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General Assembly Takes Action on Second Committee Reports by Adopting 41 Texts, also Passes Overhaul of United Nations Peace, Security Pillar

Increasing Official Development Assistance, Updating Bank Policies to Support 2030 Agenda among Resolutions Approved

Gearing up to implement the international community’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the General Assembly today adopted 41 resolutions and two related decisions aimed at strengthening nations’ efforts to reach agreed goals.

At the meeting’s outset, the Assembly also adopted, without a vote, a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security pillar, presenting what several delegates described as “sweeping” proposals to overhaul it.

By the resolution’s terms, the Assembly took note of a Secretary‑General’s report containing five proposals, including the creation of a single political‑operational structure under Assistant Secretaries‑General with regional responsibilities, and establishment of a “Standing Principals’ Group” of the Under‑Secretaries‑General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and for Peace Operations.

Focusing then on the Second Committee, the Assembly turned to macroeconomic policy questions, adopting a resolution on international financial system and development in a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly stressed that development banks should make optimal use of their resources and balance sheets, updating their policies to support of the 2030 Agenda.

By further terms, the Assembly committed to substantially curb illicit financial flows by 2030 by combating tax evasion, transnational organized crime and corruption through strengthened national regulation and increased international cooperation and reducing opportunities for tax avoidance.

Adopting another resolution on external debt sustainability and development, the Assembly stressed creditor and debtor responsibility in avoiding build‑up of unsustainable debt to diminish the risk of crisis.  By further terms, it urged countries to direct resources freed by debt relief to sustained economic growth and internationally agreed development goals.

By a resolution on commodities, adopted in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, the Assembly directed the international community to address factors creating structural barriers to international trade, impeding diversification and limiting access to financial services.  By other terms, it called on relevant stakeholders to address low industrialization and diversification of economies of some commodity‑dependent developing countries.

Other resolutions on macroeconomic policy questions concerned unilateral economic measures, international trade, financial inclusion, illicit financial flows and financing for development.

Focusing on special groups of countries, the Assembly adopted a draft on Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.  By that text, the Assembly underlined the urgent need to reverse the decline in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, urging nations that had not met commitments to increase their contribution and make concrete efforts towards ODA targets.

By another resolution on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries, it encouraged shareholders in multilateral development banks to develop a graduation process (from a nation’s lesser developed status) that was sequenced, phased and gradual.

Addressing sustainable development, the Assembly adopted several resolutions, including one on disaster risk reduction, emphasizing that preventing and reducing such risk would provide exponential returns and significantly curtail response costs.  It also emphasized the importance of increasing the availability of multi‑hazard early warning mechanisms in ensuring early action.

According to another draft, the Assembly called for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, adopting it in a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Venezuela).  It also called on Governments to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the power sector to industry, heating and cooling, infrastructure and the transport sector.

Adopting a further draft on combating sand and dust storms, it recognized that such weather had inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas, underscoring the need to treat and promptly take measures to address them.

Other sustainable development resolutions spotlighted development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, sustainable tourism development in Central America, agricultural technology, desertification, biological diversity, education, camelids and World Bee Day.

Turning to a related item, the Assembly adopted a resolution on agriculture development, food security and nutrition in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions. By that text, the Assembly stressed the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally by improving markets and trading systems as well as increasing responsible public and private investment in agriculture, land management and rural development.

By further terms, it stressed that a universal, rules‑based, open, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system promoted rural development and contributed to world food security and nutrition.  It urged national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of farmers, fishers and fish workers in their various markets.

The Assembly also adopted a resolution concerning natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States) with 11 abstentions, which called for Israel to cease exploitation of natural resources in those territories.

Further to the text, the Assembly called on Israel to comply with international law and cease all policies and measures to alter the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also called on Israel to stop harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, and cease efforts impeding Palestinian development.

Resolutions were also adopted on transport links, agricultural technology, small islands, global climate, harmony with nature, oil slick on Lebanese shores, human settlements, globalization, science and technology, culture, landlocked developing countries, poverty eradication, women, human resources, operational activities, South‑South cooperation and family farming.

Committee Rapporteur Theresah Chipulu Luswili Chanda introduced its reports.

Also adopted, without a vote, was a plenary resolution on a world against violence and violent extremism.  Introducing that text, Iran’s representative urged Member States to avoid associating violent extremism with any single religion or nationality, adding that the Assembly could provide a platform to address the roots of that phenomenon.

The resolution spotlighted international efforts to combat violent extremism and reaffirmed the importance of the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action on the matter.

In other business, the Assembly took note of a report of its General Committee and several appointments to the Committee on Conferences.  Botswana, France and the Russian Federation were appointed to serve three‑year terms on the Committee beginning on 1 January 2018.  The Assembly also noted that the Asia‑Pacific Group had recommended China’s appointment to fill a vacancy on the Committee for a term of office beginning on the date of appointment and ending on 31 December 2019.

Introduction of Draft Resolution and Reports

MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, introducing a draft resolution titled “Restructuring of the United Nations peace and security pillar” (document A/72/L.33), said the Organization must be able to respond to today’s challenges “in the best way it can”.  However, there were new conflicts today that were harder to identify, as in the case of online recruitment of terrorist groups.  “Different threats require different responses,” he said, calling for adjustments to the Organization’s seventy‑year‑old mechanisms.  “We must evolve,” he stressed, noting that the resolution before the Assembly today would assist in that process, as it called for a second comprehensive report on the United Nations peace and security pillar.  Thanking the facilitators, he urged Member States to adopt the text by consensus.

The representative of Colombia, speaking in explanation of position on that item, said the resolution was critical to help make the United Nations more modern and transparent.  It contained a “visionary proposal” by the Secretary‑General, who had been chosen specifically “for this important task”.  Today’s peace and security challenges required bold measures to save lives, he said, adding that the resolution marked an important step forward in transparency.  It would also provide more feedback on “what is working and what is not working on the ground” in the United Nations efforts to enhance sustainable international peace.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

The representative of the United States said the United Nations would be better able to address the needs of those on the ground with more focused, effective and efficient operations.  Any reform that was implemented must advance political solutions and enable the Organization to tailor its responses to the needs of countries in conflict or transition.  The resolution demonstrated that the Secretary‑General had wide‑reaching endorsement from Member States for his vision to make the United Nations a stronger and more relevant institution that could prevent and respond to conflicts and atrocities.

The representative of Mexico said his country had joined consensus on the resolution, as it supported the Secretary‑General in his vision to make the United Nations a stronger organization.  It was critical to have the full backing of the Assembly so that the proposal could be implemented as soon as possible.  However, it seemed contradictory that the resolution on the reform of peace and security did not include references to sustainable development or the 2015 review process.  He expressed hope that the Secretary‑General’s report would be substantive in helping the Organization move towards greater understanding and the paradigm shift that peace required.

The representative of Argentina, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s initiative to reform the United Nations peace and security pillar, said the Organization should adopt a holistic and comprehensive approach to conflict prevention, building sustainable peace and development.  The text would help decrease the fragmentation in the Organization’s work, she said, adding that the “sweeping” proposal would help the United Nations focus more closely on the root causes of conflict, ensure national ownership, enhance conflict prevention and implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Voicing support for efforts to make the Peacebuilding Office a “liaison” between the various relevant organs of the United Nations, she stressed that “we must move forward”, and expressed hope that the upcoming work would reflect an active exchange of ideas between all Member States.

The representative of China voiced support for the United Nations efforts to better implement the responsibilities entrusted in it by its Charter, as well as to enhance multilateralism.  Also welcoming efforts aimed at integrating the Organization’s resources and improving its efficiency, thereby allowing it to better respond to today’s peace and security challenges, he said the restructuring of the United Nations peace and security architecture would also require greater consultation between Member States.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation had joined in the consensus, said the changes proposed would also impact the Organization’s political dimensions.  Voicing his delegation’s commitment to engage in all discussions going forward, he expressed full respect for the points of view of various Member States, and said the final analysis must help them reach a “mutual understanding”.  While the interlinked relationship between the United Nations three pillars underpinned the Organization’s work, that did not mean that they must be carried out in the same way.  In that regard, he expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to avoid duplication of labour as well as ensure geographical representation.

The representative of Egypt agreed that the non‑traditional challenges emerging in global peace and security issues required new ideas and a more efficient use of the United Nations toolkit.  Stressing that the Assembly and its organs were the only entities that could adopt any of the restructuring proposals — and that such an adoption must be undertaken with full respect for the mandates of all the United Nations organs without any amendments to those mandates — he warned against including controversial elements which had not been fully agreed by Member States.  In addition, he said, Egypt considered sustainable development to be a right and a standalone objective in itself, which must be achieved without any preconditions.

The representative of Brazil said the United Nations needed to be nimbler if it was to implement all initiatives under the pillars of peace and security, development and human rights.  His country supported reform of the peace and security pillar and welcomed efforts to overcome fragmentation in focusing on restructuring peacebuilding.  However, he said reform would not be complete without reference to the work methods of the Security Council.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Assembly had expressed strong support for the Secretary‑General and reform of the Secretariat’s peace and security pillar.  He looked forward to a detailed report of all aspects of the new pillar.  The Secretariat must act as one while taking into account specificities of all facets on the ground, as through such efforts it could improve on efforts to maintain peace.  The Secretary‑General had the authority and now full political endorsement in proceeding with the first steps of implementing his vision.  With adoption of the resolution, the Assembly had set in motion not only reform but also a good precedent for other reforms.

THERESAH CHIPULU LUSWILI CHANDA (Zambia), Rapporteur of the Second Committee, introduced that body’s reports and the draft resolutions or decisions within, noting oral revisions for some.  She began with Strengthening of the United Nations system; United Nations reform: measures and proposals (document A/72/L.33); Information and communications technologies for development (document A/72/417); Macroeconomic policy questions (document A/72/418); International trade and development (document A/72/418/Add.1); International financial system and development (document A/72/418/Add.2); External debt sustainability and development (document A/72/418/Add.3); Commodities (document A/72/418/Add.4); Financial inclusion for sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.5); Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.6); and Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development (document A/72/419).

Turning then to reports focusing on sustainable development, she introduced Sustainable development (document A/72/420); Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/72/420/Add.1); Follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS [small islands developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/72/420/Add.2); Disaster risk reduction (document A/72/420/Add.3); Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/72/420/Add.4); Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/72/420/Add.5); Sustainable development: Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/72/420/Add.6); Education for sustainable development (document A/72/420/Add.7); Harmony with Nature (document A/72/420/Add.8); Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (document A/72/420/Add.9); and Combating sand and dust storms (document A/72/420/Add.10).

Next, she introduced reports on Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) (document A/72/421); Globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422); Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422/Add.1); Science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/422/Add.2); and Culture and sustainable development (document A/72/422/Add.3).

Next, she introduced reports on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries (document A/72/422/Add.4); Groups of countries in special situations (document A/72/423); Follow‑up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/72/423/Add.1); Follow‑up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/72/423/Add.2); Eradication of poverty and other development issues: report of the Second Committee (document A/72/424); Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008‑2017) (document A/72/424/Add.1); Women in development (document A/72/424/Add.2); and Human resources development (document A/72/424/Add.3).

Finally, she introduced reports on Operational activities for development (document A/72/425); Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/72/425/Add.1); South‑South cooperation for development (document A/72/425/Add.2); Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/426); Towards global partnerships (document A/72/427); Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/72/428); Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly (document A/72/479); and Programme planning (document A/72/484).

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Assembly then turned to draft resolutions in the reports, beginning with a text on information and communications technologies for development (document A/72/417), which it adopted without a vote.

By that text, the Assembly called on all stakeholders to make bridging digital divides a priority, put into effect sound strategies contributing to the development of e‑government and continue to focus on pro‑poor information and communications technology policies and applications.

Next, it took up Macroeconomic policy questions, taking note of the report and adopting a resolution on Unilateral economic measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries (document A/72/418/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States) with 48 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly would call for the elimination of such measures against those States.

It then adopted a resolution on International trade and development (document A/72/418/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly promoted a universal, rules‑based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

Following that, the Assembly adopted a text on International financial system and development (document A/72/418/Add.2) in a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly resolved to strengthen the coherence and consistency of multilateral financial, investment, trade and development policy and environment institutions and platforms.

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on External debt sustainability and development (document A/72/418/Add.3), by which it stressed the responsibilities of creditor and debtor nations in avoiding the build‑up of unsustainable debt to diminish the risk of crisis.  By further terms, it urged countries to direct resources freed by debt relief to sustained economic growth and internationally agreed development goals.

The Assembly then adopted a draft on Commodities (document A/72/418/Add.4) in a recorded vote of 182 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that draft, the Assembly would have the international community address factors that created structural barriers to international trade, impeded diversification and limited access to financial services, particularly for developing countries.

By other terms, it called on relevant stakeholders to address the issue of the low industrialization and diversification of the economies of some commodity‑dependent developing countries.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Financial inclusion for sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.5), by which it encouraged Member States to adopt and pursue national financial inclusion and gender‑responsive strategies to end structural barriers to women’s equal access to economic resources.

It then adopted, without a vote, a resolution on Promotion of international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows in order to foster sustainable development (document A/72/418/Add.6).  By that draft, the Assembly expressed concern that cryptocurrencies were increasingly being used for illicit activities.  It called for greater international cooperation and sustained dialogue to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return.

The representative of Nigeria said efforts by his country and Norway had led to the establishment of the interlink between achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and combating illicit financial flows, which had been endorsed in numerous fora including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  While his delegation had expected a more robust outcome, the adopted resolution was sufficient, he said, and appealed to Member States to further request a report by the Secretary‑General on how the issue was central to achieving the 2030 Agenda.  The Assembly setting up an intergovernmental body would be key to coordinating relevant mandates, he said, adding that most developing countries supported that idea.  The African Union’s annual theme would in 2018 be “Winning the fight against corruption:  A sustainable path to Africa’s Transformation”.  Nigeria stood ready to contribute toward holding the high‑level conference on illicit financial flows and asset recovery which would be convened by the President of the seventy‑third General Assembly.  Urging Member States to share information to combat illicit financial flows, he underscored that returning stolen assets had a more positive impact than focusing on conditionalities hindering developing countries’ progress.

Following that, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on Follow‑up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development (document A/72/419).

Turning to sustainable development, the Assembly adopted a resolution on Oil slick on Lebanese shores (document A/72/420) in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 7 against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 9 abstentions (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Tonga, Vanuatu).  By that text, it noted that the oil slick damage to Lebanon amounted to $856.4 million in 2014, and the Assembly requested the Government of Israel to provide compensation to Lebanon for the damage and to other countries directly affected by the oil slick, such as Syria.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a text on International Year of Camelids, 2024 (document A/72/420), by which it encouraged all Member States, the United Nations system and other actors to take advantage of the International Year to promote awareness among the public of the economic and cultural importance of camelids.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a resolution on World Bee Day (document A/72/420), by which the Assembly decided to designate 20 May as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats that they face and their contribution to sustainable development.

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on strengthening the links between all modes of transport to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (document A/72/420).  By that text, it called for efforts to promote regional and interregional economic cooperation, including by improving the planning of transportation infrastructure and mobility, enhancing connectivity and facilitating trade and investment.

It then adopted, without a vote, a text on international cooperation and coordination for the human and ecological rehabilitation and economic development of the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan (document A/72/420).  By that text, the Assembly urged the international community to assist Kazakhstan in implementing special programmes and projects to treat and care for the affected population, as well as efforts to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in the Semipalatinsk region.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a resolution on sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America (document A/72/420), by which it stressed the need to promote the further development of sustainable tourism and strengthen the development of ecotourism, maintaining the culture and environmental integrity of indigenous and local communities.

Next, it adopted a draft on Agricultural technology for sustainable development (document A/72/420) in a recorded vote of 152 in favour to 1 against (Syria), with 29 abstentions.  By that text, the Assembly urged stakeholders to strengthen efforts to improve the development of sustainable agricultural technologies and their transfer and dissemination to developing countries.

The representative of Slovenia said that after three years of effort, the resolution on World Bee Day had received its final endorsement.  In the last three years, since the beginning of the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeeper’s Association in 2014, his country had been intensively notifying States around the world on a political as well as an expert level.  In the frame of the official procedures, the initiative had been unanimously adopted by the Conference of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations at its fortieth session in Rome in July.  After that endorsement, it was transmitted to the Assembly, and on 17 November the resolution was adopted by the Second Committee.  Global food security was a key social issue and an important priority in the development of agriculture.  A third of all food produced in the world depends on pollination, and bees had an important role to play in the preservation of ecological balance and biodiversity.  They were also good bioindicators of environmental conditions.

