Second Committee Must Focus on Overarching Objective of Tackling Poverty, Structural Needs, Delegates Say as General Debate Begins

Eradication of poverty and adherence to financial commitments were crucial in improving the global economic infrastructure, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today, as it began its general debate.

Delivering the keynote address, Columbia University Economics Professor Arvind Panagariya said that able leadership and implementation of good policies were essential in achieving global economic objectives.  Speaking on the theme “A Road to Rapid Economic Transformation”, he stated that “without the capability to implement good policies, policies themselves would not be successful”.

Although progress had been made by agreeing on global economic objectives, as best summarized in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the related Sustainable Development Goals, the pathways to achieving the multiplicity of objectives remained in dispute, he said.  The international community must focus on rapid economic growth to transform the global economy.

Only China, Taiwan [Province of China], Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea had grown at 8 to 10 per cent income over two decades or more, he continued.  Noting lessons from those high-growth economies which had rapidly transformed themselves from traditional to modern economies, he identified six common features, including rapid expansion of merchandise exports; labour-intensive manufacturing during early phases of growth; swift growth in services; movement of the workforce from agricultural activities into manufacturing and services; rapid urbanization; and rise in wages.

Trade openness would work, he stated.  However, progress would depend on governance and policy packages allowing low barriers to trade, ensuring adequate infrastructure, supporting trade facilitation, providing complementary factor-market policies, resisting subsidies for products not based on natural cost advantage and promoting open foreign direct investment (FDI) policies.  Citing common concerns and challenges related to automation and rising protectionism, he urged countries to take advantage of prospects to pursue manufacturing and export-based strategies in the increasingly large global market.

Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, likewise noted that a shared vision for humanity had emerged since the 2030 Agenda.  Adding that development would require integrated and cross-sectoral approaches and a better understanding of the issues at hand, he said the rate of progress had been far slower than what would be required to meet the targets laid out by 2030.

The potential for growth had not yet been realized due to weak investment and low productivity growth, compounded by high levels of economic uncertainty, he said.  Average incomes declined in several regions over the last year and extreme weather events highlighted the need to address environmental impacts due to climate change.  All countries must foster a more inclusive, sustainable globalization process.  Leaders must work together to understand the benefits of globalization, and the international community must take concrete action on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to ensure positive results.

Science, technology and innovation were at the heart of accelerating progress towards sustainable development, he said, adding that the speed of technological change could have a sweeping impact across all the Goals.  Nevertheless, devising effective ways to mitigate the challenges of those technologies would be critical.  The future could not be predicted, but it could be invented.

The representative from Haiti, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), added that operational activities of the United Nations development system should bear in mind the need for capacity-building in least developed countries so they could alleviate extreme poverty and hunger.  Urbanization must be an engine for development, as it had the ability to change and improve living conditions.

In a similar vein, the representative from Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was clear that the pace of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation must be accelerated.  Global economic governance in an increasingly interconnected world was of critical importance for the success of national efforts.  The work of the Committee must focus on the overarching objective of poverty eradication in all its forms and dimensions.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, the representative from Bangladesh said that least developed countries continued to be plagued by multiple structural challenges.  Under the current growth trajectory, some 38 per cent of those States would still be facing extreme poverty by 2030.

Least developed countries in conflict and post-conflict situations, as well as those experiencing fragility, remained unable to provide basic State services for their citizens, she said.  Adding that the special needs of those countries would require greater recognition, she called for the establishment of a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder resilience-building mechanism that would enable responses at the national, regional and global levels.

Speaking on behalf of the Group of African States, the representative from Egypt noted that out of 800 million people living below the poverty line, 400 million were Africans.  Greater efforts would be needed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Africa, as progress remained hampered by the unequal global environment that was “unfavourable” and “agnostic” to his continent’s financing for development needs.

Many speakers also highlighted critical investments in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, transport, energy, agriculture, water and sanitation for all, among others.

Also speaking were representatives of the Philippines (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Nauru (for the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States), Solomon Islands (for the Pacific Island Forum countries), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Nicaragua, Malaysia, Norway, Canada (also for Australia and New Zealand), Costa Rica, Bhutan, Iran, Indonesia, Panama, United States, Botswana, Lebanon, Thailand, India, Viet Nam, Israel, Russian Federation, Myanmar, Peru, Cuba, Syria, Malawi, Malta, Tajikistan, Monaco, Republic of Korea, Colombia, Guatemala, Mauritania, Sierra Leone and Kyrgyzstan, as well as a representative of the European Union delegation.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 3 October, to continue its general debate.

Opening Remarks

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), said that despite the good progress reported by countries and their partners, it was evident that the world was facing a challenging period for sustainable development and poverty eradication.  The current global situation offered new and exciting opportunities for collaboration and human advancement, yet many of those opportunities were compounded by risks.  It was imperative to work towards fulfilling the promise of a fair and inclusive globalization, yet many complex changes accompanied that phenomenon.  Without inclusive, ambitious policies to tackle the existing challenges, inequalities would grow and become increasingly entrenched.  That was especially true of the exclusion of women, he said, highlighting that greater gender equality had been repeatedly demonstrated to have multiplier effects on poverty reduction.  Nevertheless, women and girls remained disadvantaged in various dimensions in all countries.

There was a need for awareness-raising, knowledge exchange and capacity-building with respect to information and communications technology (ICT) for development and the benefits of the digital economy, he stressed.  Yet, despite their potential, science, technology and innovation could not solve the problem of climate change in the absence of huge economic and social shifts.  To achieve a healthy planet, the world must harness the full power of breakthroughs that had been made in ecosystems management, sustainable transportation and clean and renewable energies, among others.  Throughout the session, the Committee would consider a wide range of agenda items on poverty, macroeconomic policy questions, financing for development, sustainable development issues, urban development, countries in special situations, agriculture, globalization and interdependence and ICT.

