PM Trudeau delivers remarks following the conclusion of the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan, Armenia
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We are coming to the end of a very productive summit here in Armenia. Since its creation the International Organization of La Francophonie has worked to support not only our shared language and heritage, but also our common values: equality, freedom of expression, respect for democracy and rule of law, and the defence of human rights. These are the ideals that guide our discussions and decisions. And it is by supporting these common values that we are able to work together with respect and solidarity to advance our priorities on a wide range of issues. This is the power of the IOF.
This summit has been a chance for us to strengthen the already strong ties between Francophone countries and build a more prosperous and just future for our fellow citizens. After all, the challenges we face are considerable and complex. Challenges like the rise of terrorism, the effects of climate change and youth unemployment have consequences that reach beyond borders. Francophone countries know this well; these issues are key priorities for the IOF and were topics for discussion over the course of this summit.
This meeting allowed us to discuss our views and chart a path forward. For Canada, building economies that work for everyone is the best way to solve our problems. Whether it be trade, environment or employment, we must ensure that everyone can benefit from our progress. Many Francophone countries are currently experiencing exceptional growth. I am thinking, for example, of countries in Africa that exemplify not only the future of La Francophonie, but of the world. Growing economies and populations are creating unprecedented opportunities for citizens, entrepreneurs and their governments and partners. But the widening gaps, the persistent inequalities, threaten long-term prosperity on the continent and around the world. Canada is committed to being a strong partner for fellow members... for African countries. As they strive to attract investments and create opportunities for their citizens, especially for youth, they can count on Canada’s support. The lack of jobs for young people is a big concern for my African colleagues, so with two other IOF members—Rwanda and Ghana—we co-facilitated, with the United Kingdom, a round table at the United Nations on youth employment in Africa. Canada has also announced a new Canadian headquarters for the Global Infrastructure Hub. The Global Infrastructure Hub brings together public and private investors to develop critical infrastructure projects. This creates jobs and lays the foundation for shared prosperity.
Investing in infrastructure is critical for achieving Africa’s sustainable development objectives. And I was shocked to learn that private infrastructure investment in Africa has fallen each year since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, and it’s now approaching a ten-year low. This unacceptable trend is one we must urgently reverse if we are to meet the targets set forth in Agenda 2030. Capital, resources, and expertise to Africa are key if we want to foster a climate where more opportunities are offered to youth; and this new Canadian office of the Global Infrastructure Hub will help get us there.
Leaders have a special responsibility to set things right and ensure that all our citizens have an equal and real chance to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. This is an enormous challenge, and French-speaking countries must work together to achieve this vision of a more just global society: a society that gives fair and equal opportunities to women, that respects worker’s rights, that protects LGBTQ2 rights and that helps youth to acquire the skills they need by implementing accessible education systems that are adapted to the realities of the work force.
To support the efforts of our Francophone allies, I am pleased to announce two new Canadian initiatives in Africa. Today, Canada is launching the “Senegalese Women’s Voice and Leadership” project, investing $6.5 million to help empower women. Senegal currently has one of the highest growth rates in the world. To maintain this growth for future generations, women must play a fundamental part in their country’s economic future. In addition, Canada is proud to invest $18 billion to fight gender-based violence in the Congo.
Violence against women is unacceptable and inexcusable. Yesterday, I also announced to our Francophone partners Canada’s intention to provide additional aid in Mali in the area of sexual and reproductive health. We also intend to increase support for the empowerment of Malian women. If we want to encourage social and economic development, Canada must pay close attention to the consequences of conflicts on citizens. This increased aid for our Malian friends is an example of our commitment in this regard.
On that point, I would like to commend the exceptional work of Michaëlle Jean, who has established herself as an ardent defender of women in the French-speaking world. As the head of the IOF, Michaëlle has made this Canadian priority into an important Francophone priority as well. We thank her for her leadership and her tireless efforts to expand the reach of the IOF and its program. She should be very proud of her invaluable contributions, and I know that all Canadians are grateful to her. I would also like to congratulate the new Secretary General, Louise Mushikiwabo, on her election. Canada will work with her to advance our common goals.
Following a productive summit with our Francophone partners, we are now beginning a bilateral visit here in Armenia. This will be an opportunity for us to deepen the friendship between our two countries and work together towards our shared goals.