|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-second General Assembly
2nd & 3rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Deputy Secretary-General, addressing Second Committee, points out evidence
of ‘implementation gap’ on path towards Millennium Development Goals
Poverty Entrenched, African Lives Hang in Balance, She Notes,
As Under-Secretary-General Urges Serious Action to Correct Global Imbalances
With poverty deeply entrenched in Africa and many lives hanging in the balance, the continent’s poor showing on the path towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals was proof of the underlying gap between commitment and implementation, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its annual general debate.
Emphasizing that all stakeholders must make good on their promises, and affirming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s and her own deep commitment to helping them through a multilateral approach, she said the new Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon aimed to work with them to improve aid predictability and effectiveness, and to forge stronger country-level programmes.
The Steering Group, chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General, would ensure that Africa received effective aid for key projects in health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and food security, she said. In addition, she had launched an informal consultative process with the heads of United Nations departments, funds and programmes that would advise the Secretary-General on the sharp social and economic disparities in the global economy that thwarted efforts to end extreme poverty and achieve the Millennium targets.
She urged developing countries to do their part to advance the development agenda by creating a favourable environment for long-term, equitable economic growth through such regional instruments as the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and South-South partnerships. Donors, for their part, must do more to keep their pledges to increase official development assistance (ODA) and debt relief; ensure open, fair and non-discriminatory trading and financial systems, which were equally critical to the prospects of developing countries; and facilitate a successful conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations. More effective and inclusive multilateral policy coordination could help advance development and the orderly evolution of the world economy.
Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, reinforced that theme, warning, however, that the current global financial turmoil could threaten future growth prospects for the world economy, and calling for serious action to address global imbalances. “The global economy desperately needs effective multilateral surveillance for macroeconomic policy coordination and collective action, involving all major players from developed and developing countries”, he said.
According to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2007, global growth projection remained at 3.4 per cent, a marked slow-down from previous years, he continued. Recent financial turbulence and weakened growth in the United States meant the world may very well have to further downgrade next year’s projections. Changes in market sentiment and investor confidence could trigger a hard landing of the dollar and a disorderly adjustment of the global imbalances, threatening prospects for future growth.
The Second Committee should promote development cooperation by working to enhance the capacity of United Nations funds and programmes to focus on deliverables, he said. It should focus on aligning the Organization’s country- level activities with sustainable development strategies; increasing the effectiveness and coherence of its development system; leveraging its advantages; and increasing accountability, transparency and efficiency by simplifying procedures.
In a keynote address earlier, Edmund Phelps, 2006 Nobel Prize Laureate in Economic Science and Professor of Economics at Columbia University, said the magic of the market was overestimated by conservatives. In real business life, there were inconsistencies and mistakes in information and knowledge, as well as in regulations made to protect participants.
He said underdevelopment existed due to technological backwardness, the deficiencies of human capital, obstacles caused by corruption in both the private and public sectors, and ill-functioning market systems. China was a good example of escaping underdevelopment through technological catch-up, but it should not be taken for granted that the emerging economic powerhouse would catch up fully with the most dynamic Western economies. That would require an extraordinary development of the country’s economic institutions and, perhaps, its culture.
The Committee Chairperson, Kirsti Lintonen ( Finland), said the body’s primary concern was to ensure that the international community took appropriate steps towards equitable, sustainable development in all countries, and particularly achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets. However, with the world still far short of achieving the Millennium and other internationally agreed goals, particularly in Africa, the first Annual Ministerial Review of the 2007 Economic and Social Council high-level segment had called for renewed efforts to achieve those goals.
During the current session, she continued, the Committee would consider issues of economic growth and development, such as macroeconomic policy questions, financing for development, sustainable development, human settlements, poverty eradication, globalization and interdependence, operational activities for development, and information and communications technology for development. It also had a crucial role in ensuring the success of the upcoming financing for development review. The Committee would also consider issues of concern to the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.
Other speakers during today’s meeting were the representatives of Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Pakistan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Indonesia (on behalf of ASEAN), United States, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Japan, Egypt, Morocco, Bangladesh, Colombia, China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nicaragua, Thailand, Senegal and Libya.
Also making a statement was the United Nations representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 9 October, to continue its general debate.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to begin its general debate for the sixty-second session of the General Assembly.
Opening Statement by Chairperson
KIRSTI LINTONEN ( Finland), Committee Chairperson, said the body’s primary concern was to ensure that the international community took appropriate steps towards equitable, sustainable development in all countries, and particularly achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development targets. However, the world was still far short of achieving the millennium and other internationally agreed goals, particularly in Africa. The first Annual Ministerial Review of the 2007 Economic and Social Council high-level segment had called for renewed efforts to achieve those goals.
During the current session, she continued, the Committee would consider issues related to economic growth and development, such as macroeconomic policy questions, financing for development, sustainable development, human settlements, poverty eradication, globalization and interdependence, operational activities for development, and information and communications technology for development.
She pointed to the triennial comprehensive policy review, saying the Committee had an instrumental role to play in ensuring clear guidance to promote greater coherence, effectiveness and efficiency in United Nations operational activities. The Committee also had a crucial role in ensuring the success of the upcoming financing for development review in Doha. The Committee would also consider issues of concern to the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.
