Under-Secretary-General Calls for More Equitable Development Models as Second Committee Begins General Debate
Under-Secretary-General Calls for More Equitable Development Models as Second Committee Begins General Debate
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
2nd & 3rd Meetings (AM & PM)
Under-Secretary-General Calls for More Equitable Development Models
as Second Committee Begins General Debate
Chairperson Focuses on ‘Public-debt Distress’
As Speakers Spotlight Chance for ‘Sustainable Development Trajectory’ in Rio
Governments must consider new, more equitable development models to ensure that their economies reaped the benefits of a globalized world amid heightened food insecurity, increased pressure on natural resources and a widening gap between rich and poor that was severely hampering prospects for economic recovery, Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, stressed today as he opened the general debate of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial).
“We need a global economy that is resilient — but does not reward recklessness,” Mr. Sha said in remarks delivered by Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Countries needed environmentally sound growth, people needed jobs that provided effective social protection, and households needed greater food security based on productive agriculture. “Only sustainable development will take us there,” he declared.
With that in mind, he said the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – known as “Rio+20” and scheduled for June 2012 in Brazil – would offer an opportunity to chart a way forward. The success of that event would hinge on renewing existing political commitments and strengthening the collective resolve to speed implementation, he emphasized. It would also require action-oriented outcomes on the meeting’s two themes — “The green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”; and “The institutional framework for sustainable development”.
Above all, he continued, the Second Committee’s work during the present session would provide valuable inputs to Rio+20, given the body’s broad agenda and expertise on the links connecting poverty, macroeconomic policy and sustainable development. In just eight months, the course for a green economy must be charted and a new institutional framework for sustainable development delivered, he said, concluding: “I know we can and will succeed.”
Echoing those comments, Chairperson Abulkalam Abdul Momen ( Bangladesh) said the Committee had a full agenda this year as the global economic and financial system entered a “precarious” phase of uncertainty. In contrast to 2008, when the main concern had been stress on the private financial sector, the focus this year was on public-debt distress and continued financial-sector fragility. While many poor countries had shown impressive resilience to the crisis, it was becoming increasingly difficult for others to prevent another recession.
The Second Committee must lead on the issue of financing for development, especially in the context of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals, he continued. A development-finance strategy harnessing a range of resources was essential. It was also time to consider establishing an international mechanism to better facilitate debt restructuring, expand “aid for trade”, and quickly conclude the Doha Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, which would create new market opportunities for the world’s poorest countries.
Throughout the day, Governments underscored the need to breathe new life into anaemic growth in various regions of the world, first and foremost, by implementing commitments reached at major conferences and summits, which many said should neither be diluted nor re-negotiated. In particular, developed countries were urged to allocate, as agreed, 0.7 per cent of their gross national product (GNP) to official development assistance (ODA) to help developing countries, speakers said, and between 0.15 per cent and 0.20 per cent to least developed countries by 2015. Additionally, the Bretton Woods institutions must be reformed to give developing countries a voice in decision-making.
More broadly, Argentina’s delegate said on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, there was a need to closely coordinate macroeconomic policy decisions with those in other areas of global governance, including multilateral trade, aid architecture, external debt, poverty eradication and sustainable development. Urging the developed world not to use the global financial crisis as an excuse to avoid fulfilling aid commitments, he said it was also critical to strengthen national ownership of development processes.
The least developed countries had also been hard hit by the global crisis, said Nepal’s representative, on behalf of that group, citing high food and fuel prices, reduced earnings from trade, tourism and remittances, and declining external support. Today, 75 per cent of their populations lived in poverty and hunger, and as things stood, they were unlikely to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Emphasizing that the world body must exercise its duty to safeguard the development interests of the world’s poorest people, he said: “That is indeed a fair barometer of the success of the United Nations.”
In that calculus, middle-income countries could not be sidelined, as their huge potential for growth could have a positive impact on the global economy, other speakers said. The representative of Belarus said his Government had considered with great interest the proposal to establish a high-level panel or ad hoc working group to tackle the challenges facing middle-income countries challenges, and the proposed framework should consider their heterogeneity and the positive spill-over effects of their development on low-income countries.
Kenya’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, drove home the importance of achieving substantive outcomes at the Rio+20 Conference that would respond adequately to the goal of environmental sustainability. Such efforts must be pursued in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, he said, noting that, for its part, Africa would work towards formulating a common position during the upcoming Regional Preparatory Conference on Rio+20, scheduled for later this month.
In other business today, the Second Committee adopted its organization of work (document A/C.2/66/1) as the Chair informed delegates that the first-ever joint meeting with the Economic and Social Council would focus on the theme “Investing in productive capacity for job-rich growth”. It would take place on 27 October. He added that the Bureau had chosen the topics for six special events to be held during the session, including: “Alternative development strategies for job creation”, to be held on 11 October; and “Financing for development”, on 14 October.
Other notable topics and dates were as follows: “People’s empowerment: a peace model”, on 18 October; “Follow-up to the LDC IV Conference: integrating its provisions into national plans and policies”, on 21 October; “Means of implementation for sustainable development”, on 25 October; and “Food and energy security and energy efficiency”, on 2 November.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Belize (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations), Paraguay (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Russian Federation, Sudan, Nicaragua, Yemen, Malaysia, Bolivia, Senegal, Norway, Japan, United States, Mexico, Pakistan, Brazil, Egypt, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Peru, Jordan, Uganda, Lebanon and the Comoros.
The Second Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 4 October, to conclude its general debate and hold a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the United Nations Regional Commissions.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to begin its general debate of the sixty-sixth General Assembly session.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), Committee Chairperson, noted that the agenda for this year was full as the global economic and financial system entered a “precarious” phase of uncertainty, and encouraged delegates to bring new thinking to the table. There was a new agenda item, “peoples’ empowerment: a peace model for sustainable development”, and a special event to assist in the Committee’s consideration of that topic.
