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Laimdota Straujuma and Jean-Claude Juncker officially launch the European year for development

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn January 9th in Riga, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the Prime Minister of Latvia, Laimdota Straujuma, officially launched the European Year for Development 2015.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the «Year for Development was the right time for looking back at the results achieved including the reduction by half of the global poverty level, and this is also the time to work together to identify the future global development goals».

The high-ranking participants, civil society and development experts at the event exchanged opinions on the importance of the European Year for Development to raise awareness with the general public and to ensure the participation of the public in development cooperation. A broad debate also took place on global development issues – funding for development cooperation, and the role of good governance and accountability of institutions in national development.

In a panel discussion on effective public administration and the freedom of speech, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs presented Latvia’s priorities in development policy: good governance; human rights and gender equality; freedom of speech and the freedom of press. Rinkēvičs confirmed Latvia’s readiness to continue sharing its experience of strengthening public administration with the Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries. The Minister and other participants also emphasised that responsible public authorities and policies that have been well thought-out are essential when it comes to good use of development assistance funding.

In her concluding speech, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica, encouraged the participants at this Year for Development event to fulfil the next sustainable development goals and take pride in the achievements made through development cooperation.

The main goal of the European Year for Development 2015 is to raise awareness and engage Europeans, especially young people; therefore, the event featured the opening of several competitions and campaigns. The Presidencies of Latvia and Luxembourg launched a joint video competition for young people, «Shining Stars of Europe». The Motorcycle Adventures Club apPasaule («Around the World») presented a motorcycle expedition route, «Discover Africa for me», planned by Latvia’s students in a competition organised in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All through the day, «Latvia’s Platform for Development Cooperation» involved the participants in social activities and invited them to express their commitments to the promotion of global development.

The event was concluded with a guest lecture by one of the most renowned contemporary researchers in the field of development policy, the Deputy Director for the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution, Homi Kharas. In his presentation on the shift in development cooperation policy and post 2015 development agenda, Homi Kharas emphasised that «we live in a mutually connected world, and therefore, in order to ensure growth, reforms are required in all countries across the globe».

The event brought together more than 300 participants from 38 countries, including Federica Mogherini, the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development; representatives from EU institutions, international organisations and NGOs, Ministers for Development from EU Member States, representatives from the Eastern Partnership and Central Asian countries, project teams and researchers.

The aim of the Year for Development is to raise awareness among the general public on the development cooperation policy of the EU and Latvia, and its results, as well as explaining its significance and benefits to all stakeholders. This year the UN members will have to agree on the post-2015 global development agenda in the wake of the Global Development Goals, and therefore it is important to reach out to, and engage the general public in attaining the future goals. Latvia, as the country presiding over the Council of the EU, will have to lead the formulation of a joint EU position for the UN intergovernmental negotiations.

The launching of the European Year for Development was hosted by Latvia as the country holding the Presidency over the Council of the EU. The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia in association with the European Commission

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