As Ireland takes up its post of EU Presidency, can a small nation on the edge of Europe make any difference in the fight against world poverty? Dóchas—the Irish Association of Development NGOs—certainly thinks so, and they seem to be making sure the opportunity doesn’t just pass us by.
Dóchas launched a report last week titled, ‘The World We Want: the Opportunity of the Irish EU Presidency’. The paper sets out key areas of action for the EU to address the root causes of global poverty and climate change.
According to Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, “now is the time for the EU to bring about a better future for all of us, in Ireland, Europe and the world.
“Oftentimes, politics turns sensitive, passionate issues into facts and figures. I’m pleased to say that EU Commissioner Georgieva and Minister Joe Costello TD did not follow that line when they both discussed the potential of Ireland’s EU Presidency in dealing with world hunger.”
The World is at a Crossroads
“The world we need for our children is one based on the foundation of compassion, care for the needy, commitment to leave our planet in the shape we inherited it from our parents,” explained the EC Commissioner for International Co-operation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva.
“Poverty is still so profoundly present in so many countries, including even our own societies, where the fight against hunger is so far from being won. That takes us to why it is so good that the Irish presidency is at this exact junction of time. You, the Irish, have it in your heart, in a way that makes a difference for so many people around the world,” said Commissioner Georgieva sincerely.
The Bulgarian economist said Ireland is one of the most generous countries when it comes to helping people with development, and when they are hit by natural disasters and conflict. “On a per-capita basis Ireland leads, even today in these difficult times; for this I am very grateful, thank you,” said Georgieva.
According to the Commissioner, Ireland also has something more. She described it as a can-do attitude: “When there is a problem, you roll up your sleeves and get resolving it.
“I am more encouraged with the Irish presidency at this critical junction, when we need to form a position on the post millennium development goals and when we still need to deal with what exactly will be the budget for Europe.”
With respect to the comments from Dóchas, Georgieva said, “we still have some time to go to stride to achieve the millennium development goals.” Georgieva stressed that this time must be used wisely, with a sense of urgency. “Our crisis at home can’t be an excuse to waver on commitments we have made. We have chosen to be a soft power, we Europeans have chosen to lead in the world in terms of development, sharing the pain of others; solidarity is our trade mark.”
According to Georgieva, Europe has been firm on how humanitarian aid must be delivered, based on principals of “neutrality, impartiality and independence.
“We have a role to play, but unfortunately at a time when the task in hand is getting harder, we are facing more frequent and more devastating natural disasters; they turn the clock on development in the most vulnerable countries,” she said.
“In my travels around the world, the scariest problem I have to handle is the cocktail of risks, caused by nature and conflicts that come together like in Mali, this explosive cocktail, not so easy to deal with; but we can if we pursue in our best, most committed manner—that linking of relief to rehabilitation and development. Bringing the two communities of humanitarian and development together,” said Georgieva.
Minister Joe Costello commended Dóchas on the “high quality” of their paper, and he also thanked them for the opportunity to respond to it.
“The paper provides a very worthwhile civil society perspective on development and humanitarian issues, which are presented to be addressed at our presidency,” said Minister Costello.
Minister Costello outlined briefly how issues with respect to the post 2015 Global development framework, hunger nutrition and building resilience, would be dealt with under Irelands EU presidency.
“The paper correctly highlights that Ireland’s presidency comes at a crucial time for shaping the post 2015 Global development framework for international development,” he said.
Minister Costello added that during Ireland’s seventh presidency it would be an admirable, ambitious and just objective to not just talk about reducing poverty, but to set targets for eliminating it.
Minister Costello said he was confident that preliminary talks will provide a very good basis to work towards one of our key presidency goals—to ensure that the May foreign affairs council agrees a common EU position for the MDG (Millennium Development Goals) special event in September.
“The Dóchas paper notes the intention of the presidency to address issues on the nexus of hunger, nutrition and climate justice,” said Minister Costello.
“As you know the fight against hunger is at the heart of Ireland’s development programme,” he said, adding that a conference in April hosted with the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ) would focus on hunger, nutrition and climate justice and will be an opportunity to present the linkages between those areas.
Programmes that improve the resilience of communities in areas affected by hunger, malnutrition, and climate change will be focused on, said Minister Costello.
“During our presidency we will focus on relief, recovery and development by using the resilience agenda to forge links between the development and humanitarian agendas of the European Union,” said Minister Costello, who added that Commissioner Georgieva was the person who has been driving the agenda to connect these three key agendas.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.