UN aid needs to be 'better targeted' - Murray McCully

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully says for new development goals set by the United Nations to be more than a feel-good measure aid has to be better targeted and the red tape cut for smaller projects.

Giving New Zealand's statement at the summit for the new sustainable development goals set by the United Nations, McCully said they were particularly important for the Pacific region and New Zealand would play its part in trying to ensure those goals were met.

The goals will cover all countries rather than just the developing countries, and McCully said he welcomed goals in areas such as ocean fisheries, which were important for the economy of many Pacific islands. He called for a step up in surveillance for illegal fishing.

β€œIt is idle for wealthier countries to participate in debates about sustainable development when they are doing too little to stop the substantial theft of the most valuable asset of some of the poorest countries on the planet.”

However, he pointed to the failures of the Millennium Development Goals which were the predecessor of the new goals, saying of the 14 countries the goals applied to in the Pacific only two achieved all of the goals and three met more than half. Some had achieved none - statistics he described as "sobering reading.

β€œA key reason for the failure to achieve a better score-card with the MDGs has been a failure to prioritise developments with the greatest potential.

A second has been the propensity of the international development community to mistake activity for achievement. Of course we need good process to manage the expenditure of development funding, but that is no excuse for valuable development resources being squandered in lengthy bureaucratic process.”

He said the red tape attached to releasing the funding was appropriate for projects costing billions or hundreds of millions of dollars, but in the Pacific region the populations were small and the development projects were also small. The red tape added to the cost and delayed major projects, meaning development resources were "squandered" on bureaucracy.

The summit on the sustainable development goals was held on Sunday and speakers included Pope Francis and British Prime Minister David Cameron, who urged other leaders to pay their share of development aid funding and resourcing to ensure the goals were met.