The Handover Ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Distinguished Secretary-General,
Excellency, Mr. Jorge Argüello,
Excellency, Mr. Abdullah Alsaidi,
Excellency, Mr. Henry L. MacDonald,
My dear colleague, Ms. Helen Clark,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to speak at this handover ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77.

This annual ceremony is more than just a ritual. It is an occasion of historic significance.

It is a moment when the leadership and vision of the Group of 77 is reinvigorated, and its unity and solidarity reinforced.

In 2010, under the Chairmanship of Yemen, the Group of 77 made critical contributions to the work of the United Nations and to the vital interests of developing countries.

Needless to say that last year was a difficult and laborious year. It began with the unprecedented devastation of the Haitian earthquake. Other natural disasters followed, along with food insecurity, continuing aftermath of the economic turmoil and post-Copenhagen skepticism about multilateralism.

There was also concern over the central role of the United Nations in global economic governance.

Amidst all of this, the Group of 77 demonstrated unwavering commitment to the United Nations.

The success of the MDG Summit was firmly anchored on the resolve, commitment and flexibility of the Group of 77.

The Cancun outcome further showcased the crucial role of the Group of 77 in advancing transparent, inclusive and results-oriented negotiations and in restoring trust in multilateral solutions.

Under the overall guidance of the Secretary-General, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which I head, provided the Group of 77 with increased substantive and technical support in the past year.

On climate change, the Department, together with the Governments of India and Mexico, organized a Ministerial dialogue on climate change, focusing on the International Technology Mechanism, aimed at enabling all countries to access clean technologies. It was the third high-level meeting that my department had co-organized on climate change and technology transfer. These meetings generated a number of practical proposals that had helped advance the negotiations in Cancun on technology cooperation.

In the lead-up to the MDG Summit, the Department supported the intense negotiations on the Action Agenda.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Members of the Group of 77 who had expressed appreciation for the work of DESA in this regard.

Among many other activities, the Department tapped the resources of the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation and Development Account and provided capacity development services to more than 100 developing countries in 2010.

We thank the Group of 77 for working with other Member States in maintaining the level of regular budget resources allocated for capacity development.

None of this would have been possible without the guidance and support of the Group of 77.

I want to thank Ambassador Alsaidi for meeting with the Department shortly after he assumed the Chairmanship to share his vision and expectations on UN development work.

Excellencies,

We are ready to do more.

Allow me to take this opportunity to pledge the Department’s continued support to the Group of 77 as the Republic of Argentina assumes the Chairmanship this year. Likewise, I hope to have close collaboration with the incoming Chair.

We will re-double our efforts in supporting Member States in MDG follow-up, in the intergovernmental work of the General Assembly, and in the Economic and Social Council, functional commissions and expert bodies.

We will leverage our financial resources and relationships with development partners to enhance capacity building in countries most in need.

Excellencies,

2011 will also be a critical year for the preparation of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

As you recall, the Conference will aim to secure renewed political commitments for sustainable development and assess progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development. The Conference will also address new and emerging challenges in sustainable development.

The Conference will focus on the themes of a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.

I am sure you will agree with me that on the green economy and institutional framework themes, considerable concerns remain among members of the Group of 77. I do understand those concerns. Identification of concerns is one issue. What is more important is finding ways to address them in cooperation with relevant stakeholders.

On this, the UNCSD secretariat has high expectations on the Group of 77. Without a satisfactory solution to the issue of concerns of the Group of 77, no conference can be claimed a success. As the Conference Secretary-General, a task entrusted to me by the Secretary-General, let me assure you that I will do my level best to support the Group of 77 in your consultations on Rio+20.

Indeed, the Department is working with the Office of the Group of 77 to organize expert workshops and Ambassador retreats in the coming months so that your input on the objectives and themes of the Conference is heard.

With the bulk of the preparatory work to be completed this year, we look forward to the leadership and guidance of the Group of 77 in the intergovernmental processes leading up to the Conference and in the outcomes of the Conference.

Rio+20 offers a historic opportunity for reinvigorating global commitment to sustainable development and for addressing implementation gaps. I anticipate the preparations and negotiations of the outcome of Rio+20 can be a complex process.

But, let us seize this opportunity.

Distinguished Ambassadors and the delegation of Argentina, you can count on my support and the support of DESA in the year ahead.

Thank you.

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