The Assembly then adopted a text, in a recorded vote of 131 in favour to 48 against, with 4 abstentions (Liberia, New Zealand, Norway, Turkey), on Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (document A/72/420/Add.1).

Next, the Assembly adopted a draft, without a vote, on follow‑up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/72/420/Add.2).

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a text on Disaster risk reduction (document A/72/420/Add.3), by which the Assembly emphasized that preventing and reducing such risk would provide exponential returns and significantly curtail response costs.  It also emphasized the importance of increasing the availability of and access to multi‑hazard early warning mechanisms in ensuring early action.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind (document A/72/420/Add.4).  By that text, it emphasized that mitigation of and adaptation to climate change represented an immediate and urgent global priority.  It also urged Member States to strengthen mechanisms and provide adequate resources towards achieving the full and equal participation of women in decision‑making at all levels on environmental issues.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (document A/72/420/Add.5).

Following that, it adopted a draft, without a vote, on implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/72/420/Add.6), by which the Assembly called on Governments and all stakeholders to take appropriate measures to mainstream consideration of socioeconomic impacts and benefits of conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and its components, as well as ecosystems providing essential services, into relevant programmes and policies at all levels.

The Assembly then adopted a text, without a vote, on Education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda (document A/72/420/Add.7).  By that draft, it called on the international community to provide inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels — early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary and distance education, including technical and vocational training — so that all people had access to lifelong learning opportunities that help them exploit opportunities to participate fully in society and contribute to sustainable development.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a text on Harmony with Nature (document A/72/420/Add.8), by which the Assembly decided to continue observing International Mother Earth Day annually.  It also called for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development in its three dimensions that guided humanity to live in harmony with nature and led to efforts to restore the health and integrity of the planet’s ecosystems.

Next, it adopted a draft on Ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (document A/72/420/Add.9) in a recorded vote of 183 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Venezuela).  By that text, the Assembly called for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.  It also called on Governments to expand the use of renewable energy beyond the power sector to industry, heating and cooling, construction and infrastructure, and in particular the transport sector.

The Assembly then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Combating sand and dust storms (document A/72/420/Add.10), by which it recognized that that meteorological phenomenon had inflicted substantial economic, social and environmental damage on the inhabitants of the world’s arid, semi‑arid and dry subhumid areas, underscoring the need to treat them and take measures to address those challenges.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft on Implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat) (document A/72/421).

It then adopted a text on the Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence (document A/72/422/Add.1) in a recorded vote of 184 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.  By that draft, the Assembly underlined that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda depended on means of implementation, particularly finance, international trade, technology and capacity‑building, calling for sincere and effective follow‑up on global commitments.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report on “Promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence”.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a draft on Science, technology and innovation for development (document A/72/422/Add.2), by which it called for strengthened support to those areas, particularly in developing countries.  It would also proclaim 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements to enhance global awareness of and education in the basic sciences.

Next, it adopted, in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions, a text on Culture and sustainable development (document A/72/422/Add.3).  By that draft, the Assembly encouraged all relevant stakeholders to cooperate in supporting developing country efforts to develop, strengthen and consolidate cultural industries, tourism and related microenterprises.

It then adopted, without a vote, a text on Development cooperation with middle‑income countries (document A/72/422/Add.4), by which the Assembly encouraged shareholders in multilateral development banks to develop a graduation process (from a nation’s lesser developed status) that was sequenced, phased and gradual.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report on “Groups of countries in special situations”.

Following that, it turned to a draft on Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (document A/72/423/Add.1), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, the Assembly underlined the urgent need to reverse the decline in official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries, urging nations that had not met commitments to increase their ODA and make concrete efforts towards the ODA targets.

Next, it adopted, without a vote, a draft on Follow-up to the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries (document A/72/423/Add.2).  By that text, the Assembly stressed that cooperation on fundamental transit policies, laws and regulations between landlocked developing countries and their neighbours was crucial for the effective and integrated solution of cross‑border trade and transit transport problems.

The Assembly then took note of the Committee’s report on “Eradication of poverty and other development issues”.

It then adopted, without a vote, a draft on Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008‑2017) (document A/72/424/Add.1).  By that text, the Assembly emphasized the importance of structural transformation leading to inclusive and sustainable industrialization for employment creation and poverty reduction.

Following that, it adopted, without a vote, a draft on Women in development (document A/72/424/Add.2), by which the Assembly emphasized the need to link policies on economic, social and environmental development to ensure that all people, in particular women and children living in poverty and in vulnerable situations, benefited from inclusive economic growth and development.

The representative of Sudan, explaining his delegation’s position on the “women and development” resolution, said it had joined the consensus.  However, he expressed concern over the wording of some of the resolution’s paragraphs, including false criticisms of particular national legal systems, and disassociated himself from that text.

Next, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on Human resources development (document A/72/424/Add.3), taking note of the report on the same topic.  By that text, it called on the international community to place human resources development at the core of economic and social development as educated, skilled, healthy, capable, productive and adaptable workforces were the foundation for achieving sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and development.

The Assembly then turned to a draft on Operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/72/425/Add.1), adopting it without a vote.  By that text, it took note of the Secretary‑General’s report on “Repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda: ensuring a better future for all”.

The Assembly then took note of the Second Committee’s report “Operational activities for development”.

Following that, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, a text on South‑South cooperation for development (document A/72/425/Add.2), by which it stressed that such assistance was not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, North‑South cooperation.  It also called on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other relevant organizations to assist developing countries in implementing projects of South‑South cooperation.

Next, the Assembly adopted, in a recorded vote of 185 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions, a draft on Agriculture development, food security and nutrition (document A/72/426).  By that text, it stressed the need to increase sustainable agricultural production globally by improving markets and trading systems as well as increasing responsible public and private investment in sustainable agriculture, land management and rural development.

By further terms, the Assembly stressed that a universal, rules‑based, open, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system promoted agriculture and rural development in developing countries and contributed to world food security and nutrition.  It urged national, regional and international strategies to promote the participation of farmers, fishers and fish workers in community, national, regional and international markets.

It then adopted, without a vote, a draft on the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (document A/72/426), by which the Assembly proclaimed 2019‑2028 the Decade of Family Farming, and called on FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to lead implementation of the initiative.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision to postpone discussion of the agenda item on “Towards global partnerships” until the General Assembly’s seventy‑third session.

Following that, it adopted, in a recorded vote of 163 in favour to 6 against (Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, United States), with 11 abstentions, a text on Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources (document A/72/428).  By that draft, the Assembly called on Israel to cease exploitation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syrian Golan.

Further to the text, the Assembly called on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law and cease all policies and measures aimed at the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It also called on Israel to halt all actions harming the environment, cease destruction of vital infrastructure, remove obstacles to the implementation of critical environmental projects, cease efforts impeding Palestinian development and export of discovered oil and natural gas reserves.

The Assembly then adopted a draft decision to approve the Second Committee’s programme of work for its seventy‑third session.

Finally, it took note of a report on programme planning.

The Assembly then took up a draft resolution titled “A world against violence and violent extremism” (document A/72/L.32).

The representative of Iran, introducing that text, said it was a follow‑up to Assembly resolutions 68/127 and 70/109, both of which had been adopted by consensus.  That unity demonstrated the pressing need to act to combat violent extremism, especially through the principles of tolerance and moderation.  Calling for collective international action in that regard — especially in the wake of the atrocities committed over the last few years by extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, including by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Daesh) — he stressed that “dialogue, moderation and tolerance are the most effective antidote to violent extremism”.  Urging Member States to avoid associating violent extremism with any particular religion or nationality, he said doing so “played right into the terrorists’ hands” and further spread extremist ideology.  Noting that the Assembly could provide a strong platform to help address the roots of that phenomenon, he said the text also reaffirmed measures taken at the international level such as the Assembly’s high‑level 2016 meeting on the topic, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 2016 conference on youth and the Internet.  It also spotlighted the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism and requested him to report on the implementation of the present resolution at the Assembly’s seventy‑fourth session.

The Assembly then adopted that draft resolution without a vote.

Speaking following the adoption, the representative of Canada said her delegation strongly condemned all violent extremism, including violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  The rights of all people must be respected, she stressed, noting that the Secretary‑General’s Plan of Action recognized the important link between social exclusion and violent extremism.  All States — especially the resolution’s main sponsor — should comply with their international obligations to protect human rights.

The representative of Israel said her delegation had joined in the consensus, but voiced concern not with “the message but the messenger”.  Iran, the text’s main sponsor, was in fact the “nerve‑centre” of violent extremism and terrorist incitement around the globe, as well as its main sponsor.  Iran’s proxies butchered innocent people and violated human rights, she said, adding that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Iran were hanged from cranes, journalists were arrested, girls as young as 12 were married off and prisoners were tortured.  In Syria, Iran’s continued support for the Assad regime had allowed it to use chemical weapons against its own people, and next door in Lebanon it had helped Hizbullah increase its weapons arsenal.  With the adoption of the present text, it was critical for the international community to focus on Iran’s own actions, she stressed, noting that that country had already violated the very resolution it was sponsoring.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said his country had joined consensus on the resolution based on its belief in a comprehensive effort to combat violence and extremism.  It supported all efforts aimed at fighting violent extremism, but must address contradictions concerning security.  It was clear that Iran, the sponsor of the resolution, was also the main sponsor of violence and violent extremism across the world.  Iran had worked to destroy Yemen and was continuing to do so through violations of international law.  Several of its militias had wreaked havoc in Syria and Lebanon, and it was supporting extremist groups with weapons and other prohibited items.  He condemned Iranian support for those groups, stressing the need to prevent and counter all forms of violent extremism.

The representative of the United States noted that the Assembly had on 19 December adopted a resolution condemning Iran for continuing to violate international law and voicing concern over the targeting of minority religious communities.  Yet, 24 hours later, Iran was sponsoring a resolution against violence and extremism.  It had often acted in clear violation of its international obligations, which ran counter to the spirit of the resolution.  Her country had joined consensus on the resolution, as it believed in a comprehensive effort to counter extremism.  While Iran urged countries to unite against violence, its Government actively fomented violence across the Middle East.  Its support for Hizbullah had expanded the group’s arsenal, directly challenging Lebanese sovereignty and threatening Israel.  Iran abused its own people, supported political opponents of other Member States and imprisoned journalists and tourists on trumped up charges.

The representative of the Russian Federation said her country had joined consensus, as it believed in the resolution’s potential.  It viewed extremism as separate from terrorism, although it was a breeding ground for it.  Efforts to counter violent extremism must be based on international law and the United Nations Charter.  That was important when vague terms were being used to put forth dubious concepts.  She noted that extremist propaganda could, without violence, lead to undermining of the rule of law, destabilization of society and mass violations of human rights.

The representative of the European Union delegation rejected any form of discrimination, including on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language, genetic features, religion, membership in a minority group or sexual orientation or any other.  All nations must respect international human rights, promote good governance and uphold the rule of law.  She therefore urged all States — including the resolution’s main sponsor — to respect the rights of all their people, including ethnic, sexual and religious minorities.

Right of Reply

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Iran responded to the statement delivered by the delegate of the “Israeli regime”, who had levied baseless allegations and lies against his country.  Israel’s anger over the resolution adopted today was understandable, as it was an occupying entity that had created an apartheid system in the territories it controlled.  The representative of Israel had clearly deemed the resolution to be “against itself”, he said, noting that it pursued one of the most extreme policies in the modern world and denied the people living under its occupation their most basic rights.  In contrast, Iran had done everything in its power to combat violent extremism.

Responding to the representative of the United States, he said that country had for almost a year pursued a new policy which included levying baseless allegations and lies against Iran.  It was also working to advance the interests of the Israeli regime in the Middle East and was taking advantage of some regional countries by creating a “local bogeyman”.  It was not a coincidence that the United States had gone into high gear in its false allegations against Iran following the massive condemnation it received on its decision to recognize Al‑Quds [Jerusalem] as Israel’s capital.  The United States Government’s regime change project inflicted severe suffering across the Middle East, he said, adding that that country supported, armed and trained known terrorist groups in Syria.  The United States’ own past aggressions and interventions in the region had created fertile ground for recruitment by those advocating the violent takfirist ideology.

Turning to the representative of Saudi Arabia, he said that that country was a main sponsor of violent extremism worldwide, having lavishly financed the export of its fanatical ideology to poorer nations over the last three decades.  Saudi Arabia remained a critical support base for Al‑Qaida, the Taliban and other terrorist groups, and it supported any group that would fight the Government in Syria.  Noting that ISIL/Daesh was a product of Saudi support and financing, he said that country’s ideology propagated hatred and sought to spread it abroad.

News

Entrepreneur Urges Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Benefit of All in Second Committee, Economic and Social Council Joint Meeting

Delegates Debate Eradication of Poverty, Development Issues in Afternoon Meeting

New technology would be central to achieving development goals, with artificial intelligence (AI) leveraged to process data on health, commerce, communications and transportation, entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki told a joint session of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and the Economic and Social Council today.

In that regard, stakeholders needed to work together to gauge opportunities and ensure technology would benefit all, he emphasized, addressing a panel discussion on “the future of everything — sustainable development in the age of rapid technological change”.

Machine learning and AI had already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he noted.  Those advancements would mean a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, gains from AI would boost GDP by 55 per cent from 2017 to 2030 and, in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer attitudes, he said.  Every region could benefit from AI, with the largest predicted to be China and the United States.

United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed concurred that technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow.  However, she warned that many nations would need more than just those benefits, urging the international community to form partnerships in ensuring equal technological access.

Addressing the plight of less developed countries, FarmDrive co-founder Rita Kimani stressed the need to examine root problems and tools available in assessing the best technology to use.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers, who had no smart phones.  They used tools they already had — basic mobile phones — to send messages to the FarmDrive platform.

Presentations were also made by Hanson Robotics Chief Executive Officer David Hanson, Harvard University’s metalLAB Faculty Director Jeffrey Schnapp and Columbia University Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health Dickson Despommier.

During an ensuing discussion, speakers emphasized the importance of universal technology access and its ensuing benefits, as well as the risk of negative robotic “values” and cultural personalities.

The International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) representative asked the panel how the global community could achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020.  Mr. Ibaraki said public-private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from all multi-stakeholders, especially in least developed countries.

In a similar vein, Mauritius’ representative asked how economic gains would “trickle down”, reducing poverty and ensuring technological accessibility.  Mr. Ibaraki responded that technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative from Global Pulse underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  Mr. Hanson said the international community must continue to use all available tools without waiting for regulation, but Ms. Kimani stressed that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.

Likewise, the representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent them from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities.  Mr. Hanson replied that technological producers would include abstract reasoning in artificial intelligence, and empower machines to understand consequences of their actions.

“It comes down to love,” he said, adding that technology producers would create algorithms to move artificial intelligence and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  Culturally, his robotics had a wide diversity characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.

In an afternoon session, the Second Committee took up poverty eradication, stressing the need for increased employment, resource mobilization, investments in education as well as health and global financing.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said good economic performance in African countries over the last two decades had failed to reduce poverty or create jobs.  Some 22 per cent of Africans lived on $.70 to $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 per day.  Expressing concern over the lack of employment, he noted that 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  More economic opportunities were needed, along with increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.

Cambodia’s representative stressed the need to expand economies and invest in education and health, noting that his country had diversified exports to curb its reliance on the garment, tourism and agricultural industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth, with strong checks on inflation, increases in agricultural production, and improved infrastructure.

Speaking for the Group of Least Developed Countries, Bangladesh’s representative said poverty in his group of States had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in the group, with countries growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities plagued those States, he said, while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to thwart them.  Stressing that global support through financing was vital, he said he looked forward to improvements in official development assistance (ODA), trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).

At the onset of the meeting, Secretary-General’s reports were presented by Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), on women in development (document A/72/282); Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283); and Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on human resource development for the twenty-first century (document A/72/292).

Also speaking were the representatives of Belize, Maldives, El Salvador, Israel, China, Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Tonga, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Cuba and Malawi.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 12 October, to conclude its debate on poverty eradication.

