Needs of Most Vulnerable Must Be Central to Fiscal Polices, Stimulus Plans, Under-Secretary-General Says as Second Committee Begins General Debate

4 October 2010
GA/EF/3278

Needs of Most Vulnerable Must Be Central to Fiscal Polices, Stimulus Plans, Under-Secretary-General Says as Second Committee Begins General Debate

4 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/EF/3278
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Second Committee

2nd Meeting (PM)


Needs of Most Vulnerable Must Be Central to Fiscal Polices, Stimulus Plans,

 

Under-Secretary-General Says as Second Committee Begins General Debate

 


In Keynote Address, Yale Professor Highlights Need

For Greater Economic Stimulus Efforts, More Job Creation, Restored Morale


With the global economy fragile and on an uneven path to recovery, the world’s development needs, especially those of its most vulnerable people, must take centre stage in all fiscal policies and stimulus plans, Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today, as it began its annual general debate.


“Economic uncertainty should not – and cannot – be an excuse for slowing down development efforts or backing away from international commitments,” he said.  “To the contrary, uncertainty is a reason to speed up delivery on the Gleneagles commitments and the United Nations 0.7 per cent aid target.”  The fallout from the multiple global crises must not rest on the backs of people living in already desperate conditions, he said, calling for special efforts to adequately meet the social needs of vulnerable groups.


He said the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit and the supplementary side events, on small island developing States and biodiversity, had been successful, noting that $40 billion in resources had been pledged for the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.  However, many persistent challenges demanded global attention:  2 billion people remained in poverty, many lacked access to basic social services, and 5 million infants died annually of preventable diseases.  “If we continue on our current path we will bequeath poverty, not prosperity, to our children and grandchildren,” he warned.


Only sustainable development, with its emphasis on the links between social, economic and environmental challenges, could provide long-term and durable solutions to global crises, he said, pointing out that there had never been a more urgent time to make that happen.  The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, would only be successful if efforts were bolstered to create a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Effective global governance was also crucial to achieving that aim, he said, adding that the G-20 and the United Nations had complementary roles in the ongoing economic recovery process.


Echoing those concerns in his keynote address, Robert Shiller, Professor of Economics and Finance at Yale University, said greater economic stimuli were needed in many countries, as were greater efforts to create jobs and restore the morale underlying any successful economy.  However, managing a stimulus in such a way as to support an economy without encouraging speculative excess was a delicate balancing act requiring international coordination, he cautioned.  It was fundamentally important for the United Nations to help set standards for such policies.  Recent Government efforts to set up new agencies to take responsibility for dealing with bubbles and preventing systemic collapses was a step forward, but the real test would come in seeing how they operated.


He called for the creation of regulations that would ensure trust and cooperation, while promoting an atmosphere of fair dealing in business.  Moreover, Government policy, rather than curtailing financing activity, should aim to democratize finance so that modern financial theory and risk management worked for everyone’s benefit, he said.  That meant solving whatever problems inhibited so many people in Haiti from having proper insurance against earthquakes, or so many people in Pakistan from having proper insurance against floods.  “It means taking steps to encourage personal saving and investment plans that reach everyone, and that are really in the interest of all the people, not plans that are cynically constructed by salespeople who are merely looking for what will sell,” he said.


Fiscal stimulus was particularly important in countries with high unemployment, he continued, pointing to the 30 million people worldwide who had joined the ranks of the unemployed since 2007.  Bailouts appeared to have been the cheapest form of stimulus, giving the biggest “bang for the buck”.  Governments worldwide should set authorities in place for more such bailouts, so they could act quickly if newly falling asset prices or other shocks to the economy created another round of systemic risks, he advised.


Moreover, Governments should subsidize financial advice for everyone, not only high-income people who took advantage of tax codes for such counsel, he said.  Just as the importance of providing universal medical care was widely recognized worldwide, perhaps the financial crisis would awaken the international community to the importance of providing financial care to everyone as well.


Committee Chairperson Enkhtsetseg Ochir ( Mongolia) opened the session by saying that the Committee must make better use of its discussions to contribute to the follow-up to the recent Summit and expedite the realization of the Millennium Goals by 2015.  She encouraged members to generate concrete ideas and proposals towards that end during the Committee’s side event on the multidimensional poverty index and implementation of the first Millennium Goal, on poverty.  She also encouraged members to participate actively in discussions between the General Assembly and the G-20 so as to ensure that the voices and needs of the wider international community were included.  That would send a strong message to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun on the need to adjust present consumption and production patterns, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, she said.


