Blog Alexander De Croo from New York - 9/19
New York, 19 September 2017 – Quite an evening at Global Citizen Live! A full Skirrbal Centre at New York University. Among the musical guests there was the magnificent Paul Bridge over troubled water Simon and the wonderful Annie Lennox (secretly one of the musical heroines of my younger days). In between I was given the opportunity to proclaim for a few minutes my message in front of thousands of spectators.
Innovate in order to save lives
This was a message of investing more in innovation and thus saving lives. Next year Belgium will double its investments in humanitarian innovation from ten to twenty million euros. Today, only one percent of the humanitarian resources goes to innovation and research. And yet it is precisely that pioneering research that can enable us to save more lives tomorrow.
An example: along with the het World Food Programme (WFP) we invest in a research programme on the use of drones for humanitarian purposes. These drones will help humanitarian organisations to collect information on disaster areas in a shorter period of time and to provide aid even in the furthest corners of the globe where often the most vulnerable people are found.
Our country must be a pioneer humanitarian innovation. Especially now when each year anew humanitarian budgets are under increasing pressure due to the growing number of humanitarian crises, we must search for other, more efficient ways to address the growing humanitarian needs.
A different approach
A different approach. That was my key message at Columbia University yesterday morning (you can find my speech here). We must deal with international development in a different way. Over the past decades we have seen that the mere fact of providing support is not sufficient. What does work is making people stronger and freer. This requires different programmes and projects focusing more on people and less on authorities. And above all: creating much more room for private investment.
It is an illusion to assume that we as Western countries would be able to make a difference with our government budgets in countries that still have great leaps in development to make. I was pleased to hear that Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, proclaimed exactly the same message. We need to break away from the classical development aid in order to obtain genuine human development. And, he added: different Asian countries have indeed succeeded in making within one generation the switch “from poverty to prosperity.”
All eyes on Trump
Today, at the opening of the UN General Assembly, all eyes are on one man: the president of the United States. Donald Trump will deliver his first speech to the United Nations. I am very anxious to know if he will succeed in building a bridge over troubled waters. Will he regain the international leadership of the United States we have known for decades. Or will he further find himself isolated, convinced of being in the right, raise polarization and turn away from the rest of the world?