Minister Fantino champions Canada’s leadership at the United Nations General Assembly

September 29, 2012 - Yesterday, the Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation, concluded a successful trip to the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Minister Fantino pressed for concerted international attention to advance maternal, newborn and child health; food security and nutrition; and responsible natural resource management in developing countries, as well as furthering Canada's diplomatic agenda.

Minister Fantino also encouraged Canadians to join in the global effort to eradicate polio by launching the Pennies and More for Polio Initiative with the Rotary Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Under this initiative, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute $1 each to the World Health Organization's Global Polio Eradication Initiative for every $1 raised by Rotarians in Canada for polio eradication.

Showing Canada's leadership in advancing food security and nutrition, Minister Fantino and Anthony Lake Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), brought together stakeholders in the Scaling Up Nutrition event convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This event reviewed progress over the past year and inspired further commitments in the fight against undernutrition, which affects the health and potential of millions of people in the developing world, particularly children.

"As I witnessed first-hand two weeks ago in the Sahel, undernutrition is a very serious issue facing people in developing nations,'' said Minister Fantino. ''The Scaling Up Nutrition Movement provides an opportunity for partners to work together to focus our efforts on reducing deaths and diseases caused by undernutrition in mothers and children and to give the world's most vulnerable a better chance at a healthier future. Our investments are having an impact, but we must continue to fund nutrition programming, build partnerships, and measure the impact of our investments in helping developing countries create a strong, healthy, and productive workforce and economy.''

Minister Fantino also co-hosted a high-level event on the margins of the UNGA with the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the World Economic Forum on the responsible management of the extractives sector in developing countries and the promotion of sustainable economic growth as a means to build local economies and reduce poverty.

"Natural resources industries can be critical to a developing economy," said Minister Fantino. "If managed sustainably and transparently, natural resources offer one of the most effective ways for an economy to grow, reduce poverty, and achieve sustainable development."

In addition, Minister Fantino reinforced Canada's global leadership on maternal, newborn, and child health by co-hosting an event with United Nations health agencies to bring renewed momentum to achieving the maternal, newborn and child health Millennium Development Goals. He also signed on to the international pledge "Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed." Under this commitment, governments and partners vow to strengthen efforts to reduce preventable child deaths, including reaching the most disadvantaged and hardest-to-reach children in every country.

"Global efforts to date in maternal, newborn, and child health are showing results. Maternal and child mortality has decreased in the majority of countries around the world, and progress is accelerating each year," said Minister Fantino. "Although real progress has been made in this area, more work still needs to be done. By joining 'A Promise Renewed,' Canada reaffirms its commitment to end preventable child deaths."

Minister Fantino joined the representatives of the G-8 Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition to speak to Canada's commitment to the Transition Fund, which is aimed at providing technical assistance to these countries to modernize their economies and become more open societies.

"Canada supports reform efforts underway in Deauville Partnership countries, as well as those taking place elsewhere across the region," said Minister Fantino. "Canada will continue to emphasize the importance of identifying clear and realistic expectations related to the results of the fund, and we encourage all partner countries to be accountable in the same manner."

Minister Fantino joined his G-8 colleagues, African Heads of State, and representatives of private sector companies in the inaugural meeting of the Leadership Council of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an African-led process to increase private sector investment in agriculture in Africa. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada's support for the New Alliance at the 2012 G-8 Summit. The Leadership Council reviewed progress on the New Alliance commitments, including initial actions in Ghana, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. The Leadership Council also discussed an approach to ensure accountability for commitments and to establish a road map for the New Alliance going forward. This collaboration between the G-8, African partners, and the private sector has added significant momentum to increasing private sector investment in agriculture in Africa.

For more information, please visit the UNGA page on the CIDA website.

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For more information, media should contact:

Stephanie Rea
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238
Email: stephanie.rea@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Twitter: @CIDA_CA