LIU ZHENMIN, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global vision had emerged.  That historic Agenda set out a shared vision of humanity and demanded new ways of working together, which would require integrated and cross-sectoral approaches and a better understanding of the issues.  However, the rate of progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was thus far slower than what would be required to meet the targets laid out by 2030.  The world economic situation and prospects were showing a rebound and the general economic sentiment had improved, however the potential for growth had not yet been realized due to weak investment and low productivity growth, compounded by high levels of economic uncertainty.  Average incomes declined in several regions over the last year and extreme weather events highlighted the need to address environmental impacts due to climate change.

He said that all countries must foster a globalization process that was more inclusive, sustainable and that left no one behind.  Leaders must work to understand the benefits of globalization, while minimizing its negative impacts.  The international community needed to take concrete and accelerated action on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda to ensure better results on the ground.  Tax avoidance and illicit financial flows needed to be limited, while the benefits of South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation must be fully realized.  Countries should reorient incentives through financial regulation and policymaking to ensure private finance was aligned with sustainable development.  New evidence-based tools, strengthened domestic institutions and broadened multi-stakeholder partnerships were also of great importance.  Science, technology and innovation were at the heart of accelerating progress towards sustainable development, he said, adding that the speed of technological change could have a sweeping impact across all the Goals.  Nevertheless, devising effective ways to mitigate the challenges of those technologies would be critical.  The future could not be predicted, but it could be invented, he said.  The importance of capacity development for achieving the future development goals was evident, and in that context he noted that Member States had made it clear that they needed the support of the United Nations system on building capacities in data collection and disaggregation.  This was particularly true for the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.

Keynote Address

ARVIND PANAGARIYA, Professor of Economics at Columbia University, stated that able leadership was critical in implementing development policies, and without the capability to implement good policies, the policies themselves would not be successful.  The global economic objectives were best summarized in the Sustainable Development Goals, however disagreements remained on the pathways to achieving them.  Rapid economic growth was the most important instrument to attaining the Goals.  That growth occurred through a direct “pull up” effect, such as increased employment, higher income and enhanced access to education and health.  The next significant tool was indirect revenue, which constituted the financing of large-scale anti-poverty programmes, public education and health, investment in environmental sustainability, and spending on defence and security.  Referencing India throughout the 1950s, he suggested that low levels of income hampered the redistribution of income, and resulted in inadequate resources for effective administrative machinery, and governance problems in the public sector.

Only China, Taiwan [Province of China], Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea had grown at 8 to 10 per cent income over two decades or more, he continued.  Those States and provinces had rapidly transformed themselves from traditional to modern economies, thereby eliminating poverty in practically all aspects.  India continued on the same path over the last 14 years, resulting in a growth rate of 7.8 per cent.  There were six features that were common to those economic transformations: rapid expansion of merchandise exports; labour-intensive manufacturing during early phases of growth; swift growth in services; movement of the workforce from agricultural activities into manufacturing and services; rapid urbanization; and rise in wages.

Trade openness would work, he argued, because countries specialized in and exported products that they produced cheaply, and they imported goods that were largely more expensive for them to produce locally.  Similarly, an exporter would compete against and learn from others, leading to continuous improvement in productivity through upgrades in technology, management practices, product quality, and cost-cutting measures. The large export market would additionally allow countries to: exploit economies of scale; provide exporters access to the highest-quality inputs to achieve higher quality products; and facilitate high levels of imports and exposure to foreign products and processes.  To that end, governance and policy packages should allow low barriers to trade, ensure adequate infrastructure, support trade facilitation, provide complementary factor-market policies, resist subsidies for products that were not based on natural cost advantage and promote open foreign direct investment policies.

Regarding challenges, he stated that automation should not be considered a threat, as countries would have a 15 year window to pursue manufacturing and exports-based strategies.  Historically, automation had led to readjustments that created new jobs fields.  Similarly, rising protectionism should be avoided as the large global market, which may expand and shrink, was less consequential than whether countries were active in the world exports market.

When the floor opened for discussion, the representative of Algeria asked whether economics should be considered a science, queried about austerity and inflation in response to internal public debt and requested clarity on global trade’s impact on investment and economic governance.

The representative from the United Republic of Tanzania asked how the international community might “save” global trade.

Mr. PANAGARIYA, responding to Algeria’s representative, stated that economics was social science, and the practice of its principles through policy-making was an art form.  Regarding austerity and inflation, he said that such measures could be useful in the short term, however not on a sustained basis as it would lead to the accumulation of debt and result in crisis.  On global economic governance and the Economic and Social Council’s role, he suggested that the multiplicities of instruments were necessary to addressing the array of global objectives, and the complexity of the modern world.  Responding to the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, he said that much progress had been made in global trade governance, although concerns remained around the World Trade Organization (WTO).  He suggested that greater attention be given to the appointment of judges to the appellate body, and that developing States pressured countries that “drag their feet”.


DIEGO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was clear that the pace of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation must be accelerated.  Global economic governance in an increasingly interconnected world was of critical importance for the success of national efforts aimed at achieving sustainable development.  The Group reiterated its belief that the work of the session must focus on the overarching objective of poverty eradication in all its forms and dimensions and the pursuit of sustainable development in a balanced, coordinated and integrated manner.  He recalled the importance of the full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation and highlighted the significance of assessing progress, identifying challenges to implementing the financing for development outcomes, addressing new and emerging topics of relevance to implementing the Addis Agenda and providing policy recommendations for action by the international community regarding the support of developed countries to developing countries.

