By Ioannis Kasoulides
IN TODAY’S interdependent world, global problems need global solutions. Global solutions are necessary for international security, political, economic, monetary and environmental stability, as well as for access to raw materials and rare earths. One of the major challenges humanity faces is social, economic and gender inequality. One of the best solutions to combat these inequalities at local, national and global level, is development.
Development is certainly not only measured by a country’s economic growth indicators, but also by the well-being of all its citizens. Well-being derives from the reduction of poverty, inequality and unemployment, which together constitute development and increase human quality of life. In order for the aforementioned goals to be achieved, the element of sustainability needs to be guaranteed. That includes sustainable agriculture and energy, social protection, health and education for all- irrespective of gender, as well as job creation. Development is also achieved by ensuring political and religious freedom, protection of human rights, good governance and eradication of corruption, peace and security.
As the Millennium Development Goals are approaching their deadline, intergovernmental processes are being conducted since this past January, aiming to reach a global agreement on the post-2015 development agenda. The new agenda’s overarching objective is the achievement of poverty eradication and inclusive and sustainable development, incorporating all its three dimensions: economic, social and environmental. Peace and good governance also constitute important pillars, while universality and applicability of the new targets to both North and South is considered essential.
Cyprus actively participates in this process in the framework of the UN, the EU and the Commonwealth. Furthermore, and although it has suspended its national development cooperation program due to the economic crisis, Cyprus fulfils all development obligations stemming from the Treaty of Lisbon, which has firmly anchored development policy within the EU’s external action in support of the Union’s interest in a stable and prosperous world.
I believe that development cooperation benefits not only the recipients but also the donors, as it contributes in addressing global problems such as epidemics, illegal migration, climate change, piracy, radicalization, terrorism and human trafficking. It is more cost-effective to eliminate the causes of poverty rather than just treat its symptoms. To this end, it is necessary that we move collectively, quickly and effectively to ensure stability and peace, particularly in geopolitical trouble spots such as our immediate neighborhood.
In this light, I consider the establishment by the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament of the year 2015 as the European Year of Development as very timely. Cyprus is participating in this effort, the motto of which is “Our people, our dignity, our future”. Our country takes part in a European initiative to inform citizens with a national program launched today, under the coordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture. The responsibility for the program management and implementation is undertaken by the Cyprus Island-wide NGO Development Platform CYINDEP, in a context of sincere cooperation and synergy between state actors and civil society.
As part of this programme, the activities organised this year will give us the opportunity to highlight, on one side, the complexity of the challenges of sustainable development and, on the other side, to raise awareness of the benefits of the EU’s development cooperation; not just for the beneficiaries but also for improving the quality of life of EU citizens themselves. Since the EU is the largest donor of development aid worldwide, the Year also provides an opportunity for the European taxpayer to be informed about the impact of her/his contributions.
In an increasingly interdependent world, development is more than mere aid: it is a vision and a lifestyle. We have a collective responsibility to participate in the efforts to realise this vision, with a sense of solidarity and pride because we belong to a European family that helps to build a better, more sustainable future for humanity, based on a commonly formed long-term vision with ultimate goal the protection and welfare of its own citizens.
Ioannis Kasoulides is the Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs