|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
27th Meeting (AM)
Second Committee Speakers Hail ‘ Mobile Revolution’ while Underlining Need
To Bridge Gap in access to Broadband Connectivity
Delegates Conclude ‘Eradication of Poverty and Other Development Issues’
While the revolution in mobile telephony had helped bridge the digital divide, it could not address all the challenges relating to information and communications technology and development, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today.
Tunisia’s representative, speaking as the Committee concluded its consideration of information and communications technology for development, said broadband connectivity was critical to many of the most recent Internet services, but unless the wide gap in access between developing and developed countries was bridged, the former would remain unable to participate fully and effectively in the global digital economy.
Nepal’s representative said the effects of the digital divide were felt especially strongly by the least developed countries, which had enjoyed only minimal gains amid the growing pervasiveness of information and communications technology. He called for greater attention to the development of information and communications technology in the poorest countries.
Israel’s representative saw great opportunities for bridging the digital divide in the forthcoming 10-year review of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society. It offered a chance to study the best approaches, she said, calling on the global community to share their achievements and local insights in order to generate ideas elsewhere in the world, thereby creating platforms that would harness the “vastness of human knowledge”.
The representative of Belarus said the United Nations could play a significant role in helping countries to transform information and communications technology opportunities into real development drivers. She called for advisory and technical assistance for the introduction of e-government and the facilitation of technology sharing to improve the productivity of developing countries, especially those in the middle-income category.
Also looking to the United Nations, the representative of the United States noted that the “Tunis Agenda”, the outcome document of the World Summit on the Information Society, requested the Economic and Social Council to draw on support from the Commission on Science and Technology for Development in coordinating follow-up to the World Summit. It also called on each United Nations agency with a World Summit “action line” to report to the Council on its progress. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) had already done so, and hopefully other agencies would follow suit before 2015, she said.
The democratization of Internet governance was another concern for the developing world, Brazil’s representative said, emphasizing that building an open, diverse and reliable information society depended on democratic inter-governmental decision-making processes, with the United Nations being the most adequate forum. He stressed the need to ensure, through enhanced global coordination, that the Internet remained free and secure for all.
Costa Rica’s representative said information and communications technology could play a major role in boosting entrepreneurial power. He emphasised also its transformative power in education, outlining his Government’s long-standing policies aimed at expanding information and communications technology into State schools.
China’s delegate also referred to entrepreneurship and the power of information and communications technology to boost national economies. Chinese products had a big competitive edge internationally because of huge market demand, the country’s “population dividend” and its “late-comer advantage”, he said. However, some Chinese products were unfairly blocked from individual countries, in contravention of market rules and international trade norms, he said, adding that such actions restricted the development potential of information and communications technology.
Other speakers today were representatives of the Russian Federation, Malaysia, Egypt, Iraq, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Azerbaijan, China, United Kingdom, Sweden, Serbia and India.
Representatives of the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund also delivered statements.
Earlier today, the Committee concluded its general discussion on eradication of poverty and other development issues, hearing statements by representatives of Haiti and Lesotho.
Also speaking on that subject were representatives of the Holy See, International Organization for Migration, Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Following on from that discussion, the Committee took up the issue of Programme Planning, but left it open until 30 November as it involved no matters requiring immediate attention.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, 13 November, to hear the submission of draft resolutions.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to conclude its general discussions on information and communications technology for development, and eradication of poverty and other development issues. For background information, see press Releases GA/EF/3353 of 9 November and GA/EF/3349 of 5 November, respectively.
Mr. MOROZOV ( Russian Federation) said information and communication technology played a critical role in improving economic competitiveness, promoting integration into the global economic system and enhancing efficient public administration. Attaching great importance to the effective use of information and communications technology, the Russian Federation had established a specialized system for departmental and regional information management in addition to having introduced methodologies and standards for information systems. E-government provided information on public and municipal services for citizens and businesses, allowing users to gain electronic access to almost 4,000 Government services, as well as an opportunity to leave feedback on the quality of public and municipal services in an electronic format.
