to welcome participants from Lesotho, Cameroon, Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, India, Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel, Armenia, just to name a few.

I would also like to warmly thank all panellists for accepting our invitation. A special thanks goes to Commissioner Andris Piebalgs; without his personal commitment to this event we would not be here today. As EU Commissioner for Development and a member of the UN High-Level Panel, Andris Piebalgs will play a key role in the post-2015 negotiations. My sincere thanks go to the Ministers of Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Prince of Lesotho and our UN colleagues.

Minister Joe Costello will soon take over the EU Council Presidency and lay the groundwork for the official EU position on the post-2015 negotiations. Baroness Lindsay Northover, a Minister from the UK’s Department for International Development, will assist in feeding in the results of today’s discussion to the work of the Post-Millennium Development Goals (MDG) panel co-chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron. His Royal Highness, Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso of Lesotho will ensure that we do not fall into the trap of over ‘Europeanising’ our exchanges. Mrs Bednarska, from the World Food Programme, and Mr Slay, from the United Nations Development Programme, both play an important role in the post-2015 discussions and will, among others, be carrying out the thematic consultations on hunger, food and nutrition security.

I would also like to thank our Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot NGOs, who are hosting the Global Civil Society Symposium and who have joined forces with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organize our High-Level Panel Discussion. My special thanks to Kerstin, Sophia, Turgut and Denis.

Dear participants and friends,

Throughout the centuries, Cyprus has been at the crossroads of continents and civilizations; a coveted land for conquerors but also a meeting place for dialogue between countries and peoples of the region and beyond. Our history is a reminder of the need for an open, inclusive Europe which actively engages with the world, a Europe which reaches out and bridges divides. A Europe which leads for a more just world.

Today there is still great poverty, inequality and injustice across the globe. Close to a billion men, women and children will go to bed hungry tonight due to extreme poverty. This year alone, huge hunger crises have devastated the Sahel, Yemen, South Sudan and the Horn of Africa. Droughts in the US and elsewhere are driving global food prices higher, thus deepening food insecurity for the world’s most vulnerable people. For thousands of them this means premature death – with women and children under the age of five at highest risk.

Despite global economic growth and some progress on reducing poverty since 1990, an enormous proportion of the world’s population is still left behind. In a world of plenty this situation is unacceptable. It cannot and should not be tolerated.

Everyone can and should contribute to the eradication of poverty and hunger. Cyprus faces serious challenges of its own but we continue to show solidarity with other people in need. Recently Cyprus has signed up to the new Food Aid Convention which reinforces the fight against hunger. In addition, Cyprus actively supports a post-MDG goal specifically on hunger eradication, backed with solid commitments on food security and better nutrition within the future development framework.

The pursuit of an ambitious and visionary post-2015 development agenda requires an inclusive and visionary coalition, encompassing a variety of dedicated stakeholders within and beyond Europe. Our aim today is to build such a coalition, a coalition which stretches across civil society and governments, across Europe and the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is in a context of new international realities that we must design the post-2015 development framework. The work of the United Nations High-Level Panel has started its mission and every region, every stakeholder around the world should engage in our common endeavour.

I believe that the EU should make its mark in this process. I think that there is a growing consensus among many EU Ministers that the future development architecture should continue to focus on poverty and eradication of hunger while addressing universal challenges that influence the lives of all countries and peoples.

I therefore propose that Europe’s vision should be based on three pillars:

Firstly, ‘an MDG+ pillar’ with hunger eradication at its core, backed up by a set of minimum social protection mechanisms that every citizen can expect and demand from their government.

Secondly, ’a human dignity pillar’ anchored in social equity, justice and human rights.

Thirdly, a ‘sustainability pillar’ focused on good management of natural resources.

Dear guests,

As the world’s largest donor and a staunch supporter of the Millennium Development Goals both in terms of aid as well as duty-free and quota-free market access, Europe will continue to be an important development actor. Still, Europe needs to reach out, engage others and overcome divides to achieve global goals. Today, we hope that we can take a step in that direction by engaging with key stakeholders on the eradication of hunger and the future of development.