Speech at the 3rd Africa-EU Summit
“Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. At this late hour, let me try to be brief. I represent a country, Greece, which has recently witnessed a very serious financial crisis. Now, how is this financial crisis relevant to our discussion on climate change? Well, it is, in many ways.
First of all, Greece is a country with great potential for growth. However, our economy was mismanaged.
I have heard the same arguments today from many African leaders. Africa has great potential: resources, wealth, water, forests, human capacity. But here again, for many reasons, the potential, the real potential, of Africa is not realised, whether it is for institutional weaknesses, the colonial past or lack of regional integration, infrastructure, or lack of code of conduct for foreign direct investment.
So better governance is our political challenge for sustainable development, and that is one point: more effective democratic, transparent governance.
But it would be hypocritical for us to talk of democratic good governance only in the context of nation-states. And we see this with the financial crisis. Decisions today go beyond our countries, and there are others that decide.
So democracy must go global. For example, if we speak of Africa, she should be represented in global decision-making, whether it be the United Nations Security Council, the IMF, the World Bank, in ways that secure a strong voice for her.
And this is where the European Union and Africa need to strengthen cooperation. We need to strengthen our cooperation in this area, Africa and the European Union, in order to reform the United Nations and make it truly central in decision-making around the world.
A second reason why the financial crisis and climate change are linked, from my experience in Greece, is because we became an economy that simply was not competitive on the global market. We became consumers, but not producers.
Moving into the green economy, a green economy will make us much more competitive, because it means using our comparative advantages, our culture, our civil society, our innovation, our knowledge, our creativity, our beautiful environment.
And Africa – Africa, as the President of the European Commission has said, José Manuel Barroso, could become the revolution in green development, using its comparative advantages: the multiplicity of so many beautiful cultures, its creativity, its beautiful nature and resources.
But thirdly, to become competitive, we need to go green and to go clean in our development. We need a transition, a transition through strong investment, transfer of knowledge, education, aid, monies, infrastructure.
But how will we be able to fund the developing world, in order to make this transition? And this is sometimes seen as a win-lose, zero-sum game, particularly now that there is the sovereign debt in the developed countries such as Greece, and there is much more resistance for giving aid to the developing world.
Even so, Greece is continuing its environmental projects and funding its environmental projects in Africa, worth EURO 12 million, between 2008 and 2011, because we see it as a common interest.
But if we collectively want to really make a difference and make this a win-win game, a win-win situation, I would repeat a proposal that many have endorsed in Copenhagen last year. Of course, unluckily Copenhagen was not a successful meeting, to develop a global tax on CO2 or a global tax on greenhouse gases and emissions, in order to create a fund, and this fund to finance clean and green development projects in developing countries.
This will also stimulate growth in developed countries, as the Vice President of Nigeria said earlier.
But this again means stronger global governance, structures, coordination and political will. And we haven’t seen this political will in Copenhagen, and unluckily we may not see it in Cancun.
This also means that we need to promote our regional initiatives, our grassroots initiatives. And Greece has done so with a Mediterranean initiative, working with Turkey and 18 other countries, but also in the Black Sea only a few days ago, to promote green jobs, public-private partnerships, work with civil society, in order to deal both with the climate change but also with growth.
And I think this is where the European Union and Africa can again work closely together to develop regional initiatives.
A final point on how the financial crisis and climate change overlap. In whatever we do on our globe, we must bring a sense of justice. And justice is not what our peoples see around the world today, where banks are saved but people pay, where profits are privatised but losses are socialised, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
This is no longer sustainable politically, when we know, we know we have the capacity on our globe, we have the resources on our globe. We, humanity, have our capability to make, for example, poverty history. And yet we do not do so.
So it is in this spirit that sustainable development can be sustainable only if it is just development.
And first of all justice is for our youth, our future generations, and that is why the path of the developed world is not a just model to be emulated, to be repeated.
So many in the developed world destroyed our environments, we borrowed from our natural resources, without guaranteeing these resources for the next generations.
This is not sustainable for the developed world; it is not sustainable for the developing world.
But also the degradation of our environment hits hardest and hurts more the poorest, women and children in our world. This is not what the stereotype said. We thought some years ago that the issue of climate change was for the rich. In fact, climate change increases inequality, injustice and poverty, as well as migration, creating climate change refugees.
And it is no wonder that Africans are being hit the hardest by climate change.
So our common message must be that sustainable development can and should be:
– growth, but green growth,
– better living conditions for all,
– social justice in fighting poverty and inequality,
– guaranteeing our natural resources for the future generations.
If you like, humanising globalisation.
And I believe Europe has contributed to the humanising of global society. However, as President Zuma said, it would be useful to make an assessment of what we have done in our cooperation, and do so in a practical way, to make our cooperation much more practical, much more effective, in this area of a new prototype of development, a new type of development, which is green development, which is the future and should be the future of our cooperation.
Finally, let me add my thanks and congratulations to the people of Libya and their leader, Muammar Gaddafi, for the warm and excellent hospitality here in Tripoli.
Thank you very much.”