He commended the work of ITU in such areas as coordinating global telecommunications networks and services, promoting a broader approach to telecommunications in the global information economy and society, and providing technical assistance to developing countries in the field of telecommunications. Outlining ways in which information and communications technology could be used for development, he said one way would be for ITU to initiate mechanisms for testing technologies, protocols and communications services. It should also strengthen cooperation between itself and regional telecommunications organizations by revising the procedures for their participation as observers in sessions of the ITU Council.
Mr. LAKHAL ( Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, noted that half the world’s inhabitants had gained access to information and communications technology due to the growth of mobile telephony. While that was laudable, many development challenges remained and new ones were emerging thanks to the economic and financial crisis. While the mobile revolution had helped bridge the digital divide, it could not address all challenges related to information and communications technology and development. With broadband critical to many of the most recent Internet services, unless the wide gap in access between developing and developed countries was bridged, the former would remain unable to participate fully and effectively in the global digital economy, he warned. There was also a need to address challenges such as cybercrime and piracy, including through greater cooperation and technical assistance, he said.
Calling also for the implementation of recommendations made by the Working Group on Improvements to the Internet Governance Forum, he emphasized the importance of broadening participation and capacity-building. He noted the growth in importance of the Internet Governance Forum, especially in the exchange of ideas among a broad range of stakeholders, but also the limited progress in cooperation on international public policy issues pertaining to the Internet. In that regard, he called for an intergovernmental mechanism that would enhance cooperation within United Nations structures and enable Governments to carry out their responsibilities in the international public policy issues set forth in the Tunis Agenda. He called for the convening of a 10-year review conference on the implementation of outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, expressing hope that it would look forward as well as back to the new technological and market changes that had taken place.
Ms. ASSAF (Brazil), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that in order to harness the full potential of information and communications technology, the United Nations must play a pivotal role in accomplishing all the mandates emanating from the World Summit on the Information Society. Among the tasks still pending was bridging the digital divide ensuring the participation of developing countries in Internet governances, both of which should be the focus of attention. It was also important to address the lack of effective financial mechanisms to support the development of information and communications technology, she added, stressing that full access to could help people in developing countries to participate actively in the global economy and harness the benefits of globalization. Despite growth in new technologies in recent years, the majority of poor populations worldwide had not yet benefited from those gains, she noted.
The democratization of Internet governance was another concern for the developing world, she continued. Building an open, diverse and reliable information society depended on democratic inter-governmental decision-making processes, with the United Nations being the most adequate forum. Ensuring that the Internet remained free and secure for all could only occur through enhanced global coordination, she said, urging all relevant stakeholders to engage constructively in the debate over the need for enhanced cooperation, as mandated in the World Summit on the Information Society. It was time to honour commitments to improve Internet governance, she emphasized, noting that, since no consensus had been reached after last May’s interactive meeting of the Committee on Science and Technology for Development, efforts to continue discussions on launching an enhanced cooperation process must be renewed.
Ms. MELNICOVICH ( Belarus) said information and communications technology would be vital to building new socioeconomic infrastructure, as long as there were clear qualitative improvements in the exchange of information. The United Nations continued to help countries transform information and communications technology opportunities into real development drivers, she noted, calling for advisory and technical assistance for the introduction of e-government and the facilitation of technology sharing to improve the productivity of developing countries, especially middle-income ones. Most developed countries would play the biggest role in that regard, she added, emphasizing that developing an information society was a priority for her country. Belarus had a strategy in place for the period 2011-2015, involving comprehensive measures to further develop infrastructure, e-government, e-learning and e-health services, as well as building human capacity. Agreeing with the Rio+20 outcome document’s approach to information and communications technology, she said an appropriate international legal framework was needed to protect against piracy, cyberattacks and use of the Internet for terrorism. There was also a need to draw up generally accepted rules for behaviour in cyberspace, she added.
HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said his country had been continuously driving change and innovation to ensure that its people had a high standard of living and were competitively relevant on the global stage. In October 2011, the Government had launched the latest information and communications technology initiative, Digital Malaysia, which was expected to create an “ecosystem” that would promote pervasive use of information and communications technology in all aspects of the economy, connect communities globally, and interact in real time. The aim was to increase gross national income, enhance productivity and improve living standards. Digital Malaysia also planned to move the country’s focus from supply to demand, shift its behaviour from consumption- to production-oriented, and increasingly develop local talent in key industries. Malaysia also continued to strengthen its South-South cooperation programme, including by sharing its information and communications technology experience with other developing countries in order to respond to emerging global and regional challenges. Development was not simply about boosting the number of computers, mobile and smart phones and broadband users as part of national e-strategies, he stressed. Instead, the strategic thrust of information and communications technology initiatives was ultimately to help achieve tangible improvements in people’s living standards.
Mr. EL SHAAR ( Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, welcomed the progress made in mobile telephony and the increased access to information and communications technology around the world. However, greater efforts were needed to bridge the gap between the developed world and developing countries, particularly those in Africa and the least developed ones, he said. Emphasizing the importance of the World Summit on the Information Society principles, including the one reaffirming that international management of the Internet should be multilateral, transparent and democratic, he pointed out, that efforts to enhance cooperation on public policy issues pertaining to the Internet had fallen short of achieving stipulation in the Tunis Agenda. Egypt supported the proposal to establish a working group under the Commission on Science and Technology for Development to consider the World Summit’s mandate and submit recommendations for enhanced cooperation. Regarding the 10-year review of implementation of World Summit outcomes, he reaffirmed the General Assembly’s role as stipulated in the Tunis Agenda, and called for an open-ended inter-governmental preparatory committee to set the agenda for the review conference, prepare a draft outcome document, and decide on the participation of stakeholders.
Mr. AL SEEDI ( Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his Government had adopted a holistic approach to Internet management in its pursuit of economic and social development goals. Besides adopting electronic signature and electronic transactions laws, Iraq had trained 6,000 people in that area and furthered institutional strategies in the areas of government, education and health care. The Government had developed mechanisms to move economic and legal infrastructure forward, and bolstered the private sector’s access to information and communications technology. Iraq followed scientific and technological advances around the world and examined research infrastructure, as well as vocational training on the development of technology. Next month, the country would host, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the second meeting on Internet management, with the aim of ensuring that information and communications technology was at the centre of development and efforts to deliver public services, while ensuring good governance and promoting community and social justice, as well as Government accountability.
APISAKE MONTHIENVICHIENCHAI (Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said his country encouraged the use of the Government Information Network, among other entities, to reduce overhead costs and increase the efficiency of Government services. The Ministry of Public Health was launching “telemedicine” and “telecare” projects to create networks of medical practitioners and increase long-distance access of patients to medical consultation services. It was also making efforts in bridge the digital divide by increasing public Wi-Fi access and the distribution of tablet computers in schools. Information and communications technology also played a crucial role in advancing small and medium-sized enterprises, he noted. The potential of technology to transform development should be borne in mind as the international community gathered baseline data for use in formulating the Sustainable Development Goals, setting the post-2015 development agenda and reviewing the results, he said. At a time, with many real-world economic transactions moving to cyberspace, there was a need for an appropriate balance of universally acceptable Internet freedoms and regulations, he said, adding that Thailand supported the Internet Governance Forum and the active involvement of all relevant stakeholders in its deliberations.
PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, recalled that since 2005, his country’s information and communications technology agency, with its “e-Sri Lanka” programme, had achieved major economic, developmental and social improvements. The Government had established a range of facilities to strengthen information management, especially at the grassroots level, in terms of governance, education, health care, industry, agriculture, fisheries, social security and the judiciary. A rural telecentre network promoted partnerships among all sectors to create a knowledge society, and multi-service centres promoted access to scientific and technological applications for rural communities. As a result, the rate of literacy in information and communications technology had grown from approximately 5 per cent in 2004 to almost 40 per cent in 2012.
