Speakers in Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Segment Discuss Components for New Agenda, Agreeing on Need to Spotlight Environment, Poverty Eradication
Speakers in Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Segment Discuss Components for New Agenda, Agreeing on Need to Spotlight Environment, Poverty Eradication
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2014 Substantive Session
Political Forum & 33rd Meeting (AM, PM & Night)
Speakers in Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Segment Discuss Components
for New Agenda, Agreeing on Need to Spotlight Environment, Poverty Eradication
Growth must not come at the expense of the environment, delegates heard today, as the Economic and Social Council continued its high-level segment week during which ministers and other senior Government officials explored critical components to be included in a cohesive, forward-looking post-2015 development agenda, which should, for the first time, put the environment front and centre.
Throughout the day, the Council held a series of ministerial dialogues, as well as a general debate, in which representatives took stock of the progress made thus far on the Millennium Development Goals, while searching for key lessons learned to take forward as they designed a follow-on agenda.
Environment ministers strongly believed that the post-2015 agenda needed to integrate environmental issues with social and economic development, said Oyun Sangaasuren, Minister for Environment and Green Development of Mongolia, reporting on the results of the first ever United Nations Environment Assembly, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in June.
She said that during discussions on the environmental aspects of the sustainable development goals, delegates had called for an urgent shift in which attention was paid to preserving natural capital, enhancing resource efficiency and, among others, creating sustainable, green cities. Some had suggested that sustainable production and consumption should be made into a stand-alone goal, and many held that climate change should be reflected across all development targets.
Following Ms. Sangaasuren’s opening remarks, panelists participated in a ministerial dialogue where they explored specific areas of focus critical to making poverty eradication irreversible and reducing inequalities. There was broad agreement on the need to improve the situation of children and, overall, support for a people-centered approach to development, with human rights at its core.
In a second ministerial dialogue, panellists examined the role of international cooperation in sustainable development, noting that in the post-2015 framework, cooperation must be inclusive and based on a common, mutually beneficial vision that respected the autonomy of least developed countries. Others noted that several decisions would be made over the next 18 months, which would have a profound impact on how the world looked at sustainable development.
The Council’s annual ministerial review got under way in the afternoon, with panellists probing ways to integrate employment-centric sustainable development into the post-2015 agenda. They agreed that while job creation was important, the quality of the jobs created must also be taken into consideration. Panellists also touted the need to create decent work for women and youth.
Following that discussion, representatives of Ghana, Thailand and Jordan gave presentations on the outcomes of the regional meetings that were held in their respective countries in preparation for the ministerial review.
The general debate concluded this evening on the report of the Secretary-General titled “Addressing ongoing and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains in the future” (document E/2014/61). Speakers from across regions offered their views on shaping the new agenda was a practical and consequential blueprint for the future.
The Ivorian Government, said its Minister for Environment, Urban Sanitation and Sustainable Development, was keen to have an implementable and sustainable framework, and was doing all it could to enable that by establishing a calm political climate, ensuring the participation of all stakeholders and instituting transparency. High on the list of priorities was reducing poverty, he said, adding that doing that “was a daily battle”.
Describing sustainable development as the only path “in this village of ours”, China’s representative agreed with several speakers that poverty eradication must remain at the core of the sustainable development agenda. He also urged countries to work together towards transparent, fair trade assistance.
The Director of the Department for Multilateral Development Cooperation of Austria favoured a rights-based approach, and called for separate goals on gender equality and women’s empowerment, children’s rights, sustainable energy, and water, sanitation and hygiene, with rule of law a prerequisite for meeting them.
Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development insisted on no more than 10 sustainable development goals, which should “unite, inspire and to which States could aspire”. He warned that a single goal on health, as maternal and child health could end up lost in the mix.
The representative of Iran said the post-2015 agenda and the Economic and Social Council’s political forum were not supposed to bring about “charity-based miracles”. Rather, the institutional structure for sustainable development should be significantly strengthened by the forum, which was essential for monitoring and reviewing the post-2015 agenda. He voiced hope that with the adoption of the new development agenda next year and the forum’s practical work in 2016, a new chapter would begin that was transformational and addressed all of humanity’s concerns.
Later in the day, the high-level political forum continued with two additional multi-stakeholder dialogues. The first, titled “Multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary commitments for sustainable development — ensuring accountability for all”, considered the role of partnerships to achieve the post-2015 development agenda. The second, titled “Preparing the high-level political forum for post 2015: Steering implementation of the development agenda and reviewing progress”, considered how the high-level political forum could best review implementation and progress towards future sustainable development goals.
Speaking at the ministerial level during the general debate were representatives of Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.
Also participating were representatives of Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Botswana, Switzerland, Monaco, Turkey, Uruguay, Belgium, Namibia, Honduras, Mexico, Liechtenstein, Cuba, Qatar, Iraq, Fiji, Burkina Faso, Nepal and Australia.
Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also spoke.
The representative of the International Disability Alliance also delivered a statement.
The Economic and Social Council will continue its high-level segment at 9 a.m. Wednesday, 9 July.
OYUN SANGAASUREN, Minister for Environment and Green Development of Mongolia, and President of the United Nations Environment Assembly, in a keynote address, reported on the results of the Environment Assembly’s first session, held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 26 and 27 June. The session, she recalled, had included participants from 159 United Nations Member States, including 110 at the ministerial level. The Assembly’s two-day high-level segment focused on several themes, during which the world’s environmental ministers had discussed the environmental aspects of the sustainable development goals. Ministers also had shared success stories for achieving environmental protection and growth through protection of resources and energy.
The Ministers had agreed that transformation was possible, she said, but that actions needed to be scaled up. Particular attention must be paid to preserving natural capital; enhancing resource efficiency; reducing waste, and cutting malnutrition; safely managing chemicals; and creating sustainable, green cities. An urgent shift was needed, including awareness raising and education.
She recalled the belief of some Ministers that sustainable production and consumption should be mainstreamed and made into a stand-alone goal in the post-2015 development agenda, with climate change reflected across all the sustainable development goals. Financial resources would be needed to achieve the ambitious goals, which required cooperation among all stakeholders and action extending from the grass roots, to the national to the global levels. Ministers had sent a strong message that the agenda must integrate environmental issues with social and economic development; growth could not be at the expense of the environment. They also had provided their views on the illegal trade in wildlife and the consequences on sustainable development, while highlighting the need for strengthened legal frameworks. Tackling international organized crime and the illegal trade in wildlife required unified efforts across many sectors.
At the end of the session, she noted, ministers had adopted an outcome text, which, in two concise pages, represented their strong commitment to the sustainable development agenda. Ministers had called on the international community to achieve an ambitious post-2015 agenda that fully integrated the three pillars of sustainable development in a realistic and balanced manner. The outcome document also articulated the commitment to sustainable consumption and production, as well as addressed unique environmental challenges faced by small island developing States. In addition, they had adopted 16 resolutions and two decisions, which provided guidance on various areas of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) work. The session also had approved the programmes of work and budget for UNEP for the coming years, answering the call for secure and stable resources to enable the Programme to fulfil its mandate.