Also speaking today were the representatives of Yemen (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Paraguay (on behalf of the Landlocked Developing Countries), Nauru (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States), Nepal (on behalf of the Least Developed Countries), Chile (on behalf of the Rio Group), Suriname (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations) and Brazil.


Participating in the discussion following Mr. Shiller’s keynote address were the representatives of Bangladesh, India, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Iran, Australia and the United States.


The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 5 October, to continue its general debate.


Background


Meeting this afternoon to begin its general debate for the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) opened its session by electing, by acclamation, Paul Empole Efambe Losoko ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) as Rapporteur.


Opening Remarks


ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR ( Mongolia) Chairperson, said the Committee must make better use of its discussions to contribute to the follow-up to the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit and expedite the realization of the Goals by 2015.  It was hoped that discussions on the Committee’s side event concerning the multi-dimensional poverty index, and implementation of the first Goal, on poverty, would galvanize concrete ideas and proposals for achieving it, as well as other related Goals within the agreed time frame.


She encouraged Committee members to participate actively in discussions between the General Assembly and the Group of 20 (G-20) so as to ensure that the voices and needs of the wider international community were included.  Hopefully, the Committee would send a strong message to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun on the need to adjust present consumption and production patterns, and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


The Committee might benefit from the outcome of next month’s Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, she said, expressing hope that the side event on small island developing States would shed light on their particular needs and how to address them effectively.  The Committee would also have a chance to contribute to preparations for the 2011 Istanbul Conference on Least Developed Countries and Rio+20 in 2012.  It must be conscious of the need to create strong links between those processes and the outcomes of the Millennium Development Goals Summit - between now and 2015 -she said, urging members to approach those and other issues in a spirit of cooperation, solidarity, trust and resolve.


SHA ZUKANG, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, recalled that 2009 had been framed by the global financial and economic crisis; now the world was on a fragile and uneven path to recovery, but which had lost momentum in the past few months.  With the global economy in such a delicate state, it was imperative that development needs be at the centre of all fiscal policies and stimuli.


Special efforts must be made to adequately meet the social needs of vulnerable groups, he emphasized.  “Economic uncertainty should not – and cannot – be an excuse for slowing down development efforts or backing away from international commitments.  To the contrary, uncertainty is a reason to speed up delivery on the Gleneagles commitments and the United Nations 0.7 per cent aid target.”  The fallout from the crisis must not rest on the backs of people living in already desperate conditions.


He described the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit as “successful”, as well as the supplementary side events on small island developing States and biodiversity, noting that $40 billion in resources had been pledged for the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health.  However, the task ahead would be arduous, he cautioned, pointing out that the challenge of development consisted of three major facets which demanded global attention.


First, development must be sustainable, he said, stressing that every programme and action plan must take the long view and be aligned with sustainable development principles.  Despite centuries of “spectacular growth”, two billion people remained in poverty, many lacked access to basic social services, and five million infants died each year of preventable diseases.  “If we continue on our current path, we will bequeath poverty, not prosperity, to our children and grandchildren,” he warned.  Only sustainable development, with its emphasis on links between social, economic and environmental challenges, could provide long-term and durable solutions to global crises.


There had never been a more urgent time to implement sustainable development solutions, he said, noting that the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, was fast approaching.  Success, however, would hinge on further work on that Conference’s themes:  green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and the institutional framework for sustainable development.


He said implementation of the Millennium Development Goals – in tandem with preparations for Rio+20 — was a central priority for his Department.  The Department of Economic and Social Affairs would help Member States in terms of capacity-development in five priority areas:  social inclusiveness, sustainable development, public administration, official statistics and macroeconomic policy.  It would also provide advisory services in those areas to ensure that its support was aligned with specific country needs.


Emphasizing that the need for effective global governance was greater than ever, he pointed out that most of the measures to promote global economic and financial growth had been taken by the G-20, an ad hoc informal grouping in which 85 per cent of the world’s countries had no voice.  While some viewed limited membership as necessary for effectiveness, others pointed to the inclusive global membership of the United Nations as an impediment to timely decisions.  “The G-20 and the UN can play complementary roles in the ongoing economic recovery.  However, on overall global economic governance, the UN has a central role.”


Keynote Address


ROBERT SHILLER, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University, and Professor of Finance and Fellow, International Center for Finance, Yale School of Management, discussed ways to renew the world economy after the financial crisis and to recreate and sustain a “spirited” economy.  He said that achieving the proper economic spirit did not mean cheerleading by Government officials to boost confidence, or groundless promises that the economy would recover.  “Economic stimulus must not be overdone so that it encourages bubble thinking.”  Instead, it meant creating conditions that would give people a salient reason for confidence, providing economic stimulus only as needed to rescue collapsing institutions, creating regulations that would ensure trust and cooperation and promoting an atmosphere of fair dealing in business.


The recent financial crisis had revealed many examples of lapsed bona fides in business, which should be prevented from recurring, he said.  Helping to achieve a spirit of bona fides, goodwill and high expectations was fundamental to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  To secure that spirit, more economic stimulus was needed in many countries, and greater efforts were needed to create jobs and restore the morale underlying any successful economy.  Managing stimuli in a way that supported an economy without encouraging speculative excess was a delicate task, he said, describing recent Government efforts to set up new agencies to take responsibility for dealing with bubbles and preventing systemic collapses as a step forward.  However, the real test would come in seeing how they operated.


Furthermore, financial regulatory efforts should be fully engaged with the potential offered by modern financial markets, taking into account the basic principles of financial theory, he said.  They should not try to “rein in” healthy financial activities, but instead bolster activities that operated responsibly.  The thrust should be towards “democratizing” finance, or making it available to everyone, he said.  “The lesson from the crisis should not be that modern financial institutions are too complex or too dangerous.  The lesson should be that our regulations need to help them become more modern and less susceptible to misuse.”  Increased economic stimulus and improved financial regulatory efforts required international coordination, he said, stressing the fundamental importance of the United Nations in helping to set the standards for such policies.


The world economy remained in a weak and vulnerable state, he said.  According to a paper presented on 13 September at a joint International Labour Organization (ILO)-International Monetary Fund (IMF) conference in Norway, another 30 million people worldwide had become unemployed since 2007, with 75 per cent of them in advanced countries and the rest in emerging countries.  That represented about 1 per cent of the global labour force.  Advanced countries tended to have more generous unemployment insurance and other benefits to reduce the impact of unemployment, but in poorer regions that was an unaffordable luxury, he said.  The figures most likely did not reflect the full scale of lost employment opportunities in emerging countries.


Although recovery was underway, IMF data showed that real world gross domestic product had increased only 2 per cent from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2010, he said, adding that it had not come close to catching up with the long-term trend.  In countries still suffering high unemployment, fiscal stimulus was necessary and could be effective if it focused on the kinds of fiscal expenditures that helped maintain confidence, namely job creation.


The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook confirmed that fiscal consolidation usually weakened the economy, he continued.  Improved financial arrangements were essential, as was moving away from continued reliance on old forms of government financing.  In the future, Governments should issue bonds lined to gross domestic product, or shares in gross domestic product to raise money.  That would lower the implicit leverage that Governments placed on taxpayers, lower the risk of insolvency that Governments faced and allow for a better diversification of risk.


Nations should now be planning how another round of stimulus should be undertaken, he said.  Bailouts appeared to have been the cheapest form of stimulus, giving the “biggest bang for the buck”.  According to the United States Treasury Secretary, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which had provided $700 billion to purchase the assets or shares of failed banks, other financial institutions and automobile companies, would cost no more than $50 billion in losses of taxpayer money.  Others believed it would have turned a profit.  If a Government was too ready to bail out failing businesses, it ran the risk of creating a “too big to fail” problem, but the United States relief programme illustrated that that had not been the case.


Governments worldwide should set authorities in place for more such bailouts, so they could quickly act if newly falling asset prices or other shocks to the economy created another round of systemic risks, he said.  Regulations should be motivated by the potential for systemic problems.  Financial theories that did not take into account the vulnerability of financial systems to risks of collapse were incomplete and must be revised, he stressed.  Bailouts would be necessary, but other steps to reduce systemic vulnerability would also be needed.


Regulations should be devised to encourage financial firms to internalize the cost of bailouts as much as possible, he said, adding that a part of executive salaries should be withheld for several years and not paid at all in the event of a Government bailout.  Moreover, Government policy should aim to further the democratization of finance.  “This means making sure that the full advantage of modern financial theory and risk management really works for the people - all the people.”