He stressed the importance of maximizing the efficiency of existing platforms through collective efforts before introducing new standards of international Internet governance. Sri Lanka met the latest standards of governance and had taken the initiative to adopt globally compatible legislative measures covering a wide array of areas, including intellectual property rights, electronic transactions and computer crime. The statutes adopted in those areas were often used as best-practice case studies in global forums, and Sri Lanka was ready to share the lessons it had learned from its efforts to make information and communications technology a tool for development. The country had already chaired the relevant committee of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) for three years, and was indeed a hub of knowledge in the region.
CHERYL SABAN ( United States), noting that distributed systems like the Internet required distributed action, recommended against the use of a single institution, document, arrangement or instrument in addressing the needs of a networked world. The United States was committed to the multi-institutional process of enhanced cooperation on international Internet public policy issues, and appreciated the Economic and Social Council’s work in hosting a one-day meeting on enhanced cooperation last May. Noting that the “Tunis Agenda”, the World Summit on the Information Society outcome document, requested the Economic and Social Council draw on support from the Commission on Science and Technology for Development in coordinating the follow-up to the World Summit, she said it also called on every United Nations agency with a World Summit “action line” to report to the Council on their progress. UNESCO and ITU had already done so and hopefully other agencies would follow suit before 2015.
FAKHRI ALIYEV ( Azerbaijan) said his country’s shift to a market economy had led to a focus on people-centred development and inclusive social policies. Azerbaijan’s dynamic and sustained economic growth had enabled the Government to launch long-term national poverty-eradication and socioeconomic development programmes and to support their implementation in a sustainable manner. The Government promoted the development of the private sector as an important driver of growth, investment and innovation, he said, adding that an enabling regulatory environment had contributed to increases in private investment and job creation as well as improved infrastructure.
He said refugees and internally displaced persons, the victims of forced displacement resulting from Armenia’s aggression, were recognized as the most vulnerable groups in society. Economic and social integration measures provided them with income support, including unconditional cash transfers and expanded social protection programmes, including adequate housing and health care. Those comprehensive support measures, funded and subsidized by the Government, had continued to inflict a burden on the economy for more than two decades, he said.
The promotion of employment had been an integral part of Azerbaijan’s State programmes, and over the last eight years, the national poverty rate had dropped from 49 to 7 per cent, he said. With nearly half its population living in rural areas, the Government attached great importance to promoting agriculture and rural development, and appreciated the cooperation and support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), particularly in the area of institutional and human-capacity building. Education and training were critical for advancing employment and income generation for all segments of society, particularly for the youth. The exchange of best practices in that would be timely and instrumental, especially in the post-2015 period, he said.
XIE XIAOWU ( China), associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed to China’s 538 million “netizens”, 388 of whom were mobile phone and web users. Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, had 270 million users and China was third in the world for its number of “Ipv6” addresses. To help close the digital divide, there was a need to construct the next generation of national information infrastructure, and the international community should support that, he said. China’s products had a big competitive edge internationally in information and communications technology because of huge market demand, and the country’s “population dividend” and late-comer advantage. However, the blocking of some of those products in individual countries was unfair and a contravention of market rules and international trade norms, in addition to being restrictive in terms of the development potential of information and communications technology, he said. To ensure that it played a positive role in development worldwide, China called for a more rational layout of Internet root servers, support for building regional information and communications technology infrastructure and protection of the principles governing international trade.
AARON HOLTZ ( United Kingdom) said his country recognized the importance of ensuring that all stakeholders, including Governments, had due and full regard for the Tunis Agenda provision relating to enhanced cooperation, so that development of the global information economy would continue to serve the interests of all. An important first step to enhancing cooperation would be to engage in a comprehensive mapping of regional and international initiatives, which could provide better awareness, expose possible synergies, and identify guiding principles and best practices. However, the United Kingdom was concerned about the continuing vacancy in the position of Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Internet Governance, despite the interest expressed by qualified candidates. With the 10-year Review on the horizon, it was more important than ever that the Secretary-General be provided with quality advice and support, he emphasized.