Opening Remarks

MARIE CHATARDOVÁ (Czech Republic), President of the Economic and Social Council, said artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things changed the way the international community worked, obtained information, made bank transactions and networked.  She said AI was at the heart of online search and translation services, e‑commerce recommendations, real traffic prediction and self‑driving cars.  However, the international community did not yet know its global impact.  The long‑term consequences of deep technological changes were unknown, she stated.  AI could accelerate progress, but also would pose a range of complex challenges, including ethical questions, human rights issues and security risks.  “These questions will need to be addressed if we want our fellow citizens to embrace technological change rather than perceive it as a threat,” she said.  Public response, at national and global levels, was lagging technological progress, thus she urged for better understanding of science and technology for development.  “Let us not forget that many places around the globe still lack basic access to electricity and to a networked infrastructure,” she said.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), noted that his country was a small nation with few natural resources and a limited internal market.  Yet the size of the country and enterprising spirit of the people had been a huge advantage in building up an information society with high quality services.  When Estonia started building its information society about two decades ago, many in his country had no access to the Internet or the devices to use it.  It required vision and strong leadership to invest in and adopt the information technology route.  Both the public and private sectors understood the need to invest in positioning Estonia as an information society and integrate e‑governance solutions as they were created.  Turning to the use of technology in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said it would be vital to address security concerns and privacy.  People would only use e‑solutions if they were safe, trustworthy and convenient.  Innovative technologies offered unprecedented opportunities for implementing the Goals, but also required managing the risks of those technologies.

AMINA J. MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary‑General, said technological progress must be well managed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  She urged the international community to engage in partnerships to leverage the power of technology equitably.  New technology could enhance food security, reduce waste and help local economies grow, among other advancements.  In Zambia, the first virtual farmers market was piloted.  Seed planting drones were tested and indirectly helped to mitigate climate change.  Mobilized construction changed how roads were built and monitored across Africa and the developing world.  Technology should not be used as a “silver bullet”, she said.  Highlighting recent technological events hosted at the United Nations, she stressed that creativity and imagination of youth must be nurtured to create new solutions and reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must also protect workers and help them adjust to technological advancements, close the digital divide and avoid exacerbating inequalities through proper education and training.  Engaging Sofia the robot, she asked how the United Nations could ensure that all people benefited from technological advancements.  In response, Sofia stated that AI could produce results with fewer resources.  Thus, AI could be leveraged to distribute the world’s existing resources, such as food and energy, in a more equitable manner.

Panel Discussion

JENNIFER STRONG, Moderator of the discussion and Host of the Wall Street Journal’s “The Future of Everything” podcast, said today’s event aimed to show how technology was shaping society.  Adding that she herself was not a technologist, she said it was all too easy to let someone else decide how technology affected our daily lives.  But leaving technology to others would be neglecting the great challenges of the time.  With her programme, she had assumed the responsibility of standing in for people who did not understand.  Through storytelling, she hoped to bring more voices into the conversation, as if technology belonged to all.

DAVID HANSON, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hanson Robotics, said he hoped he could assist in connecting technologists and humanitarians in deciding how technology could benefit all.  His company made machines that were fundamentally human.  They took the nano properties of human soft tissue and produced mobile, social robots.  As art forms like animation had brought wonder and delight to the world, robotics could perform a similar service.  However, it was important to understand what it was like to be human.  By making AI grow up among humans, perhaps robots could really care about people and become alive.  There was a revolution at work today in the field of bioengineering, which had just begun to see the implications of work that would change the world.  He stressed that robotics must make machines reflecting the best people could be, humanizing robots as animated characters.  The goal was to make living robots that were truly ethical and could make the world a better place.

STEPHEN IBARAKI, serial entrepreneur and founding managing partner of REDDS Venture Investment Partners, said due to the rapid progress in AI, technological advancements would be central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  AI could be leveraged to solve humanity’s challenges by processing data on health, commerce, communications, transportation and more.  Thus, stakeholders must work together to evaluate opportunities and ensure such advancements would benefit all of humanity.  AI and machine learning already replaced human cognition through algorithms, assistance, augmentation, automation and autonomous intelligence, he continued.  Those advancements would result in a $16 trillion increase in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  Similarly, the gains from AI would result in a 55 per cent gain in GDP from 2017 to 2030, and in 2030 alone, 58 per cent of GDP would come from consumer impacts.  He said every region could benefit from AI, with the largest beneficiaries predicted to be in China and the United States.  The impact of AI would be apparent in economic, cultural and social disruption.  For example, such advancements could track poverty through satellite imagery and poverty mapping from space.  Machine learning could extend medical care through remote diagnosis and the enhancement of transportation resources.  AI could serve as a key resource in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and further promoting the development of smart cities.  As every sector would be affected, he encouraged the international community to consider liability rules, ethnical conduct, transparency and open partnerships.

RITA KIMANI, Co‑founder of FarmDrive, questioned whether robots would make a difference to rural farmers in her home country of Kenya.  It was necessary to take a step back to look at the root problems and real challenges one was attempting to address.  What were the challenges of communities and could technology be used to solve them, she asked.  Her organization had learned that access to finance was among the biggest challenges for small farmers.  So it looked at how technology could assist farmers in obtaining credit.  That was done by looking at simple revenue data from farmers, using it to assess the risk and then determining whether they could have credit.  In the case of those farmers, it was important to focus on the real problems and be aware of a community’s culture.  Small rural farmers, for example, had no smartphones, so a device they could use had to be found.  In the end, they used a basic mobile phone to send messages to the FarmDrive platform, using a tool they already had access to.

JEFFREY SCHNAPP, founder and faculty director of metaLAB at Harvard University, said the international community should not narrow the scope of our technological conversations.  He said robots come in all shapes, sizes and forms and have already transformed economic production.  Robotics and AI were already part of the everyday world, outside of warehouses and production plants.  He underscored that technological advancements augment the human experience.  Smart vehicles, for example, were used to map cities and inform urban development.  As shifts into those augmented realms, the international community must consider how information and data would be used.  The use of data would pose one of the greatest challenges, and the international community must leverage such information responsibly.  There was a trend, he continued, to treat algorithmic knowledge as a form of public knowledge and it had become part of our social and cultural lives.  As a result, educational institutions must reshape themselves and the international community must encourage lifelong learning.  Humanity must prepare and understand our relationship with the “world of devices” as digital tools, smart devices and the intensity of connectivity would continue to have greater impact.

DICKSON DESPOMMIER, Professor Emeritus of Public and Environmental Health, Columbia University, stressed that all people in the world needed to eat and drink.  The difficulty was in getting adequate supplies to them.  Sometimes, there was not enough rain to fill reservoirs and sometimes the food that was grown was raided by animals or destroyed by adverse weather.  Noting that eliminating hunger was among the primary goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said it could be accomplished if the global community tried hard enough.  The world was now faced with rapid climate change and its consequent effects on health.  The cause was primarily deforestation as well as the use of fossil fuels.  Deforestation — which had mainly occurred to clear land for farming — took away the ability of the Earth to take back carbon it had fed into the atmosphere.  Noting that farming was 10,000 years old and traditional, he said no one wanted to break with that practice.  Rather than human clearing of land, a tsunami in Japan had trashed 5 per cent of its farmland in one hour.  In that case, the solution was indoor farming — vertical multi‑story farms, rather than one‑level greenhouses.  Countries were now adopting this alternative, led by Japan, and were producing great quantities of food.  Other countries using vertical farms included Singapore, China and Germany.  The advantages of vertical farming were that it was year‑round, used 70 to 90 per cent less water and could be established anywhere in the world.

Interactive Discussion

Ms. STRONG asked Sofia what the United Nations could do to support innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Sofia responded that leaders must work together to build an equitable, standard infrastructure.

The moderator next asked the panel about the historical precedent of technological innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said the implications to labour would result in a period of disruption and chaos, but economic and social benefits would manifest in the long‑run.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that social panic around automation was recorded throughout the history of industrialization, and would be repeated with the development of AI and robotics.  So far, evidence had shown that technological advancements would not fuel job loss, but may fuel inequality.  To address that concern, the international community must do more to ensure adequate skills and capacity‑building.

The representative from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) asked how the global community might achieve its goal of universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2020, including in the least developed countries.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that public‑private partnerships must be strengthened through outreach from the United Nations.  The enhanced engagement of all the multi‑stakeholders would be required to accelerate that goal, particularly in the least developed countries.  Mr. SCHNAPP responded that the international community must urgently acknowledge broadband access as a civil right.

The representative of Nigeria asked how technological advancements in the labour markets might impact youth unemployment, particularly in Nigeria and sub‑Saharan Africa.  Mr. HANSON responded that the technological community was actively engaging Africa in research and through open robotics programmes.  He said that such initiatives were producing significant results and supported the production of low‑cost, open source tools and resources.  Such opportunities also created welcoming environments for entrepreneurship and infrastructural developments.  Ms. KIMANI said the international community must continue to address the root causes of inequalities, while also responding to technological advancements.  Mr. IBARAKI said the investment community considered Africa the greatest new opportunity on a personalization and localization basis, thus the region would continue to see greater investments, particularly around financial services and education.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said there was great interest in establishing indoor vertical farming, which would not require significant changes to skillsets.  Thus, AI in developing communities could enhance agriculture.

The representative of Mauritius asked how to ensure that economic gains would “trickle down”, reduce poverty and ensure technological accessibility.  Mr. IBARAKI responded that the greatest growth would be seen in Africa, including through investment and representation in scientific communities.  In terms of accessibility, technology would continue to evolve and eventually the challenge would solve itself, as AI would likely appear in all devices.

The representative of Sierra Leone asked how producers would prevent robots from acquiring the “worst of human values”, while ensuring culturally relative personalities and values.  Mr. HANSON said his company was working to improve deep learning through pattern extraction.  In doing so, technological producers would include abstract reasoning in AI and empower machines to understand the consequences of their actions.  “It comes down to love,” he continued.  Technology producers would create algorithms that moved AI and computing towards wisdom and “super benevolence”.  In terms of cultural design, he said his robotics have a wide cultural diversity as characterized by different skin tones and cultural values.  Mr. IBARAKI said agreements in the European Union Parliament addressed liability, employment and ethical conduct.  Global science associations and other related reports also addressed those concerns, as well as threats to humanity’s existential existence.

The representative of Brazil said access should not only be shared with consumers, but also with producers of technology.  Greater consideration should be given to developing countries as they could play a significant role in innovation and technology, including by strengthening intellectual and financial systems.  She said that other problems may not require technological solutions, but rather political ones.  Thus, the international community must not forget human responsibilities to global challenges.  Additionally, greater consideration should be given to defining who decides ethics and values.  In that regard, she noted the use of robotics and technological advancements for military use.  As a final comment, she reinforced the importance of privacy rights with respect to innovation.  Mr. IBARAKI said that the United Nations would remain a key facilitator in those discussions, and that overall, the scientific community was encouraging broad dialogue in that regard.  The open source movement and talent crowdsourcing would continue to be widely accessible, he said.  Mr. SCHNAPP reiterated that the open source community was an open community and that most operating systems were open source.  Mr. DESPOMMIER noted a media laboratory which was working to enhance vertical farming, and the information from which would be open source.  Mr. HANSON said blockchain would help to decentralize economic initiatives and facilitate entrepreneurship.

The representative of Zambia urged that the international community continue dialogue on such issues, while ensuring a global governance system which incorporated universal codes of conduct.  Regarding job loss, he said many economies were based on low cost products, many of which would be replaced by new innovations.  In that regard, he asked how Governments might tax labour, given that humans would be replaced by robotics.  Mr. IBARAKI said taxation had already been addressed in many high‑level discussions.

The representative of South Africa asked about the future of human beings, and how to combat the unequal division of benefits.  Mr. IBARAKI said there would be a coexistence of robotics and humans.  Concerning job loss and governance, innovation would create new opportunities.  Mr. SCHNAPP said there was a diversity of opinions on how tools and technologies would interact and that they would be shaped by disparate belief systems and social values.

The representative of the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development asked about the digital divide, while the representative of Global Pulse asked how to mitigate the risks of smart technologies in a manner that ensured that data was properly managed and utilized.  The latter underscored the urgency of addressing risks, as AI had “as much potential for good or harm as nuclear energy”.  In terms of human rights, he urged for a stronger governance approach to innovation.  Mr. HANSON said the international community must continue to utilize all available tools without waiting for regulation.  The value of automation, he continued, was that it managed resources efficiently, thus the democratization of technology would benefit mass production and lower costs.  Mr. IBARAKI said more consideration should be given to technological assessment and skills building.  The unintended consequences of innovation must also be addressed by all stakeholders.  Ms. KIMANI reiterated that human needs must be at the centre of conversations.  Ultimately, the international community must achieve a good balance between innovation and policy.  Mr. SCHNAPP said the international community must create a universal code of values while ensuring proper leadership to decide upon ethics and values.  Mr. DESPOMMIER said ethical considerations should not prohibit innovation, thus more open dialogue would continue to be necessary.

Concluding Remarks

Ms. STRONG questioned what the global community could do to ensure more people were empowered to take advantage of new technologies.  It was also difficult to know if the world was on the right track with certain technologies and how they could be used to increase productivity.

Mr. ZHENMIN said the world was at a critical juncture, faced with unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for a challenging future.  Technology was the main driver of economic growth and could be revolutionary in transforming societies.  AI could bring a new industrial revolution, which would be fundamentally different than previous ones.  The influence of technology on the future was not preordained but could be influenced by proactive policies to embrace and direct it, ensuring that gains were broadly shared.

Ms. CHATARDOVÁ said the potential for grass‑roots initiatives in the field of agriculture and food security were truly inspiring as the international community sought avenues to accelerate progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Likewise, AI‑enabled solutions in the mobility and transportation sectors would go a long way in making cities more sustainable.  Yet, there were also risks associated with those new technologies, and a need to bring regulation to issues that were so far largely ungoverned.  There was more to learn about the impact of AI on societies at large and its potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. JÜRGENSON said the quest for innovative solutions to the complex challenges of the time should be particularly inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and imagination of young people around the globe, using data as their generation’s natural resource.  The benefits of technological progress and innovation to all people remained far from clear.  However, the 2030 Agenda offered a vision that could help in navigating rapid technological change.

Presentation of Reports

LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary‑General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on women in development (document A/72/282).  She said the 2030 Agenda sought to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls as a Sustainable Development Goal in its own right.  The imperative of the gender‑responsive implementation of the Agenda was the task in front of the international community.  Gender equality strategies needed to be fully integrated into national sustainable development frameworks to promote greater policy coherence.  Adding that a central commitment of the Agenda was eradicating poverty, she noted that close to 800 million people still lived in extreme poverty around the world.  Most were in informal employment and many were women.  Vulnerability was the hallmark of informal employment, lacking health or safety regulations, benefits like health insurance, pensions and other social protection.  Such work failed to meet the criteria of decent work.  Recent estimates indicated that 600 million new jobs would need to be created by 2030 to keep pace with the growth of the global working age population.  Focus was needed on young women’s entry into the labour market, including in the areas of science, technology and innovation.

DANIELA BAS, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on the Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty 2008 to 2017 (document A/72/283).  She said a survey was circulated by the United Nations to track progress and remaining challenges in addressing extreme poverty.  Recommendations from the report emphasized the need for the United Nations system to maintain momentum in the context of the 2030 Agenda.  Despite the international community continuing to make progress in poverty eradication throughout the second decade, the Millennium Development Goal targets remained only partially met.  Since 1990, around 1 billion people were lifted out of extreme poverty, however the report noted uneven progress.  Although extreme poverty dropped, poverty levels remained high in many least developed countries.  Growth had not been sufficient to meet the needs of the growing labour force, particularly in countries with large youth populations, and gaps remained in addressing undernourishment and lack of education.  Lessons learned included the importance of social policy, adequate macroeconomic policies, investment in agriculture and infrastructure, rural development and policies to build resilience and empower people living in poverty.  She emphasized the importance of partnerships and reassurance mobilization and called for greater attention to poverty eradication programmes in the national context.  The international community must continue structural transformation by driving inclusive industrialization, combating inequality, promoting decent work, investing in education and health care and improving women’s participation in the labour market.

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on human resource development for the twenty‑first century (document A/72/292).  He said human resource development was fundamental to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda.  Currently, employment trends painted a challenging picture due to decreasing jobs in some sectors, which was compounded by vulnerable employment in many developing countries.  Rapid advancements in science and technology innovation were transforming economies and societies.  Organization of work and production were changing because of globalization.  Stressing that education, training and skill development were at the core of human resources, he said there was an urgent need to improve them.  National institutions must adapt, especially in education, training and social protection system development strategies, which must be informed by stakeholder engagement and policies.  The United Nations provided policy advice in implementing the Agenda, and would continue to do so, although technological changes were shaping its ability.  Investment was needed in the Organization’s own workforce, putting people at its centre.

General Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked Ms. BAS for policy prescriptions for development and poverty reduction in rural areas, especially in Africa.  Ms. BAS said the international community must go through a structural transformation of how to conceive rural areas and work with them in an integrated manner.  That would mean how work would be perceived and created in rural areas, including farm and non‑farm economies.  She said innovative solutions must be compatible with the environment and respect the dignity of the people.  She stated that she would be happy to provide additional information on best practices.  Ms. PURI, responding to the same question, said the Commission on the Status of Women would be focusing on women’s empowerment in the context of rural development.  That would be an important aspect of how one could address poverty, inequality and the rural‑urban divide.  States should create in rural areas the necessary infrastructure, such as electricity, education, transport, financing and telecommunications.  Sustainable agriculture and the farm economy should address eradicating poverty, creating jobs and meeting the needs of young people.  She said such efforts would limit the uncontrolled growth of urban areas, as young people would have an incentive to stay in rural areas.

DIEGO MOREJÓN-PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said there was no way to overemphasize the relevance of poverty reduction to developing States.  It was worrisome that more that 767 million people continued to live on less than $1.90 per day, he said.  The international community made progress in eradicating poverty, as 10.7 per cent of the world’s population was extremely poor in 2013 and 9.1 per cent of the world’s population was poor in 2016.  Despite good economic performance by African countries over the last two decades, that growth was not translated into poverty reduction or the creation of adequate jobs.  In fact, 22 per cent of Africans lived on between $.70 and $1.25 per day, while 25 per cent lived on less than $.70 dollars per day.  He also expressed concern about the lack of productive employment and decent work, as 203.8 million people would be unemployed by 2018.  In that regard, he called for the creation of more economic opportunities, increased mobilization of resources and adequate means for developing countries to implement policies and programmes.  He expressed concern that the progress for women and girls remained unbalanced, and recognized that women were key contributors to the economy and combating poverty.  Stressing that human resources development was at the heart of economic, social and environmental development, he emphasized that health and education were at the core of human resources development.

Statement by Cambodia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to come.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that hurricane devastation in Barbuda and Dominica had underscored the interconnected vulnerabilities of the State and individual.  Farmers had lost their crops.  People had lost their livelihoods.  Economies, with productive sectors — agriculture and tourism — were virtually at a halt, she said.  While the Caribbean had improved its diagnosis of the complexity of the poverty problem, it had been far less progressive with its solutions.  Emphasizing that each State had a responsibility to align its plans with the 2030 Agenda, she said that the United Nations must not attempt to prescribe solutions at the domestic level.  Simply put, the needs of Caribbean countries far exceeded their means.  The added high debt and exposure to climate change only increased the region’s vulnerabilities.  The Caribbean had to work with its partners to develop financial instruments appropriate for loss and damage.  “Development is not linear,” she said, adding that the new multidimensional perspective on poverty should signal a “step change” in the response.

SHAMEES AHSAN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, recounted the progress that had been made on poverty eradication in the last decade, citing it had fallen from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  However, levels of extreme poverty remained high in least developed countries and therefore remained a major concern.  Pointing out the vital role of economic growth in poverty eradication, he lamented that least developed countries were growing at the slowest pace of economic expansion since 2000.  Inequality in income, wealth and opportunities remained high in those States while conflicts, climate change, diseases and economic “shocks” continued to impact them.  To strengthen efforts, least developed countries must overcome structural impediments to enhance productive capacity and encourage the participation of women and children in poverty solutions.  Greater attention should be given to the agricultural sector, he continued, without neglecting the potential of the industrial sector.  Global support through financing was also vital and, in that regard, he looked forward to the implementation of ODA, trade and foreign direct investment (FDI).  Access to technology was also essential for development.  Finally, he stressed the importance of international support in addressing the severe impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Ms. ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that increasingly frequent and more intense weather events had reversed any sustainable development gains made in eradicating poverty.  Such events, in addition to the 2007 to 2009 global financial and economic crisis, put small island States further in debt.  There was limited space to diversify economies as such States that largely relied on tourism, agriculture and fisheries.  All those industries faced great harm from climate change and thus faced great volatility.  Her region’s limited resources went towards rebuilding rather than sustainable development, and any gains were further reversed by other aspects of climate change including warming ocean temperatures, sea level rise and acidification.  Her region also faced numerous unfair financial arrangements that placed countries at greater disadvantage in the global market, including illicit financial flows, unfair trade practices and taxation challenges.  Although statistics showed that many small island developing States experienced high economic growth rates, such growth did not result in sustainable job creation.  Due to those challenges, her region was left with high indebtedness.  “The odds are stacked heavily against us as we desperately try to not only meet our various international obligations but also to provide safe, productive and fruitful living conditions for our citizens,” she stated.  Gains around empowering women and girls were also set back, however she reiterated her region’s commitment to the advancement of gender equality.  She implored Member States to meet their commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change.  She also called for international financial institutions to evaluate their criteria for access to financing, and urged the Secretary‑General to ensure that small island developing States were taken into account in all reform efforts.  Finally, she called upon all partners to meet their ODA.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf CELAC and associating himself with CARICOM, said eradication of poverty and sustainable development with social, economic and financial inclusion were challenges requiring global, regional and national efforts.  The irreversible eradication of poverty was a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and ensuring equal opportunities of progress for societies.  Sustainable development must include groups in situations of vulnerability so that no one was left behind.  Equity, social and financial inclusion and access to fair credit were central to ensure overall access to justice, citizen participation, well‑being and a dignified life.  He stressed the need to improve the mechanisms of regulation, supervision and control of the international and regional financial systems to promote an international financial environment conducive to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, considering that the mobilization of national resources was insufficient in achieving economic growth which would contribute to sustainable development and promote mechanisms of justice and social inclusion to eradicate poverty.  He also highlighted the positive impact of facilitating and increasing intraregional trade in food for food and nutrition security.  Finally, he recognized the relevancy of South‑South and triangular cooperation, complementary to North‑South cooperation, as well as ODA to increase national capacities, improve food and nutrition security and encourage the exchange of good practices.

ORLI GIL (Israel) said that eradicating poverty required promoting capacity‑building and not solely resorting to aid.  Developing countries faced many of the same challenges that Israel struggled with in its early years.  In that context, Israel continued to provide technology and training to nations facing desertification, water scarcity and water desalination.  Today, Israel reused 95 per cent of the water it consumed for agricultural purposes.  She said Israel was working with Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector to create innovative solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Israel also offered courses to instructors from developing nations.  It viewed the involvement of women and young people in the workforce as a prerequisite to poverty eradication.

LU YUHUI (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the international community must accelerate efforts to eradicate poverty by 2030, including through domestic development.  He urged for enhanced development cooperation through the establishment of new international relationships.  He said all countries should support the United Nations, World Bank and other related institutions in their efforts for poverty eradication, and in that regard, he stressed the importance of North‑South and South‑South cooperation.  He encouraged all Governments to enhance support to developing countries and bolster in depth regional cooperation, including through pragmatic cooperation in agriculture, green energy and infrastructure among others.  He also urged the international community to promote an equitable financial order to ensure that developing countries would be enabled to improve their infrastructure, connectivity and integration into supply and value chains.  China remained committed to poverty eradication, he said, noting that more than 600 million people in the country had been lifted out of poverty.  Over the past 60 years, his Government provided 166 countries and international organizations with ODA and dispatched more than 600,000 personnel to assist with humanitarian aid.  His country also furthered initiatives for debt cancelation and would continue to deepen its cooperation and support to developing countries.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with the ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that economic growth alone did not lead to poverty eradication.  Despite being a middle‑income country, 8.23 million Filipinos were still subsistence poor.  She noted the importance of ensuring that women and girls achieved their full potential and were given equal opportunities especially in contributing to the workforce.  It was critical to empower women to participate in the labour market.  The Philippines national plan outlined strategies in improving access to childcare services, formulating policies that promoted work‑life balance, providing retraining services for women and enhancing maternal and paternal benefits.  She called on the United Nations to continue to mainstream gender and poverty elimination in their plans.

ANGELA NG (Singapore), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and ASEAN, said that social safety nets were essential to achieving sustainable development.  “Every Singaporean must be able to stand on their own two feet and live a life of dignity,” she stressed.  Jobs, family support and an empowered civil society were all crucial for communities to grow and prosper.  She emphasized the importance of life‑long learning and training to ensure that citizens were equipped with the necessary skills in changing workspaces.  Poverty was multidimensional, she continued, emphasizing that Singapore’s social safety net encompassed health care, housing, education, a mandatory comprehensive social security savings plan and income supplements for low‑wage workers.  Singapore’s social service officers were also empowered to exercise flexibility when providing aid to low‑income individuals and families, which helped tailor assistance to their needs.

JAVAD MOMENI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country placed people at the heart of all development and had taken numerous steps to eradicate poverty.  Women were key contributors to the economy and the Government was working to create an enabling environment for them to become equal partners and beneficiaries of development.  Underscoring the link between poverty and peace, he added that the United Nations system should continue to coordinate its support to developing countries in their efforts to fight poverty.  The proclamation of a third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty would enhance those efforts.

HA THI THANH HUYEN (Viet Nam) said that poverty eradication was at the heart of development efforts.  In the last 30 years, more than 40 million Vietnamese people had escaped poverty.  That success was attributed to economic growth that created more and better jobs.  Yet challenges remained, as poverty persisted among ethnic minorities, and rural and mountainous populations.  Viet Nam was also among the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change impacts, including sea level rise, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones.  Natural hazards had caused average annual economic losses estimated at 1‑1.5 per cent of GDP in the last two decades.  To maintain the gains in poverty reduction, Viet Nam had to find comprehensive solutions that minimized trade‑offs.

Ms. ALMEHAID (Saudi Arabia) said her country attached great importance to the Sustainable Development Goals, and had placed a great deal of focus on empowering women.  One of the most important aspects of those efforts included bringing more women into the workforce.  The percentage of working women in the country had increased from 22 to 30 per cent, which had resulted in 1 million new jobs for women.  Saudi women were an integral part of society — they had been elected to local councils, participated in official delegations at international and regional conferences and were fully integrated in the diplomatic corps.  Further, a woman was currently the head of the Saudi stock exchange, which was the largest in the Middle East.  There were now more than 30,000 business women in Saudi Arabia, she noted, adding that women represented some 52 per cent of college students.  As a result, Saudi Arabia had expanded scientific departments to accommodate the influx of women studying in that area.

MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that poverty remained the greatest global challenge and its eradication was a compulsory requirement for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  To eradicate poverty in developing countries, those countries needed a fair chance as well as policy space to develop their economies, in order to bring about transformative sustainable development.  Member States should also demonstrate their will by committing to a rules‑based, non‑discriminatory multilateral system that would address systematic imbalances.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said that the pace of job creation remained inadequate in relation to the growing labour force.  His Government had made poverty eradication its top priority through social protection programmes that targeted the destitute and orphans.  He called on various development partners to continue assisting developing countries in terms of technical aid and capacity‑building, particularly in the areas of science and technology.  He reiterated that Africa had lagged behind all other regions in using information and communications technology (ICT).  While major challenges remained, Botswana had made significant progress to empower women and would remain committed to ensuring that no women and girls were left behind.

Mr. HENCKERT (Namibia) said that his Government had put in place several policies to protect workers, including minimum wage for key industries, safety standards and adherence to suitable environmental practices.  All primary and secondary school children had the right to free basic education, he said, pointing out that his country was undergoing a demographic transition, which presented an opportunity to leverage the large number of young workers to help build the economy.  The classification of Namibia as an upper‑middle‑income country was problematic, he said, because that did not take into account the huge income disparity between the rich and the poor.

RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, he stressed the need to improve the quality of life for all citizens by investing in education and health, and diversifying the economy.  Outlining ways to increase Cambodia’s GDP by 2025, he noted that diversifying exports would help to deviate overreliance on the garment, tourism and agriculture industries.  Cambodia’s achievements in poverty reduction had been driven by robust and equitable macroeconomic growth.  That included strong checks on inflation, significant increases in agricultural production and productivity, and strengthening and improving infrastructure.  International support was still welcomed, he said, noting that official development assistance (ODA) played a significant role in contributing to the success of the 2030 Agenda.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that issues such as health, education and economic growth were all of importance for his Government.  As such, he said that various strategies and policies had been put in place to support those areas including human resources development and poverty eradication.  Programmes that improved education and training, addressed non‑communicable diseases by promoting healthy lifestyles and formal services that helped the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled, were now all in place in Tonga.  Further, strengthening women’s economic empowerment and ensuring equal access to full and productive employment and decent work were other areas of concern and had been bolstered thanks to support from the European Union and various civil society initiatives.

Mr. ALKHAFAJI (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country’s poverty rate had dropped to about 13 per cent in 2013 due to falling oil prices and the occupation by ISIL, which had led to unprecedented displacement of the population.  Iraq’s development plans extended to 2030 with a view to eradicating poverty by increasing wages and reducing disparities in pay between men and women.  Iraq granted loans to help the poor create new businesses and small‑scale projects, he said, emphasizing that more assistance was needed from the international community to alleviate poverty due to the country’s unique circumstances.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and ASEAN, saying that reducing extreme poverty and overcoming other daunting development challenges would not be possible without further strengthening international development cooperation.  In that connection, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic called on development partners to scale‑up financing for United Nations operational activities, he said, adding that the Government attached great importance to eradicating poverty and to rural development, he said, calling attention to his country’s particular development challenges due to the prevalence of unexploded ordnance.

Mr. TAMALGO (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in 2016, his country had adopted a national socioeconomic plan for the period 2016‑2020 with a view to transforming the domestic economy through a favourable industrial environment and reform of the education system.  The Government had also promoted competitive industries, thereby strengthening productivity and the marketing of agricultural products.  Structural changes included improved urbanization, a lower birth rate and falling child mortality.  Ultimately, the effect of the national strategy would be the creation of 50,000 decent jobs per year, he said.  The strategy would also reduce demographic growth to 2.7 per cent by 2020, accelerate human capital and reduce negative consumption patterns.  Burkina Faso would continue its efforts to mobilize its natural resources to finance that strategy, he said.

CHRISTINE KALAMWINA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, recalled that for more than a decade, his country had been on a path to realizing its Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle‑income country.  However, persistently high national poverty levels remained at around 54.4 per cent, despite strong economic growth.  The situation in rural areas was even worse, with poverty estimated to be around 76.6 per cent, she noted.  The number of vulnerable households had also taken an upward swing, with people lacking access to such essential basic services as health care, education, water and sanitation.  In that context, the Government of Zambia had committed to reducing the national poverty rate by 20 per cent by 2021.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the progress made in eradicating poverty was uneven across and within regions, adding that 35 per cent of the people in least developed countries could still be living in poverty by 2030.  The Government of Ethiopia continued to coordinate development efforts with political commitment, and as a result of its efforts, the national economy had registered double‑digit growth through three consecutive national development plans.  Poverty had declined from 45 to 22 per cent, and per capita income had grown from $377 in 2009 to $794 in 2016.  Ethiopia had also undertaken legal and policy measures that had attracted special attention to the economic empowerment and political participation of women and girls, he said.  Reducing poverty by generating decent and productive jobs while consolidating the pace of structural transformation would remain among the top development priorities, but national efforts would not succeed without a revitalized global partnership and an enabling development environment.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said poverty was the result of the unjust and exclusionary economic model that had prevailed in recent decades.  Capitalism had never placed human beings at its heart and had doomed millions of people to lives of poverty.  Foreign occupation, political and economic destabilization, colonialism, war and the international financial system were the real obstacles that must be overcome if poverty was to be eradicated, he emphasized.  The world’s richest minority continued to benefit from that unfair world order, while its poorest people remained marginalized and excluded, he said, underlining the need to change the world economic order in order to ensure that everybody benefited, rather than a select number of elites.  Measures of poverty should take levels of inequality into account from the perspective of economic, social and citizen rights, he said.

GONZALEZ PENA (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and AOSIS, said the current international economic order was deeply unjust and unsustainable.  It had the increasingly profound effect of marginalizing many nations in the global South.  Hunger, extreme poverty, illiteracy, lack of sanitation and premature death remained constant in many countries, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s population survived on less than one dollar a day, he said, adding that one billion people lived in extreme poverty.  Those statistics stood in stark contrast to data on the developed world, he noted.  Cuba believed firmly in South‑South cooperation and international solidarity, sharing its modest resources with other nations through international cooperation, he said, emphasizing that humanity’s survival would depend on social justice, equality and respect for the rights of all peoples.

