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Prevention, Development Must be Central in All Efforts Tackling Emerging Complex Threats to International Peace, Secretary‑General Tells Security Council

Prevention and development must be at the centre of all efforts to address both the quantitative and qualitative changes that were emerging in threats around the world, the Secretary‑General of the United Nations told the Security Council today, as some 60 Member States participated in an all‑day debate tackling complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.

António Guterres said the perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate.  Conflicts were longer, with some lasting 20 years on average, and were more complex, with armed and extremist groups linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers were perpetuating the chaos and preying on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches that included integrated action, he said, stressing that prevention must be at the centre of all efforts.  Development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential and there was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

He also emphasized that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Sexual violence against women, therefore, must be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators. 

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High-level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work, as it was people‑centred and holistic and emphasized the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for Council unity.  Without it, he said, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.

Japan’s representative, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  That included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the expansion of terrorism, and non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations. 

While the Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he stressed that a human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  Such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges. 

In the ensuing debate, speakers emphasized the need to adjust to the changing challenges to international peace and security and welcomed the Secretary General’s reform of the Organization’s security pillar and other initiatives.  Many stressed the need to address root causes of instability and conflict, including climate change, non‑State armed groups, extremism and terrorism, as well as poverty and underdevelopment. 

Calling for creativity in the Council’s efforts, they underlined the importance of prevention, and stressed the responsibility of the 15‑member organ to address threats to international peace and security at an early stage.  Delegations also called for strengthen cooperation and coordination with other United Nations bodies and with regional and subregional organizations.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, with some delegates stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Other speakers took issue with the way the Security Council was functioning, with Turkey’s representative pointing out that the Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises, often as the result of the use, or the threat, of veto, which disabled the Council’s effectiveness. 

India’s delegate said a non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact.

The Russian Federation’s representative said it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs of the United Nations to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

China’s representative stressed the importance of firmly upholding the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, saying that the Council must respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States as well as their right to choose their own social structures.  The major organs of the United Nations should stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

Some Member States addressed specific challenges to peace and security.  The representative of Tuvalu, speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, underscored that climate change was not going away and was the most pressing contemporary security challenge.  The Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security, he said. 

Slovenia’s delegate drew attention to water scarcity as a threat to stability, recalling the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of her country.  Regional cooperation was vital in preventing water from becoming a cause of conflict or an amplifying risk, she stressed, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, as seen in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

Addressing cyber threats, Lithuania’s representative, also speaking for Latvia and Estonia, said hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries.  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had faced a politically motivated series of cyberattacks.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate. 

The Deputy Foreign Minister for Ukraine also spoke, as did representatives of Sweden, Egypt, Bolivia, United Kingdom, France, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Senegal, United States, Ethiopia, Italy, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Hungary, Switzerland, Norway (for the Nordic countries), South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Mexico, Slovakia, Ghana, Chile, Guatemala, Botswana, Netherlands, Greece, Armenia, Australia, Morocco, Lebanon, Nepal, Maldives, Portugal and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union delegation.

Representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine took the floor for a second and third time.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said there had not only been a quantitative but also a qualitative change in threats to international peace and security.  The perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier.  Inequality and exclusion fed frustration and marginalization.  Threats to cybersecurity were escalating and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate. 

While the number of armed conflicts had declined over the long‑term, they had surged in the Middle East and Africa, he continued, with many lasting on average more than 20 years.  Conflicts were also more complex as armed groups competed for control over State institutions, natural resources and territory.  Extremist groups left little room for diplomacy.  There was also an increased regionalization and internationalization of conflicts.  Clashes were more linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers perpetuated the chaos and preyed on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches which must include integrated action, he underlined.  Such efforts must be coherent, coordinated and context‑specific, working across pillars.  Towards that aim, he had initiated three inter‑linked reform efforts focused at repositioning the United Nations development system, streamlining internal management and strengthening the Secretariat’s peace and security architecture.  He had also sought to forge closer links with regional partners. 

He stressed that prevention must be at the centre of everything, as it would avoid human suffering and even save money.  Prevention was a sound investment that brought ample and visible dividends, and development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential in prevention.  There was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

As well, gender equality was closely linked with resilience, he said, stressing that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Therefore, it was critical that sexual violence against women be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators.

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High‑level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work.  Human security was people‑centred and holistic; it stressed the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for unity in the 15‑member organ.  Without that unity, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.  “But with unity, we can advance security and well‑being for all,” he underscored.

Statements

KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, some parts of the world had been enjoying the benefits of improvements in science and technology, from groundbreaking medicines to new frontiers in outer space.  However, during the same period, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the expansion of terrorism.  Peace operations were also facing non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations.

The Security Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he said.  It was important for the Council to discuss those complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security in a holistic and methodological manner.  However, it needed to increase its focus on effectiveness throughout the whole conflict cycle.  At the same time, close attention must be paid to the fact that peace and security, development and human rights were closely interlinked.  It was vital for the Council to enhance cooperation with other organs, both within the United Nations system and beyond.

A human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, he continued, adding that such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges.  Japan had consistently provided human‑centred and comprehensive assistance through cross‑sectoral efforts with a range of partners.  As for the Secretary‑General’s ongoing initiative for the reform of the United Nations, he said that the resolution on the restructuring of the Organization’s peace and security pillar was being tabled for adoption at the General Assembly.  Although the scope of that resolution did not include Security Council reform, no reform would be complete without the reform of that 15‑member organ.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ukraine, associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that while criticism of the Council’s work was mostly justified, there was currently no alternative entity to safeguard international peace and security.  The Council had achieved some positive results in recent years, including its role in implementing an agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP).  With the adoption of resolution 2349 (2017), the Council demonstrated an openness to addressing some of the underlying causes in the complex crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region.  It had also been active in addressing the threat of terrorism, engaging in a number of discussions and taking landmark decisions.  Because threats to international peace and security could not effectively be addressed in isolation, he welcomed the expansion of the Council’s agenda to include challenges such as human rights, development and climate change, to name a few.  Nonetheless, among the Council’s shortcomings or even outright failures were unresolved challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and tragic events in the Middle East, as well as blatant violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction that continued with impunity.  Further, he expressed regret at the erosion of the rule of law, which was most obviously manifested in the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation towards its neighbours.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), aligning himself with the statements to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said that international peace and security was increasingly hampered by the negative impacts of multidimensional poverty, climate change, transnational organized crime, food insecurity, weak governance, human rights violations and growing inequality.  The Council’s preventive role was now more important than ever before.  However, prevention was not possible without a comprehensive and holistic strategy to address the root causes and the conflict amplifiers.  While ongoing reform efforts would better position the United Nations system to enhance its joint analysis and integrated strategic planning capacities, it was also crucial to consistently integrate a gender perspective into long‑terms strategies.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that an innovative approach, coordinated through the United Nations and focused on root causes, was needed to meet current interrelated, complex challenges to international peace and security.  In its analysis of conflicts and potential conflicts, the Secretariat must take into account the nature of each situation on a case‑by‑case basis.  The effectiveness of the Peacebuilding Commission must also be strengthened so that it could work with the Council to lay the foundation for stability in countries at risk.  Transnational challenges must be met through close coordination with regional organizations.  National ownership must be ensured in all efforts with the support of the international community, so that institutions capable of confronting all current challenges could be built.  He stressed that each organ of the United Nations must respect the mandate of the others, so that they could each adequately take on their respective responsibilities and not duplicate efforts.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said that the Council efforts were constantly endangered both by insufficient implementation of established mechanisms and the lack of coordination to prevent duplication of efforts.  Mediation, prevention and use of good offices, as well as use of Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter of the United Nations should be better used for peaceful settlement of disputes, with Chapter VII tools only used after other strategies had been well applied.  Unilateral actions were also imperilling the Council’s efforts to maintain peace and security.  Such action often resulted in negative consequences for entire regions by creating vacuums of authority, in which terrorist fighters could fill the void.  Robust actions must be taken to meet the terrorist threat.  Prohibition of nuclear weapons, in addition, was an important goal to meet to reduce the threat of devastating conflict.  As a pacifist country, his country would continue to advocate for the peaceful settlement of conflict to avoid the scourge of war and all its consequences, he said.

Matthew John Rycroft (United Kingdom) said that not only emerging threats but also conventional threats had been fuelled by developing transnational challenges, from internet incitement to enslavement of migrants.  All such factors must be confronted at home, in partnership, and multilaterally.  For example, at home, his country was tackling illicit financial flows that funded armed groups, terrorists and corruption, through new legislative acts.  The United Kingdom was also assisting 13 countries in meeting climate threats to reduce their vulnerability.  Multilaterally, it was supporting action of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council to address the complex and diverse challenges.  For those organs to play their full role, the reforms proposed by the Secretary‑General must be supported.  That would enable the Organization to more effectively sustain peace, meet the Sustainable Development Goals and build respect for human rights.  He pointed out that, during the current open debate, millions of people were experiencing displacement, hunger and conflict as a single reality.  Those ills should all be addressed at the same time to achieve a safer world for all.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) affirmed that Council debates in 2017 had illustrated that the complex challenges facing international peace and security must, in the context of globalization, be met by a global response.  The United Nations must use all its tools to assist States in an integrated manner that addresses deep‑rooted causes.  Terrorism must be faced by addressing all factors — economic, political, cultural and social — along with multilateral security responses and regional arrangements supported by the international community such as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force.  Those responses must be accompanied by long‑term support for development.  Climate change, often exacerbating crises, must be met by technological and financial means, starting with the immediate implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  The Council should also be in close communication with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other mechanisms so that it could react quickly to grave violations.  All challenges, along with ever‑present threats such as nuclear proliferation and inter‑State tensions, must be addressed by every State collectively, along with the mechanisms of the United Nations.  Therefore, he voiced his country’s full support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Organization.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), expressing full support for the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals to make the United Nations more effective, called for a comprehensive, integrated strategy in which the priority of sustaining peace ran through all efforts.  His country had seen the importance of that approach since its independence and for that reason had been at the forefront of conflict prevention, including the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, among other efforts.  Reducing the threat of military confrontation was a priority for Kazakhstan, as shown by its hosting of conferences on Syria that had helped de‑escalate areas and promote political progress.  Peacekeeping operations had to become more viable and accountable, with adequate staff and equipment.  The Organization must comprehensively adopt a threefold strategy that addressed the peace and development nexus through a regional approach that involved the entire United Nations system working as one.  His country would continue to be fully engaged in strengthening international peace and security throughout its Council membership and beyond, he pledged.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay) said that the Council should consider all aspects that could worsen conflicts, such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, legal and illegal trade in other weapons, terrorism, cyberattacks, and climate change.  The international community must show greater solidarity and global governance must be strengthened.  There was not only a need for prevention but also for creativity in which greater coordination between the organs of the United Nations was indispensable.  The nexus between security, development, human rights and the humanitarian spheres was clear, but factors such as climate change, pandemics and transnational organized crime could exacerbate crises in conflict or post‑conflict situations.  In such situations there was a need to strengthen the rule of law and promote sustainable economic growth, national reconciliation, access to justice, accountability, democracy, gender equality and protection of human rights.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a violation of international law. 

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said over the last years, the international community had increased initiatives to address threats to peace, including through the reform of the Organization’s peace architecture and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, among others.  Such factors as the circulation of small arms, sexual violence, recruitment of children, and illegal exploitation of natural resources required a holistic response.  Terrorism had suffered defeats but remained a threat as illustrated in numerous attacks.  Mandates of peacekeeping missions should be better adapted to the situation on the ground, he said, noting that African countries had used their troops to combat non‑State actors.  He welcomed the initiative to reinforce the security pillar.  Senegal’s water, peace and security initiative was aiming to facilitate access to transborder sources of water.

SHEN BO (China) said that, in the desire for peace and development, it was necessary to firmly uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Although new challenges kept emerging, the Charter’s principles remained valid.  Maintaining peace and security was the primary responsibility of the Council and its authority should be defended by all Member States.  The United Nations and the Council should be subjective and impartial.  The 15‑member organ must also respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States and their right to choose their own social structures.  Noting that root causes of conflict such as poverty and under‑development had not been solved and that threats such as climate change were constantly expanding, he urged for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  The major organs of the United Nations should follow the provisions of the Charter and stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the Council had a responsibility to respond to crises too large for one nation to deal with.  One of the Council’s most effective tools — peacekeeping operations — was a powerful mechanism, she said, noting that the United Nations deployed over 100,000 troops and police all over the world.  The missions, however, must adapt to the reality of the situation on the ground.  The quality of troops deployed should also be analysed.  Giving examples of successful peacebuilding, including in Liberia, where the United Nations had devised a peacebuilding plan in coordination with the Government and participation of civil society, she said the Council had mostly used missions after conflict had broken out.  There was a need to look at underlying challenges, such as failure to develop or lack of protection of human rights, as those factors could directly lead to instability.  In Yemen, 22 million out of 29 million were in need of humanitarian assistance and there was a risk of famine.  Famine conditions had been caused by conflict and parties more interested in personal gain.  The United Nations had the power to develop solutions to transnational problems, she said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to raise issues early on to the Council.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that a new way of thinking, along with innovative tools, were needed to meet emerging, complex challenges in international peace and security through a comprehensive and holistic approach.  Strengthened partnerships were needed between United Nations bodies and regional organizations for that purpose.  The Secretary‑General’s vision could allow the creation of integrated capabilities with improved planning and budgeting to support operations on the ground and longer‑term efforts.  While a cross‑pillar approach was critical to address driving factors of conflicts that did not mean that the mandates of existing operations should be changed.  The Security Council should not impinge on the responsibilities of other bodies.  The Council had many responsibilities of its own to deal with, for example, principles of international law governing inter‑State relations, which were not at this point being adequately addressed.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) stressed that a context‑specific approach must be highlighted, with all the particularities taken into account, and an over‑broad use of Chapter VII, as well as outside intervention, be avoided.  In that context, he rejected the blasphemous statement by the representative of Ukraine in relationship to international law, given that that representative’s Government had come into power illegitimately.  He called for full implementation of the Minsk agreements.  Factors, such as foreign intervention and economic compulsion, must be added to the list of drivers of current conflict that were being discussed.  In terms of an integrated strategy to international peace and security, it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  However, each must focus on its own responsibilities.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), aligning with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that during its presidency, his country had begun to address challenges in an integrated way, including a focus on migration and the nexus that phenomenon was connected to.  Protection and empowerment of people was key to building resilient societies.  The Secretary‑General should provide early‑warning information to the Council.  In order to address all problems in a comprehensive manner, United Nations effectiveness must be improved through building synergy between all actors.  In peace and security, capacity should be built to fully realize the concept of a peace continuum, as well as the building of inclusive political processes and resilient institutions.  His country would continue to fully support reform to strengthen the Organization across the three pillars.  In the Council, the interventions today showed that members had sufficient common interest to be able to reach consensus.

The representative of Ukraine, taking the floor a second time, said that it had been reconfirmed just recently that the Russian Federation was an occupying Power and a party to the conflict in the east of Ukraine.  For that reason, the country could not discuss the conflict as an impartial actor.  It must, instead, withdraw from Crimea and Donbass and make reparations for the damage it had caused in his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to his counterpart, encouraged the representative of the Ukraine to respect the Council and common sense.  The conflict in the Ukraine was a consequence of the seizure of power that was not accepted by people in the east of Ukraine, and while there was no proof of intervention on the part of his country, there was proof of malfeasance by Ukraine, including bombardment of schools and hospitals that threatened a large-scale humanitarian disaster.  He called for the implementation of the road map that was written into the Minsk agreements to resolve the situation.

The representative of Ukraine cited the Secretary‑General who voiced his concern over Russian arms flowing into eastern Ukraine, as well as actions in Crimea.  That was adequate proof of Russian aggression against his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which regularly visited areas not controlled by the Government, had not noted massive troop movement in the areas under discussion.  In addition, he pointed out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been notified that all facilities in Crimea were working in compliance with the Agency’s regulations.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said the maintenance of international peace and security was the fundamental mandate of the Council, which had the responsibility to ensure that decisions were coherent in light of changing needs.  An integrated approach required focus on the main causes and multipliers of conflict.  Nuclear proliferation, climate change, water scarcity and cyberspace attacks required flexible diplomacy.  Prevention and peacebuilding should be the Council’s priority in the maintenance of peace.  Expeditious and bold solutions were required to ensure that the Organization could prevent conflicts.  Reform of the peace and security pillar would make it possible to adapt the United Nations to present day crises.  The Organization’s activities in Colombia were a clear example of building peace, and the success of the peace process in his country was based on a comprehensive approach, including gender equality. 

