From Syria to South Sudan, and from Lake Chad to the Yemen, 2016 has seen more people displaced than ever before, more people perishing in pursuit of a better future, and a wave of populism sweeping from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. But when the going gets tough, we Europeans have a history of responding with even greater strength and solidarity.
Our development policy is one of the ways in which we play our part, both for our partners abroad and for citizens here at home. It's also about keeping the global commitments we made in 2015 to peace, prosperity, people, planet and partnerships. I'd like to briefly reflect on some of the highlights of our work in 2016 regarding each of these.
The focus of our development policy is and remains on those who need it the most. This year we have provided over EUR 500 million to people suffering the devastating consequences of El Niño. As well as addressing the immediate threat of hunger and drought, we are also taking measures to strengthen long-term resilience and increase food security, in both this and throughout a number of other crises.
Climate change is just one of the many sources of instability, which mean a record number of people are on the move in 2016. This is why we have stepped up our engagement to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, whilst recognising that regular and controlled migration can be a powerful driver of development. In short, migration should be about aspiration and not about desperation.
November 2016 marked the one year anniversary of one of our new innovative approaches to tackle the root causes of irregular migration, the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The use of Trust Funds allows us to be more coordinated, more flexible and more responsive to needs on the ground than ever before. This year, under the African Trust Fund, we have approved over 100 projects for over EUR 1.5 billion in record time, in order to reach those in need as quickly as possible.
Protecting our PLANET
In 2016, Marrakesh hosted the next climate change negotiations after the adoption of the first-ever legally-binding international agreement in Paris in 2015. This was billed as the conference of action and of Africa, which shows just how important this continent is in achieving truly sustainable development.
We must improve access to reliable and sustainable sources of energy as an engine of growth, without compromising our environment and natural resources. Through the commitments made this year, we want to improve access to energy for 30 million people in Africa, increase renewable energies by 5 gigawatts, and save 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually by 2020. Globally, we will support access for 40 million more people, 6.5 gigawatts of renewables, and 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide saved per year.
Securing stable and lasting PEACE
As well as climate change, security is another major reason for instability, without there can be no true development. In 2016, we announced new measures to support security sector reform and capacity-building in support of security and development. In short, this is about helping our partner countries to better manage and prevent crises, and to ensure long-term peace and democracy.
This year, the international community demonstrated its ongoing commitment to support peace and prosperity through the two successful donor conferences we hosted for Afghanistan and the Central African Republic, resulting in pledges of EUR 13.5 billion and EUR 2 billion respectively.
We also launched a new EU Trust Fund to support the ongoing peace process in Colombia, which has put an end to five decades of conflict.
Contributing to truly sustainable PROSPERITY
As well as the Trust Funds, we also proposed another innovative instrument this year, with the European External Investment Plan. In this way, we want to take the success of the internal Investment Plan beyond Europe's borders. Starting with Africa and the European Neighbourhood, it could bring up to EUR 88 billion additional investment to the countries, sectors and people who need it the most, namely women, young people, and small and medium enterprises.
Working together in PARTNERSHIP
This Plan embodies our new approach, which seeks to maximise the impact of our traditional development cooperation, by reaching out to new sources of revenue and new partnerships, including with the private sector.
This is at the heart of our proposals for a new European Consensus for Development published this year. They also emphasize the importance of women and young people - not just as beneficiaries, but as key drivers of development. We have started the conversation about what this means in practice for the future of our relationship with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
Finally, in terms of partnerships, the tenth annual edition of the European Development Days have established them firmly as the centre of gravity for the development community, with the highest ever number of participants.
Continuing our work in 2017
This year I visited 32 countries and met with 21 Presidents, 15 Prime Ministers, 55 ministers and more than 100 other high level officials. The incredible people from all walks of life that I have met along the way have given me many reasons to be optimistic for the future.
We have also seen an end to the world's oldest conflict in Colombia and witnessed a positive trend in carrying out democratic elections in our partner countries.
Yes, we still have our work to do. But I am convinced that the frameworks, tools and partnerships we have built over this year will put us on the path to lasting success. My very best wishes to all the friends and colleagues who have joined me on this journey in 2016. And let's keep up this good direction of travel in 2017!