He said that for the first time, the Committee would co-host two events in October with the Economic and Social Council: a briefing by eminent economists on the ongoing aftershocks from the global financial crisis and current sovereign debt crisis, as well as a high-level panel on “Investing in productive capacity for job-rich growth”. The Bureau had also earmarked a number of special events that would bring together experts from external institutions while focusing on: alternative development strategies for job creation; financing for development; follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries; people-empowerment; food and energy security, and energy efficiency; and means of implementation for sustainable development.
In contrast to 2008, when the main concern had been stress on the private financial sector, “this year, we face both public-debt distress and continued financial-sector fragility,” he said, pointing out that the two were interconnected. While many developing countries had shown impressive resilience to the crisis, others had limited fiscal space and it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to counteract another recession, he said. Efforts to eradicate poverty would be better served by a more stable global economic and financial environment.
He went on to emphasize that the Second Committee must show leadership on the issue of financing for development, especially in the context of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Millennium Development Goals. A multi-pronged development-finance strategy harnessing a range of resources was essential, he said, adding that new and innovative sources of finance, as well as South-South cooperation, should complement official development assistance (ODA) flows. It was also time to consider establishing an international mechanism to facilitate debt restructuring in a more comprehensive, balanced manner, and to expand “aid for trade”, he stressed. A speedy conclusion of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization would also create new market opportunities for developing countries.
THOMAS STELZER, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, delivered remarks on behalf of Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, saying the Committee’s work had taken on a new sense of urgency this year. Economic recovery had been fragile and uneven amid continuing uncertainty about the future of the global economy. Food insecurity was taking a heavy toll on millions of people, especially in the Horn of Africa, where it had reached crisis levels, and the gap between rich and poor had widened. All that was happening amid increased pressure on scarce natural resources, he pointed out.
“We need to consider new development models,” he continued, citing new approaches that would ensure more sustained economic growth, greater financial stability, increased job creation and a more direct path to sustainable development. “We need a global economy that is resilient — but does not reward recklessness.” Indeed, countries must reap the opportunities of globalization while being shielded from the risks, he stressed, adding that they needed sustained economic growth that was environmentally sound and equitable. People needed jobs and that provided effective social protection, and households needed greater food security based on productive agriculture.
“Only sustainable development will take us there,” he said, noting that the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was “just around the corner”. That event, known as “ Rio+20”, was a landmark opportunity which, if seized, could chart a sustainable development trajectory for generations to come. With its broad agenda and expertise on the links between poverty, macroeconomic policy and sustainable development, the Second Committee’s work for the present session would be a vital step towards making Rio+20 a success.
He went on to underscore that success hinged on renewing political commitments and strengthening the collective resolve to speed implementation. Tangible, action-oriented outcomes must be achieved on the two themes of the Conference — the green economy, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, and the institutional framework for sustainable development. For the green economy to make an impact, consumption patterns must change and countries with experience in green job creation must share what they knew, he emphasized. For its part, the United Nations should support countries that had chosen a green economy path, he added. “Let’s align a green economy with human development, poverty eradication and other national priorities.”
He went on to underline that success also hinged on revitalizing the institutional framework for sustainable development, which should guarantee coherence and policy integration across the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. A number of innovative proposals were under discussion. “We are at a critical juncture,” he said. “We must carry out the difficult work necessary to steer the world towards a better course.” In just eight months, the course for a green economy must be charted, and a new institutional framework on sustainable development must be delivered, he declared. “I know we can and will succeed.”
DIEGO LIMERES (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that while growth had been resilient in some developing countries, it remained lower in most than before the start of the global economic and financial crisis. They faced challenges, such as extreme poverty, food crises and insecurity, high unemployment, external debt, among others, he said, adding that barriers to trade, as well as financial and anti-crisis measures adopted by some developed countries, had undermined their capacity to compete effectively at the global level. The aggregate impact continued to hamper development efforts and threatened attainment of internationally agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals, he said.
There was an urgent need for an effective response to the economic crisis, which required the timely implementation of existing aid commitments by developed countries, as well as a strengthened United Nations framework, he said. As the crisis was not over and the recovery process was seriously threatened by new circumstances, solutions to systematic problems must include reform of the global financial system and architecture. The Group of 77 called for an integrated and more systematic approach to sustainable development and looked forward to placing that call high on the agenda of the Second Committee, he said, reiterating concerns about overconsumption and production patterns that were unsustainable in developing countries, and urging developed countries to reverse them.
He said that developed countries, given their historical responsibility, must address climate change. There was also a need for enhanced and urgent actions to provide financial resources and investment in support of mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as for the transfer of technology to developing countries. The Group of 77, therefore, called for the Standing Committee of the Climate Change Convention’s Financial Mechanism, Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Committee to be made operational at the next Conference of Parties, to be held in Durban, South Africa, later this year.
Turning to global governance, he said it should be addressed within the context of a fair and inclusive globalization, supported by strengthened multilateralism. In that respect, there must be close coordination of macroeconomic policy decisions with other areas of global governance, including those relating to the multilateral trading system, aid architecture, external debt, poverty eradication and sustainable development. The status of trade negotiations remained an issue for the Second Committee to consider, he said, reiterating the call for developed countries to demonstrate the flexibility and political will necessary to break the impasse currently hindering the conclusion of the Doha Round this year with an outcome that would address the needs of developing countries as its highest priority.
He went on to reiterate that ODA remained an essential catalyst for development, underlining that developed States should not use the global financial crisis as an excuse to avoid fulfilling their existing aid commitments. It was also critical to strengthen the concepts of national ownership and leadership of development processes and policy space, he said, stressing also that South-South cooperation was a complement to, rather than a substitute for, North-South cooperation, and therefore deserved to be promoted separately and independently. Regarding least developed countries, he called for the full, timely and effective integration and implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for 2011-2020, which called for support to allow at least half of that category to meet graduation criteria by 2020.
