At the opening of the Montréal Millennium Summit on April 15, Pierre Arcand, Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, reaffirmed Québec’s commitment to the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Addressing an audience of international experts, Mr. Arcand noted that Québec has been a true pioneer in international solidarity for over thirty years through its recognition of the vital role civil society plays in development.
“Since Québec is not a bilateral donor, we decided to place civil society at the centre of our international solidarity efforts with a view to targeting and implementing our initiatives more effectively, in line with the fundamental needs of local communities,” said the Minister.
International solidarity is one of the five priority areas set out in Québec’s International Policy. In 2008-2009, the Government of Québec will be investing nearly $50 million in solidarity initiatives, including the approximately $7 million contributed by the Ministère des Relations internationales (MRI); nearly 14% will be used to raise awareness of related issues in Québec. Every year, the Québec International Development and Québec Without Borders (QSF) programs support more than 20 development projects and 400 solidarity internships conducted under the auspices of Québec civil society organizations.
Since it was established 15 years ago, the QSF program has assigned nearly 5000 young Quebecers to international cooperation internships in more than 20 francophone countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Taking part in a wide range of activities often involving awareness programs in the health, education, agriculture and environmental sectors, the participants gain valuable intercultural experience working on sustainable development-based community initiatives.
In keeping with the international community’s goals and its own capacity for action, Québec has chosen to focus on value-added initiatives, primarily in its areas of proven expertise such as human resources training and governance capacity development. Knowledge transfers are carried out through the Centre for the International Promotion of Québec Public Expertise (Centre de valorisation internationale de l’expertise publique québécoise – CVIEPQ), established in partnership with the National School of Public Administration (ENAP). The Centre’s commitments include a project aimed at strengthening public management in Haiti (PARGEP), which is helping the Haitian government implement its national growth and poverty reduction strategy and government reform plans.
The UN Millennium Declaration was adopted by the international community in 2000. The Millennium Development Goals—the most comprehensive and specific set of poverty-reduction objectives ever adopted—have built a broad consensus on issues of common concern.
Speech by Pierre Arcand (in French)
Québec’s International Policy: contributing to the cause of international solidarity
Montréal Millennium Summit