LOT DZONZI (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, expressed concern that poverty remained a hurdle to sustainable development, despite the progress made in reducing poverty numbers from 17.8 per cent of the world population in 2008 to 10.7 per cent in 2013.  In Africa, levels of extreme poverty remained very high despite the drop in the proportion of people living on less than $1.90 per day from 44.8 per cent in 2008 to 39.2 per cent in 2013.  Malawi’s poverty rates had exceeded 70 per cent in 2013, he recalled, adding that it had made great strides in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as well as maternal and child mortality.  However, challenges remained in unemployment, particularly for young people, he said.  Addressing them would require consistent and reliable resources that would facilitate technological diversification, economic expansion and increased industrialization, he emphasized.  The Government promoted women’s participation at all levels, and embraced the need to improve their terms and conditions by facilitating reconciliation with unpaid care work and eliminating gender discrimination in the labour market.  He also urged inclusive action to address issues relating to water, energy, resilient housing, sustainable consumption and production patterns as well as sustainable ecosystems and partnerships.

News

Strong Social Protections, Food Systems Key to Ending Poverty, Hunger, Speakers Stress, as High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Continues

Beginning its review of progress made in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the High-Level Political Forum today took an in‑depth look at country-level efforts to achieve the first two Goals on the eradication of poverty and hunger.

Tasked with evaluating progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Forum held two panel discussions today, followed by a thematic review, as it continued with its second annual session involving Government, private sector and civil society participants.

Decent work was critical to poverty reduction and universal social protections were a driver for reducing both poverty and inequality, stressed Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director-General for Policy of the International Labour Organization (ILO), in the first panel discussion that took up Goal 1 on poverty eradication.  Underscoring the need for fair growth, she noted that, in some parts of the world, the informal economy represented about 80 per cent of all work, which pointed to the need for social protections.  Unpaid care work as a huge barrier for women trying to move out of poverty, she said, calling for policies that addressed the care economy, which would be critical to enabling women to join the labour market and move into jobs with decent working conditions.

Effective monitoring of the Goals required comparable data over time and across space, stressed Janet Gornick, a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality at the City University of New York.  Microdata with multiple dimensions and outcomes were needed, especially in middle- and low-income countries, she said, while emphasizing the importance of efforts aimed at making comparable microdata widely available for research and analysis.

In the day’s second panel discussion addressing Goal 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, Esther Penunia, Secretary-General of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development, lamented that, despite producing as much as 70 per cent of its own food, Asia was home to the world’s poorest and hungriest people.  “We are hungry because we are poor,” she said, adding that eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition required a holistic approach to development that was socially just, environmentally sound and economically viable.  Policies and programmes were needed that promoted secured land rights, created easier access to financing and strengthened farmers’ position in value chains, she emphasized.

Privatization, reduced social spending, trade liberalization and growth‑driven development were being promoted as the magic wand to eradicate poverty everywhere, underlined Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina in Zimbabwe.  Yet, those policies had created poverty in the first place.  She went on to highlight that solutions must come from the very people the Sustainable Development Goals were designed to help.

For the first time in many years, there was evidence that gains made in ending hunger were at risk due to conflict, climate change, and a lack of appropriate policies and investment, said the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking also on behalf of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  Just two years after the Goals were agreed, some 20 million people were at risk of famine, while millions more faced food insecurity.  Sustainable agriculture, resilience and productive food systems were needed, as well as a transformation of the rural economy that put smallholder farmers at the centre.

In the afternoon, the Forum conducted a thematic review on eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world, taking into account multi‑stakeholder perspectives.  Delivering a keynote address during that segment, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, recalled that the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Goals were the result of a truly global, inclusive and transparent negotiation process, which had included civil society, the private sector, grass-roots actors and many others.

The type of broad participation that characterized the creation of the future development agenda would also be required in its implementation, he said, stressing that “having everyone on board is crucial”.  Also underlining the need to create a sense of ownership among those actors, he said people must realize that the Sustainable Development Goals were about their daily lives and that they had a role in implementing them.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 July, to continue its work.

Panel I

The first panel of the day was titled “review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 1 (end poverty in all its forms)”, and was moderated by Caroline Sanchez-Parama, World Bank, with Stefan Schweinfest, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, providing a statistical overview.  Panellists included Martin Ravallion, Edmond D. Villani Professor of Economics, Georgetown University; Yang Zhi, Mayor of Jingzhou, China; Yaw Ansu, Chief Economist, African Center for Economic Transformation, Ghana; and Janet Gornick, Professor, Political Science and Director, Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality, City University of New York.  The lead discussants were Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director-General for Policy, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

Mr. SCHWEINFEST said that, despite progress, 750 million people still lived in extreme poverty.  He noted, however, that nearly 1 billion people had escaped poverty since 1999.  About half of the world’s poor lived in sub-Saharan Africa and among the working poor, young people were most likely to live in extreme poverty across all regions of the world.  Social protection coverage varied and did not reach many vulnerable populations, he said, noting that less than half of the world’s population was covered by at least one social protection scheme.  Only 30 per cent of children, 41 per cent of women giving birth and 68 per cent of people above retirement age were covered by some form of social protection.

Ms. SANCHEZ-PARAMA noted that, although there had been progress over the last 10 to 15 years in eradicating poverty, almost 800 million people continued to live in depravation, which was unacceptable in a world that had the means to end extreme poverty.  The extreme poor were concentrated in particular households and regions of the world, many of which were located in rural areas and worked in agriculture.  More than half of the extreme poor were children and most had little to no education.  Further, the majority of extremely poor people lived in places that were prone to natural disasters or in fragile or conflict-affected States.  She expressed concern that the risks of climate change could result in an additional 100 million people living in poverty by 2030.

Mr. RAVALLION said that there had been good overall progress against absolute poverty, but there were continuing challenges in reducing relative poverty and making sure that “no one is left behind”.  Poorer countries had relied less on direct interventions against poverty, as economic growth had done the bulk of the work, which was a dynamic that may need to change.  Poverty measurements focused exclusively on absolute poverty, which was not consistent with social thought and the aims of social policies.  There needed to be lower and upper bounds on global poverty measures that took into account the country in which people lived.  In other words, richer countries should have higher poverty lines and vice versa when measuring poverty in developing countries.  There had been progress in the number of people who were absolutely poor, although less progress in the number of people who were relatively poor.

Mr. YANG highlighted that, by the end of 2016, the impoverished population in Jingzhou under the absolute poverty level had dropped from about 409,000 to 156,000 people.  He stressed that, to end poverty, it was necessary to boost confidence and establish a mechanism of joint cooperation among all sectors of society.  An important characteristic of poverty alleviation in China was the wide mobilization of all sectors.  Further, ending poverty required greater efforts to improve infrastructure.  In that context, infrastructure investment had been increased in China with an aim of enhancing the availability of safe drinking water and improving the power grid.  Increasing income was a fundamental building block of reducing poverty.  Development was the key to solving all social problems and the most effective solution to ending poverty, which was ultimately, the Government’s responsibility.

Mr. ANSU pointed out that agriculture contributed about 30 per cent of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), although that varied across countries.  It was clear that improving agricultural productivity would have a strong impact on poverty reduction, while also helping to improve food security.  Further, agriculture provided a major contribution to exports and foreign exchange that financed imports of other economic sectors.  Close to 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated, arable land was in Africa, while the continent’s year-round sunshine and youthful population provided opportunities.  However, access to land and the lack of security of tenure was a challenge, as was low productivity and the lack of profitability in farming, which meant that that youth often were not attracted to work in agriculture.  It would be important to improve the production of key staples and product diversification, while also leveraging agriculture to drive industrialization.

Ms. GORNICK noted that poverty rates varied considerably among affluent countries and among countries of similar levels of economic development.  For example, the United States had a much higher level of poverty than the United Kingdom, despite similar levels of economic development.  Effective monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals required comparable data over time and across space.  It also called for disaggregation, which required microdata.  Income was one measure of well-being.  Microdata with multiple dimensions and outcomes were needed, especially in middle- and low-income countries.  Supranational and national investments in high-quality microdata were crucial.  Equally important were efforts aimed at making comparable microdata widely available for research and analysis.  Complementing high-quality microdata with national and subnational macrodata on corresponding policies and institutions was needed for effective policy analysis.

Ms. GREENFIELD said that focusing on relative poverty meant that poverty was recognized as a global phenomenon.  By examining the situation of some middle‑income countries, it was evident that poverty was directly related to inequality, which was, in turn, related to stagnant wages.  Decent work was critical to poverty reduction and universal social protections were a driver for reducing both poverty and inequality.  It was not only about growth, but, really, it was about fair growth.  Global supply chains could be engines of growth, but did not necessarily equate to good jobs.  In some parts of the world, the informal economy represented about 80 per cent of all work.  In those places, social protections were of key importance.  Another area that needed to be better understood concerned the movement of people, as they moved from rural areas to more developed cities.  Policies that addressed the care economy would be critical to enabling women to join the labour market and to move into jobs with decent working conditions.  Unpaid care work was a huge barrier to moving women out of poverty.

Mr. CHIBEBE recalled that it was commonly understood that job creation was critical to ending poverty, although the reality was that poverty must be addressed through the creation of quality jobs compounded with social protections, better working conditions and democratic decision-making processes.  Trade unions believed that ending poverty required access to decent livelihoods, whereby workers were adequately compensated.  Minimum wages should be living wages and established through rule-setting processes with the direct involvement of social partners, including workers and employer organizations.  Workers should have the right to organize, join trade unions and negotiate wages and compensation.  Quality public services formed the cornerstone of efforts to end poverty.  Austerity measures must be thoroughly discussed, because if they were left to Governments alone, they would cripple efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Indonesia noted that his country had undertaken serious efforts to address the needs of the most vulnerable by expanding financial inclusion and the availability of universal health coverage, among other efforts.  The representative of Maldives emphasized that the combination of the effects of climate change, natural disasters and isolated locations kept many small island developing States such as hers unable to move forward with poverty eradication.  In that context, she stressed that such States remained a special case when it came to sustainable development.  The representative of Kenya noted that her country was implementing a national social safety net programme to improve the well-being of people in the country, particularly those who could not meet their basic needs.

Mr. ANSU noted that one challenge that remained was how to intensify agricultural production, such as through the use of fertilizers, without damaging the environment.  Mr. RAVALLION recalled that developing countries were reducing poverty at a much faster rate than developed countries had a century ago.  Mr. YANG noted the targeted solutions that had been put in place in his city to alleviate poverty, which were tailored to the varying conditions, both on the individual and household levels.  Ms. GORNICK said her work had shown that there were many statistical offices lacking data capacity, both in terms of fielding surveys and in preparing the data for use by Government policymakers.

The representatives of Azerbaijan, Switzerland and China also delivered statements.

Also participating was a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

A speaker from the children and youth major group also spoke.

Panel II

Moderated by Gerda Verburg, Coordinator, Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement, the second panel, titled “review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture)”, included panellists Esther Penunia, Secretary General, Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development, and Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator, La Via Campesina, Zimbabwe.

Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla, Head of the Latin American and Caribbean Programme, International Food Policy Research Institute; Meena Bilgi, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management; and Patrick Caron, Chair, High Level Panel of Experts, United Nations Committee on World Food Security, were lead discussants.

Ms. PENUNIA said Asia produced as much as 70 per cent of its own food, yet it was home to the world’s poorest and hungriest people.  “We are hungry because we are poor,” she said.  Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition required a holistic approach to development that was socially just, environmentally sound and economically viable.  Policies and programmes were needed that promoted secured land rights, easier access to financing, strengthened farmers’ position in value chains, and investment in roads, electricity, health care and education, among other things.  Affirmative action would promote gender equality in agriculture, she said, emphasizing also a need for better macrotrade policies.  She went on to say that transforming agriculture would require that family farmers be viewed not as victims and beneficiaries, but as agents and partners for sustainable development.

Ms. MPOFU said privatization, reduced social spending, trade liberalization and growth-driven development were being promoted as the magic wand to eradicate poverty everywhere.  However, for her organization, those policies had created poverty in the first place.  Such alternatives as food sovereignty, agroecology and popular and integral agrarian reforms were being ignored.  Solutions must come from the very people the Sustainable Development Goals were supported to help, she said, describing poverty as the direct outcome of extreme wealth accumulation by a few people.  Now was the time for real structural transformation, to end business as usual, and to reverse inequality and unfair power relations.

Mr. DIAZ-BONILLA, emphasizing the need to separate countries in conflict situations from those that were not, said that helping the poor and hungry meant going directly to the poor and hungry.  Social safety nets would help, he said, noting that they cost less than 0.1 per cent of global GDP.  Other issues included the political economy of the food system, food labelling, women’s empowerment and consumers who were not doing all they could to lead healthy lives.

Ms. BILGI, noting a decline in public investment in agriculture, said transformative change in food and agriculture was necessary.  That meant moving beyond increasing production without negative social and environmental impacts.   Small-scale producers, who made up the vast majority of food producers worldwide, must be empowered, she said, adding that emphasis must be placed on promoting the equitable sharing of opportunities for women farmers.  In India, she said hunger was approached mainly as a rural phenomenon and a question of food scarcity.  The emerging challenge of rapid urbanization — and a growing disconnect between food and nutrition — needed to be identified.

Mr. CARON suggested that the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development be addressed by looking at food systems as a lever.  A revolution was needed, not just incremental change, of the same magnitude of the green revolution.  Agriculture would be a game changer if transformation was considered within the wider perspective of food systems.  He went on to call for a “rainbow revolution” that entailed local innovations for improving resource efficiency, strengthening resilience and security social responsibility, alongside international frameworks such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and national policies to ensure the right to food.

In the ensuing discussion, delegations discussed their countries’ and organization’s efforts towards implementing Goal 2.

The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking also on behalf of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said that, for the first time in many years, there was evidence that gains made in ending hunger were at risk due to conflict, climate change, and a lack of appropriate policies and investment.  Some 20 million people lived at risk of famine, while millions more faced food security, just two years after the Goals were agreed.  Sustainable agriculture, resilience and productive food systems were needed, as well as a transformation of the rural economy that put smallholder farmers at the centre.

The representative of Finland said gender equality was absolutely crucial, given that women comprised 43 per cent of the agricultural work force in developing countries.  She cited a study that concluded that empowering women farmers could prompt a 20 to 30 per cent increase in farm yields while improving the security of their families and reducing by 100 million the overall number of people living in hunger.

The representative of the World Bank Group drew attention to the work of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, which had delivered $1.5 billion since it was created by the Group of 20, known as the G20, in 2009.  At the country level, bringing technical and financial stakeholders together produced much better results.  She added that it was very important for reforms to be recipient-led, rather than coming out of an office in Washington, D.C.  She went on to quote a farmer she had met in Manila who said:  “No farmer, no food, no future.”

The representative of Indonesia said his country had made promising progress in providing better nutrition for its people, but much more needed to be done.  Emphasizing the strong link between food security, poverty and health, as well as education, he said an integrated policy approach could ensure that food accessibility and availability were addressed effectively.  Intensifying agricultural research and development might be an answer, he said.

The representative of Sudan, speaking as a member of the Committee on World Food Security, said ending hunger and achieving food security would require, among other things, raising smallholders’ incomes and securing their access to markets.  Sustainable food systems with strong accountable institutions and responsible investments were also required, she said, emphasizing as well the need to prioritize women’s empowerment.

The representative of the United States said recent events had reinforced how vulnerable the world remained to food insecurity.  A global response was needed, she said, describing the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an overlooked humanitarian crisis.  Emphasizing the importance of preventative action, she said bridging the gap between humanitarian action and development was vital.  She went on to note that discussions were under way on better indicators for measuring progress on Goal 2.

The representative of Chile underscored the value of cooperation with other countries to promote successful ways to tackle malnutrition.  She added that childhood obesity — which was related to poverty and inequality — had not been overcome, and explained her country’s implementation of food labelling regulations.  Reducing malnutrition would require incorporating economic aspects.

The representative of the European Union said sustainability was prominently reflected in the Common Agricultural Policy, in line with the 2030 Agenda.  European Union rules stipulated that farmers could only get European Union support if they accepted a basic layer of environmental regulations.  The Common Agricultural Policy was currently being modernized and simplified, with input from a just-completed public consultation.  Turning to external action, he said the European Union and its member States would continue to extend support to those facing acute food crises.

Also speaking were representatives of South Africa, Argentina, Finland, Benin, France and China.