In conclusion, he reiterated that middle-income countries still faced significant challenges in their efforts to meet development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. The Group of 77 called for enhanced international support for their development efforts, including through technical assistance, the promotion of new partnerships, cooperation agreements and bilateral arrangements. The Group of 77 also continued to call for the removal of obstacles impeding people living under foreign occupation from achieving sustainable development, and reiterated that illegal actions committed under occupation must halt.
JANINE ELIZABETH COYE-FELSON (Belize), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said that amid upheavals in the global economy, there was additional widespread concern that the world was on the cusp of another major downturn, a prospect of particular concern to developing economies, especially small and vulnerable economies that had yet to begin recovering from the 2008 crisis. “Despite not having caused the initial crisis, developing countries have borne the brunt of its negative effects,” she pointed out. Its effects on the Caribbean economies had been particularly severe, leading to reduced revenues from tourism, a downturn in remittances, contracting financial sectors and a steep decline in demand for export commodities.
Further, the incipient recovery in the CARICOM countries’ main industrial economic partners had been too “anaemic and irregular” to have an immediate positive effect, she continued. “The depth and breadth of the ongoing crisis have laid bare the extent of our interconnectedness, and the shortcomings of the existing international economic architecture,” she continued. Comprehensive reforms reflecting current global realities were needed, and CARICOM reiterated its call for steps to ensure that the perspectives of developing countries, particularly small and vulnerable ones, were brought to bear on the deliberations of the Bretton Woods institutions. Noting that the G-20 countries had met recently to address development issues for the first time, she said its actions must respect the central role of the United Nations. The G-20 should also endeavour to include the perspectives of a wider cross-section of developing countries in its deliberations.
She called for the challenges faced by middle-income developing countries — a category encompassing the majority of CARICOM States — to be addressed, underscoring the need for attention to their concerns in the areas of debt and debt sustainability. Development challenges in such countries were “masked by the empirical criteria which are used to categorize them”, she pointed out, noting also that despite suffering high levels of poverty, they were unable to access concessionary financing or programmes, such as those offered by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and other partners.
Turning to the upcoming Rio+20 Conference, she said it would provide an invaluable opportunity to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development and to close the “oft-identified gaps in implementation” through the provision of means. There would also be an excellent opportunity to renew commitments to the principles embodied in Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Programme of Implementation, the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation. CARICOM urged the continued recognition of the special case of small island developing States and least developed countries, and looked forward to the Second Committee’s consideration of their concerns.
HASAN KLEIB ( Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, pointed out that the systemic problems that had emerged in 2008 remained unresolved. The Committee’s work must help overcome various global challenges with a focus on targeted outcomes and real implementation. “We should also not be afraid to set definitive timelines and retire resolutions,” he said. That required partnership between developed and developing countries based on “a win-win approach”.
Highlighting various issues to be addressed in the coming months, he urged the Committee to focus on strengthening international financial regulation, monitoring and supervision, while working towards reform of international financial and economic governance. More collaboration between United Nations agencies and international financial institutions was needed in that context, he said, adding that the Committee should consequently deepen its discussions on a framework for achieving equitable and inclusive growth, with a focus on a people-centred approach.
He went on to stress that it was essential to enhance frameworks for the coordination of actions and policies both at the global level and among regions, saying that ASEAN recognized the need for inclusive, transparent and effective multilateral approaches to managing global challenges. The United Nations had a central role in that regard. ASEAN, for its part, continued to strengthen financial and economic cooperation.
On other issues, he said the extreme price volatility of agricultural products was a concern, as it distorted price signals and disrupted the functioning of markets. At their meeting in May, ASEAN leaders had agreed to enhance existing priorities based on programmes that increased agricultural productivity and to strengthen collaboration in the areas of pricing, stocks, exports and imports. Encouraging the Group of 20 to implement the five-point action plan on food-price volatility and agriculture, he said the Committee, for its part, should address agricultural price volatility under its item on “agriculture, development and food security”.
Turning to climate change, he said he recognized disaster-risk reduction as an important cross-cutting issue that contributed to achieving sustainable development. ASEAN was ready to work with other organizations, such as the Regional Trust Fund and the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia, to promote early disaster warning and preparedness. As for the Millennium Development Goals, he called for an exchange of views on a post-2015 development framework.
JOSÉ ANTONIO DOS SANTOS (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said those nations faced challenges related to trade, transit transport, lack of access to the sea and distance from global markets, all of which undermined their efforts to create a foundation for sustainable economic growth and to realize the Millennium Development Goals. Despite their vulnerability, they had made progress on implementing the Almaty Programme of Action, with increased support from development partners, he said. Although reforms to transit transport policies had been carried out, more efforts were needed to ensure trade was more efficient. For their part, development partners should increase their assistance at the regional and subregional levels so as to address “burdensome red tape” and unreliable logistics. Such changes were vital to helping landlocked developing countries improve their export competitiveness.
Noting that an international think-tank had been established in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, he voiced hope that it would help countries build capacity in the areas of transit transport, infrastructure, trade, aid, poverty reduction and economic growth. Indeed, efficient transport and service infrastructure was vital to landlocked developing countries and, since the Almaty Programme of Action was approaching the end of its decade, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries attached great importance to organizing a 10-year review conference in 2013, with a view to developing a shared approach to strategic actions in the coming decade.
