|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
5th & 6th Meetings (AM & PM)
Delegates Stress Importance of Multilateral Action for Sustainable
Development as Second Committee Concludes General Debate
Speakers Differ over ‘Green Economy’ amid Fears of New Rich-Poor Divide
While multilateralism had never been more vital, “inertia and deadlock prevailed on critical issues”, the representative of Guyana told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it concluded its general debate.
He stressed the need for a global response to the famine in the Horn of Africa, referring also to the international community’s failure to take decisive action on climate change. In a time of profound change and pervasive uncertainty, there was an opportunity for more effective multilateralism, something to which the Second Committee could contribute, he said.
Several other delegates echoed the idea that multilateralism was important, not only in responding to the current raft of global crises, but also in moving forward on sustainable development in the future. Algeria’s representative noted a general “erosion of interest in multilateralism” at this important time. Calling for the reform and improvement of multinational entities, he warned the countries of the global South that they must take greater responsibility for their own development as official development assistance (ODA) pledges by developed countries failed to materialize. Morocco’s delegate stressed the importance of involving developing countries at the highest level of international decision-making, and of coordinated international action in tackling structural food insecurity problems.
Both speakers pushed for a multilateral approach to climate change, with Algeria’s representative citing the slow progress of negotiations and Morocco’s delegate stating that the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development — known as Rio+20 and scheduled for June 2012 in Brazil — would only be successful if it produced internationally binding agreements and a consensus on the concept of “green economy”.
Several speakers said that as developing countries struggled to stay afloat in the turbulent global economy, there was increased concern that unless countries moved towards a green economy, middle-income and developing countries would be left behind. Expressing concern over that potential gap, Ecuador’s representative warned that a green economy must not become another barrier between the developed and least developed countries.
In contrast, Sri Lanka’s representative said his Government believed in the green economy principles, but only if they rested on the Rio principle of common but differentiated responsibilities based on capabilities, and on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. While wishing to reduce carbon emissions, Sri Lanka and other least developed countries must be allowed to grow without constraints, he said, adding that it was through growth that more climate-friendly technology and processes could be pursued.
Meanwhile, some speakers outlined the steps they had already taken to move towards a green economy. Georgia’s representative said that the backbone of her country’s greener economy could be found in its hydropower potential, adding that hydro energy generation was among its fastest growing sectors. Looking forward, she said Georgia’s green economy would focus on sustainability and poverty eradication.
Several speakers stressed the link between security and growth. Insecurity and the threat of terrorism were the main impediment to the continued development of Afghanistan, that country’s representative said, urging the Committee to consider security’s major role in sustainable development, and the challenges of post-conflict development. He added that Afghanistan had taken enormous strides towards regaining its rightful place in the community of nations since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, “emerging from the ruins of war to build a more functioning Government, a more prosperous economy and a more healthy society”.
The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said Member States should be encouraged to resolve disputes through dialogue and negotiations, and that “sustainable development is inconceivable without a peaceful environment.” He reiterated that only when peace and stability were assured could greater human, financial and technological resources be mobilized for sustainable development.
Tunisia’s delegate said that the country’s enormous potential was still threatened by youth unemployment, which was a heavy burden on the Government. That issue, a global problem and a major threat to international security and stability, had been considered with particular interest by last July’s high-level meeting on youth and unemployment. The delegate of the Democratic Republic of the Congo noted that peacebuilding helped strengthen security, ensure the fair distribution of natural resources, and return internally displaced persons to their respective homes.
The observer for Palestine noted that during last month’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of the Group of Donors to Palestine, reports submitted by the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had affirmed that the Israeli occupation was the main obstacle to Palestine’s development. Further, he stressed that it was time for the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities” and give the necessary attention to the dire situation of the Palestinian people. Based on their common responsibility to protect the right to development for all peoples, Member States should confront and put an end to the illegal policies and practices imposed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people.
Also speaking today were representatives of Israel, Kazakhstan, Viet Nam, Myanmar, South Africa, Ghana, Thailand, Zambia, Benin, El Salvador, San Marino, Iran, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Armenia, Colombia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Guinea.
Other speakers today were representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization, International Labour Organization, World Meteorological Organization, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
The Second Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 10 October, to take up its agenda item “Macroeconomic policy questions”.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to conclude its general debate.
DAVID GOVRIN ( Israel) said that for decades his country had been researching desertification solutions and sharing them with the developing world, with the hope of tackling the challenges of climate change, increasing soil erosion and groundwater management. However, land degradation was increasingly spreading from drylands to the rest of the world, he said. That could be attributed to population growth, increased consumption and increased poverty. Development was a pressing global issue, requiring the attention of the entire international community, he said.
Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, MASHAV, had been working in more than 130 developing countries to advance sustainable social, economic and environmental development, he continued. It focused primarily on development in areas where Israel had a competitive advantage, such as agriculture and rural development, water issues and desertification, microenterprise, public health, the empowerment of women, and education. Israel would host a meeting from 25 to 27 October that would seek to raise awareness of the central role that green agriculture could play in stimulating economic growth and combating poverty. It was hoped that the meeting would also provide a platform for the sharing of expertise and best practices, focusing on agricultural development under conditions of limited natural resources and climate instability.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan), warning that delay in taking measures to resolve the global economic crisis could lead to further instability, both regionally and internationally, called on the United Nations and its Member States to take the lead in designing remedies to mitigate the causes of the crisis. She also proposed the development of a new global regulations pact. She said trade and cargo transportation were of high priority to landlocked developing countries, and the upcoming Fourth Meeting of Trade Ministries of Landlocked Countries, to be held in Almaty next year, would strive to develop effective global cooperation in the development of trade.
Kazakhstan had been able to achieve substantial levels of development thanks to an “early well-chosen visionary strategy”, she said. The recent creation of the customs union, linking Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Russian Federation, had facilitated more streamlined customs procedures for greater movement of citizens, the business sector, capital and goods. A common economic space was under consideration with the goal of generating more goods and services, and hopefully fostering greater coordination of fiscal and tax policies. Eliminating inequalities between developed and developing countries was a “moral and political imperative”.
LE HOAI TRUNG (Viet Nam), associating himself with the Group of 77 developing countries and China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his country’s “mixed feelings” on the current global economy ranged from encouragement over implementation of international development targets, particularly the Millennium Development Goals, to feelings of “deep preoccupation” over slow, unstable growth. He urged the international community collectively and effectively to respond to the global financial and economic crisis, while coordinating and cooperating closely to address challenges on all levels of the international system.
Emphasizing the central importance of the United Nations to the global partnership for development, he said reform of the international financial and monetary architecture needed speeding up, recommending more coherent, representative, responsive and accountable governance to minimize the “domino impact” of problems affecting world economies. Trade was another priority, he stressed, adding that removing distortions and protectionist policies was vital. With stronger political will, the Doha Round of trade negotiations could be concluded to serve global development.
Describing sustainable development and integration of the “three pillars” as a significant challenge, he said environmental protection was at the forefront of his country’s agenda. Viet Nam was also strongly committed to overcoming the obstacles and difficulties of the global economic situation, he said, outlining policies and measures aimed at stimulating inclusive economic recovery and promoting sustainable development. Viet Nam’s course towards realizing most of the Millennium Development Goals was ahead of schedule, he said, noting that poverty had been reduced by half since 2002. Still, complex challenges remained and addressing them required continued international support and assistance.
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), noting the erosion of interest in multilateralism and the need to reform and improve multilateral entities, stressed that the countries of the South must take responsibility for their own development, with the United Nations retaining a central role. With their needs constantly increasing and their resources constantly decreasing, few of the least developed countries had enough natural resources to finance their own development, he said, pointing out that some were entirely dependent on official development assistance (ODA), which had never been sufficient and which had been weakened following “unprecedented restraint” on the part of developed countries.
That called for appropriate new sources of development funding to complement ODA, which remained crucial, he continued, urging developed countries not to use the financial crisis as a pretext for failing to honour their commitments. Multilateral trade must favour development, taking into account the specificities of different countries, in particular net importers of food, which had been significantly affected by the food-price crisis. He warned that rapid population growth was resulting in pockets of poverty that middle-income countries had difficulty absorbing.
He said the recent high-level meeting on desertification, land degradation and drought in the context of sustainable development had acted to make the issue an international priority. With the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP) approaching, a greater reliance on science was needed to help build understanding of the relevant issues, with a view to ensuring “zero growth” in degradation. He also expressed concern over slow progress in climate change negotiations, saying the imperative was to forge new commitments based on the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities.
MUN JONG CHOL (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said each country had the right to determine its own development strategies and policies that were conducive to its national economy and the well-being of its citizens. Each Member State must make efforts to ensure stability and a better future for humankind in accordance with its own national economy, specific conditions and environment. “Sustainable development is inconceivable without a peaceful environment,” he said, reiterating that only when peace and stability were assured could greater human, financial and technological resources be mobilized for sustainable development. However, the international community must be careful not to adopt one universal standard or method for achieving sustainable development, he cautioned.
Condemning the use or threat of force and sanctions, he said they “break peace and stability, infringe upon sovereignty, and violate the right to development of countries”. Instead, nations should be encouraged to use dialogue and negotiation to address disputes, while focusing on the establishment of just and equitable economic relations for the sustainable development of all. The United Nations should play a central role in addressing current issues, including the global economic and financial crisis, and climate change, he said, expressing hope that the Second Committee and the Commission on Sustainable Development would make valuable contributions throughout the preparatory process leading up to Rio+20. For its part, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would continue to expand and develop multifaceted economic cooperation and exchanges with all countries vested in building a new, peaceful and just world on the basis of independence, equality and mutual benefit.
U KYAW TIN ( Myanmar) said that, since assuming office earlier this year, his country’s new constitutional civilian Government had taken a series of bold economic, social, and policy-reform measures aimed at achieving sustainable developments on all fronts. It had introduced economic policies that would lead to sustained, inclusive and equitable growth, focusing on economic management and poverty alleviation.
He said one of the first steps had been the adoption of the National Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Plan in eight regions with the aim of improving the livelihoods of people living in rural areas, who constituted 70 per cent of the population. Additionally, following a predicted increase in exports, the Government had recently reduced export tax from 8 per cent to 2 per cent, and granted tax exemptions on exports of all agricultural and timber products, he said, adding that microfinance loans were being used to promote economic growth in rural, as well as urban, areas.
A recent United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report indicated that the poverty rate of Myanmar had decreased from 32 per cent to 26 per cent in recent years, he continued, noting, however, that despite the strides made under those economic and development policies, there was a need to step up efforts, given that only four years were left to the Millennium Development Goals target date. A lack of development assistance, as well as sanctions, had negatively impacted industries, causing unemployment and exacerbating poverty. He called for the support of international and regional financial institutions to assist Myanmar’s efforts to improve socio-economic conditions and alleviate poverty.
LIZWI ERIC NKOMBELA ( South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the response to the multiple global crises required constructive engagement and negotiations in good faith. He said the Second Committee should play a vital role in delivering a positive outcome for the Seventeenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which his country would be hosting in Durban later this year.
He went on to say that his delegation was impressed with the progress made in preparations for the Rio+20 Conference, describing the June 2012 meeting as another potential milestone in the pursuit of sustainable development goals for a just and prosperous world. Global developments had a major impact on the least developed countries, particularly those in Africa, he said, emphasizing that the international community must strengthen its commitment to development financing. The fulfilment of ODA pledges, especially by developed countries, was vital, he stressed.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, urged the United Nations to boost its central role in international coordination, and to strengthen its ability to mobilize development support and coordinate global financial and economic endeavours. Efficiency required the involvement of least developed countries in decision-making processes, whether formally or informally. One year after the Millennium Development Goals Summit, the delay in achieving the targets underscored that the pace and scale of progress was a source of concern.
The economic crisis should be viewed as a short-term problem and not be used as a structural factor to justify non-allocation of ODA, he continued. However, innovative sources of development financing should remain an option and should be encouraged, particularly where progress was slower than expected. Attainment of the Millennium Goals had been made more difficult by food-price volatility, he said, calling for quick international action to tackle structural food insecurity problems and implement the recommendations of food security conferences.
Turning to climate change, he said it weakened the development prospects of the most vulnerable, calling their very survival into question, particularly small island developing States. Binding agreements were essential, and in the run-up to Rio+20 there was a need to give economic and green issues appropriate priority. He called for consensus on the green economy if Rio was to deliver, saying that the need for technology transfer and the granting of resources for development were of particular concern. Development assistance must be commensurate with the problems caused in Africa by the crisis and follow-up mechanisms were needed to ensure that commitments to the continent’s development were kept.
HENRY TACHIE-MANSON (Ghana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that in tackling the global economic crisis, the international community must have the flexibility to address the especially dismal economic environment in developing and poor countries. To stimulate the economy cooperation would be needed from all who had made commitments to honour their obligations and provide the framework for achieving a fair and equitable trading system that took the poor and marginalized into account.
Climate change was undoubtedly a defining challenge to humanity, particularly so in Africa, he said. Desertification, land degradation and drought were causing millions of deaths on the continent, where they were among the biggest threats to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security. An estimated 60 per cent of Ghana was covered by drylands and characterized by low and erratic rain fall, depletion of soil fertility, loss of medicinal plants and declining food production, he said, calling upon the international community to commit itself to building a “land degradation-neutral” world by establishing an intergovernmental scientific panel on soil. Hopefully it would provide scientific advice to enable Governments to understand the issues involved and take effective decisions to reverse its effects. It was also to be hoped that the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development would integrate issues such as agriculture, forestry, and food security as the main components of the green economy, for the sake of saving billions of lives.
JAKKRIT SRIVALI ( Thailand) said the industrialized countries were faltering, with serious consequences for the rest of the world, and it was, therefore, important to enhance the effectiveness of global economic governance. Globalization should be development-centred and equitable in order to be sustainable, he stressed, noting that an equitable, rules-based and transparent international trade system could help restore global economic equilibrium. He, therefore, called for the early conclusion of the Doha Round. Furthermore, developing-world representation in international financial institutions should be part of a larger reform process that could explore options for reforming monetary systems and surveillance.
With the world population approaching 7 billion, demand for food was rising, he said. However, supply was subject to numerous factors, including climate change, the depletion of marine resources, the loss of farmland, and price speculation. As a food exporter, Thailand supported United Nations efforts to increase agricultural productivity and promote sustainable agricultural practices while addressing the impacts of climate change. It also promoted measures to address volatile food prices. He expressed hope that the Rio+20 Conference would succeed in setting a new, people-centred global paradigm while addressing the challenges of sustainable development, and that the Durban Climate Change Conference would lead to a new climate regime in the post-2012 period.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE ( Zambia) said his country had made significant progress in economic development thanks to relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. In the wake of the global financial crisis, the challenge that Zambia faced now was to ensure that public debt remained sustainable and that the private-sector debt level did not place the financial system at risk. Describing the lack of progress in the Doha Round negotiations as a major concern, he said there was a need for developed countries to show their commitment by granting quota-free market access to developing countries, with flexible rules of origin and a waiver for services.
