I am, dear friends, happy to welcome you all – I have known some of you for at least 30 years. It is a great pleasure for me to have you here at this International Civil Society and Private-Sector Forum in Support of Afghanistan. I find your strength of purpose remarkable.
In my view, it was essential to hold this meeting prior to the International Conference taking place on 12 June this year, in the presence notably of President Hamid Karzai and the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon. (…)
Our primary objective is what we have called the “Afghanization of international aid”, i.e. a method, a way of listening to and being with the Afghans which must involve them all and benefit every one of them. Listening to local communities, civil society and the private sector is a first step towards the Afghans taking, as they must, ownership of the international aid. I.e. we must start by deliberately ensuring the Afghans’ long-term involvement in all the projects which, above all, concern them, before going on as soon as possible to give them complete responsibility for the projects.
What the Afghans say must be heard beyond Afghanistan. We need to change Afghanistan’s image in the minds of the general public in every country across the world, since so many countries have, and must be proud of, volunteers working in Afghanistan. (…)
The international aid, how it’s defined, what it’s gone to and the way it’s been implemented since 2001, has not been fully effective. Afghan reality resists our Western development models. (…) We must revise our tools and our approach; and this forum wants to contribute to this through your experience, knowledge and analyses.
Let’s be bold, let’s be innovative, let’s be clear about this. It is from your experience that we shall be able to learn a number of lessons which you can present at the International Conference on 12 June. (…)./.