Utrikesdepartementet 6 september 2012
Gunilla Carlsson, Biståndsminister
Gunilla Carlssons tal vid urbaniseringsseminariet
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, dear friends, welcome to Stockholm and to this very exciting seminar on urbanization and development.
I am especially pleased to welcome Professor Paul Romer and Professor Reuben Abraham, two of the world's greatest thinkers on urbanization.
I hope that today's seminar will provide food for thought, and that we can discuss concrete ideas on how to strengthen the positive aspects of urbanization.
Urbanization is happening as we speak, either you like it or not.
By 2050, 70 per cent of the world's population is projected to live in urban areas. Close to one billion people - or 33 per cent of the urban population in developing countries, live in slums, in inequitable and often life-threatening conditions.
The increasing speed and scale of urbanisation is one of the greatest global challenges. Many of the social, economic and environmental problems we are facing today - such as poverty, the run-away use of resources and the increasing CO2 emissions -are concentrated to our cities.
Urbanisation is also a great opportunity.
Urbanisation holds inherent potential. We need to create conditions to ensure that cities become massive poverty reduction engine and means for environmental sustainability.
The density of the city makes it possible to introduce collective, efficient and sustainable solutions to common needs - concerning everything from transportation to housing, job creation and social services.
In addition, local decision makers often react faster to their citizens' demands and needs. This gives cities the potential to push the sustainability agenda forward through good examples and best practices.
75 per cent of the world's GDP is produced in cities. That, to me, is the very definition of a telling number - economic growth and urbanization go hand in hand. Economic growth is as we all know a prerequisite for poverty reduction. But, we also know, that growth in itself is not enough to enable people living in poverty to change their lives. Growth needs to be inclusive as well as sustainable.
Only a thriving private sector can be the main engine for sustainable and inclusive growth. Governments have key role in setting the right incentives to catalyse the use of the market. But it is the private sector - not governments - that drive the innovation needed to find solutions. I think that Matilda from Ericsson will have some interesting thoughts to share on this.
The private sector is one of the main players for development and hence has a key role in effective development cooperation - this was at the centre of deliberations at the High Level Forum on Effective Development Cooperation in Busan last year. The meeting marks a mind shift in how the role of the private sector is perceived and in establishing that aid has to be catalytic in mobilising resources for development.
In my mind this is what innovative financing is all about -a catalytic use of aid. And there are many exciting ideas on how we can work innovatively in this sense. In Sweden our work on loans and guarantees is perhaps where we have come furthest. The key words here are risk-sharing and leverage. Why are investments in poorer developing countries not higher? One important reason is that the weighing of possible profits against perceived risks does not come out in favour of the former. Here aid can do a lot to lessen or share the risk.
Pressekreterare hos Gunilla Carlsson
cell 070-283 95 97
e-post till Evin Khaffaf