High-level Conference of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in Geneva
Geneva, 12.12.2022 - Opening Speech by the President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Ignazio Cassis - check against delivery
Deputy Secretary General Mohammed
High Representatives of governments, local authorities, multilateral organisations, the private sector and civil society
Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome and thank you for accepting my invitation to this High-level Conference!
• To question what we do...
• To relentlessly improve the way we do it...
• To commit to sustainable development, despite pressing crises...
This is what we owe to our citizens today and to future generations.
As we meet here in Geneva, war is raging less than 2,000km (two thousand kilometres) away, adding to the existing armed conflicts in at least 46 (forty-six) states and the 150,000 (one hundred and fifty thousand) fatalities in 2021.
The return of war to our doorstep confronts us with a harsh reality: the ideal of a peaceful and democratic world was an illusion!
Even in Europe, where we believed that war would never again find a place, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Do you remember Francis Fukuyama's The End of History?
Perhaps we have been too complacent in Europe, as many colleagues around the world have made clear to me. The fact is that we were wrong.
Today some nations are nostalgic for their glorious past and regional powers want to have their say.
War, protectionism and nationalism are taking root, while new challenges require urgent multilateral solutions.
I’m thinking for instance of energy shortages, food insecurity, rising inflation, and climate change. We are all dependent on each other.
Turning away from international bodies and taking the risk of pitting entire regions against each other is a very dangerous trend.
Withdrawal is not a solution! Even worse: it is the very negation of our inherent advantages. International Geneva, which welcomes us today, has taught us that unity is strength!
What differentiates us should not divide us, but enrich us! Common values and a mutual respect are our compass. We must take responsibility and act together. This is the raison d'être of the Global Partnership.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Let us return to the values of the 2030 Agenda and redouble our joint efforts to implement it. This is about trust - and acting together to build that trust.
We need to work innovatively, pushing the boundaries of our traditional disciplines, such as development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Sometimes I get angry when I see how we get lost in unnecessary disagreements instead of looking beyond the horizon!
We need to act on evidence and be able to critically evaluate what we do, to learn from mistakes. New technologies will come to our aid here.
But how can we manage it?
'Facta, non verba' - You might know this Latin expression better as 'actions speak louder than words'. If we truly 'need to' do something and are simply not taking action, the solution is: Act now! And to act effectively, we must set goals and rely on data.
The 21st century is founded on science diplomacy!
Today we are confronted with the convergence of the sciences. We are seeing an incredible scientific and technological acceleration which impacts humankind, societies, and the planet. We need to explore what is emerging in laboratories and predict its benefits to humans, while minimising the risk of abuse, based on the motto: 'Use the future to build the present'.
Right here in Geneva, home of CERN and an ecosystem of diplomatic and scientific excellence, Switzerland has established a foundation whose purpose is precisely to anticipate the impact that new technologies will have on humanity, to maximise their benefits and minimise their risks. Its name is GESDA: the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator. gesda.global
This 'anticipatory science diplomacy' is a core element of Switzerland’s foreign policy.
Against the background of a geopolitical reality that drives us apart, we believe that anticipatory science diplomacy can invigorate and strengthen the purpose of multilateral governance.
Part of our commitment at this summit must therefore be to strengthen statistical and information systems multilaterally and at the national level and better connect them to reduce our blind spots. The language of scientific evidence speaks to everyone. Let’s use it to stand up for our values and create a better world!
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are at the halfway-mark to 2030, and we are not really on track.
Moreover, multilateralism retains all its relevance even when confronted with the trends of de-globalisation and a multipolar world. Multilateralism is us, it is the expression of our nations, of our time.
A romantic vision serves no purpose. We must be able to adapt it to a changing world and revitalise it in this new reality. Exactly as we do with our countries and our national institutions.
Because however we organise ourselves, the planet is one, and humanity faces challenges - I am thinking first and foremost of the climate challenge - that only strong, evidence-based and data-driven international cooperation can solve.
As a newly elected, non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, Switzerland will focus on that.
Let this High-level Conference send a clear and loud message of joint commitment to sustainable development and an effective, principles-based development cooperation.
Thank you for your attention.
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