That meant, for example, solving whatever problems had inhibited so many people in Haiti from having proper insurance against earthquakes, or so many people in Pakistan from having proper insurance against floods.  “It means taking steps to encourage personal saving and investment plans that reach everyone, and that are really in the interest of all the people - not plans that are cynically constructed by salespeople who are merely looking for what will sell.”  For the democratization of finance to take hold, it was also necessary to subsidize financial advice for every person.


Just as the importance of providing medical care was widely recognized worldwide, perhaps the financial crisis would awaken the international community to the importance of providing financial care to everyone as well, he said.  The crisis had awakened the world to the system’s shortcomings, and the process of fixing it would take years.  The United Nations could be a force in helping to maintain the impetus for the right kinds of stimulus and reform, he said.


Discussion


In the ensuing discussion, speakers applauded Mr. Shiller’s address, with the representative of Bangladesh calling it a “stimulating statement on stimulus”, before asking what modus operandi of State intervention should be exercised between reckless free-market economy and protectionism.  India’s delegate asked whether emerging countries had learned any lessons from the past, and how Mr. Shiller viewed the future of strong market forces such as China, Venezuela and Iran.


The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, noting that gloomy market information often had a negative influence on business and investment decisions, stressed that countries should ensure that pessimistic information was always measured.  “We should not be overly pessimistic in that we discourage new thinking and efforts.”


On the issue of debt sustainability, Venezuela’s delegate asked how it was possible to speak about recovery and trust when the real economy had not yet recovered.  Adding to that point, Iran’s representative wondered whether the democratization of finance could be considered an “over-financialization of the economy”, given the absence of a link between the financial sector and the real economy.


Australia’s delegate asked how the modernization of regulations could be misused, while the representative of the United States asked if any particular country, or group of countries, had achieved a balance in employment, regulation and stimulus efforts.


Mr. SHILLER said he worried about the impact of television programmes reporting that the economy was “down the drain”, which encouraged pessimism.  While that was not helpful, neither was too much optimism; the goal was to prevent certain crises from causing panic, he said.


He said that, in his opinion, debt sustainability was the new problem of current times.  Countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had seen average increases of about 9 per cent in national deficits.  Now, with the onset of the debt crises in Greece and other countries, people had begun to worry about debt sustainability.  “We must put our worries in perspective,” he emphasized, pointing out that such worries had prolonged the Great Depression in the 1930s.


Emerging countries had learned a great deal over the past 20 years, and had taken their place as financially sophisticated economies, he said.  But while their progress was a cause for optimism, countries including India and China had also experienced shocking bubbles and bursts.  The main reason for the volatility of bubbles was country growth rates that were so high they created uncertainty for the future.


Turning to the modernization of finance and regulation, he said modern finance was a “complicated and arcane technical field”, and experts possessed the knowledge needed to modernize and improve current financial systems, moving them towards democratization.  Merely simplifying the financial markets was not the answer.  Financial contracts must be “plain vanilla”, or financial advisers could be used to lead people through them.  The world was on a good trend toward financial modernization, and thus should not overreact to the global financial crisis.


Statements


KHALED HUSSEIN ALYEMANY ( Yemen), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said multiple and interrelated crises had seriously challenged the world’s capacity to respond to and prevent them from escalating further.  Two years after the outbreak of the global financial crisis, developing countries had still not fully recovered from its social and economic effects.  In that regard, he urged development partners to implement their commitments, whether in terms of external debt, development assistance or increased capacity-building.


He said the Millennium Development Goals Summit had shown the urgent need to scale up global partnerships for development in order to mobilize additional resources and address the challenges facing developing countries.  The Summit’s outcome document was a global plan of action which required both immediate implementation and an annual review within the United Nations system, he said.  Developed countries must meet and scale up their existing bilateral and multilateral official development assistance (ODA) commitments.  In particular, it was critical for them to reach the target of allocating 0.7 per cent of gross national product to developing countries by 2015.


Turning to climate change, he said it was up to the international community to address it within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.  The Group of 77 and China looked forward to several upcoming meetings, including the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico later this November; the Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, later this month, and the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil.  He then underlined the special vulnerabilities, structural handicaps and needs of the least developed countries, which lagged behind in the race to realize the Millennium Development Goals.


