Together with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, Prime Minister Erna Solberg is co-chairing the UN Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group.
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Secretary-General, Your Highnesses, Excellencies, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.
In the course of a few weeks, terrorists have struck in both Peshawar and Paris. And these criminal acts – carried out by just a few individuals – have mobilised countless millions, across religions and borders, in denouncing terrorism and defending freedom.
The internet and social media have made it possible for huge numbers of people to broadcast their feelings, opinions and demands for positive change – instantly and globally. Youth and civil society movements have perfected this art.
The ability of young people to mobilise action is vital for addressing vulnerability and building resilience. I am therefore very pleased that we have young change makers from Nigeria and South Sudan with us this morning.
In fact, I see that – gathered here today – is just the right mix of global development actors that is needed. If we put our mind to it and join forces in innovative partnerships, I believe it is possible to achieve results even in very challenging and vulnerable situations.
I applaud innovative initiatives such as GAVI and Every Woman Every Child, No Lost Generation, and so forth. Norway has a stake in these and in many other initiatives in the areas of technology, development finance, new forms of partnerships and global norms. Let me give a few concrete examples.
Last year my Government launched the Vision 2030 campaign, requesting the Norwegian private sector, NGOs and academia to propose innovative projects to promote global development. We received 116 project proposals, including two technology-based ideas from an organisation working for better living conditions for people with disabilities in developing countries. Together with their partners in Uganda, they have proposed a disability watch app and a disability inclusion e-learning programme. Both will work on the smartphone platform and provide information about rights, challenges and opportunities. The disability watch app would be used to share information, for example, on schools, libraries or health facilities that accommodate the needs of people with disabilities, as well as for reporting those that do not.
Innovations do not have to be rocket science to be effective. This is also a question of seeking new partnerships and working together in new ways.
In Lebanon and Jordan, the Norwegian Refugee Council is using donor funding to pay landlords who complete unfinished buildings or extend their property, and then host a Syrian refugee family. In Lebanon, this shelter programme is operated in cooperation with the programme to rehabilitate schools and provide temporary learning spaces. Host communities receive support to improve water and sanitation. And, local contractors are used, the local economy grows and employment opportunities increase. This initiative is thus facilitating the integration of refugees into society.
Later today, Norway and the World Bank will launch a new fund to promote results-based financing for education – mainly in the least developed countries, including countries suffering from conflict. This fund has been developed on the basis of experience from a similar fund for health. It will channel money to measures to strengthen the competence and motivation of teachers.
It will also prioritise vulnerable groups such as rural girls, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities. We urge partners to contribute to the fund.
Norway is also playing an active role in promoting normative initiatives. We have been very engaged in the work on the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. The guidelines are a practical tool for implementing existing commitments under International Humanitarian Law.
Norway has also invited interested states to start developing a declaration on safe schools based on these guidelines. We would like to see these principles applied in a broader humanitarian and political context that includes protection of civilians, especially children, and the right to education. This will provide a better framework for protecting educational institutions from attack in armed conflict or other situations of violence.
The appalling acts of Boko Haram highlight the urgent need for better protection.
Let me finally mention the goal set by humanitarian organisations with an education mandate that 4 % of humanitarian aid should be allocated to education. Norway supports this goal. Primary education is a human right, and crucial for developing resilient, tolerant societies with good opportunities for economic growth and faith in the future.
To conclude, innovation is needed to achieve both the current and the future development goals. And the involvement of young people is crucial.
Allow me to quote one young person who is deeply involved in mobilisation for change. In her Nobel Lecture Malala Yousafzai said:
“Let us become the first generation that decides to be the last that sees empty classrooms, lost childhoods, and wasted potentials.”
I think everyone here today shares her ambition. Let us do what it takes to fulfil it.