Investing in sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including transport, energy, water and sanitation for all was a prerequisite for achieving many development objectives, he continued.  Trade was still recognized as an engine for growth and sustainable development, despite a regression of 10 per cent in 2016.  He reaffirmed the central role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in today’s global economy that provided the multilateral framework of rules governing international trade relations, served as an essential mechanism for preventing and resolving trade disputes and a forum for addressing trade-related issues.  Sovereign debt matters should concern both developed and developing countries, he stressed.  The Group reaffirmed that international development cooperation and official development assistance (ODA) were essential for sustainable development.  It was important to address the diverse needs and challenges faced by countries in special situations, he said, adding that South-South cooperation was a compliment to, rather than a substitute for, North-South cooperation.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, Jr., (Philippines) spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associated himself with the Group of 77.  He highlighted that the Group’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $2.55 trillion, with a year-on-year real GDP growth rate of 4.7 per cent, despite the challenging global environment.  ASEAN placed great importance on inclusive, innovation-led growth, and in that context, leaders had reaffirmed their commitment to the 2030 Agenda, which should be implemented in a mutually-reinforcing manner to building an inclusive and people-oriented, people-centred community for the benefit of all.  Sustainable development was a regional and global priority, and there were clear complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda.  Pursuit of those plans would allow for the identification of comprehensive solutions to address regional challenges, including poverty eradication, disaster management and climate change.

The Group of 77 looked forward to a joint study between the ASEAN Secretariat and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on the complementarities and ongoing efforts to promote sustainable development cooperation across the region.  He recalled that an ASEAN — United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) symposium on financing for the Sustainable Development Goals had been held in August, with the aim of raising awareness, support and buy-in among citizens.  The Group was pleased by the outcome documents that would be signed, adopted or noted in November at the thirty-first ASEAN summit which directly supported the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly on nutrition, health risk reduction and management, climate change, gender equality and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that capacity-building would be critical for any efforts aimed at sustainable development and for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  In that context, mobilization of financial resources for capacity-building, as well as technology transfer, were of utmost importance.  CARICOM believed it was vital to help developing countries achieve long term viability for their debt as well as to ensure financial inclusion.  In that regard, the Community had launched an appeal to the United Nations development system, requesting them to go beyond a simple awareness of the situation with respect to concessional financing.  Among the major challenges in the region was so-called de-risking that had upset traditional banking relationships and could have larger implications.  The lack of services offered by banks affected not only the Caribbean region, but could also pose a bigger threat to global financial security.

She highlighted that CARICOM recognized the need for urgent action to strengthen the integrity of the financial system and correct the false perception that the Caribbean region was high risk.  Operational activities of the United Nations development system should bear in mind the need for capacity-building in least developed countries so they could alleviate extreme poverty and hunger.  Urbanization must be an engine for development as it had the ability to change and improve living conditions.  CARICOM strongly supported the United Nations reform effort currently underway and welcomed the leadership of the Secretary-General in that regard.  Further, it welcomed the recent resolution calling for the strengthening of cooperation between CARICOM and the United Nations system, as such assistance would be a key element towards peace, security and sustainable development for the region.  Climate change was one of the most significant challenges small island developing States faced, particularly in the Caribbean region, which was still reeling from the damage done by Hurricane Irma and Maria.

MAHJABEEN KHALED HOSSAIN (Bangladesh) spoke on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associated herself with the Group of 77.  She noted that least developed countries continued to be plagued by multiple structural challenges, and that under the current growth trajectory, some 38 per cent of those States would still be facing extreme poverty by 2030.  Least developed countries in conflict and post-conflict situations as well as those experiencing fragility were unable to provide basic State services for their citizens.  She expressed concern about the various studies conducted by the United Nations that showed that those States remained far behind in the achievement of their development goals.  The special needs of those countries required greater recognition, she stressed, urging a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder resilience building mechanism be established, which would enable measures to be established at the national, regional and global levels to respond to various global crises.  There were visible efforts made by least developed countries to align existing policies with the 2030 Agenda, although the international community must provide support for those efforts.

The widespread, unprecedented impacts of climate change disproportionately burdened the poorest countries, she said.  ODA continued to be the largest and most critical source of development assistance for the most vulnerable countries, she noted, calling upon development partners to fulfil their internationally-agreed targets.  The least developed countries looked forward to greater foreign direct investment (FDI) as a means to address capacity-building deficits and achieve full production.  Orderly, safe and responsible migration was of great importance, including through the implementation of migration policies.  She welcomed the establishment of the technology bank for the least developed countries, although there must be greater efforts to mobilize resources for its sustainable function.  She went on to note that several least developed States had recently met the criteria for graduation, although the existing process related to advancement and smooth transition should be strengthened so that recently-graduated countries would not face uncertainties in achieving their development objectives.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that the structural challenges of the international economy and reform of the international system must take place in a way that considered the challenges of developing countries.  The Community was committed to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions in a balanced and integrated way.  Regional and global efforts sought common solutions for the benefit of all people, leaving no one behind; although to do so, adequate financial and non-financial resources were needed.  He advocated for efforts to obtain a supportive environment for sustainable development and for overcoming challenges posed by inadequate financing for development.  Developed countries must comply with their ODA commitments, he said, while noting with concern that countries’ access to concessional financing dropped as economies grew.  CELAC advocated for the identification of alternative financing and recognized the importance of increasing international support for triangular cooperation.

Continuing, he said that CELAC recognized the need to foster international tax cooperation, strengthen regulatory tax frameworks and support for intergovernmental initiatives to combat tax evasion and avoidance, corruption and money laundering.  The Community called on the United Nations system to develop transparent measurement criteria for sustainability that went beyond per capita income, and whereby poverty and structural gaps were recognized in all forms and dimensions.  The mandates of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes must tackle the interrelated nature of the Goals.  He reaffirmed the Community’s commitment to the promotion of gender equality and the advancement of women to ensure they enjoyed their fundamental freedoms and human rights.  He reaffirmed the Community’s commitment to the implementation of public policies that ensured a universal, inclusive, quality education for young people and reiterated the commitment to the CELAC plan for food and nutrition security and the eradication of hunger by 2025.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) spoke on behalf of the Group of African States and associated himself with the Group of the 77.  Stressing that the eradication of poverty remained the greatest challenge to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he noted that out of 800 million people living below the poverty line, 400 million were Africans.  Greater efforts would be needed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Africa, as progress remained hampered by the unequal global environment that was “unfavourable” and “agnostic” to his continent’s financing for development needs.  He highlighted the importance of combating illicit financial flows with the establishment of strong international cooperation which could prevent the drainage of African assets, and identify and return assets to the countries of origin.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its implementation plan focused on financial and infrastructure gaps, he said.  Integrated infrastructure development and modern technology would help in the swift transformation of African economies.  He called for assistance to enhance innovation and access to technology, and to that end, expressed appreciation for the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries.  Noting the pursuit of a continental free trade area, he sought support of partners in multilateral trade and agricultural sectors.  He also referenced the effect of climate change, which had been devastating and curtailed development prospects.  To that end, he supported the outcome documents from the October 2016 United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), and expressed optimism that reform processes would enhance cooperation with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other stakeholders to overcome sustainable development challenges.  In closing, he reiterated that Africa should remain at the centre of global partnership for development.

