9 November 2012
General Assembly
GA/EF/3353

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

26th Meeting (AM)


Full Access to Information and Communications Technology Would Boost Developing


World’s Participation in Global Economy, Second Committee Told

 


Delegations Conclude General Discussion on Sustainable Development


Full access to information and communications technology would allow developing countries to participate actively in the global economy and harness the benefits of globalization, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today.


As the Committee took up information and communications technology for development, Algeria’s representative said the sector was a vital tool in promoting inclusive growth and development.  It held tremendous potential for eradicating poverty, achieving the Millennium Development Goals and bridging the ever-widening technological gap between developing and developed countries.


Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, he emphasized, however, that the significant advances and explosive growth in new technologies had not been felt so strongly by the world’s poor.  For them, the developmental promise of science and technology, including information and communications technology, remained unfulfilled.


Trinidad and Tobago’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said his region had long recognized the potential of information and communications technology to drive achievement of development goals and a number of countries, including his own, had begun incorporating innovation and creativity into their national development strategies.  The outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society was critically important for international cooperation in that context, he stressed.


However, regional efforts to implement the World Summit outcomes were hampered by insufficient resources, fragmentation and lack of coordination, he said, calling on the international community to enhance support for development of the information and communications technology sector.  That meant more resources, the strengthening of partnerships, and increased technology transfer and capacity-building, specifically tailored to meeting the particular needs of the Caribbean region’s small societies.


Brunei Darussalam’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed concern over the persistent digital divide, particularly given the developmental potential of information and communications technology.  However, information and communications technology was prominent in the ASEAN region at least, she said.


Noting that 78 per cent of the region’s citizens used information and communications technology in various facets of their lives, she said millions of people were employed in the sector, which contributed $32 billion to the regional economy annually.  Five ASEAN member States had reached the 100 per cent mobile penetration mark, she said, calling for the strengthening of cooperation on telecommunications regulations, and the further promotion of collaboration on regulatory practices and policy strategies, as well as coordination on standards.


Presenting documents for the Committee’s consideration were the Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and a Senior Public Information and Liaison Officer at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).


Earlier, the Committee concluded its general discussion on sustainable development, hearing statements by representatives of Germany, Serbia, United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Montenegro, Ireland, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and Iran.


Also delivering statements were representatives of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; Inter-Parliamentary Union; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; United Nations World Tourism Organization; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; and the International Organization for Migration.


The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 12 November, to conclude its debate on information and communications technology for development.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to continue its general discussion on sustainable development.  For background information see Press Release GA/EF/3351 of 7 November.


Statements


STEPHANIE KAGE (Germany), associating herself with the European Union delegation, said global issues were still too often viewed in isolation, adding that the challenge facing the international community was how to address them in a holistic manner.  The Sustainable Development Goals had a potentially important role to play in that regard, she said, urging the open-ended working group to aim for a comprehensive new global development agenda for the benefit of all.  When designing the future, it was not necessary to “start from scratch”, she said, emphasizing the importance of looking to the past in order to build the future.  Proud that Germany was considered a pioneer in renewable energy, she said her country hoped to give $4.6 billion a year to the renewable energy sector by 2030, and to remain a reliable partner in the water and sanitation sectors.


LIDIJA BUBANJA (Serbia) said the process of formulating the Sustainable Development Goals should take into account the international circumstance on the ground, as well as the fact that the world had experienced a number of crises over the last several years, which had had a negative impact on sustainable development, in particular, the multiple global crises and the growth of inequality.  She called for the establishment of a special inter-governmental process to draft a comprehensive global strategy for the protection of the environment, to be coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  Its contents of should be based on the UNEP programme of work and on the recommendations and conclusions of key international documents and processes.  Special attention should be paid to priority areas, such as resource and energy efficiency, addressing climate change, preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, water protection and securing proper access to water and sanitation services for all, among others.


HIND ABDULAZIZ ALOWAIS (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and the Arab Group, said she hoped to be accepted as a candidate for membership of the open-ended working group on the post-2015 development agenda.  The United Arab Emirates had worked to broaden its production base, reduce its dependence on oil and help create a green local economy.  The country supported the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, and attached great importance to energy security at the regional and global levels.  It was attacking carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and was in the “avant-garde” of countries pursuing renewable sources of energy, she said.  Much legislation had already been enacted with a view to reducing the impact of climate change, raising awareness and developing new energy sources.  The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development had allocated several million dollars to renewable energy projects and in January 2012, the Government had launched the “Green Economy for a Sustainable Economy” initiative in hopes of becoming a pioneer in that arena by exporting green technologies and promoting long-term conservation.


IDIBEK KALANDAROV ( Tajikistan) recalled that her country had initiated the 2010 General Assembly resolution on the “International Year of Water Cooperation, 2013”, and it had also tabled for consideration and adoption by the Second Committee a new draft resolution on implementation of the Year.  The text would provide for the convening of two important events, the first a high-level dialogue of the General Assembly in New York on 22 March 2013, World Water Day.  It would discuss water cooperation and implementation of the internationally agreed goals on water and sanitation, and the sharing of best practices between different water users.  The second was a high-level international conference on water cooperation in September 2013, to be held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital.  It would provide an opportunity to discuss important water cooperation issues among different water users within and among countries.


MILORAD ŠĆEPANOVIĆ ( Montenegro), associating himself with the European Union delegation, said energy, agriculture and tourism were his country’s key economic sectors, adding that science and innovation were crucial to their development.  Montenegro adopted energy policies covering the period to 2030, which were expected to lead to accelerated but responsible use of energy resources.  Understanding the urgent need for energy efficiencies and for new and renewable energy sources, Montenegro had adopted targets for the development of energy in order to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals.  Furthermore, its energy and energy efficiency laws set out clear provisions on renewable energy sources.  On another note, he said that, with the help of international banks, his country had not only created better schools and hospitals, but also improved the overall quality of people’s lives.  Montenegro was set to adopt provisions on climate change, but the strategy needed to outline principles for the development of the agriculture sector, which was the most vulnerable to climate change.


PATRICK DUFFY ( Ireland), associating himself with the European Union delegation, said the post-2015 period would have many development issues to deal with, the most prevalent being poverty.  Caring for the environment was an integral part of development and should not be viewed as “an add-on” or “extra”.  The international community must ensure that the environment continued to play its role in sustaining human life.  The sustainable management of resources was critical as their degradation caused poverty and great strife, he said, adding that his country was committed to helping the progress of its partners, in accordance with the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, he said.  Despite that progress, however, many of them were far from attaining the Millennium Development Goals, he said, cautioning that, before rushing to make commitments for the post-2015 era, it was important to consider performance on the Goals.  Missing from the discussion were the voices of those people in whose name they had been developed, he noted, adding that it was important to hear their priorities for a sustainable future and how the Goals affected them.  It was important to consult with the grassroots before moving forward, he reiterated.


MAMADOU COULIBALY (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his Sahel country was seeing high levels of land degradation, fragility of infrastructure and reliance on natural resources.  Drought and famine were cyclical in the Sahel, a situation perpetuated by a lack of assistance.  The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification had scarcely gone beyond debate, and sustainable land management remained a goal for Burkina Faso.  However, the Tenth Conference of Parties to the Convention had led to a satisfactory compromise on several issues that had not been addressed previously, he said.  Emphasizing the vital importance of attracting greater international interest in the Convention, he said there was a need to improve the mobilization of resources.  Efforts to combat desertification and drought needed strengthening, and that required more in-depth knowledge of climate change.


PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) endorsed the statement read out on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, saying his country attached great importance to renewable energy, especially the transfer of related technology.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo already used renewable energy sources extensively, particularly hydroelectric power, although there was little doubt that current consumption levels were beyond capacity and must reach a much more sustainable level.  He stressed the importance of forests in regulating climate and preserving the environment, and underlined country’s commitment to preserving them.  That was a vital but costly policy, but one of huge importance for the future of sustainable development, he said, adding that he looked forward to an international conference on forests.


ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA ( Samoa) said that his country, a small island and a least developed country, would graduate from the latter category in 2014, the year of the third international conference on small island developing States.  Noting that multi-stakeholders partnerships had placed Samoa among prospective graduates for 2014, he said the strength of those partnerships, both traditional and new ones, would ensure the sustainability of the country’s new status beyond that year.  As the proposed host of the conference, Samoa took the view its success should not be measured by the number of participants, round tables and side events, but by the quality and level of commitments pledged in the lead-up to and during the conference.  Samoa preferred a “brief, simple, focused and forward-looking” outcome document, he emphasized.  It should be implementable and facilitate a sense of ownership by small island developing States and their partners.  “I guess that is the diplomatic way of saying that we don’t want a document that is nothing but a shopping or wish list,” he said, adding that the document should not be an exercise in re-paraphrasing existing frameworks, plans of action and ideological differences, all of which were well documented in the United Nations archives.


EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), highlighted the need for agreement on the constitution of the open-ended working group intended to formulate the Sustainable Development Goals.  As a candidate country, Trinidad and Tobago supported an inclusive approach to its work, which would coordinate with the efforts of the high-level political forum.  Further, there was a need for more effective coordination between normative and operational activities in support of sustainable development deliverables for small island developing States, he said, warning that without appropriate intervention at the national and international levels, rising sea levels would lead to the reversal of their developmental gains.


Mr. MOMENI ( Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said dust and sand storms were among the most serious and hard-to-beat challenges of the last few years.  They had inflicted substantial damage to the socioeconomic situation in the western half of Iran and impaired the normal life and health of the people there, eroding agricultural lands and polluting water resources throughout the whole area.  The region-wide problem called for technical support and technology transfer to help countries combat its negative effects, on the basis of their national priorities, circumstance and development strategies.  He said low forest cover countries were among those particularly susceptible to land degradation, which led to desertification.  Describing inadequate funding as the prime obstacle to sustainable forest management in developing countries, he said the financial gaps could only be addressed by dedicating resources to support the implementation of the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests and the achievement of its global objectives.  In accordance with its national programme, Iran planned to develop its forest cover from the current 14.3 million hectares to 16 million hectares over a 10-year period, he said.


AMY MEHTA, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), said the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), “The Future We Want”, obviously did not satisfy everyone, but given the complexities of the issues involved and the difficult negotiating process, it had at least the merit of providing a basis for continued progressive action towards the goal of sustainable development.  The IUCN World Conservation Congress in the Republic of Korea had held practical discussions on how to move forward while keeping in mind the framework provided by Rio+20 and integrating it into the Union’s own mandates, she said, expressing hope that work on the Sustainable Development Goals would begin without further delay.  Further, it was essential that Governments took concrete measures to implement the Strategic Biodiversity Plan 2011-2020, approved in Nagoya.  Those targets could only be reached if States parties set strong country-level targets to support the global ones, she stressed, urging all Governments to take steps to implement the decisions made at Rio+20.  IUCN was ready to put its full technical capacity and large network into supporting the work of the United Nations in addressing sustainable development issues.


MIGUEL BERMEO, Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said Rio+20 had not been the “game-changer” for which many had hoped, and called for strong political will on all sides to take decisions that not only reflected the immediate needs of constituents, but also those of the global community as a whole.  He recommended a cautious approach to the green economy, saying it must be applied in different ways to developed and developing economies, so that while the latter were still trying to find ways to achieve significant economic growth, the former should focus on less traditional definitions of growth and other measures of well-being that were more important in the longer term.  In that regard, he said the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s next major assembly would focus on the question of “growth versus well-being”.


AJAY MADIWALE, Observer, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), stressed the importance of building resilience to disasters into the post-2015 development agenda.  Fearing that their impact would significantly limit progress, he said the most effective way to build resilience was to accelerate implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action and the financing commitments made at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2009.  Since 1980, disasters had had a disproportionate impact on low-income countries, but accounted for just 9 per cent of disasters worldwide, he noted.  Yet nearly 50 per cent of all disaster-related fatalities occurred in those countries.  The impact of small- and medium-scale disasters was equal to or greater than the impact of large-scale disasters which made the news.  Disasters often had catastrophic economic effects, often impacting international trade and development, he said, warning that in such times of economic crisis and fragility, no country could afford not to build disaster resilience.


