Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the G77 Chairmanship Handover Ceremony
New York, 22 January 2010

Your Excellency, Foreign Minister of Yemen,
Distinguished Secretary-General,
Your Excellency, Dr. Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, Ambassador of Sudan,
Your Excellency, Mr. Abdullah Alsaidi, Ambassador of Yemen,
Distinguished Administrator of UNDP,
Secretary-General of UNCTAD,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a special pleasure for me to take the floor at this important ceremony. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which I have the privilege of heading, has a simple mission – promoting development for all. In this pursuit, it has always been our sincere endeavour to strongly support the work of the Group of 77 and China, which represents the poorest and the most vulnerable in the world.

I would like to congratulate the delegation of Sudan for its outstanding leadership in 2009. Sudan distinguished itself in a series of difficult and complicated negotiations and discussions, from examining the financial and economic crisis to climate change, South-South Cooperation, public health, system-wide coherence and the many other issues on the United Nations development agenda. I congratulate the Republic of Yemen, who will take on these challenging tasks, and I extend my best wishes for the year ahead.

In my remarks today, I would like to focus on the multiple ways in which DESA can support the Group of 77 and China, especially in 2010. Yet, let me first say a few words about a serious challenge confronting the multilateral international system.

A prominent trend in 2009 was the growth of smaller decision-making structures which were less transparent and inclusive. While such structures have purpose, the overall trend puts great pressure on global solidarity. This critical resource is built on the solidarity of larger groups, particularly the G77 and China, which are bound together not only by the struggle to free their people from the oppression of poverty and hunger, but also by a shared history of dominance and disproportionate suffering.

I strongly believe that this trend must not be allowed to undermine solidarity and weaken multilateralism or the United Nations, which, in bringing together all governments on the basis of sovereign equality, plays a very special role in the multilateral international system.

In this year, I can assure you that my department and I will be strongly supporting your endeavours to preserve and enhance the spirit of solidarity and to reach meaningful outcomes in the issue areas that I have mentioned. Let me briefly describe how DESA will do this in some of those areas.

A top priority, as indicated by the Secretary-General, is to make a success of the MDG summit process. We need to accelerate progress to the 2015 targets. DESA is working with other UN partners to provide a high quality report for Member States on the substantive scope of the summit. We will collaborate to produce a special edition of the annual Millennium Development Goals Report and the Report of the MDG Gap Task Force, so that these can influence the discussions on concrete strategies for action. We shall support civil society participation. We shall help in the involvement of philanthropic foundations and the private sector. We shall help generate the political momentum.

The Secretary-General has already outlined his priority and expectations on climate change. DESA as a whole will support these efforts through, inter alia, our Division for Sustainable Development, which will also support the five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for Small Island Developing States, and through the Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

The continuing uncertainty in the global economy is casting a long shadow over 2010. DESA’s divisions of Financing for Development and Development Policy Analysis will provide the strong analytical basis for monitoring and analysis of development trends to support the follow-up of last year’s June conference and the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration.

As home to the Secretariat of the Economic and Social Council, DESA will support the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) focusing on the empowerment of women and the second Development Cooperation Forum. We need to use the Commission on the Status of Women, supported by our Division for the Advancement of Women, and ECOSOC to send a strong message on gender equality to the 2010 MDG summit.

The Division for Social Policy and Development promotes awareness and understanding of issues at the core of national policy in developing countries – poverty eradication, employment generation and social integration. They will be centrally involved, not only in supporting the Commission for Social Development, but also in providing technical support and deeper understanding to developing countries on these issues.

DESA’s Statistics Division is committed to support the global statistical system and the development of statistical capacity in developing countries. They will play a crucial role in preparing the annual MDG report. Similarly the Population Division plays a central role in studying population dynamics and monitoring worldwide demographic trends. We develop demographic tools for policy makers, particularly in developing countries. We will continue to support the better understanding of the issues of fertility, mortality, migration and urbanization and to help developing countries in related policies.

The Division for Public Administration and Development Management will help developing countries in building public institutions and capacity to promote sustainable development, advance public sector reform and improve service delivery.

DESA also provides direct assistance to developing countries in capacity building, supported by a newly created Capacity Development Office, which ensures that the Development Account and the other limited resources are put to best use in the areas which the Department knows best.

DESA’s professional staff research and analyze a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues. Given the breadth of our mandates, we produce more reports than any other UN department. These reports are essential for UN negotiations, national policy-makers and academicians. As I have done each year that I have joined these handover ceremonies, I continue to pledge the work of the Department in support of all countries, in particular the Group of 77 and China.

Distinguished Ambassador and the delegation of Yemen, you can count on the support of this Department in the year ahead.

Thank you.