Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

2014 ECOSOC High-level Policy Dialogue
“Macroeconomic policies in support of a post-2015 sustainable development agenda”

Distinguished Delegates,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to moderate this ECOSOC High-level Policy Dialogue on macroeconomic policies in support of a post-2015 development agenda.

I wish to thank my colleagues from UNCTAD, the World Bank, WTO, IMF, UNEP and ILO for joining us in this Dialogue.

Your participation today demonstrates the commitment of the United Nations system to working together to meet global economic challenges.

I also wish to give a special warm welcome to my colleagues from UNEP and ILO. It is the first time they are participating in this dialogue. We look forward to your contribution to this Dialogue.

Allow me to briefly address the three points that serve as guidelines for the discussion we are about to enter this morning.

The first question I would like to address is: What are the key features of a broad, coherent and integrated macro-economic policy framework to support the three strands of global sustainable development?

  • It has been more than five years since the global financial crisis, but the world economy has not fully recovered.
  • According to the latest forecast in the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects, the world economy is expected to strengthen in 2014 and 2015, with growth rates of 2.8 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively.
  • But even with this anticipated improvement, global output will remain significantly below what is needed to get the global economy back on track. 
  • The global financial crisis and the Great Recession in its aftermath have exposed flaws in the broad economic policy framework worldwide.
  • The post-2015 sustainable development agenda would require an even broader, more coherent and integrated economic policy framework to deal with the issues in each of the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic and social development as well as environmental sustainability.
  • For example, how to incorporate environmental sustainability into macroeconomic policy framework alone is already a daunting challenge.

The second question: How can we ensure economic and financial stability with macro-economic policies that foster robust and inclusive growth of output and employment?

  • Robust and inclusive growth is an important condition for achieving the MDGs and other development goals.
  • The experience of the MDGs has also shown that growth will have greater impact on poverty reduction and social development when it is more inclusive.
  • Policies at both international and national levels promoting such growth are therefore of paramount importance for sustainable development in post-2015 era.
  • Policies that can create decent and productive jobs, particularly for youth, are the effective policies for promoting inclusive growth.
  • One challenge is how to coordinate macroeconomic policies, social policies and employment policies together to promote robust and inclusive growth. 

The third and final question is this. What are the greatest challenges faced by international financial, trade, development and environmental institutions in coordinating policies for supporting the formulation and implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda?

  • International trade has long been considered as an engine for economic growth. 
  • In the context of advancing the UN Post-2015 development agenda, there has been increasing attention on how to promote trade for the three pillars of sustainable development, namely, economic, social and environmental.
  • For example, international trade has the potential to induce changes in the methods by which goods and services are produced, lowering the energy and pollution intensity of production, and lessening the scale effects of trade.
  • However, trade can also have adverse environmental effects such as through carbon emissions from trade-related transport, which is projected to increase sharply during the next few decades.
  • Trade can also lead to environmental arbitrage, when production is shifted to the least environmentally regulated location.
  • With regard to international finance, it is important to strengthen financial regulatory reforms so as to mitigate risks of suffering recurrent financial crises in the future.
  • The ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have highlighted the critical need to promote financing for long-term investment in both physical capital and human capital.
  • There exist enormous needs for financing investment in such critical areas as infrastructure, health, education and sanitation services; small- and medium-sized enterprises among others.
  • The challenge lies in promoting a global financial system that motivates long-term sustainable investment.
  • Overall, we need to enhance multilateral policy coordination and cooperation among issues related to international trade, finance and the environment.

I thank you for your attention.