Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy Future of Global Governance Fri, 23 Oct 2015 07:08:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The need to change the narrative on climate change Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:08:41 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Having been an enthusiastic participant in the Helsinki Process, I believe it lends itself to greater progress on tackling climate change.  In essence, a key message from the deliberations of the Helsinki Process was that change in the twenty first century can best be brought about by building broad partnerships between governments, private sector, civil society, philanthropists and academia.

 What we need in the context of climate change is to dramatically increase the urgency and the ambition.  The recent report of the World Bank ‘Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided’ brings home how urgent the situation is.  We know that we are not on course for staying below 2°Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which governments committed to at the climate conference in Cancun in 2010.  Instead we are drifting towards the possibility of a 3.5 or 4°Celsius world by 2050.  This is what the World Bank report says of a 4° world:

 “The 4°C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

 And most importantly, a 4°C world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs.”

 It was because I recognised the huge threat to all human rights that was posed by climate change that I established the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice (MRFCJ).  More recently MRFCJ has combined with the World Resources Institute (WRI) in Washington DC to launch the Climate Justice Dialogue.  The Dialogue aims to mobilise political will to shape an equitable and ambitious international climate agreement in 2015.  This will be done by creating broad constituencies of demand for equity in the climate debate.  This goes beyond equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, to also embrace equity in supporting adaptation in vulnerable, already affected communities; equity in the transfer of renewable technologies as part of the right to development of poor communities and equity in financing to ensure that climate funds reach those suffering most from climate change and who have contributed least to the cause.  The Climate Justice Dialogue will produce a flagship report towards the end of 2014 to coincide with the IPCC’s 5 year review and other scientific data.  I hope that collectively these reports can inform work ongoing to deliver on the decision at the climate convention in Durban, South Africa to shape a new climate agreement by 2015 to come into effect in 2020.  Scientific data alone will not compel politicians to act: we need the urgency of a people-centred narrative that generates political will.

 I would like to invite the countries that have committed to the Helsinki Process, and the other stakeholders, including the private sector, civil society, philanthropic organisations, academia, and faith leaders, to become part of this climate justice dialogue so that we can marshal our resources and ensure that we accept the moral and political responsibility to create a safe world for our children, our grandchildren, and their grandchildren.  We need to think and act inter-generationally and with urgency, and get political leaders to think and act inter-generationally to ensure we have a livable planet later this century.

Helsinki Process Mon, 03 Dec 2012 09:39:44 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Helsinki Process + 10 Conference we organised in Hanasaari, Finland, in the spring reaffirmed that the multi-stakeholder dialogue on globalisation and democracy is just as needed and pertinent as when the Helsinki Process was launched ten years ago.  We decided to preserve the concept and keep the dialogue going.  Not necessarily through building heavy institutions or organising big conferences, but in “lighter” and more direct forms.

Launching this Helsinki Process blog site is a flexible way of continuing the dialogue.

On my part I wish to kick this off by returning to one of my favourite themes throughout the Helsinki Process, namely the Financial Transaction Tax.

It is early days to declare a real breakthrough, but the fact that eleven EU countries recently announced that they are ready to proceed with the further preparations of establishing a tax on the financial markets, was a significant event. The details of the whole proposal are open, including to whom revenues  would be transferred and for what purposes they can be allocated. I am personally not convinced that the original proposal by the Commission  to allocate the revenues to the EU budget and deduct the respective amounts from the national payments to the EU would be the best solution.  The main task of the EU in its taxation policies should be combating tax evasion and limiting harmful tax competition, and that should steer also this discussion.

My own Government has yet to resolve whether or not to participate already at this stage in the preparatory work of the new tax. My party is strongly in favor of that, and that would be in line with the Government Programme.

I would like to also use this forum for an open debate on the scope of the issue and on concrete solutions for setting up a European tax on financial markets. And I also welcome any comments on how this European initiative might influence the global debate and politics aiming at closing the tax havens and regulating the financial market.

The world after 2015 Mon, 03 Dec 2012 08:00:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]> In year 2000, UN member states agreed on something totally new: a concrete set of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) with specific targets and indicators. The aim of the MDGs was to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations by year 2015. During the years much has been done: less people live in extreme poverty, much more children get to start school and child and maternal mortality has decreased. However, in many of the goals progress has been too slow – and new problems have arisen on top of the old ones.

As 2015 is fast approaching the discussion on their review and what happens after the MDGs has also intensified. Last summer, Rio+20 brought the idea of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the forefront. Recently, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed the High Level Panel to prepare for the future of the MDGs. At the moment, UNDP is coordinating the post-2015 consultations around the world.

MDGs and the goals for post-2015 were very much also on the agenda in the Helsinki Process + 10 Conference in Helsinki last spring. So far we do not know what the SDGs look like, or what their relationship to the MDGs will be. I think we all wonder, whether the international community can agree on one set of new development goals or do we continue on two tracks: MDG+ and SDGs. In Finland, the preliminary thoughts have favored the one-track-approach even if there might be goals with different targets for developing and developed countries.

The international development agenda has been based on mainly three pillars: economically, environmentally and socially sustainable development. Recently the UN report Realizing the Future We want for All brought up a fourth pillar: that of Peace and Security. The Secretary General of the UN has on different occasions said: “There is no peace without the development and no development without the peace”. I believe in that more and more every day. It is vital to integrate these four pillars, otherwise we cannot expect sustainable results as an outcome.

An important aspect in the discussion is the means of implementation. At the moment, Finland is chairing the “Leading Group on Innovative Financing”. Among other things, our aim is to clarify the concept “innovative financing mechanisms”, to link innovative financing to efficient allocation of funds as well as enhancing development results particularly on country level in events, and to integrate the global action against illicit financial flows and tax havens.

Many developing countries will have all the chances to end their aid dependency, alleviate poverty and reduce inequalities in the forthcoming years on their own – thanks to their natural resources. This can of course happen only if these resources are managed in inclusive, green and responsible manner.  More attention should also be paid to the impact of illegal capital flight to the poverty reduction.

The task ahead of us is huge – we are talking about our common future, nothing less. This is why all the processes and preparations need to be as inclusive as possible. I would like to encourage all of you to share your expertise on these complex issues: Let’s use this forum also for the ventilation of ideas for the post-2015.