7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Opening Ceremony

Opening Ceremony

EDD17 - Replay - Open ceremony

special event
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 10:45 to 13:00

Key points

  • EDD17 brings together global leaders and more than 7,000 participants in over 120 sessions marking the launch of the New European Consensus for Development.
  • Demographic trends in Africa and Asia demand a focus on gender equality, women’s empowerment and education.
  • No achievements will be sustainable without tackling climate change.
  • Investment in development is an investment in security; giving hope to youth will weaken extremism and retain would-be migrants.
  • Only the involvement of the private sector will provide the means to match development ambitions. 


Opening EDD17, International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica celebrated the best and brightest in development thinking who came together to inspire and be inspired at the ‘Davos for development’. In addition to the greatest number of high-level participants ever at this 2017 edition, a clear demonstration of the global community’s commitment to invest in development and make tangible progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), he drew attention to the 16 distinguished young leaders injecting a fresh perspective into discussions.

This message was reinforced by International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde who said the SDGs remain front and centre two years on largely thanks to the debates at and around European Development Days.

As Commission Vice-President and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini emphasised, the phase of implementation of the SDGs is now underway and the New European Consensus for Development is a radical document committing EU Member States to joint action and global alliances. Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said achieving consensus was not simple but that the consensus reflected a new era of non-prescriptive policy.

After Muscat, Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Antonio Tajani of the European Parliament and Mogherini had signed it, the latter called upon European Investment Bank head Werner Hoyer to add his crucial signature to get private firms on board to foster growth and create jobs.  

Juncker said participants had to seek ways of ensuring that those living in misery could find help. This mammoth task could only be achieved through cooperation between developed and developing countries in a partnership of equals based on dignity.

Alpha Condé, President of Guinea and Chair of the African Union, called on Africa to speak with one voice to turn its demography into a strength for the future through achieving food security, education for girls, and youth employment, as well as transport and energy infrastructure to underpin decent lives for its citizens. Arthur Peter Mutharika, Malawi’s president, underlined the need for investment in human capital to make the most of Africa’s resources.

Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo pointed out that his country’s demographics, with 73 % of the population below the age of 35, were representative of the whole of Africa. His fellow co-chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Advocates and Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg underlined that gender equality is not only a human right, but also has a tremendous effect on a country's growth.

Christine Lagarde backed this up with statistics highlighting the perceptible effect at a macroeconomic level and challenged all the leaders to do more for gender equality, not as a woman, but as Managing Director of the IMF. She said that 90 % of countries her organisation surveyed together with the World Bank had legal barriers to empowering women and called on them to work towards establishing a level legal playing field.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said the Paris Agreement on climate change may not be perfect, but that the preference of some states for defending multinational interests instead of the planet could only be deplored. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, said that Africa supported Paris because the continent was on the frontline. Guyana’s President David Granger reminded the audience of the perils of climate change for small island nations and low-lying coastal states.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda insisted that the dignity and safety of migrants in their country of destination were paramount. However, he emphasised that people usually leave because they feel their potential cannot be reached at home. Mutharika said young people were driven by a natural desire to find a better place in the world and that poverty and unemployment in Africa inevitably turned into a problem of migration in Europe. Sall called for growth measures to stem youth migration.

Noting that youth unemployment fuelled extremism and that 40 million jobs were needed every year to keep up, Solberg explained that though there was still a role for traditional aid, but pursuing the SDGs meant taking a holistic view integrating social, economic and environmental aspects.

Akufo-Addo said that African economies had been structurally rigid since colonial times and that the continent needed a more business-friendly and people-friendly economy through private sector empowerment and a shifting in focus from taxation to production. Sall said he saw EU-Africa as a strong, mutually beneficial partnership based on respect and innovative mechanisms to boost investment. 

    Femi Oke
    Joseph Muscat
    Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta
    David Granger
    President, Guyana
    Nana Akufo-Addo
    President, Ghana
    Erna Solberg
    Prime Minister, Norway
    Arthur Peter Mutharika
    President, Malawi
Photo gallery

Password for download : EDD2017