In other areas, he said more must be done to establish efficient transport facilities, notably through the creation of regional trade corridors, which would reduce costs and facilitate access by landlocked developing countries to a growing global economy. In that context, developed countries must show the necessary political will to conclude the Doha Round of trade negotiations, he stressed. He went on to support the Secretary-General’s recommendation that international organizations study the vulnerability of landlocked developing countries to external shocks and to develop indicators for preventing volatility. On climate change, he said landlocked developing countries required mitigation and adaptation measures, adding that international support was needed to bridge the gap between policies and implementation.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, pointed out that the Second Committee’s deliberations followed on the heels of the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. It was also a unique opportunity to discuss the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, a development blueprint for the next 10 years. “Now, the time has come to translate our visions and commitments into actions,” he said.
Stressing that the Second Committee must assert its rightful place as the key intergovernmental mechanism for addressing the broader development agenda at the international level, he said the United Nations must exercise its due responsibility to safeguard and protect the vital development interests of the weakest and poorest segment of the international community, the least developed countries. “That is indeed a fair barometer of the success of the United Nations.” The least developed countries had been hard hit by the multiple global crises in a number of ways, including through high food and fuel prices, reduced earnings from trade, tourism and remittances, and declining external support. Today, 75 per cent of their populations lived in poverty and hunger, and as things stood, they were unlikely to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Despite indicators showing that the global recovery would be slow, the current crises must not be used as an excuse not to deliver on promises made to developing countries, least developed countries in particular, he emphasized. Sustainable development and climate change — which had emerged as some of the greatest development challenges of the twenty-first century — were affecting least developed countries in different ways. Ironically, with hardly any capacity to withstand those challenges, they bore a disproportionate amount of the burden. The Group of Least Developed Countries therefore attached great importance to the upcoming Rio+20 Conference, which must summon the much-needed political will to scale up global efforts to promote sustainable development with the overarching aim of delivering them to poor and vulnerable people around the world.
Recalling that the Istanbul Programme’s underlying objective was the earliest possible graduation of least developed countries and the earliest elimination of that category of States, he said capacity-building was critical across the board. It must be supported by physical infrastructure and human capital. He went on to stress that all commitments made in the Istanbul Programme, in the areas of ODA, trade, debt, foreign direct investment (FDI), technology, climate change, risk mitigation and others, must be delivered in full and in a timely and predictable manner.
He went on to say there should be concrete action plans for the integration and implementation of the Programme of Action by the least developed countries, their development partners, United Nations agencies and other actors. There should also be strong monitoring and follow-up mechanisms at all levels, and measurable development goals and targets should be developed further, he said, calling for a clear roadmap for extending the Millennium Goals beyond 2015 and underscoring the importance of respecting national ownership of development by the least developed countries themselves.
MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the session would be important for providing much-needed political impetus to the upcoming Tenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, the Seventeenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2012 Rio+20 Conference. Expressing concern at the lack of political will to implement the commitments reached at major conferences and summits, he said those pledges should neither be diluted nor re-negotiated, and called for the urgent and full implementation of all commitments, especially those in the Political Declaration on Africa.
To address the multiple interrelated global crises, especially those relating to volatile energy and food prices, he urged donors and partners to secure new, predictable and additional resources, while working towards greater accountability in international development cooperation. He also reiterated the need to fulfil all commitments to Africa, emphasizing the indispensable role of ODA as a catalyst for economic and social development. He urged developed countries to allocate the target 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) to official assistance and between 0.15 per cent and 0.20 per cent to least developed countries by 2015.
Turning to climate change, he said he expected the Rio+20 Conference to adopt a concrete, action-oriented outcome document that would respond adequately to the goal of environmental sustainability. Such efforts must be pursued in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. The Climate Change Convention process was the legitimate intergovernmental forum for negotiations, he said, emphasizing that Africa would like adaptation needs to be central to a global regime on climate change. Moreover, desertification, land degradation and drought were very serious issues for the continent; more than 45 per cent of which was affected by desertification, he said, noting also that the Horn of Africa was experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, reflecting the severity of the problem.
In that context, he said the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) should ensure equitable resource-allocation to all three Rio Conventions, as well as for the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification. That treaty must enhance its scientific base to contribute to a better understanding of the issues, he said, calling for the creation of an intergovernmental scientific panel on soils as a matter of equity. Finally, he said the Rio+20 Conference must aim for substantive progress on its objectives and themes, pledging the African Group’s commitment to working with all stakeholders on the actions needed to make the Conference a success. The continent would work towards the formulation of a common position during the upcoming Africa Regional Preparatory Conference on Rio+20, scheduled for later this month, he added.
DMITRY MAKSIMYCHEV ( Russian Federation) said that getting the sustained development of the world economy back on track required responsible decisions on improving the international architecture and eventually establishing a “new paradigm” for international development. The main areas for joint action were defined in the outcome documents of the G-20 summits, in particular the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth. It was critical to improve the coordination of efforts undertaken within various multilateral formats and groupings, including the G-20, to make them transparent and clear to other countries, in particular through the United Nations system, he said, noting that the Organization was playing an important role in consolidating global efforts towards efficient, more rational and equitable mechanisms for monetary, financial trade and economic regulation.
At the same time, the United Nations should continue to promote the principle of global partnership for development as its main development priority in order to help countries meet the Millennium Development Goals, he continued. In the next few years, the international community would need to define the main features of its development agenda beyond 2015, and a number of concepts and models had already been submitted in that respect. The Russian Federation could also contribute to that discussion, as comprehensive modernization was first and foremost a national project, and remained open to cooperation with all countries that were ready to engage on a mutually beneficial and equitable basis. It had formed many bilateral and multilateral partnerships in that regard, he said.