Moving on, he said the status of international trade negotiations must be addressed, and called on developed countries to demonstrate the flexibility and political will to break the current impasse.  He further called upon developed countries to fulfil their commitments with regard to the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.  The Group of 77 was encouraged by the progress achieved in strengthening the Financing for Development follow-up process, yet more needed to be done to ensure the full implementation of the agreed commitments.  Lastly, the Group reaffirmed the importance of South-South cooperation, and called for the implementation of the Nairobi outcome adopted at the United Nations High-level Conference on South-South Cooperation held in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 2009.


CHRISTOPHE DE BASSOMPIERRE (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, described the Millennium Development Goals Summit as a “crucial event for the international community and a major success”, saying the outcome document had given fresh political impetus to the Goals.  He called on the Committee to build upon the success of the meeting and amplify it further.  It was essential that all stakeholders follow through on commitments made, he said, urging the Committee also to build upon the outcomes of other recent events, including the Economic and Social Council’s substantive session in July and the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, among others.  However, considerable work remained to be done, he cautioned, adding nevertheless that sustainable development could be achieved despite the many challenges faced.


Describing the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration as landmark agreements for development, he said they had laid the foundation for the global partnership within which the international community must work to reach the Goals.  While partnerships were important, each country had the primary responsibility for its own development, he stressed, adding that ownership by developing countries was essential.  Turning to funding, he reaffirmed the European Union’s commitment to reach a collective official development assistance target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income by 2015, and called on other donors to step up their level of ambition.  The European Union had recently launched a €1 billion Millennium Goals initiative aimed at supporting the efforts of the neediest countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific region.


Shared accountability on the part of both developed and developing countries was essential to realizing the Millennium Goals, he said.  With regard to the issue of biodiversity, he stressed that there should be no gap between scientific knowledge and political decision-making.  The European Union, a strong supporter of the Busan outcome, which called for the creation of an intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services, urged the General Assembly to adopt a resolution fall to equip the international community with a new instrument to fight biodiversity loss.  Shifting to a low-carbon economy was a defining challenge, and thus the themes of Rio+20 would be of the utmost importance.  Ahead of the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Cancun, the European Union reaffirmed its commitment to the achievement of a comprehensive, legally-binding agreement for the climate regime.


JULIO ARRIOLA (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed to their lack of direct access to maritime commerce, saying they were at a disadvantage when it came to development, which was exacerbated by their great distance from international markets, cumbersome transit rules and dependence on political stability.  Such problems not only impeded economic growth, but also had important ramifications for the social and environmental aspects of development, including the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.


Official development assistance was essential for landlocked developing countries, he said, noting that ODA levels had risen since the adoption of the Almaty Programme of Action.  He expressed hope that it would continue rising so as to enable those countries to reduce the development gap.  Landlocked developing countries were also lagging behind in foreign direct investment (FDI); their share representing just 1.4 per cent of total world investment.


Climate change was serious threat to Landlocked Developing Countries, he said.  It exacerbated droughts in already dry areas of Africa, making it difficult to eradicate poverty and hunger, and to preserve ecological equilibrium.  Extreme weather patterns, floods, soil degradation, droughts and desertification made the lives of people in those countries difficult.  Climate change also affected freshwater fishing in developing countries, he said, noting that changes in water temperature and levels of nutrients, as well as low dry-season water levels had already notably reduced fishing yields.


Landlocked developing countries must employ mitigation and adaptation measures in addressing climate change, he said.  The full support of the international community, through reliable financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building was crucial.  He called on developed countries to show the flexibility and political will needed to conclude the Doha Round.  It would greatly benefit landlocked developing countries if developed countries reduced or eliminated their agricultural subsidies and gave landlocked developing countries greater access to their markets.  He appealed to the international community to adopt concrete measures to help landlocked developing countries overcome structural challenges and disadvantages.


MARLENE MOSES (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said the region had much to be proud of with regard to mainstreaming sustainable development into national development strategies, its commitment to bold renewable energy targets, and its global leadership on biodiversity protection.  However, despite such successes, progress towards meeting development targets was “significantly below expectations”.  As a region, the Pacific was not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and the vast majority of Pacific small island States were not on track to reduce basic needs poverty, she said.  However, the region was resolved to overcome the severe challenges it faced.


For success in that endeavour, the international community must support the region, she said, pointing out that a major obstacle to pursuing sustainable development was the lack of adequate finance.  Many Pacific small island developing States could not access international finance due to eligibility criteria, as well as application and monitoring requirements that did not always accommodate small-scale projects.  In that regard, she called on the international community to provide streamlined access to international financial institutions, and for support from the United Nations system.  The Mauritius Strategy for Implementation called for a formal category for small island developing States within the United Nations system, with structural support in the areas of trade and finance, she recalled.