Representatives of the food and agriculture cluster of the non-governmental organization major group and the stakeholder group for persons with disabilities also took the floor.

Panel III

This afternoon, the Forum held a two-part panel discussion on the theme “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world:  multi‑stakeholder perspectives”.  The first segment focused on the views of major groups and other stakeholders on challenges and pathways to the achievement of those goals.  Luisa Emilia Reyes Zuñiga, Co-Chair of the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders High-Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism, delivered opening remarks, followed by a keynote address by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Moderated by Maruxa Cardama of Cities Alliance, it featured eight panellists:  Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary, International Trade Union (ITU) Confederation, workers and trade unions major group; Sehnaz Kiymaz, President, Women for Women’s Human Rights — New Ways, women’s major group; Louise Kantrow, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, International Chamber of Commerce, business and industry major group; Luis Miguel Etchevehere, President, Sociedad Rural Argentina, farmers major group; Verity McGivern, HelpAge International, stakeholder group on ageing; Jose Maria Viera, International Disability Alliance, persons with disabilities; Roberto Bissio, Social Watch, financing for development civil society group; and Katarina Popovic, Secretary-General, International Council for Adult Education, education and academia stakeholder group.

Ms. REYES opened the discussion, noting that her experience with a small women’s organization in Mexico had demonstrated the power of collective participation.  In its short life so far, the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders High-Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism had already agreed on a set of core principles, including abiding by the United Nations Charter, ensuring progress and human rights for all, and promoting the well-being of all people on a healthy planet.  Spotlighting the role of women’s human rights defenders in particular, she said the session would provide a platform for representatives of all major groups to be heard.

Mr. WU said the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Goals were the results of a truly global, inclusive and transparent negotiation process, which had included civil society, the private sector, grass-roots actors and many others.  As a result, the agenda was the most innovative and transformative in the history of the United Nations.  That kind of broad participation would also be required in its implementation, he said, stressing that “having everyone on board is crucial”.  Also underlining the need to create a sense of ownership among those actors, he said people must realize that the Sustainable Development Goals were about their daily lives and that they had a role in implementing them.  Emphasizing the importance of the participation of the major groups at the Forum, he told participants that their presence today could help build the necessary coherence to achieve development and other international targets, especially by building awareness among their constituencies and creating connections with those working on concrete projects on the ground.

Ms. CARDAMA, noting that major groups and other stakeholders represented a cross section of civil society, said the Forum would have been “blatantly incomplete” without their participation.  Indeed, the statements delivered today would provide a “reality check” in the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and spotlight the spirit of partnership that would be critical to its achievement.  Panellists would focus in particular on identifying cross-cutting challenges and lessons learned in building coherence among various sectors in achieving development goals.

Mr. CHIBEBE highlighted the active involvement of the world’s trade unions in achieving sustainable development, including through the production of a targeted report.  Noting that today’s development challenges could be overcome through inclusiveness, transparency and dialogue, he said that Sustainable Development Goal 3 on occupational health and safety could only be reached if the rights of workers were respected.  Drawing attention to the findings of the ILO Global Wage Report 2017, which revealed that increased minimum wages had the potential to reduce inequalities with no significant impact on overall job creation, he went on to note that women’s unpaid work constituted an estimated $10 trillion around the world annually.  He also stressed the need to advocate for the rights of informal workers, migrant workers, ethnic minorities and the disabled, and to enable collective bargaining.

Ms. KIYMAZ, pointing out that all eight individuals who held the most economic wealth in the world were men, underscored the need to overcome that “obscene” concentration of wealth and to end the deeply entrenched systemic barriers against women.  Describing the work of various civil society actors in that regard — including women’s organizations in Turkey working to provide support to women and girls disproportionately affected by conflict — she said the 2030 Agenda should provide new opportunities for connections and partnerships aimed at ensuring that no one was left behind.  She called for support to help amplify the voices of women’s and feminist organizations in the 2030 Agenda’s monitoring, stressing that women’s human rights defenders had to be able to work in an environment free from threats and harassment in order to bring the agenda to people on the ground.

The representative of Kenya, serving as a Member State respondent, spotlighted the importance of international cooperation in global trade, official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  However, there were many challenges in those financial flows, including the prevalence of illegal tax evasion and mispricing of products, which led to a situation “where Africa ends up supporting the West” through subsidies.  Also highlighting the importance of good governance, he added that without the appropriate inclusion and participation of women, youth, the poor, the working class, indigenous people and others, the international community would lack the drive necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s various targets.

Ms. KANTROW said the business and industry major group had established the “Global Business Alliance for 2030”, which brought together a number of partners committed to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  Among other things, business was a major driver of growth and a provider of decent jobs, she said, noting that many companies had already taken the Goals on board and begun to incorporate them into their practices.  Many already regularly reported on environmental sustainability, she added, noting that the business community looked forward to participating as an active, engaged partner in the Forum’s various monitoring and review processes.

Mr. ETCHEVEHERE said agriculture was the primary sector in many economies, and was responsible for guaranteeing food security — and therefore life — for people around the world.  It also provided job and development opportunities to women, men and young people, and contributed to building national GDP.  Describing the agricultural community’s long history of collective organization, including with other sectors, he expressed its commitment to the achievement of the Goals.  Innovation could support mechanization in the fields and improve market practices, he said, adding that it was only when farmers received appropriate remuneration for their work that economies functioned properly.  Sustainable agriculture required increased crop rotation, he said, adding that mixed agricultural systems based on a combination of crop and livestock farming would be critical to achieving sustainable development.

Ms. MCGIVERN said many of the changes taking place in the world today resulted from the fact that people were living longer lives.  Stressing that older persons had an equal right to development, she called for a better understanding of the significant barriers they faced.  Such barriers ranged from inadequate access to health and care services, increased gender discrimination in older age and a lack of relevant data, she said, calling for social protection floors based on schemes designed to do more than meet their basic needs.  Indeed, national development policies and other relevant structures must protect and promote the rights of older persons and do more to ensure their active participation in decision-making processes.

The representative of Indonesia, also speaking as a Member State respondent, said that, despite the decline in extreme poverty, 786 million people worldwide remained undernourished.  Governments could not lift people out of poverty alone, he said, calling for strong initiative on the part of every major stakeholder group.  Among other things, he also called for progress in several specific areas, including better interconnectedness; more strategic interventions; increased incentives in the form of subsidies, tax relief or other resources; innovation, science and technology; and international cooperation with major groups and other stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and many other actors.

Mr. VIERA, introducing a report produced by the persons with disabilities major group whose goal was to evaluate the challenges related to eradicating poverty, as well as to spotlight the role of the group in the 2030 Agenda monitoring process, outlined the range of challenges faced by persons with disabilities around the world.  They continued to experience violations of their most basic human rights, such as lack of participation, denial of their property rights and even institutionalization.  “We cannot deny that the many economic austerity programmes imposed by States have not only expelled large groups of the population, but also put persons with disabilities at even greater risk,” he stressed, adding that the voluntary national reviews had, in many cases, failed to be inclusive of the needs of persons with disabilities.

Mr. BISSIO, noting that the civil society financing for development groups comprised hundreds of organizations around the world and cut across all other major groups, described its work to make the financing for development process credible, open, accountable and relevant.  “Vision without implementation is a hallucination,” he said, urging States to go beyond their focus on ODA, which was hampered by illicit financial flows and many other challenges.  International collaboration was needed to enable Governments — rich and poor — to raise their own taxes.  Tax collaboration at the United Nations remained an “open agenda” as it had not been possible.  Underlining the important principle of “do no harm”, he said the resources required to achieve sustainable development currently existed, but were allocated to such things as military expenditures and fossil fuels subsidies.

Ms. POPOVIC, pointing to a “crisis of values” around the world that could be changed through education, drew attention to a number of examples of the contribution of education and life-long learning to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  Those included poverty alleviation through vocational training; the reduction of harmful practices, such as early marriage, gender-based violence and discriminatory laws; and improvements in the use of clean water and renewable energies.  However, many obstacles existed, including the freezing of education budgets in countries such as Brazil, rules prohibiting pregnant girls from going to school and a shrinking space for civil society.  Leaving no one behind meant that everyone — regardless of sex, age, nation or religion — had access to quality, affordable education.

The representative of the Netherlands, also participating as a Member State respondent, recalled that his country had hosted international public service forum in June, from which several recommendations had emerged.  Participants at that meeting had called on Governments to be more innovative, avoid working in silos and show more integrity and transparency.  They had also highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder participation and respect for diversity in the coordination of Sustainable Development Goal implementation.

The representative of the Climate Action Network, noting that climate change was “front and centre” in the 2030 Agenda, urged Member States to include that issue in their national reporting, he invited them to work with the Network in the implementation of the Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change and voiced his hope that climate change would be reflected in the Forum’s outcome document.

The representative of the indigenous peoples major group called on Governments to prioritize respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers in their implementation efforts, especially by protecting and promoting their land tenure rights.

Naiara Costa of Together 2030 moderated the second part of the panel, titled “leaving no one behind:  ensuring an enabling environment for effective major groups and other stakeholders implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals”.  That segment featured presentations by Saul Zenteno Bueno, President, Fundación Manatí para el Fomento de la Ciudadanía, children and youth major group; Rosalea Hamilton, Founder and President, Institute for Law and Economics, and Vice-President of Community Service and Development and Professor, University of Technology, Jamaica, non-governmental organizations major group; James O’Brien, volunteer groups; Jan Van Zanen, Mayor of Utrecht and President, Association of Dutch Municipalities, local authorities major group; John Patrick Ngoyi of World Vision, on behalf of Together 2030; and Keikabile Mogodio,  indigenous peoples major group.

Mr. BUENO said children and youth had a critical role in implementing the 2030 Agenda and Member States were the duty bearers.  Highlighting a sample of related youth activities, he said target areas included policymaking, advocacy, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing.  For instance, he said, youth had worked with Governments in many countries in drafting national reviews and with awareness-raising campaigns.  Sharing best practices had enabled communities to adopt the Goals and foster context-responsive implementation efforts.  From climate change in Indonesia to food security in the United Republic of Tanzania, efforts were addressing issues related to the 2030 Agenda.  To ensure further progress, youth must have a platform and relevant mechanisms to be able to play their role, he said.

Ms. HAMILTON said universities, State agencies and non-governmental organizations in Jamaica were working together towards common goals.  One such example was a three-year USAID project that had begun prior to the 2030 Agenda’s adoption.  Executed by the University of Jamaica, the initiative addressed gender‑based violence and human trafficking and had now targeted those left further behind.  Underlining the central importance of Goal 16, she said a participatory budget approach was being used to craft community-based efforts to foster meaningful and sustainable solutions.  Taking note of several recommendations, she emphasized the importance of increased public education to change systemic barriers to eradicating poverty.

Mr. O’BRIEN said volunteers were promoting and fostering progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda by helping to extend the reach of efforts to ensure that no one was left behind.  Citing a range of examples, he said projects included awareness-raising and reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS.  Local and international volunteers were working with faith leaders to reduce gender-based violence.  The power of volunteers demonstrated a successful partnership with Governments.  Most importantly, volunteers wanted to share their experiences on working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Supporting strategies and volunteers’ work was needed, he said, calling on Governments to consider how volunteers were contributing to the 2030 Agenda and how their work was reflected in voluntary national reviews.

The representative of Slovenia said youth were significant contributors to achieving the targets set out in the 2030 Agenda.  Slovenia had created a strategy to address needs including education and jobs.  Voluntarism was a critical component that helped Government programmes and represented a visible sign of partnership among parts of society, he said, emphasizing that strong partnerships depended on creating an enabling environment.

Mr. VAN ZANEN said that more than 400,000 local and regional governments were presenting voluntary national reviews to the Forum, representing their ability to reach a total of 5.2 billion people.  As Mayor of Utrecht, he said the Goals had been part of an agenda for the entire city, which was exchanging experiences with others through the Municipality4GlobalGoals campaign.  “Full ownership of the Agenda at a local level is decisive,” he said, adding that the local and regional Governments were working on implementing the Goals at the local level.  National Governments needed to recognize that role and involve them in setting priorities for achievement.  Local governments around the world needed to be strengthened and required the legal and fiscal space to address poverty, inequality and other challenges in an integrated manner.

Mr. NGOYI said promises must transform into action, budget allocation and implementation.  Participation of all stakeholders was imperative, as it allowed the expertise and contributions of all groups to speed up and enhance the quality of delivery on the Goals.  Enabling civil spaces created opportunities for the poorest and most disadvantaged to engage in decisions that affected their lives while addressing challenges and devising strategies for solving them.  Unfortunately, since the 2030 Agenda’s adoption, the political landscape in many countries had been creating environments that hindered participation, silenced voices and oppressed diversity, he said, asking Member States and the Economic and Social Council’s President to establish clear and meaningful mechanism that went beyond online platforms to collect, publicize and analyse reports on contributions by civil society and stakeholders at all levels.

Mr. MOGODIO said that, while indigenous peoples made up 5 per cent of the world’s population, they represented 15 per cent of the poor, largely due to historical and continuous disrespect of identities linked to lands, territories and resources.  Mainstream development approaches and business-as-usual practices were fuelling unequal economic growth, devastating ecosystems and entrenching social injustice.  Those underlying causes of poverty were being compounded by exclusion from decision-making processes, as was the case in the voluntary national review process in many countries, including his, Botswana.  The lack of a legal identity and recognition of collective rights were major barriers to effectively participating and full contributing to sustainable development.  “Unless this is addressed, we will continue to be marginalized and excluded,” he said, urging Member States to prioritize legal recognition of land tenure of indigenous peoples, ensure policy cohesion and balanced implementation of human rights-based sustainable development, and ensure the full, effective participation of marginalized groups.

The representative of Sweden provided examples of current efforts to engage with non-governmental actors, emphasizing that “the 2030 Agenda will not be fulfilled if we do not work together”.  Indeed, the Government did not have the knowledge to accomplish goals alone, she said.  In submitting its national review, Sweden had included contributions from a range of partners, including the private sector, civil society and academia.  A committee representing various multisector actors had been assigned to inform and hold dialogue with the “breadth of society” and had proposed drafting a Swedish action plan on how to realize the 2030 Agenda.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, participants stressed that inclusion was key, as emphasized by speakers from civil society groups representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s caucus and faith-based organizations.  A speaker representing women’s land tenure rights called for changes to legislation that would recognize challenges and advance progress for females.  A representative of the persons with disabilities major group emphasized the varied contributions that could be made by all members of society.

Some speakers discussed implementation plans, including the representative of Mexico, who said a governmental working group had been drafting strategies that addressed all of the 2030 Agenda’s targets.

Private sector involvement offered vast possibilities, said a speaker representing the businesses major group.  The private sector could help in areas such as distributing food to reach the hungry, he said.

Representatives of Botswana and the Netherlands agreed with taking local approaches to implementing the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing that sharing experiences among towns and cities could foster more progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

News

Answer – SADC Agreement and protection of the PDO products feta cheese and Kalamata olives – P-004696/2016

The EU-SADC (Southern African Development Community) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), was signed at Kasane in Botswana, on 10 June 2016, with six of the members of SADC, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.

Under Protocol 3 (Geographical indications and trade in wines and spirits) to the EU-SADC EPA, South Africa will protect 251 EU geographical indications (GIs). These include 29 GIs for products coming from Greece, including ‘Φέτα/Feta’ and ‘Ελιά Καλαμάτας/Elia Kalamatas’.

Until now, only EU GI names for certain wines and spirits have been protected following the Agreements on Trade in Wines and on Trade in Spirits signed with South Africa in 2002. Hence, when the EU-SADC EPA enters into force, the listed GIs for EU agriculture products and foodstuffs will move from current non-protected status to protected status. In no case is protection for a GI removed or reduced. Rather the entry into force of the EU-SADC EPA will increase the protection of the listed 251 EU GIs.

Protocol 3 only applies between the EU and South Africa, while other parties to the EU SADC EPA (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Swaziland) may join at a later date.

The EU-SADC EPA foresees rules and procedures to make changes to the lists of protected GI names, and the Commission is committed to ensuring that the GI protocol is reviewed, together with the whole agreement, no later than five years after its entry into force.

News

Secretary-General Hails History-Making Ceremony as World Leaders from 175 Countries Sign Paris Agreement on Climate Change

Day-long Event Sees 14 States Parties to Treaty Deposit Ratification Instruments

World leaders from 175 countries gathered at United Nations Headquarters today for the official signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the historic accord reached last December, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling upon all States to quickly sign up to the treaty so it could enter into force as soon as possible.