As the “bank of ideas” on the priorities of the social and economic agenda continued to grow, he said, the task now was to summarize and systematize various proposals and, after thorough analysis, to define the basic principles of the renewed United Nations development strategy. “Undoubtedly, this is a lengthy and complex process, and it cannot be forced,” he noted. “There are no shortcuts and the progress can hardly be achieved by pushing it through.” Critical to the Committee’s work was the new task of implementing decisions of the United Nations High-level Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the Fourth Conference on the Least Developed Countries, and the outcomes of other major international meetings. Hopefully, the consolidated approaches taken by the Second Committee would contribute to the success of the Climate Change Conference in Durban and Rio+20. It also placed particular importance on the Committee’s consideration of the cluster of items relating to the follow-up to international conferences on financing for development, including the issue of innovative sources of financing.
AMAR DAOUD (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said billions of people were still living in abject poverty, with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stressing that the number of those suffering from malnutrition was increasing, especially in Africa. Amid declining ODA, unjust flows of international trade and barriers to exports, Sudan was aware of the importance of increasing multilateral, bilateral and regional cooperation, he said, pointing out that his country was active in various regional groups, including the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Having signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement, he said Sudan was implementing all provisions of those agreements, but still faced obstacles, including unilateral sanctions, declining international aid and much debt, the last of which, if written off, would release the resources needed to make peace sustainable. Adaptation to climate change was also a priority, and Sudan had taken steps to alleviate water and food security. Emphasizing that the Climate Change Convention was the proper framework for multilateral negotiations on climate change, he said results should be based on a new and just world order. The upcoming Rio+20 Conference would be an opportunity to create a framework for sustainable development, he added, emphasizing the importance of the principle of shared and differentiated responsibilities.
MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said she was deeply concerned that today’s meeting was taking place under the same or worse economic conditions than it had done three years ago, when the global economic and financial crisis had first struck. Those who mistakenly alleged that the crisis was over were today confronting a relapse with unforeseeable consequences. “The world is falling, slowly but surely,” she warned, adding that the miraculous prescription that the North had presented as a solution — based on more free markets and more barriers to development — would only bring more despair. Reforming the old development model, built on the exploitation of the minority by a majority, was an urgent necessity as the economy could not only consist of profit-making, but should also include mechanisms for the equitable distribution of wealth.
“Let us make no mistake, the resources and technology for development in all countries exists,” she said, noting, however, that they were held and used by a small minority of people around the world, while others suffered. Nicaragua, along with the other States of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of America, had created a development model based on fair trade in resources, which allowed equitable development for all. Never before in its history had the economy of Nicaragua been so strong, she said, adding that profound changes had taken hold in the distribution of internal wealth, while health and education were free. Nicaragua had moved from merely economic relations to ones based on a sense of shared responsibility, and unless a new global economic order was developed soon, “then we are indeed racing toward collective suicide,” she said, adding: “The survivors will not absolve us.” The time had come to rise above the “rhetoric of policy” and to take action, she emphasized, noting that several upcoming international conferences offered opportunities to put priorities back on track.
MOHAMMED AL-HADHRAMI (Yemen), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that successive complex crises had undermined all the gains made by least developed countries towards realization of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Amid the lack of financial resources and the absence of an encouraging international climate, there was a need to strengthen the Istanbul Programme of Action, adopted in May at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, he said. “This has been one of the most important United Nations conferences of the year,” he continued, noting that climate change, another major challenge, also threatened the existence of some of the least developed countries. For that reason, and due to their historic responsibility, developed countries must establish measures within the Climate Change Convention process for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, he said, adding that the Durban Conference was important in that regard.
ZALWANI ZALKAPLY (Malaysia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said the Second Committee should focus on, and contribute to, the expected outcome of Rio+20, but cautioned that several important issues must be addressed before embarking on negotiating its outcome document. First, the “serious gap” in the implementation of Agenda 21 must be acknowledged, she said. Why was there such a divide and what could be done to bridge it? Secondly, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility must be reaffirmed, as it generalized the historical differences in the contributions of developed and developing States to global environmental problems. Thirdly, the urgent need for solutions to addressing the means of implementing and financing sustainable development was critical.
Pointing out that her delegation had previously noted the apparent loss of focus on environmental matters, she said there were “paralysing differences” over institutional frameworks and sustainable development. The failure of the Commission on Sustainable Development to deliver a successful outcome document in May clearly demonstrated that paralysis, as did the lack of progress and unwillingness to honour the commitments made under the Climate Change Convention negotiations. Malaysia further joined other delegations in expressing concern over the fragility of the global economic and financial situation.
She went on to call for the strengthening of international financial regulation, monitoring and supervision in that arena on an urgent basis. Comprehensive reform of current mechanisms, including the Bretton Woods institutions and other elements of the international financial architecture, was needed, she said, adding that Malaysia also joined the “clarion call” for an early conclusion of the Doha Round of negotiation, which must return to its original objective of ensuring free, fair and equitable trade among nations. Finally, she stressed that South-South cooperation was critical, but was not a substitute for North-South cooperation.
RAFAEL ARCHONDO ( Bolivia) associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said, “we’re on the threshold of a new economic and financial crisis,” at a time when the world had not yet recovered from the previous one. The crises were the result of structural flaws in the global economic model, especially in developed-country financial systems. A new development model was needed to overcome inequalities both among and within countries, he stressed, calling for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions, which must become more democratic, representative and geared towards new growth models. In that context, the United Nations must play a fundamental role in eliminating inequality, he added.
Outlining his concerns about the upcoming Rio+20 Conference, he said countries must not renegotiate the commitments of Agenda 21 or the Johannesburg Programme of Implementation. State sovereignty over resources must be promoted, as must the principle of shared but differentiated responsibilities and the historic responsibility of developed nations. The main goal should be commitment to poverty eradication and restoring harmony with nature, he said, cautioning that the green economy could represent dangers and urging developed countries not to create a market that allowed them to appropriate the ecosystems of other nations while escaping their commitments.