As island nations, the Pacific small island developing States relied on marine resources for food security and sustainable economic growth, she said.  Parties to the Nauru Agreement had strengthened subregional initiatives to manage tuna stocks in a sustainable manner, but despite such efforts, the conservation of fish stocks remained a challenge, she said, calling for support and cooperation from developed countries and other fishing nations.  She also called for a more equitable share of financial benefits from the use of Pacific marine resources, as well as direct investment in Pacific fishing industries.  Lastly, she stressed the need for renewed international commitment to achieve an ambitious outcome to climate change negotiations.  “ Copenhagen was not a failure, it was a setback,” she said.  “ Cancun risks being a failure if we agree to lower our ambitions,” she added, underlining the urgent need to disburse fast-start financing to the most vulnerable countries.


DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Committee must take the lead in ensuring enhanced policy coherence, governance and consistency in the international monetary, financial and trading systems.  Entrenched structural handicaps and constraints continued to frustrate the development efforts of the least developed countries.  Highlighting several of the challenges the faced, he pointed out that international support measures to meet the special development needs of least developed countries had achieved only limited success.  They lagged starkly behind in meeting many of the Millennium Goals, and the impacts of the multiple global crises, as well as climate change, had reversed their development gains, pushing millions of people to the brink of extreme poverty.


While they had contributed least to climate change, least developed countries bore its “unacceptably disproportionate impact”, he continued.  Extreme weather patterns, floods, melting snow, soil degradation, drought, desertification and rising sea levels made life for those living in least developed countries extremely difficult, he said, calling for progress on climate negotiations through an ambitious and comprehensive outcome in Cancun.  Underscoring the importance of common but differentiated responsibility, he called for the international community to agree on a new, predictable, transparent and substantially enhanced resource mobilization.  The food crisis must be addressed both in the short-term, through increased food supply, and in the long-term, through sustainable agricultural development.


Calling for the transfer of affordable, reliable and sustainable technology for development, including renewable sources of energy, he also called for an early conclusion of the Doha Round of trade negotiations, with a comprehensive, balanced, equitable and development-oriented outcome.  Least developed countries also called for an innovative approach to strengthening and scaling up global partnerships for development, with an understanding of their special development needs.  For that to happen, ODA commitments must be fulfilled, enhanced duty- and quota-free market access provided, and FDI flows increased.  In that regard, the least developed countries placed great importance on upcoming conferences, which must address their concerns as central to achieving the overarching goals of sustainable development.


OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the declaration on the Millennium Development Goals adopted on 22 September would directly impact several development-related items on the Committee’s agenda.  The effect of the financial and economic crisis would take years to resolve, and major objectives remained unfilled, including the provision of predictable financing for development and funds to meet urgent needs caused by the crisis, and the creation of international debt arbitration and debt work-out mechanisms.  That reality should be reflected in the various resolutions on the crisis, particularly stressing the need to reform the global financial and economic systems, and to end the excessive conditions imposed by various global economic and financial bodies.


Emphasis should be on supporting counter-cyclical policies and national efforts to mitigate the impact of the crises, he said, stressing also the urgent need for all developed countries to fulfil their commitments to devote 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to official development assistance by 2015.  It was also important to give continued support to innovative mechanisms of financing for development, such as a voluntary fund that would complement ODA.  He stressed the important role of Special Drawing Rights in increasing global liquidity and supporting development in improving the quota-based distribution system.


Noting the importance of international migration, he said he fully expected the Committee to comprehensively consider the concerns of origin, transit and host countries.  He stressed the importance of considering in-depth cooperation modalities or approaches to respond to the development needs and challenges of middle-income countries, and called on the international community to provide developing countries with new, additional and predictable financial resources, capacity-building, and access to technology to address the consequences of climate change.  The Rio Group supported efforts to reach a balanced, effective outcome in Nagoya by successfully concluding negotiations on the Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, the post-2010 Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity and on the resource mobilizing strategy.