“The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” said Secretary-General Ban as he opened the high-level signature ceremony in the General Assembly Hall.  Climate action could help eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women.  However, the window for keeping global temperature rise below 2°C, let alone 1.5°, was closing and intensified efforts were needed to decarbonize economies, he said.

Noting that today’s event had made history, he said it had involved the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  Among them were the following 14 States parties that deposited their ratification instruments:  Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Somalia, as well as the State of Palestine.  The treaty must find expression in actions taken on behalf of the current generation and all future generations, the Secretary-General said.  “Young people are our future.  Our covenant is with them.”

Following his remarks, Getrude Clement, a youth leader from the United Republic of Tanzania who spoke on behalf of children, said they would feel the effects of climate change most acutely.  “This is not the future we want for ourselves,” she emphasized.  “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow.”

In a similar vein General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft (Denmark) pressed Member States to take bold steps to make that transformation happen now.  Among others, he congratulated the leaders of France and Peru — Presidents of the two previous climate conferences — for having shepherded a remarkable breakthrough.

President François Hollande of France said that in the run-up to the Paris Agreement, important steps had been taken by Governments, business, local leaders, civil society and ordinary citizens.  And yet, since agreement on the treaty, temperatures continued to rise and disasters had occurred, including the cyclone that had devastated Fiji, spreading drought in Africa, the shrinking of Lake Chad, and rising sea levels that threatened small islands with disappearance under the waves.

On that point, Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga of Tuvalu lamented that an average of 62,000 people were displaced due to climate change each day, a staggering figure that should ring alarm bells.  He called for an Assembly resolution establishing a legal protection system for people displaced by climate change.

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil said that developing countries like her own had achieved significant emission reductions and taken on even more ambitious targets.  She called for increasing climate financing beyond the annual $100 billion commitment, saying that international financial flows must be permanently reoriented to support measures that would facilitate solutions.

President Joseph Kabila Kabange of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, speaking for the least developed countries, said that category had been among the most progressive during the climate negotiations, with 47 of them having communicated their intended nationally determined contributions, although such efforts were not mandatory.

Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli of China said that, as a responsible, major developing country, whose people owned their commitments, China would work earnestly to implement the Paris Agreement, notably by early accession to the treaty.  The Government of China would finalize the domestic legal accession procedures before the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in September, he said.

John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, said the Paris Agreement’s power lay in the opportunity it created.  The deal had sent a message to the markets that innovation, entrepreneurial activities, allocation of capital and Government decisions would define the new energy future.  Investment in renewable energy had been at an-all time high of nearly $330 billion in 2015, he noted.

Anand Mahindra of India’s Mahindra Group said that addressing climate change was the responsibility of the private sector, given its role in contributing to the problem.  The Agreement gave business a chance to redeem itself from the “trust deficit” it faced.  Many companies had joined programmes to double energy productivity by 2030, or made a commitment to transition towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the future, he said.

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Indigenous Women and Peoples Association of Chad, said climate change was “adding poverty to poverty”, forcing people to leave their homes in search of a better future.  “It is time to change your hope into promise,” she said, urging leaders to sign, ratify and implement the Agreement.  “We want you to act.”

The signature event extended throughout the day, in parallel with meetings in which Heads of State and Government offered updates on how they would integrate national climate plans into broader sustainable development programmes.  Opening the event was a brass quintet from the Juilliard School in New York City, joined by 197 children representing the States parties that have adopted the Paris Agreement.

Also speaking during the signature ceremony were the Presidents of Peru and Bolivia and the Prime Ministers of Canada and Italy.  The Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation also spoke, as did a royal Princess from Morocco.  United Nations Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio also addressed the ceremony.

Opening Remarks

GETRUDE CLEMENT, youth representative from the United Republic of Tanzania, spoke on behalf of young children in the opening ceremony, saying that climate change presented a big problem all over the planet, but it was children who would feel its effects most acutely, both now and in the future.  Climate change affected the lives of young people, their planet and their education, and children saw its negative results in their daily lives.  “This is not the future we want for ourselves,” she said, adding that children were leading their communities in taking action.  Youth leaders in the United Republic of Tanzania had visited many communities to talk about the effects of climate change and had learned how it impacted the lives of young people.  “We expect action, action on a big scale, and we expect action today, not tomorrow,” she emphasized.  “The future is ours, and the future is bright.”

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recalled that in Paris last December, the international community had adopted the world’s first universal climate agreement, with every country pledging to curb emissions and strengthen resilience to potentially devastating climate impacts.  Today, more than 165 Governments had gathered to sign the Paris Agreement.  “This is history,” he said, describing the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement on a single day.  He commended the 14 States parties depositing their ratification instruments:  Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Somalia, as well as the State of Palestine.  Noting that records were being broken inside the chamber today, he said they were also being broken outside — record global temperatures, ice loss and carbon levels.

“We are in a race against time,” he emphasized, urging countries to join the Agreement quickly so that it could enter into force as early as possible.  The window for keeping global temperature rise below 2 °C was closing, he warned.  The era of consumption without consequences was over and intensified efforts were needed to decarbonize economies and support developing countries in making that transition.  “The poor and vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” he stressed.  Climate action was not a burden.  Rather, it could help eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of women and girls and it was essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  He said he had worked towards this day since “day one” as Secretary-General.  “You are signing a new covenant with the future,” which must find expression in actions taken on behalf of the present and future generations to protect communities.  “The power to build a better world is in your hands,” he declared.

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said 12 December 2015 had been a historic day for the whole international community.  The moment it had become clear that agreement had been reached had been an emotional one.  It was important to recall that the terrorist attacks on Paris had been the backdrop to the Agreement, he said, adding that world leaders had nevertheless demonstrated their ability to come together with a sense of partnership and responsibility to ensure that an agreement would be the fruit of the Paris meeting, as a symbolic act for the rest of the world.

In the run-up to the Agreement, important steps had been taken by Governments, business, local leaders, civil society and ordinary citizens, he recalled.  The success of the Paris meeting had compelled Governments to go even further than the promises and pledges made, and there was a need to ensure that words became actions.  Since 12 December, temperatures had continued to rise and further disasters had occurred, including the devastating cyclone in Fiji, the spread of drought in Africa, the continuing shrinkage of Lake Chad and the rising sea levels that threatened small islands at risk of disappearing under the waves.

Never in the history of the United Nations had it been possible to bring together 170 countries to sign an agreement, all together, on one day, he noted, emphasizing that there was no turning back now.  The world must accelerate action to implement low-carbon policies.  Noting that some $100 billion was needed between now and 2020, he said every country must set an example, particularly developed countries, by stepping up contributions for combating climate change.  “It is not just a question of States taking action, the entire world must come together,” he stressed.  “Everyone must feel that they have a stake in this.”

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, congratulated Governments for having demonstrated what true leadership was all about; society and business leaders, for keeping the pressure and momentum going; the leaders of France and Peru – Presidents of the previous two Conference of Parties – for having shepherded a remarkable breakthrough; and the Secretary-General, for his tireless commitment on the long journey to Paris.  “We must raise the level of ambition even further,” he said, calling for bold steps to make the transformation happen now.

OLLANTA HUMALA TASSO, President of Peru, said the Paris efforts went hand in hand with others under way at the heart of the United Nations, energetically promoted by the Secretary-General, to combat poverty and inequality, notably with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Against that backdrop, he said, he was grateful for his country’s important role in that process, and to the international community for its trust in his Government.  Recalling that the Lima Call for Action had been adopted in 2014, laying the foundations for the Paris Agreement, he said Peru had worked with France to craft a historic accord that must now be implemented responsibly.

The unprecedented presence of so many Heads of State and Government to sign — and some to ratify — the Agreement was proof of the worthy efforts deployed in reaching the accord, he said.  Peru had been motivated by the need to mobilize the greatest partnership in history for the benefit of climate and development.  Indeed, the Paris Agreement contained weighty obligations that the international community must assume under the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  States would need to ramp up dialogue and cooperation, and ensure robust commitment was in place to push forward the climate financing needed for mitigation and adaptation efforts, and to shape low-carbon, climate-resilient economies.

In that context, he went on to point out the importance of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, saying it must play a full part in the run-up to the twenty-second Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakech, Morocco, which aimed to promote climate action at all levels of society.  For its part, Peru was working to become a climate-responsible country, having committed to reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2030, and to enhance adaptation actions.  Those included reducing vulnerability in terms of access to water, agriculture, fisheries, forests and health, as well as across five sectors — disaster risk management, resilient public infrastructure, the fight against poverty, gender equality and promoting private investment.  The Paris Agreement represented the tangible expression of a desire to achieve fair, secure and sustainable development for all.  “Today, we can ratify the greatest partnership against the enemy — climate change,” he declared.

JOSEPH KABILA KABANGE, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, noted that the Group of Least Developed Countries had been among the most progressive in the climate negotiations and had played a significant role in building important components of the Paris Agreement.  For them, today was not merely a symbolic event; it was an important opportunity to reaffirm the positive spirit and narrative created in Paris.  Today was an opportunity to outline a timetable for ensuring the Agreement would have full force in international law and would be implemented.  Ministers from the least developed countries had met in Kinshasa earlier this month to reiterate their commitment to the Paris Agreement and had declared that their Governments would take all necessary steps required for ratification of the Agreement, as soon as possible.

The Paris Agreement created many challenges and opportunities for economies, he continued.  To reach many of the goals it set out, predictable and significantly increased financial flows and other resources would have to be put in place to enable robust action.  Resilience to the adverse effects of climate change and enhanced actions on adaptation would also be required.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was fully aware of the need for a global effort to tackle global warming and had committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent between 2020 and 2030, he said.  That represented a considerable effort for a country that was resolutely working to rebuild itself and move ahead.  The transfer of technology, building capacity, securing financing, ensuring resilience in the face of climate change, and developing renewable energy were the main priorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said, noting that it had a significant and diverse range of natural resources that made it an important partner in the fight against climate change.  The development of hydroelectric power would help meet its own energy needs, as well as those of its neighbours and beyond, he said, emphasizing that States had a duty to overcome narrow self-interest and opt for proactive, mutually beneficial cooperation.

EVO MORALES AYMA, President of Bolivia, declared:  “The Earth is not an object that can be sold,” emphasizing that his community had taught him that land was “our mother, our home that should be protected”.  He described the main enemies of life as consumerism, mercantilism, the arms race and greed — in sum, the capitalist system, which should be eradicated.  The world was witnessing the most serious disasters — temperature rise, drought, hurricanes and other extreme events — and unless Governments lived up to their Paris commitments, temperatures would rise by between 5 and 6 °C, he warned.

He went on to state that the Paris Agreement could change that reality, depending on its implementation.  It marked an important step, but it was not sufficient to save Mother Earth.  He called for examining the structural causes of the climate crisis, stressing that the rights of Mother Earth were more important than individual rights.  The environment must be protected and, as such, it was essential to adopt a universal declaration on the rights of Mother Earth, and an international climate justice tribunal.  They would judge and punish States responsible for the climate crisis, as well as businesses that caused social and environmental damage.  “If we don’t change the capitalist system in the future, we will see the destruction of humankind,” he asserted.

DILMA ROUSSEFF, President of Brazil, said that the successful conclusion of the Paris Agreement represented an historic milestone towards creating the world humanity wanted — a world of sustainable development for all, with the full achievement of the Goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Realizing the commitments made in Paris would demand converging action by all countries and societies towards lives and economies less dependent on fossil fuels and dedicated to sustainable environmental practices.  Developing countries like Brazil had achieved significant emission reductions and taken on even more ambitious targets, she said.  The challenge of tackling climate would require a gradual increase in the ambition of developed countries and the continuous mobilization of the appropriate means of implementation.

She went on to emphasize that it was necessary to increase climate financing beyond the annual $100 billion commitment.  International financial flows must be permanently reoriented to support measures that would translate into solutions.  Brazil was determined to intensify mitigation and adaptation actions, and in that regard, would work for a 37 per cent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025, and 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, she said.  The country would also achieve zero deforestation in the Amazon and neutralize emissions from the legal suppression of vegetation.  Another challenge would be the restoration and reforestation of 12 million hectares of forest and another 15 million hectares of degraded pasture, he said.  Those were indeed ambitious targets, but they were based on Brazil’s understanding of the grave, negative impacts of climate change.

ZHANG GAOLI, Vice-Premier of China, described the Paris Agreement as a milestone in the global response to climate change, which his country had actively worked to conclude.  In Paris, the President of China had put forward the country’s vision and proposals, and China had played a vital role in the negotiation process.  It was a responsible, major developing country, whose people owned their commitments, he said.  “We will work hard to earnestly implement the Paris Agreement,” notably by acceding early to the accord, and would finalize its domestic legal procedures on its accession before the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit in September.  China would work with the rest of the international community for early accession in order to ensure the accord’s early entry into force.

He said China would take actions at home to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, setting a peak by 2030 and making its best efforts to peak early.  Those efforts had been included in national development plans.  Under the national five-year plan, efforts would be made to cut carbon emissions by 18 per cent, control carbon intensity and launch near-zero carbon emission projects.  It would also put in place a strict accountability system for environmental protection and ensure implementation of all targets.  More broadly, China would enhance international cooperation against climate change by taking part in follow-up negotiations on the Paris Agreement, while deepening South-South cooperation on climate change.  New projects had been launched in 2016, especially those focused on enhancing the climate financing capacity of developing countries.

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, Prime Minister of Canada, said climate change represented not only a challenge that must be met, but also an opportunity that must be grasped.  It was a challenge that Canada had already begun to address, he said, noting that his Government had met with a range of stakeholders to create a plan that would meet or exceed emissions targets, and taken steps towards clean economic growth.  Canada had encouraged actions to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and invested billions in a green energy fund.  It had also signed on to “Mission Innovation”, a global partnership that aimed to double Government investment in climate-change initiatives over five years, while encouraging a more prominent role for the private sector.

“These actions are just the beginning,” he said, emphasizing that the country was not making such investments to be “nice”.  Rather, Canada was doing so because it was the right thing to do for the environment and the economy.  The humanitarian case was also clear.  It was well known that climate change would hit the poorest citizens the hardest, making it more difficult for the international community to address other challenges, such as food insecurity and the growing needs of refugee populations.  The business case was also obvious, and there were tremendous opportunities in that regard.  Canada’s ambitions would not end with those planned steps aimed at addressing the issue at home.  The country would also play a prominent role in supporting developing countries, which should neither be punished for a problem they had not created, nor deprived of the opportunities for clean growth that developed countries were pursuing.  That was why Canada would investment $2.5 billion over the next five years to help developing countries move towards sustainable development, he said.

MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, asked delegates to close their eyes and imagine their sons and grandsons in the General Assembly chamber for the first time.  “Today, finally, we give a message of hope,” he said.  The Paris Agreement was important, but not only for a single issue.  Its most important aspect was its political message.  “We give the message that politics is able to give hope for the next generations,” he said, emphasizing that Italy would work for implementation of the Paris Agreement in the coming months.  The international community had demonstrated that it understood the importance of delivering a collective message, and Italy would consider that a priority for its presidency of the Group of Seven (G-7) and for its role in Europe.

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said “we need to take the Paris Agreement and mould it into an international call to action” — a “document of revival”.  Signature was the first step, to be followed by ratification to ensure its early entry into force.  He said that he had arrived today with Tuvalu’s instrument of ratification, and encouraged the legislatures of other countries also to ratify.  He welcomed the decision by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to develop a special report on the impacts of a 1.5 °C global temperature rise, saying he suspected that would have serious implications for small-island countries, such as his own.

More broadly, he said an average 62,000 people were displaced each day due to climate change, a staggering figure that should ring alarm bells.  Calling for an Assembly resolution to establish a legal protection system for people displaced by the impacts of climate change, he said that, since small island developing States required better access to climate financing, disbursement of the Green Climate Facility must be based on accessibility and level of vulnerability, rather than how well a State party could write its adaptation or mitigation proposals.  He also sought support for a Pacific island climate change insurance facility.

ALEXANDER KHLOPONIN, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, said today’s signing was a remarkable and important step by the international community towards achieving the goal of tackling global climate change.  The Paris Agreement created a reliable international legal framework that united actions of developed and developing countries, including the main emitters of greenhouse gases.  The quality of life of all of humanity and the move towards a more sustainable future depended on resolving climate issues.