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that a comprehensive approach to peace and security included rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms as well as sustainable development.  Implementation gaps in development commitments and disregard of human rights obligations were important early warning signals, he said, adding that contemporary security challenges tended to be complex, requiring tailor‑made, context‑specific solutions.  Stressing the importance of accountability in ensuring lasting peace, he added that transitional justice contributed to deterrence and allowed traumatized communities to come back together and move forward.  Noting the Council’s “half‑hearted engagement” with the International Criminal Court, he welcomed the Court’s announcement of investigations into various crimes in Libya.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that conflicts continued to rage around the world and the longstanding internationally recognized disputes regarding Palestine, as well as Jammu and Kashmir, continued to fester.  The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continued to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces, while the world continued to watch without responding to those egregious situations.  The drivers of such challenges, including political and economic injustice and terrorism and violent extremism, must be addressed.  What was needed was a shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.  There was obviously no one‑size‑fits‑all solution to conflict prevention and mitigation.  Moving a country towards durable peace began with a clear understanding of the sources and nature of conflicts, she said.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said that “comprehensive”, “integrated” and “holistic” were not just buzzwords, but real calls for action and anchors for the work of the United Nations.  The only way to achieve and preserve peace was through dialogue, she said, expressing appreciation for the Secretary‑General’s dedication to start a surge in diplomacy.  Preventive processes should include intercultural and interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, hand in hand with moderate religious and community leaders and faith‑based organizations.  Further, there was no sustainable peace without respecting human rights and international humanitarian law.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said the United Nations framework for conflict prevention was in the DNA of the 2030 Agenda and in resolutions on sustaining peace adopted by the Council and the General Assembly.  It was also anchored in the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda.  Further, the implementation of the Paris Agreement was a significant preventative step as it acknowledged the strong links between climate change and peace and security.  As respect for human rights was also key to conflict prevention, his country had launched the “Appeal of June 13” to enhance systematic cooperation within the United Nations system on human rights issues.  The appeal specifically called for intensified cooperation between the Council and human rights organs of the United Nations with a view to strengthen conflict prevention.  He also highlighted that many grievances started around issues of perceived or real exclusion and injustice; they deserved greater attention.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said all pillars of the United Nations were facing tremendous challenges.   No single State possessed the capacity to take on the challenges alone.  The United Nations was in acute need of substantial reform to confront the challenges faced.  A primary objective was to increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations while prioritizing political solutions.  Crisis prevention was essential, as well as preventing the relapse of crises in post‑conflict situations.  The Secretary‑General’s “surge in peace diplomacy” initiative and his reform of the prevention pillar had underscored their importance, he said, noting that his country was a co‑chair of the Group of Friends of Mediation.  The Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises.  Often, inaction was the result of the use, or the threat, of veto.  That disabled the Council’s effectiveness.  He underlined the importance of more Council interaction with non‑Council members and other United Nations bodies.  More attention must be payed to tackling the root causes of the multiplier factors of conflicts, including terrorism, climate change, water, and human and drug trafficking. 

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania), also speaking for Latvia and Estonia and associating herself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that the rise in military conflicts was outstripping the international community’s ability to cope.  Hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, she emphasized, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries alone.  Increased societal awareness, resilience building and media and information literacy could help tackle hybrid threats.  In 2007, Estonia had faced a series of cyberattacks, and Latvia and Lithuania had also experienced such politically motivated assaults.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate; regional and subregional cooperation was key to strengthening cybersecurity in critical infrastructure.  As hybrid and cyberthreats were here to stay, conventional security was not enough, she said, urging Member States to share best practices and lessons learned in tackling them.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said conflicts were increasingly being caused by environmental degradation due to climate change, adding that the international community must cooperate to implement major environmental agreements.  Backing the strengthened United Nations‑World Bank partnership, he added that the Nordic countries were supporters of the Green Climate Fund and initiatives focusing on African and small island developing States.  The Nordic countries promoted the women, peace and security agenda, he said, and inclusivity started with women.  The international community must make better use of the positive contributions of young people, however.  For every dollar invested in prevention, 17 dollars were saved in post‑conflict assistance, he said, urging States to place prevention at the core of the United Nations agenda.  Security Council reform should include seats for Africa; it was also crucial to ensure small States had the opportunity to serve as elected members.

STEPHEN MAHLABADISHAGO NTSOANE (South Africa) highlighted that the nature of conflict was not the one envisaged by the creators of the United Nations.  Indeed, present‑day conflicts largely centred on the internal strife of Member States and transnational threats.  Unfortunately, while the world had changed, the Council had largely remained the same.  Contemporary challenges had brought divisions within the Council to the forefront, especially among its permanent members.  At times, such paralysis had cost human lives, he said, citing the lack of meaningful action on the situation between Israel and Palestine, as well as divisions on Syria.  While incremental improvements had been made to the Council’s working methods, such advancements did not obviate the need for comprehensive reform.  A more representative Council would allow it to be more effective in dealing with complex, contemporary challenges.  He called for a Council with a stronger voice for those closest to crises, one marked by non‑discriminatory decision‑making and collective, rather than narrow, national security interests.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that, in anticipating threats to international peace and security, the Council must have the security implications of climate change on its radar and firmly on its agenda.  In addition, it should also include a host of factors, such as the growing interconnectedness in the cyberworld.  Lasting peace in such a complex world could not be achieved through military means alone, but in combination with development policy and a strong focus on prevention.  For that purpose, resilience of societies must be strengthened; that often started with respect and promotion of human rights.  Given abhorrent violations, such as sexual violence used as a tactic of war, the Security Council must do more to integrate human rights into its deliberations.   Supporting the Secretary‑General’s reform to make the United Nations work better across institutional boundaries, he called for full use of existing arrangements, such as the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Describing multisectoral assistance for integrated Sahel initiatives provided by his country, he stressed that in all areas, comprehensive action was needed to respond to current security challenges.  His country stood ready to assume its responsibilities in that regard, he pledged.

JEROEN STEFAN G. COOREMAN (Belgium) said that the challenges for international peace and security had to be looked at through an integrated approach.  A focus on environmental security should be an integral part of a global approach to security.  Environmental challenges had led to migratory pressures and had provoked conflicts.  For that reason, climate change and ecosystem change should be analysed within the context of security.  He voiced his support for the appointing of a special representative for environmental security.  Such a person could become part of the broader reform of the peace and security pillar.  Belgium would continue to actively participate in the discussion and would anchor the global approach in its national policies.  It had accorded priority to funding the general budget of the United Nations agencies so that they could pursue a global approach.  His country had also funded a number of humanitarian funds to help in cases of natural disasters, such as the hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean region.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) pointed out that conflicts had increased threefold in recent years with an unprecedented number of people forcibly displaced.  In that regard, he strongly supported the Secretary‑General’s call for a surge in political diplomacy and conflict prevention.  Because an inability to tackle the root causes of disputes could cause and sustain conflict, it was encouraging that the United Nations was increasingly examining conflicts in a comprehensive manner.  It was vital that the Secretary‑General’s proposals to restructure the Organization’s peace and security pillar succeed so that its engagement with the peace continuum was more effective and nimble.  Furthermore, the Council must fully uphold the principles of international law, human rights law and humanitarian law.  It must be judicious and not dictated by any particular national perspectives.  That commitment was tested by the question of Palestine.  The Council’s inaction had had devastating consequences on the ground, making solutions more complex.  Moreover, the Council could not solve international peace and security challenges singlehandedly.  Better cooperation was needed with troop‑ and police‑contributing countries in that regard.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that a basic reordering of perspectives was needed, emphasizing the need to address sustainable development for all and reduce gross disparities.  The Council must put a greater focus on the globalization of terror networks.  Even on an issue as serious as designating terrorist individuals and entities, Council‑mandated sanctions committees had failed to make concrete progress.  A non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact on billions of people striving to live in peace, safety and security.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru), stressing the importance of the reform drive at the United Nations, said that the traditional threats to international peace and security had been compounded by new complex global challenges.  Foremost among the latter was the impact of climate change.  Migration, food and security could be affected by that, in turn breeding more transnational crimes and illicit trade.  Strengthening the international community’s commitment to multilateralism was key and broad consensus was necessary on sustaining peace through rule of law.  Instead of “burying our head in sand”, the international community must tackle the problems through a multidimensional and inclusive approach.  Expressing support for the reforms of the Secretary‑General, he said that those reforms would shape the United Nations into a coordinated and flexible body.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts and underscored the need to engage other stakeholders, including the private sector, in peacebuilding and sustainable development.  To break the conflict cycle, increasingly complex challenges required changing approaches.  That was not only a moral obligation, but a pragmatic imperative with huge economic advantages.  Last year, the European Union adopted a global strategy reiterating its commitment to a global order based on international law, which translated into an aspiration to address the root causes of conflict.  While addressing conflict early was necessary, staying the course was an even bigger challenge, she said, as relapsing back into conflict was common. 

Meanwhile, the Council should not shy away from examining new and emerging challenges to peace and security, including climate change, she said.  The Council must also use its unique role within the United Nations system to prevent climate change‑induced unrest.  Overall, she said its working methods must evolve.  By addressing situations earlier and in a more integrated manner, Member States could transform their approach to conflict and further empower the Council in fulfilling its core mandate.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that the interlinkage between security and development was complex and nuanced.  Poverty and inequality might exacerbate tensions in some scenarios, but did not necessarily endanger international peace and security.  Geopolitical rivalries, militaristic approaches and the unilateral use of force were more serious sources of regional and global insecurity.  While discussing the complex dynamics that affect contemporary conflicts, care should be taken to avoid misinterpretations and generalizations.  Successful peacekeeping operations demonstrated the potential for a constructive relationship between security and development.  The recent experience of the United Nations in Haiti was a positive example, where, for thirteen years, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) contributed to a more secure and stable environment and assisted in the implementation of hundreds of initiatives that fostered peace and development at the local level.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) said that contemporary challenges were complicated and interlinked.  Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land and the violence perpetrated by the terrorist settlers were clear violations of international law and one of the main reasons for the armed conflicts in that region.  The international community must work tirelessly to help the Palestinian people regain their rights.  As well, approximately twenty‑four hours ago, the capital of her country, Riyadh, had become a victim of an attempted attack by a ballistic missile randomly fired from Yemeni territory.  What the rebel militias were doing with the backing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter.  Rivers of blood were flowing in Yemen, she said, and the Council must take deterrent measures to resolve the threat posed to peace and security by the militia and Iran.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), recalling that the United Nations was established to prevent the scourge of war, said that its founding document emphasized the glaringly obvious relationship between disarmament and development.  The 2030 Agenda had served to further highlight that link.  Calling on all relevant stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way, she said that there were a myriad of factors affecting peace and security, including climate change.  Also stressing the imperative need for the Council to refrain from mandate creep, she recalled that Article 99 of the Charter conferred on the Secretary‑General the role of alerting the Council to any threats to international peace and security.  The Secretary‑General must make use of the powers under that Article, she said, adding that gender‑mainstreaming had multiple benefits in peacebuilding.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan), highlighting the Council’s important role in peacekeeping and humanitarian action, said increasing its effectiveness was only possible if members were unanimous in responding to emerging threats.  Also expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s reform initiatives, she added that those reforms would strengthen the international community’s ability to prevent and resolve conflicts.  It was necessary to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations and its bodies in order to confront the challenges to development, peace and security.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that her country had adopted a global approach to international peace and security.  Challenges to peace and security required a positive approach, with dialogue not confrontation.  There was a need to strengthen a collective prevention of conflicts to achieve international peace and security.  Qatar had always participated in resolving conflicts peacefully, she said, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s aim to make conflict prevention into a priority.  She also welcomed regional consultations in sustaining peace in the Middle East.  The major complex challenges in that region represented a threat to international peace and security, and cooperation between countries in the Middle East and the international community was needed to eradicate those challenges.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the objective of ensuring a peaceful and prosperous world was hardly achievable if universally recognized fundamental values, norms, and principles were overtly disregarded or misinterpreted.  At a time of brutal armed conflicts and high levels of forced displacement, more concerted action was required at all levels to end conflicts and direct greater attention to preventing future conflicts.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security architecture, he said that States must comply with their international obligations, particularly those relating to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of their borders.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) renewed his country’s deep conviction that development and human rights were linked to peace and security, and noted the vision of the Secretary‑General to work towards enhancing the main pillars of security, human rights and development.  Peace required complete harmony and a coordinated effort, and there was a need to enhance the relationships between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The problems faced were extremely complex, and the cooperation of others was needed to help solve them.  Underscoring the importance to hold regional dialogues in order to exchange expertise, he said that would lead to the continued involvement of regional organizations in the peaceful settlements of conflicts.

NGUYEN PHOUNG NGA (Viet Nam) said a human‑centred and whole‑pillar approach was urgently needed to implement a comprehensive and long‑term strategy on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.  Full use must be made of existing preventative diplomacy and mediation tools, and the United Nations should coordinate enhanced partnership with regional and subregional organizations.  Peacekeeping must be coupled with peacebuilding, she continued, emphasizing the need for Security Council unity in taking decisions and collective action.  As for the situation in the East Sea, or South China Sea, she called on all parties concerned to exercise self‑restraint and settle disputes peacefully in line with international law.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the world was at a critical crossroad in the maintenance of peace and security.  Praising the priority the United Nations was giving to conflict prevention, he said it was necessary to find political solutions to disputes.  To do so, it was necessary to fix the fragmentation in the United Nations and enable it to wield its tools more effectively.  Supporting the Secretary‑General’s initiatives in that regard, he said the Organization must invest in peace and security “for every person in every country”.  Peacekeeping should be pursued in harmony with the other agendas of the United Nations, including the ones enshrined in “the holy triumvirate of peace and security, development and human rights”.  The threat or use of force was even more serious when it accompanied the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, he said, calling for a robust system of global governance.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the Security Council should, in a more systematic and targeted manner, deal with challenges in the areas of non‑traditional and cross‑border threats, including those concerning public health, exploitation of natural resources, climate change, poverty and forced displacement.  Both the Council and the General Assembly should take greater advantage of the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Preventing conflict was one of the Council’s most significant responsibilities; it should enhance its preventive and mitigating role.  Security sector reform, a priority area for Slovakia, should focus on genuine national ownership and effective partnerships, among other targets.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), emphasizing the need to work across the United Nations system and noting efforts to reform the Organization’s peace and security architecture, said the Council’s capacity to play a preventative and mitigating role would be enhanced by a structured dialogue on the security implications of development‑related issues.  Much could also be gained through increased collaboration between the Council and regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Noting that peacebuilding and sustaining peace went hand in hand with Sustainable Development Goal 16 [promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies], she said effective strategies across the United Nations system to support that objective would ultimately lead to the effective maintenance of global peace and security.

BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile) said a multidimensional approach was necessary to respond to threats, including non‑State and non‑military ones.  Recalling that in January 2015, her country had convened an open debate in the Council on inclusive development, she said there was widespread agreement that security and development were mutually reinforcing.  Underscoring the importance of inclusion, she noted that the design of the transition from MINUSTAH had contained a strong element of national ownership.  Further, it was important to raise awareness regarding the Arria Formula meetings and integrate subsidiary bodies and groups of experts in the work of the Council when designing missions and transitions.  The Council must also improve interaction with regional and subregional bodies.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said that the United Nations had striven to resolve conflict since its founding through a series of measures, including the maintenance of peace and peacebuilding, as well as promoting recovery and rebuilding.  In all of the aforementioned activities, the Council had played a critical role whenever called upon to respond to various conflicts.  His country had experienced that directly through the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala.  The exit of peacekeeping or special political missions did not mean an end to the peace process.  In response to various collective appeals for an urgent change in the way in which peace instruments available to the United Nations were used, Guatemala was optimistic about the Secretary‑General’s plan to conduct an overhaul and review of those tools.  He remained convinced that prevention and mediation should be at the forefront of the Organization’s efforts on peace and security.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said the Council must deploy all the tools at its disposal to effectively deal with emerging threats, and the Organization must act as a whole, coordinated entity.  However, the burden for maintaining international peace and security could not be solely placed on the United Nations; regional bodies should play a critical role.  Because of their presence on the ground, such bodies were better placed to appreciate and address security challenges.  He welcomed the development of partnerships, including African Union‑European Union and African Union‑United Nations joint efforts.  He also highlighted the role of subregional entities, citing Botswana’s experience with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which included structures tasked with addressing peace and security challenges and played a key role in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution and management, among others.  He also noted States’ collective accountability for effective border management, which could help to reduce crime and insecurity.

LISE HUBERTA JOHANNA GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), stressing the importance of an integrated approach and early action, said that the challenges of the twenty‑first century transcended borders.  Her country had learned, sometimes the hard way, of the connection between root causes and ensuing conflict.  However, it was not enough to formulate an integrated response to conflict; the Council should also devote attention to preventing conflicts.  While the Council’s involvement with the situation in Gambia earlier in 2017 had proved timely and successful, a clear focal point was still lacking on the issue of climate and security.  Given the growing risk of climate change increasing tensions within and between nations, he underscored that it was important that there be an institutional home for the issue.

ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia) said the Council must better integrate peacekeeping with development and humanitarian efforts.  The United Nations and its Member States, regional organizations, non‑governmental organizations (NGOs), and civil society must all support fragile countries, especially by enhancing their societal resilience and security architecture.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, she said, stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court and calling upon States that had not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute.  Turning to water scarcity, she recalled the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of Slovenia.  Regional cooperation was also vital to avoid water becoming a cause of conflict or amplifying risk, she pointed out, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, for example, in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said that a priority in tackling growing global insecurity should be taking a holistic approach to address the drivers of conflict and to focus on both prevention and long‑term stability.  Greece, considering itself a pillar of stability in a region that bordered on the Middle East and North Africa, had hosted international conferences that had aimed at promoting tolerance, pluralism and dialogue among civilizations.  It also engaged in bilateral programmes that utilized country synergies and joint activities in culture and other constructive areas, such as trade and research.  Greece had also established mechanisms of cooperation with countries in the Balkans.  As it was on the front line of migration issues, it advocated for the streamlining of migration governance that made use of existing forums and promoting global partnership.  Affirming the importance of addressing climate change as well, she pledged her country’s support to the Organization’s efforts to address all factors involved with international peace and security to shape a more peaceful world for the future.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization, but at the same time, called for the acknowledgement of evidence of extremists and terrorists targeting specific communities based on religion or ethnicity.  He called for addressing the suffering of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, and the indiscriminate attacks and forced displacement of ethnic Armenians from certain Syrian cities.  Armenia had been providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian population, sheltering approximately 22,000 refugees and implementing policies to facilitate housing, education, health care and other integration measures.  Turning to regional issues, he said the OSCE Minsk group co‑chair countries had in October reiterated a commitment to mediating a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno‑Karabakh conflict.  They had also welcomed the resumption of high‑level dialogue between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva on 16 October and a meeting of their foreign ministers on 6 December.  Armenia remained fully committed to negotiations in that regard.

DAVID GREGORY YARDLEY (Australia) said addressing increasingly complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security required a change of approach.  Of particular importance was conflict prevention, sustainable peace, women’s participation in peacebuilding and United Nations reform.  All staff within the Organization must show leadership in embedding prevention approaches across all operations and programmes.  Furthermore, efforts to support peaceful societies must be inclusive, he said, citing evidence that meaningful participation of women in peace processes led to more durable outcomes.  In that regard, he acknowledged the practical steps taken in 2017 by the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Support Office.  Expressing strong support for the Secretary‑General’s ambitious reform efforts, he called for the Organization to prioritize prevention and inclusive peacebuilding.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the growing number of conflicts and the resulting fallout required a review of the Organization’s response.  Indeed, the international community had not made great use of mediation and conflict tools, which were needed to achieve lasting peace.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda, which he hoped would result in a more transparent and cooperative approach.  For its part, Morocco was active in addressing the impact of climate change on peace, and the world was already witnessing its effects, including migration and the erosion of coasts.  Concerning the threat of terrorism to international peace and security, he said peacekeepers could not react robustly to threats if they remained “shackled” in their current mandates.  In that vein, he expressed support for the G5 Sahel joint force and called for its full logistical and financial support, noting that multidimensional missions often lacked needed resources to support their mandate.  At the same time, resolving conflict required partnership, he said, calling for the United Nations to take the lead in coordinating efforts.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) said the notion that conflicts had become more complex should not distract from addressing root causes, including foreign occupation and aggression.  Lebanon faced many challenges, including almost daily Israeli violations of its sovereignty and the presence of more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria.  Such challenges had contributed to a significant decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, higher unemployment and poverty levels and an overstretched infrastructure.  The pioneering United Nations strategic framework, signed by the United Nations system and the Government in October 2016, recognized Lebanon’s multidimensional challenges, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must follow a “whole of Lebanon” approach which leveraged and integrated the Organization’s diverse expertise, capacities and resources while supporting Lebanon along the path to sustainable development, as per the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal) said that studies had established the hazardous consequences of climate change on people as well as on the existence of small islands.  The security and economic implications of climate change could not be ignored.  That and other natural disasters would increase the number of environmental migrants in the coming decades.  It was the common responsibility of the United Nations membership to ensure secure futures for island‑dwellers and environmental migrants.  In Nepal, snowcaps were increasingly receding in the Himalayas.  As well, his country was experiencing pressure on food security and witnessing the extinction of some rare flora and fauna.  The Council could play an important role in addressing climate change simply by sending a message of its collective commitment.  The Council members that were also major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions must lead others by example, he said.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) recalled that, with resolution 2349 (2017), the Council had recognized that climate change had an adverse impact on security.  Now, the Council and the General Assembly must clearly articulate practical measures the Organization could take in response to climate change and other non‑traditional security threats.  Measures could include the Secretary‑General preparing regular periodic assessment reports to serve as an early warning mechanism.  Moreover, the Council and Assembly could also consider examining the feasibility of establishing a regular coordination mechanism through which all of the Organization’s principal bodies and relevant agencies could contribute to designing conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping operations.  Small States were the most vulnerable to non‑traditional and emerging security threats and it was necessary that small island developing States in particular had a seat at the Council.  However, over 72 years, only eight such States had served in that body, he recalled, expressing hope that his country would be elected for the 2019‑2020 term in order to represent those States and contribute to shaping decisions affecting the smallest members of the international system.

SAMUELU LALONIU (Tuvalu), on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, said that climate change was the most important security challenge facing the world today, as affirmed in a seminal report by the previous Secretary‑General.  The growing attention paid to the issue in this chamber gave hope, but dangerous impacts were already occurring, with the most vulnerable bearing the largest burdens.  On the small islands, there were record‑breaking droughts and storms and extreme heat and floods had displaced more people than many conflicts.

Climate change was not going away and the situation would continue to deteriorate even if the goals of the Paris Agreement were met, he said.  The changes could be abrupt and could severely affect many systems that were currently relied on for modern life.  For those reasons, the Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security, who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security and address concerns that the securitization of climate change would lead to more militarization.

JOSÉ ATAÍDE AMARAL (Portugal) said addressing both the new and old threats to global peace and security required, more than ever before, a multilateral approach that also involved tackling the root causes of conflict.  Complex contemporary challenges required continuous adaptation of mechanisms, better coordination and early action to address threats at all levels.  Affirming the importance of conflict prevention, he supported the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals in that context.  The integration of a gender‑balance perspective was also a priority, as was an ever‑strengthening relationship between the General Assembly, Security Council and the rest of the United Nations system, including through the Peacebuilding Commission.  Early Council consultations on situations of imminent risk and collective action were important to break the conflict cycle.  Portugal stood ready to fully contribute to those efforts.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said emerging challenges had the potential to further exacerbate protracted conflicts and create multiplier effects across borders.  Conflict prevention was, first and foremost, a national responsibility and the active participation of all segments of society was fundamental to mitigating the potential drivers of conflict.  Meanwhile, the United Nations had a critical role in facilitating and monitoring the implementation of internationally agreed commitments to support Member States.  However, the range of tools at its disposal needed to be deployed with sensitivity to the realities on the ground and in consultation with relevant national, civil society and humanitarian actors.  The failure to do so was evident in the “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” witnessed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August, he said.  Furthermore, while the Council did not need to remain confined to a strict definition of its mandate, it should find ways to enhance its interface with other principal organs.

News

Delegates Call for Heightened Commitment to Official Development Assistance, as Second Committee Debates Groups of Countries in Special Situations

Speakers stressed the need to increase official development assistance (ODA), build infrastructure, widen export bases and stimulate trade in least developed and landlocked developing countries, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up groups of countries today.

Bangladesh’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said her group was limited by narrow production and export bases, stagnant trade, low investment flows and widespread poverty.  Expressing concern over inward-looking and restrictive policies of development partners, she called for timely implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Climate change was also undermining development efforts, she said, as were difficulties in accessing the Green Climate Fund and Least Developed Countries Fund.  She lauded the newly established Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, but said the United Nations development system must reposition itself to better support the world’s most vulnerable States.

Addressing development finance, Ecuador’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that total official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015.  Preliminary data from 2016 showed that bilateral ODA to least developed countries had further decreased by 3.9 per cent, compared to 2015.

Urging the international community to meet its ODA commitments, Ethiopia’s representative noted that 35 per cent of the population of least developed nations would remain in poverty in 2030.  “It is certainly correct to state that the battle of achieving the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] would be won or lost in least developed countries,” he said.

Addressing the plight of landlocked developing countries and speaking on their behalf, Zambia’s representative said attracting resources and investments in infrastructure development was a major challenge.  Accordingly, he called on the international community to support efforts by the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries through technical assistance, investment and public-private partnerships.

Establishing and maintaining secure, reliable, high-quality sustainable infrastructure, including transport, energy and information and communications technology (ICT), were critical to reducing the high costs of trade, he added.  World Trade Organization (WTO) members should implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and development partners should provide technical, financial and capacity-building support.

Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (document A/72/272).

Noting that efforts were underway to expand and upgrade road and rail transport infrastructure in landlocked areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said substantial expansion as well as maintenance requirements were still urgently needed.  On international trade, he observed that landlocked countries accounted for a low share of global merchandise exports at just .88 per cent in 2016, down from .96 per cent in 2015.

He also introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on crisis mitigation and resilience-building for the least developed countries (document A/72/270) and implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 (document A/72/83-E/2017/60).

Also speaking were the representatives of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Maldives (also for the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Haiti (for the Caribbean Community), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), India, Russian Federation, Moldova, Botswana, Mongolia, Thailand, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Brazil, Kuwait, China, Lesotho, Myanmar, Mali, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Maldives and Timor-Leste.

A representative of the International Chamber of Commerce also spoke.

The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 18 October, at 10 a.m. to take up the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Introduction of Reports

SANDAGDORJ ERDENEBILEG, Chief of the Policy Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Reporting of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011 to 2020 (document A/72/83-E/2017/60).  He said the average gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of least developed countries was estimated to have increased to 4.5 per cent in 2016 from 3.8 per cent in 2015, but that rate was well below the target of 7 per cent growth.  Progress towards building productive capacity was stagnant, as the share of manufacturing increased only marginally to 12.7 per cent in 2015 from 12.1 per cent in 2014.  Investment declined in 2015 to 23.5 per cent of GDP, down from 25 per cent in 2014.  He commended the establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and the related contribution agreement which was signed in 2017.  In terms of human and social development, he expressed concern that 32 million children remained out of school from 2009 to 2015 and that millions of persons suffered from food insecurity in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

Additionally, he noted that bilateral official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015.  The foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to least developed countries also declined in 2016 by 13 per cent and only accounted for 2 per cent of the world.  In terms of governance, 14 least developed countries were considered compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and six became candidate countries.  Numerous least developed countries also reached the graduation threshold and others were set to graduate soon.  To that end, he urged all stakeholders to reverse the declining trend in ODA, FDI and trade, all of which were critical for the sustainable development of least developed countries.

Mr. Erdenebileg next introduced the Secretary-General’s report on crisis mitigation and resilience-building for the least developed countries (document A/72/270).  He noted that least developed countries were highly exposed to shocks, as they often had topographies with geological fault lines, floodplains and coastal area, placing them at high risk of earthquakes, cyclones, flooding and typhoons.  Climate change and increasing globalization made them even more vulnerable to external shocks.  Many had experienced various disasters and shocks with consequences of a high magnitude.  Also, most least developed countries were commodity-dependent and market shocks had severe consequences on their economies.

Severe external shocks and crises not only halted the pace of economic progress and exacerbated poverty, but also undermined the capacity of least developed countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.  Most losses in those countries were uninsured and Governments did not have the financial reserves or access to contingency financing that allowed them to absorb losses, recover and rebuild quickly.  Least developed countries did not have the necessary resources to establish effective resilience-building mechanisms.  Indemnity-based commercial insurance was not available to them for most natural hazards, as the market was simply non-existent or insufficiently developed.  Least developed countries needed increased international assistance, both technical and financial, to build their resilience and gain access to capital market-based risk transfer mechanisms in the form of insurance and catastrophe bonds.

Concluding, he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (document A/72/272).  He noted that landlocked developing countries had experienced a decline in annual GDP growth, which fell from 3.5 per cent in 2015 to an estimated 2.6 per cent in 2016.  They had also experienced a reduction in their under‑five mortality rates, HIV incident rate and prevalence of undernourishment, malaria and tuberculosis.  Efforts were under way to expand and upgrade road and rail transport infrastructure in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  However, there were still missing links that needed to be closed and substantial expansion as well as maintenance requirements were also urgently needed.

The average proportion of population with access to electricity in landlocked developing countries had increased from 42 per cent in 2010 to 49 per cent in 2014, he continued.  Regarding information and communications technology (ICT), they lagged behind other groups of countries and faced high costs for broadband.  On international trade, landlocked developing countries accounted for a low share of global merchandise exports at just .88 per cent in 2016, declining from .96 per cent in 2015.  Their merchandise exports remained highly concentrated on commodities, as the share of commodities exports averaged 83.1 per cent in 2015.

Interactive Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked for information on the strategies and recommendations to address maternal mortality and children’s education in least developed countries.  In response, Mr. ERDENEBILEG said the United Nations system organizations had dedicated support mechanisms that addressed those issues.  Efforts included the promotion of trade and access to global markets as well as programmes to support the enrolment of children in schooling.

Statements

DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said ODA had continued to be the critical source of external financing for least developed States, providing a buffer to weather impacts of the unstable and volatile global economic environment.  He expressed concern that total ODA from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee countries to least developed States had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015.  Furthermore, preliminary data from 2016 showed that bilateral net ODA to least developed countries had further decreased by 3.9 per cent compared to 2015.  He also noted that such countries were disproportionately affected by systemic shocks, including the economic crisis, commodity price volatility, health epidemics, natural hazards and other environmental shocks.  Such events not only halted the pace of economic progress, but undermined their capacity to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The Group recognized the special development needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries, arising from their remoteness from world markets and geographical constraints, he said.  Those disadvantages imposed serious impediments for export earnings, private capital inflow and domestic resource mobilization, adversely affecting their overall sustainable development.  He stressed that infrastructure development played a key role in reducing the cost of development for landlocked developing countries and that the development and maintenance of transit transport infrastructure, ICT and energy infrastructure were crucial for them to reduce high trading costs, improve competitiveness and become fully integrated into the global market.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligned himself with the Group of 77.  He expressed hope that the international community would translate their commitments into concrete action, especially for the benefit of least developed countries and landlocked developing States.

He said his region placed great importance on providing support to least developed and landlocked developing countries in addressing their development challenges, particularly in relation to their geographical handicaps and structural vulnerabilities.  Under the regional cooperation framework, he recognized the existence of development gaps among ASEAN States and thus highlighted the important work of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III which assisted less developed countries in capacity-building activities.

SHANCHITA HAQUE (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that structural transformation was slower in her Group than in other developing States due to institutional and capacity constraints.  Those limitations included narrow production and export bases, stagnant trade and investment flows, weak land and natural governance, and widespread poverty.  The principle of State ownership remained crucial and the nations in the Group were committed to take the lead in formulating, implementing, following up and reviewing their own coherent economic and development policies to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020, she said.

Expressing concern about the inward-looking and restrictive policies adopted by some development partners, she called for the timely implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Further, climate change was undermining development efforts and there were difficulties in accessing and utilizing the Green Climate Fund as well as the Least Developed Countries Fund.  Thanking Turkey for its generous contribution to the newly established and operationalized Technology Bank, she said that the Organization’s development system must reposition itself to effectively support the most vulnerable countries of the world.

Mr. RAUSHAN (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that eight of his bloc’s members had least developed country status.  While none of them were landlocked, they were all “sea-locked”.  As island and coastal States, they understood the unique challenges faced due to remoteness, highly dispersed populations, limited connectivity, poor infrastructure and transport, among other characteristics.  The Maldives had only graduated from the status of least developed country six years earlier, he pointed out, adding that targeted approaches were necessary to support the efforts of countries in special situations to achieve sustainable development and economic growth.

He went on to highlight the need for all countries in special situations to consider transparent measurements of progress on sustainable development that moved beyond per capita income.  Income-based indicators reflected neither a society’s holistic advancement nor its vulnerabilities, he observed, and did not address the unique circumstances and challenges of each country.  That distinction became even more pertinent when assessing countries for graduation because many least developed nations on track for graduation were extremely vulnerable to shocks such as large-scale disasters.  Such occurrences could not be stopped, but better graduating policies could be formulated and better safety nets provided for newly graduating countries so they could make smoother and more successful transitions.  As such, he called on the Secretary-General to ensure that the system was better equipped to address and respond to countries in special situations, both in his repositioning of the United Nations development system and his broader reform of the Organization.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said it was critical that the special challenges of those countries be mainstreamed into the 2030 Agenda follow-up processes.  The Group emphasized the importance of fostering synergies and coherence in the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and other critical development processes.  The establishment and maintenance of secure, reliable, efficient, high-quality sustainable infrastructure, including transport, transit systems, energy and ICT, remained critical to reducing the high costs of trade and transport, particularly for the Group’s countries.

The magnitude of resources and investments in infrastructure development was a major challenge, he continued, calling upon the international community to support the Group’s efforts through technical assistance, facilitating investment and strengthening public-private partnerships.  He also called on World Trade Organization (WTO) members to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and called on development partners to provide technical, financial and capacity-building support.  Inclusive and sustainable industrialization was critical for the structural transformation of economies.  Meanwhile, regional integration and ensuring coherent regional policies was essential to enhancing connectivity, improving regional trade and linkages with regional and global value chains.  The Group expressed concern with the stagnating trend of ODA as well as the sharp decline in FDI.  It also stressed the importance of continued support and international cooperation on efforts in adaptation and mitigation to climate change and strengthening resilience.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that least developed countries continued to face a set of interconnected global challenges.  For one, ODA remained the most important source of external development finance for them.  “It is therefore a matter of grave concern that the total ODA from donor countries to least developed countries declined,” she said.  Developed countries must step up efforts to increase their ODA and make additional concrete efforts towards the ODA targets.  Since most least developed countries struggled to mobilize domestic resources, it was essential to increase domestic public finance including at the subnational level.  That would help enhance Governments’ abilities to provide public services, finance infrastructure and help manage macroeconomic stability.

Coordination of support for domestic resource mobilization and the recognition of the importance of country ownership was crucial, she continued.  To that end, it was essential to reduce illicit financial flows by 2030 with a view to eventually eliminate them.  Technology transfer and South‑South cooperation were vital.  While some least developed States were graduating from the category of countries by 2020, it was important to keep in mind that they would still face significant challenges.  In that context, she called on the United Nations and development partners for more institutionalized and coordinated support to countries graduating from that group.  She also emphasized the need to support least developed countries in addressing climate change, noting the heavy toll on the Caribbean region with back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed hope that the mid-term review of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the monitoring results of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries would be positive.  Similarly, he welcomed the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024 through General Assembly resolutions 69/137 and 69/232.

To that end, he reaffirmed his Group’s commitment to promote the consideration of special needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries, in accordance with those agreements.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed out that more than one‑fourth the total Member States of the United Nations continued to be recognized as least developed countries, a fact that reflected the “huge scale” of the challenges faced and the work required to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Among other things, the needs of countries in special situations included the diversification of economies; education and skills to expand countries’ human resources bases; better infrastructure and connectivity; access to affordable energy and emerging technologies; resilience to natural hazards or external economic shocks; debt burden management; and better terms of international trade and investment.  Expressing hope that the Technology Bank would facilitate the building of national capacities, he said India had longstanding development partnerships with other developing nations, focused on the sharing of technological expertise and financial assistance as well as the provision of scholarships and training.  In 2008, India had become the first emerging economy to offer a duty-free trade preference scheme to provide market access to least developed countries, and in 2015 it had extended an additional concessional credit of $10 billion to African countries over the next five years.

Mr. MASLOV (Russian Federation) commended national strategies and programmes aimed at strengthening the development of least developed and landlocked developed countries, but said additional support should be given to facilitate employment and economic diversification.  In that regard, he encouraged a greater role for the Technology Bank.  His country worked to broaden the access of least developed countries’ goods into global markets through the Eurasian preferential tariff, which benefitted 48 least developed States.  To that end, it provided concessions in the form of $3.13 million in 2016 and $2 million in 2017.  His country encouraged the stabilization of food prices and commodities and participated in international humanitarian efforts to provide food aid to States, both bilaterally and multilaterally.  In collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Russian Federation provided 30 States with $220 million of food aid.  His country also supported long-term development and food security programmes, including a 3‑year programme with a $6 million budget to strengthen agriculture, which was led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  His Government also provided $3.3 million to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova), reaffirming his country’s commitment to the development priorities listed in the Vienna Programme of Action, outlined recent progress in improving his nation’s business climate.  Among other things, the Government had optimized the regulatory framework, expanded business support infrastructure and established a “one-stop shop” for all public sector services to enable both citizens and the private sector to easily access information.  Free economic zones, offering customs and tax benefits, had been created across the country to attract foreign investment, resulting in the diversification of Moldovan imports and the creation of new jobs.  While the Secretary-General’s report highlighted slight progress achieved by least developed States in several  areas, including the eradication of extreme poverty, it also noted challenges faced by landlocked developing countries in their pursuit of sustainable development.  Significant resources were therefore still required to achieve the priorities set out in the Vienna Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that it was a well-known fact that the latter were confronted with challenges that pertained to their geographical disadvantage.  Botswana attached great importance to the effective implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and had made significant strides in that regard.  That implementation had not been undertaken in isolation but alongside already existing strategies and policies, he said.  Higher transit costs and cross-border delays in landlocked developing countries militated against their integration into the global trading system.  Botswana had signed numerous treaties to facilitate the free movement of peace and goods through its territory.

ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) said her country was working with the Russian Federation and China to build a tripartite economic corridor to improve transit in the region.  In June 2016, the three countries had agreed on basic principles, a mechanism of coordination and priority projects for the corridor.  Her Government had recently decided to set up an investment and research centre at its Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the tripartite economic corridor’s focal point.  The corridor would promote increased trade turnover, cross-border transportation and improved competitiveness.  The establishment and maintenance of secure, reliable, efficient infrastructure also remained critical to reducing the high cost of trade and transport and enhancing the integration of landlocked developing countries into global markets.  In addition, her country had learned that diversification of the economy was crucial.  Mining still dominated Mongolia’s economy, making it vulnerable to external shocks.  Her Government would make sustained efforts to diversify with value-added production in other sectors, with a strong emphasis on green development and ICT.

YONATHAN GUEBREMEDHIM SIMON (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that 35 per cent of the population of least developed nations would remain in poverty in 2030.  “It is certainly correct to state that the battle of achieving the 2030 Agenda would be won or lost in least developed countries,” he said.  Least developed countries should be the primary beneficiaries of international cooperation, and in that regard, he expressed concern that the current global circumstance was not favourable enough to realize the vision of leaving no one behind.  He noted that the bilateral net ODA to least developed countries was $24 billion in 2016, representing a fall of 3.9 per cent compared with 2015.  He urged for the international community to meet its ODA commitments and called for enhanced resource allocation within the development system to give priority to least developed countries.  Similarly, he encouraged development partners to fulfil their commitments to the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Vienna Programme of Action.  For its part, Ethiopia had mainstreamed those agreements into its national transformation plan for 2010 to 2015, its second national plan for 2015 to 2020 and its national development plan.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that least developed and landlocked developing countries were endowed with enormous human and natural resources.  They had the potential to contribute to sustained and inclusive global economic growth with the proper international support aimed at strengthening their capacity to cope with various global challenges.  She stressed that all stakeholders must do their part in mobilizing available resources to achieve sustainable development and emphasized that ODA, domestic resource mobilization through good governance and public-private partnerships were critical.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were important frameworks in assisting developing countries as well.  She noted that as part of Thailand’s commitment to the WTO, it was among developing countries granted duty‑free and quota‑free market access for thousands of products.  Thailand had also signed free trade agreements with several least developed countries.

SONAM TOBGAY (Bhutan), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the Committee for Development Policy, at its next triennial review in March, would consider Bhutan, along with five other countries, for possible graduation from the least development country category.  Graduation represented a moment of national satisfaction, and also was a testament to successful partnership and collaboration between his country and its development partners, he said.  However, he pointed out that challenges remained, adding that while Bhutan had achieved the income and human asset index criteria, it fell far behind in the economic vulnerability index which was critical to ensuring sustained economic growth and development.  He also highlighted the importance of smooth transition and continued support, noting that some development partners were withdrawing from his country because of its modest success.  As the Secretary-General had stated, he recalled, “graduation should not be punished, but instead, rewarded”.

JONIBEK HIKMATOV (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that lack of access remained a main obstacle for the integration of the latter States into the global trading system.  As a landlocked developing country, Tajikistan encouraged strong synergy and implementation of development objectives at all levels.  His country had promoted efforts to strengthen its transit infrastructure, facilitated trade, simplified its customs regulations and offered tax benefits through free economic zones.  He recalled the agreement to establish an international think tank for landlocked developing countries, and said his nation would support its efforts to advance the interest of landlocked developing countries at the global level.  Noting that Tajikistan was yet to overcome structural and developmental challenges, he said that the lack of access to sea markets interfered with integration of landlocked developing countries into the world trade system.  Similarly, he urged all States to cease economic and unsubstantiated barriers to trade and transportation.  On climate change, he said that more than 2,000 people suffered annually in his country due to the damage caused by environmental and natural hazards.  To address existing challenges, Tajikistan furthered efforts to enhance its transportation, communication, electrical and energy routes and markets.  He encouraged donor countries to extend greater support through technological and financial assistance, including through grants and concessional loans.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that least developed States faced unprecedented challenges owing to their structural weaknesses.  In that context, he underscored the importance of a “sustainable and smooth graduation process” by ensuring enhanced, predictable and continued international support to those nations graduating from the least developed category.  “The core issue here is not the mere acknowledgement of their specific challenges but the fulfilment of the means of implementation — its sources, reliability, predictability and sustainability,” he said.  The role of technology was vital to help develop least developed countries, he stressed, calling for an effective operationalization of the Technology Bank.  “Landlockedness” was now known to make development 20 per cent costlier and incur double price for export with disasters and climate change further aggravating challenges.  Nepal continued to face such challenges, and was therefore focusing on developing connectivity, trade facilitation, transfer of technology and promote investment.

SHERWIN LUMBAN TOBING (Indonesia) said special attention must be paid in addressing diverse needs and challenges faced by African countries, least developed nations, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.  Many of those countries were disproportionately confronted with various systemic shocks, including unfavourable macroeconomic situations, conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, natural hazards and climate change.  Such shocks impeded efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and could reverse developmental achievements.  The international community must enhance support for implementation of international agreements and provide ODA to help those countries overcome vulnerabilities and build resilience.  Debt restructuring must be prioritized for countries impacted by conflicts or natural hazards.  Investment in infrastructure must be encouraged to generate employment and help countries integrate better with the world economy.  Investment was also needed to diversify their economies, thus avoiding over-reliance on limited export commodities.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil) said that the slow pace of recovery in the world economy had had a significant impact on developing countries’ capacity to mobilize resources towards sustainable development.  That challenge was particularly true for the least developed and landlocked least developed countries.  Least developed States needed improved global support to overcome the structural challenges they faced in implementing the 2030 Agenda, he said.  The midterm review of the Istanbul Programme of Action in 2016 renewed the collective impetus for achieving the goals included in its eight priority areas, with a view to meeting the general goal of graduating half of all least developed countries by 2020.

FAWAZ BOURISLY (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the effects of climate change had negatively impacted the economies and infrastructure of the least developed countries.  He said the “lack of respect” by donors to their international commitments resulted in a decrease in the rates of ODA.  For the tenth consecutive year, Kuwait committed to provide 10 per cent of its assistance to the least developed countries.  His Government also fulfilled its ODA commitments and provided 12 least developed countries with technological assistance and preferential and flexible loans through its Kuwait-Arab Economic Fund.  Kuwait also provided development cooperation to 106 countries, particularly through efforts to mobilize the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and Africa. Since 2015, his country allocated $15 million each year to finance development projects through the Kuwaiti Fund for Economic Development.

ZHANG YANHUA (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that with three years left to implement the Istanbul Program of Action, least developed countries continued to face multiple challenges and obstacles in their development efforts.  He called on all parties to work together to translate promises into action, implement the outcome document of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 and work at enabling half of the least developed States to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020.  All countries, especially developed ones, must meet their commitments and help landlocked developing nations overcome numerous challenges, such as complex transit requirements and high transport costs.  He noted ways China was supporting countries in special situations through South‑South cooperation.  His State was also writing off certain eligible countries’ debts, providing aid for trade, increasing investment in the least developed countries and extending zero tariff treatment.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, underlined the vital importance of reducing the vulnerability of States in those groups to the economic, social and environmental shocks to which they were prone.  Lesotho had mainstreamed the Istanbul Programme of Action into its national development agenda, known as National Vision 2020, as well as its strategic development plan for 2012‑2017, with the aim of facilitating its graduation from the group of least developed countries soon.  While implementation had been slow, reforms and initiatives aimed at fast-tracking those development plans were now underway, including a national jobs creation strategy.  As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Lesotho was addressing the challenges presented by its landlocked status within the framework of the Community’s Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, which sought to improve vehicles’ freedom of transit from one member State to another to facilitate trade.  It was also a member of the Southern African Customs Union, among other relevant regional agreements.

AYE MYA MYA KHAING (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of 77, said structural transformation had occurred more slowly in least developed States than other developing countries.  Poverty was very real due to decreased trade and investment, which was exacerbated by environmental degradation and disappearing biological diversity.  ODA was still the largest external means of financing for least developed countries, but that assistance had declined in 2016.  She encouraged developed nations to meet their ODA commitments.  Noting that technology and innovation were key engines for sustainability, she welcomed establishment of the Technology Bank, as least developed countries lagged behind in that area.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) associated himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  A landlocked developing country, Mali had established a transit agreement protocol for goods with all its bordering neighbours, and created a private transport sector that comprised professional public entities with the autonomy to deal with transit countries.  Stressing that a lack of access to coastlines and high transport costs had hindered Mali’s economic development, he urged all States to implement the Vienna Programme of Action and the Istanbul Programme of Action.  Faced with a lack of resources, famine, malnutrition and widespread poverty, Mali welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank, and called on partners to support capacity building, foreign investment and cooperation.  Similarly, he expressed concern over decreasing ODA and urged them to fulfil their financial promises.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco) said least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States faced major difficulties in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must take specific measures to integrate those countries into the global economy.  Many least developed countries needed enhanced ODA and FDI in areas guaranteeing a sustainable economy.  Diversification of their economies was also vital for sustainable growth and strengthening resilience to shocks.  Realization of donor promises was crucial in offsetting financial limits those countries had endured.  Morocco was cooperating with least developed countries and small island developing States in the Pacific region, providing know-how transfer and technical assistance.

ONISMO CHIGEJO (Zimbabwe) stressed the importance of international cooperation in achieving the Vienna Programme of Action, and thus, called on partners to help close the infrastructure gaps in landlocked developing countries.  For its part, Zimbabwe had set up one-stop border posts to encourage the seamless flow of goods, people and vehicles, as well as improved trade through efficient customs procedures.  It had upgraded customs technology at border posts and rehabilitated highways to facilitate cross-border movement.  Yet, Zimbabwe still needed to add value to its agricultural and mining products, undergo appropriate skill training and enhance funding to achieve its development goals.  Evidence-based data should be collected by landlocked developing countries and provided to the international community so appropriate support might be given.  It was also vital to ensure that coastal neighbours remained economically healthy, as they were crucial portals to landlocked countries.

LEONARD NKHOMA (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said his State had been integrating the Istanbul Programme of Action priorities into its development planning framework.  That started with the formulation of a national vision to become a prosperous middle-income nation by 2030.  He supported the call for increased domestic resource mobilization and fulfilling ODA commitments, to drive productive capacity and place least developed countries on a path towards sustainable development.  Zambia’s economy had improved in recent months, with GDP growth projected to reach 4 per cent in 2017.  However, sustaining high and inclusive growth required a stable macroeconomic environment, and he called for new actions to reduce poverty, notably by:  promoting industrialization and diversification of the agricultural sector, improving incentives in the tourism and manufacturing sectors, and investing in research and development in key economic sectors.

KHAMPHINH PHILAKONE (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said members of the latter two groups would not be able to overcome their special development needs without support and cooperation from the international community.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was a least developed and landlocked nation that faced multidimensional challenges in its national development, including limited productive capacity due to low skill levels, lack of technology for industrialization, insufficient infrastructure and remoteness from the world market.  To address those issues, the country was mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Istanbul Plan of Action and the Vienna Programme of Action, into its national policies.  The Government had also increased investment in roads and railways linking the country with the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway networks.

Mr. RAUSHAN (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said countries in special situations continued to seek the opportunity to build resilience to achieve prosperity.  Least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States must be provided a “level playing field” where they could forge enduring partnerships for economic and social development.  Despite graduating from the list of least developed countries seven years ago, the Maldives faced extremely high costs of providing basic services and building critical infrastructure.  He stressed the need to revisit the graduation criteria and process as the current one did not consider the country’s resilience.  “When a small island State, with a small and extremely dependent economy, with just one or two industries, is graduated from the protections provided within the LDC [least developed country] category, there is no doubt that country becomes more vulnerable,” he said.  A more holistic approach must be considered.

JOAQUIM JOSE COSTA CHAVES (Timor-Leste) associating himself with the Group of 77, said that as a small island developing State, his country understood the challenges of sustainable development.  He welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank and said that partnerships among the Government, private sector and civil society would be fundamental. Timor-Leste provided support to conflict-affected countries, notably to share experience in elections, help manage extractive resources and advocate the “New Deal” principles.  Moreover, it had promoted economic cooperation while serving as President of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, from 2014 to 2016, and as a member of the Pathfinders and 16+ Forum. He called for additional and predictable financing to help least developed countries, small island developing States, countries emerging from and in conflict situations, and Non-Self-Governing Territories.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, speaking on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce, said WTO had estimated that effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries benefitting even more.  That Agreement could also create 20 million jobs.  It would also foster cooperation and coordination of various stakeholders at the national level via the National Committee for Trade Facilitation.  That collaboration would drive maximum gains for stakeholders, she said.

News

Delegates Call for Heightened Commitment to Official Development Assistance, as Second Committee Debates Groups of Countries in Special Situations

Speakers stressed the need to increase official development assistance (ODA), build infrastructure, widen export bases and stimulate trade in least developed and landlocked developing countries, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up groups of countries today.

Bangladesh’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said her group was limited by narrow production and export bases, stagnant trade, low investment flows and widespread poverty.  Expressing concern over inward-looking and restrictive policies of development partners, she called for timely implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Climate change was also undermining development efforts, she said, as were difficulties in accessing the Green Climate Fund and Least Developed Countries Fund.  She lauded the newly established Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, but said the United Nations development system must reposition itself to better support the world’s most vulnerable States.

Addressing development finance, Ecuador’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that total official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015.  Preliminary data from 2016 showed that bilateral ODA to least developed countries had further decreased by 3.9 per cent, compared to 2015.

Urging the international community to meet its ODA commitments, Ethiopia’s representative noted that 35 per cent of the population of least developed nations would remain in poverty in 2030.  “It is certainly correct to state that the battle of achieving the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] would be won or lost in least developed countries,” he said.

Addressing the plight of landlocked developing countries and speaking on their behalf, Zambia’s representative said attracting resources and investments in infrastructure development was a major challenge.  Accordingly, he called on the international community to support efforts by the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries through technical assistance, investment and public-private partnerships.

Establishing and maintaining secure, reliable, high-quality sustainable infrastructure, including transport, energy and information and communications technology (ICT), were critical to reducing the high costs of trade, he added.  World Trade Organization (WTO) members should implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and development partners should provide technical, financial and capacity-building support.

Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (document A/72/272).

Noting that efforts were underway to expand and upgrade road and rail transport infrastructure in landlocked areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said substantial expansion as well as maintenance requirements were still urgently needed.  On international trade, he observed that landlocked countries accounted for a low share of global merchandise exports at just .88 per cent in 2016, down from .96 per cent in 2015.

He also introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on crisis mitigation and resilience-building for the least developed countries (document A/72/270) and implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 (document A/72/83-E/2017/60).

Also speaking were the representatives of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Maldives (also for the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Haiti (for the Caribbean Community), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), India, Russian Federation, Moldova, Botswana, Mongolia, Thailand, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Brazil, Kuwait, China, Lesotho, Myanmar, Mali, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Maldives and Timor-Leste.

A representative of the International Chamber of Commerce also spoke.

The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 18 October, at 10 a.m. to take up the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Introduction of Reports

SANDAGDORJ ERDENEBILEG, Chief of the Policy Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Reporting of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011 to 2020 (document A/72/83-E/2017/60).  He said the average gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of least developed countries was estimated to have increased to 4.5 per cent in 2016 from 3.8 per cent in 2015, but that rate was well below the target of 7 per cent growth.  Progress towards building productive capacity was stagnant, as the share of manufacturing increased only marginally to 12.7 per cent in 2015 from 12.1 per cent in 2014.  Investment declined in 2015 to 23.5 per cent of GDP, down from 25 per cent in 2014.  He commended the establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and the related contribution agreement which was signed in 2017.  In terms of human and social development, he expressed concern that 32 million children remained out of school from 2009 to 2015 and that millions of persons suffered from food insecurity in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

Additionally, he noted that bilateral official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015.  The foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to least developed countries also declined in 2016 by 13 per cent and only accounted for 2 per cent of the world.  In terms of governance, 14 least developed countries were considered compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and six became candidate countries.  Numerous least developed countries also reached the graduation threshold and others were set to graduate soon.  To that end, he urged all stakeholders to reverse the declining trend in ODA, FDI and trade, all of which were critical for the sustainable development of least developed countries.

Mr. Erdenebileg next introduced the Secretary-General’s report on crisis mitigation and resilience-building for the least developed countries (document A/72/270).  He noted that least developed countries were highly exposed to shocks, as they often had topographies with geological fault lines, floodplains and coastal area, placing them at high risk of earthquakes, cyclones, flooding and typhoons.  Climate change and increasing globalization made them even more vulnerable to external shocks.  Many had experienced various disasters and shocks with consequences of a high magnitude.  Also, most least developed countries were commodity-dependent and market shocks had severe consequences on their economies.

Severe external shocks and crises not only halted the pace of economic progress and exacerbated poverty, but also undermined the capacity of least developed countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.  Most losses in those countries were uninsured and Governments did not have the financial reserves or access to contingency financing that allowed them to absorb losses, recover and rebuild quickly.  Least developed countries did not have the necessary resources to establish effective resilience-building mechanisms.  Indemnity-based commercial insurance was not available to them for most natural hazards, as the market was simply non-existent or insufficiently developed.  Least developed countries needed increased international assistance, both technical and financial, to build their resilience and gain access to capital market-based risk transfer mechanisms in the form of insurance and catastrophe bonds.

Concluding, he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (document A/72/272).  He noted that landlocked developing countries had experienced a decline in annual GDP growth, which fell from 3.5 per cent in 2015 to an estimated 2.6 per cent in 2016.  They had also experienced a reduction in their under‑five mortality rates, HIV incident rate and prevalence of undernourishment, malaria and tuberculosis.  Efforts were under way to expand and upgrade road and rail transport infrastructure in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  However, there were still missing links that needed to be closed and substantial expansion as well as maintenance requirements were also urgently needed.

The average proportion of population with access to electricity in landlocked developing countries had increased from 42 per cent in 2010 to 49 per cent in 2014, he continued.  Regarding information and communications technology (ICT), they lagged behind other groups of countries and faced high costs for broadband.  On international trade, landlocked developing countries accounted for a low share of global merchandise exports at just .88 per cent in 2016, declining from .96 per cent in 2015.  Their merchandise exports remained highly concentrated on commodities, as the share of commodities exports averaged 83.1 per cent in 2015.

Interactive Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked for information on the strategies and recommendations to address maternal mortality and children’s education in least developed countries.  In response, Mr. ERDENEBILEG said the United Nations system organizations had dedicated support mechanisms that addressed those issues.  Efforts included the promotion of trade and access to global markets as well as programmes to support the enrolment of children in schooling.

Statements

DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said ODA had continued to be the critical source of external financing for least developed States, providing a buffer to weather impacts of the unstable and volatile global economic environment.  He expressed concern that total ODA from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee countries to least developed States had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015.  Furthermore, preliminary data from 2016 showed that bilateral net ODA to least developed countries had further decreased by 3.9 per cent compared to 2015.  He also noted that such countries were disproportionately affected by systemic shocks, including the economic crisis, commodity price volatility, health epidemics, natural hazards and other environmental shocks.  Such events not only halted the pace of economic progress, but undermined their capacity to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The Group recognized the special development needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries, arising from their remoteness from world markets and geographical constraints, he said.  Those disadvantages imposed serious impediments for export earnings, private capital inflow and domestic resource mobilization, adversely affecting their overall sustainable development.  He stressed that infrastructure development played a key role in reducing the cost of development for landlocked developing countries and that the development and maintenance of transit transport infrastructure, ICT and energy infrastructure were crucial for them to reduce high trading costs, improve competitiveness and become fully integrated into the global market.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligned himself with the Group of 77.  He expressed hope that the international community would translate their commitments into concrete action, especially for the benefit of least developed countries and landlocked developing States.

He said his region placed great importance on providing support to least developed and landlocked developing countries in addressing their development challenges, particularly in relation to their geographical handicaps and structural vulnerabilities.  Under the regional cooperation framework, he recognized the existence of development gaps among ASEAN States and thus highlighted the important work of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III which assisted less developed countries in capacity-building activities.

SHANCHITA HAQUE (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that structural transformation was slower in her Group than in other developing States due to institutional and capacity constraints.  Those limitations included narrow production and export bases, stagnant trade and investment flows, weak land and natural governance, and widespread poverty.  The principle of State ownership remained crucial and the nations in the Group were committed to take the lead in formulating, implementing, following up and reviewing their own coherent economic and development policies to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020, she said.

Expressing concern about the inward-looking and restrictive policies adopted by some development partners, she called for the timely implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Further, climate change was undermining development efforts and there were difficulties in accessing and utilizing the Green Climate Fund as well as the Least Developed Countries Fund.  Thanking Turkey for its generous contribution to the newly established and operationalized Technology Bank, she said that the Organization’s development system must reposition itself to effectively support the most vulnerable countries of the world.

Mr. RAUSHAN (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that eight of his bloc’s members had least developed country status.  While none of them were landlocked, they were all “sea-locked”.  As island and coastal States, they understood the unique challenges faced due to remoteness, highly dispersed populations, limited connectivity, poor infrastructure and transport, among other characteristics.  The Maldives had only graduated from the status of least developed country six years earlier, he pointed out, adding that targeted approaches were necessary to support the efforts of countries in special situations to achieve sustainable development and economic growth.

He went on to highlight the need for all countries in special situations to consider transparent measurements of progress on sustainable development that moved beyond per capita income.  Income-based indicators reflected neither a society’s holistic advancement nor its vulnerabilities, he observed, and did not address the unique circumstances and challenges of each country.  That distinction became even more pertinent when assessing countries for graduation because many least developed nations on track for graduation were extremely vulnerable to shocks such as large-scale disasters.  Such occurrences could not be stopped, but better graduating policies could be formulated and better safety nets provided for newly graduating countries so they could make smoother and more successful transitions.  As such, he called on the Secretary-General to ensure that the system was better equipped to address and respond to countries in special situations, both in his repositioning of the United Nations development system and his broader reform of the Organization.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said it was critical that the special challenges of those countries be mainstreamed into the 2030 Agenda follow-up processes.  The Group emphasized the importance of fostering synergies and coherence in the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and other critical development processes.  The establishment and maintenance of secure, reliable, efficient, high-quality sustainable infrastructure, including transport, transit systems, energy and ICT, remained critical to reducing the high costs of trade and transport, particularly for the Group’s countries.

The magnitude of resources and investments in infrastructure development was a major challenge, he continued, calling upon the international community to support the Group’s efforts through technical assistance, facilitating investment and strengthening public-private partnerships.  He also called on World Trade Organization (WTO) members to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and called on development partners to provide technical, financial and capacity-building support.  Inclusive and sustainable industrialization was critical for the structural transformation of economies.  Meanwhile, regional integration and ensuring coherent regional policies was essential to enhancing connectivity, improving regional trade and linkages with regional and global value chains.  The Group expressed concern with the stagnating trend of ODA as well as the sharp decline in FDI.  It also stressed the importance of continued support and international cooperation on efforts in adaptation and mitigation to climate change and strengthening resilience.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that least developed countries continued to face a set of interconnected global challenges.  For one, ODA remained the most important source of external development finance for them.  “It is therefore a matter of grave concern that the total ODA from donor countries to least developed countries declined,” she said.  Developed countries must step up efforts to increase their ODA and make additional concrete efforts towards the ODA targets.  Since most least developed countries struggled to mobilize domestic resources, it was essential to increase domestic public finance including at the subnational level.  That would help enhance Governments’ abilities to provide public services, finance infrastructure and help manage macroeconomic stability.

Coordination of support for domestic resource mobilization and the recognition of the importance of country ownership was crucial, she continued.  To that end, it was essential to reduce illicit financial flows by 2030 with a view to eventually eliminate them.  Technology transfer and South‑South cooperation were vital.  While some least developed States were graduating from the category of countries by 2020, it was important to keep in mind that they would still face significant challenges.  In that context, she called on the United Nations and development partners for more institutionalized and coordinated support to countries graduating from that group.  She also emphasized the need to support least developed countries in addressing climate change, noting the heavy toll on the Caribbean region with back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed hope that the mid-term review of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the monitoring results of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries would be positive.  Similarly, he welcomed the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024 through General Assembly resolutions 69/137 and 69/232.

To that end, he reaffirmed his Group’s commitment to promote the consideration of special needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries, in accordance with those agreements.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed out that more than one‑fourth the total Member States of the United Nations continued to be recognized as least developed countries, a fact that reflected the “huge scale” of the challenges faced and the work required to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Among other things, the needs of countries in special situations included the diversification of economies; education and skills to expand countries’ human resources bases; better infrastructure and connectivity; access to affordable energy and emerging technologies; resilience to natural hazards or external economic shocks; debt burden management; and better terms of international trade and investment.  Expressing hope that the Technology Bank would facilitate the building of national capacities, he said India had longstanding development partnerships with other developing nations, focused on the sharing of technological expertise and financial assistance as well as the provision of scholarships and training.  In 2008, India had become the first emerging economy to offer a duty-free trade preference scheme to provide market access to least developed countries, and in 2015 it had extended an additional concessional credit of $10 billion to African countries over the next five years.

Mr. MASLOV (Russian Federation) commended national strategies and programmes aimed at strengthening the development of least developed and landlocked developed countries, but said additional support should be given to facilitate employment and economic diversification.  In that regard, he encouraged a greater role for the Technology Bank.  His country worked to broaden the access of least developed countries’ goods into global markets through the Eurasian preferential tariff, which benefitted 48 least developed States.  To that end, it provided concessions in the form of $3.13 million in 2016 and $2 million in 2017.  His country encouraged the stabilization of food prices and commodities and participated in international humanitarian efforts to provide food aid to States, both bilaterally and multilaterally.  In collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Russian Federation provided 30 States with $220 million of food aid.  His country also supported long-term development and food security programmes, including a 3‑year programme with a $6 million budget to strengthen agriculture, which was led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  His Government also provided $3.3 million to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova), reaffirming his country’s commitment to the development priorities listed in the Vienna Programme of Action, outlined recent progress in improving his nation’s business climate.  Among other things, the Government had optimized the regulatory framework, expanded business support infrastructure and established a “one-stop shop” for all public sector services to enable both citizens and the private sector to easily access information.  Free economic zones, offering customs and tax benefits, had been created across the country to attract foreign investment, resulting in the diversification of Moldovan imports and the creation of new jobs.  While the Secretary-General’s report highlighted slight progress achieved by least developed States in several  areas, including the eradication of extreme poverty, it also noted challenges faced by landlocked developing countries in their pursuit of sustainable development.  Significant resources were therefore still required to achieve the priorities set out in the Vienna Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that it was a well-known fact that the latter were confronted with challenges that pertained to their geographical disadvantage.  Botswana attached great importance to the effective implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and had made significant strides in that regard.  That implementation had not been undertaken in isolation but alongside already existing strategies and policies, he said.  Higher transit costs and cross-border delays in landlocked developing countries militated against their integration into the global trading system.  Botswana had signed numerous treaties to facilitate the free movement of peace and goods through its territory.

ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) said her country was working with the Russian Federation and China to build a tripartite economic corridor to improve transit in the region.  In June 2016, the three countries had agreed on basic principles, a mechanism of coordination and priority projects for the corridor.  Her Government had recently decided to set up an investment and research centre at its Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the tripartite economic corridor’s focal point.  The corridor would promote increased trade turnover, cross-border transportation and improved competitiveness.  The establishment and maintenance of secure, reliable, efficient infrastructure also remained critical to reducing the high cost of trade and transport and enhancing the integration of landlocked developing countries into global markets.  In addition, her country had learned that diversification of the economy was crucial.  Mining still dominated Mongolia’s economy, making it vulnerable to external shocks.  Her Government would make sustained efforts to diversify with value-added production in other sectors, with a strong emphasis on green development and ICT.

YONATHAN GUEBREMEDHIM SIMON (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that 35 per cent of the population of least developed nations would remain in poverty in 2030.  “It is certainly correct to state that the battle of achieving the 2030 Agenda would be won or lost in least developed countries,” he said.  Least developed countries should be the primary beneficiaries of international cooperation, and in that regard, he expressed concern that the current global circumstance was not favourable enough to realize the vision of leaving no one behind.  He noted that the bilateral net ODA to least developed countries was $24 billion in 2016, representing a fall of 3.9 per cent compared with 2015.  He urged for the international community to meet its ODA commitments and called for enhanced resource allocation within the development system to give priority to least developed countries.  Similarly, he encouraged development partners to fulfil their commitments to the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Vienna Programme of Action.  For its part, Ethiopia had mainstreamed those agreements into its national transformation plan for 2010 to 2015, its second national plan for 2015 to 2020 and its national development plan.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that least developed and landlocked developing countries were endowed with enormous human and natural resources.  They had the potential to contribute to sustained and inclusive global economic growth with the proper international support aimed at strengthening their capacity to cope with various global challenges.  She stressed that all stakeholders must do their part in mobilizing available resources to achieve sustainable development and emphasized that ODA, domestic resource mobilization through good governance and public-private partnerships were critical.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were important frameworks in assisting developing countries as well.  She noted that as part of Thailand’s commitment to the WTO, it was among developing countries granted duty‑free and quota‑free market access for thousands of products.  Thailand had also signed free trade agreements with several least developed countries.

SONAM TOBGAY (Bhutan), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the Committee for Development Policy, at its next triennial review in March, would consider Bhutan, along with five other countries, for possible graduation from the least development country category.  Graduation represented a moment of national satisfaction, and also was a testament to successful partnership and collaboration between his country and its development partners, he said.  However, he pointed out that challenges remained, adding that while Bhutan had achieved the income and human asset index criteria, it fell far behind in the economic vulnerability index which was critical to ensuring sustained economic growth and development.  He also highlighted the importance of smooth transition and continued support, noting that some development partners were withdrawing from his country because of its modest success.  As the Secretary-General had stated, he recalled, “graduation should not be punished, but instead, rewarded”.

