G8 Information Centre, Online Lectures 2002

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Featured Content:
Opening Statement made by the Honourable Susan Whelan, Minister of International Cooperation, to the G6B Conference
Tuesday, June 25, 2002, MacEwan Hall, University of Calgary

*Note: The G6B (Group of 6 Billion) Conference, was held June 21-25, 2002 in Calgary, Alberta. In their own words, the G6B is "a forum to generate and discuss ideas and solutions that will promote economic activities that are beneficial to people living in all parts of our world, but that also reflect full respect for human rights and the environment. The G6B Conference will offer an alternative view of the planet's future; one which is not rooted in increased militarism and poverty, and decreased human and civil rights." Committed to bridging the divides and inequalities that exist between the developed and developing world, the conference will bring forward recommendations in six theme areas: trade & economy, human security, health, education, environment, democracy & governance. Importantly the G6B steering committee will facilitate concrete proposals and clear recommendations, which will be presented to G8 governments in the weeks leading up to the Summit as well as at the Summit - effective, practical solutions, not just a litany of problems and complaints." See www.g6bpeoplessummit.org.

The following is text of an opening statement made by the Honourable Susan Whelan, Minister of International Cooperation, to the G6B Conference. We are offering excerpted installments from the conference.

Good afternoon. I also want to thank the University of Calgary for having us here today. I would also like to thank all the organizers and delegates who participated in the G6B. Your contribution to public policy, as Bill says, is very constructive to the public debate and is very heartening to all of us. We may have different opinions, and I'm sure that many of us do, on how to make the world a better place, but the fact that we are all here today is a testament to our commitment to that very end and I think that there should be heated discussions on issues that matter to the world, rather than silence. So, the number of voices that I hear raised to talk about Africa, all over the world and especially in Africa, is giving me hope. The sheer number of public discussions on the future of the continent, right now, is absolutely unprecedented. Of course, a lot of this attention has been generated by, as Bill said, the New Partnership for African Development. This vision for Africa that was conceived by, and developed by, African leaders, is a proposal that calls, as we all know, for a renewed partnership between African leaders and their people, among Africans and between Africans and their global neighbours. But, as Bill said, this process is just beginning and it's ever-evolving. We all need to try to find some patience through this process and to represent a fundamental realignment of relationships in Africa.

I believe that Africa is rallying to the cause and we, as Canadians, we care for Africa and we are showing our commitment to developing and development on the African continent. As many of you may know, or as we all know, I should say, the Prime Minister has made certain that Africa will still be very front-and-centre on the G8 agenda, here for the Kananaskis Summit, and he has also made the personal commitment to keep it there. As he announced also, earlier this year, Canada's international aid will increase by 8% per year in each of the coming years and part of that will be for Africa. I also wanted to remind us all that we talk about where we're going and how it's going to work: the Africa Action Plan will be a support for NEPAD; it will focus on areas where the G8 stands to add real value in addressing the many challenges confronting the continent. And, in my limited travels so far, but in my travels in Africa, I heard about the issues in health and education, the issues that need to strengthen democratic governance to open trade and investment, issues involving peace and security, and also issues very much related to agriculture and water.

So, I look forward to working with all the partners in the development of Africa and I want to make sure that it remains a priority long after the Summit. And we have done some things already, at CIDA, of which some of you are very much aware of, and I want to thank those of you that not only participated in the conference that we held in Montreal, the outreach conference on NEPAD, but those that helped to organize it. It was a tremendous opportunity for people to come together with over 150 participants from African countries, non-governmental organizations, institutions and the private sector from over 30 countries in Africa. I want to tell you that I was struck by the fact that, although there were many criticisms of NEPAD in the process, what I also heard more than anything else, is that Africans want to be part of the process. They see it as an opportunity to stem the tide of deterioration and marginalization that has been pulling Africa down. I know that I emerged from the conference there, and from some other consultations in Africa, with a greater sense of the importance of bringing all parts of society together. That's one of the reasons that we are here today, so I want to hear what you have to say and I look forward to our discussion.

The text of this address is also available on the Government of Canada G8 Website at: http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/cida_ind.nsf/vall/C97649AE3A9D7BA085256BE30071A31F?OpenDocument