RENNIER GADABU (Nauru) spoke on behalf of the Group of Pacific Small Island Developing States, and associated himself with the statement to be delivered by the Alliance of Small Island States and Group of 77.  He noted that reforms to the United Nations development system were taking place as part of a broader reform effort which would bring shifts to the management paradigm and the peace and security architecture.  All those would have implications on the work of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), and in that context, steps must be taken to ensure that those reforms supported, rather than undermined, the colossal undertaking that would be necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Further, the international community must be attuned to the interlinkages between areas that had traditionally been separated, such as the security implications of climate change.

It was critical that the Committee maintain its universality and commitment to the most vulnerable, which included the small island developing States, which possessed unique vulnerabilities that made it a “special case” for sustainable development, he said.  There needed to be a critical look at the eligibility criteria for accessing to financing for development and technical assistance provided to those States, he said, highlighting that classification per income often excluded them from preferential treatment, despite significant vulnerabilities.  The worsening impacts of climate change had led to tragic consequences in recent months, including a staggering number of lives lost.  With those types of extreme weather events becoming increasingly common, it was important that the Committee be attuned to that dangerous, new reality and the need to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in the places most at risk.

ROBERT SISILO (Solomon Islands), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum countries, said its endorsement of the 2030 Pacific road map demonstrated the region’s serious approach to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and meeting its international commitments.  Noting that its member States continued to count on the support of the United Nations and other partners, he stressed that climate change had political and socioeconomic implications for peace and security, and affected countries such as small island developing States more than others due to their constrained capacity to respond.

Members of the Pacific Islands Forum faced challenges including such existential threats as rising sea levels, intensification of natural hazards, economic problems exacerbated by declining fish stocks and the deterioration of the ocean’s health, he continued.  “These crucial matters require our utmost attention to ensure that no one is left behind,” he stressed, urging the United Nations system to increase its focus on and assistance to small island developing States and calling on international financial institutions to facilitate those nations with greater access to concessional financing and climate funds.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, underlined the importance of continued space and recognition for the voices of countries in special situations in the Committee’s work.  Indeed, small island developing States were a special case for sustainable development and they continued to face unique challenges due to their remote locations, highly dispersed populations, distance to markets, diseconomies of scale, susceptibility to external shocks and vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.  Recalling that those issues were now recognized in various international agreements including the small island developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, he stressed that such nations required clear and coordinated support from across the United Nations system now more than ever.

“The multitude of overlapping challenges [small island developing States] face is most visible in devastating hurricanes” that had destroyed many such islands in the Caribbean in recent weeks, he said.  Those extreme weather events were made more frequent and intense by climate change, and the inherent vulnerabilities and limited capacity of islands to bounce back were two key issues requiring more consideration.  In that regard, he reiterated the call for the international financial institutions to enhance access to concessional financing, taking in account small island developing States’ specific challenges and vulnerabilities, including the impact of climate change on their economies.  Among other things, he also called for the participation of those States in the decision-making and norm-setting processes that affected them.

JOANNE ADAMSON, of the European Union delegation, said many citizens on her continent and elsewhere felt left behind by economic recovery and were apprehensive about globalization.  Strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, which relied on multilateral cooperation and a rules-based order, was vital in addressing the root causes of large movements of refugees and migrants.  The international community had continued to present its internal and external responses to shape globalization in line with shared interests and values.  The 2030 Agenda was the reference point for efforts the international community must take.

Climate change continued to constitute among the greatest and most pressing challenges in the common effort to achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty, she said.  The 2015 Paris Agreement was the cornerstone of global efforts to tackle climate change and effectively implement the 2030 Agenda.  It was necessary to fully implement the Paris Agreement on climate change in a timely manner and emphasize protecting the environment against further degradation.  The Union would work with all partners who shared the conviction that the Agreement was essential in protecting the planet as well as economic growth and future jobs.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, citing “evident progress” in the implementation of global development agendas, said his group of States nevertheless continued to see mixed results on key socioeconomic indicators.  They had experienced a decline in annual GDP growth from 6.9 per cent in 2013 to 2.6 per cent in 2016, and most people in those countries still lived in extreme poverty.  In addition, the share of global merchandise exports coming from landlocked developing countries fell from 0.96 per cent in 2015 to 0.88 per cent in 2016 and many such countries had persistent trade deficits and most remained vulnerable due to volatile commodity prices and slow economic growth.  Infrastructure deficits also remained high and the group still lagged behind the rest of the world on energy, with at least two-thirds of its population relying on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.

Calling for efforts to close technological gaps to better enable poverty eradication and inequality reduction, he went on to outline the negative impact of climate change, desertification and land degradation on many landlocked developing countries, which remained among the most water-stressed in the world.  Despite all those significant needs, ODA flows to landlocked developing countries had decreased from $26.1 billion in 2014 to $24.8 billion in 2015.  At the Committee’s present session, Member States must work to advance collective solutions to building the capabilities of landlocked developing countries, generating sustainable livelihoods, contributing to food security, increasing incomes and improving the quality of life in those nations.  Addressing the high trade costs they faced was another important issue, he said, underlining the importance of implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement in that regard.  Finally, while South-South cooperation continued to be critical, he warned that it should not be a substitute to North-South and triangular cooperation.