JONIBEK HIKMATOV (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that lack of access remained a main obstacle for the integration of the latter States into the global trading system.  As a landlocked developing country, Tajikistan encouraged strong synergy and implementation of development objectives at all levels.  His country had promoted efforts to strengthen its transit infrastructure, facilitated trade, simplified its customs regulations and offered tax benefits through free economic zones.  He recalled the agreement to establish an international think tank for landlocked developing countries, and said his nation would support its efforts to advance the interest of landlocked developing countries at the global level.  Noting that Tajikistan was yet to overcome structural and developmental challenges, he said that the lack of access to sea markets interfered with integration of landlocked developing countries into the world trade system.  Similarly, he urged all States to cease economic and unsubstantiated barriers to trade and transportation.  On climate change, he said that more than 2,000 people suffered annually in his country due to the damage caused by environmental and natural hazards.  To address existing challenges, Tajikistan furthered efforts to enhance its transportation, communication, electrical and energy routes and markets.  He encouraged donor countries to extend greater support through technological and financial assistance, including through grants and concessional loans.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that least developed States faced unprecedented challenges owing to their structural weaknesses.  In that context, he underscored the importance of a “sustainable and smooth graduation process” by ensuring enhanced, predictable and continued international support to those nations graduating from the least developed category.  “The core issue here is not the mere acknowledgement of their specific challenges but the fulfilment of the means of implementation — its sources, reliability, predictability and sustainability,” he said.  The role of technology was vital to help develop least developed countries, he stressed, calling for an effective operationalization of the Technology Bank.  “Landlockedness” was now known to make development 20 per cent costlier and incur double price for export with disasters and climate change further aggravating challenges.  Nepal continued to face such challenges, and was therefore focusing on developing connectivity, trade facilitation, transfer of technology and promote investment.

SHERWIN LUMBAN TOBING (Indonesia) said special attention must be paid in addressing diverse needs and challenges faced by African countries, least developed nations, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.  Many of those countries were disproportionately confronted with various systemic shocks, including unfavourable macroeconomic situations, conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, natural hazards and climate change.  Such shocks impeded efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and could reverse developmental achievements.  The international community must enhance support for implementation of international agreements and provide ODA to help those countries overcome vulnerabilities and build resilience.  Debt restructuring must be prioritized for countries impacted by conflicts or natural hazards.  Investment in infrastructure must be encouraged to generate employment and help countries integrate better with the world economy.  Investment was also needed to diversify their economies, thus avoiding over-reliance on limited export commodities.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil) said that the slow pace of recovery in the world economy had had a significant impact on developing countries’ capacity to mobilize resources towards sustainable development.  That challenge was particularly true for the least developed and landlocked least developed countries.  Least developed States needed improved global support to overcome the structural challenges they faced in implementing the 2030 Agenda, he said.  The midterm review of the Istanbul Programme of Action in 2016 renewed the collective impetus for achieving the goals included in its eight priority areas, with a view to meeting the general goal of graduating half of all least developed countries by 2020.

FAWAZ BOURISLY (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the effects of climate change had negatively impacted the economies and infrastructure of the least developed countries.  He said the “lack of respect” by donors to their international commitments resulted in a decrease in the rates of ODA.  For the tenth consecutive year, Kuwait committed to provide 10 per cent of its assistance to the least developed countries.  His Government also fulfilled its ODA commitments and provided 12 least developed countries with technological assistance and preferential and flexible loans through its Kuwait-Arab Economic Fund.  Kuwait also provided development cooperation to 106 countries, particularly through efforts to mobilize the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and Africa. Since 2015, his country allocated $15 million each year to finance development projects through the Kuwaiti Fund for Economic Development.

ZHANG YANHUA (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that with three years left to implement the Istanbul Program of Action, least developed countries continued to face multiple challenges and obstacles in their development efforts.  He called on all parties to work together to translate promises into action, implement the outcome document of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 and work at enabling half of the least developed States to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020.  All countries, especially developed ones, must meet their commitments and help landlocked developing nations overcome numerous challenges, such as complex transit requirements and high transport costs.  He noted ways China was supporting countries in special situations through South‑South cooperation.  His State was also writing off certain eligible countries’ debts, providing aid for trade, increasing investment in the least developed countries and extending zero tariff treatment.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, underlined the vital importance of reducing the vulnerability of States in those groups to the economic, social and environmental shocks to which they were prone.  Lesotho had mainstreamed the Istanbul Programme of Action into its national development agenda, known as National Vision 2020, as well as its strategic development plan for 2012‑2017, with the aim of facilitating its graduation from the group of least developed countries soon.  While implementation had been slow, reforms and initiatives aimed at fast-tracking those development plans were now underway, including a national jobs creation strategy.  As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Lesotho was addressing the challenges presented by its landlocked status within the framework of the Community’s Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, which sought to improve vehicles’ freedom of transit from one member State to another to facilitate trade.  It was also a member of the Southern African Customs Union, among other relevant regional agreements.

AYE MYA MYA KHAING (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of 77, said structural transformation had occurred more slowly in least developed States than other developing countries.  Poverty was very real due to decreased trade and investment, which was exacerbated by environmental degradation and disappearing biological diversity.  ODA was still the largest external means of financing for least developed countries, but that assistance had declined in 2016.  She encouraged developed nations to meet their ODA commitments.  Noting that technology and innovation were key engines for sustainability, she welcomed establishment of the Technology Bank, as least developed countries lagged behind in that area.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) associated himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  A landlocked developing country, Mali had established a transit agreement protocol for goods with all its bordering neighbours, and created a private transport sector that comprised professional public entities with the autonomy to deal with transit countries.  Stressing that a lack of access to coastlines and high transport costs had hindered Mali’s economic development, he urged all States to implement the Vienna Programme of Action and the Istanbul Programme of Action.  Faced with a lack of resources, famine, malnutrition and widespread poverty, Mali welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank, and called on partners to support capacity building, foreign investment and cooperation.  Similarly, he expressed concern over decreasing ODA and urged them to fulfil their financial promises.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco) said least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States faced major difficulties in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must take specific measures to integrate those countries into the global economy.  Many least developed countries needed enhanced ODA and FDI in areas guaranteeing a sustainable economy.  Diversification of their economies was also vital for sustainable growth and strengthening resilience to shocks.  Realization of donor promises was crucial in offsetting financial limits those countries had endured.  Morocco was cooperating with least developed countries and small island developing States in the Pacific region, providing know-how transfer and technical assistance.

ONISMO CHIGEJO (Zimbabwe) stressed the importance of international cooperation in achieving the Vienna Programme of Action, and thus, called on partners to help close the infrastructure gaps in landlocked developing countries.  For its part, Zimbabwe had set up one-stop border posts to encourage the seamless flow of goods, people and vehicles, as well as improved trade through efficient customs procedures.  It had upgraded customs technology at border posts and rehabilitated highways to facilitate cross-border movement.  Yet, Zimbabwe still needed to add value to its agricultural and mining products, undergo appropriate skill training and enhance funding to achieve its development goals.  Evidence-based data should be collected by landlocked developing countries and provided to the international community so appropriate support might be given.  It was also vital to ensure that coastal neighbours remained economically healthy, as they were crucial portals to landlocked countries.

LEONARD NKHOMA (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said his State had been integrating the Istanbul Programme of Action priorities into its development planning framework.  That started with the formulation of a national vision to become a prosperous middle-income nation by 2030.  He supported the call for increased domestic resource mobilization and fulfilling ODA commitments, to drive productive capacity and place least developed countries on a path towards sustainable development.  Zambia’s economy had improved in recent months, with GDP growth projected to reach 4 per cent in 2017.  However, sustaining high and inclusive growth required a stable macroeconomic environment, and he called for new actions to reduce poverty, notably by:  promoting industrialization and diversification of the agricultural sector, improving incentives in the tourism and manufacturing sectors, and investing in research and development in key economic sectors.

KHAMPHINH PHILAKONE (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said members of the latter two groups would not be able to overcome their special development needs without support and cooperation from the international community.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was a least developed and landlocked nation that faced multidimensional challenges in its national development, including limited productive capacity due to low skill levels, lack of technology for industrialization, insufficient infrastructure and remoteness from the world market.  To address those issues, the country was mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Istanbul Plan of Action and the Vienna Programme of Action, into its national policies.  The Government had also increased investment in roads and railways linking the country with the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway networks.

Mr. RAUSHAN (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said countries in special situations continued to seek the opportunity to build resilience to achieve prosperity.  Least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States must be provided a “level playing field” where they could forge enduring partnerships for economic and social development.  Despite graduating from the list of least developed countries seven years ago, the Maldives faced extremely high costs of providing basic services and building critical infrastructure.  He stressed the need to revisit the graduation criteria and process as the current one did not consider the country’s resilience.  “When a small island State, with a small and extremely dependent economy, with just one or two industries, is graduated from the protections provided within the LDC [least developed country] category, there is no doubt that country becomes more vulnerable,” he said.  A more holistic approach must be considered.

JOAQUIM JOSE COSTA CHAVES (Timor-Leste) associating himself with the Group of 77, said that as a small island developing State, his country understood the challenges of sustainable development.  He welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank and said that partnerships among the Government, private sector and civil society would be fundamental. Timor-Leste provided support to conflict-affected countries, notably to share experience in elections, help manage extractive resources and advocate the “New Deal” principles.  Moreover, it had promoted economic cooperation while serving as President of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, from 2014 to 2016, and as a member of the Pathfinders and 16+ Forum. He called for additional and predictable financing to help least developed countries, small island developing States, countries emerging from and in conflict situations, and Non-Self-Governing Territories.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, speaking on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce, said WTO had estimated that effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries benefitting even more.  That Agreement could also create 20 million jobs.  It would also foster cooperation and coordination of various stakeholders at the national level via the National Committee for Trade Facilitation.  That collaboration would drive maximum gains for stakeholders, she said.

News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening Remarks

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

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

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

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

Keynote Address

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News

Global Response to Growing Cities Inadequate, Deputy Secretary-General Tells General Assembly Meeting on New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat

With two third of the world’s population projected to live in cities in the next 30 years, the fate of humanity hinged on how Governments addressed the “megatrend” of urbanization, the General Assembly heard today, as it convened a high-level meeting to discuss the implementation of the New Urban Agenda agreed by Member States in 2016.

“The draw of social and economic opportunity that cities possess is the magnet that has led to nearly 1.4 billion more people living in urban areas today than just two decades ago,” said General Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) in an opening address this morning.  While cities generated about 80 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), many were failing to keep pace with the rapid rate of change and relied on deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate urban planning and services, and outdated legal and environmental protections.  In that context, he said, the Agenda had set a new standard for sustainable urban development.

Joan Clos, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), noted that today’s meeting also came on the heels of report by a High-level Independent Panel aimed at assessing and enhancing the programme’s effectiveness.  UN-Habitat was one of the first United Nations entities to be assessed in the context of the Organization’s new reforms.  Underlining the Programme’s key role in providing guidance and support on complex urbanization policies, he pointed out that unplanned urbanization often resulted in slums, adding that many complex factors must be addressed simultaneously and integrated to achieve urbanization in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, described cities as hubs of promise and innovation, as well as epicentres of the challenges facing sustainable development.  While cities encouraged their residents to work towards increased tolerance and coexistence, the global response to the promise of urbanization had been inadequate, with inequality increasing and the urban share of global poverty rising.  The ambitious character of the 2030 Agenda required a nimble United Nations, and UN-Habitat could serve as a “litmus test” for the Organization’s reform.  Among other things, the Programme should play a leading role in ensuring strong urban expertise across the United Nations system, she said.

Also addressing the Assembly this morning were the Co-Chairs of the High-level Independent Panel to Assess and Enhance the Effectiveness of UN-HABITAT, who jointly introduced the body’s report (document A/71/1006).  Mpho Parks Tau, President of United Cities and Local Governments and South African Local Governments Association, described the Panel’s broad consensus on the need to acknowledge the “megatrend” of urbanization, as well as to shift away from ineffective, exclusionary and unsustainable socioeconomic development models.  Among other things, the Panel had recommended the establishment of a multi-agency coordinating mechanism — to be known as “UN Urban” — to champion the urban agenda across the United Nations, as well as the enhancement of UN-Habitat’s role as a focal point on sustainable urbanization and reporting.

Rosario Robles, Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development of Mexico and the Panel’s other Co-Chair, said the group had examined UN-Habitat’s evolution and its broader context within the United Nations system, carrying out broad consultations with Member States and stakeholders in New York and Nairobi.  Strengthening the programme was a priority, she said, with the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda serving as its road map.

Following those remarks, the Assembly held two interactive panel discussions, which were moderated by Manish Bapna, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of World Resources Institute.  They focused, respectively, on UN-Habitat’s normative and operational mandates and its governance structure and financial capacity.  Panellists, representing a wide array of Governments and civil society organizations, responded to questions and comments posed by Member States, especially regarding the High-level Panel’s recommendations.

The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 6 September, to hold two additional panel discussions and conclude its remaining work.

Opening Remarks

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said today’s discussion was particularly important considering the unprecedented urbanization taking place all over the world.  “The draw of social and economic opportunity that cities possess is the magnet that has led to nearly 1.4 billion more people living in urban areas today than just two decades ago,” he said, adding that two thirds of the world’s population was projected to live in cities in just 30 years.  Cities generated about 80 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), turning the wheels of industry and serving as major catalysts for trade, economic growth and development.

Nevertheless, he warned, many cities were failing to keep pace with the rapid rate of change.  Many relied on deteriorating infrastructure, inadequate urban planning and services and outdated legal and environmental protections, and many suffered dire consequences such as poverty, exclusion, violence and unrest.  Indeed, he stressed, cities today hosted over 1.6 billion people without adequate housing, 2 billion affected by water stress and 2.4 billion without access to adequate sanitation services.  “Our urgent attention is required,” he said, noting that the New Urban Agenda adopted in Quito, Ecuador, in 2016 represented a major breakthrough in efforts to address those issues.

“The Agenda sets the global standard for sustainable urban development, reshaping how we think, plan, manage and ultimately live in our cities,” he said.  It would help build cities and human settlements that were safe, inclusive, resilient and sustainable, assisting Governments and the international community to progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  In that regard, he urged Member States to capitalize on the enormous social and economic opportunities presented by mass urbanization to lift people out of poverty, drive inclusive economic growth, promote equality, strengthen community resilience and effectively combat climate change.

To achieve those goals, he continued, it would be critical to strengthen strategic partnerships between various stakeholders and leverage them to ensure adequate financing.  The task of harnessing the exponential power of science, technology and innovation was also crucial.  The United Nations system must be able to effectively serve Member States in achieving those universal agendas, with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) strongly positioned to support the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.  In that context, he pledged to present a summary of the present meeting to the General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) for its consideration and action.

AMINA J. MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, described cities as hubs of promise and innovation, generating more than 80 per cent of global GDP.  But, they were also epicentres of the challenges facing sustainable development, she said, adding that the battle of sustainability would be won or lost in cities.  Cities encouraged their residents to work towards increased tolerance and coexistence, but, sadly, the global response to the promise of urbanization had been inadequate, with inequality growing in the global North and South and the urban share of global poverty rising.

The ambitious character of the 2030 Agenda required a nimble United Nations, she said, adding that UN-Habitat could be a litmus test for the Organization’s reform.  The High-level Independent Panel, through its report, had responded to the Secretary-General’s request for bold recommendations, which he had taken note of in the development of a concrete strategy that would ensure that UN-Habitat was fit for purpose.  She said UN-Habitat must play a leading role to ensure urban expertise was strong across the United Nations system, serving as the right vehicle for the establishment of a new urban coordination mechanism.  The report also called for a greater alignment with regional commissions and for country teams to work with cities and local authorities to implement the New Urban Agenda.  Funding was also addressed in the report.  The future UN-Habitat should focus on leaving no one behind, she said, stating that the Organization was not delivering sufficiently in cities and that she counted on a renewed commitment to lead in urban areas.

JOAN CLOS, Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, said the Panel’s recommendations would provide Member States with useful guidance while leading to a revitalized UN-Habitat that was better able to provide support in implementing both the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.  “This is a defining moment for UN-Habitat,” he said, noting that it was the first United Nations programme to be assessed in the context of new organizational reforms.  Following the New Urban Agenda’s adoption in 2016, there was an increasing recognition of the strategic relevance of urbanization in the face of new global challenges, including climate change and the widening of inequalities.  “If well conducted, urbanization can be a productive part of the process”, and an important part of the solution to those challenges, he said.

Noting that UN-Habitat would play a key role in providing guidance and support on complex and sometimes counter-intuitive urbanization policies, he said the agency had, in recent years, worked to become leaner, more focused and more strategic.  More countries were requesting its support as today poverty, exclusion and other barriers to peace were affecting both developing and developed nations around the world.  Three quarters of the world’s poor people now lived in middle‑income countries and 75 per cent of refugees and internally displaced persons lived in urban areas — in both developing and developed countries — around the world.  Recent natural hazards related to climate change had affected several countries.  Endorsing the Secretary-General’s focus on prevention, he said it would also be critical to “do more with less” while also ensuring that UN-Habitat had the resources necessary to help nations address the challenges presented by urbanization.

Pointing out that unplanned urbanization often resulted in slums, he said many complex factors must be addressed simultaneously and integrated in order to achieve urbanization that would help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  That included such disciplines as urban planning, governance, architecture, science and technology and others.  As the main difficulties of implementation often lay with local players, his agency was working to bridge the gap between organizational and normative work, and should emerge from the United Nations reform process as a more powerful instrument to help cities around the world better adapt to the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Report of High-level Independent Panel

ROSARIO ROBLES, Secretary of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development of Mexico and Co-Chair of the High-level Independent Panel to Assess and Enhance the Effectiveness of UN-Habitat, introduced her group’s report (document A/71/1006), stating that many of its recommendations were in line with the Secretary-General’s proposals for reforming the United Nations development system.  The Panel examined the evolution of UN-Habitat and its broader context within the United Nations system, carrying out broad consultations with Member States and stakeholders in New York and Nairobi.  Strengthening UN-Habitat was a priority, she said, with the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda serving as its road map, particularly regarding Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, focusing on leaving no one behind.