Statement by Deputy Secretary-General
ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Secretary-General strongly and unequivocally supported the promotion of the Organization’s development agenda, adding that she had launched an informal consultative process with the heads of United Nations departments, funds and programmes dealing with economic, social and development issues. That process would feed into the Secretary-General’s leadership role and provide him with sound policy advice on the development agenda. Despite financial market turbulence, the overall world economic outlook was positive, but the situation in many developing countries was fragile. Global poverty remained a pressing issue affecting millions of people. Poverty’s grip was tight and structurally rooted, particularly in Africa, where millions of lives hung in the balance. Sharp social and economic disparities in the global economy persisted, exacerbating the fight against extreme poverty and the world’s collective efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
She said she and the Secretary-General were deeply committed to promoting the development agenda through a multilateral approach. The success of the Committee’s work was critical, especially as it concerned economic recovery in developing African countries and the prospects of countries making the transition from conflict to reconstruction and development. More effective, inclusive multilateral policy coordination, coupled with measures to keep markets open, could help advance development and the orderly evolution of the world economy. Such efforts should provide a special focus on protecting countries with special needs, such as those in Africa, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, as well as vulnerable groups everywhere, especially women and children.
Many African countries were not on track to achieve the millennium targets, evidence of the underlying gap between commitment and implementation, she said. Last month, the Secretary-General convened the Millennium Development Goals Africa Working Group, which aimed to accelerate efforts to follow through on existing promises by keeping the focus clearly on implementation. The Working Group would collaborate with other stakeholders to improve aid predictability and effectiveness, and strengthen country-level efforts to implement commitments in such key areas as health, education, agriculture and food security, and infrastructure. Last July’s Annual Ministerial Review of progress towards attaining development goals had made important strides towards implementation. All stakeholders must make good on their promises.
Developing countries must continue to create a favourable environment for long-term and equitable economic growth and take full ownership of the development process, she said. There had been encouraging process in the area. For example, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) had become a dynamic geopolitical entity, driving its member countries’ social progress and economic growth, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was a development blueprint for that continent. Strong South-South cooperation, North-South partnerships and other international support were essential to success. Donors must do more to keep their pledges on increasing development assistance flows and debt relief. Despite strong commitments in 2005, official development assistance (ODA) had declined in 2006 and could also fall in 2007. That worrisome trend must be reversed.
The quality, modality and effectiveness of aid were equally important, she said, stressing the need for further efforts to build on the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness. The potential of the Development Cooperation Forum should be fully seized. Foreign aid was clearly not enough. Open, fair and non-discriminatory trading and financial systems were equally critical to developing countries’ prospects. The Doha Round must conclude early with a meaningful development package. Aid-for-trade must effectively support countries in creating competitive trade capacities and job opportunities. The power of investment and new and innovative technologies must be better channelled to improve human conditions everywhere. Those issues would be central to the twelfth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) in Accra next year and the Financing for Development Review Conference in Doha, both of which would provide major opportunities to further advance the United Nations trade, finance and development agenda.
The dramatic rise in South-South trade testified to the growing importance of regional and interregional economic links, she said, adding that the United Nations must step up the focus on those issues. Efforts to address climate change and keep it from undermining socio-economic progress must be increased. The United Nations had a common cause to strengthen its capacity in order to better implement country-level programmes. This year, the Committee would address that issue under the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities.
Statement by Under-Secretary-General
SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2007, global growth projection remained at 3.4 per cent, a marked slow-down from previous years. Given the recent financial turbulence and weakened growth in the United States, the world may have to further downgrade next year’s projections. The Second Committee would consider four key issues this session: the world economy; financing for development and the follow-up to the Monterrey International Conference of 2002; climate change and sustainable development; and the review of United Nations development cooperation.
On the world economy, he said global financial turmoil was still unfolding, and, while its outcome was unknown, the assessment was that the risks had increased. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs had repeatedly called attention to the importance of addressing global imbalances, but no serious action had been taken. Changes in market sentiments and investor confidence could trigger a hard landing of the dollar and a disorderly adjustment of the global imbalances, threatening prospects for future growth. “The global economy desperately needs effective multilateral surveillance for macroeconomic policy coordination and collective action, involving all major players from developed and developing countries.”
He said the follow-up to Monterrey was a major mechanism for strengthening the partnership between developed and developing countries, and two critical opportunities lay ahead: the General Assembly’s High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, scheduled for later this month; and the follow-up conference on financing for development, to be held in Doha next year. While many developing countries had achieved growth in trade and ODA levels had seen some improvement since 2002, aid seemed to have declined last year and more needed to be done concerning debt relief. A number of major challenges remained, including the realization of the development dimension of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, putting all low-income countries on a sustainable path to debt repayment, raising ODA levels to meet targets, and ensuring that sufficient and predictable flows were channelled through national budgets. “Unfortunately, there is little progress to report on increasing the voice and participation of developing countries in the international financial institutions”, he noted.
One of the major challenges ahead was mounting a global response to climate change, he said. It should include innovative financing mechanisms and better avenues for the transfer of cleaner technologies. Building resilience in vulnerable countries, including small island developing States and least developed countries, should be a priority. The General Assembly’s recent high-level event had heard calls to mobilize the necessary political will for a global agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the thirteenth session of the Conference of Parties, to be held in Bali in December, should be the starting point.
On United Nations development cooperation, he said the Second Committee should endeavour to enhance the capacity of the Organization’s funds and programmes to focus on deliverables. It should address four key issues: aligning the United Nations system’s activities at the country level with sustainable development strategies; increasing the effectiveness and coherence of the Organization’s development system; leveraging the system’s advantages; and increasing accountability, transparency and efficiency through further simplification of procedures.
EDMUND PHELPS, 2006 Nobel Prize recipient in Economic Science and Professor of Economics at Columbia University, said that in neoclassical economic theory the concept of underdevelopment did not exist. The only development was national wealth accumulation. In a closed economy, that was identical with domestic capital accumulation, while in an open economy, the concept of accumulation of assets abroad was added. According to neoclassical economic theory, in order for domestic capital accumulation and the resulting economic growth to occur, there was only the need for property rights, company law, including corporate governance, the rule of law, impersonal law enforcement and no overriding of the democratic Government by the ruler.
The magic of the market was overestimated by conservatives, he said, noting that in real business life, there were all sorts of imperfects in information and knowledge. As a result, participants could and did make huge mistakes, and those making regulations to protect participants also made enormous mistakes. Underdevelopment did in fact exist due to imperfect knowledge in the form of technological backwardness, deficiencies of human capital, obstacles caused by corruption in the private and public sectors, and ill-functioning market systems. Ill-conceived policies, such as minimum-wage laws and unconditional doles of large size, could have predictable results, such as unemployment.
China was a good example of escaping underdevelopment through technological catch-up, he continued. Fiscal policy governed the disposal income of households and firms as a means to guide the pace of investment in Western technologies. An important element in the Chinese model was that, as in other economies emerging from underdevelopment, the consumer must incur learning costs in evaluating and using new products. That was why consumption lagged behind output until the gap became so large that consumption could finally grow at the same rate as outputs. As a result, imports had lagged behind exports. By the early 1990s, continental Western European economies had caught up technologically with the United States and Canada in terms of best-practice technologies, but their productivity growth had not been able to keep up with those in the Republic of Korea, Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Iceland, Canada and the United States during the information technology revolution from 1995 to 2000. Continental Western European could be expected to catch up now that productivity growth had slowed to a more normal pace in the latter countries.
Nevertheless, overall performance in continental Europe was below that in the United States, Canada and Ireland, he said. Job satisfaction and indications of employee engagement tended to be lower in France and Italy than in Canada and the United States. That was due to the fact that European economic systems generated less dynamism than those in Canada and the United States in terms of developing new ideas of commercial promise, financial-sector shrewdness and experimentalism among consumers towards new products. It should not be taken for granted that China would catch up fully with the West’s most dynamic economies. That would require an extraordinary development of the country’s economic institutions and, perhaps, culture.
To exports facing competition from China and other countries running large trade surpluses, such a lag of imports by China might seem unfair, he said, noting that there was pressure on China to stimulate consumption and cut exports. But that narrow view overlooked gains to the global economy resulting from the supply of Chinese and other surpluses arising from learning costs. Pollution was also a source of unfairness. Most experts expected to see the higher-income countries share in the cost of reducing Chinese pollution. As to whether capitalism was right for all or most developing countries, it required an intricate network of economic institutions that would make capitalism perform better than corporatism or socialism. However, market socialism and corporatism also needed institutions. The idea that State enterprises were naturally transparent, non-abusive and non-corrupt as compared to firms operating under capitalism was wrong.
The representative of Belgium asked whether Mr. Phelps shared the pessimism of some developing countries regarding economic development, to which he responded by emphasizing the importance of distinguishing between short- and long-term realities. Many Latin American countries, and especially African countries, were facing a difficult time at present, while China was very likely to have a major amount of economic development in store, as a result of which it would come to look increasingly like Canada, the United States and Europe in terms of labour. “You won’t see a flood of cheap-labour goods into the world economy because you won’t see cheap labour in China. Latin America and Africa will have their day.”
The representative of the Netherlands, pointing out the importance of doing something about poverty, asked how countries now at the bottom in terms of economic development could establish a safety net.
Mr. PHELPS said developing countries must lose no time in focusing on supportive and stimulatory economic institutions. On the matter of poverty, there was no reason why less developed countries in Africa and other regions could not also pursue improvements in low-wage labour, making it more remunerative through appropriate State help. “All these things can go forward. I don’t subscribe to the view that there can be no development without trade. A great deal can be done.”
The representative of Bahrain asked how diminishing resources could be explained and what recommendations the keynote speaker would have for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other institutions.
Mr. PHELPS said there had never been a time when technology gaps could be easily addressed, virtually at a computer keystroke over the Internet. The technology of technological transfer had improved over the last decade, but even despite huge technological strides and a rapid diffusion of new technologies, technology was not everything. Informal knowledge was a critical driver of productivity.
The representative of Cuba sought clarification regarding the country’s special situation and its exports, noting that examples should be placed in context before criteria for economic models were suggested for each country. While Mr. Phelps had advised in 2004 that Cuba should further develop exports, the country had been moving in that direction for a long time. Regarding Cuba’s special situation -- the four decade-long embargo imposed on it -– the island nation had lost a huge amount of the international market and had to diversify as it was difficult to increase exports. Could Mr. Phelps clarify his position as to whether capitalism was the system by which developing countries could emerge from critical economic situations, or was it socialism or corporatism, two models on which he had made good points?
Mr. PHELPS replied that while socialism, capitalism and corporatism had been tried in the context of Western Europe, points that were valid in one context were not so in another. Where capitalism could be well functioning, its strength was that it empowered individuals in the business sector to use their knowledge and innovations. The uneasiness and hostility against capitalism that had grown in Western Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were over, and now the idea was more pro-enterprise and pro-innovation.