“We shall not accept a market environmentalism that imposes prices on nature,” he emphasized, underlining also that his country would accept an expansion of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) services, which allowed countries to evade commitments and could cause new financial bubbles. Similarly, Bolivia would not accept proposals that privatized water. An important challenge would be restoring balance with nature in terms of re-orienting the global economy into tune with the planet’s vital cycles. He proposed a 0.5 per cent tax on financial transactions that would go into a sustainable development fund. Applied at the global level, it had the potential to create $661 billion each year. Finally, he said it was most urgent to strengthen and diversify local food production, while avoiding speculative practices in the distribution and marketing of food.
ABDOU SALAM DIALLO (Senegal), endorsing the Group of 77 statement, said that since the outbreak of the international crisis in 2008, the global financial situation — which reflected a lack of international cooperation and regulation — had called the effectiveness of global governance into question. Was it not time to move towards needed reform of the international system?, he asked. Reforms should focus on expanding frameworks of cooperation between partners, as well as regulating the global economic and financial markets. The countries of the South had been left out in the past, he noted, adding that they must be heard in the reform process.
He went on to state that the supervision of financial markets must be strengthened and speculation limited, adding that it would also be useful to establish a system of taxation on international transactions. Unless the international community took action, the 2015 deadline for meeting the Millennium Development Goals might not be met, and the efforts that the countries of the South had made to that end could be wiped out. Policies must take into account the levels of poverty around the world, he added.
In addition to the international community’s collective responsibility to act, the current situation called for better adaptation, he said. In that respect, the Dakar International Agricultural Forum, which had taken place in April 2011, had tried to set up a new global agricultural framework. Concerning climate change, the world should uphold the commitments made at the Cancun Summit, including on the development of a fund to support developing countries. Senegal called for a new global climate change agreement for the post-2012 period, in addition to fulfilment of the promises made in Monterrey and Doha on foreign debt, assistance and trade.
MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) said he looked forward to Rio+20 as a “unique opportunity to renew and reinforce the global partnership for sustainable development”. With energy crucial to both social and economic development, as well as to the planet’s future, Norway looked forward to an agreement on a strategy to follow up the Secretary-General’s call for “sustainable energy for all”, he said, adding that his country would introduce an energy initiative next week that would propose funding for investment in power generation, among other things. As for the Durban Conference, he said he saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between Kyoto and a new, more ambitious climate-change regime that would include all major emitters.
He said strengthening the United Nations was vital to increasing efficiency and coherence and to ensuring that nations spoke with one voice. Referring to the financial challenges facing many developed countries around the world, he urged them to maintain their current levels of development financing. As for the increasing borrowing difficulties faced by poor countries, he called for a debate on debt-cancellation instruments, which he said were currently too creditor-driven. He urged individual States to take responsibility for tapping their own resources as they attempted to realize the Millennium Development Goals, particularly with regard to promoting women’s rights and gender equality.
KATSUHIKO TAKAHASHI ( Japan) thanked the international community for its assistance to his country following the earthquake and tsunami in March. Nearly 20,000 people had been killed or remained missing, while nearly 40,000 had been forced to flee their homes and continued to endure hardships. Japan continued to exert all efforts to restore and reconstruct disaster-affected areas, but despite the challenges facing the country, it remained dedicated to implementing commitments and continued to press on impending global issues, he said, proposing to host the Third World Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2015.
He went on to emphasize that the United Nations should continue to play a central role in promoting the Millennium Development Goals, saying that a transition to the green economy would be effective and appropriate in the current global economic climate. However, it must not exacerbate social inequity, he cautioned, stressing that human security must be a priority in any such transition. Regarding climate change, he said it was important to draft a single, new legal document that would establish a fair and effective plan in which all major economies would participate. Assistance to developing countries was vital, particularly for the countries most vulnerable to climate change, he said, adding that although his country did not associate itself with a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, it did believe that some necessary improvements could be of benefit.
JOHN SAMMIS ( United States) said the Second Committee could help set the stage for real gains in fighting poverty and promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth. Many countries continued to fall short of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which had become clear at the Istanbul Conference on the Least Developed Countries, he noted, emphasizing that implementing the Istanbul Programme of Action required expanded partnerships that supported least developed countries. He urged emerging economies, civil society and the private sector to join in a broadened donor base.
Expressing concern over the impact of drought, notably in the Horn of Africa, he said his country’s Global Climate Change Initiative integrated climate-change considerations into United States foreign assistance, but warned that budget constraints would affect the work of all States and multinational institutions, thereby increasing the need for a results-based approach. Looking ahead to Rio+20, he identified the Conference as an opportunity to re-energize global sustainable development efforts and to strengthen links across all development practices. Referring to the emerging democracies in North Africa and the Middle East, he said their success or failure were dependent on building strong inclusive economies.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said she shared the concerns over the global economic crisis and that, as the next G-20 President, Mexico recognized that the United Nations should press issues, such as international development and assistance, especially for the least developed economies. For middle income countries like Mexico, food security was a major issue, and the country was preparing to participate in the negotiations on sustainable development at R+20. Participants in the Conference should look to the future instead of focusing on the past, she said, underscoring that Rio+20 should be seen as an opportunity to strengthen international cooperation. Regarding climate change, she said the Cancun agreements represented an enormous achievement but would not be useful unless they were implemented by all parties.
RAZA ABSHIR TARAR ( Pakistan) said frontier economies continued to suffer volatility in the incoherent global economic-governance architecture and his country approach in the Second Committee would aim to build flexibility and the policy space required to enhance the abilities of the least developed countries. A review of Pakistan’s development paradigm had led to a new focus on bringing qualitative change to the lives of ordinary Pakistanis, eliminating reliance on aid and the international economic system, and removing bottlenecks from the internal market. The private sector, bolstered by economic reforms, would drive Pakistan’s future growth, he said.