SARBULAND KHAN, Permanent Representative, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), said the tourism sector was among the largest in the world economy, accounting for $1.6 trillion in global revenues or about 5 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP) and 6 per cent of exports and employed 1 out of 12 people in developed and developing countries alike.  Tourism accounted for around 45 per cent of the exports and services of least developed countries and was a major economic sector for most small island developing States.  In addition, it had been identified by both categories as a priority sector and a powerful engine of growth, poverty reduction and job creation, especially for women and youth.


Tourism also accounted for about 5 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions, he said, adding that UNWTO was therefore taking the lead in according a high priority to and advocating for the greening and sustainability of all aspects and phases of tourism activities globally.  It had also been at the forefront of efforts to mitigate and manage the nexus between tourism and biodiversity, he said.  Holistic and other creative initiatives and programmes were only a modest beginning in the quest to meet the daunting and long-term global challenges of significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions, protecting biodiversity, promoting the growth of tourism in a green economy, creating decent jobs and eradicating poverty.  A truly global and holistic response to those challenges would require strong partnerships and long-term commitment among all partners, he emphasized.


ANA PERSIC, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the Rio+20 outcome reaffirmed that universal access to quality education at all levels was essential for achieving sustainable development.  It also recognized the vital importance of technical and vocational training.  Natural and social sciences were key drivers of sustainability, she said.  Particular attention must be paid to bolstering the interface between science, policy and society, while building capacities and supporting the development of sustainable development polices.


She said the crucial role of oceans, freshwater and biodiversity must be especially addressed, as reaffirmed at Rio+20.  As demonstrated on many occasions, culture and creativity were essential to sustainable development and peace, she said.  Cultural heritage in all its forms and cultural diversity were channels as well as drivers of social cohesion.  Finally, she said freedom of expression and media development were enablers of sustainable development and peace.  Media in all its forms could play a major supporting role in helping decision-makers, managers and consumer-citizens to make informed choices for sustainable development.


MICHELE KLEIN SOLOMON, Permanent Observer, International Organization for Migration, said population mobility mattered for various reasons, not least the fact that climate change brought security implications with it.  The absence of a healthy environment hampered the abilities of populations to sustain themselves in certain areas, which could grow in importance and eventually lead to entire populations being forced to move, she said, referring specifically to the populations of small island States, some of which were threatened at an existential level.


Help was needed to cope with that potentially disastrous situation, she continued.  As for disaster risk reduction, she said it could play a significant role in helping countries, but gaps remained.  Risk reduction must be built into the development and investment strategies and decisions of States, she said, citing the effects of rural-to-urban migration, which was key to population growth, including in some areas prone to flooding, drought and seismic events.  That added to disaster risk, she said, adding that where disasters occurred under those circumstances, significant migration followed.


Concluding its general discussion on sustainable development, the Committee then took up information and communications technology for development.


Introduction of Reports


Before the Committee were several documents, including a report of the Secretary-General on progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document A/67/66-E/2012/49) dated 12 March 2012, the Report of the Working Group on Improvements to the Internet Governance Forum (documents A/67/65–E/2012/48) dated 16 March 2012, and a note by the Secretary-General (document A/67/207) dated 30 March 2012, which transmits the report of the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on implementation of General Assembly resolution 50/130, including the recommendations of the Twelfth United Nations Inter-Agency Round Table on Communication for Development.


MONGI HAMDI, Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), presented reports on information and communications technology for development, recalling that, since the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, remarkable achievements had been made in building the information and knowledge society.  It had affected a wide range of public policy domains and led to a change in emphasis from computers and the Internet to mobile telephony.  A group had been established to address the issue of measuring the information society, which had published a proposed statistical framework for measuring the 10 targets agreed in the Geneva Plan of Action at the World Summit on the Information Society.  A review of the International Telecommunications Regulations would take place at the World Conference on International Telecommunications, he said, noting that it would be the first review since 1988.  In preparation for the 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society, a better understanding of the changing information society was needed, as were adaptive policy responses.  It was important to examine even the indicators used to measure progress towards the information society so as to take account of rapid changes in information and communications technology and their use around the world.


