Islamabad: “A rights-based development strategy is about placing people at the centre of our development cooperation. Not as passive recipients, but as central actors in charge of their own destiny” says The Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Christian Friis Bach
Copenhagen – With the recent change of a new government in Denmark, the Danish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr. Christian F. Bach is in process of revising the Danish Global Development Strategy, calling for more focus on citizen empowerment and poverty reduction. The Minister has emphasized that Denmark wants to promote the rights of people to have a full say in their own lives, choose their governments in free and fair elections, participate in decision-making and hold their governments accountable.
“Pakistan is one of our strong partner countries and is a country with many opportunities. I would want to invite Pakistan to give their comments and contributions in the coming months, during which we will be revising our strategies for sustainable development. The aim is to build a strong vision for our future partnership together”, said Mr. Bach.
The Minister highlighted that development was about promoting the rights of the world’s poorest people, where civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights are seen as both individual rights and indivisible rights. Mr. Bach said that children would never be able to fully use their freedom of speech without being able to read and write and those children would never be able to learn to read and write if they are hungry.
The new Danish international development strategy seeks to support countries in building societies based on the rule of law with respect for human rights and democratic values. Women’s rights especially will be a core focus area both internationally and with the partner countries.
Speaking about the core focus of the new strategy, the Minister added that the ambition, both in Denmark and the EU, is to shape a rights-based development strategy, which aims to support poor countries in investing in sustainable and green growth that creates employment and improves livelihoods. He highlighted the important challenge to ensure sustainable food production to feed the planet’s projected population of more than 9 billion people in 2050.
According to Mr. Bach, the development of agricultural production is a key to combating hunger and poverty, and to ensuring future growth and jobs, adding that Denmark would take an active stand in working for sustainable solutions to ensure food security.
Speaking of other key challenges, ensuring sustainable energy is also mentioned. Around 1.4 billion poor people live without access to electricity and 2.3 billion people still depend on firewood and other traditional energy sources. Women all over the world toil for hours every day to collect firewood, and slave for yet more hours in smoke-filled rooms to prepare food, with serious health impacts as a result. Pakistan, in particular is also facing such challenges. “If we can provide these women and families with modern and sustainable energy sources, we can release a powerful resource and create growth, jobs and new opportunities”, said the Minister.
Speaking about the Danish support for global assistance, the Minister strongly highlights that any such cooperation should go hand in hand with strong national ownership. Mr. Bach stated that the Danish development cooperation is based on the principles of national ownership and accountability, and that these principles would continue to be central in all Denmark does as well as be enshrined in both the new Danish and the new EU Development Policy.
The Minister stated that his Government believed that the best development results are achieved through supporting its partner countries’ own plans and systems, including direct support to their national budgets. He, however also emphasized the need to put robust mechanisms in place to ensure transparency and accountability. Continuous priorities for Danish development policy will be to strengthen parliaments, create an active civil society and ensure a vibrant press, so that together they can keep everyone accountable.
In his concluding remarks, the Minister stated “I look forward to working together towards a world where all people can live a life free from fear, and free from need”
In October last year a new government came to power in Denmark, and on 1 January 2012 Denmark took over the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
For decades, Denmark has been among the world’s leading per capita donors, and is one of only five countries that currently provide more than 0.7 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) in development assistance. Despite its own budget constraints, it will increase its development assistance in the years to come with an aim to once again reach 1 per cent of GNI. As a first step, Denmark will increase its development assistance this year and use the extra funds to strengthen the poverty focus of Danish development cooperation.
The Danish international development cooperation, Danida launched its program in Pakistan in 2010 with a three year program (2010-2013) supporting democracy, human rights and gender empowerment, including support to education and reconstruction in border areas.
For more information, contact:
Mrs. Esther Lonstrup,
Embassy of Denmark
House #16, Street 21, F-6/2,
P.O. Box 1118, Islamabad,
Tel: +9251 209 9800
Fax: +9251 282 3483
Cell: 0307 555 9141
Mrs. Hina Akhtar,
Cell: 0306 545 1766