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Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for your warm welcome.
I am delighted to be with you this evening. As the Humanitarian Commissioner, to speak about our humanitarian work worldwide.
But also, as a politician. Looking for synergies and cooperation between the humanitarian and development community and the business community.
There are so many opportunities to work together. For joint actions. Because our global goals require global actions.
The UN Global Goals are interdependent. And so should be our actions to achieve them.
There is a need for change. And the UN Global Goals are setting the framework for this change.
There is also a need for innovative ways of bringing humanitarian development and business development closer together.
This is particularly true in Africa.
I believe Africa is one of our greatest challenges. Not only for Europe, but globally.
I believe we must set ambitious goals. Take bold decisions. And act immediately.
Especially where innocent people are caught between bullets and bombs. Are victims of droughts, floods, and tsunamis.
This is the role of EU Humanitarian Aid. The European Union stands by these people. With solidarity and humanity. Leading by example.
Every year we allocate more than two (2) billion euro in humanitarian aid. Covering the urgent needs of millions:
- Food and clean water,
- Basic healthcare,
- and Education.
Just four (4) euro per European citizen every year makes a huge difference.
Together with our Member States, we are the leading donor of humanitarian aid. Our solidarity is something to be proud of, as Europeans.
European humanitarian aid acts as a protective net. Against hunger. Distress. Exploitation. Abuse.
And lays the foundation for recovery and development.
EU humanitarian aid helps build resilient communities. And helps prepare societies for peace, stability and prosperity. And ultimately, the end of violence and suffering.
One concrete example is education in emergencies.
Because education is more than a fundamental right for a child. Education is the cornerstone for peace and prosperity for entire societies. A horizontal priority.
Education is an investment in the future.
In emergencies, education is even more critical. It acts as a shield against:
- Forced recruitment.
- Early marriage.
- And forced labour.
In countless refugee camps, I saw with my own eyes how education in emergencies can reshape humanitarian aid.
Education became my passion.
Since 2015, we have increased our humanitarian budget for education in emergencies by ten (10) times.
From one per cent (1%) in 2015 to ten per cent (10%) in 2019.
This means one hundred and sixty-four (164) million euro. A global funding record for education in emergencies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As we look to the future, Africa will be one of our greatest challenges. Well beyond the narrow scope of humanitarian assistance.
Africa’s population continues to grow. 1.22 billion people today. Projected to nearly double by 2050.
Take Nigeria, for example. Nigeria will have to create between forty (40) and fifty (50) million additional jobs by 2030. Just to keep pace with the population growth. Not least, these jobs must provide higher incomes than now.
Africa’s demographic explosion has been described as “a ticking time bomb”.
What does this mean for Africa? And for Europe?
It means far more people than:
- Africa’s farmers can feed.
- African businesses can employ.
- And African cities can accommodate.
Which will lead to more people seeking opportunities outside their home countries.
So, Africa will need to develop comprehensive strategies to address these enormous challenges. Strategies that include all of you in the private sector.
First, Africa will need initiatives that improve human security and well-being. While respecting moral and societal values.
Reproductive health and family planning are a case in point. Not an easy subject. But they should be embedded into national social and health policies.
Second, Africa needs to mobilise both the public and private sector. To create jobs. And promote education, research and innovation. Civil society can play a more active role. Especially for youth and women. New Public-private-partnerships can play an important role.
Third, Africa – and Europe – needs determined leaders with political courage. Committed to ambitious, long-term plans. That will benefit their people. And their economies.
Strong leaders across Africa to overcome the “endemic” challenges of:
- Poor governance.
- Lack of regulated markets.
- Weak investment frameworks.
- And gaps in knowledge and skills.
Last, but not least, we must rethink our development assistance to Africa. Both the EU and our Member States. But also the international community.
Let us be frank. The combination of post-colonial guilt and charity have produced few results.
We need to change our relationship to Africa. Become true partners. Creating opportunities that are fair to both Europeans and Africans. Including business opportunities. Promoting Africa’s prosperity. And guaranteeing Europe’s stability.
DANIDA, for instance, is already a frontrunner in exploring innovative solutions. By leveraging additional aid funding for private business and investors. Just one example where the EU can learn from the Danish experience.
Europeans have just voted for their representatives in the European Parliament. They were the most difficult test in Europe’s recent history. A test of Europe’s unity and resilience.
For Europe’s capacity to defend its values and founding principles. A true test of democratic legitimacy.
The election results show that now is the time for stronger partnerships among the pro-European, democratic, liberal forces in Europe. For coalitions.
But these elections are only the beginning.
European citizens clearly expressed their demand for more action. We cannot afford to turn inwards. The European institutions must now get down to work.
To address the challenges of humanitarian crises. And the challenges of Africa. Of our security. And of our transformation towards more sustainable livelihoods.
This is our commitment to the UN Global Goals.
Today’s discussions at the Management Society Summit show that we are all in the same boat. And whether upstream or downstream, we must row this boat together.