HENRY MACDONALD ( Suriname), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the global financial and economic system needed fundamental and drastic reform to ensure long-term stability and promote development.  The voice and participation of the smallest developing countries must be enhanced to ensure that all perspectives and concerns were heard and addressed.  While there was appreciation for efforts by the G-20 to address the current crisis through regulatory reform and the provision of resources, its perspective was limited by its lack of recognition of the needs and concerns of countries classified as “middle-income”.  Even in a time of crisis, they were overlooked on the presumption that they did not need assistance, he said.


The United Nations was the only forum in which small countries could contribute to the global discourse on issues of great interest to their own regions, he said.  For CARICOM, the priorities set out in the outcome document of the 2009 Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis remained unchanged.  They included securing access to concessionary financing; re-evaluating the criteria for measuring the economic sustainability of middle-income countries; additional resources to help developing countries rebound from the crisis; a level playing field with respect to off-shore jurisdictions; and the strengthening of the United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.


Describing climate change as one of the greatest threats confronting CARICOM, he said that while the objective of elaborating a legally binding instrument would not be achieved at Cancun, the meeting later this year represented an important milestone in realizing it.  Given that the special standing of small island developing States was recognized in both the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation, it had therefore been shocking to hear their vulnerabilities debated during the five-year review.


“CARICOM considers this unacceptable,” he declared, urging all States to respect all agreements and focus on implementing commitments made in support of sustainable development.  In conclusion, he said that the protection and preservation of the Caribbean Sea was a major priority for CARICOM countries, given the importance of the marine environment as a key resource in the region’s social, economic and political reality.  A resolution on the sustainable development of the Caribbean would be introduced again during the Committee’s current session to gain international support for recognizing the Caribbean as a special area within the context of sustainable development.


HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted the lingering effects of the financial crisis, saying the recovery had been varied.  Economic growth in industrialized countries was expected to reach 1 to 2 per cent this year, while developing countries were expected to reach 6 to 8 per cent, on average.  ASEAN strongly believed that regional self-help initiatives were indispensable in strengthening the global financial and economic architecture, but despite promising growth in developing countries, the road to recovery was still long, he said, calling on the Committee to continue focusing on ways to contribute to the process.


Describing the outcome of the Millennium Development Goals Summit as encouraging, he said there had been a common message that showed that the Goals were too important to miss.  The Summit’s outcome document provided a solid foundation for accelerating progress on all eight Goals.  It also reflected key issues, such as the need for a successful outcome to the Doha Round, the importance of food and energy security and the need to strengthen global partnerships by providing financial resources and promoting the development, dissemination and transfer of technology, among other things.  Filling the development gaps between countries was an imperative, and commitments made during the Summit were, therefore, a clear sign of an overall commitment to the Goals.


“We must stay engaged or we fail humanity, and that is simply not an option,” he emphasized, noting that the asymmetries between the three pillars of sustainable development were very stark.  He underscored the need for renewed commitment on the issue, pointing to the timeliness of the upcoming Rio+20 conference.  The international community must be open to exploring new growth poles to spur action on existing multilateral frameworks, including green growth.  In that regard, ASEAN called for a concrete, action-oriented outcome at the Climate Change Conference in Cancun, as well as the adoption of the International Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources at the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya.


REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO (Brazil), hailed the renewed international commitment to development made during the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit, particularly the adoption of its outcome document, but noted that good intentions must be followed by concrete actions.  Brazil was fully committed to creating a truly equitable, sustainable and development-oriented international economic order, she said, calling on developed countries to deliver fully on their development commitments, particularly that of devoting 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to ODA.


The crisis should not be an excuse for further delays, she continued, adding that innovative sources of funding must be mainstreamed into the work of the United Nations.  She defended and reiterated the need for ambitious structural reforms of the international economic and financial architecture, stressing that regulation of international financial markets and tax havens must be further strengthened.  Developing countries needed urgently to increase their quota share in the Bretton Woods institutions at least to the same level as developed countries, and they should have increased representation on their respective boards, she said.


Humanitarian aid was essential to ensuring that sufficient food reached the hungry and vulnerable in a timely manner, she emphasized.  It was a priority to address the underlying distortions governing investment in agriculture, underproduction of staple foods, and uneven distribution.  A holistic approach must be developed to promote more investment in food production, and ensure sustainability and accessibility, she said, calling for a special emphasis on Africa.  As the host of Rio+20 Conference, Brazil was fully committed to ensuring its meaningful and successful outcome, she said, reiterating the importance of recommitting to the Rio and Johannesburg goals on the environment as well as sustainable development.


* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.