Emphasizing the need for a transparent and inclusive preparatory process for Rio+20, he said it was also important to implement fully the outcome of the recent high-level meeting on desertification and land degradation. Regarding the upcoming Durban Climate Change Conference, he reiterated the international community’s critical role in providing adequate, predictable, new and additional financial resources, as well as ensuring the transfer of technology and capacity-building as a prerequisite for success. He also expressed concern that developed countries had given no indication that they would adopt a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Their current mitigation pledges could not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to a level sufficient to hold temperature increases within the scientifically prescribed range, he said.
WALTER SCHULDT (Ecuador) said “it is time now to move into action”, warning that developing countries, being hardest hit by the global economic crisis because they lacked “multibillion dollar bailouts”, would have a very difficult time trying to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. The crisis was far from over and Member States should begin taking a holistic approach with a view to establishing a “new world economic order”. Calling on developed countries to honour their commitments on the Doha Round, he said that on the regional and subregional levels, Latin American multilateral initiatives such as the Bank of the South and the Common Reserve fund complemented ODA, but the developed countries must not see them as a pretext for non-compliance.
He went on to say that his country looked forward to making a second commitment under the Kyoto Protocol. One of Ecuador’s goals was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to put into practice what had been discussed and agreed upon in Cancun. Regarding Rio+20, he said efforts must be made to focus on the three pillars of sustainable development and to ensure decent living conditions. Recently, 32 national institutions had taken part in preparations for the Conference, he said, adding that as it approached, there was a need to clarify further the concept of green economy. The global community must make clear what would come next and agree that humanity must live in harmony with nature, because even nature had physical limits, he stressed. Lastly, he warned that a green economy must not become another barrier between the developed and least developed countries.
ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, emphasized that pressing global challenges could only be eliminated through effective cooperation by all stakeholders and a resolute commitment from both developed and developing countries. Continued international support for developing countries was vital, particularly in the form of technical and financial assistance.
He went on to say that his country had taken enormous strides towards regaining its rightful place in the community of nations since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, “emerging from the ruins of war to build a more functioning Government, a more prosperous economy and a more healthy society”. Insecurity and the terror threat were the main impediment to the continued development of Afghanistan, he said, urging the Committee to consider security issues and the development of post-conflict countries during the session. Having come late to the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, Afghanistan aimed to reach its targets by 2020, he said, urging the Committee to consider such nations as well.
The United Nations could play a crucial role in helping least developed countries, especially those emerging from conflict, he continued. Agricultural development and food security were issues of great importance to Afghanistan, and climate change affected all nations. Addressing it, therefore, called for general cooperation, he said. On that matter, he expressed his strong support for the position of the Group of 77 that a United Nations framework agreement should remain in place. He concluded by expressing optimism about overcoming the challenges his country faced.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU (Benin), endorsing the statements of the African Group, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of 77, pointed out that more than two thirds of the populations in least developed countries lived in poverty, and economic indicators predicted an insufficient per capita income growth rate to allow them to meet the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals. Progress was required across the board, and least developed countries needed modern technologies to increase and diversify production and to start to play a larger role in international trade while building the infrastructure for development.
He stressed the necessity of looking into the mechanisms that would ensure financing for development after 2015, explaining that the response to the enormous challenges faced by least developed countries required a shift away from previous methods in order truly to attack underdevelopment. Greater focus was needed on helping to meet the goals established at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, he said, adding that working to graduate half of those countries to the middle-income category was “a realistic and feasible goal”.
Urging countries to exploit the potential for innovative financing, he invited developed and other able countries to provide quota- and duty-free market access, pointing out that least developed countries were the main losers in the Doha Round impasse. On desertification, he said Africa needed to invest in the rehabilitation of degraded land to help resolve food-security challenges. He expressed his support for the concept of green economy, saying that, given Benin’s agriculture-based economy, sustainable land management to ensure food security while maintaining forests and biodiversity would remain Benin’s priority.
ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), associating himself with the Rio Group and the Group of 77, reiterated that the worsening of the 2008 crisis was occurring because lessons had not been learned and necessary steps had not been taken. The crisis was unprecedented for least developed countries, and due to limited resources, their Governments were unable to attend to education and health. That contributed to unemployment and underemployment, he said, warning that a recovery would be slow and challenging.
He stressed the need for international solidarity and for the fulfilment of the commitments made to least developed countries in Doha. International monetary systems must be renewed, reformed and strengthened through a fundamental proposal to give developing countries a bigger voice, he said. International financial regulations and systems of payment should be reconsidered and restructured to better equip developing and poor nations.
Going on to underscore the importance of protecting migrants who travelled abroad for work opportunities, he said many Salvadorans in the United States sent remittances back home to their families, but since the onset of the global economic crisis, there had been a significant decrease in the amount of money remitted, which had left some families without an income. That further contributed to the country’s economic decline, he said. Migration should be seen as a long-term prospect for those leaving, and not merely as a source of cheap labour. Climate change was another major issue, he said, adding that the world must prepare itself to face the challenges of a new global economy.
DANIELE BODINI ( San Marino) said developed and developing countries faced a prolonged recession, if not a major economic contraction over the next few years, and Member States would double their efforts to tackle that challenge. It was vital to reallocate collective diminishing resources for a growing world population, he said, adding that rising global unemployment, especially among the youth, should be the first focus of attention. Another focus must be the financial system, he said, adding that the large amount of global consolidated debt “could suddenly cause explosive global inflation”.
He went on to warn that without addressing those problems, the standard of living in developed countries could return to the levels of decades ago, and the gains of the last 20 years could evaporate. The chances of least developed countries getting out of poverty could dwindle to zero, and the consequences of rampant inflation would be dire, making food and energy unaffordable to most of the global population. A more stable economic environment was needed to enable corporations, Governments and families to plan for the future, he said, noting that the alternative was to continue to allow unpredictability, which could lead to global economic meltdown. Although the General Assembly was not the place for specific and technical solutions to the problems under discussion, it was a place in which to build a sense of collective duty to compel Governments, companies and citizens to tackle the crisis.
ELENE AGLADZE ( Georgia) said her country had already taken steps to combat climate change by introducing green economy pathways. The backbone of the greener economy was in Georgia’s hydropower potential, she said, adding that hydro energy generation is among the country’s fastest growing sectors. It provided 85 per cent of all electricity generated in Georgia. Currently using only about 20 per cent of its potential, Georgia was a net exporter of electricity. With hopes of completing new hydropower construction in the next few years, the country was committed to shifting to 100 per cent clean-electricity consumption, and to exporting it to foreign markets. Other measures were under way, including steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Tbilisi, the capital city, through various energy-efficiency projects, she said.
Those measures included the introduction of electric vehicles, she said, noting that Government vehicles had already been replaced. The Government had also adopted a broader anti-corruption strategy aimed at creating efficient sectors, specifically a competitive and corruption-free private sector. According to the World Bank, Georgia was already ranked as one of the easiest places in the world to do business, she pointed out. Regarding climate change, she welcomed the results of the Cancun Climate Conference but said much remained to be done before the next Conference in Durban. Looking ahead to next year’s Rio+20 Conference, Georgia would focus on how the green economy could be used in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, she said.
PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77, warned that the ability of least developed countries to realize the Millennium Development Goals was being severely tested. Their vulnerability to the financial crisis was heightened by their exposure to the food and energy crises and to the effects of climate change. With 60-80 per cent of income in developing countries being spent on food, a lack of access to food was clearly a key problem, he noted. That required increased self-sufficiency and support to help small-scale farmers increase production, something in which Sri Lanka had invested, he said. Uncertainty caused big problems for agriculture in least developed countries, he said, asking, “Is it safe to depend on highly volatile financial markets to manage supply?” Sri Lanka had successfully managed the food crisis and was on the path to self-sufficiency, he added.
Despite wanting to reduce carbon emissions, least developed countries must be allowed to grow without constraints, he continued, adding that with growth could come more climate-friendly technology and processes. Sri Lanka supported a second Kyoto commitment period and urged pursuit of that goal in Durban, he said, noting that his country’s per capita carbon footprint was under 0.5 tons. As a biodiversity “hotspot”, Sri Lanka believed in the “green economy” principles if it rested on the Rio principle of common but differentiated responsibilities based on capabilities, and on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. Expanding developing economies would create wealth for millions, but would require the elimination of unfair trading and systemic barriers, as well as agricultural subsidies. He underlined the need for rural economies to connect more directly to the wider global economy, and to ensure benefits for the poor, saying that dynamism in that regard would stimulate vital foreign direct investment.
ESHAGH AL HABIB ( Iran) called for a fairer global economic system that would reform the current one, which focused disproportionately on the financial economy and not enough on other sectors. The world was going through a critical juncture of social upheaval and mass unemployment, he said, noting that overcoming those challenges would require collective will, vigorous cooperation and effective implementation of major global agreements.
Rather than protecting the interests of the greedy few, Member States must take action now and work to address the serious issues facing the world, especially poor people in least developed countries, he said. Globalization had caused them to rely heavily on developed countries, and the current financial crisis in the United States and Europe had left the developing world in a very dismal situation, with very little hope, he said, cautioning that setbacks were now “very much possible”. It was unclear how donors would honour the commitments they had made, he added.
Noting that climate change affected everyone, he said dust storms and sandstorms had become a major issue for his country and regional neighbours. In the last few years, they had caused substantial damage to the socio-economic situation in Iran’s western half, impairing normal life throughout the area. Such a problem required technical support and the transfer of technology to help countries prevent and deal with natural disasters. As for Rio+20, it was a unique opportunity to address the failures of the past and to consider the solutions of the near future, he said, reiterating the need to give equal weight to each pillar of the sustainable development process.
GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Rio Group and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that in a time of profound change and pervasive uncertainty there was an opportunity for more effective multilateralism, something to which the Second Committee could make a contribution, especially through more efficient and effective working methods. While multilateralism had never been more vital, inertia and deadlock prevailed on critical issues. Agreeing on financing for sustainable development was hard, and trade negotiations remained stalled, he noted. Meanwhile, the mechanisms of global governance lacked legitimacy and effectiveness, especially in the pursuit of more helpful options. The multiple global crises had hit small and vulnerable economies like Guyana particularly hard, endangering their efforts to promote sustainable development, he said.
He said the famine in the Horn of Africa demanded a global response, adding that his country would contribute financially to the United Nations relief operation. The famine represented the worst manifestation of the food-security crisis affecting large parts of the globe, he said, noting that despite improved production and reduced costs, food prices were at their highest level ever. The failure to take decisive international action was most evident in the international response to climate change, he said, stressing that the global response fell far short of what was required in scale and urgency. One of the key things lacking was the political will to see pledges through. Guyana, for its part, had adopted a low-carbon development path to boost growth and develop sustainably, he said, calling for new mindsets and instruments to sustain and advance the concept of “green economy”. Rio+20 marked an opportunity to place sustainable development on the development agenda and that of the United Nations for the years to come.
EBUN JUSU, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, associated herself with the African Group, the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries. She expressed concern at the seeming lack of political will to implement internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals, and systematic attempts to renegotiate those commitments. The multiple and interrelated global crises, particularly those related to volatile energy and food prices, climate change and the economic and financial downturn, continued to undermine development efforts, she said, emphasizing the indispensable role of ODA in catalysing economic and social development, as well as poverty eradication.
She said there was a great need to enhance efforts to mobilize adequate, high-quality technical support, and to promote the development and dissemination of appropriate, affordable and environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies, as well as their transfer to developing countries. On climate change, she said its effects were evident in Africa, yet commitments to agree on a global emission-reduction deal remained low. Adaptation must remain central to a global climate change regime, she said. Regarding desertification, she said it posed serious challenges to economic growth, as was evident in the Horn of Africa. Clearly there was a need to enhance implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification as a global policy and monitoring framework for addressing issues of soil and land degradation, she said.
PAUL EMPOLE LOSOKO EFAMBE ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the international community must make all possible efforts to achieve a green economy that would ensure food security and job creation for all the world’s peoples. The Democratic Republic of the Congo had a great interest in protecting its ecosystems, particularly its forests, he said, inviting those who were “still dragging their feet” to dispense financial resources that would help protect the environment.
He said his country would not achieve the Millennium Development Goals unless initiatives were taken to meet the challenges of least developed countries. Noting that at least 48 countries had been reclassified following the Istanbul Conference, on the basis of their base poverty levels and development, he called for a renewed sense of support to enable developing countries to optimize food security, remittances and human resources, among other things. Peacebuilding also helped to strengthen security, ensure the fair distribution of natural resources, and return internally displaced persons to their respective homes, he added.
SOFIA BORGES (Timor-Leste), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the Second Committee should focus on sustainable development and the impacts of the global crises, which had had profound and continuing effects across all sectors — particularly in least developed countries. In that regard, she urged Member States to ensure the full, timely and effective implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action. Timor‑Leste was unfortunately not on track to meet the Goals by 2015, though some indicators — in areas including under-5 and infant-mortality rates — had been met. However, many of the remaining indicators, such as the percentage of the population living in poverty, underweight children under the age of 5, and access to sanitation, remained off track.
Maintaining political will was also critical to ensuring concrete results, a point to bear in mind in the lead-up to the Durban Conference, she said. In Timor‑Leste, approximately 85 per cent of the population made a living from agriculture, and in order to combat and eradicate poverty, it was necessary to address the quality and sustainability of land. In preparation for the Rio+20 Conference, it was also important to address fully the value of women in development, she said, emphasizing that investing in women and girls had proven to yield greater returns. Finally, she said Timor‑Leste planned to participate in the upcoming Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, both in its national capacity and as Chair of the Group of Seven-Plus.
NIKOLAY SAHAKOV (Armenia), stressing the vital importance of recognizing the vulnerabilities of least developed countries, expressed his Government’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, saying that its timely policy response to the financial crisis had staved off many of the worst effects. Furthermore, the Government had strengthened social protection, implementing an ambitious social-development programme, building agricultural and rural developments, and pursuing environmental sustainability. He called on the United Nations and the World Bank to play a central role in ensuring the success of international efforts to tackle the crisis. Comprehensive reform was needed, on both the national and international levels, to guarantee the inclusion of developing countries, he said. Looking ahead to Rio+20, he said the Conference would play a crucial role in all future negotiations. It was vital to seize the opportunity, he said, underlining the importance of effective preparation.
MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ ( Colombia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Rio Group, said it was vital to strengthen North-South, as well as South-South, cooperation. It was of the greatest importance for the United Nations system to promote collective actions that would strengthen multilateral solutions to the economic crisis and deal with the challenges of climate change. Hopefully Colombia could continue to contribute to the global dialogue and make use of the lessons it had learned in its own turbulent political, economic and social history, he said. Regarding the upcoming Rio+20 Conference, he said his country had a “very diverse” ecological system, which included waterways and renewable-energy sources. He expressed his country’s deepest commitments to Rio+20, stressing that the international community must take responsibility for humanity’s common future.
KANIKA PHOMMACHANH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the multiple challenges of extreme poverty, food insecurity, financial and economic crises, climate change and more frequent and devastating disasters, posed severe threats to peace, security and development cooperation, particularly for developing and least developed countries. They not only hindered the achievement of development goals, but actually reversed development, she said, emphasizing the urgent need to enhance efforts to address those threats while taking the critical needs of individual countries into account. Every stakeholder must fulfil commitments made, she added.
Cooperation throughout the United Nations system must be strengthened to secure operational activities for development, she continued. Reform of the global financial system should be accelerated to improve conditions for the sustainable growth of developing countries. The adverse effects of climate change must be addressed by striving to achieve the objectives of the Durban Climate Change Conference and Rio+20. She called on the international community to intensify support for landlocked and least developed countries in overcoming their structural challenges and strengthening their productive capacity. For its part, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic had been working to meet development goals, giving priority to transport networks and regional connectivity, and signing the Multilateral Agreement on the International Think Tank for Landlocked Developing Countries, among other endeavours.
ELYES LAKHAL (Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, described how his compatriots had risen up to end injustice, opening up multiple horizons on a path to democracy and development. With a new Tunisia taking shape, he called for foreign direct investment in the country, better market access and greater mobility for Tunisian skills, as well as the urgent implementation of pledged support, including in the framework of the Deauville partnership. He called on States to support the Jasmine stimulus plan to assist in the democratic transition, saying the international community must strengthen cooperation with the Tunisian Government to return funds that had been fraudulently acquired by the former regime. That would have a favourable effect on the country’s future prosperity and that of the region as a whole, he said.
However, Tunisia’s enormous potential was threatened by youth unemployment, which was a heavy burden on the Government, he said. That issue, a universal problem and a major threat to global security and stability, had been considered with particular interest by last July’s high-level meeting on youth. Drought was also of particular concern, as was the famine in the Horn of Africa, labelled a moral crisis, based on the fact that food surpluses meant there should be no need for any area to go without in the modern world. Responsible international action was needed to respond to the famine, he stressed. As the originator of the Arab Spring and torchbearer of dignity and freedom, Tunisia called on the international community to lift the economic blockade imposed on Arab peoples living under foreign occupation, and to call on the occupiers to desist from exploiting their resources.
MAMADI TOURE ( Guinea), describing his country’s economic situation as dire, said the recently elected Government had inherited a wrecked economy plagued by corruption and impunity. There was a need for action to reverse that before anything could be done to move forward. The sober picture was reflected in an almost bankrupt national bank, a lack of hard currency, and rising prices of food and oil, he said, adding that the situation had been exacerbated by the country’s having broken with certain “international economic systems”. Poverty and mortality rates had risen over the last decade from 49.5 per cent to 55.2 per cent in 2010, and from 558 deaths in 2002 to 980 in 2010, respectively.
Having surveyed the situation, the new President had set out policies and strategies intended to improve living conditions, he said. Agricultural investment and mining-sector reform now took the people’s needs into account, and the Government was also promoting the protection of citizen’s rights. Guinea must do everything possible to avoid printing more money, promote rigorous management, and encourage administrative reform and audit control, he stressed, adding that freeing up the country’s international debt would also be of major benefit. Meeting the population’s fundamental needs, including by supplying drinking water and energy, addressing issues affecting women and children, and surveying the health and education sectors, was fundamental to growth. He warned, however, that despite the Government’s efforts, those ambitious plans would not succeed without international support in the form of economic and financial assistance.
RABII ALHANTOULI, observer for Palestine, associating himself with the Group of 77, said the challenges confronting the pillars of sustainable development continued to persist and even intensify in some cases. Most developing countries continued to face serious problems, including food insecurity, unemployment, poverty, the negative effects of climate change, the burden of foreign debt, and the lack of external financial assistance. The situation required all States, especially developed countries, to assume their responsibilities in dealing with those challenges in an integrated, coordinated and balanced manner, he said.
He said it was time for the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities” in paying the necessary attention to the dire situation of the Palestinian people. Based on their common responsibility to protect the right of all peoples to development, Member States should confront, and put an end, to the illegal policies and practices imposed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinians. Those practices included the confiscation of land and private property, the demolition of homes and businesses, the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, and the illegal Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
He recalled that, during last month’s meeting of the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) of the Group of Donors to Palestine, reports submitted by the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF had affirmed that the Israeli occupation was the main obstacle to Palestine’s development. Palestine had submitted its application for admission as a Member of the United Nations in September, he said, emphasizing that Member States must take all necessary measures, including legal procedures as required, to stop economic support for the occupation and compel Israel to respect its obligations under the United Nations Charter.