SUZANNE BILELLO, Senior Public Information and Liaison Officer, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, presented the report on communications for development in the United Nations system, saying that traditional media were increasingly converging with new information and communications technologies, providing opportunities for people to interact and construct the social agenda.  Despite the differing mandates and resource capacities of the specialized agencies, funds and programmes, there was agreement that communications for development at the United Nations was strengthening the its effectiveness by reinforcing core principles to foster and maintain economic, social and cultural development and peace.  Of particular interest was the need to ensure that the communications for development agenda placed sufficient emphasis on promoting free, independent and pluralistic media, whether on radio sets, mobile phones or printed pages.


She noted that, while women and girls constituted 60 per cent of people suffering from chronic hunger around the world, 76 per cent of the people featuring in world news were male.  For the media to portray societies accurately and produce complete and diverse coverage, it was critical that the news reflected the world in a way that went deeper than a male-centric and stereotypical perspective, she stressed.  Community media were gaining recognition as a third tier of broadcasting besides public and private media, she said, urging multilateral assistance for media development.  UNESCO continued to enlarge United Nations inter-agency collaboration in the interest of enhancing the context for freedom of expression, media and information and communications technology through new initiatives, including the United Nations Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists, she said.


Statements


LARBI DJACTA (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said full access to information and communications technology would help developing countries participate actively in the global economy and harness the benefits of globalization.  That vital tool’s prominent role in promoting inclusive growth and development gave it tremendous potential not only for the eradication of poverty, achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the promotion of socio-economic development, but also for bridging the ever-widening technological gap between developing and developed countries.  Despite significant advances and explosive growth in new technologies in recent years, he said, the developmental promise of science and technology, including information and communications technology, remained unfulfilled for most of the poor.


Creating links between knowledge generation and development was one of the greatest challenges facing the developing countries, he noted, expressing concern about the digital divide between developed and developing countries, particularly in terms of availability, affordability and quality of access to broadband connectivity.  In addition, the ongoing financial and economic crises had negatively affected the developing world’s capacity to mobilize resources and attract investments to enhance information and communications technology infrastructure.  In that regard, the Group of 77 and China underlined the importance of implementing the recommendations of the Working Group on Improvement to the Internet Governance Forum, particularly on enhancing participation by developing countries.


RODNEY CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his region had long recognized the potential of communications technology to advance development goals and a number of its countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, had begun incorporating innovation and creativity into their national development strategies.  The outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society was critically important for international cooperation in that context.  The CARICOM countries were actively involved in many related national, subregional and regional initiatives, he said.


Hampering regional efforts to implement the World Summit outcomes, however, were the challenges of insufficient resources, fragmentation and lack of coordination, he said.  CARICOM, therefore, called on the international community to enhance its support for the region’s development of its information and communications technology sector by providing additional resources, strengthening partnerships and increasing technology transfer and capacity-building tailored to meeting the particular needs of the region’s small societies.  The transformative potential of information and communications technology for development must also be fully taken into account in the post-2015 development agenda, he added.  In that context and in light of rapid advances in technology, it was important that preparations for the upcoming 10-year review of World Summit implementation begin at the earliest opportunity.


NORAZLIANAH IBRAHIM (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed concern that the digital divide remained a major challenge, particularly as information and communications technology was an important engine of growth that could play a role in improving public services, financial transactions and communications infrastructure.  More than 78 per cent of ASEAN citizens used information and communications technology in various facets of their lives, and the industry employed millions of people, contributing more than $32 billion to the economy annually.  In addition, at least five ASEAN member States had reached the 100 per cent mobile penetration mark, he said.


He said ASEAN looked to the strengthening of cooperation in telecommunications regulations to facilitate the industry’s development and further promote collaboration in regulatory practices and policy strategies, as well as coordination in standards.  The bloc acknowledged the importance of finding ways to promote and nurture innovative ideas and creativity in the information and communications technology sector.  In that regard, the first ASEAN ICT Awards would be organized in Cebu, Philippines, this month to recognize organizations that had done the most to advance the adoption and use of information and communications technology in the region.  Through such initiatives, it was to be hoped that ASEAN would not only establish information and communications technology as an engine of growth for member States and develop the region as a global hub, but also enhance the quality of life for its people and contribute towards wider regional integration.


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For information media • not an official record