She underscored the need for UN-Habitat to promote the importance of sustainable urban development, with operational efforts linking to normative priorities, working at the local level with a global perspective.  Addressing social inclusion was key, she said, noting that the Panel recommended a more territorial focus on metropolitan areas that avoided an over-simplification of rural-urban dichotomy.  UN-Habitat should also explore and strengthen relationships with local governments, civil society, country teams, regional economic commissions and the private sector.  A commitment must be made to a paradigm shift that imagined a different way of doing things, she said, adding that it was incumbent for everyone to come together on a single agenda.

MPHO PARKS TAU, President of United Cities and Local Governments and South African Local Governments Association and Co-Chair of the Panel, emphasized his conviction, as a local leader, to harness the New Urban Agenda as a framework for sustainable development across the world.  Describing a broad consensus on the Panel of the need to acknowledge the “megatrend” of urbanization, as well as on the need to shift from ineffective, exclusionary and unsustainable socioeconomic development models to more sustainable and equitable ones — sometimes known as the “next great transformation” — he said the future of humanity was contingent upon the way urban and local challenges were addressed around the world.  At the same time, “the urban” must be understood in the broadest sense, including metropolitan areas, intermediary cities, peri-urban areas and their rural surroundings.  “We should challenge the artificial urban-rural dichotomy”, and find a way to mainstream a territorial approach to development across the United Nations, he said.

Calling for a “total change” in the Organization’s approach to development, he said the involvement of non-State actors and local governments must be taken to a different level.  Given the adequate resources and with the full ownership of Member States, UN-Habitat could continue to play a significant role in bridging that gap, he said, recommending that a formal role for subnational governments be established through a Committee of Local Governments and a similar committee for stakeholders.  Meanwhile, a multi-agency coordinating mechanism, “UN Urban”, should be set up to champion the urban agenda across the United Nations, and UN-Habitat’s role as a focal point on sustainable urbanization and reporting should be realized and enhanced.  “The ‘UN Urban’ proposal seeks to contribute to make the United Nations fit for purpose in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda,” he added.

Interactive Panel I

The high-level meeting then held an interactive panel on the theme “the positioning of UN-Habitat in the effective implementation of the New Urban Agenda”.  Moderated by Manis Bapna, Executive Vice-President and Managing Director, World Resources Institute, it featured presentations by Ms. Robles; František Ružička, former Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the United Nations; and Pontso S. M. Sekatle, Member of Parliament, Lesotho.

Opening the discussion, Mr. Bapna said the panel would focus on the normative and operational mandate of UN-Habitat and that agency’s work with Governments and stakeholders.

Ms. ROBLES elaborated on the Panel’s recommendation that UN-Habitat’s focus should be redirected to a more metropolitan or territorial approach, saying that such areas produced the greatest share of GDP in most countries, as well as containing the greatest degrees of inequality.  UN-Habitat’s mandate must be strengthened and expanded in response to a new reality of greater urbanization, with all the complexities that the involved.

Mr. RUŽIČKA emphasized the interlinkage between the normative and operational work of UN-Habitat, as well as the importance of strong leadership and quality resources.  The focus should be on improving the normative and operational aspects of the agency’s work.  He added that, while the United Nations was an organization of Member States, much more involvement on the part of cities was required.

Ms. ROBLES said UN-Habitat must become more proactive.  With road maps like the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda, it could not just react to what Governments asked it to do.  It must have a plethora of proposals on those which dealt with implementing those two agendas.

Ms. SEKATLE praised UN-Habitat’s role in raising Member States’ awareness of rural migrants in cities, a challenge addressed by the New Urban Agenda.  The Panel was under no illusion that UN-Habitat was the only United Nations agency to address sustainable urbanization.  It was further recognized that the United Nations system had yet to define a strategy or mechanism for addressing the implementation of the New Urban Agenda.  UN-Habitat could take a leadership role in supporting Member States, United Nations agencies and others to implement the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, providing guidance and tools for improving work at the country level.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Mexico described the metropolitan approach as an innovation that could lead discussion on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of the United States said her country agreed with much of the Panel’s report, adding that the New Urban Agenda was too much of a task for just one entity.

The representative of India referred to the growing diversity of cities and the need for a territorial approach.

The representative of the Russian Federation asked how UN-Habitat planned to work with local authorities towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, emphasizing that UN-Habitat should be working with national-level bodies.

Two representatives of civil society, speaking via video presentations, asked about the tools and resources to be used for establishing a normative approach, and how UN-Habitat could enhance relationships and empower local governments in implementing the New Urban Agenda.

Ms. SEKATLE, responding to the Russian Federation’s delegate, said the level of authority of local governments varied from country to country.  However, the United Nations sought to be inclusive, and for UN-Habitat, that meant working with stakeholders at the subnational level.  It was time for local governments to be part and parcel of the agency’s meetings and work.

Mr. ROBLES said it was essential to empower local governments.  Mechanisms for their participation in the United Nations system, and especially in UN-Habitat, needed to be found.  She noted that UN-Habitat could not be the only entity responsible for implementing the New Urban Agenda.  A cross-cutting vision was needed that included the entire United Nations system, with leadership from UN-Habitat.

Mr. RUŽIČKA said diversity and inclusivity were sensitive questions with many nuances.  Platforms needed to be created for the active participation of local authorities and cities, enabling them to share their experiences while taking diversity into consideration.

Interactive Panel II

The Assembly’s second panel discussion, focused on UN-Habitat’s governance structure and financing capability, was also moderated by Mr. Bapna.  It featured four panellists:  Mr. Tau; Dian Triansyah, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations; Peter Calthorpe, architect, urban designer, urban planner and founding member of the Congress for a New Urbanism; and Sheel Patel, Founder and Director of the Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres.

Opening the discussion, Mr. BAPNA asked Mr. Calthorpe to describe UN‑Habitat’s governance structure, as well as its main challenges and opportunities.

Mr. CALTHORPE responded that one of the largest challenges was to align UN‑Habitat’s governance structure in such a way that elevated the importance of urbanization and was aligned with the New Urban Agenda.  Key elements of that structure were the Panel’s recommendations regarding universal membership and the establishment of “UN Urban” as a way of integrating various United Nations entities, local Governments, non-State actors and other stakeholders.  Indeed, urbanization was a broad issue that inevitably intersected with social, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities.

Asked to provide more insight into the universal membership proposal, Mr. DJANI said the world was changing to become more interlinked and more inclusive.  Creative approaches were needed to reflect those changes in the governance structures of the various United Nations entities, he said, pointing out that UN-Habitat’s long-standing Governing Council only met every two years.  The new structure would provide for more frequent meetings, while universality would boost countries’ sense of belonging and ownership, he said, expressing hope that it would also lead to increases in funding contributions.

Responding to a question about the role of the “UN Urban” structure, Mr. TAU underlined the importance of focusing UN-Habitat around its specific mandates, and implementation of the New Urban Agenda.  In that context, UN Urban should be viewed not as an agency or programme, but instead as a coordination and collaboration mechanism that would help UN-Habitat — as well as other relevant funds and programmes — enhance its effectiveness.

Ms. PATEL, responding to questions related to the 2030 Agenda’s strong focus on urbanization, said she had long felt that the United Nations had to make urbanization central to its work.  That represented a major challenge not only for UN-Habitat but for the entire United Nations system and many other stakeholders, she said, calling for the establishment of a “common language” in that regard.  Her organization’s stakeholders had lobbied the Organization to address such difficult questions, she said, adding that meetings like the one today would help to lay those foundations.

Mr. BAPNA then asked all the panellists to provide more information about the Panel’s recommendations on financing.  To that, Mr. DJANI replied that entities across the United Nations were in dire need of resources.  “We need to make sure one dollar goes a very long way,” as well as to “make UN-Habitat sexy enough” that Governments would provide financial contributions.  That meant ensuring its structure was strong and closely linked to local governments.  The recommendation to establish a trust fund for urbanization would require strong accountability and transparency, he added.

Mr. CALTHORPE underlined the importance of cost effectiveness, noting that one investment must be able to solve many problems.  Strong cost effectiveness led more donors to invest, and new coalitions came about when several stakeholders all saw potential.

Mr. TAU, emphasizing the importance of increasing non-earmarked funding to UN-Habitat, said a significant proportion of its funding must be directed to normative and operational functions.  The Panel had not made recommendations on the percentage of funding that should go to those areas, as they were closely interlinked and funds must be flexible enough to ensure UN-Habitat produced strong outputs.

Ms. PATEL said the cost of indifference to the challenges presented by urbanization were high.  Expectations and demands must change, as must the funding paradigm.  “You don’t always have to spend a lot of money to leverage a lot of money,” she said, encouraging stakeholders to change the way they thought about financing.  “There is no shortage of money in this world,” she said.

In that context, Mr. BAPNA recalled that discussions about the costs of inaction on climate change had shifted to a focus on the benefits of action, noting that a similar transition could soon take place in urbanization.

As the floor was opened for questions and comments, many speakers agreed on the need to enhance system-wide coordination on urban issues.  However, many voiced concern about the establishment of a new mechanism — namely, UN Urban — for that purpose, as well as about the proposal to universalize UN-Habitat’s membership.

The representative of Colombia expressed support for the transformation of UN-Habitat’s Governing Council, but pointed out that the details of that change were not outlined in the Panel’s report.  While Colombia supported the Programme’s universalization, she recalled that the recent case of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) shift to universal membership had revealed a number of challenges.  The New Urban Agenda must address real concerns related to energy, water and other critical issues.  There was a need for reflection on all of those issues, she said.

The representative of the Russian Federation stressed that UN-Habitat’s reform must be carried out “in an evolutionary way, not a revolutionary way”.  Its existing structure should be improved instead of adding parallel governance structures.  Such a reform was too complex, too costly and would ultimately prove ineffective, he warned.

The representative of Botswana agreed that the proposal to create a UN Urban body could result in a false dichotomy between the urban agenda and the rural development agenda, as it gave the impression that there was more urgency in addressing the former.  In addition, it was unclear what the relationship between UN Urban and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs would be, she said.

The representative of Ethiopia asked whether coordination could be enhanced within a strengthened and reformed UN-Habitat, rather than creating a new structure.  He also wondered why some new structures would be headquartered in New York rather than with the other UN-Habitat offices in Nairobi.

The representative of Finland expressed support for enhanced coordination across the 2030 Agenda, but agreed that the establishment of a new body for that purpose might not be the best way forward at this time.  In that regard, she recommended that a comparative analysis be conducted to identify ways to strengthen interagency coordination within existing structures.

The representative of the United States, seconding many of those comments, said any such analysis must examine all costs and benefits.  Her delegation opposed the expansion to universal membership, which would dilute UN-Habitat’s effectiveness, she said, warning against “putting the cart before the horse” in that regard.

Responding to some of those questions and comments, Mr. CALTHORPE expressed surprise that so much attention, including in the press, was focused on the establishment of UN Urban.  Under that proposal, UN-Habitat would remain the primary structure for all operational work, while a responsive body located in New York would only enhance coordination and provide support.

Mr. TAU said it was encouraging that many delegations supported enhanced transversal coordination in the United Nations urban agenda.  The question now was what kind of structure would best accomplish that goal.  While UN Urban’s “sexy name” might be uncomfortable for Member States, its purpose was simply to boost coordination and cooperation in a manner focused on urban issues.

Mr. DJANI, recalling that 40 United Nations organizations had been involved in the Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, agreed with other speakers that better coordination systems were needed among those widely varied bodies.  “This is a sort of meeting, not the creation of a new body,” he said, referring to the establishment of UN Urban.  The main idea in creating that mechanism, as well as in establishing UN-Habitat’s universal membership, was to elevate urban issues on the global stage.

News

Concluding Session, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Adopts Ministerial Declaration Aimed at Expediting Fulfilment of 2030 Agenda

Language on Multilateral Trading System, Obstacles to Self-Determination of People Living Under Foreign Occupation Retained Following Recorded Votes

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development today adopted a Ministerial Declaration aimed at accelerating the pace of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to lift millions out of poverty, as it closed its 2017 session.

Closing its session on the theme of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges, the Forum, by the Declaration (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2), recognized that achieving the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals required bolstered partnerships and urgent action.

However, some speakers representing blocs of countries expressed regret at the omission of key issues in the Declaration.  Ecuador’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was unfortunate that despite a number of proposals some States had made, there was no mention of harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  Echoing a concern shared by other groups of countries, Estonia’s delegate, speaking for the European Union, said that while the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development, many issues that the bloc had been promoted were absent, among them the root causes of migration and issues such as sexual and reproductive health rights.

High-level officials, by adopting the declaration, recognized that eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity required collective and transformative efforts, putting the furthest behind first.  They also acknowledged that while extreme poverty had fallen globally, progress had been uneven and 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty.

Prior to adopting the Declaration, the Forum decided, by separate recorded vote, to retain two paragraphs.  By a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 4, which called for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continued to adversely affect their economic and social development and their environment.

With 112 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 46 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 21.  That paragraph stated that efforts would continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

The Declaration as a whole, adopted without a vote, addressed a number of 2030 Agenda-related issues, touching upon the 17 Goals.  Stressing that climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, it also recognized pressing challenges to achieve Goals related to gender equality, food insecurity and the role infrastructure, industry and innovation could play in transforming and improving the quality of life for millions.

In terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Declaration stated “there can be no effective implementation, or accountability to our citizens, where no awareness exists.”  It also emphasized the need to take appropriate action towards localizing and communicating all the Goals from grassroots to national levels.

That notion was addressed during the ministerial segment, when ministers and other high-level officials shared experiences and fresh ideas for turning the 2030 Agenda into reality in their countries.  Maria Luisa Navarro, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, summed up a common thread of the day’s discussion, saying “you can govern in a way that reduces poverty” as she pointed to a range of national initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.

Many speakers from developing countries underlined the importance of partnerships in advancing progress on achieving the Goals.  Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized.  To change that, the international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.

Some speakers underlined the need to foster change and progress in other areas of concern, including gender equality and climate change.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” said Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland.  That translated into implementing the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance and as a road map for domestic action.

Likewise, William Amos of Canada said domestic action had been aligned with the Goals.  Abroad, Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and was executing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address gender inequality.

Throughout the day, the Council heard voluntary national reviews from representatives of Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Maldives, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Belize, Denmark, Togo, Iran, Cyprus, Botswana, Qatar, Slovenia, Tajikistan and El Salvador.

Participating in the general debate of the ministerial segment were ministers and other senior officials for Cyprus, Sweden, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Estonia, Brazil, Argentina, Sudan, Morocco, Croatia, Hungary, United States, Kenya, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Georgia, Latvia, Algeria, France, Colombia and China.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, 20 July to continue its high-level segment.

General debate

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that empirical evidence had shown that countries and regions that had successfully developed their manufacturing sector had made spectacular progress in poverty reduction.  In developing countries, sustainable industrialization had enabled lasting and inclusive economic growth.  It had also significantly helped to reduce poverty, end hunger, create decent jobs and income, and reduce inequalities.  Unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized. 

To get on the path to economic transformation, least developed countries must overcome challenges such as low industrial capacity, lack of access to appropriate technology and knowledge, inadequate capacity to ensure high-quality environmental standards in industry, and the difficulty of attracting investment in nascent industry, he continued.  The international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.  He highlighted the role of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in assisting developing countries in designing and implementing industrial policies and enhancing local productive capacities.  However, despite its unique role, the organization had witnessed a decreasing membership over the past years, he added, calling for a reversal of that trend.

NICOS KOUYIALIS, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, said the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals were not binding did not relieve the international community from the responsibility to work towards their implementation.  Action must be taken through national development strategies and the appropriate resource mobilization.  That must include the involvement of civil society and the private sector.  He outlined several national programmes aimed at development of the social, tourism, and rural sectors.  Further to the national policies, Cyprus recognized its role in regional cooperation for achieving a number of targets, primarily Goal 14 on seas and oceans.  Cyprus had taken the initiative with Greece and Israel to draft an action plan that aimed to address marine pollution from oil spills.

ARDALAN SHEKARABI, Minister for Public Administration of Sweden, said that delivering on the agenda required leadership.  He added that Sweden’s foreign policy on gender equality was based on four Rs:  rights, representation, resources, and reality. It advocated reproduction rights and gender equality as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.  Sweden remained the largest donor per capita to the Green Climate Fund.  “We cannot afford to leave our people and our planet behind,” he continued, adding that leadership was about sharing the burden.  The Ocean Conference in June had stimulated cooperation and partnerships, which were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.  Decent work contributed to reducing inequality, he added.  Solutions to challenges could be found in many places, including within the United Nations and other international organizations as well as regional platforms.