The representative of Algeria asked whether it was possible to establish international ethics to ensure the essential needs of humankind and address issues in developing countries. What steps should countries take in order to reach the desired levels of productivity?
The representative of the Dominican Republic stressed the need to address the international financial infrastructure and the digital divide so as to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
The representative of Bangladesh addressed the question of surplus economies, noting that China was running a huge surplus, and that there had been some pressure to increase its consumption and imports. While total global reserves were owned mostly by developing countries, they were not benefiting from them. How could those reserves be used for the benefit of those countries?
He pointed out that developed nations came to developing countries with policy prescriptions that required clarification. “What we need is a golden model of capitalism that we can pursue in developing levels.”
The representative of Sierra Leone asked Mr. Phelps to elaborate on the components of economics and culture, and to explain how China could raise its levels of technology and knowledge to boost productivity statistics.
Mr. PHELPS said capitalization and trade had a nice feature by which, once started up and working well, a country could see how much it cost to buy one unit of pollution. Maybe there was hope that elementary tacit ideas of fairness would be able to operate and produce a fairly good result in the end.
Regarding the importance of trade, he said his comments had been made about countries of a good size, not small ones. The middle-sized countries could have meaningful, rewarding work and “have fun” with their economies, maybe with no trade or with modest trade. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, populations had expressed satisfaction with their lives even though, by modern-day standards, productivity had been abysmally low. “I think we’re looking too closely at trade, and not enough at rewarding lives in the business sector”, he added.
On his definition of capitalism, he said it was about innovation, among other things. Some thought capitalism was a zero-welfare State, but that was not the case.
Concerning China’s productivity statistics, he said the financial sector was where huge reforms could be made over the next decade, and there could be an enormous flourishing of entrepreneurial spirit. “I look forward to seeing that.”
JOÃO SALGUERIO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that, among the critical topics before the Second Committee, climate change was one of the most politically challenging and relevant. It required the coordination of efforts by actors at all levels, considering both the widespread and indiscriminate nature of the consequences of climate change, and the urgent and global nature of the response necessary to tackle it. Climate change severely impacted sustainable economic and social development, public health, peace and security. The United Nations system as a whole should be prepared urgently to address those and other related issues.
He said the European Union would address the Committee’s agenda, with particular attention towards financing for development and the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR) of operational activities for development. The TCPR resolution was a valuable instrument for Member States in furthering the efficiency of United Nations operational activities, but more must be done to create a truly United Nations operating in true partnership and serving the needs of all countries, especially developing ones. The European Union would be presenting a draft resolution under the agenda item “Towards Global Partnerships”, which would aim to highlight the important contribution of public and private partnerships towards sustainable development.
The implementation of commitments made at major United Nations conferences and summits must be honoured, he said, especially since the international community was half way to 2015 and the collective record in achieving the Millennium Development Goals was mixed. Stronger coordination and coherence between the policies and actions of all relevant players was needed, and those principles should guide the work of the session.
CHRISTOPHER HACKETT ( Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that in the past year the regional body had made great strides towards creating a single market and economy. Efforts were now focused on mechanisms to making the single economy effective through a phased implementation. The single economy would facilitate further integration in the production and financial sectors, the coordination of economic sectoral policies, the convergence of macroeconomic policies, the building of a regional capital market, and the harmonization of monetary and fiscal policies.
For the small, open and vulnerable economies of the Caribbean, he said, any global economic downturn would have a significant negative impact on the regional efforts to eradicate poverty and promote sustained economic growth. The CARICOM agreed with the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2007 that only deeper and more far-reaching reforms of the global monetary and financial system as a whole would be able to prevent similar imbalances from arising again and to deal with the asymmetries currently inherent in global adjustment mechanisms. Ongoing discussions in the Bretton Woods institutions should result in increased representation of, and a greater voice for, small developing countries.
He called for the full realization of the development dimension of the Doha Work Programme and stressed the importance of special and differential treatment enabling vulnerable economies to facilitate their full integration into the multilateral trading system. The Committee must send a strong political signal to trade negotiators in Geneva that the Doha Round must fulfil its development promise. The CARICOM fully supported the Aid for Trade initiative and reiterated its call for a more comprehensive approach to address the debt burden of middle-income developing countries, given that such economic indicators as per capita income in those countries often masked the true impact of the debt burden on their populations, poverty and income inequality levels and their prospects for achieving the millennium targets. The outcome of Doha should also include actions to further strengthen the United Nations role in international cooperation on tax matters.
During their July meeting, CARICOM heads of Government had issued their strongest-ever statement on climate change, he continued. They had noted with alarm the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and underscored the importance of adaptation against climate change’s current and future impacts as a top priority. They had also highlighted the priorities of the post-2012-regime -- substantial and legally binding emission reductions as soon as possible, and significant increases in resources for developing countries, particularly small island developing States, for adaptation. Concerning renewable energy, CARICOM called for a greater sharing of renewable sources, the creation of a global renewable energy fund to assist developing countries, and support for the regional cooperation efforts of developing countries.
MUNIR AKRAM ( Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the United Nations had been more prescient in its projection of economic events, including previous financial crises, than the major financial institutions. The Organization had voiced its concerns over the dangers inherent in the recent imbalances in trade and financial flows. The current financial “crisis” was unique in most ways and reinforced the case for conscious efforts to unleash the latent economic potential of developing countries. The generation of growth and incomes in those countries would sustain global growth and prosperity. The partnership for development was a two-way highway.
He said many developing countries were still caught in the poverty trap, lacked productive capacity, were often dependent on a single commodity, vulnerable to external economic turbulence and unattractive for commercially driven investment. That situation clearly called for a redoubling of efforts to highlight the inextricable link between peace and development. The United Nations played a central role in advancing the broad development agenda, and it must respond to the challenges through further analysis and policy formulation in finance, trade, technology, energy, climate change and global economic governance. Development cooperation, the second dimension of the Organization’s development role, had expanded over the years in the form of operational activities. The United Nations system collectively delivered more than $12 billion in development assistance, while the World Bank, regional development banks and major donor countries contributed parallel efforts.
The effectiveness and efficiency of development cooperation could be improved significantly, he said. The High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence considered ways to do that. The Group of 77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement had expressed their views on the Panel’s recommendations, saying the recommendations should ensure the universal, voluntary and impartial nature of United Nations operational activities conducted for the benefit of recipient countries at their request. They should also ensure acceptance by all of the principle of national ownership in implementing national development strategies; increase funding to help recipient countries achieve the millennium targets; provide untied and unallocated funding to ensure responsiveness to national goals and priorities; harmonize and streamline the business practices of United Nations funds and agencies to reduce overhead; and promote coordination and harmonization of United Nations assistance with other multilateral and bilateral development assistance. The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review should not be superseded or pre-empted by other processes for operational activities.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY ( Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said climate change and economic development and cooperation were among the critical issues before the Second Committee needing urgent attention. The positive political climate generated during the High-Level Event on Climate Change had triggered hope that the thirteenth Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the third Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol would conclude successfully.
The high-level event was also a stark reminder that extreme poverty continued to plague the planet, affecting more than a billion people in developing countries, she said. More equitable trade, more official development assistance, further debt relief and foreign direct investment flows were just part of the cure, and progress towards achieving the millennium targets remained uneven. Given those realities, the Committee’s work must ensure bolder, more decisive and immediate action for the implementation of existing commitments on poverty eradication and sustainable development. Developing countries should continue to promote a hospitable climate for economic growth, and developed countries should spare no effort in realizing an open, rules-based predictable trading system for developing countries.
The ASEAN was aware that the region housed a large portion of the world’s poor, and had made poverty eradication a priority, she said. It aimed to narrow the development gap through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and had promoted the implementation of the Vientiane Action Programme adopted at the tenth ASEAN Summit. The regional body had also been seeking to further enhance international economic cooperation and promote sustainable development through cooperation with the United Nations. “As this year represents the halfway point to the Millennium Development Goals, let us not waste time with mere rhetoric. The poor and impoverished expect more than promises. It is important that the United Nations and the global partnership deliver on its commitments.”
RODGER YOUNG ( United States) said that, while many countries had embraced the liberalization of international trade and globalization, some remained vulnerable to external economic shocks. To limit those risks and reduce global imbalances, the United States encouraged States to adopt economic policies grounded in good governance, democratic institutions, market systems and respect for all human beings. It also acknowledged the importance of international assistance and debt relief in supporting developing countries, and had fully forgiven outstanding bilateral debts under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative and had worked with its Group of 8 partners to provide similar relief for debts owed to the IMF, International Development Association and the African Development Bank. The United States was a strong advocate for a stable and predictable investment climate because it attracted greater domestic and foreign direct investment. Public-private alliances provided innovative models for improving social and economic conditions in developing countries.
The United States was a strong advocate for the successful completion of the Doha Round negotiations, but the issues under discussion should be negotiated at the World Trade Organization, he said. It was counterproductive for the United Nations General Assembly to predetermine the outcome of issues currently under negotiation at the World Trade Organization. The Second Committee should focus on progress in the agreed-upon development goals, rather than use resolutions as a tool to negotiate issues already addressed in other specialized agencies.
The United States took climate change seriously, he stressed, noting that, at the first meeting of the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, President Bush had proposed the creation of an international clean technology fund to help developing countries harness the power of clean energy technologies. The United States also supported joint efforts to achieve the millennium targets, and it was the largest bilateral aid donor.
NIKOLAY CHULKOV ( Russian Federation) said the 2005 World Summit had cemented the inseparable links connecting peace, security and development. The Second Committee’s continuously expanding workload reflected the growing interdependence of countries with regard to globalization, and confirmed the relevance of the United Nations as a universal platform for the development of common approaches to the most important economic problems.
He said his country had shown stable rates of economic growth and had been working towards strengthening its potential for providing assistance to countries that needed it, a role formulated in the June 2007 Concept of Russia’s International Development Assistance. Regarding reform of the United Nations system, there were concerns that it was taking place against a background of increasingly evident polarization of the positions held by various groups of countries in the socio-economic fields. To ensure the efficiency of United Nations efforts, the principles set out in intergovernmental decisions regarding the provision of multilateral development assistance should be observed. The Russian Federation looked forward to the forthcoming Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, the outcome of which would define the nature of United Nations development assistance for years to come.
NGUYEN TAT THANH ( Viet Nam) said that, at the mid-point to the 2015 deadline for attaining the millennium targets, global imbalances and inequalities had widened, and such pressing issues as epidemics, environmental pollution, natural disasters and climate change had emerged. For targets to be achieved and issues resolved, concerted international efforts and cooperation were needed. On climate change, there were fundamental connections between energy security and sustainable economic development, and Viet Nam looked forward to the progress to be made at the thirteenth Conference of Parties in Bali.
Trade had been a driving force for long-term economic growth and sustainable development, and to enhance more open trade, all forms of export subsidies should be eliminated, he said. To realize that and other issues, the impasse over the Doha negotiations must be overcome. Viet Nam called for increased capital flows and financing for development, and for the United Nations and all stakeholders to focus on implementing commitments made at international conferences, including the International Conference on Financing for Development in 2002 and the Millennium Summit. Meeting millennium targets was especially crucial. “With another seven years to go, it is our view that we should underscore the importance of the Second Committee in making collective efforts to place development at the centre of the United Nations agenda”, he said.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said the human security approach offered useful guidance on the challenges posed by global development issues. Human security was based on the belief that every human being was entitled to a healthy, dignified and fulfilling life. All people should be protected from fear and insecurity. The benefits of the human security approach were evident in the equitable development of many countries, including post-war Japan and South-East Asian nations after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crises. As the international community approached the mid-point between the adoption of the Millennium Declaration and the 2015 deadline, it was critical to closely monitor progress and identify remaining challenges.
Japan was encouraged that the 2007 report showed progress in several areas, particularly in many parts of Asia, he said. However, much remained to be done as almost a billion people still lived in extreme poverty, more than half a million died from pregnancy-related complications, and almost 1.6 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation. Quality assistance was important and must contribute to meeting human security needs.
To improve aid effectiveness, developing countries must exercise ownership and strengthen fiscal discipline and governance, he said. Development actors must work transparently and coordinate assistance based on the Paris Principles in order to maximize aid effectiveness. Japan supported the review of the Monterrey Consensus on financing for development and would participate actively in the high-level dialogue, as well as the 2008 conference in Doha.
Africa’s development was necessary to achieve the millennium targets, he said, noting that Japan would double its ODA to the region by year’s end. Climate change had major implications for human security, and Japan proposed reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to half of current levels by 2050. It called for a flexible, diverse post-2012 framework for action in which all emitters would participate and which would promote the development of environment-friendly technologies to ensure compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth.
RAMZY EZZELDIN RAMZY (Egypt) said urgent attention should be focused on ensuring the political will needed to strengthen the role of the multilateral international system, primarily the United Nations, in dealing with development issues, and on restoring the trust between the developing and developed worlds. Halfway to the millennium target date, many developing countries would fail to reach the Goals. Egypt was concerned about the decline in resources needed to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, the suspension of the Doha trade negotiations and reform of the international financial system, particularly IMF and the World Bank.
He said his country supported a continued focus on climate change, emphasizing that developed countries should include the transfer of suitable technologies in the allocation of financial resources. Sustainable development and intensified efforts to support development in Africa were imperative. Egypt called for African development issues to be addressed as a separate item in the Second Committee, and for special attention to be given to problems facing least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and middle-income countries.
ABDELLAH BENMELLOUK ( Morocco) said the success of the negotiations on a post-2012 climate change regime required a balanced agreement that would reconcile the need to fight global warming with economic investment and growth needs. Increased international cooperation was essential. The Secretary-General’s report on the activities of the United Nations showed a downward trend in ODA, which was far from encouraging. The world was far from achieving the commitment of earmarking the $150 billion required to implement the Millennium Development Goals. Developing countries has seen their exports drop due to increasingly protectionist policies. Development partners must inject a new vitality into existing partnerships. The upcoming Doha conference presented an opportunity to breathe new life into international cooperation.
An assessment of the Monterrey Consensus was also needed, he said, calling for new ways to enrich the Consensus and new approaches to financing sources. The Millennium Development Goals summit proposed by the United Kingdom could provide new momentum. All countries must have the political will to mobilize efforts to combat poverty. Many countries had seen their chance to implement the millennium targets evaporate, and many sub-Saharan African countries were off to a bad start in achieving even one millennium target because none had received the resources promised. The challenge ahead was to follow up on reforms begun. As emphasized by the Secretary-General’s report, much more must be done in terms of coordination and coherence. Flexibility was of key importance, as was improving the predictability and reliability of financing, which remained a major challenge. Morocco supported the convening of a United Nations conference to promote South-South cooperation, which would provide an opportunity to explore South-South and triangular cooperation.
ISMAT JAHAN (Bangladesh) said least developed countries had remained trapped at the bottom of the ladder and must remain the focus of the international community in order to preventing the achievement of the millennium targets from becoming a mere dream. Climate change had posed a formidable global challenge, and access to energy, especially renewable energy, at affordable costs was essential to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals by least developed countries.
To address economic development in least developed countries, she called for a mechanism to collateralized foreign exchange reserves that would allow least developed countries to borrow, at zero-interest mark-ups, against their own reserves. International trade should be bolstered with the Aid for Trade initiative and the Doha negotiations should be concluded to deliver on development promises, including the offer of duty-free and quota-free markets. Multilateral and bilateral debt to least developed countries should be written off immediately.
CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said her country was firmly committed to human, social and economic development policies, and the Government of Colombia had embarked on efforts to ensure a democratic, efficient and austere State and a blooming, socially responsible private sector. Colombia’s Democratic Security Policy had enabled authorities to combat terrorism and protect human right and was also essential to helping Colombia achieve the Millennium targets. Colombia’s economic growth had been 4 per cent during the 2004-2006 period. Poverty, about 60 per cent five years ago, stood at 45 per cent in 2006, and the Government aimed to reduce it to below 35 per cent by 2010. Unemployment, which had been higher than 20 per cent in 2000, had dropped to 10.6 per cent in August 2007.