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua) said that to achieve a just world order, her nation advocated for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and an end of the economic measures imposed against the country.  Endemic poverty and inequality were more pronounced than ever, especially among vulnerable and marginalized groups, and those living under colonial occupation or foreign intervention.  All countries must meet their development commitments, and representatives must work together in the Committee to overcome challenges.  Reiterating Nicaragua’s commitment to financing for development, she underscored the importance of partnerships to facilitate access to financial and technological resources.  The country achieved a “privileged” macroeconomic situation with sustained economic growth, characterized by a GDP growth of 5.1 per cent.  Nicaragua, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), ranked third in terms of fastest economic growth in the Latin American and Caribbean region.  Additionally, the country reduced extreme poverty by nearly half due in part to a consolidated partnership between the Government, private sector and international cooperation.  She called for increased actions to combat climate change, and urged developed countries to undertake leadership roles to address unsustainable consumption patterns, and meet international commitments.  Nicaragua would continue to advocate for climate justice and compensation, appeal for enhanced disaster risk reduction, and to that end, she encouraged donors to provide support.  She also reiterated solidarity with the State of Palestine and their struggle for freedom, and urged for full inclusion of that matter in the Committee’s agenda.

KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia) said his country had taken several steps to implement the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level in a systematic and measurable manner.  It had established a multi-stakeholder, participatory governance structure spearheaded by the National Sustainable Development Goal Council, which was chaired by the Prime Minister.  That was followed by national symposiums and forums to promote participation of various stakeholders.  Malaysia had then conducted studies on data readiness and gap analysis.  It had also carried out a mapping exercise involving non-governmental organizations and the private sector to align the Goals with the Eleventh Malaysia Plan initiatives.  Finally, his country had drawn up a national goals road map to guide implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

TORE HATTREM (Norway) said the international community must increase collective efforts to prevent conflicts and wars, and build basic social and economic infrastructure to reach the most vulnerable.  Sustainable transformation would hinge on the ability to address climate change and save the oceans.  To that end, Norway supported the establishment of the new Climate Action Team under the Secretary-General, and welcomed the appointment of a Special Envoy for the Ocean.  The universality of the 2030 Agenda would be its greatest strength, and Norway remained committed to accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals domestically and through international cooperation.  Similarly, the United Nations must do its part, and his country welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to reposition the development system to enhance collaboration, accountability and transparency.  Funding, he continued, could be both a driver of change and an impediment.  He welcomed the proposed funding compact to improve the quality and predictability of funding for the development system, as well as the increase of funding modalities to provide incentives.  Norway’s ODA contribution would remain around 1 per cent of its GDP, above the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent. Likewise, he called for strengthened efforts to mobilize domestic resources for development and address illicit financial flows.

MARC-ANDRE BLANCHARD (Canada), also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, stressed the need to promote gender equality as well as women and girls’ empowerment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Promoting gender equality was among the most effective ways of eliminating poverty, creating lasting peace, promoting inclusive prosperity and achieving sustainable development.  An estimated $28 trillion was missing from global GDP (about $74 trillion) because no country present in the room had successfully achieved gender equality.  Thus, world economic output was less than three quarters of what it could be.

He said that Canada, Australia and New Zealand were committed to implementing the Goals domestically, while working with international partners to achieve them around the world.  Most of the focus of domestic implementation was directed towards indigenous peoples, who often ranked among the furthest behind.  A major preoccupation would be satisfying human needs for greater equality and decent work for all.  That implied a need to enact policies expanding opportunities for business, creating good, well-paying jobs for workers and delivering meaningful economic growth benefiting all citizens, not only the wealthiest.  Canada, Australia and New Zealand would continue to pursue a progressive trade agenda promoting meaningful trade liberalization, ensuring the benefits of trade were enjoyed broadly across societies.

DIEGO PADILLA (Costa Rica) underscored the importance of linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals and noted that macroeconomic indicators and poverty reduction did not reflect the capacity of persons to overcome the latter.  With a view to align implementation strategies, Costa Rica would cosponsor a resolution to adopt a decade of family farming for 2019‑28, and seek alignment of global, regional and international commitments.  He stressed the importance of international benchmarks to promote good governance and enforce adequate redistribution of wealth.  Likewise, he reiterated the belief that transparent governance, and the detection and prevention of illicit financial flows was essential to ensure accountability and adherence to international norms.  Costa Rica promoted an ambitious environmental vision and shared their experience in forest conservation and renewable energy.  The commitments made in the Paris Agreement should be reflected in the language of the Committee, he stated.  Costa Rica supported the repositioning of the United Nations system to include a multidimensional vision of development, and a restructuring of the classification of countries, particularly in response to the needs of middle-income States.  Developing countries must have high‑quality disaggregated, evidence‑based data to monitor progress on sustainable development.  He reaffirmed the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation to enhance public and private investment.

DOMA TSHERING (Bhutan) stressed the importance of strengthening global partnerships and means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, including ODA.  While pleased it had graduated from the least developed country category, Bhutan wished to ensure it continued to develop in a sure and sustained manner.  The country needed to focus on the Goals, which could be game-changers and had the potential to bring about transformative change.  Development of a robust private sector, including small and medium enterprises, structural transformation of the economy and building a strong and resilient infrastructure would put her country in a position to achieve other Goals.  She appealed to development partners to support Bhutan in those areas, welcoming progress towards establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, called for more effective international assistance and solidarity in support of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries.  The United Nations should play a critical coordinating role in that regard, he said, adding that it must be fit for purpose and ready to support the needs and priorities of those countries.  As sustainable development and peace could only flourish together — and as incidents of conflict and extremism had increased in recent years — he said it was critical to address the diverse needs and challenges of countries and regions, including the Middle East, to achieve sustainable development.  Addressing poverty there was a vital requirement for regional stability and prosperity, he stressed, adding that upholding a universal, rules-based, open non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system that contributed to growth and sustained development was also necessary, particularly for developing countries.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that while progress had been made in implementing the 2030 Agenda, many targets still lagged — and often with detrimental impacts.  While the 2030 Agenda set broad and ambitious goals, each was important and all were interdependent.  “The success or failure of one will impact the other,” he said.  Citing such examples as persistent poverty and the impacts of climate change, he said the “beyond-border” nature of those challenges and the fact that resources to address them were scattered globally meant that solidarity, collaboration and coordination were needed to create long-lasting solutions.  In that context, the Committee should play a key role in strengthening and revitalizing global partnerships for the Agenda’s implementation; ensuring coherency in its implementation as well as those of the Addis Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement and others; and ensuring sufficient capacity and resources were made available, including through the fulfilment of ODA commitments.