ÁLVARO GARCÍA, Minister of Budget and Planning of Uruguay, said that no matter how small a country was, it could still implement change that could affect humanity for the better.  The Sustainable Development Goals had become national objectives that required State cooperation.  Uruguay was working in a cross-cutting fashion across its ministries, which had all committed to implementing the targets.  “We must work as a collective, hand-in-hand if we are to achieve the goals established,” he added, emphasising the need to work with civil society.  Additionally, the academic sphere had a critical role to play in identifying the root causes of poverty.  The private sector and official development assistance (ODA) were both imperative in filling national capacity gaps.  Development was multifaceted, he added.

PATRICK A. CHINAMASA, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe, said the Sustainable Development Goals represented a way to address core challenges, including infrastructure and economic growth.  As such, the Goals had been integrated into national plans.  Recognizing the need for partnerships was a key to achieving progress and national efforts were benefiting from collaboration with partners in the areas of health, gender equality and sustainable development.  National priorities were also informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and other relevant strategies.

ADO LOHMUS, Deputy Minister for Environment of Estonia, emphasized the importance of science, technology and innovation.  In that vein, the Government was operating programmes to ensure progress in those areas, including by working towards creating a digital society and supporting e-Government initiatives.  Smart e-solutions were not limited by borders and cooperation and coordination was needed on a global scale.  Pointing at the textile industry as an example, he said efforts should be made to reduce pollution levels and foster solutions.

MARIA LUISA NAVARRO, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, said national efforts had been presented in the voluntary review process.  “You can govern in a way that reduces poverty,” she said, pointing to initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.  Panama had worked to ensure the better mobilization of finances and strengthened institutions to maintain competitiveness.  It had also made progress in complying with international fiscal standards, bringing in domestic legislation in that regard.  Panama was moving from being a recipient to being a donor and could not afford to see any gains reversed.  A major goal now was to ensure that more women and girls participated in the process.

JOSE ANTONIO MARCONDES DE CARVALHO, Vice-Minister for Environment, Energy, Service and Technology of Brazil, said establishing a national framework for implementing the Goals was essential.  Relevant public policies and action would guide the way to ensure that no one was left behind.  Going forward, inclusive approaches were needed.  Brazil, emerging from a recession, was now working to restore order in public finance in a way that would have a positive impact on employment levels.  The Forum had provided an opportunity for Brazil to focus on finding solutions, with the 2030 Agenda being a road map.  All stakeholders must now adjust actions with a view to achieving the Goals set the 2030 Agenda.

GABRIELA AGOSTO, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies of Argentina, said Latin America was the most unequal region in the world.  The 2030 Agenda enshrined a commitment applicable to all nations.  Argentina would continue to work toward achieving the 2030 Agenda and share its national experience.  The 2030 Agenda required the participation of national Governments, the business sector, civil society and the academic world.  Developing nations needed support in technology and in enhancing capabilities.  She noted the formation of a national cabinet whose ultimate goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the need for public institutions which were democratic and inclusive.  Achieving gender equality and empowering women was a top goal for Argentina, she said, outlining several initiatives including one that made it easier for women to enter the labour market.  She added that the most vulnerable people must be empowered.

IBRAHIM ADAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED, State Minister of Welfare and Social Security of the Sudan, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and the African Group, said that his Government had implemented a comprehensive framework for development, peace and prosperity.  Sudan had not been able to implement all of its goals but had set up a national mechanism to follow up on the progress.  It also established a five-year economic reform plan and economic policies in favour of disadvantaged people.  A fund had been set up to protect women and children.  Food security remained a focus both at the national and regional levels, he continued, adding that his country had been focused on development for many years.  However, unilateral sanctions, the burden of debt, illegal migration, desertification and internal displacement hampered Sudan’s capacity.  “We need external assistance,” he added.

NEZHA EL OUAFI, Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development of Morocco, said that while efforts had been made to implement the 2030 Agenda, many challenges persisted.  They required the international community’s attention and action.  “By 2030, we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals but everyone needs to get on board,” she added.  Morocco was working in the legislative and legal spheres to protect the environment.  Setting up a green economy by 2030 required increasing the use renewable electricity.  She also stressed the need to combat all forms of discrimination against women.  All stakeholders must be involved, including the private sector and representatives of civil society.

AMIR MUHAREMI, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said that as a Mediterranean country, Croatia was keen on protecting ocean, sea and marine resources.  There were several challenges, including growing urbanization of coastal areas, overfishing and global climate change.  It was critical to keep increasing the level of knowledge and introduction of new marine technologies.  Peace was a prerequisite to eliminating poverty, he added, also pledging his country’s continued fight against chronic non-communicable diseases.  Croatia also aimed to promote healthy lifestyles.  Ending hunger required tackling the great amount of food waste, he said, adding that Croatia was actively helping develop European Union guidelines in facilitating food donations.

ANDREW DOYLE, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland, said 2030 Agenda was being implemented domestically and with partners abroad.  Developing country partners’ efforts were being supported, using the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” he said, noting the detrimental effects on fragile States and vulnerable groups.  “As challenges for poor communities intensify, Ireland will continue to focus in particular on action to help such communities to adapt and, in the longer term, to end extreme poverty, hunger and undernutrition by 2030.”

FERENC DANCS, Deputy Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said national implementation steps included determining priorities and strategies to ensure a sustainable future.  Hungary held conferences on related issues, including trafficking and child labour, to examine ways to address challenges.  Several new policies had aimed at, among other things, strengthening child-care services and employment.  Gains had also been made in health-related areas.  Abroad, Hungary was helping developing countries in their effort to lift people out of poverty.

WILLIAM AMOS, Member of Parliament of Canada, said domestic priorities were aligned with the Goals and included investing in infrastructure, renewing a relationship with indigenous peoples and reaching gender balance targets.  Abroad, Canada was implementing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address inequality.  Priority areas included promoting respect for sexual and reproductive health rights and women’s economic rights.  Turning to climate change, he said Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Moving forward on all the Goals, innovative and new ways must address financing gaps to ensure the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

NERISSA COOK, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations of the United States, underlined the importance of identifying steps required for progress.  Efforts must ensure that the United Nations system remained effective, she said, calling on the Organization to better coordinate its work.  “We need a new way of doing business,” she said, one that would lead to cost-cutting and more results.  Reduction of overlap must occur and there must be a push to stop the tired, stale debates at United Nations Headquarters and focus on those in need.  Initial progress had been seen, but more should be done to make the United Nations even better than it was with regard to achieving development goals.

WILSON IRUNGU NYAKERA, Principal Secretary, State Department for Planning, Ministry of Devolution of Kenya, said Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s long-term development blueprint, mirrored the 2030 Agenda.  Underscoring the need for quality, reliable and timely data, he said that Kenya was building the capacity of its Bureau of Statistics to allow for effective reporting on the implementation of the Goals.  Kenya continued to put in place targeted economic empowerment programmes aimed at specific segments of the population, particularly the youth, women and persons living with disabilities.  To ensure universal access to comprehensive health care, the National Hospital Insurance Fund had been reformed to include the introduction of free maternal health in all public health facilities and to address disparities among regions.  In addition, the country had adopted a devolved system of Government that had decentralized both services and resources to the subnational levels.  Kenya recognized the critical role of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation in the achievement of its long-term development goals and had instituted programmes to empower youth to enable them to participate effectively in productive economic activities.

ALENA SABELOVA, Director-General, Office of the Government of Slovakia, said the world did not have the “luxury to even waste one day” in the fight against poverty.  It was clear that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would require open minds in the area of policymaking.  While progress had been made, there was still a long way to go.  Slovakia was ready to carry its sustainable development responsibilities in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.  The Government had already adopted a national strategy with help from the academic sector and it would convene next week to discuss a road map for achieving the 2030 Agenda.  Slovakia’s national framework aimed to engage all stakeholders, particularly civil society.  “No real progress can be achieved without paying attention to those most in need,” she added.  A complex review mechanism, soon to be introduced, would help ensure that resources were being used in the most effective manner.

JEONG JINKYU, Director-General of the Development Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, noted efforts to improve domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda as well as the country’s efforts to help developing nations achieve the Goals.  The Republic of Korea was deeply interested in providing assistance to the most vulnerable, although efforts to combat poverty, however laudable, would fall well short of achieving prosperity without fairness, justice and equal opportunities for all.  Government efforts alone would not be enough to realize the vision of poverty eradication, and in that context the private sector’s contribution to and participation in development cooperation was of great importance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT of the United Kingdom, associating himself with the European Union, said no task was more urgent than eradicating extreme poverty.  However, Governments alone would not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We need the private sector to be there with us,” he said.  Meeting the goals also depended highly on how the multilateral system responded to global challenges.  The United Kingdom would continue to aid those caught in crises and at risk of violence.  It would also strengthen its work on gender equality and boost its focus on helping persons with disabilities and combating child exploitation.  He stressed the need to deepen understanding of vulnerable populations and partner with civil society and the private sector.  Delivering a short statement on behalf of the Champions of Women’s Economic Empowerment, comprising 17 Member States, he said more must be done to address the gender opportunity gap worldwide. Governments must push structural change, he continued, encouraging Member States to consider the group’s recommendations in their national plans.

NINO TKHILAVA, Head of the Department of Environment Policy and International Relations, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, said his Government had recently established a council that brought together task forces committed to planning, monitoring and evaluating policy.  Georgia had also improved the environment for entrepreneurs and was promoting green growth.  It was also taking specific measures to alleviate extreme poverty, including with a social assistance programme which provided cash benefits for those living in extreme poverty.  Georgia had also taken steps to expand access to health care with a programme that covered the basic package of planned and emergency in-and-out-patient clinical care, including oncology and maternity services.  On the agriculture front, the Government was working to foster competitiveness and it was promoting the steady growth of high-quality food production.  Georgia was also focused on ways to ensure gender equality and empower women.

MARA SIMANE, Adviser, Cross-sectoral Coordination Centre, Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia, associating herself with the European Union, said that the time had come for pragmatic action.  That meant mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda into national budgets and plans.  Latvia had created its own development programme in 2010, under which it fully supported policy coherence, the effective use of resources and building synergies.  However, to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, strengthened United Nations action would be vitally important.  Latvia continued to support the targets on gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies as those Goals accelerated achievement of all the other ones.  Latvia also supported public sector reform and combating corruption.  She noted the 2030 Agenda’s universal nature and said that today’s global challenges transcended borders.  In the same vein, results would depend on attention to detail and leaders who could make critical choices, she added.  

BELHIMEUR MERZAK, Director-General of International Economic and Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said that it was up to the international community to gain consensus and overcome inertia and procrastination.  Eradicating poverty was a top priority in his country’s development policies, he continued, adding that Algeria had achieved almost all the Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 deadline.  In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, Algeria had set up a national strategy with human well-being at its centre.  Social programmes aimed to protect the most vulnerable by combating the negative impacts of natural disasters, building low-cost housing, and helping young people find jobs. Implementing the 2030 Agenda would require international commitment, particularly in Africa where 40 per cent of the population still lived in poverty.  The United Nations had a major role to play in raising-awareness and advocacy.

HATEM CHAKROUN (France) said national and international efforts included steps such as building a Sustainable Development Goals’ community and selecting indicators most relevant for domestic action.  The 2030 Agenda was a new social contract aimed at getting all stakeholders involved.  Succeeding in energy, environmental and territorial efforts were essential to protect the planet.  France had launched an appeal in June to call for a new global pact for the environment.  That pact would render ongoing efforts easier because all related principles would be enshrined in one text.  Climate partners must strengthen their collective efforts to ensure future success.

MARIA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said ambitious results must be achieved and greater action was needed to achieve genuine sustainable development.  Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would make a decisive contribution towards achieving the Goals, including respecting their sexual and reproductive rights.  If that happened, the global economy would be more dynamic.  Without an international environment that fostered the movement of financial flows, it would be impossible to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  In addition, all stakeholders must participate in what should be an inclusive effort.

LIU JIEYI (China) said development must be a priority and countries needed to align their strategies with the 2030 Agenda.  Major international cooperative initiatives should help countries in their efforts to move ahead and States must work towards a global partnership.  Developed countries must honour their aid commitments and provide more access to assistance for other countries.  All countries must work to create a new type of international relations concerning climate change issues.  For its part, China was taking steps to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Adoption of Ministerial Declaration

The Forum then turned to the ministerial declaration on the theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2).  A vote was requested on operative paragraph 4.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said he called for a vote due to the politicized language contained in the paragraph.  Such language aimed to single out Israel and shine a spotlight on a highly controversial issue that did not belong in the Economic and Social Council.  Israel had constructively engaged in the Forum’s informal negotiations and opposed making the Forum yet another political battleground against Israel.

By a recorded vote of 104 in favour, to eight against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, operative paragraph 4 was retained. 

Another recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 21, with the results as follows:  112 in favour to one against (United States), with 46 abstentions, which meant the paragraph was retained.  

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Mexico said it was absurd to reiterate the fact that the rights of women and children were human rights.  Some delegations felt uncomfortable speaking of gender equality and the empowerment of women.  “We cannot understand why people do not understand that without women and girls our societies could not grow or prosper,” he added.  It was skewed practice to analyse one group of goals rather than all of them together.  He expressed support for paragraph 21.  Noting that some delegations were trying to change the Addis Ababa Action Plan, he said it was not the right place nor time to reopen what had already been agreed.  The Paris Agreement on climate change must be upheld as well.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, reaffirmed support to the World Trade Organization.  Public policy and mobilizing the effective use of domestic resources was central to the common pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Plan, core objectives to meeting those goals were omitted from the Ministerial Declaration.  It was for that reason his country and others had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Japan, in explanation of vote, said his country had not broken the silence procedure as it accepted the draft as a whole, though some parts were not satisfactory.  Paragraph 21 was not balanced and had focused too much on economic models.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized the importance of self-determination and sovereignty.  Unfortunately, several issues of concern did not appear in the Ministerial Declaration, including issues such as harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  On the means of implementation, the text had not included fundamental issues such as acknowledgement of the need to have an economically enabling environment and the need for States to honour their ODA obligations.  However, the Group had supported the text to demonstrate its commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development.  Yet, many issues that the bloc had promoted were absent.  He regretted to say that there was no mention of the root causes of migration.  Even though references to gender equality appeared early in the text, he expressed dissatisfaction in the way the issue was handled.  For instance, paragraph 17 did not align with Goal 5.  The 2030 Agenda had already identified Goal 5.3, 5.6 and 5.8 as integral to progress.  Leaving out issues such as sexual and reproductive rights was not acceptable.

The representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China as well as the Alliance of Small Island States, said that while the outcome document was not perfect, it best reflected consensus after weeks of consultations.  Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it was important to be conscious of the fact that “time is not on our side”.  Small island developing States required particular support and assistance as they worked to achieve the 2030 Agenda as well as the Samoa Pathway.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Albania, Andorra Iceland, Monaco and New Zealand, said the language on Goal 5 on empowering women and girls departed from the 2030 Agenda.  The 2030 Agenda had recognized the link between achieving both gender equality and sustainable development, she continued, expressing concern that the elimination of harmful practices carried out against women and girls was omitted from the Declaration.  Such language was essential as women continued to be denied their basic human rights.  While she had joined today’s consensus, that “did not mean we accept a weakening of what we agreed to”.  It was imperative that Member States demonstrate the highest calibre of leadership.

The representative of Canada remained concerned that the Declaration’s language failed to reflect what was agreed in the 2030 Agenda.  When leaders gathered in New York in 2015 they committed to taking steps to give women equal rights.  Those commitments remained as critical as ever to “leaving no one behind”.  An estimated $28 trillion was missing from global gross domestic product (GDP) because no country had yet managed to achieve gender equity.  Women and girls deserved to have the same opportunity as men and boys.  Women and girls continued to be subjected to discrimination and violence and did not have access to information they needed to make healthy decisions.

The representative of the United States said she joined Israel in voting against operative paragraph 4 because some Member States had attempted to politicize sustainable development.  On operative paragraph 21 and its mention of the World Trade Organization, she said it was not appropriate for United Nations members to comment on the membership of another international organization, particularly one that was not part of the United Nations.  The United States disassociated itself from portions of paragraph 7 referring to climate change.  She noted President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and reiterated her Government’s openness to renegotiating a text that would be beneficial to the United States.  She also expressed disappointment that trafficking in persons was not mentioned in the Declaration and that women and girls had not been referenced earlier.

The representative of Switzerland said more must be done to avoid holding recorded votes on parts of such declarations.  Switzerland supported some passages of the text on which votes had been called, he said, emphasizing that gender equality and trade were important issues and calling on all delegates to spare no effort to ensure consensus in the future.

The representative of Morocco regretted the absence in the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda’s recognition of territorial integrity, yet in the interest of consensus his delegation had supported the Declaration.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the Declaration reflected interests in a balanced way, disagreed with attempts to interpret issues or to add new points to them.  He regretted to say that for two years, the Forum had been unable to avoid holding recorded votes on paragraphs, as it had today.  That trend would have a negative impact on the perception of the Forum as a platform to implement the Goals, he said, encouraging all States to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Venezuela emphasized the importance of the sovereign and permanent management of natural resources by States and rejected the pillaging of resources in cases of occupation.  Unfortunately, the Palestinian people and those living under foreign occupation could not benefit from their natural resources, he said, also calling for an end of unilateral and coercive economic policies.

The representative of France underscored a legal point, emphasizing that all rights must be enjoyed by all people and not just a few.