Mr. WEISLEDER (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said it was essential to satisfy the housing, health and education needs of Costa Rica’s population, as well as protecting their human rights and ensuring their access to information and communications technology. Access to the latter information and communications technology was also vital to expanding the country’s entrepreneurial power, he said, emphasizing also its transformative power in education. That had been part of Government policy since 1987 and the aim was to incorporate 85 per cent of State schools into the plan. There was a digital divide between rural and urban populations as well as between older and younger Costa Ricans, while wealthier and better educated people enjoyed much better access to information and communications technology. However, there had been significant progress in bridging those gaps, he said, pointing citing joint efforts by the Government, the private sector and civil society. Next year, Cost Rica would host the first World Conference on Youth and ICT, which would cover matters relating to the protection of children as well as jobs, health, education and gender, he said.
Mr. RINGBORG ( Sweden) stressed the importance of freedom and openness on the Internet, and praised the Human Rights Council’s resolution, “The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet”. It reflected themes that were important to discussions on how information and communications technology could be important tools for development and for exercising human rights, including the affirmation that the same rights that people enjoyed offline should be protected online. As the Internet continued to evolve, the challenge of finding the right balance to account for the interests of all stakeholders would also grow, he pointed out. As such, Sweden called for the full participation of multiple stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, in the Internet Governance Forum, underlining its key role in facilitating and improving Internet governance.
LIDIJA BUBANJA ( Serbia) noted that even when commodities were well-distributed, services provided or systems strengthened, the lives of many people remained difficult because they lacked assistance in developing the skills and self-confidence they required to make informed decisions on issues affecting their lives and their children’s well-being. Nor were people provided with essential information, or opportunities to express their concerns to decision-makers. Although this year’s report described how at least nine United Nations or related bodies had integrated the major principles of information and communications technology into their programming, there had been only a limited response by Member States. The Government of Serbia supported the principles of consultative and participatory communications, whether done on television or radio, in person, on the Internet or on social networking platforms. Noting that only 26 per cent of people in the developing world used the Internet, compared to 74 per cent in developed countries, she said that closing that gap remained a formidable task. It required a shared understanding by Member States of areas for enhanced cooperation in promoting development by improving access to information and communication technologies for the most marginalized groups, including women and indigenous minorities, among others.
RONIT BEN DOR ( Israel) said lack of access to the Internet in the developing world contributed to the global digital divide, adding that the 10-year review of the World Summit on the Information Society could be used to study how best to bridge that divide. Developing countries must increase their Internet presence so that their concerns would be considered, she suggested, adding that the global community could share achievements and local insights in order to generate ideas elsewhere in the world, thereby creating platforms for harnessing the “vastness of human knowledge”. The review could also assess lessons learned and new challenges, towards setting the post-2015 development agenda, she said. The Government of Israel had played a role in the emergence of the country’s information and communications technology sector, which, in turn, had helped the Government manage its socioeconomic and outreach programmes. It had revitalized the public administration, fostered inclusive leadership, and moved the civil service towards greater efficiency, transparency and accountability, she said. Israel was one of three countries to have received the United Nations “outstanding progress in e-government” award, she noted.
RAM KAJI KHADKA (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said more than 6 billion people around the world had various types of mobile or smartphones, while multipurpose devices and broadband networks had become common in developed as well as developing countries. The use of devices by the majority of people had created opportunities for social and economic development, but developing countries, especially those with the least capacity, had enjoyed only minimal gains. Greater attention was therefore required to the development of information and communications technology in those countries, he said. Nepal had implemented the Three Year Plan of Nepal, which placed a high priority on devoting available resources to the proper development, research and application of science and technology, including information technology. Its potential remained largely unfulfilled for most poor people in countries like Nepal, he said, pointing out that information and communications technology was an easy driver of globalization but a difficult promoter of inequality among developed and developing countries. Significant disparities in penetration and affordability were prevalent. He called for additional commitments by development partners in terms of technology transfer and resource mobilization to acquire information and communications technology as an effective tool for enhancing all three dimensions of sustainable development.
MANJEEV SINGH PURI (India), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country was committed to free growth of the Internet and emphasized that its international management must be multilateral, transparent and democratic, with the full involvement of Governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations. There was a need to put in place a system designed for cyberspace — one that would be collaborative, consultative and inclusive in dealing with all public policies involving the Internet. The process should involve all stakeholders and make the digital divide a thing of the past, he said, adding that it must also take regional and national sensitivities and divergences into account. A mechanism for accountability in respect of crimes committed in cyberspace would also be needed, he said, adding that new cyber jurisprudence must be evolved to deal with cybercrime without being limited by political boundaries.
GARY FOWLIE, Head, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Liaison Office at the United Nations, provided an update on preparations for the 10-year review, and recalled that since the two phases of the World Summit, there had been an extraordinary development of information and communications technology, the “mobile miracle” in particular. Although more than 90 per cent of the world’s people were now within reach of mobile phones, however, challenges remained, among them the need to bring Internet access to the two thirds of the world’s population that was still offline. That would ensure that the “information society” became a “knowledge society” in which information and communications technology could fulfil its potential as a fundamental catalyst for meeting all development goals. The World Summit called on countries and international organizations to develop appropriate indicators and produce official statistics to monitor the information society, he said, noting that ITU had launched a global campaign to promote the power of digital technology to transform the lives of girls everywhere. In support of the first International Day of the Girl, ITU had launched the “Tech Needs Girls” prize, with the aim of sparking the creativity of girls between nine and 18 years of age, and inspiring them to embrace technology and the career potential it offered.
PAULA CLAYCOMB, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said the agency had an extensive country-level network of communications for development specialists and practitioners working in close collaboration with Government and non-governmental partners, including other United Nations entities. Several countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, introduced innovative approaches to holistic child development, with increased emphasis on formative research. In Indonesia, she said, a SMS-based mobile phone application for building the capacity of midwives to counsel families on critical issues was being tested in two districts. In Cambodia, a multi-year effort using interpersonal communication, mass media, social mobilization and point-of-service promotion, had contributed to an increase in the number of women participating in ante-natal clinic visits from 28.3 per cent in 2005 to 89.1 per cent in 2010, she added. UNICEF had also successfully applied communications for development strategies to the promotion of inclusive development and the rights of most excluded populations, including indigenous and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, she said.
Having concluded its general discussion on information and communications technology, the Committee resumed its consideration of the eradication of poverty and other development issues.
FRITZNER GASPARD ( Haiti), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said employment was one of his Government’s five main priorities, and the “ Haiti is open for business” effort was aimed at attracting foreign investment to the country. That initiative, implemented alongside macroeconomic reforms, was beginning to bear fruit, he said, describing the Carcol Industrial Park in northern Haiti as one of the largest industrial parks in the Caribbean. It was expected directly to create 20,000 jobs and an additional 60,000 indirectly. The environment for entrepreneurship had also improved, with the system for establishing new businesses having been simplified. Social safety nets had been created to protect the most vulnerable, and the Government had enacted several pilot programmes to combat hunger and extreme poverty, he said. It had identified revitalizing agriculture and addressing vulnerability to disasters as key priorities for Haiti and all developing countries, he said.
RETHABILE MALUKE (Lesotho), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said that reducing the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa had proved difficult for almost a decade, with the share of workers in vulnerable employment near 80 per cent. Excessive food-price volatility forced poor households to cut their spending on quality foods and further reduced their access to essential social services such as health care. Gender disparity in labour markets had proved to be among the main barriers to poverty eradication, as women continued to suffer disproportionately from deficits in decent work, which forced them to engage in the informal job market. Equally disturbing was increasing global youth unemployment, said to be three times higher than the adult rate. Young people were currently estimated to constitute 40 per cent of the 200 million jobless people worldwide, she noted, emphasizing the need for international cooperation in the fight against poverty, calling on development partners to honour their official development assistance (ODA) commitments to help relieve small economies from the stigma of poverty.
FRANCIS ASSISI CHULLIKATT, Permanent Observer, Holy See, recalled that in the 1960s, Pope Paul VI had called for efforts to build “a more human world for all, a world in which all will be able to give and receive, without one group making progress at the expense of the other”. Although that call had been made 45 years ago, it defined the essence of equitable growth and remained just as relevant today. More recently, Pope Benedict XVI had made a plea for “responsible stewardship over nature”, urging technologically advanced countries to lower their energy consumption and improve energy efficiency while calling for a worldwide redistribution of energy resources.
Calling on all countries to recognize responsibly the impact they would have on future generations, particularly the many young people in the poorer nations, he said that within the Millennium Development Goals there were three subcategories, each essential to ensuring a minimum of human dignity: the need to halve the number of people earning less than $1 per day; the need to provide full and productive employment for all; and the need to reduce by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger. The economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development must be grounded in a clear vision of the true human person, or the “ethical dimension of the human person”, he emphasized.
MICHELE KLEIN SOLOMON, Permanent Observer, International Organization for Migration, said youth unemployment and underemployment was a persistent challenge that had left less than half the global youth population active in the labour market. Resolving the economic and social uncertainties facing developing countries in areas such as job creation, decent work and social protection was vital to improving the next generation’s productive capacity and living standards, she said. “We must invest in young people early on to prevent them from becoming trapped in situations of poverty and dependency.” Migration could be an important strategy for taking people out of high-unemployment situations, connecting them with jobs and opportunities elsewhere and assisting poverty eradication efforts, she said.
Young people were fuelling some of the primary benefits of human mobility by contributing remittances, social capital and knowledge-sharing between localities, regions and nations, she continued. Preventing rural-to-urban migration was counter-productive and would impoverish populations, putting them at enhanced risk and exacerbating the issues that had initially driven migration. Migrant labour, whether skilled or unskilled, was needed to recover from the global economic crisis and encourage growth, she said, describing migration as an essential driver of the global economy and a key tool in poverty eradication efforts. However, growing anti-migrant sentiment had led to stigmatization and xenophobic tendencies towards migrants, she said, calling for policies that would play a role in eradicating poverty by allowing people to migrate safely.
BERTRAND DE LOOZ KARAGEORGIADES, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, underlined the importance of youth employment and social protection schemes. Describing the elimination of poverty as the key to eradicating several other scourges, he said that solidarity with all those facing poverty and exclusions was essential and lay at the heart of the Sovereign Military Order’s activities for nearly 900 years. Assistance to anyone in distress, regardless of race, nationality or religion, was vital to the Order, he said, noting its interventions in more than 120 countries. Its actions were facilitated by diplomatic relations with 104 States, he said citing Belgium, Cameroon, Haiti, Lebanon and Pakistan as some of those in which it had recently been active. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta had also help people suffering the impact of Hurricane Sandy in the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, he added.
VINICIUS PINHEIRO, Deputy Director, International Labour Organization (ILO), said particular attention should be given to the 75 million young jobless people on the planet and the 200 million young workers who were currently under-employed and earning less than $2 a day. The “Call for Action on Youth Employment Crisis” a document adopted last June, provided a series of guiding principles and a detailed policy portfolio of concrete measures to tackle the unemployment crisis, including by addressing mismatches in skills, improving apprenticeship systems and promoting youth entrepreneurship.
Recalling that the International Labour Conference had adopted Recommendation No. 202 on Social Protection Floors in June 2012, he said it called for providing people with essential health-care and social services, as well as basic income security constituting national social protection floors. Particular attention should be given to the issue of rural employment, he said, stressing that more productive employment in agriculture and related sectors could provide an engine of sustainable development and poverty reduction, not only by increasing food availability, but also by improving access to food through better incomes and social protection.
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