LAURA FLORES (Panama) stressed that a strengthened multilateral development system would greatly help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  International cooperation was vital in that process in the areas of financial resources as well as capacity and best practises.  There was a need to tackle the needs and challenges of developing countries, including middle-income nations.  The global community must recognize middle-income counties as subjects of cooperation in fulfilling the Goals and achieving the 2030 Agenda.  She emphasized the need to boost South-South cooperation without replacing North-South cooperation.  Adding that implementing the Paris Agreement was imperative to achieving the Goals, she said multilateral efforts must continue.  The international community must also continue to work towards transparency of the international financial system as well as the eradication of illicit financial flows.

Ms. CURRIE (United States) said the United States supported the vision for reform of the United Nations system and pledged to be partners in championing those reforms for greater peace and harmony in the world.  The Committee could not be excused from that reform, “we have too many words and not enough action, too much politicization and not enough results,” she stated.  The delegates must strive to limit overlap, have fewer reports and have more effective outcomes.  Change in the Committee should not be negotiable, she continued.  Additional effort should be given to increase the impact and efficiency of the Committee by streamlining the agenda and consolidating the discussions to ensure each issue was discussed once.  Calling upon all representatives to respect deadlines, she said her country would not negotiate draft resolutions after the close of the Committee or beyond normal business hours.  “The United States will have no choice but to engage less in drawn out negotiations,” she stressed.  To that end, Committee resolutions should align with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Agenda, while striving to formulate concrete solutions to challenges.  The key to success was to communicate early and often, she said.

TLHALEFO MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed out that as the United Nations underwent reforms, some 700 million people still lived in extreme poverty and 200 million were unemployed.  Those statistics were compounded by situations of famine, extreme climate events, armed conflict and the rise of violent extremism, among other challenges.  Urging the Committee to work to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said climate change often manifested as a decline in agricultural production, increasing food insecurity and water stress, and reaffirmed Botswana’s commitment to combating those challenges through the Paris Agreement.  Meanwhile, landlocked developing countries required the attention of the international community, including through the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024.  Technical assistance, capacity-building and financial support would also be needed to address the impacts of the geographical constraints faced by those countries, as well as their lack of territorial access to the ocean, he said.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would stretch the financial, institutional and human capacities of most developing States — including middle-income countries.  Noting that the United Nations development system would be critical in providing support, he outlined Lebanon’s national sustainable development efforts, including the recent establishment of a committee to lead and coordinate efforts on the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that his country would present its first voluntary national contribution at the high-level political forum in 2018, he said efforts were underway to identify and analyse gaps in relation to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Lebanon.  Peacebuilding, development and humanitarian efforts — as well as peacekeeping activities — had been running in Lebanon simultaneously for decades, with the humanitarian dimension becoming more visible due to the influx of over 1.2 million refugees from Syria.  Those numbers compounded Lebanon’s own economic, social, environmental and security challenges, he said, calling for enhanced coherence between the United Nations development and humanitarian activities in his country.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, saying efforts were needed to work faster and better to ensure balanced progress in all economic, social, and environmental dimensions.  Thailand believed in a people-centred approach to all national development efforts, and to that end applied a “Sufficiency Economy Philosophy” to ensure domestic alignment with the core principles of the 2030 Agenda.  Following a concept of “Pracharath” to foster partnerships among the public and private sectors, Thailand supported efforts to conduct sustainable businesses.  The Global Compact Network in Thailand assisted Thai companies, while local communities were empowered to localize the Sustainable Development Goals and find local solutions.  Thailand also supported the follow-up and review process, and was among the 43 countries that presented their Voluntary National Reviews at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.  To address inequality, Thailand implemented “Thailand 4.0” to enhance human resource development, as well as a universal health coverage scheme and an education-for-all scheme.  On environmental protection, he noted France’s initiative to support the Global Pact for the Environment and said Thailand would continue to strengthen disaster risk reduction and early warning systems.  Stressing the importance of partnerships, he welcomed the outcome of the Second Financing for Development Forum to expedite implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  He commended the role of the Office of South-South Cooperation in promoting the exchange of best practices, welcomed the Secretary-General’s management reform initiatives and supported the development system review.

ASHISH SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the world had witnessed a series of natural disasters over the past few weeks. Hurricanes had battered the Caribbean and parts of the United States and an earthquake had struck Mexico.  While hurricanes had brought the focus back to anthropogenic factors of climate change, those crises had highlighted the need for attention to the resilience of communities and to disaster risk reduction. He also observed that the global economy had witnessed unprecedented levels of economic growth and technological advancement over the last century, which had transformed the social and economic lives of millions.  Yet, about 800 million people still lived in extreme poverty and an equal number continued to suffer from hunger.  The international community must ensure that resources meant for development programmes were not diverted to other efforts, which would have a deleterious effect in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating herself with the Group of 77, China and ASEAN, cited progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda and stressed that “the Second Committee needs to seize this momentum and focus its discussions on concrete actions for impact on the ground”.  On climate change, she said some countries — including Viet Nam — were facing extreme risks, especially around coastlines and in mountainous areas.  Stakeholders should work together to enhance preparedness and build resilience, while providing tailored development solutions that addressed multi-crisis risks and provided long-term, integrated solutions.  The role of trade was critical for countries to lift themselves out of poverty and retain progress, she said, calling on all Member States to recommit to promoting a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system.  “We need to address imbalances, discrimination and inequities” in that system, she stressed, calling on nations to prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world markets.  She also called for the provision of technical assistance and capacity development in science, technology and innovation, and to prevent countries — including Viet Nam — from falling into the middle-income trap.