Ministerial Dialogue I
Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), moderated the ministerial dialogue entitled, “Long-term measures to make poverty eradication irreversible and reduce inequalities”. He was joined by panellists Sophie Karmasin, Federal Minister for Family and Youth, Austria; Maria Angela Holguin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Colombia; Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Social Development, South Africa; Aida Kurmangaliyeva, Executive Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population, Kazakhstan; and Yong Li, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Lead discussants were Paola Bustamante, Minister of Social Inclusion, Peru; Annick Girardin, Secretary of State for Development and Francophonie, France; and Jim Clarken, Executive Director of Oxfam Ireland.
Mr. LAKE said “our mission to eradicate poverty will fail if we fail to address the root causes”. Building a more equitable society would make millions of lives brighter. Designing development policy that favoured disadvantaged groups, including girls and persons with disabilities, would save social and economic costs. Investing in children was a practical path to eradicate intergenerational poverty as it was an investment in future entrepreneurs and leaders.
Ms. HOLGUIN highlighted poverty as among the key challenges to development, and added that reducing it was a moral obligation. There was still a disparity in poverty levels among regions, she said, noting that it was complex and multidimensional. The Colombian Government had started using a multidimensional poverty index, which incorporated, not only income, but also other elements, such as education and health. It was necessary to create a conducive international environment, she said, stressing that the post-2015 development agenda must address structural impediments. Technology innovation was also vital and implied a role for the private sector. Sustainable production and consumption patterns could contribute to reducing poverty, which must be a commitment, not only of Governments, but also of all stakeholders.
Ms. KARMASIN said she was convinced that combating poverty would succeed only if the situation of the world’s children was improved, particularly with regard to their health. The Millennium Development Goals contained important targets regarding children and some progress had been achieved, including in the areas of child mortality, malnutrition, and education, but 100 million children under the age of 5, or one in six, were still underweight, as at 2011. The Austrian Development Cooperation had made children one of its primary areas of intervention, adopting a strategy that focused on their needs and rights. The post-2015 agenda should build on the foundations of the Millennium Development Goals and complete the unfinished business, with children at the heart of the new framework. With that, she called for a stand-alone goal on children, mainstreamed across the entire agenda, with efforts focused on malnutrition; access to education; protection from violence, exploitation and forced labour, as well as the protection of vulnerable groups; and access to services such as health services a precondition for sustainable development.
Ms. DLAMINI said reducing inequalities between and within countries was critical for development and the creation of more sustainable and equal societies. South Africa was radically transforming its economy to promote inclusivity and access to services. People-centred approaches placed human rights at its core. That required a commitment at all levels, particularly on the national and international levels, to protect the rights of all people, without distinction. South Africa’s efforts included special focus on women’s rights and ensuring the rights of all people who faced discrimination due to disability, age, race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity. Children were overrepresented among the global poor, which required particular attention from the global community. Children were poor because they were deprived of the necessary resources, including for nutrition, quality education and health care. Only investments from Governments, civil society and the international community would break the cycle of poverty.
Ms. KURMANGALIYEVA highlighted the need to address the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. Kazakhstan was overcoming the gap, owing to its economic growth and targeted social protection policy. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita had increased manifold, and more people enjoyed social assistance. Her country had achieved the Millennium Development Goal on poverty, in 2005, well ahead of the 2015 deadline. It also believed inclusive and fair economic development was a most important part of the post-2015 development agenda. Kazakhstan joined an initiative on human capital in Asia and Africa, she said, stressing the importance of crafting a road map to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, with a focus on income generation, productive labour and social assistance. Governments could not do the job alone. It was thus vital to enhance engagement of civil society and the private sector.
Mr. LI said inclusive sustainable industrial development, or “ISID”, was the most powerful tool to reduce poverty and inequality. The new approach had been adopted at the recent Lima conference of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) by its 172 member States. Historically, industrialization was a primary driver of development, as seen in the United States, Japan and Europe, as well as many other emerging economies, including his own, the Republic of Korea. Industrialization was vital to conquer poverty, he said, noting a growing demand for industrialization among the developing world. African States, for instance, placed industrial development as a pillar of the Common African Position. About 65 per cent of the world’s poor now lived in middle-income countries, he said, stressing the need to take that new reality into account. Inclusive sustainable industrial development provided linkages to all aspects of development.
Ms. BUSTAMANTE said the elimination of extreme poverty was a clear priority in Peru, which was working to help the pregnant women to ensure that children were born healthy and had access to health services and education, particularly those living in isolated areas. Peru had also given priority attention to access to safe water to prevent the spread of disease. Additionally, it was working with families to ensure food security and the diversification of family food production to reduce malnutrition. Countries must continue to give priority to mothers and children, but always hand in hand with other countries and the private sector to enable sustainable development.
Mr. CLARKEN said there were currently two major global challenges, namely rising inequality and climate change. Inequality robbed people of even the most minimal resources required to lift themselves out of poverty. If the international community failed to curb the widening economic gap, a whole host of problems would continue to plague the world community. A consensus was growing that extreme wealth and inequality were harmful to human progress. It was impossible to bring those on the bottom up, if the world did not tackle extreme wealth at the top. Climate change and its devastating impact was also impeding people’s ability to feed their families and lift themselves out of poverty.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Zambia said his country aimed to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Despite its place among the continent’s fastest growing economies, the poverty level was still high, particularly in rural areas.
The representative of a non-governmental organization, Butterfly Effect, said that control and access to natural resources were most fundamental to poverty eradication. There was no development without access to water, and no health or food without water.
The representative of China expressed support for inclusive sustainable industrial development, noting its benefit to developing countries. She also stressed the importance of social protection to reduce inequality, while urging the world community to increase its financial and technological assistance.
Ms. HOLGUIN stressed that investment in infrastructure should be given more attention when addressing poverty, especially in the rural areas of developing countries.
Ms. KARMASIN reiterated the importance of investing in children, urging their inclusion in the post-2015 agenda.
Ms. DLAMINI noted that South Africa’s Government provided child-care support and was committed to ensuring social, economic and environmental development.
Drawing a conclusion from today’s discussion, Ms. KURMANGALIYEVA said that prosperity and well-being should be at the centre of every country’s work. The high-level political forum had become an authorized platform to gather experts and derive an optimal model for development.
Ministerial Dialogue II
Saber Chowdhury, Member of Parliament, Bangladesh, moderated the ministerial dialogue entitled, “International cooperation for sustainable development”, with panellists Fulbert Macaire Amoussouga Gero, Minister for Millennium Development Goals policies and Sustainable Development, Benin; Borge Brende, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Norway; Han Seung-Soo, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Disaster Risk Reduction and Water; and Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.
Lead discussants were Pekha Haavisto, Minister, International Development, Finland; Hiroshi Imanaga, Deputy Mayor of Kitakyushu, Japan; and Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance, Timor-Leste.
IBRAHIM O.A. DABBASHI ( Libya), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, opened the dialogue and reported on the activities of the Development Cooperation Forum. Its first high-level symposium had explored the potential features of a renewed global partnership for development, while in a second symposium, participants had stressed that post-2015 development cooperation should benefit all stakeholders, within and among countries. In a final symposium, participants had examined the viability of a post-2015 global monitoring and accountability framework.
Mr. AMOUSSOUGA said post-2015 development cooperation must be inclusive and feature actions and results. The world should not engage solely in an exercise of “consideration”, but advance to the action phase. Development cooperation must be based on a common, mutually beneficial vision that respected the autonomy of the least developed countries. Cooperation should also avoid the concepts of donors and beneficiaries, which to a large extent strangled the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals. He questioned what type of new commitments the international community was ready to undertake. There were a number of obstacles to the creation of a fair economic environment, including subsidies and mechanisms that allowed for environmental pollution. There must be an agreement that promotes an open system for trade by avoiding measures that undermined fair exchanges. Development cooperation should not be limited to questions of aid, but should also feature partnerships that enabled States with minimal resources to enjoy greater transparency in terms of extractive resources. There was also a need for more flexible rules when it came to accessing industrial property.
Mr. BRENDE recalled that when the Millennium Development Goals had been agreed, many had questioned whether it would be possible to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. Not only was that Goal achieved by 2005, but it was staggering to see the additional progress that had been made in the past decade. The relative success of the Millennium Development Goals should trigger the process of creating the sustainable development goals in earnest. The vast majority of the poorest people globally lived in rural areas, which made the inclusion of environmental issues into the new goals even more important. World leaders should accelerate efforts in the fields of education, health, and sustainable energy. Now was a great opportunity to set the stage for ambitious, achievable objectives, including that of ending all extreme poverty by 2030. “Nothing is more important,” he said.
Mr. HAN said the outcome of the Millennium Development Goals 2014 report just released by the Secretary-General was mixed. Official development assistance had hit a record in 2013 after two years of decline. The same report showed a high level of global carbon emissions. There was a need to scale up public and private financing for addressing those environmental challenges. Today, 2 billion people did not have access to safe drinking water, which was part of human dignity. The Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation was most off-track, and it was imperative for the post-2015 development framework to include a dedicated water goal. Economic losses from disasters would double by 2030, making disaster risk reduction among the underlying elements of sustainable development. Building resilience and boosting preparedness was more cost effective than reacting afterwards disasters struck, he said, adding that lives lost due to water-related problems could not be recovered.
Mr. SACHS said the next 18 months were critical to several important decisions, including those surrounding climate change conferences and financing for development. Many things could go wrong, but achievements would be historic and pivotal if they went well. He highlighted five building blocks to save the planet: sustainable development goals; comprehensive climate agreement; means of implementation; data, monitoring and updating; and governance and accountability. “We must understand that we are facing the last chance to avoid an environmental catastrophe,” he warned, citing examples of droughts, floods, storms, and other climate-change impacts. There should be “no more delay”, he urged, adding that the new blueprint should have only 10 headline goals as 17 was too many. Means of implementation included ODA and climate financing. An agreement on a 2-degreee Celsius climate-change limit was crucial, as were annual high-quality data cycles and annual high-level political commitment.
Mr. HAAVISTO welcomed the decision to include environmental component in the coming agenda. Taxation tools should be developed in order to finance the new plan, particularly with regard to extractive industries. The concept of matching funds where developing countries came up with their own funding, which was then matched by donations from developed countries, could be another solution. Additionally, better mechanisms were needed for sharing best practices.
Mr. IMANAGA said his city of Kitakyushu, Japan, had brought in more than 7,000 trainees from more than 150 countries to take part in sustainable development training programmes. Through that programme, Kitakyushu had played a key role in helping cities worldwide make environmental gains. Governments also had a key role to play in encouraging friendly relations between countries, which could promote more effective international cooperation on environmental issues.
Ms. PIRES said that real and productive cooperation required trust and respect. The international community must start making better use of the resources that were already available and go “back to the basics”.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Chile said environmental issues must be at the core of the development agenda, particularly as they posed great threats to developing countries.
Ministerial Panel on Integration
Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO), moderated the ministerial panel discussion “Integrating employment-centric sustainable development into the post-2015 development agenda”. Panellists were Amara Konneh, Minister of Finance, Liberia; Pekka Haavisto, Minister of International Development, Finland; Atiur Rahman, Governor, Central Bank of Bangladesh; Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, and Senator, Parliament of Jordan (representing the major group of business and industry); and Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa.
Prompting debate, Mr. RYDER said that there was a tendency to “slice up” policy, which generated separate ministries. Public policymakers must find a way to connect them.
Mr. KONNEH said employment generation and sustainable development were mutually dependent. He was from Liberia, he said, describing it as a still-fragile post-conflict country. About 68 per cent of the population was under 35. Its economy had grown by 7 to 8 per cent a year over the last 10 years, but that growth had not created sufficient employment. Every year, 20,000 Liberian youths entered the labour market only to find there were not enough jobs. There had been many interventions, such as financial incentives, but numerous challenges persisted. His country had tried many conventional and unconventional approaches, but was still in search of solutions.
Mr. HAAVISTO said Finland’s Government programmes included a social guarantee for young people — that those under age 25, along with recent graduates under age 30 be offered work, a traineeship, a study, workshop or labour market rehabilitation within three months of becoming unemployed. Traditional forms of industrialization were over and a shift to a green economy was under way. Inclusive green economy could lead to more efficient, sustainable and affordable infrastructure and promote sustainable production and consumption patterns. He drew attention to the need to increase the proportion of women in the labour market by removing barriers, such as legislation restricting their rights to own or inherit property. Despite great success in achieving the Millennium Development targets on education, young people needed vocational training to enter the workforce. He concluded by saying that six things were need to make shoes — leather, glue, water, electricity, labour and transport, and that if just one element was missing, shoes would not be made.
Mr. RAHMAN said decent job creation and more inclusive growth were central areas of focus in Bangladesh. The large number of unemployed youth could be a grave source of political instability and wasted opportunity. Unless enough was done, opportunities would be lost. With that, he called for coordinated efforts to create job opportunities for all. The quality of jobs should also be addressed. In Bangladesh, fiscal and monetary policies were carefully coordinated in order to keep the deficit below 5 per cent while directing resources towards productive growth. Bangladesh used subsidies as a safety net only, rather than as a long-term social policy and it had created country-wide financing opportunities for small enterprises in rural areas. The country also had a robust corporate-social responsibility scheme, where businesses provided scholarships for the poorest of the poor.
Mr. ABU-GHAZALEH said development and employment were mutually reinforcing; development created employment and employment created development. It was important to create tangible tools to promote development rather than simply presenting research and studies. He proposed the creation of a steering committee to design an action plan for future progress. A strong leader should be selected for the committee, with equal participation from the private sector and opportunities should be created for vocational training. The proposed committee should focus on women and youth, bearing in mind that their engagement would lead to a doubling of global productivity. The proposed committee should also maximize partnerships with other entities to identify and promote synergies.
Mr. LOPES said that the 2008-2009 economic crisis helped place employment at the centre of sustainable development. Africa used to be a development challenge, but it was now a development opportunity. According to statistics, the continent generally performed well, but the data was sketchy, making it difficult to develop a good strategy. The problem with the Millennium Development Goals was that African States were on different starting lines but had to reach the same finish line. For example, halving poverty would be more difficult for a country with a 40 per cent poverty rate as compared to one with an 8 per cent rate. Africa had tripled its GDP, but that was not “quality” growth if it was not coupled with job creation. The post-2015 development agenda, not prescriptive in nature, should preserve policy space for Africa to find a niche. Building blocks for the continent’s development consisted of a shift to utilization of domestic resources from dependence on international aid, he said, highlighting the Common African Position and Agenda 2063, which included the continent’s development goals in the context of internationally agreed targets.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of China encouraged Governments to implement strategies to prioritize employment and address the relationship between economic growth and development. Global macroeconomic policies should be better coordinated and more efforts should be dedicated to building the capacities of developing countries.
The representative of the Dominican Republic said that while there had been economic growth in his country, expectations had dampened by the realization that the growth was largely in the informal sector and not linked to quality jobs.
The representative of Palau said workers must be protected and employers must guarantee secure working environments, including for migrant workers.
The representative of the non-governmental organization Workers and Trade Unions said the unions were important partners for achieving sustainable development, particularly its social dimensions.
Mr. KONNEH encouraged the international community to start constructively engaging with the private sector, in recognition that it was the true engine for economic growth.
Mr. HAAVISTO believed a healthy environment was a prerequisite for a strong economic future. He noted that today’s youth must be flexible and willing to change jobs several times during their careers.
Mr. RAHMAN said leaders must accept that the world had changed and adjust policies accordingly, he said, suggesting a concentration on knowledge-intensive education, with a particular focus on digital and technological advancements.
Mr. ABU-GHAZALEH said today’s youth could empower themselves with the understanding that knowledge creation was the key for their future.
Mr. LOPES said his message for young people today was, “If you don’t have a job — create one.” It was possible for many young people to create their own employment if society gave them the appropriate tools, particularly education.
Presentations on Regional Preparatory Meetings
The Council then heard presentations on the outcomes of the regional meetings held in preparation of this year’s Annual Ministerial Review.
NANA OYE LITHUR, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection of Ghana, reported on the Pan-African Conference on Inequalities in the Context of Structural Transformation, held from 28 to 30 April in Accra. More than 250 participants from various sectors had attended the meeting, which convened four thematic dialogues: African Inequalities in the Global Development Agenda — Past, Present and Future; Understanding African Inequalities: Structures, Drivers and Determinants; Lessons in Addressing Inequalities in Africa; and Policy Actions for Tackling Inequalities in Africa. Explicit focus was on job creation, particularly for youth. Macroeconomic, especially fiscal, policy was deemed vital to tackle inequality, and speakers agreed that the data revolution should be central to the post-2015 development agenda. The meeting concluded that inequality was a defining challenge for Africa.
SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, Permanent Secretary and Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, reported on the inaugural Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, held from 19 to 21 May in Pattaya. The meeting, he said, had highlighted the importance of, among others, financing for development, rule-based trade, disaster risk reduction, connectivity to technology, women’s empowerment and gender equality, as well as the need to address climate change. It was noted that achievement of the Millennium Development Goals across the region was uneven, and it was broadly agreed that development cooperation was critical but must go beyond traditional official development assistance.
EIHAB OMAISH (Jordan), reporting on the Arab High-Level Forum on Sustainable Development, held from 2 to 4 April in Amman, said the region’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals was similarly mixed. Foreign occupation had prevented some Arab countries from achieving progress, the Forum had found, agreeing that sustainable development could not be achieved without peace and stability. Also stressed had been the importance of policy interventions to address inequality even amid fiscal constraint. Key to sustainable development, speakers agreed, were gender equality, access to quality water, emerging partnerships for development financing, data revolution and an accountability framework.
RÉMI ALLAH KOUADIO, Minister for Environment, Urban Sanitation and Sustainable Development of C ôte d’Ivoire, said that his country was committed to the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. The Government was doing everything it could to enable that by establishing a calm political climate, ensuring participation of all stakeholders and instituting transparency, to name a few. The fight to reduce poverty, which was under way, “was a daily battle”. Laws were being incorporated into national legislation and a road map was being established which was becoming a driving force for the economy’s growth. However, despite progress made with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi recently, land degradation remained a serious issue. Millions were without shelter and facing drenching rains. Surprised at the weakness of global financial resources to address the issue, he called for a more vigorous commitment from all countries to face climate change so that the future “we hope to see” could be ensured.
RAYMOND TSHIBANDA N’TUNGAMULONGO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Francophone Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, pointed to his country’s mixed results in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Some goals remained “uncertain, if not out of reach,” especially the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger. He pointed to significant progress on primary school enrolment and improvements in maternal health and in combating HIV and malaria. Progress had also been made in preserving and protecting forests, while rural and urban populations had better access to clean drinking water and hygiene services. The challenge was to maintain progress. Armed conflict had been “a thorn in the foot of a giant”, which prevented progress that the country’s natural resources should have allowed. Conflict had slowed fulfilment of the Goals and destroyed Government investments. Many other countries faced the same situation and he advocated the stressing of peace and security and conflict prevention in the post-2015 development agenda.
ABRAHAM TEKESTE, State Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Ethiopia, said sub-Saharan Africa, whose economies were characterized by low agricultural productivity and industrialization, was lagging behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Nevertheless, they were determined to change that. Ethiopia’s economic transformation efforts were embedded in commitments to reduce its carbon footprint through a “climate resilient green economy” strategy. To contribute to global efforts to mitigate climate change, Ethiopia was harnessing sources of renewable energy to ensure sustainable development. Its national development plan was in line with the post-2015 agenda. Ethiopia would host the Third International Conference on Financing for Development next year. The consensus reached at that event would define the post-2015 partnership framework. He expressed confidence that the upcoming Climate Summit would send a strong message that could leverage support to expedite climate negotiations.
MARIA ROTHEISER-SCOTTI, Director, Department for Multilateral Development Cooperation, Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of Austria said that her country had conducted an internal consultative process to contribute to the discussions on shaping the post—2015 development agenda, which led to a national position outlining several priorities. The agenda should reinforce the international community’s commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development. It should focus on a rights-based approach, peace and security, good governance, the fight against corruption, climate change, the sustainable use of natural resources, biodiversity, sustainable industrial development, education, employment, decent jobs and social protection floors. There should be separate goals on gender equality and women’s empowerment, children and their rights, sustainable energy, and water, sanitation and hygiene. The rule of law should be a prerequisite for achieving all future goals. There was a need to build an integrated, universal partnership based on a strong, full consensus among all Member States. The process should be coherent with other processes, including the financing for development process leading up to the July 2015 conference on that matter.
LIU JIEYI (China) said that poverty eradication must remain at the core of the sustainable development agenda. Poverty impeded growth and fed conflicts. To that end, global partnership should be strengthened. Developed countries should honour their commitments and provide official development assistance (ODA) on time and in full. Countries should work together towards transparent, fair trade assistance so that developing countries could grow their economies. Investments in science and technological transfers should be scaled-up so that innovations could become a driving force. Further, the sustainable development agenda should be disseminated to the public to raise awareness about the issue, with an emphasis on resource ecology and recycling, to name a few. Despite a weak global economy and a slow-down of its domestic economy, China had managed to achieve seven of the Millennium Development Goals, including poverty reduction. The Government was making efforts to create economic growth that was ecologically friendly and underscored the coexistence between man and nature. His country was actively engaged in South-South cooperation, as well as with other countries on environmental concerns. Sustainable development was the only path “in this village of ours”.
OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said the future development agenda, building on lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, must be more universal, inclusive and environmentally sustainable. He expressed hope that the Sustainable Development Goals Open Working Group’s report would reflect all aspects of sustainable development in a balanced way, taking full account of the changing development landscape. The new set of goals should be simple, easy to communicate and limited in number. A transformative post-2015 agenda would require a different scale and scope of support. Official Development Assistance (ODA) would remain critical, but a new global partnership involving all relevant stakeholders would also be needed to match growing global demand. The partnership should be supported by a robust, participatory and transparent monitoring and accountability mechanism. That would ensure delivery on commitments and facilitate progress towards achieving results post-2015. The Republic of Korea would do its part to strengthen the monitoring mechanism for implementing current and future development agenda, drawing on the experiences of the Busan Partnership’s Global Monitoring Framework.
VINCENT RIGBY, Assistant Deputy Minister for the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development of Canada, called for “no more than 10” sustainable development goals that should “unite, inspire and to which States could aspire”. Noting that progress on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 lagged behind progress on other Goals, he called on States to “stay the course” with their commitments. He argued against a single Goal on health, warning that maternal and child health could end up lost in the mix. It was vital not to lose sight of those issues and to ensure their centrality in the post-2015 agenda. There should be goals focused specifically on women and children but the needs of both groups should also be integrated in several other goals. Issues related to peace and stability should be integrated in the new goals. He also underlined the need for robust monitoring and data collection, as well as help for developing countries to develop their statistical capacities.
MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) said the Secretary-General’s report demonstrated that the glass was more than half full and that some of the results towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals were “spectacular”. However, progress had been uneven. Poverty eradication and sustainable development were linked, and climate change was a reality. There also should be a strong focus on aid, trade, and financial and technology investments. One could not climb out of poverty without stimulated growth. Science, technology and innovation were central to that, as knowledge and skills were driving forces. Furthermore, financing should not become “our big blind spot”, focusing only on politics. Rather, it should be guided by sound economics. On a national level, poverty was being reduced, while child mortality and maternal health efforts were “works-in-progress”. Greater success had been hampered by security concerns, the fight against terrorism and natural disasters, and his Government was determined to overcome such challenges.
CHARLES THEMBANI NTWAAGAE (Botswana) noted that many countries still faced difficulties in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and that the new sustainable development goals should be predicated on completion of the outstanding Goals. Botswana’s most notable advancements in relation to the Millennium Goals had come in education and in health care, he said, pointing to universal primary education and universal access to HIV treatment and support. The world needed to remain “resolute in the fight” against HIV, a global challenge that was far from over. Botswana’s other priorities included addressing maternal and child health, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Vulnerable groups were to the fore and all efforts had a human rights focus. Climate change was possibly the most serious challenge to development efforts. He noted also the specific needs of countries such as middle-income countries and landlocked developing countries.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland) said that the sustainable development agenda should contain a broader scope of issues. The political forum could be effective in streamlining processes and avoiding duplication of effort. Regarding the means of implementation and enhanced integration, he said that the way of operating would need revision if countries were to successfully deliver on the agenda. Furthermore, if the political forum’s guidance was to be utilized, the General Assembly should start incorporating it in its 2015 agenda. A robust review mechanism was also important. Led by Member States, it should engender a spirit of trust, and serve as a platform for sharing experiences, common barriers and solutions found on national levels. The report on the matter should also be seen as part of the monitoring actions. All stakeholders needed to be involved, as Governments could not deliver alone on a post-2015 agenda.
ISABELLE PICCO (Monaco) called for genuine global governance along with national ownership of development efforts on the basis of a universal consensus. The role of the United Nations was central, as was the political forum. Member States were stepping up their efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goals and the new agenda had to account for growing interdependence and the planet’s environmental limits. With its population continuing to rise, economic models that respected the environment were needed as well as technical innovations. Her country would continue to work for the most disadvantaged, in particular women and children across the board. She added that there was no single model for sustainable development and that the cultural identity of each partner was important, noting, however, that human rights was one area in which there was universal commitment.
HALIT ÇEVIK (Turkey) said that the international community was getting closer to a defining moment that would decide the world’s future. The planet’s resources were being strained by a growing global population, and impacted by climate change and diversity reduction within the ecological sectors. Development required economies to create good jobs. International partnerships, along with good governance and human rights protection were also necessary. For that to happen, implementation and means were crucial, along with technology transfer. Financing for sustainable development was a global challenge, and in that regard, North–South cooperation should be at the heart of those partnerships, with South-South cooperation engaged as a useful, complementary tool.
GONZALO KONCKE (Uruguay), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), underlined the importance of ODA to financing and promoting development and said it should be supplemented by South-South cooperation and other alternatives. Middle-income countries required special attention, and there should be a change in the criteria used for defining and classifying a country’s need for financing. The income gap was too limited a measure and there should be a broader set of indicators that better reflected the realities of countries and their needs. If the goal was truly the elimination of poverty, it was a paradox to use a criterion that did not meet the development needs of 70 per cent of the world’s poor living in middle-income countries.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union Delegation, said the new agenda must reflect a world that had changed since the Millennium Development Goals were established. Having sustainable development at the heart of the post–2015 agenda meant having an agenda that challenged the world’s issues in an integrated manner. Customs and habits on the national level would need to be changed. On an international level, the United Nations would have to function as a whole and in partnership with other actors. That would allow for inclusive prosperity within the capacities of the planet. Further, the agenda must be built on human rights, gender equality and good governance, among others, while empowering individuals and ensuring participation of all stakeholders. The post-2015 agenda must be transformational and inspirational. However, each country must decide what to do in order to address their unique national issues. In that way, local, national, and regional platforms would contribute to the global level.
WILFRIED EMVULA (Namibia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, pointed to his country’s progress on all Millennium Development Goals except for Goals 4 and 5 on child mortality and improving maternal health. While there were several areas in which Namibia had been successful in addressing development, inequality remained a challenge with female headed households, particularly in rural areas. Amidst that, assistance had diminished and poverty levels had stayed high. The new development agenda had to respect national circumstances and reflect the unique development challenges countries faced. Turning to climate change and its effects, he called for a global response because its consequences were faced by all and he attached great importance to multilateral platforms such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
GHOLAMHOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran) said that a new development agenda needed to contain a vision that integrated the three dimensions of sustainable development with universal applicability, while taking into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. In addition, implementing sustainable development commitments was not a zero-sum game, as envisaged by some delegations. The post-2015 agenda and the political forum were not supposed to bring about “charity-based miracles”. Rather, the institutional structure for sustainable development would be strengthened by the forum, which was essential for monitoring and reviewing the post-2015 agenda. Capacity-building for developing countries, technology, finance and a sound trading system could not be overstated. It was also necessary to promote an open, rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system. He voiced hope that with the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda next year and the practical work of the forum in 2016, a new chapter would begin in countries’ lives that was transformational and addressed all of humanity’s concerns.
MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, outlined the challenges her country faced. The priority of Honduras was to reach its development potential, most notably through accelerating sustainable economic growth and making educational improvements. Work was also focused on scaling-up access to basic health, water and sanitation. She also addressed the issue of transnational crime, particularly drug trafficking. Honduras was not a producer or major consumer of illegal drugs but was seriously harmed by the culture surrounding the illegal trade. It was “the greatest obstacle to development”, she said, pointing out that the country’s geography meant it had “become a bridge for illicit trafficking, filling the coffers of others”. Survival of citizens often meant fleeing the country and a holistic approach to understanding and meeting the needs of migrants was necessary.
JORGE MONTAÑO (Mexico), associating herself with CELAC, welcomed reviews of the forum and other mechanisms of development cooperation and urged that those activities build upon previous international conferences and agreements. The post-2015 agenda must have inclusion at its core, and for that reason her Government had organized three workshops on combating exclusion, inequality and related poverty. There should a true partnership for development based on previous agreements on financing development, including commitments on ODA and other sources. She reaffirmed the importance of the Economic and Social Council in all those areas.
STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein) expressed strong commitment to the intergovernmental process of formulating concrete sustainable development goals in an inclusive and transparent way. It was essential to build on lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals process. That would ensure the new goals and targets could be achieved equitably and sustainably in all parts of the world. The Millennium Goals had not lived up to their full potential due to a lack of focus on the enablers of sustainable development: peace, stability, good governance, gender equity, rule of law and human rights. There was also a lack of focus on accountability and effective review of commitments made. As such, it was critical to create a review mechanism within the forum. Development of a State-led, voluntary, robust mechanism by 2016 was a priority for Liechtenstein. To promote discussions on the review mechanism, Liechtenstein was working informally with Egypt, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Republic of Korea and Switzerland. He expressed hope others would join the discussion on its parameters.
OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that development goals would not be achieved as long as inequalities and corruption persisted in the international order that resulted in financial and environmental crises. A new international economic order was a necessity and the role of the United Nations in establishing it was critical. The global partnership needed to be strengthened for that purpose and should include explicit commitments from the developed countries. He welcomed the General Assembly decision to move forward negotiated commitments for the new agenda. That agenda must promote exchange of technologies and take into account the specific structural and situation problems of developing countries. The political forum must play an important role.
YOUSEF SULTAN LARAM (Qatar), associating himself with the Group of 77, hoped that a new chapter in sustainable development was starting, based on previous agreements and taking into account previous experiences, as well as the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. He stressed the importance of the high-level political forum in that context, stating that the forum should reflect regional needs. His country would continue to work with the international community to achieve the desired goals.
MOHAMMED HASSAN SAEED (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77, supported the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report on the links between sustainable development and peace and security. For more than a decade, Iraq had been the target of terrorist attacks, harming the country’s infrastructure and civilians. Terrorism was the greatest challenge to development. Despite such attacks, his Government continued efforts to mitigate them and the damage they caused. Terrorist attacks had led to a wave of displacement of Iraqi civilians, impeding agriculture and trade. Iraq continued to work to achieve development objectives, including through a series of legislative and executive measures. To overcome terrorism, it was essential to achieve international peace and security in line with the principles of human rights, non-interference and State sovereignty. Citing Security Council resolutions related to terrorism, he thanked the United Nations and other global and regional bodies that had condemned terrorism.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of his country and Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, issued a global call for a development agenda that would be good for all humanity and the planet that sustains it. The small island States were at the frontline of the effects of climate change, but no one on the planet would be spared its effects. He called for strengthening related goals as well as those on oceans, which were acutely threatened. His country had issued a green growth framework for sustainable development and resilience, which was an example of how small islands were acting to create the future we want. Islands were mobilizing partnerships and other cooperation for that purpose. In other areas, he called for strong targets related to fighting violence against women and promoting their education and health, as well as goals related to youth, welcoming the work of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in those areas. In all areas, the achievements of the Millennium Goals must be built upon.
DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso) said the Rio+20 process had prompted many countries to set up institutional frameworks and national strategies for sustainable development. In 2013 Burkina Faso adopted a national development framework and in 2014 a 10-year framework on means of consumption and lasting production. Despite gains in economic growth, most countries of the South still faced extreme poverty, food insecurity, climate change, desertification, and a lack of financial resources for sustainable development. The sustainable management of natural resources, which was the driving force of production, must be made a priority. To boost agriculture production to guarantee food security in developing countries, it was necessary to invest in environmental conservation, increase irrigated surfaces and improve productivity. Volatile food prices threatened food security in many developing countries, impeding their capacity to meet even the most basic needs. Technology must be transferred to those countries as well in order to improve their access to sustainable energy. The Economic and Social Council must be strengthened to ensure it became the watchdog for sustainable development.
SEWA LAMSAL ADHIKARI (Nepal), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country was on track to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals, but risked rolling back those gains and returning to poverty. Least developed countries such as Nepal deserved support to sustain growth, eradicate poverty, generate productive employment and decent work, and build resilience from multiple shocks. She urged development partners to strengthen support for and cooperation with least developed countries. South-South and triangular cooperation should support those countries’ efforts in all areas of cooperation, particularly infrastructure development, technology transfer and capacity-building as agreed in the Istanbul Programme of Action. Development partners should provide robust trade-related technical assistance and capacity-building to remove supply-side constraints and promote trade-related infrastructure and productive capacity. International support was critical for Nepal, which aimed to graduate from least developed country status by 2022. She expressed concern over the drop in ODA flows to least developed countries, calling on countries to fulfil their commitments and balance aid between productive and social sectors.
ANASTASIA CARAYANIDES (Australia) said that her country and others in the Group of 20 (G20) were focused on what she called the “growth challenge” and the related infrastructure gap in developing countries. The international tax system was also a priority, along with domestic resource mobilization and better transfer of remittances. There also had been important progress in trade discussions and the G20 was working to push back trade restrictions that had been instituted recently.
STEPHEN PURSEY, Director, Multilateral Cooperation Department, International Labour Organization (ILO), outlined the agency’s vision for a global transition to sustainable development. “Full and productive employment and decent work for all, including social protection” should be at the heart of the new sustainable development framework, he said. During consultations on international development following the Millennium Development Goals, decent jobs had featured heavily. National development strategies needed to include national employment policy frameworks and effective labour market institutions and regulations were critical to supporting incomes and livelihoods, enhancing productivity and ensuring fair sharing of earnings. Social protection floors were needed to help low-income households escape poverty and for institutions that promoted and respected fundamental principles and rights at work. Civil society participation in national planning processes was important, and better efforts were needed to improve collection and dissemination of labour market statistics.
IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the Millennium Declaration, which established a humanist vision of a more just and prosperous world, was more relevant than ever. To advance sustainable development, the world must learn from experience and harness the powers of drivers of inclusion and sustainability. That started with education. Despite tremendous progress, 57 million children remained out of school. In 2011, only 60 per cent of countries had achieved gender parity at the primary level and 38 per cent at the secondary level. UNESCO was promoting a stand-alone goal to ensure equitable, inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all. Education accelerated sustainable development, as did science and culture. Culture gave development a local foundation; taking account of it allowed people to have ownership and contribute to development strategies. Culture contributed to job creation. Gender equality was the great driver of human development.
MICHAEL O’NEILL, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the renewed international compact to end poverty could put the world on the path to sustainable development. For that to happen universality was important; all countries would have to commit to action. The forum would have to consider how to join universality with the realizations of different abilities and needs. He was confident that the Programme’s experience and partnerships, and its integral role in monitoring the implementation of the Millennium Goals, would contribute in that context. Engagement with all actors was needed to push the agenda forward.
RUTH WARICK of the International Disability Alliance said that persons with disabilities were the “poorest of the poor”, and she encouraged a disability-related goal in the post-2015 agenda, focused on inclusivity, with accessibility integrated throughout the agenda.
María Emma Mejía Vélez ( Colombia), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council introduced the dialogue, “Multi-stakeholder partnerships and voluntary commitments for sustainable development — ensuring accountability for all”.
Moderating the dialogue was Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund. Panellists included Petra Bayr, Member of Parliament, Austria; Juan Carlos Lastiri Quiros, Deputy Secretary for Persepective, Planning and Evaluation, Ministry of Social Development, Mexico; Dagfinn Høybråten, Chair, Board of GAVI Alliance; Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary-General and Chief Executive Officer, CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, also representing non-governmental organizations major group.
The lead discussants were Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Iceland; Pio Wennubst, Ambassador and Assistant Director-General, Head of the Directorate Global Cooperation, Swiss Development Cooperation Agency, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland; and Myrna Cunningham, former Chair of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, also representing the Indigenous Peoples Group.
Dr. OSOTIMEHIN, opening the discussion, stressed that, in a world of increasing complexities, a stronger engagement with all stakeholders was critical to implementing the post-2015 agenda. Partnerships, which he noted was at the core of the Population Fund’s work, must have built-in strong governance, along with monitoring, accountability and measurement of impact.
Mr. QUIROS noted that Mexico had one of the most unequal societies, adding that State and economic policies were needed to address that. The Government had established the National Crusade against Hunger, underpinned by a rights-based approach. The Crusade’s national council included public organizations, civil society, non-governmental organizations, universities, and private-sector entities, all of which worked together to reduce poverty and food insecurity. Each province in Mexico had a seat on the council, and local groups participated through 70,000 municipalities councils to implement the strategy. A pact had been made with the National Food Bank, a private organization in Mexico, enabling 30,000 tons of food for communities in need. When more stakeholders participated, better transparency and accountability was ensured.
Mr. HØYBRÅTEN shared lessons learned in making the Alliance successful, which included the establishment of a wider partner base. UNICEF, vaccine industries, and the Gates Foundation, among others, were partners of the Alliance. To date, it had immunized half a billion children and had saved 6 million lives. It was critical to ensure predicable long-term financing, and the Alliance had set about establishing partnerships and mechanisms, leveraging capital markets that converted 20 years of donor commitments into immediate vaccine bonds. That approach had resulted in $4 billion. Furthermore, the Alliance had developed partnerships with the market, a critical mechanism, which had enabled the supply of vaccines at an affordable price, buying on behalf of countries, which then increased competition and reduced prices. The Alliance had also established a corporate and politically responsible multi-stakeholder board, which provided a forum for discussion and partner collaboration.
Mr. SRISKANDARAJAH described the need for processes and institutions to allow proper functioning of multi-stakeholder partnerships. Norms and practices could be established to allow such partnerships to flourish rather than to fuel scepticism and fear. Fair and transparent governance was also required with its aim to help establish “rules of the game”. He hoped to combat scepticism through more transparency and institutional accountability. He was concerned about the lack of an enabling environment for civil society, but nonetheless believed the world was on the cusp of an exciting phase of civil society innovation and an accountability revolution.
Ms. BAYR expressed appreciation for voluntary efforts but said they must not replace binding rules, legislation and international law, which were better for ensuring accountability. A robust framework for private-sector activities was needed if it was to play a defining role in the post-2015 development agenda. She welcomed a recent Human Rights Council decision to set up a working group to realize a binding and robust framework to ensure the private sector observed its human rights obligations. Once core standards were established, voluntary standards at a significantly higher level would be most welcome additions.
Mr. SVEINSSON, stressing that sustainable development was at the core of Iceland’s policies, said that partnerships had to be inclusive, progressive and dynamic. One such collaboration focused on geothermal capacity-building and training in developing countries, he said, noting that only 40 per cent of geothermal energy had been harnessed. In East Africa that energy source would bring clean energy for millions of people. The Geothermal Compact partnership, initiated jointly by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland and the World Bank had been established along the African rim. It was a good example of partnership, but more could be done if “we work together”.
Mr. WENNUBST said thematically focused partnerships proved to be successful if they used the knowledge of a broad range of actors, especially to guard against them being driven by the self–interests of a few stakeholders. It was also important to avoid a “silo effect”. Partnerships should be reactive to challenge, while finding innovated solutions. Regarding accountability, he asked how a transparency mechanism could be shaped as an incentive towards future collaboration, rather than finger pointing. In that regard, he asked how the political forum could be shaped in a way to positively respond to that challenge.
Ms. CUNNINGHAM stressed the importance of establishing trust in partnerships with indigenous peoples. Their laws, spirituality and vision of the world must be respected, including their governmental structures, knowledge systems, values and lifestyles. It was important for Governments to help establish that respect. A human rights-based approach was needed with specific measures to ensure indigenous peoples enjoyed their rights. Coexistence was a basis of sustainable development, she said, adding that monitoring and accountability were vital to any partnership.
In the ensuing discussion, a representative of the Children and Youth Group noted that the importance of youth was consistently emphasized in dialogues and that efforts to initiate stronger commitments and partnerships were under way. She stressed the value of social media in outreach and communication efforts.
A representative of the Workers and Trade Unions highlighted the role of business in sustainable development. Small and medium-sized enterprises should be as accountable as transnational corporations, and their responsibilities should cover all three dimensions of sustainable development.
A representative of the International Voice of Justice endorsed Ms. Cunningham’s comments and stressed the importance of individual rights and personal liberties.
A representative of the Association of World Citizens said humans must learn to live within global planetary boundaries, adding that the Internet could play a large role in achieving that.
A representative of NGO Canada stressed the importance of the discussion and underlined her commitment to expanding the democratic ownership of development through partnerships.
Ms. BAYR echoed the statement that partnerships must not be driven by personal goals, and stressed that in partnerships with private companies, which had shareholders to answer to, there needed to be clear objectives.
Mr. SRISKANDARAJAH said that the political forum, as a hybrid body, could be capable of delivering a means and an end to sustainable development. “We are going to see fascinating and unpredictable ways people will hold Governments accountable,” he stated.
Mr. HØYBRÅTEN said that in creating alliances it was important to ensure values such as human rights. At the same time, it was important not to overlook a framework for partnering with the market for achieving sustainable development, as there was a huge potential there. In the past, vaccines invented in one part of the world took up to 20 years before being introduced in the lowest-income countries. That had been changed through the global community’s predicable demand and predicable financing.
Mr. QUIROS said that public-private partnerships were good, emphasizing that while being inclusive, productive, and dynamic, they must also generate transparency and accountability.
Dr. OSOTIMEHIN stressed that if the international community was serious about promoting such partnerships, transparency and accountability and global governance needed to be present. Different partnerships working together should have a clear and concrete shared purpose and, in particular, trust.
Ministerial Dialogue III
Martin Sajdik ( Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council, introduced the ministerial dialogue, “Preparing the high-level political forum for post 2015: Steering implementation of the development agenda and reviewing progress”.
Moderating was Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Panellists included Rémi Allah Kouadio, Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Cities and Sustainable Development, Côte d’Ivoire; Attila Korodi, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Romania; Shinji Inoue, Senior Vice-Minister of the Environment, Japan; and Joseph Moser, Secretary-General, International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions.
Erik Solheim, Chair, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee was lead discussant.
Mr. GASS, underscoring that the forum would be crucial in furthering the post-2015 agenda, said that accountability mechanisms would be key to demonstrating the forum’s impact. The panel would address concrete strategies seeking, among other things, the promotion of sustainable development.
Mr. KOUADIO described Côte d’Ivoire’s experiences, noting efforts made since the 1992 Rio Conference, which had established the institutional framework, tools, statutes and funds to pursue sustainable development. Though conditions for implementing the post-2015 development agenda were favourable, he saw challenges on the horizon, including pollution and the destruction of ecosystems, as well as other climate change-related problems. He hoped the forum would enable implementation of national sustainable development programmes and enhance integration of all aspects of sustainable development. He supported a regional approach to share experiences and spur South-South cooperation.
Mr. KORODI praised the hybrid nature of the forum, as it allowed engagement of civil society partners. He believed it could serve as “locus of accountability” through regular reviews. He supported national ownership of those reviews, adding that they should be forward-looking. The forum needed to engage Governments and economic and financial actors, along with those from social and environmental spheres. Noting the entity’s potential to provide a long-term policy framework that could ensure sustainable development and consistency in the goals, he said it was well placed to give a focused and unified message to the United Nations system on sustainable development. It could also help Member States by underlining the need for an integrated approach from the United Nations system in decisions concerning the three dimensions of sustainable development.
Mr. INOUE said that poverty eradication should be at the centre of the sustainable development goals. At the same time, sustainability needed to be an important aspect of the agenda that incorporated health care and disaster reduction, among other challenges. It was most important for the international community as a whole to promote action for sustainable development and for each individual country to institute those actions on national platforms. Also important was not to get caught up in the division between developed and developing countries. The forum would exercise leadership on the global level, offering a platform to share good practices and deliberations on common challenges. Japan had already established indicators and monitoring for its national goals. In supporting those goals internationally, the Government had donated $3.5 million to the Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Productions Consumption, of which his country was a member.
Mr. MOSER said that sustainable development was possible only if transparency and accountably and a true and fair view of public resources were ensured. Those were also preconditions for the forum’s success. Supreme audit institutions could provide independent, unbiased and reliable information on executive activities, including national review mechanisms on the goals’ progress. Obstructions to progress included a lack of transparency and accountability, as well as a lack of a comprehensive mandate to audit Government performances. Measures were necessary, including strengthening the independence of the supreme audit institutions and building their capacity. It was a unique opportunity to set the stage for real and effective transparency by improving public accounting systems, and thereby strengthening the role of the forum.
Mr. SOLHEIM said the Forum needed to have an impact on people’s lives. It should be a venue where people could see political will in action and where leaders truly made efforts to advance towards visible results. He believed that sharing success stories of Governments, businesses and societies would be important and he described several such accounts from countries around the world. The forum should be a place where those issues could be tapped and where coalitions for action could be built.
In the interactive discussion, the representative of Benin stressed the need for implementing decisions in order to meet global commitments. Consensus was important in decision-making and decisions should be based on scientific evidence and be backed by sufficient resources and expertise to aid implementation. He added that least developed countries faced particular challenges in dealing with the fallout from climate change.
The representative of China said the forum should become a central mechanism, for which monitoring should be strengthened. Synergy efforts should be stepped up to enhance coordination between United Nations bodies. Regular dialogue between countries and regions would enable them to compare notes.
The representative of Canada said that an accountability framework needed to be achievable and that there should be no more than 10 goals. Comprehensive data would ensure that the rights of the poorest and most vulnerable were central to the forum’s work.
A representative of the Women Major Group, said she feared many of the goals sought by women had been discarded, but not by women. Women had been kept off the agenda, kept from meetings and from participating in the forum, even though the mandate had been clear. Instead of achieving human rights, it was clear that Governments had been willing to trade women’s rights for other political gains. “This must stop. Women are not bargaining chips,” she said.
A representative of Switzerland said the review mechanism would be crucial to the forum, as it could enable identification of common barriers, as well as solutions that could be replicated. She asked panellists how they thought the review could effectively build on and reinforce existing review mechanisms.
The representative of Benin took the floor again to argue against limiting the sustainable development goals to 10.
A representative of the Stakeholder Forum said the high-level political forum faced a daunting task and needed a robust secretariat and bureau to handle its heavy workload.
Mr. KOUADIO questioned whether the forum would be able to come up with proposals and binding mechanisms to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. Wondering what could be done to ensure sustainable development in all countries, he noted that HIV/AIDS and malaria programmes had been very successful and perhaps that model could be adapted. It was critical to oblige the world to take on environment problems and climate impacts.
Mr. KORODI said that if good quality criteria and targets were present, then the follow-up could be delivered. It was important to have honest discussion of such issues in the forum.
Mr. INOUE said that the forum must be central to follow-up. On national platforms, mechanisms were vital to ensure progress, as were partnerships with multiple stakeholders.
Mr. MOSER expressed concern about the lack of transparency, necessary for a reliable review of the goals’ implementation. Also, action should be results-oriented. It was necessary to increase international and national accountability.
Mr. SOLHEIM said that mobilizing political will was critical to the forum’s success. Also crucial was to highlight success stories, such as in Benin and Germany. “If you highlight success, others will be inspired,” he added.
Mr. GASS said the discussion had underlined the importance of consensual instruments and of strengthening capacities. Many interventions had been about national capacities, but the forum also needed the capacity to function properly.
In conclusion, the Council President stressed the importance of implementation and of the review mechanism, noting that they were the main issues in deciding the forum’s future. He also responded to the representative of the Women’s Group, saying her statement was incorrect and that non-governmental organizations did have access to informal discussions.
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