Although countries were primarily responsible for own development, they needed international support, she said. Despite the commercial liberalization of developing countries, the distortions of international markets hindered the consolidation of an equitable, transparent system. It was necessary to successfully conclude the Doha Round with a view towards assuring developing countries of greater access to international markets.
She stressed the importance of ODA and increased aid for middle-income countries. New and predictable international resources were needed for the global partnership for development. Colombia also supported the initiative to declare a Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review deserved special attention. Discussions on improving the coherence and effectiveness of development should focus on national capacity-building to help countries move from humanitarian assistance to development. It should also help them take national ownership. Greater international commitment was necessary to address climate change, including increased financing and technology transfer.
LUI ZHENMIN ( China) said that amid a world of burgeoning economic globalization and scientific progress, the gap between North and South, rich and poor, had widened, with many countries uncertain about whether or not they would meet the Millennium targets. To achieve coordinated, sustainable development, countries should work together to promote balanced and common development. Efforts should be intensified to mobilize financing for development and develop multilateral trade, removing trade barriers and levelling the playing field. The United Nations should play a leading role in addressing climate change, which was essentially a development issue, and an increasingly bigger role in the field of development.
Since China’s reform and opening up nearly three decades ago, the country had sustained rapid economic growth that had fuelled the growth of the world’s economy, he said. It had led to measures aimed at the accelerated development of developing countries. But living standards had not been high, and development had been uneven. A scientific approach to development put people first and was aimed at all-round, coordinated and sustainable development.
He said China had formulated and released the National Climate Change Programme, and held firm to a new industrialization strategy marked by high technology, high economic returns, low consumption of resources, low pollution levels and the full development of its human resources. “Our goal is to promote the healthy interaction between the social and economic system and the natural and ecological system, and promote the all-round development of the economy and the society, as well as the rounded development of the people.”
PIRAGIBE DOS SANTOS TARRAGO ( Brazil) said that, despite significant progress in the last few years on the three pillars of sustainable development, much work remained to translate the Millennium Development Goals into reality. Development only made sense if it reduced poverty and the unequal distribution of wealth. A successful outcome of the Doha Development Round should include eliminating or substantially reducing barriers and subsidies to agricultural products in a way that allowed developing countries to fully realize their comparative advantage.
For the first time in many years, turmoil in the international financial markets had originated in the world’s main developed economies and not in emerging markets, he said. Vigorous growth in developing countries would limit the depth of the expected global economic deceleration. However, the governance of international financial institutions had taken an unduly long time to reflect the increased weight of developing countries. Voting power in the international financial institutions must correspond to those countries’ relative share in the world economy.
He said financing for development had entered a new phase, pointing to the successful launch of innovative finance mechanisms designed to complement ODA. The “Action against Hunger and Poverty” had evolved into concrete initiatives, such as the creation of a solidarity tax on air tickets and UNITAID, an international centre for the purchase of medicine. International action to address climate change was essential and must adhere to the United NationsFramework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. Brazil was doing its part, having reduced deforestation by half over the last two years. The national energy matrix was one of the world’s cleanest, and a successful biofuels project had been developed. Brazil offered to host in 2012 a conference to review progress in achieving sustainable development and implementing Agenda 21.
TARIQ KHADDAM AL-FAYAZ ( Saudi Arabia) said his country had been contributing 4 per cent of its gross national product (GNP) to the advancement of development in developing countries, including the least developed countries, in addition to a total of $6 billion in debt relief. Striking the right global economic balance should not be based on conditionality.
Reform of the international financial monetary and trade systems should be implemented through existing principles, he said, calling for developing countries to be given the opportunity to join the World Trade Organization on the basis of free trade. The United Nations should play a major role in achieving development goals, and emphasize the importance of ownership of development programmes by developing countries.
Concerned by the selective policies pursued by developed countries in addressing climate change, specifically on the use of fossil fuels, he said his country was a signatory to many international conventions aimed at protecting the environment, including the Kyoto Protocol. It had been a proponent of promoting new technologies and the use of energy to overcome multilateral environmental problems. Globalization should not only include open markets, but also provide opportunities for all to fight poverty, ignorance and disease. South-South cooperation should be the main vehicle to achieve that.
MOHAMED ISSA HAMAD ABUSHAHAB ( United Arab Emirates) commended initiatives by developed countries to bring about direct development assistance and the cancellation of some of the debts owed by poor countries. But all stakeholders in the development process should step up measures to speed the implementation of promises made at international conferences and summits, including Monterrey.
He said his country had launched, in April, a strategy to achieve balanced sustainable development that included the adoption of a free, open economic system, a focus on human-resources development, private-sector support, modern technology, environmental conservation and an international partnership for development through membership in a number of bilateral, regional and global economic conventions. The United Arab Emirates had contributed $70 billion, mostly in the form of grants, to 95 countries, and had one of the biggest job markets hosting foreign labourers who contributed to the financing of development in their home countries through remittances exceeding $22 billion annually. “We hope our deliberations will succeed in finding effective and viable solutions to the global economic problems through an international equitable economic and financial system which is capable of bringing prosperity for all peoples”, he said.
