Text Approved in Second Committee Would Urge General Assembly to Increase Voluntary Funding for United Nations Environment Programme

7 December 2012
GA/EF/3361

Text Approved in Second Committee Would Urge General Assembly to Increase Voluntary Funding for United Nations Environment Programme

7 December 2012
General Assembly
GA/EF/3361
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

34th Meeting (AM)

Text Approved in Second Committee Would Urge General Assembly to Increase

Voluntary Funding for United Nations Environment Programme

 

Draft Reiterates Importance of Nairobi Location as Members Pass Seven Others

The General Assembly would urge donors to increase voluntary funding to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), including to the Environment Fund, according to one of eight draft resolutions that the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved today.

Approved without a vote, the draft would have the Assembly reiterate the continuing need for UNEP to conduct up-to-date, comprehensive, scientifically credible and policy-relevant global environment assessments, in close consultation with Member States, in order to support decision-making processes at all levels.

By other terms of that text — titled, “Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twelfth special session and on the implementation of section IV.C entitled ‘Environmental pillar in the context of sustainable development’ of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” — the Assembly would reiterate the importance of UNEP’s Nairobi headquarters location.  It would request the Secretary-General to keep the Programme’s resource needs, and those of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, under review so as to permit the effective delivery of necessary services to UNEP and the other United Nations entities in that city.

Taking up other draft resolutions under its sustainable development cluster of agenda items, the Committee approved a text titled, “Entrepreneurship for development” by a recorded vote of 129 in favour to 31 against, with 9 abstentions ( Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, China, Ecuador, Mali, Mauritius, South Africa, Zimbabwe).

By its terms, the General Assembly would emphasize the important role of partnerships with the private sector in promoting entrepreneurship, generating employment and investment, increasing revenue potential, developing new technologies and innovative business models, and enabling high, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth while protecting the rights of workers.

The Assembly would, by further terms, emphasize the importance of national efforts to bring informal workers into the formal economy and to integrate them into national social security systems.  It would, by other terms, call upon the relevant organizations and bodies of the United Nations system to further recognize and integrate the various forms of entrepreneurship into their policies, programmes and reports, and to support national efforts in that regard.

The Committee went on to approve, once again without a vote, a draft resolution titled, “Harmony with Nature”, by which the General Assembly would call for holistic and integrated approaches to sustainable development that would guide humanity to live with nature, leading to efforts to restore the health and integrity of the earth’s ecosystems.  Also by the text, the Assembly would encourage all countries and the relevant bodies of the United Nations system to develop and strengthen the quality and quantity of basic statistical data on the three pillars of sustainable development.  It would invite the international community and the pertinent United Nations bodies to assist the efforts of developing countries by providing capacity-building and technical support.

Taking up a draft on information and communications technologies for development, the Committee approved a text titled, “Building connectivity through the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway”, by which the General Assembly would stress the importance of strengthened and continued cooperation among all stakeholders to build and run information infrastructures in order to bridge the digital divide in the region.  It would encourage interested Member States to participate in the development of regional connectivity solutions.

Under its agenda item on globalization and interdependence, the Committee approved, without a vote, a draft resolution titled, “Promoting transparency, participation and accountability in fiscal policies”.  By its terms, the General Assembly would encourage Member States to intensify efforts to enhance transparency, participation and accountability in fiscal policies.  By other terms, it would encourage Member States to promote discussions on advancing the common goal of transparent, participatory and accountable management of fiscal policies.

Turning to its agenda item on groups of countries in special situations, the Committee approved, again without a vote, a draft titled, “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries”.  By that text, the General Assembly would express serious concern that after a decade of welcome, steady economic growth, least developed countries faced significant challenges in sustaining economic growth, and their economies were projected to grow by an average of 4.1 per cent in 2012, considerably below the annual 7 per cent set out in the Istanbul Programme of Action.

The Assembly would, by further terms, stress the need for the international community to remain vigilant in monitoring the debt situation of least developed countries.  It would continue to take effective measures, preferably within existing frameworks, to address their debt problems, including through the cancellation of their multilateral and bilateral debt, both public and private.  The Assembly would also stress the need for strengthened coordination, monitoring and follow-up regarding implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action, with a view to ensuring effective and efficient implementation and follow-up mechanisms at the country, sub-regional, regional and global levels.

Acting again without a vote, the Committee approved a draft resolution titled, “Smooth transition for countries graduating from the list of least developed countries”.  By its terms, the General Assembly would emphasize that a successful transition must be based on the national smooth-transition strategy elaborated as a priority by each graduating country, in the period between the date on which the Assembly took note of the recommendation that it graduate and the effective graduation date.  The national strategy should include a comprehensive and coherent set of specific and predictable measures that would accord with the priorities of the graduating country, while taking into account its own specific structural challenges, vulnerabilities as well as its strengths.

Further by that text, the Assembly would reiterate its invitation to all members of the World Trade Organization to consider extending to graduated countries the special and differential treatment measures and exemptions available to least developed countries for a period appropriate to the country’s development situation.  It would urge graduating countries and all bilateral and multilateral development and trading partners to pursue or intensify efforts, consistent with the rules of the World Trade Organization, to contribute to the full implementation of resolution 59/209 of 20 December 2004, with a view to ensuring the smooth transition of graduating least developed countries.

The Committee then took up the eradication of poverty and other development issues, approving, without a vote, a text titled, “Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017)”.  By its terms, the General Assembly would urge Member States to address the global challenge of youth unemployment by developing and implementing strategies that would give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work.  In that context, it would stress the need for a global strategy on youth employment, building upon, among other things, the Global Jobs Pact and the call for action of the International Labour Organization (ILO).  The Assembly would urge the international community, including the United Nations system, to implement outcome documents relating to the internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals.  It would also urge the international community to implement the outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, in support of the Second Decade’s objectives.

Speaking today were representatives of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Israel, Syria, Oman, Egypt, United Republic of Tanzania, Bolivia, Algeria (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), France (on behalf of the European Union), Brazil, Bangladesh, United States, Benin, Japan, Cuba, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russian Federation, Switzerland, Canada and the European Union delegation.

The Second Committee will meet again to take action on outstanding resolutions on a date to be announced.

Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to take action on several draft resolutions.

Action on Drafts

Taking up information and communications technologies for development, the Committee prepared to take action on a draft titled “Building connectivity through the Trans-Eurasian Information Super-Highway” (document A/C.2/67/L.35/Rev.1).

FAKHRI ALIYEV ( Azerbaijan) noted that the text had gained additional co-sponsors and made a correction to a paragraph.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote, as orally corrected.

NIKOLAY SAHAKOV ( Armenia), strongly advocating regional cooperation, welcomed and expressed support for the draft, saying it would promote the mutual development of all countries in the region.  The super-highway should be open to them all, including Armenia, and they should not use regional cooperation as a means to assert political power, he emphasized.

Turning to sustainable development, the Committee then took up a draft resolution titled “Entrepreneurship for development” (document A/C.2/67/L.34/Rev.1).

The Committee Secretary, delivering a statement on the programme budget implications of the draft resolution, said that approving it would result in additional requirements of $50,900 in the 2014-2015 programme budget.

MENAHEM DAVIDOVICH ( Israel) announced further co-sponsors of the draft resolution and noted some editorial changes in the document.

RABEE JAWHARA ( Syria), making a general statement, said Israel was attempting to monopolize the Second Committee’s work by submitting draft resolutions that portrayed it as a peaceful State seeking to work within the United Nations.  However, such drafts did not camouflage Israel’s human rights violations and occupation, he stressed, pointing out that, even as it submitted the text, Israel restricted any chance of entrepreneurship in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan.  It was guilty of several examples of policies that restricted business and economic growth in Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan, and had continuously failed to comply with United Nations resolutions.  He urged Committee members to vote against the draft so as to send a signal that Israeli must end the occupation.

AMER HIAL AL-HAJRI (Oman), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, noted that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had shown that Israel’s occupation continued to undermine the rights of Palestinians, particularly their ability to engage in entrepreneurship.  The Arab Group had proposed changes to ensure balance in the text, but had been unable to achieve that, he said.  As such, it was obliged to vote against the draft resolution.

MOHAMED KHALIL HUSSEIN (Egypt) also said the text lacked balance, particularly given its focus on national policies for entrepreneurship, and did not take into account the need to create an internationally conducive climate and to establish support in that regard.  A multilateral, transparent and open regime was needed, with no barriers in the way of developing countries.  Finance, the transfer of technology and capacity-building must also be included, he said.

The draft resolution also failed to take into account the conclusions of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report on the condition of the Palestinian people, he continued.  It showed that Israel’s occupation and blockade undermined opportunities for marketing and drained natural resources, meaning that the area lacked necessary land for production.  That discouraged private investment and increased risks and production costs.

He said his delegation had tried to address the imbalances mentioned by taking part in discussions, but agreement on implementation had proven impossible because developed countries had changed their position at the last minute.  The co-sponsors had ignored the UNCTAD reports, but Egypt was unable to ignore them, especially since the draft sought to promote entrepreneurship internationally, he said.  As such, Egypt would vote against the draft.

The Committee then approved the text, as orally corrected, by a recorded vote of 129 in favourto31 against,with9 abstentions ( Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, China, Ecuador, Mali, Mauritius, South Africa, Zimbabwe).

NOEL KAGANDA (United Republic of Tanzania) said he had voted in favour of the draft because entrepreneurship had a positive effect on development.  However, the United Republic of Tanzania had always supported the Palestinian people and felt that discussions on the text had been clouded by regional considerations.

RON PROSOR ( Israel) said entrepreneurship offered developing communities the best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty.  The actions of entrepreneurs had a ripple effect, unlocking minds and inspiring others to pursue their dreams.  By adopting the draft resolution, the Committee was sending a clear and simple message that entrepreneurship was a primary pathway to sustainable economic growth.

He went on to say that while he had hoped for consensus, the Arab Group had been committed to voting against it even before negotiations had ended.  Recalling that people in the Arab world had risen against their Governments precisely because they wanted better conditions, he said that by failing to respond, Arab Governments had “turned their backs on their own people” and sent a clear message that they cared far more about “petty politics than human prosperity”.  Israel’s achievements were the result of close collaboration between business and Government, he said, adding that stability required people’s empowerment.

Mr. KHALIL ( Egypt), responding to “incorrect elements” of the Israeli representative’s statement, said his delegation had been a participant throughout the negotiations, but had received no signal of flexibility from Israel.  The Arab Group’s position had been determined after the negotiations and not decided during their course.  It had taken that position to protect the Arab peoples, he said, calling on Israel to ensure an end to continued Palestinian suffering.

FREDDY MAMANI ( Bolivia) introduced the draft resolution titled “Harmony with Nature” (document A/C.2/67/L.37/Rev.1), thanking the Group of 77 and China for their help.  A more ethical approach to development was under discussion, he said, adding that since Planet Earth was everybody’s home, it was essential to promote harmony with nature.  He went on to make corrections to the text.

ABDELGHANI MERABET ( Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the Group had worked together to strengthen the text.

CHARLOTTE MONTEL (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she hoped Bolivia’s amendments to the text were in accordance with the “silence procedure”, adding that she was unsure whether one of them made was in line with the negotiations.

GEORGE TALBOT ( Guyana), Committee Chair, attempted to clarify the amendment.

Ms. MONTEL ( France) said the language was different from that agreed.

Mr. MAMANI ( Bolivia) explained the “slight change” in the language.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally corrected.

Turning to globalization and interdependence, the Committee took up a draft titled “Promoting transparency, participation and accountability in fiscal policies” (document A/C.2/67/L.12/Rev.1).

MAURICIO FERNANDO DIAS FAVERO ( Brazil), thanking negotiating partners and co-sponsors, noted some editorial changes to the Spanish-language text.

The committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally corrected.

ARNAUD PESCHEUX ( France) welcomed the consensus approval of the text, but said he would take up concerns about the French-language translation with the Secretariat after the meeting.

Turning to countries in special situations, the Committee took up a draft titled “Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries” (document A/C.2/67/L.53).

The Committee Secretary said that approving the draft resolution would entail programme budget implications amounting to $8.694 million for the biennium 2014-15.

MD. TAUHEDUL ISLAM ( Bangladesh) made two editorial corrections to the text before the Committee approved it without a vote, as orally corrected.

TERI ROBL ( United States) stressed the need to focus on least developed countries, especially through the Istanbul Programme of Action and South-South cooperation.  The draft resolution differed from the Programme of Action on the issue of enhanced technical assistance, failing to note the local context, she noted, also expressing dissatisfaction with the last-minute addition of programme budget implications because the numbers had not been addressed during negotiations.  The United States hoped the Secretariat would reconsider the numbers and negotiate them further in the appropriate forums.

JONAS DJEBOU ( Benin) said the draft resolution was of great importance as it recalled the importance of various types of support to facilitate the graduation of least developed countries.  Additional follow-up was needed, in accordance with the Istanbul Programme of Action, he added.

SHIRLEY LATRICHE (European Union) said she hoped the United Nations would remain focused on least developed countries.  Regarding the programme budget implications, it was understood that they were estimates and did not pre-judge the Secretary-General’s submissions to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) regarding the 2014-2015 biennium budget.  The estimates presented today should not be considered as final, she stressed.

DO OZAKI ( Japan) said he had joined the consensus because of the need to achieve sustainable development in least developed countries.  The failure to issue the statement of programme budget implications until immediately before approval of the text was regrettable, he said, adding that his delegation had several questions about them.  The oral statement should not be considered in any way final, he emphasized.

JAIRO RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ ( Cuba), emphasizing his full support for the draft resolution, said the budgetary issue recurred frequently.  The Committee was responsible for giving mandates on certain issues, while the Fifth Committee handled budgets.  That was important because it was possible to pre-judge mandates of importance to developing countries, he stressed.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing the version contained in document A/C.2/67/L.9.

Returning to groups of countries in special situations, the Committee took up a draft titled “Smooth transition for countries graduating for the list of Least Developed Countries” (document A/C.2/67/L.51).

The Committee Secretary read out a statement of programme budget implications, saying an extra $50,900 would be needed in 2014-2015.

Mr. ISLAM ( Bangladesh) thanked delegations for their contributions and flexibility.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

THALAPITA RALALAGE WARUNA SRI DHANAPALA ( Sri Lanka), facilitator of the draft resolution, thanked delegations and the Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States for their support.

The Committee then approved the text without a vote, withdrawing the earlier version (document A/C.2/67/L.10).

It then turned to the eradication of poverty and other development issues, taking up a draft titled “Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017)”.

Mr. ISLAM ( Bangladesh) thanked those responsible for negotiating the text resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft (document A/C.2/67/L.55) without a vote, withdrawing the previous version (document A/C.2/67/L.11).

Following a brief suspension, delegates returned to take up a draft titled “Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twelfth special session and on the implementation of section IV.C entitled ‘Environmental pillar in the context of sustainable development’ of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/67/L.44).

The Committee Secretary delivered a statement, saying the total proposed programme budget implications for the biennium 2014-2015 amounted to $34.734 million.

JORGE LAGUNA ( Mexico) then made some editorial corrections to the text before saying that the draft resolution would help greatly to strengthen the environmental pillar of sustainable development, especially given the consensus on the text.  The main element of that consensus was a wish to strengthen and upgrade UNEP with the aim of empowering the Governing Council to implement the provisions in paragraph 88 of the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.

The draft also sent a political message regarding budgetary questions, he said.  While a statement on programme budget implications had been read, there was no endorsement of a specific figure.  Instead, the statement merely provided a guide for UNEP, ACABQ and the Fifth Committee, which were all integral to the discussion of budgetary questions.  The figures would be considered at several different stages before being finalized, he stressed.

After the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina thanked delegations for their efforts during consultations, the Committee approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected.

Ms. LATRICHE (European Union) said she had wished to make her statement prior to the approval.  Pleased to join the consensus because the European Union supported upgrading UNEP, she underlined the importance of making operational and further developing agreements reached during the Rio+20 Conference, saying she looked forward to going further with such efforts during the Governing Council’s first session.

She said she recognized that the programme budget figures quoted were indicative, provided to ensure conformity with the General Assembly’s working methods.  It was understood that they did not prejudge any later submissions by the Secretary-General to ACABQ.  That meant the estimates given could not be seen as having been endorsed by Member States, she said.

ELIZABETH COUSENS ( United States), underlining her country’s strong support for UNEP, welcomed its strengthening and that of the environmental pillar of sustainable development.  However, while the Committee had endorsed the agreements reached in Rio, the United States was dismayed to receive an oral statement that pre-judged work in that regard.  There had been no explanation of assumptions made by the Secretariat and no chance for Member States to consider them.  The un-transparent request for resources was unnecessary, she said, adding that much more consideration and analysis was needed.  Until that conversation took place, there was no credible reason for the Secretariat to have pre-judged budgetary requirements.

TOMOKO ONISHI ( Japan) said she was puzzled by the statement on programme budget implications, which was a very detailed presentation of costs even before UNEP had considered any proposals.  The statement would in no way pre-judge the Secretary-General’s budget proposals for the 2014-2015 biennium.

DMITRY I. MAKSIMYCHEV (Russian Federation), expressing strong concern about the lack of interpretation, said the considerations contained in the statement on programme budget implications were subject to discussions in competent bodies before being applied.

JEANINE VOLKEN (Switzerland) said she looked forward to the first meeting of UNEP’s Governing Council in February 2013, expecting fruitful discussions, particularly on the implementation of paragraph 88 of the Rio+20 outcome document.  Switzerland supported reinforcing UNEP, she said, stressing that the statement on its programme budget implications would not prejudge future discussions to take place during the Governing Council’s first session.

BRIANNA PETERSON ( Canada) said she was pleased to join the consensus, believing the draft resolution was important in strengthening the environmental pillar of sustainable development, as agreed at Rio.  However, the statement of programme budget implications did not reflect the positions agreed, she said, disagreeing with several elements of the statement and saying she looked forward to future discussions on the subject.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution, withdrawing the earlier version (document A/C.2/67/L.21)

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