|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
28th Meeting (PM)
General Assembly President, in Address to Second Committee, Identifies
Elements of ‘Perfect Storm’ Afflicting Agricultural Output
He Goes on to Contrast Progress on Post-2015 Agenda
With Impasse in Working Group Formulating Sustainable Development Goals
Low productivity, reduced investment, land degradation, water scarcity and climate change had combined to form a “perfect storm” of challenges to the agricultural output of several Member States, General Assembly President Vuk Jeremić (Serbia) told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.
Addressing the Committee on the value of its work and the need for continued progress, the Assembly President identified sustainable agricultural development as one of the key areas in which the subsidiary body could make a strong impact. He underlined the importance of a twin-track strategy, combining investment in productive capacities with targeted programmes to tackle hunger among the most needy. On that issue, and several others, there was a strong link between development and international peace and security, he said, calling for closer cooperation between the Second and Third Committees in order to boost coherence in the work of the plenary.
Turning to the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of United Nations operational activities for development, Mr. Jeremić said that while operational activities should retain their voluntary and universal nature, they should become more attuned to the needs, policies and priorities of recipient countries. A report by the Secretary-General on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review contained a comprehensive list of recommendations and analyses of the changing development landscape, declining contributions to United Nations funds, the role of resident coordinators and assistance for framework changes, he noted.
He called for an exchange of views on enhancing sovereign debt-restructuring and debt-resolution mechanisms, with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), proposing that it involve academics who could help further the General Assembly’s work in shaping the planet’s material destiny. Other priority issues for the plenary included its proposed enhanced role in global economic governance, he said, pointing to the expanding role of the “Group of 20” (G-20). “For better or worse”, it was a reality, he said. The growth of the G-20 had raised questions about transparency, legitimacy and inclusivity in international economic governance, and the General Assembly, operating on the principle of sovereign equality of Member States, could play an important role in addressing at least some of those questions.
He went on to emphasize that the G-20 must be engaged, adding that he intended to launch a consultation process to establish a framework for such consultation. An informal high-level thematic debate on the role of the United Nations in world economic governance could also be useful in providing an opportunity to discuss the modalities of further collaboration between the G-20 and international financial institutions, and in covering some of the issues that the G-20 would consider at its next summit, to be held in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, in September 2013.
Noting that the Assembly’s resolution on the impact of the global economic and financial crisis on development proposed convening a high-level meeting on the subject in Kazakhstan next year, he said the world was “thoroughly shaken” by the crisis and it was imperative to move forward constructively while avoiding divisions. A high-level meeting could achieve that aim, and the Assembly was the best forum for such a debate.
The Committee’s work would clearly be greatly affected by the post-2015 development agenda, he said, pointing out that Member States had had a chance to exchange views on the subject during the Secretary-General’s high-level panel discussion. One of the questions that had emerged was how the tasks set forth by the panel related to mandates given to the General Assembly and world leaders at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, in particular with relation to the sustainable development goals. Emphasizing that mutual reinforcement was essential and duplication of work to be avoided, he said it was also crucial that all parties remained “on the same page” throughout the process, mindful of the need for greater coherence and coordination — as highlighted in the Rio+20 outcome document — in order to meet the prevailing huge global challenges.
He said world leaders had given the General Assembly a very clear mandate to establish an intergovernmental process by which to propose options for an effective financing strategy to ensure enactment of the Rio+20 agenda. It was regrettable, however, that the open-ended working group on the sustainable development goals had not yet agreed on the regional distribution of seats between the five regional groups, let alone established a set of goals to be considered and adopted by the General Assembly plenary, despite the deadline set at Rio. Although that was not directly linked to the Second Committee’s agenda, it could affect its deliberations, just as it was affecting deliberations in the Assembly plenary and in various agencies.
The President urged Member States to reach consensus on the matter, stressing the need for a spirit of compromise to prevail. Failure would represent not only a serious setback, but also a failure in the eyes of the world, he warned, emphasizing that only limited time remained before it would become manifest that the whole process was moving in the wrong direction and had become overtly politicized. A way forward could still be found, he stressed, adding that he did not believe continued delay was acceptable, particularly given that the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda was proceeding on schedule. Overcoming the impasse in the open-ended working group was directly related to the question of whether or not there would be a single development agenda after 2015, in the same way that there was one that defined the Millennium Development Goals, many of which had been fulfilled to the great benefit of humankind.
Following the President’s address, George Talbot ( Guyana), Chair of the Second Committee, echoed his exhortation to the open-ended working group on the sustainable development goals, and stressed the clarity of the relationship between the Second Committee’s work and that of the Assembly President.
As the Committee turned to other business, the representative of Azerbaijan submitted a draft resolution titled “Building connectivity through the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway” (document A/C.2/67/L.35). He was followed by the representative of Israel, who introduced a draft on “Entrepreneurship for development” (document A/C.2/67/L.34), and the representative of Egypt, who tabled a draft titled “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources” (document A/C.2/67/L.33).
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 15 November, to hear the introduction of a number of draft resolutions.
* *** *