LAUTARO SANDINO MONTES ( Nicaragua) said it was necessary to continue with an analysis on policy formulation concerning trade, financing, technology, energy, climate change and economic global management. The effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations in development cooperation must be improved. Nicaragua and the IMF had signed an agreement on 5 October that would enable the country to continue on the path towards development and stability. Nicaragua’s objective was to create the conditions for poverty eradication, economic recovery and job creation. Negotiations with the IMF had not been easy since the Nicaraguan Government had criticized it as a fund for developed countries’ use and enrichment. But the IMF Board had unanimously approved the programme developed by Nicaragua’s Government of Reconciliation and National Unity. Further, the Fund had formalized Nicaragua’s initiative to increase resources to help the Miskito, Mayangna, Afro-Nicaraguan and mestizo communities affected by hurricane Felix. In the spirit of South-South cooperation, concrete steps had been taken to reconstruct areas affected by the storm.
He said the agreement was based on Nicaragua’s 2007-2010 national financial programme to combat poverty, create wealth and employment, and improve productive national capacity and foreign investment. The programme would enable Nicaragua to comply with social indicators in education, health, housing and water over the next three year, and work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Government would also earmark 17.9 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to fight poverty. It had signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union, by which that body would provide €214 million over the next seven years to enable Nicaragua to invest in good governance and democracy, education, economic development and a good investment climate.
CHIRACHAI PUNKRASIN (Thailand) said 2007 marked the tenth anniversary of the Asian financial crisis, and despite tough economic and financial reforms and restructuring, current imbalances, caused mainly by current account deficits in developed countries, posed serious threats to global financial stability. Those imbalances should be addressed, and the Second Committee should strengthen its role in global discussion on that matter.
Developed countries should honour their commitments, particularly regarding ODA, he said, adding that South-South and triangular cooperation should serve as important platforms for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Sustainable development was not only about aid, but also about trade and opportunity. Developing countries must not be prevented from trading themselves out of poverty.
The Committee should provide strong guidance towards greater flexibility from all World Trade Organization members so the Doha Development Agenda could be finalized later this year or early in 2008, he said. Within the United Nations, UNCTAD should serve as a platform for providing guidance and policy options for all countries. “Let us make greater efforts to ensure economic stability ... to lift our friends out of poverty”, he said.
PAUL BADJI ( Senegal) said the United Nations had just experienced a moment of exceptional mobilization on climate change. The debates during the high-level gathering on climate change and the General Assembly gave hope for effective solutions. That required collective thinking on the need to make radical changes in everyday behaviour and to mitigate the causes of the problem. Initiatives must not come only from Governments. Solid global partnerships were also necessary as was balancing environmental and development needs. For countries like Senegal, finding ways to mitigate climate anomalies would be difficult without assistance from partners, including technology transfer and investments in low-cost clean energy.
He commended the creation of the Millennium Development Goals carbon facility and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. The Global Environmental Fund and the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol must help African countries that had not always benefited from new technologies. The world had the technology and know-how to overcome climate problems. The Conference of Parties in Bali must allow for significant progress in reforming international environmental governance.
Climate change should not distract from development problems, he said. Energy prices were too high and many donors had not made good on their aid promises, making it difficult to mobilize resources for development. It was to be hoped that the 2008 conference to review the Monterrey consensus would focus on equilibrium and progress in poor regions.
Too many African countries had not reaped the benefits of globalization due to unfair trade rules, he said, calling on the General Assembly to address that seriously. Africa’s technological breakthrough could create benefits in other developing countries. Despite economic and financial turbulence, Senegal had achieved accelerated growth, and aimed, during the 2006-2015 period, to grow its economy by 7 to 8 per cent annually. It also aimed to double the GDP over 10 years and double per capita GDP over 15 years. Further, the country had developed a 2006-2010 poverty reduction and Millennium Development Goals strategy.
MOHAMED ALHRAF ( Libya) stressed the need to overcome the impasse in the Doha negotiations in the interest of all countries, and the importance of UNCTAD’s role in trade and development issues. In addition, developing countries should enjoy greater participation in international financial institutions.
He said the effects of climate change had made that topic a major international concern, and greater efforts were needed in, among other things, the use of clean technology to allow the safe use of fossil fuels and the sustainable use of forests. Developed countries should provide financing to help developing ones adjust to climate change issues.
The Economic and Social Council had seen the launch of two new mechanisms, the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum, both of which would hopefully enhance the global partnership for development, he said. South-South cooperation enhanced the fruitful cooperation between countries and deserved promotion by the international community.
While globalization provided enormous opportunities, it also led to risks, and could drive a gap between developing and developed countries, he said. There should be a global strategy to address such issues. As an African country, Libya emphasized the importance of NEPAD and looked forward to economic cooperation among African countries.
DJANKOU NDJONKOU, of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said that, despite the absence of decent work in the original formulation of the Millennium targets, the Decent Work Agenda was now a well accepted global goal. But 2.8
billion workers remained unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the $2-a-day poverty line, and the world had a long way to go towards realizing fair globalization.
He said productive investments should be in reducing inequality and expanding social protection. They should be accompanied by an integrated effort to address labour demands, raise productivity and incomes, integrate socially excluded groups into the labour market and improve the terms on which developing countries traded with richer countries and obtained investment finance.
On the topic of climate change, he said sustainable development and decent work could not be viewed in isolation from each other. Adapting to and mitigating climate change would entail adjusting to new patterns of natural-resource use and conservation. Making societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change was about ensuring that the workplace and the labour markets were not disrupted. The ILO stood ready to participate in wider partnerships, to which it could bring the wide experience of its tripartite constituency.
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