The Agreement, he said, contained important provisions on the role of market-based mechanisms to provide incentives to Governments and businesses to take effective measures to address climate challenges.  His country was prepared to cooperate with all States and had laid out an ambitious set of intended nationally determined contributions, which included its intention to limit greenhouse gas emissions to 70 per cent of 1990s levels by 2030.  The preservation of forests was of major concern for the Russian Federation.  The potential of forests must be maximized, without artificial restrictions.  The Russian Federation had created a national plan to implement the Agreement, which included a long-term strategy of low-carbon development through 2050, and systemic efforts for the sustainable management of forests.  There needed to be innovative approaches based on technologies, with a particular focus placed on technical cooperation to address climate problems.  He concluded by highlighting a proposal by his Government to convene a scientific forum under the United Nations to discuss climate change challenges, including the depletion of natural resources.

JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State of the United States, recalled that he was a young organizer just back from Viet Nam on the first Earth Day in 1970, and a young Senator advocating in Rio de Janeiro for the first Earth Summit.  After having attended many Conferences of Parties, it was fair to say that all felt an “extraordinary sweep of joy” when 196 nations said in Paris that they would live up to their responsibility to future generations.  That meeting was a turning point in the fight against climate change, when the world had decided to heed the mountain of evidence, put to rest the debate of whether climate change was real, and instead, began to galvanize the focus on how to address the irrefutable reality that nature was changing rapidly due to our own choices.

The power of the Agreement was not that it guaranteed States would hold the global temperature rise to a target of 1.5 or 2 °C.  “It does not and we know it”, he said.  Its power was in the opportunity it created, the message it sent to the marketplace that innovation, entrepreneurial activities, allocation of capital and Government decisions would define the new energy future.  Its power lay in what it would do to unleash the private sector.  In 2015, renewable energy investment reached an-all time high of nearly $330 billion.  It was predicted that States would invest tens of trillions of dollars by the end of the century.  More of the world’s money was now being spent on fostering renewable technologies than on fossil fuel plants.

“None of what we have to achieve is beyond our capacity technologically,” he said.  “The only question is whether it was beyond our collective resolve.”  The urgency of the challenge was only becoming more pronounced.  The United States looked forward to formally joining the Agreement this year and called on all its international partners to do likewise.  Quoting former South African President Nelson Mandela, he said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

LALLA HASNA, Princess of Morocco, whose country would host the twenty-second Conference of the Parties in Marrakech, said collective efforts should focus on the Agreement’s effective implementation.  To honour its commitments, she said that Morocco would, by 2030, cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 32 per cent while meeting 52 per cent of its energy needs through renewable sources such as solar and wind farms.  It stood ready to share its know-how with others, particularly countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Noting how the next Conference would see the adoption of procedures and mechanisms for implementing the Paris Agreement, she emphasized the importance of a clear and predictable road map to raise funds for projects, thus fostering change in private investment patterns.  Countries needed to benefit from a full range of incentives, with developing States getting access to patented technology on preferential terms and solutions being found to environmental trade barriers.  Negotiations on implementing the Agreement had reflected a spirit of international solidarity and responsibility, she said, and with the commitment of all parties, the pledges made in Paris would result in specific objectives, effective mechanisms and concrete projects that would turn ambitions into reality.

ANAND MAHINDRA, private sector representative, said the transition to a greener way of life was happening after much “churning”.  Nevertheless, indisputably positive things were beginning to take place, starting with today’s signing of the Paris Agreement.  It was the first step towards visibly integrating the private sector’s future with the future of the planet.  Addressing climate change was the responsibility of the business sector given its role in contributing to the problem.  It gave businesses a chance to redeem themselves from the “trust deficit” it had faced following the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Many corporations were joining programmes to double energy productivity by 2030 or had committed to transitioning towards 100 per cent renewable energy in the future.  Investment in renewable energy options now outstripped that in conventional energy for the first time and represented an attractive business opportunity.  It would be on the best investment he, as a business leader, could make.  He welcomed the Agreement’s signing today as a sign that the inner conscious of nations and corporations had been stirred.

HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, civil society representative from Chad, said her people were nomadic pastoralists, where more than 10 million depended on a fragile ecosystem.  Thirty years ago, her mother used to walk 10 kilometres a day to collect water and food.  Today, young mothers were climate refugees.  They could not walk to Lake Chad because it was vanishing.  The land was being used by Boko Haram and her people’s rights and dignity were under threat.  “Climate change is adding poverty to poverty every day,” she said, forcing people to leave their homes in search of a better future.  Migration was a tragedy for those who had been left behind — women and children who must stay and fight the consequences of climate change on their own.  They fought for survival.

“Nature is our supermarket.  To protect it, we use our indigenous and science knowledge,” she said, noting that her people had developed a participatory treaty to help women and children manage the few resources left.  But their traditional knowledge could not solve everything.  It could not end fossil fuel or protect people from land grabbing.  Today, delegates had the responsibility to ensure international citizenship.  In her community, thousands of women and children had never used electricity.  They had seen the damage caused by fossil fuels and carbon.  For her people, true climate justice was renewable energy for all.  “Without adaptation measures, soon there will be no one to adapt.  In Paris, you gave us hope.  Now it is time to change your hope into promise,” she said, urging leaders to sign, ratify and implement the Agreement.  “We want you to act.”

LEONARDO DICAPRIO, United Nations Messenger of Peace, recalled how he had travelled the world over the past two years to document how climate change had altered the natural balance of life.  “All that I have seen and heard on my journey absolutely terrified me,” he said.  It was proven that climate change was a direct result of human action and would get astronomically worse in the future.  “You know what will happen if this scourge is left unchecked,” he warned, calling climate change a “runaway freight train” that threatened impending disaster for the world.

Although the Paris Agreement had been reached, he said, evidence proved that it would not be enough.  The planet would not be saved unless fossil fuels were left in the ground, where they belonged.  Reversing the course of climate change would not be easy, but the tools were in the international community’s hands, provided they were applied before it was too late.  Many of the steps that had been taken were already yielding fruit, but it was now incumbent upon world leaders to lead, empower and inspire.  Signing the Paris Agreement would mean nothing without bold, unprecedented action.  After 21 years of debate, it was time to declare — no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing fossil fuels companies to dictate the policies that will affect the future.  The United Nations was the body that could make a difference.  “The world is now watching.  You will either be lauded by future generations, or vilified by them,” he warned.  “You are the last, best hope for earth,” he concluded.

National Statements (A to L)

MOGENS LYKKETOFT (Denmark), President of the General Assembly, opened the segment, calling it an opportunity for Parties to the Convention to provide updates on how their Governments were implementing their national climate plans and integrating them into their overall sustainable development plans.  Speakers would also set out their countries’ road maps towards achieving the overall aim of limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and indicate their respective Governments’ timetables for ratifying the Paris Agreement.  In addition, he said, participants would indicate how their Governments would accelerate climate action before 2020 by drawing on the ingenuity, resources and efforts of all sectors of society.

JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN, President of Colombia, called climate change the greatest challenge faced by mankind.  The sooner the Paris Agreement was ratified, the faster the benefits would be seen, he said, adding that his country had recently concluded an agreement on climate change that called for effective and coordinated action, with a national policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as deforestation in the Amazon region.

He said his country was particularly vulnerable, having experienced in recent years some of the worst flooding and drought in its history.  Acting on climate change would benefit the environment, turn those who had been engaged in conflict into promoters of change, and help restore forests that had been impacted by conflict and drug trafficking.

ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, President of Gabon, called upon States to adopt economic development models that were low in carbon emissions.  Doing that would require new ways of cooperating internationally to combat climate change, he said, stating that Gabon stood ready to work with the international community to reduce global warming.  With 88 per cent of his country covered by forests, he said Gabon had opted for the mainstreaming of land management.

Politically, his State had sought to bring national legislation in line with the challenges of climate change, he said, reiterating a commitment to transition to renewable energy.  Implementation of the Paris Agreement should create a climate that was conducive to private sector investment, particularly in countries committed to a green environment.

ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria, calling the Paris Agreement a decisive step forward, said that there was “no turning back”.  Transformation would be made in all key sectors.

Having achieved its targets under the Kyoto Protocol, he said that his country had an ambitious national framework to meet the new targets it had set in compliance with the Agreement’s standards and regional goals, putting an emphasis on energy efficiency within energy networks.  It was now up to everyone to secure early ratification and implementation action.

KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, President of Croatia, said that the next 10 years were critical for the future existence of the world.  Efforts to face it must not take a back seat.  Having fairly low levels of emissions, but being very vulnerable to climate changes, her country was already seeing irreversible changes in the ecosystem.

Early ratification and implementation was now a priority for the country under the standards of the Paris Agreement and action of the European Union, she said.  Strong partnerships must be built to support collective efforts; her country was participating in cooperation with countries in all regions, as climate change affected all no matter where they were located.

ALASSANE OUATTARA, President of Côte d’Ivoire, said that today was a demonstration of solidarity to deal with the effects of climate change.  His country had experienced warming and a decrease in rainfall, resulting in smaller agricultural yields and other effects.  For his country, implementing the Paris Agreement was an imperative.  A framework for that purpose was now being constructed in coordination with the country’s development plans.  The support of the international community was needed in those efforts, particularly for the dissemination of clean electricity.  Scientific and technological progress, for that purpose, must be made available to all.

JÁNOS ÁDER, President of Hungary, said that despite progress on climate agreements and investments in green technology, it appeared that climate change was accelerating.  The Earth continued to give daily warnings of the consequences of our current practices.  It was not yet time to celebrate; much progress must be made urgently.  For that reason, the largest emitters must take accelerated action.  Research into storing energy must also be a priority.  Noting that “time is our most precious non-renewable resource,” he urged all stakeholders to use it carefully.

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, praised the Paris Agreement as “a win” for the planet, the people and the economy, urging all stakeholders to take action to implement it.  Lithuania, she said, was fully committed to the European Union’s pledge to reduce emissions by at least 40 per cent by 2030 and was a clear example that rapid economic growth was possible without harming the environment.  In the last 25 years, national emission levels fell by almost 60 per cent, while gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 30 per cent.  She concluded with a warning that although nuclear energy could be a component of a clean energy strategy, the safety of all related infrastructure must be in line with international law and ensure cooperation with neighbouring countries.

FAUSTIN ARCHANGE TOUADERA, Head of State of the Central African Republic, said decisions needed to be taken on measures that would limit the effects of climate change.  He recalled the commitment that his country’s delegation had made at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties to work towards reducing carbon emissions, and noted the need for financing to protect the Congo Basin forest.  It was his country’s desire to see mechanisms established quickly so as to maintain the global ecosystem.

DAVID ARTHUR GRANGER, President of Guyana, said his country was a net carbon sink, with forests that sequestered more carbon than what its population generated.  With the world’s second highest percentage of rainforest cover, Guyana commanded important carbon stocks.  Nevertheless, he said his country was committed to limiting the rise in global temperatures with ambitious initiatives in the forest and renewable energy sectors, moving closer towards a 100 per cent renewable power supply by 2025.  It would invest in such measures as timber monitoring and alternative forms of power generation.

JOCELERME PRIVERT, President of Haiti, said that after Paris, there is now a race against the clock for implementation.  It was a matter of survival of the planet.  In Haiti, hurricanes had become more devastating and droughts more extreme.  In that light, his Government was committed to measures to reduce emissions by 31 per cent by 2030.  Energy reform, reforestation and strengthening human settlements would be among the priorities in that effort.  The climate regime must be implemented along with action to reduce poverty and inequality.  He appealed for that reason for stepped-up assistance to developing countries.

ANA HELENA CHACÓN ECHEVERRÍA, Vice-President of Costa Rica, said that her peaceful, unarmed country had placed its faith in multilateralism and in international agreements such as the Paris Agreement.  She urged its early ratification.  Costa Rica had long provided a model in renewable energy, forest preservation and other measures to reduce its carbon imprint, and was continuing plans to move towards a carbon neutral economy.  All measures were taken in line with the country’s human rights and development plan.  She pledged that her State would build on its achievements and urged all stakeholders to work along with it.

JOSAIA VOREQE BAINIMARAMA, Prime Minister and Minister for iTaukei Affairs and the Sugar Industry of Fiji, said the citizens of his country and other small and vulnerable developing States desperately needed help.  The Paris Agreement was a positive first step, but it was not enough, and for that reason the Pacific Islands Development Forum was seeking a new limit on global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  He went on to call for changes to current arrangements for funding climate change adaptation, as they impeded the ability of small and vulnerable nations to gain access to appropriate financial arrangements.

GASTON ALPHONSO BROWNE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda, said that Caribbean countries had accumulated high debt due to increased spending to address climate change.  Adequate and predictable financing was needed to enable the region to meet climate challenges.  He also supported a proposal to swap debt for climate change adaptation.  With the financial services sector of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States under existential threat, he appealed for a halt to the destructive practice of delinking Caribbean countries from the international payment system.

ALPHA CONDÉ, President of Guinea, said that his country was ready to go into action to implement the Paris Agreement, particularly in respect to renewable energy.  In that area, the Agreement included a framework for assistance to his continent.  African States were waiting for a clear response in their appeals for such provisions of the Agreement to be operationalized in a timely manner.  Early implementation was critical for Africa and the world.

JIMMY MORALES, President of Guatemala, said that the Paris Agreement provided hope for developing countries that had been severely affected by climate change.  His country had been battered by severe weather in many forms, causing loss of much life and harming the national economy.  Signing the Agreement was just the first step.  All States must commit to implementation.  His country was committed to managing resources in a sustainable way and to promoting a green economy for development.  More must be done to assist Guatemala and other vulnerable States to adapt to climate effects and reduce poverty while mitigating emissions.

DEAN BARROW, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Belize, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, said that small island development States had long been weathering — “no pun intended” — severe climate events spawned by an industrial revolution not of their making.  The world knew in 2009 that survival was at stake, yet it took a veritable labour of Sisyphus to finalize an agreement.  To avoid Armageddon, it was essential to maintain unrelenting pressure, with everyone playing a part and major emitters carrying their commensurate share.  CARICOM was calling for an equitable climate financing architecture and saw promise in the Green Climate Fund as an effective model for implementation.  He also said that, by depriving their domestic financial institutions of correspondent relationships, the phenomenon of de-risking was threating to lock Caribbean economies out of international trade and finance.

FREUNDEL STUART, Prime Minister of Barbados, said his Government’s signing and ratification of the Paris Agreement sanctioned the consideration and acceptance of its first intended nationally determined contribution, which was submitted in 2015 to the Climate Change Convention.  In light of recent reports that 2015 was the hottest year on record and of the study that concluded that climate forecasts underestimated the sea-rise impact of Antarctic thaw, there was no time for complacency.  The contribution of fragile island nations like Barbados would be constrained by the development of operational methods to support the Agreement’s implementation, the outcomes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report on the impact of the 1.5°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels, and by the facilitative dialogue among parties, all of which would not occur until 2018.

PERRY GLADSTONE CHRISTIE, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance of Bahamas, said that his Government welcomed the commitments in the Agreement, including the aim to limit the annual average temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  That ceiling was the only way to ensure the survival of low-lying islands such as the Bahamas.  His country was still recovering from Hurricane Joaquin.  Climate change was threatening its very existence.  Policies and programmes towards climate change adaptation and mitigation were in the early stages of implementation due to limited capacity and other constraints.  They would operate in the wider context of the national development plan, which aimed to decrease emissions by at least 30 per cent by 2030.  To implement it, the Government would continue making the necessary investments.  He called on developed countries to fulfil their financial aid pledges on concessionary terms.

KEITH C. MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, said the unique characteristics, particular vulnerabilities and special circumstances of small island developing States must continue to be a pillar in climate change deliberations.  Grenada had begun the process of integrating climate change into its national development plans and was assessing major national investments for their sensitivities to climate risks.  Grenada intended to increase emissions reduction targets over time and pursue action to fulfil commitments as an integral part of national development.  Grenada was fully committed to achieving common climate change objectives.  He presented Grenada’s instrument of ratification of the Paris Agreement with the hope that it would take effect in the not too distant future.

ANTONI MARTÍ PETIT, Head of Government of Andorra, said that his country had already put in place plans to reduce carbon emissions by 37 per cent by 2020 in comparison with earlier periods.  It was now focused on reductions in the energy and transportation sectors, which combined caused 90 per cent of emissions.  There was a plan of investment for renewable energy in place that amounted to 10 per cent of the gross national product (GNP).  Educational systems and the private sector would be engaged in the effort.

PAUL KABA THIEBA, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, welcoming the signing of the Paris Agreement, said that ratificat