ANAT FISHER-TSIN (Israel), urging the Committee to use its current session to evaluate progress and renew commitments to the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement, expressed her delegation’s full commitment to those instruments.  “We are working on several fronts and with many stakeholders to ensure that we are on the right path and making progress” toward achieving the 17 Goals, she said.  Israel had prioritized the advancement of gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, efforts to nurture young minds and the encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation.  It was also committed to promoting agricultural technology for sustainable development and achieving a world free of hunger, she said, adding that it would present its resolution on those issues to the Committee during the present session.

SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) said that his Government had systematically increased its contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including through numerous environmental and research programmes.  It had written off more than $20 billion of Africa’s debt.  Free trade zones could result in significant partnerships and open a “new page” in globalization, he said, citing broad Eurasian partnerships and the One Belt, One Road initiative.  The international community must reject the use of unilateral financial and trade restrictions to pressure foreign policy opponents.  “Any sanction bypassing Security Council resolutions are counterproductive,” he stated.  He called for greater attention to deal with accumulated Government and private sector debt and encouraged the establishment of new models for business, trade, logistics and production as well as enhanced information security.  He reiterated the Russian Federation’s commitment to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70 per cent of 1990 levels by 2030 as well as other efforts to operationalize the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  He called for greater focus on human resources, particularly through the establishment of a Russian international cluster on scientific research which would form a system to support start-ups, and form a network of research laboratories.  All countries should pool efforts and overcome imbalances to ensure sustainable global growth. 

DAW HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, the ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, voiced concern about uneven progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda as well as the prevalence of inequalities.  Least developed countries including Myanmar remained far below many of the Sustainable Development Goal targets, and poverty was still widespread among them.  Calling for an integrated approach to eradicating poverty across the economic, social and environmental dimensions — as well as a strong commitment to global partnerships — she said the fulfilment of ODA commitments remained crucial for all developing countries.  Welcoming the adoption of the global indicator framework, she recalled that her country with the support of UNDP had recently published a report titled “Measuring Myanmar’s Starting Point for the Sustainable Development Goals”, which included baseline data for 60 per cent of the Goals’ indicators.  The country also continued to pursue efforts towards peace and stability — which were fundamental to sustainable development — including by hosting two milestone Union Peace Conferences and boosting investments in education, healthcare and infrastructure.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said his country was taking action to ensure all citizens had access to services such as clean water and sanitation.  Peru was committed to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and had created a multisectoral working group to ensure a low‑carbon economy, which would help incorporate climate adaptation measures into national policies.  He noted that the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States as well as the earthquake in Mexico had reminded the international community that natural disasters knew no borders.  Peru was not immune to such climactic hazards and was working to promote disaster risk reduction for all.

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba) observed that global inequality and social polarization had persisted and even worsened two years after adopting the 2030 Agenda.  Opulence and concentration of income and wealth in developed countries stood in sad contrast to the poverty experienced by many people in developing countries.  What was lacking was the political will and true commitment of the most powerful States to fulfil their international commitments.  She emphasized the importance of a different international financial architecture, elimination of the technological and knowledge monopoly and change in the current international economic order.  Today’s industrialized countries must accept their historical debt and exercise the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities”.  The international community could no longer postpone realization of the right to development.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the responsibility for development fell on national Governments and that fighting terrorism and extremism was a joint national and regional responsibility. Terrorism was exploited and exported and it continued to hamper economic, social, infrastructural, and cultural development. To that end, he called for an end to activities that threatened the Syrian people and adversely affected the country’s education and health sectors.  Such measures against the Syrian people were “tantamount to terrorism” and exacerbated the internally displaced persons and refugee crises.  The Israeli occupation adversely affected development and numerous General Assembly resolutions called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Arab land.  Syria was working on a post-conflict era approach to development, including a National Post-Conflict Plan and a National Management Reform Project.   Syria was taking special measures to adhere to the Paris Agreement.  Some countries continued to flout the national sovereignty of others, he said, stressing that sustainable development could not be achieved without peace and vice versa.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi) said the journey towards the Sustainable Development Goals was still in its infancy.  Many issues required further deliberation, including trade, financing for development, information technology and climate change.  Now more than ever, all cylinders must be firing at full capacity if the international community was to meet the 2030 deadline and enhance the lives of those left behind.  It was essential to create the right mix of policies so that institutions — local, regional and global — were reformed to match the evolving and shifting global landscape.  At the macroeconomic level, Malawi shared the view that international trade was an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.  Trade was not a panacea for development but must be synchronized with other enabling policies and structures to deliver on development and poverty reduction.  Empirical evidence suggested that trade, complemented by appropriate domestic policies and a supportive external environment, had been among the most powerful catalysts for economic transformation in poor countries.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta) said his country remained steadfast in its commitment to the 2030 Agenda and reiterated the importance of national ownership to ensure full and effective implementation.  He supported the revitalization of the Second Committee and commended reform efforts of the Secretary‑General.  Malta had launched a national strategic plan for poverty reduction and social inclusion for 2014 to 2024.  His country remained a net importer of food due to the lack of sufficient local production and it prioritized the diversification of the agricultural sector and invested in research on fodder crops.  Another major challenge in Malta was a lack of water which had led to unsustainable practices of groundwater abstraction.  To address that issue, the Government invested in innovative means and new water technology.  Malta had put in place initiatives to reduce overfishing and promote the conservation of marine biodiversity.  The sustainability of fish stocks remained at the centre of Government policy.  Targets included a commitment to keep 30 per cent of its jurisdictional waters as marine protected areas and contributions towards the good governance of the oceans.  In regards to international trade and development, Malta encouraged Governments to promote responsible business conduct, particularly as global value chains represent the bulk of trade flows.  In closing, he stated that Malta would deliver a voluntary national review at the 2018 high‑level political forum.