SHARON BRENNEN-HAYLOCK, Officer in Charge, Food and Agriculture Organization Liaison Office with the United Nations, said almost 1 billion people were food-insecure, and with undernourishment higher than it had been before the economic crisis, it was more difficult than ever to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Urgent action was needed to address the structural causes of food insecurity and malnutrition, which were directly related to the decline in agriculture investment, land tenure and natural resource insecurity, as well as inadequate attention to women’s vulnerability to malnutrition. Women should be viewed as “critical agents of change”, she added.
Noting that the impact of climate change on agricultural production would increase the risks of food insecurity, she said production targets must be achieved while preserving the natural resource base. Also, the theme for World Food Day on 27 October — “Food prices: from crisis to stability” — would reiterate that investing in agriculture for food security would help improve well-being, especially for the poor. In closing, she said the FAO stood ready to work with Member States towards the proclamation of 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming and of 2013 as the International Year of Quinoa.
JANE STEWART, Special Representative to the United Nations and Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), said the agency’s current figures estimated that some 200 million people were out of work around the world, 81 million of them young men and women. Additionally, the share of workers living with their families below the $2-per-day poverty line was estimated at around 39 per cent, or nearly 1.2 billion workers, while the global gender gap stood at about 23 per cent. Those figures illustrated the human dimension of the multiple global crises and emphasized the need for increased policy coherence, she stressed.
Despite those challenges, the ILO was encouraged by the increased reorientation of macroeconomic policy goals in favour of employment and social development, she said. For its part, the ILO and partner agencies had been working to promote implementation of the “Social Protection Floor” as a tool for equitable growth, for empowering people to seize market opportunities and for contributing to the stabilization of aggregate demand. The agency encouraged continued and careful consideration of those interrelated issues, she said.
She went on to say that continued efforts were needed in balancing and successfully building synergies around economic, social and environmental policies. In that regard, Rio+20 and its preparatory process provided an important opportunity to assess progress made, as well as implementation gaps and opportunities. The ILO also looked forward to further consideration of the “Green Jobs” initiative, she said, adding that efforts related to its Global Jobs Pact must be sustained and broadened. Finally, she welcomed the Bureau’s efforts in organizing a special event on job creation next week, and on investing in job-rich growth later this month.
ZAMBA BATJARGAL, Representative of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to the United Nations, recalled that just two decades ago, at the time of the first Rio Summit, the environmental pillar of sustainable development had been considered by many policymakers as a competitor to the economic pillar. Now, on the eve of “ Rio+20”, the environmental pillar was widely considered as complementary due to issues of climate change, disaster risk reduction and water. WMO, which dealt with weather, climate and water, was coordinating several worldwide programmes, he said, going on to describe the World Weather Watch as the backbone of all WMO programmes. It coordinated worldwide systems for observing and exchanging meteorological and related data, and for generating and disseminating analyses and forecasts, as well as severe weather warnings.
He said all WMO member States were pursuing “free and unrestricted exchange of information” because not every country was able to produce an adequate level of quality weather information and forecasts to help its farmers, or to guarantee the safety of aviation or marine transport due to their lack of financial, technological and human capacities. There was no similar well-maintained international cooperation mechanism for climate information, despite the great efforts of the global community to deal with emerging climate change challenges, he said, adding that around 70 developing countries currently had little or no climate information at all. Recently, WMO and partner United Nations agencies had initiated a global framework for climate services so as to close the gaps in the provision of climate information and services, he said, emphasizing that the time had come to release climate information and knowledge from the domain of scientific communities.
PYTRIK DIEUWKE OOSTERHOF, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said the Federation would continue promoting development by preventing and reducing the underlying causes of vulnerability. She called for urgent, comprehensive action, not only to address the humanitarian disaster in the Horn of Africa, but also the subregion’s long-term and chronic issues. Without that, droughts would become more frequent, numerous, severe and longer-lasting in the future, she warned. While acknowledging the importance of other factors in explaining the current crisis, she noted that climate change would heighten vulnerabilities. The challenge was not merely dealing with the crisis but also helping communities adapt ahead of future crises.
Urging the international community to fulfil its commitment to help build adaptation capacities under the Cancun Adaptation Framework, she said the adaptation agenda should also include food security measures. Food insecurity left people less resilient to disasters and disease, she said, adding that institutions, such as the Federation, should be central to the planning and implementation of development activities. Timely, well-coordinated assistance would reduce the number of people in crisis, she noted.
Inclusive sustainability would only come about by reducing vulnerability and enhancing in-country capacities. Welcoming the Second Committee’s work on the International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction, she said IFRC recognized disaster risk reduction as a crucial cross-cutting element contributing to development. It was an essential component of resilience and sustainable development, she said, calling on the international community to move towards meeting their international commitments, including the Millennium Development Goals, by building up local capacities.
* *** *For information media • not an official record