Welcoming the Secretary General’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, he noted its timeliness, saying the United Nations system remained vital in helping countries meet the Millennium Development Goals and, most importantly, in maintaining a trajectory in a time of declining resources. On climate change, he said full agreement could only come about if unresolved issues, particularly the future of the Kyoto Protocol, were addressed.
Outlining his country’s support for the green economy, he stressed that “greening” must be voluntary and based on national circumstances. Implementation would only work in line with the Rio principles, in particular that of common but differentiated responsibilities, he said, proposing an agreement on “green policy space”. An agreement in Rio would depend on a viable reconfiguration of the institutional arrangements needed to meet the challenge of sustainable development. Identifying problems in the current institutional set-up, he emphasized the need to focus on implementation and compliance, adding that to ensure such an outcome, Pakistan proposed strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP ( Brazil) said only collective actions could address the international challenges facing the world today. In collaboration with other international organizations, the United Nations must commit itself to addressing the challenges faced by developing countries. Developed countries should put coordinated plans in place to boost their economies and take measures to strengthen their domestic economies, she said, adding that the ongoing currency war should be curbed and controlled through the establishment of an official exchange rate. She went on to warn that without a greater voice for developing countries, international economic institutions would lack legitimacy in the future global economy. International economic policies should be open to criticism if the institutions propagating them were committed to assisting poor countries.
She said that, despite the deterioration of world economic prospects, the eradication of poverty and hunger should remain the main priority of the international community. Recalling that the world had set the foundation for international cooperation on sustainable development in 1992, she said the international community must renew its mutual commitment to coordinated action at Rio+20, while addressing the issues of a green economy and poverty eradication. Respect for the environment should be the foundation of the multilateral commitment to sustainable development, she said, adding that to achieve common goals, the international community should make a commitment to assist the countries most in need. Brazil looked forward to evaluating past policies that had not worked, and being introduced to the innovative ideas to be presented at Rio+20.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world was in a state of flux. In North Africa and the Middle East, countries led by Tunisia and Egypt had leapt forward from one era to a more promising one, turning the page on an autocratic past. As preparations for Rio+20 unfolded, many voices were calling for new patterns of economic development upon which common ideas and visions could converge and around which consensus could be built. In the changing balance of economic power, a number of emerging economies were becoming global players and new groupings were seeking to force a transition to more inclusive governance of the global economy. However, crisis still hampered growth and development, and the world economy was in a weakened state, he said, adding that climate change had catastrophic implications for food production and prices.
Something was not working properly, and multilateral action must be redirected, he continued, recalling that the Secretary-General had made it clear that the coming era was one of sustainable development. The upcoming Rio+20 Conference would have an international, long-term, action-oriented agenda that would include the establishment of clear mechanisms for the implementation of commitments. Expressing deep concern over the reluctance of developed countries to adhere to their commitments, he said he was also alarmed by attempts to renegotiate commitments already agreed by consensus. Climate change was another area where there had been a collective failure to act in a responsible and integrated manner, he said. Energy production was another priority issue, and the world must move urgently towards shaping a comprehensive United Nations energy agenda, he said.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria) said the work of Rio+20 would be especially important because the Conference would be dealing with people living in particularly poor areas. There were increasing challenges facing developing countries, and the world as a whole was experiencing global climate change. The international community was required to reach agreement as to how it would deal with pressing environmental change.
He said his country had three concerns. Firstly, Israel continued to occupy the Golan Heights, depriving Syrians of its natural resources and preventing sustainable development. Syria appealed to the Committee to consider the economic and social effects of the occupation. Secondly, unilateral economic measures imposed by industrialized countries on developing ones undermined the latter’s developing economies and were in violation of international trade rules and the freedom of investment. Condemning unilateral sanctions as contravening international law, he said his country’s third concern was to stress the importance of not politicizing debates.
ULAN DJUSUPOV ( Kyrgyzstan), pointing to the problems faced by small countries, particularly landlocked States, in meeting their international obligations due to a lack of financial resources, said transport was vital to his country’s development into a fully-functional State. A new rail corridor running from Southern Europe to China was of particular interest as Kyrgyzstan looked ahead to future economic development. However, the country continued to face challenges with regard to implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, some of which were particular to Kyrgyzstan due to its mountainous nature, he said, adding that his delegation supported a resolution on mountain development.
Degradation and desertification were also significant economic issues and although Kyrgyzstan was developing agricultural production, the use of land for agriculture remained contentious. Degradation and desertification caused great economic loss and reduced crop yields by up to 60 per cent, he said, calling for international action to combat the problem. To ensure sustainable development, a balance between water, food and energy use was vital, he stressed, warning that a lack of balance in water use and a failure to uphold agreements would continue to cause conflict. He urged the United Nations to do more to build consensus, taking into account the different needs of different economies.
SAUL WEISLEDER ( Costa Rica) said the best way to emerge from the current crises was to be pragmatic and creative. Science and technology must be strengthened in order to provide ways to address future global challenges. The international community must move away from oil and find more sustainable sources of energy, he stressed, adding that in the next 10 years, Costa Rica would be faced with the challenge of generating the same amount of power that it had generated in the last 60 years. The country promoted an energy policy based on solidarity, environmental and social viability, he added. With regard to Rio+20, he said progress still fell far short of expectations, and urged the international community to lay the foundation for equitable development in the shared interest of future generations.
VLADIMIR GERUS ( Belarus) said that ahead of the Rio+20 Conference, developed and developing countries were moving toward a green economy and sustainable development at different speeds and with varying capacities. There was, therefore, a need for favourable conditions to develop and apply energy-saving technologies. “We need a coordinated global energy strategy,” as proposed by the Secretary-General, he said, noting that it should count as one of its priorities increased to those technologies for developing countries and those with economies in transition. The costs of renewable-energy technologies had decreased, and in some cases they were competitive with those of traditional technologies, but their use was uneven.
He went on to say that a General Assembly resolution should support “proven elements” of an international mechanism, aimed at improving access to modern energy technologies, while operational activities should aim to meet donor expectations and satisfy the needs of recipients. Middle-income countries had huge potential for growth, which could positively impact the global economy, he said. Belarus had considered with great interest the Secretary-General’s proposal to establish a high-level panel or ad hoc working group to elaborate a framework for tackling the challenges facing middle-income countries, he said, adding that it should take into account their heterogeneity and the positive spill-over effects of their development on low-income countries.
AMAN HASSEN BAME ( Ethiopia) said the effects of the global economic crisis continue to be felt with uninterrupted volatility. Food prices and security were major issues in developing countries, particularly those of sub-Saharan Africa, he said, pointing out that the Horn of Africa was experiencing the worst food-security crisis in almost 60 years. The impact of the drought in the region had been exacerbated by high food prices and the limited coping capacity of people in vulnerable situations, he said, reminding Member States of the need for timely delivery on the commitment under the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, and of minimizing price volatility so as to make food more easily available. Transition to a green economy was an important issue for countries in Africa, he said, adding that it was also a means to achieve important objectives, including sustainable development, employment creation, growth and poverty reduction. Lastly, he emphasized that the needs of the least developed countries should be kept high on the international agenda.
MILAGROS MIRANDA ROJAS ( Peru) said it was vital to promote consensus measures for the reform of the international financial system, and noted the importance of proper regulation in building global economic recovery. To overcome the crisis, concrete measures would be vital, and strengthening the representation of developing countries was an important aspect of that. Middle-income countries were of particular importance, both because of how the crisis had affected them and how they had responded to it. Restoring equality was vital as the economic crisis continued to exclude the poor, she said, adding that a key route to restoring equality lay in cultural diversity, which was both a tool for growth and for the struggle against poverty.
In connection with sustainable development, she said Rio+20 offered a chance to renew the political will required to achieve sustainable development. Confronting existing commitments, while not losing sight of new challenges, was vital, and the path to sustainable development must be based on the adoption of new patterns of production and consumption, increased access to technology for capacity-building, access for developing countries to developed-world markets without barriers or trade distortions, a clear role for the State in decisions on the use of their national resources, responsible private-sector participation and implementation that was inclusive of environmental preservation. That included an emphasis on biodiversity, she stressed, describing her country as a “biodiversity superpower” and vowing resolutely to support the international effort to build a consensus on the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Change Convention.
DIANA AL-HADID (Jordan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that despite improved macroeconomic indicators in some regions, global economic recovery faced “serious and increasing” challenges, which placed cross-cutting pressures on societies. Soaring energy and food prices, coupled with climate change and drought, could undermine progress towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals.
Noting that the global nature of climate change called for joint international action, he said the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol should be the primary bases for negotiating the response. She went on to say that the upcoming Rio+20 Conference would be an important opportunity to secure renewed political commitment to sustainable development and assess the progress made over the past two decades. It was also vital to provide financial assistance to developing countries in a predictable and adequate manner, she said, adding that South-South and triangular cooperation could contribute to the global partnership for development, but only as complements to ODA.
BENEDICT LAWRENCE LUKWIYA (Uganda), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said his country’s economy was estimated to be growing, but dwindling ODA and foreign investment, along with other obstacles, were proving challenging. Development efforts, including those of Uganda and other least developed countries, required international assistance, he said, emphasizing the need to ensure that the commitments made or renewed at the recent Istanbul Conference were implemented in a timely manner, including by least developed countries, their partners and the international community. Further, Uganda welcomed the high-level meeting of the General Assembly on financing for development, slated for December, he said, calling for the focus to be placed on areas relevant to developing countries. It was also important to keep in view the benefits that many countries would enjoy by opening up their markets in agriculture, trade and other activities, he said. Stressing the critical importance of providing developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States, with the appropriate resources to mitigate the effects of climate change, he said the Assembly must send a strong message to the Durban Conference, including by promoting the establishment of legally-binding agreements.
ALEXANDRA TOHME (Lebanon), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) data over the last month showed that a second global recession was possibly unavoidable. With the United States, the eurozone and the United Kingdom in effective recession, that reality was igniting old fears that the development gains made since the 2008 crisis would be reversed. The Committee should work to help avert a second global recession by ensuring that agreed actions were implemented in a full and timely manner, she said.
Calls for a more equitable international system must also be addressed, she stressed, urging reform of the Bretton Woods institutions to increase developing-world participation in norm-setting and decision-making. Lebanon looked forward to Rio+20 and hoped it would assess progress towards realizing the Millennium Goals by identifying successes and failures. Finally, she said developed countries had an historic responsibility to adhere to the Climate Change Convention, which required them to address the root causes of climate change and adhere to the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. Financial resources were needed to support mitigation, adaptation and technical cooperation measures, she added.
SAID MOHAMED OUSSEIN ( Comoros), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, pointed to the difficult international circumstances, which were exacerbated by deadly environmental crises. While Africa had made great progress towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals, the crisis threatened to wipe out the hard-won gains in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, particularly in light of the World Bank’s warning that a spike in food prices could plunge 100 million more people around the world into poverty. That showed that the world’s most vulnerable people remained particularly alarming, he said, adding that they needed the unfailing support of the international community.
He went on to outline Government efforts to tackle problems associated with the crisis, including attempts to curb inflation, the development of a poverty-reduction strategy and new public-finance guidelines. However, national-level efforts would not suffice, and the international community should increase aid to help develop infrastructure and human resources while ensuring preferential agricultural trade. Climate change was a key issue with particular relevance to small-island States like the Comoros, which would disappear unless action was taken against climate change. Historical responsibility for the phenomenon lay with the countries of the North and as such, Comoros urged them to provide appropriate support to the least developed countries.
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