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) said that to address technological and infrastructural gaps and capacity constraints, developed countries should take responsibility for financing for development and, to that end, he urged all countries to fulfil their commitments.  He expressed support to the Secretary‑General’s reform of the United Nations system with respect to the 2030 Agenda.  However, any reform should be within the mandates of the Member States by the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Speaking on sustainable development, he said that Tajikistan had championed the International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018‑2028 In 2018, his country would host an event in New York to commemorate International Water Day, and hold a conference on water for sustainable development.  In closing, he reiterated his Government’s readiness to work with other delegations in the Committee on internationally agreed goals.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) stated that the public sector could not be solely responsible for sustainable development and that progress would depend on participation from all sectors.  The technological and industrial revolution would give businesses and civil society significant power to promote and harness change.  As such, it would be vital to recognize the joint responsibility of the public and private sectors, and civil society.  There was a growing trend of distrust between sectors, she stated, and the international community must seek ways to improve governance frameworks and ensure inclusive and collective solutions through partnerships.  The Government had undertaken initiatives to improve energy and climate plans, promote sustainable cities and engage the international community.  Efforts were also undertaken to modernize infrastructure and maintain economic diversity.  That included establishing an “industry observatory” and supporting non‑governmental organizations in creating local plans for sustainable development.  In research and development, Monaco promoted clean technology.  It had developed the world’s largest solar‑powered boat and established a “Solar Impulse” command centre.  Furthermore, Monaco hosted its first auto show dedicated to innovation and clean energy, and established an incubator for innovative projects.  His country had also invested in economic growth and cooperation, and to that end allocated more than 1.1 per cent of its GDP to ODA.

HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) said United Nations reform efforts should break down silos and strengthen the nexus between peace and security, human rights and development, while also focusing on improving the funding architecture in a way that incentivized collaboration among agencies, the private sector, international financial institutions, vertical funds and other diverse stakeholders.  The United Nations development system should also improve its overall effectiveness and transparency and enhance value-for-money, accountability and transparency.  Emphasizing the importance of the 2030 Agenda’s follow-up and review process, as well as the means of implementation, he noted that his country had ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016 and stressed that “we must not lose momentum in implementing it”.  Among other things, he drew attention to efforts to strengthen disaster risk reduction, and to ensure urbanization was sustainable.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said macroeconomic matters were vitally important to the well-being of millions who continued to live in poverty.  The Committee had before it some of the main challenges facing humanity, including the eradication of poverty and combating climate change.  However, the international community must be more committed to financing for development if those issues were to be addressed.  The Committee must give added value to its discussions, thinking big and concentrating on efforts that could have a true impact for future generations.  It must focus on efficiency in actions and results, maximize resources to ensure coordination of agencies and respond to priorities of States.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said the past few years had been critical in repositioning the United Nations development system to support countries facing development challenges.  The international community must ensure that financing for development was more efficient in implementing development programmes in middle-income countries.  The lack of reliable and disaggregated data continued to be an impediment in following up progress made and implementing national policies.  Addressing challenges to financing for development would be vital in reforming the development system.  The global community must also adopt graduation policies to ensure a better response to the opportunities and challenges of middle-income countries.  Guatemala, for its part, had been active in reducing illicit financial flows and developing a law to counter money-laundering.

EL HACEN ELEYATT (Mauritania) said that his country had made significant progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals through enhanced policies and approaches to manage public business.  That had resulted in increased investments and amended legislation to provide legal safeguards in a more transparent framework.  Mauritania endeavoured to establish numerous national development programmes.  To enable access for young people, the Government financed microprojects and encouraged productive enterprises and employment.  Women had greater access to senior employment positions, and took major roles in society and State, with elected women receiving access to training programmes to improve performance and productivity.  The Government did its utmost to facilitate women’s access to financing through a national development fund.  Mauritania had made significant progress in health that had resulted in a decrease in women and children’s mortality rates, as well as deaths caused by HIV/AIDS.  The Government also reformed the judiciary to encourage greater transparency.  Due to its geographical location, Mauritania suffered from climate change and in response, adopted an approach to integrate environmental and sustainable economic development issues.  The country would continue to work with its neighbours to address climate change; however, it requested additional support to help fulfil their commitments.

ISATA KABIA (Sierra Leone), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said millions of people in least developed States continued to live in extreme poverty and the international community’s focus should remain on freeing humanity from those shackles “as a matter of urgency”.  Sierra Leone had linked its “Third Poverty Reduction Strategy” and “Agenda for Prosperity” to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with the aim of achieving middle-income status by 2035.  Like many other fragile and post-conflict countries, Sierra Leone had worked to consolidate its hard-won peace despite not being fully able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Noting the need for adequate sources for conflict-affected countries — especially for a long-term, stable and predictable flow of financing — she said the continued role of international development cooperation and ODA “cannot be overemphasized”.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that her country had presented a report in 2017 on the Sustainable Development Goals, and was honouring its commitments at the national level.  Under the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024, attention was given to transform Kyrgyzstan through large-scale projects, including infrastructural and energy projects.  The country’s national strategy for sustainable development would include indicators and reflect remaining challenges.  The national “Taza Koom Project” sought to transform Kyrgyzstan with a people-centred, modern governance model.  Climate change had significant impact on all sectors.  As numerous uranium plants were located along waterways, she expressed concern over the risk of river pollution which could result in a major humanitarian and environmental disaster in Central Asia.  The General Assembly had recognized that danger in various resolutions; however, efforts would be needed to recondition the uranium facilities.  She also expressed alarm at the swift melting of glaciers in the region and environmental threats that impact biodiversity, such as threats relating to the decrease of snow leopards.