By Canadian Minister Julian Fantino - 04/21/13 12:19 AM EDT
At the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group this week in Washington, D.C., Canada is focusing on how the World Bank Group can advance the goal of reducing poverty by working more collaboratively with the private sector.
Growing businesses is one of the most effective means of securing long-term sustainable economic growth. That is why I will be re-affirming Canada’s commitment to private sector-led growth as a key driver of poverty reduction.
We want to harness the power, resources and innovation of the private sector to help the most vulnerable. This leads to better job opportunities, more investment and more resources to improve productivity and public well-being.
For example, Canada is helping developing countries harness the potential of their natural resources to achieve sustainable economic growth and lift millions of people out of poverty.
It not only creates jobs in the sector, it also generates employment indirectly by stimulating demand for equipment, maintenance, food and other services that has a far reaching positive effects on in the local community. Other small and medium-sized businesses can capitalize on these opportunities and provide direct or indirect services to extractive sector operations and communities.
Responsible resource management is vitally important in the context of economic growth.
Africa is a prime example of that. With 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, 40 percent of gold, and 80 to 90 percent of chromium and platinum group metals, Africa is uniquely positioned to reap the rewards of responsibly managed natural resources.
Through initiatives such as the African Mining Vision, African leaders have made a firm statement that they want to manage their resources in a responsible and transparent way.
Canada has responded, in part, by supporting the new African Mineral Development Centre, which will provide technical and policy support to African countries that want to maximize the benefits of their resource wealth.
As another example of Canada’s focus on sustainable economic growth, we are working with the International Finance Corporation—the private sector arm of the World Bank Group.
Canada has reached an agreement to establish the Canada–International Finance Corporation Partnership Fund that focuses on financial sector innovations and the sustainable development of the extractive sector.
A particular focus of this Fund will be on increasing economic opportunities for women.
In addition, Canada is also working with the World Bank Group, and other partners, to help African economies grow more sustainably.
Our support, including through the World Bank Group, is helping many countries, such as Tanzania, improve transparency in the extractive sector and implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
In Benin, Canada's support is improving access to financial services for the poor, including women and youth—allowing them to save and invest in their future.
In Ethiopia, Canada and the World Bank are providing training in innovative farming and marketing practices to 126,000 households, many of which are headed by women or youth and located in areas of high poverty.
We are committed to addressing hunger and malnutrition, and are hosting an event with the Republic of Ireland to highlight the positive effects of investing in agriculture to tackle this pressing issue.
We are also pleased to be a founding donor to the World Bank’s Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund, which will channel critical support to promote economic reforms in the region, consistent with our commitment to the Deauville Partnership.
Canada’s approach to delivering effective international assistance — focusing on key countries and three thematic priorities — is generating tangible results.
Our next step is to amalgamate the Canadian International Development Agency with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to enhance coordination of international assistance with broader Canadian value and objectives.
The new Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development will put development on equal footing with trade and diplomacy, while also leveraging the synergies resulting from the amalgamation to maximize the effectiveness of the resources available to deliver development and humanitarian assistance.
Canada is a strong international partner and we will continue to be a compassionate neighbour by promoting private sector involvement in international development as a means to pull millions of people out of poverty.
The Honourable Julian Fantino is Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation.