Concluding First Political Forum, Economic and Social Council Adopts Declaration Placing Sustainability at Core of Post-2015 Agenda

9 July 2014
ECOSOC/6639

Concluding First Political Forum, Economic and Social Council Adopts Declaration Placing Sustainability at Core of Post-2015 Agenda

9 July 2014
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6639
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2014 Substantive Session

34th, 35th & 36th Meetings (AM, PM & Night)

Concluding First Political Forum, Economic and Social Council Adopts

 

Declaration Placing Sustainability at Core of Post-2015 Agenda

 

In Annual Ministerial Review, Countries Detail

Progress towards Achieving Millennium Development Goals

As the Economic and Social Council concluded its first high-level political forum, it adopted without a vote a shared ministerial declaration with the Council’s high-level segment that called for concerted efforts around the world to meet the Millennium Development Goals and to pave the way to a post-2015 development agenda that included sustainability and the eradication of poverty.

Within the shared text was the ministerial declaration of the Council’s high-level segment, entitled, “Addressing ongoing and emerging challenges for meeting the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 and for sustaining development gains in the future,” and the ministerial declaration of the political forum, entitled, “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals”.

The joint document had Member States ministers commit to establishing a strong, ambitious, inclusive and people-centred post-2015 agenda, while resolving that the post-2015 development agenda should reinforce the international community’s commitment to sustainable development and eradicating poverty.  It also recognized the intrinsic interlinkage between poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development, and underlined the need for a coherent approach that integrated the three dimensions of sustainable development.

The declarations also reaffirmed that, as the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, poverty eradication would be central to the post-2015 development agenda.  In addition, in order to achieve sustainable development, sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities and raising the basic standards of living needed to be promoted.

Themes for both future Economic and Social Council meetings and high-level political forum meetings were also adopted without a vote.  The General Assembly resolution 67/290 had requested that the focus on the political forum reflect the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development.  By General Assembly resolution 68/1, the Council had also been asked to seek an overarching theme in the Council’s programme of work, by consultation with subsidiary bodies and Member States.

The theme for the Council’s 2015 session would be “Managing Goals to sustainable development goals:  What will it take?”; the theme for the 2016 session would be “Implementing the post-2015 development agenda:  moving from commitments to results”; and the theme for the 2015 political forum would be “Strengthening integration implementation and review — the high-level political forum on sustainable development after 2015”.

Also adopted without a vote was a decision on the report of the Secretary-General on options for the scope and methodology of a global sustainable development report, which affirmed that the report should take into account different national realties, capacities and levels of development.  As well, a report on the organization of the session was adopted without a vote.

Martin Sajdik ( Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council, closing the political forum, said he had heard stories from many delegations of a world still impacted by poverty, and where women and children’s health was still at risk.  However, there were many reasons for optimism.  Many countries were implementing policies on models of development focused on production-consumption, as well as incorporating sustainable development into action plans.  The challenge would be to seek ways of promoting sustainable development on national, regional and subregional levels.  Nonetheless, noting that the meeting reflected the great potential of the forum, he stressed that the coming 18 months would be critical for the planet.

Two keynote speakers also addressed the forum.  Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the Prototype Global Sustainable Development report, which focused on scientific–policy interface, based on input from scientific communities around the world and the United Nations system.

Li Pengde, Deputy Administrator for the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of China, in his presentation, called for a “Geo Information Management authority” and a “Global Geographic Census” which would allow for a comprehensive understanding of real data of the planet.  Such geographical data would support social economic data and thus establish a better world.

Also today, the forum concluded with a ministerial dialogue titled “Charting pathways to the future we want”, which dealt with the question of the cost of inaction on sustainable development and the contribution that could be made by science to fulfilling the post-2015 development agenda.

The Annual Ministerial Review continued, with 10 countries making voluntary presentations on the progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Acting Foreign Minister of Thailand, detailed the country’s significant progress in the areas of poverty eradication, education, health care, and global partnerships.  Juan Carlos Lastiri Quirós, Deputy Secretary for Perspective, Planning and Evaluation, Ministry of Social Development of Mexico, highlighted that 38 of 51 indicators that the country had adopted in-line with the Millennium Development Goals had already been met.

Anthony Smith, Head, International Relations, Department for International Development, United Kingdom, detailed his country’s legal framework established to support international development.  Irma Kavtaradze, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Georgia, in her national presentation elaborated on that country’s success in reducing poverty and creating a robust public health care system.

Ending the Annual Ministerial Review was the State of Palestine presenting its first report.  Dana Erekat, Special Adviser to the Minister, Head of Aid Management and Coordination, Ministry of Planning and Administration Development, State of Palestine, noted success in areas such as primary universal enrolment and gender equality in school, and vaccination.  However, due to constraints imposed by the Israeli Government, achieving the Millennium Goals would not be possible and she called on international stakeholders to ensure Israel respect international law and resolutions.

Also presenting in the Annual Ministerial Review were Saleh Bin Mohammad Al Nabit, Minister for Development Planning and Statistics of Qatar; Mansour Ayyad Alotaibi of Kuwait; Elba Viviana Caro Hinojosa, Minister for Development Planning of Bolivia; Kebba Touray, Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Gambia; and Masheir Abdallah, Minister for Welfare and Social Security of Sudan.

Reviews were carried out by representatives of Senegal, Japan, Viet Nam, Peru, Lithuania, Greece, Kuwait, Malaysia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Qatar, Cuba, India, South Africa, Turkey, Nigeria, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Contributing to interactive dialogues that followed the presentations and reviews were Norway, Gabon, Germany, Mexico, Russian Federation, South Africa, Israel, Cuba and Turkey.

The Economic and Social Council will convene at 10 a.m. on 10 July to begin its Development Cooperation Forum.

National Voluntary Presentation I

IBRAHIM DABBASHI ( Libya), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the National Voluntary Presentations were intrinsic to that body’s annual ministerial review.  The process had demonstrated the value of the Council as a forum for engaging the global community in an exchange of critical lessons learned in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.

MAHMOUD MOHIELDIN, World Bank Corporate Secretary and President’s Special Envoy on Millennium Development Goals, the Post-2015 process and financial development, moderated the presentations.

Thailand

SIHASAK PHUANGKETKEOW, Acting Foreign Minister for Thailand, presenting National voluntary presentations:  Thailand (document E/2014/59), said his country had made significant progress on the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  Those gains had largely been in the areas of poverty eradication, access to education, health care, and forging global partnerships.  In 2009, 12.3 million people, or 17.9 per cent of the country’s total population, lived under the national poverty line.  In 2012, that number was reduced to 8.4 million, or 12.6 per cent of the population.  The Government was committed to achieving the more ambitious Millennium Development Goals Plus (MDG+) target to reduce the country’s overall poverty rate below 4 per cent.  Sustaining the environment, such as reducing pollution and managing waste, remained a challenge.

Key factors contributing to its success included the Government’s people-centred approach, he said.  The sufficiency economy philosophy continued to improve the quality of life and placed a strong emphasis on inclusiveness.  Referring to the Life Cycle Development Strategy, he stressed that key success factors were sustained political commitment by the Government; contribution of technocrats, who were the driving force for implementation of development goals; and a multi-stakeholder approach.  Thailand had achieved universal health care in 2002.

Emerging challenges, he noted, included climate change and natural disasters, which undermined hard-earned development gains.  Over the past 10 years, Thailand had been severely damaged by tsunami, flooding and earthquakes.  The Government incorporated disaster risk reduction into policy and put a natural disaster early warning system in place.  Policy must be evidenced so that its budget did not “mistarget” beneficiaries.  Transparent institutions and the rule of law were crucial.  Regional cooperation and integration could narrow inequalities across the region and within countries.  Successes depended on means of implementation, including financing, technology, partnership and capacity.  A smooth transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development targets was vital.

The representative of Senegal noted that the proportion of the population living in poverty and suffering from hunger had fallen by half in Thailand, while gender disparities had been eliminated and there had been a drastic drop in child mortality due to increased access to health care.  Senegal commended Thailand’s initiatives and willingness to provide full employment and combat non-communicable diseases.  Senegal emphasized the need to address childhood nutrition challenges, improve training and living conditions for workers and reduce the risk of HIV among high-risk populations.  Thailand should also step up efforts to meet challenges related to the accessibility of public services and bridge gaps in health care and education.  The representative asked which measures were envisaged to reduce maternal mortality rates in Thailand’s mountainous regions.  He also questioned what role the private sector had played in achieving Goal 8 on a global partnership for development.

The representative of Japan noted Thailand’s human-centred approach to development and stressed that universal health-care coverage would be instrumental for the post-2015 development agenda.  He stressed the importance of economic growth for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Given the current political situation in Thailand, he commended the fact that the report contained a section on good governance.  He went on to question what Thailand envisaged would be the added value to a human security approach in the post-2015 development agenda.  He also asked what budgetary implications were expected in the implementation of universal health care and requested further elaboration on the section of the report that addressed good governance.

The representative of Viet Nam commended Thailand’s efforts to align its national development strategies and policies to the Millennium Development Goals.  Thailand and Viet Nam had shared experiences when it came to implementing the development goals, including similar challenges, particularly with regard to education and environmental issues.  Thailand had made progress in environmental protection, but there remained a great deal of room for improvement in that area.  Narrowing the development gap and reducing inequality were long-term, critical objectives which must be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda.

Mexico

JUAN CARLOS LASTIRI QUIRÓS, Deputy Secretary for Perspective, Planning and Evaluation, Ministry of Social Development of Mexico, presented his country’s voluntary presentation (document E/2014/65).  Mexico adopted 51 indicators for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, with 38 met already and another 5 to be reached by 2015.  Extreme poverty, measured as less than $1.25 a day, had more than halved, falling from 9.3 per cent in 1989 to 4 per cent in 2012.  Universal primary education had been achieved, with the illiteracy rate for young people falling from 4.6 per cent in 1990 to 1.4 per cent in 2012.

As for gender equality, he said that the proportion of seats for women in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate had increased from 12.4 per cent to 37.4 per cent and from 15.6 per cent to 34.4 per cent between 1988 and 2012.  Reform was under way to require that 50 per cent of candidates nominated by political parties be women.  Target of ratio of girls to boys in all education levels was almost achieved.  Infant and under-5 mortality rates, respectively 13.3 and 16.7 per cent, were coming into line with established targets.  Maternal mortality had decreased 52 per cent since 1990 but remained high at 42.3 deaths per 100,000 live births.  The proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel rose from 76.7 per cent in 1990 to 96 per cent in 2012.

Incidence of HIV/AIDS had declined, meeting the targets set out in Goal 6.  Cases of malaria had decreased significantly, from 51.1 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1990 to 0.7 in 2012.  The proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected rose from 7.1 per cent of the territory in 1990 to 13 per cent in 2012.  Access to clean water rose from 78.4 per cent to 90.9 per cent and sanitation from 58.6 per cent to 87.7 per cent between 1990 and 2010.  The number of mobile phone subscriptions was 88.3 per 100 inhabitants, six times greater than in 2000, with Internet users in 2013 representing 43 per cent of the population.  He attributed his country’s success to the National Crusade against Hunger strategy, as well as many reforms undertaken in the economic, social and governance spheres.

The representative of Peru, a reviewer, commended Mexico for its significant achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.  Peru and Mexico, both middle-income countries, shared common challenges.  Mexico’s approach to consider the multidimensional nature of poverty was useful.  It took into account education lags, access to basic services and quality of housing.  Income alone was not sufficient to measure poverty.  Gender equality was a catalyst for inclusive economic growth.  Questions remained as to what challenges Mexico faced regarding sustainable patterns of production and consumption.

Georgia

KAHA IMNADZE ( Georgia), presenting National voluntary presentations:  Georgia (document E/2014/72), reported that on Goal 1, his country had improved its economy and overall gross domestic product (GDP) since 2000.  The number of people living in poverty and extreme poverty had also decreased.  However, 22.4 per cent of the overall population and 27 per cent of children still lived below the poverty line.  In 2004, the extreme poverty rate stood at 19.3 per cent, but by 2012 had fallen to 9.7 per cent.  Unemployment remained a challenge, particularly youth unemployment, which exceeded 30 per cent.  On Goal 3, Georgia enjoyed near universal primary school enrolment for both girls and boys, although female students from ethnic minorities faced additional challenges.  A Parliamentary Council on Gender Equality was established in 2010; still, the monthly salary of women was about 60 per cent of that of men.  In 2012, 10 per cent of parliamentarians were women, versus 5 per cent in 2000.  The country was ranked number 71 out of 137 on the Gender Equality Index.

On Goal 7, he said that more than 94 per cent of the population had access to safe drinking water, although there were severe challenges in providing that resource in rural areas.  On Goal 8, Georgia had recently signed a trade agreement with the European Union and had similar agreements with the Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey.  Tariff quotas had decreased and import duties had been abolished on nearly 85 per cent of goods.  Mobile cellular phone subscriptions had increased dramatically since 2002, as did the number of Internet users.

On Goal 4, Georgia had achieved progress in reducing child mortality, which fell from 24.9 in 2000 to 12.6 in 2012, he said.  However, high mortality rates persisted in rural areas, a challenge which the Government was addressing through expanded coverage of immunization programmes.  On Goal 5, Georgia had reduced the maternal mortality rate by half since 2000 and the percentage of births attended by skilled medical personnel had increased to 99.8 per cent in 2012.  To improve maternal health, the percentage of pregnant women receiving at least four antenatal care visits stood at 84.2 per cent in 2013.

On Goal 6, he noted that Georgia had attained universal access to antiretroviral treatments for those living with HIV/AIDS and had made great progress in eliminating the incidence of malaria.  However, the country was plagued by high rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.  To improve the quality of reproductive health services, the Government had partnered with international organizations to institutionalize programmes, national guidelines and protocols.  Georgia’s HIV/AIDS efforts had been heralded in the former Soviet region, although late diagnosis and treatment interventions due to social stigma remained a challenge for the country.

The representative of Lithuania, in the ensuing review, said the challenges Georgia faced were similar to those her country grappled with prior to joining the European Union.  Despite the significant achievements Georgia had made in economic growth, the high rate of poverty remained a concern.  Unemployment remained high, particularly among youth, and addressing that would require new strategies and economic growth.  She asked what measures the Government of Georgia planned to implement to address unemployment challenges.  Further progress should be made to increase the percentage of women in decision-making positions, she noted, while questioning what additional measures the Government would take to address the significant disparity in urban and rural mortality rates.  Regarding universal access to health care, she questioned how Georgia would maintain its programmes in the future in the absence of significant funding.

The representative of Greece requested more information on planned policies to further reduce the incidence of child mortality in Georgia.  He went on to ask the representative of Georgia to elaborate on how the country had successfully reduced the incidence of malaria.  Noting Georgia’s achievements with regard to universal access to antiretroviral treatment, he questioned what additional measures the country had taken to improve the quality of life of those living with HIV/AIDS.

Interactive Dialogue

In opening the interactive dialogue, the moderator posed questions and comments related to a multitude of areas, including the potential enabling or disabling effects of financing, the role of national coordination, the need for sufficient data, the impact of growth on the poor and the role of regional and international partnerships.

Mr. PHUANGKETKEOW said that Thailand’s approach to development was people-centred, which drew strongly on the efficiency economy principle.  On the Millennium Development Goals, there needed to be greater focus on the means of implementation, particularly the mobilization of resources and partnerships.  In response to the representative of Senegal, he agreed that more must be done on child and maternal health in qualitative terms, particularly for vulnerable and marginalized groups.  On partnerships, his country had a robust development cooperation programme in public health and agriculture, but more needed to be done to engage the private sector.  In response to Japan, he noted that investment in health care was critical to maintaining a strong economy.  Thailand saw its strong health care system as a “preventive measure”.  On good governance, his country remained committed to democracy.

Mr. QUIRÓS said Mexico was undertaking a number of measures to address the loss of biodiversity, stressing the importance of institutional and constitutional revisions, including energy reform.  Structural changes enabled inclusive economic growth and greater social justice.

Mr. IMNADZE said, in response to a question about reduction of extreme poverty in Georgia, the essence of its national strategy through 2020 was economic policy building on three principles:  a focus on real economy; inclusion of all sectors; and rational use of resources.  Regarding youth unemployment, the key to address that problem was to enhance general education and provide vocational training to develop a more skilled labour force.  Partnership was directly related to funding.  Accountability was crucial for both donors and local stakeholders implementing projects.

When the floor was opened up for questions, the representative of Germany asked whether the countries felt the Millennium Development Goals were useful for the formulation of national policies.

The representative of Norway asked the presenting countries to elaborate on their views regarding good governance.

Mr. IMNADZE, in response, said the Millennium Development Goals were important for creating political will.  However, each country had to identify its own unique priorities.  Good governance was critical, without which, sustainable economic growth was impossible.

Mr. QUIRÓS said the Millennium Development Goals had helped in policy formulation, specifically, Mexico’s national development plan.  Growth in his country was a strong reflection of the development goals, which had provided a clear path for establishing public policy.

Mr. PHUANGKETKEOW said his country’s people-centred approach was consistent with the Millennium Development Goals and the establishment of national priorities.  However, countries must be given flexibility in implementing the Goals.

Concluding the discussion, the moderator highlighted the importance of the day’s discussion and that the feedback shared would be key to the formulation of the future development agenda.

National Voluntary Presentation II

Next, Michael Shank, Associate Director, Friends Committee on National Legislation, and Adjunct Faculty and Board Member, George Mason University School, moderated the presentations of Qatar, United Kingdom and Kuwait.

Qatar

SALEH BIN MOHAMMAD AL NABIT, Minister of Development Planning and Statistics of Qatar, presenting his country’s report (document E/2014/57), said national economic development was driven by natural resources.  However, a shift in focus was taking place with increased interest in diversification, particularly towards a knowledge-based economy.  Sustainable development was an underlying principle and unifying theme in the Qatar National Vision 2030.  The country’s development planning framework had a six-year cycle aligned to the Qatar National Vision 2030.  A midterm review of the framework conducted in 2013 had revealed a great deal of consistency in planning efforts across various levels of Government, as well as the need to further develop human resources capacity, along with a monitoring and evaluation programme.

Rapid population growth and demographic changes were identified as key challenges, he said, noting that, since 2008, the population had grown from 1.4 million to over 2.1 million in 2013.  Population growth had resulted in large expatriate inflow to support large infrastructure projects.  The rapid increase created risks, including high pressure on existing social infrastructure and significant environmental degradation, such as increased CO2 emissions and urban land scarcity.  The increase in the number of motor vehicles also created a heavy burden on infrastructure, as well as safety concerns, such as a marked increase of traffic accident-related injuries and deaths.  As a result, national efforts had been initiated to improve road safety.

National planning aimed to achieve high levels of human development, he went on, but balancing economic growth, social development and environmental protection continued to pose a challenge.  Qatar used objective and subjective methodologies to measure the population’s overall well-being beyond economic indicators.  Those measurements indicated high overall levels of life satisfaction among both nationals and non-nationals.  The country had achieved high levels of human development and would continue to strive to improve the health-care system and educational opportunities.

In the ensuing country review, the representative of Kuwait noted that, much like Qatar, his country’s economy was largely based on extractive sectors, particular gas and oil.  As such, both countries faced great challenges regarding sustainability.  In terms of economic diversification, it was often difficult to achieve sustainable development and keep other sectors active.  He asked what challenges Qatar faced while creating its sustainable development plan.  He also asked what the Government was doing to integrate sustainability into all sectors of its economy, particularly given the need for long-term financing.  Additionally, he asked the representative of Qatar to provide examples of successful projects undertaken to reach a high level of human development.

The representative of Malaysia noted Qatar’s inclusive national development planning process, including the fact that the framework was aligned at all levels.  He asked the representative to elaborate on some of the key lessons learned during its national development strategy midterm review process, including in the area of sustainability.  He also sought more information on Qatar’s experiences with using non-quantitative measurements to gauge the population’s overall well-being.

United Kingdom

ANTHONY SMITH, Head, International Relations, Department for International Development, United Kingdom, presenting his country’s report (document E/2014/83), said the world had an opportunity to achieve a breakthrough in development.  Since 1990, 510 million people had been lifted out of poverty in China, Zambia’s per capita income had quadrupled from $310 to $1,430 between 2000 and 2013; global funds on diseases and education had attracted nearly $19 billion in pledges over the past three years — in 2000, those funds were at zero.  Also, new initiatives were emerging, including African Union’s Continental Free Trade Area, and the proportion of emerging developing countries had increased from 44 per cent in 1994 through 1999 to 70 per cent in the years 2010 to 2013.

He drew attention to the United Kingdom’s legal framework in support of international development, noting enactment by its Parliament of the International Development Act of 2002, which enabled the provision of untied development assistance.  The Act had been amended in 2006 to include an objective of allocating 0.7 per cent of national gross income to official development assistance (ODA).  It was further amended in 2014 to address gender inequality.  The United Kingdom had achieved the 0.7 per cent ODA target in 2013, with the provision of £11.4 billion.  The Government also sharpened its focus on bilateral development efforts, reducing the number of partner countries from 50 to 28.  It was working closely with Ethiopia and Pakistan, whose representatives would review his presentation today.  About 63 per cent of the United Kingdom’s ODA was dispensed through bilateral channels, and his Government contributed to nearly 40 multilateral entities in 2013, including to the United Nations and European Union.

Regarding priorities for the post-2015 period, he said his Government felt that the new development goals should be as inspiring as the Millennium Development Goals, and that the new agenda should include a stand-alone goal on gender equality.  He sought the inclusion of some elements missing from the Millennium Goals, such as economic growth, peace, and accountability and effective institutions.  Sustainable development should be at the core.  The United Kingdom would seek to reduce barriers to growth, support capital markets, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, stimulate businesses and combat tax evasion and avoidance.  The country embedded the four key principles of development effectiveness throughout its programmes:  results, transparency and accountability, inclusivity and country ownership.  Helping other countries could better the United Kingdom’s own future.

The representative of Ethiopia welcomed the United Kingdom’s focus on eradicating extreme poverty through inclusive economic growth that created productive jobs for the poor and ensured peace and stability.  Ethiopia allocated up to 70 per cent of its budget to the pro-poor sectors of agriculture and for food security, water and sanitation, health, education and rural transports.  As a result, significant progress had been made in improving the livelihood of its population by achieving double-digit, inclusive and broad-based economic growth over the last decade.  The United Kingdom’s support effectively supplemented Ethiopia’s efforts with the allocation of significant ODA to fund the pro-poor and pro-growth sectors.  Its support was also vital for helping Ethiopia become a low carbon-emitting middle-income country within the next decade.  He encouraged the British Government to maintain its commitment to support developing countries in the remaining years of the Millennium Development Goals period and beyond.

The representative of Pakistan said that the United Kingdom’s presentation was important because of that country’s impressive record in international development cooperation, as well as its deep involvement in the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda.  In particular, in 2013, the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister had co-chaired the United Nations High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda, whose report had concluded that it was possible to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.  The United Kingdom believed that even in difficult economic times, the developed nations had a moral obligation to support poor countries.  That country had been the first among the “Group of 8” to have achieved the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA.  He asked questions related to next year’s international conference on financing for development, the United Kingdom’s bilateral development policy, ways to stimulate economic growth, world trade negotiations and rebalancing the global economy.

Kuwait

MANSOUR AYYAD ALOTAIBI ( Kuwait), presentinghis country’s national voluntary report(document E/2014/76), said his country had made significant progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, reaching nearly 100 per cent on most targets.  Kuwait planned to make good on its commitment to provide ODA to developing and least developed countries.  It had achieved three of the development goals related to poverty, primary education and development partnerships ahead of schedule.  From 2005 to 2012, Kuwait’s per capita gross national income was three times the global average and four times the average of Arab countries.  Only 0.33 per cent of the Kuwaiti population fell below the poverty line.

By 1999, he said, the country had achieved gender equality in terms of education, and by 2012, 97 per cent of children were enrolled in primary schools.  Moving forward, improving the quality and efficiency of the education system would be a priority, as well as developing national a curriculum in line with international standards.  Raising awareness of information-based technology was another priority.  On Goal 3, women’s participation in the labour force had increased significantly during the reporting period.  Women also held 13 ministerial positions and, in 2004, four women had been elected to Parliament.  Despite those accomplishments, their participation in policymaking was weak.

He noted a significant reduction in child mortality, which, in 2012, was at 7.7 per cent.  Maternal health had also improved, with 100 per cent of births attended by skilled medical personnel.  Kuwait had adopted a plan to raise awareness among women of the need for advanced health care during pregnancy.  Between 2009 and 2013, only 18 cases of HIV/AIDS had been detected, and cases of tuberculosis had declined by 28.1 per cent between 2010 and 2012.  Increases in carbon dioxide levels remained a major obstacle, he said, adding that all Kuwaitis had access to clean-water sources, although the consumption of water and energy constituted the nation’s most daunting challenges.

The representative of Qatar commended Kuwait for achieving three development goals ahead of schedule, although the country’s reliance on the oil sector to drive the economy remained a challenge, he said, advising that special economic reforms would be needed to diversify income sources.  He asked which measures had been implemented to improve and foster private-sector participation.

Interactive Dialogue

Mr. SHANK asked the presenters to address questions posed by reviewers and to elaborate on accountability and transparency.

Mr. NABIT highlighted that Qatar incorporated sustainable development in all sectors.  Many initiatives had been undertaken to reduce emissions of global-warming gases, including a nationwide campaign to reduce consumption of electricity and water.  Sustainable development required effective and productive manpower.  That’s why Qatar attached importance to human development.  It also had established a ministry that dealt with youth issues, and had adopted multiple indicators to gauge the quality of life, not just income.  A midterm review of the six-year strategy helped deepen understanding of what was going on.

Mr. SMITH said that Ethiopia would host an international conference on financing for development in advance of the September 2015 summit, at which agreement was expected on the new development framework.  It also would explore financing options beyond ODA.  The United Kingdom supported, through bilateral aid, each country’s own “recipe” for implementation.  Transparency and accountability was his Government’s priority and, as such, expenditure regarding his trip to New York would be made public as a way of helping to improve the quality of information disclosed.  The Government had adopted a Development Tracker to access information on every development project.

Mr. ALOTAIBI said that, like Qatar, Kuwait was an oil-dependent country.  It was important to diversify revenue sources, and several measures had been undertaken towards that end, including efforts to privatize enterprises, combat corruption, develop capital and support small and medium-size businesses.  It also had put in place a mechanism to monitor projects, and the Parliament reviewed the Government’s implementation.

The representative of Gabon asked about Qatar’s experience concerning reducing road accidents.

The representative of Germany asked if there would be a focus shift in the new development framework.

Mr. NABIT said that as the population grew, the number of vehicles on the road and the number of accidents increased.  The Government had heard from developed countries and from its citizens on how to address the problem.  It focused improving infrastructure so that it could absorb the growing volume of traffic.  Qatar focused on human development because of its keen desire to achieve the Millennium Goals.

Mr. SMITH said that following the adoption of Millennium Goals, his Government had reorganized its departments around those objectives.  But that was not enough, as there was a growing need to pay attention to conflict, economic growth, gender and accountability.

Mr. ALOTAIBI said that the post-2015 development agenda should complement the Millennium Goals, with sustainable development at the heart of the new framework.  The blueprint should also focus on poverty reduction and global partnerships.

Mr. SHANK, wrapping up the dialogue, said the Global Peace Index looked at eight factors with a strong correlation to more peaceful societies:  a well-functioning Government; a sound business environment; equitable distribution of resources; free flow of information; acceptance of the rights of others; relationships with neighbours; high education; and low level of corruption.  Countries that did well in those factors tended to be more peaceful, he added.

National Voluntary Presentation III

Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), moderated the presentations of Bolivia, Gambia, Sudan, and the State of Palestine.

Bolivia

ELBA VIVIANA CARO HINOJOSA, Minister for Development Planning of Bolivia, presenting her country’s national report (document E/2014/56), pointed to consistent increases in average economic growth in Bolivia in the past 15 years.  Reserves had grown hugely and per capita income had doubled since 1998.  In the same time period, economic growth had pushed unemployment down, and the national minimum wage had increased substantially, from $50 to $120 per month, approaching the level of other countries in the region.  The gains had been driven by public and private investment, she said, highlighting the role of the State, which had increased its investments seven-fold.

She said that Bolivia had developed an intense social policy.  The percentage of Bolivian homes with access to cash transfers, bonds and social programmes had increased from 16.5 per cent in 2005 to 60.4 per cent in 2012, with the transfer policy targeting the most vulnerable, aiming to keep children in schools, providing health care and giving income to people older than 65 years.  The policy had helped reduce indicators of extreme and moderate poverty and 2 million people had emerged from poverty since 2006.  However, despite reductions, inequality remained high on regional and international levels.  The Government sought to tackle undernutrition and access to health care and nutritious food.  Noting gender equality’s centrality to the Bolivian Constitution, she pointed to increased female participation in Government.  Violence against women remained an issue, however, and she hoped to develop standards and policies to deal with it.

Turning to the environment, she described how Bolivia aimed for growth in harmony with the environment.  Although she sought to consolidate growth, it had to be in harmony with Bolivia’s environmental assets.  She expected an increase in the participation of civil society and of the private sector, though the State would continue to promote growth.

In the ensuing review, the representative of Cuba made a note of Bolivia’s comprehensive model, “Living Well”, which had promoted equitable redistribution.  He praised Bolivia’s commitment to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.  Progress was apparent in several areas, including eradicating poverty and hunger and improving literacy levels, and those successes stemmed from Government policy.  He asked how the pillars of Bolivia’s 2025 Programme related to the “Living Well” framework and sought information on the expected effect of civil society participation.  He also asked about what the remaining challenges were and for a vision on development principles other countries should follow.

The representative of India suggested that Bolivia’s unique vision for “Living Well” had seen the country make significant strides in reducing poverty and unemployment and sustaining inclusive economic growth.  Nutrition and literacy had improved, while the gender gap in education had shrunk.  The Government would need to pay attention to geographical disparities that persisted in relation to several targets.  Turning to the 2025 Patriotic Vision, he noted that it had been elaborated prior to the global post-2015 development agenda.  He underlined technology’s potential impact on growth, and encouraged Bolivia to seek to systematically harness it to empower women and promote comprehensive development.

South Africa’s representative appreciated the complementarities between ecological justice and justice for people.  He hoped for extensive discussion and debate of the vision.  He saw similarities with South Africa’s own development initiatives and stressed his belief in a departure from extractive economies that benefited only a few international companies.  He supported the redistributive model to ensure public access to cash transfers and was impressed with the idea of a pluralistic economy and Bolivia’s radical economic strategies.  Welcoming Ms. Hinojosa’s “frank portrayal of events”, he asked for the Minister to share how Bolivia intended to confront persistent problems.

Gambia

KEBBA TOURAY, Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs of Gambia, presenting his country’s national report (document E/2014/82), said that the Government has elevated the Millennium Development Goals as core to its national development, incorporating them into its national frameworks.  Before focusing on two of the Goals, education and poverty, he noted the progress made on the Millennium Development Goals of education, gender equality and employment, child mortality, the environment and global partnerships.  More work needed to be done with poverty reduction and maternal health.  In the area of child mortality, in 2000 Gambia had 141 deaths out of 1,000 children, which then decreased to 54 deaths in 2013.  Likewise, infant mortality in 2000, which had been at 98 out of 1,000, had reduced to 34 in 2013.  In terms of gender equality and parity, there were mixed results, with women advancing in the National Assembly slowly.  There had been significant gains in senior positions, including a woman Vice-President who had held that position the longest in the world.

Focusing on education, he pointed out that the Millennium Goal of universal primary education had been achieved, despite a slight reduction from 97 per cent starting grade 1 and reaching grade 5 to 95.3 per cent.  Literacy rates for women and men aged 15-49 stood at 45 per cent and 58.3 per cent respectively, reflecting slight declines.  Key challenges included non-fee costs such as uniforms, transportation fares and school materials.  Teenage marriage by girls also was impeding progress.  The Government had focused policies, including that no child anywhere had to walk more than two kilometres to get to school.  It was also subsidizing the cost of education for girls.  On poverty eradication, he said that the issue was primarily a rural phenomenon.  Assessments had shown that poverty had decreased from 58 per cent in 2003 to 55.5 per cent in 2008.  In 2010, that decreased to 48.4 per cent.  Employment increased from 33 per cent in 1993 to 46 per cent in 2010.  The World Food Programme (WFP) had estimated that in 2013, 19.5 per cent of the country’s population were vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance due to recurring natural hazards, among other elements.  Food insecurity as well had increased to 18 per cent.  In 2000, the Government announced a nutrition policy, enacted the Food Act and established the National Nutrition Agency.

The representative of Turkey, a reviewer, said he was pleased at Gambia’s graduation from the least developed countries category.  However, the main problem was its debt and weak infrastructure.  Offering an overview of efforts made, he said that the 11.5 per cent growth target was ambitious and had not been reached in 2011.  It was also still facing food insecurity.  Maternal health targets needed to be reached and access to essential drugs had not been achieved due to a lack of financing.  Global partnerships were critical to that progress.  Impacting malaria, which was preventable and the leading cause of children under 5 years of age, had to become a priority.  Further, the Government had a big challenge as 22.5 per cent of its revenues were being used for debt services.  He asked about what strategies were being engaged for overcoming the debt issue.

The representative of Nigeria, a reviewer, commended the Government of Gambia for achievements in the Millennium Development Goals.  He noted the overall decreasing poverty rates, which remained a cornerstone of the Government’s efforts.  As well, progress on gender equality, another issue to be improved, was being demonstrated in their governmental bodies, including the position of Vice-President.  In terms of education, he stated appreciation for the progress made so far.  Policies adopted were worthy of note and their success could be emulated by other countries.  However, he expressed concern regarding the death rates from malaria and the cases of tuberculosis.  Lastly, as drought and climate change became a reality in the life of the people, access to water had risen from 69 per cent to 91 per cent, thus exceeding those Millennium Development Goals.  Financing strategies were needed as there was an over-reliance on foreign aid which could have a negative impact.  He urged that Nigeria’s case could be a good example, with its debt relief establishing several interventions.

Sudan

MASHEIR ABDALLAH, Minister for Welfare and Social Security of Sudan, presenting her country’s national report (document E/2014/58), described its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Regarding Goal 1, it was difficult to compare poverty trends because of a lack of statistics prior to the baseline survey of 2009, which indicated 46.5 per cent poverty and regional disparities.  Regional disparities were also apparent regarding education and Goal 2.  On the whole, enrolment had increased, standing at 82.5 per cent in 2011.  In connection with Goal 6, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was decreasing and awareness was increasing.  Meanwhile, malaria remained the main cause of death in Sudan, despite a reduction of prevalence from 2.2 per cent to 0.6 per cent.

The weak links were resultant primarily from a need for ODA, she said.  Assistance that was granted came with political and economic preconditions and 75 per cent of all assistance was funnelled through the United Nations and international cooperation agencies.  The lack of ownership that implied increased the risk of unsustainability.  Domestic conflict, the separation of South Sudan and the extension of unilateral sanctions also hampered efforts to attain the Goals.  The loss of South Sudan had led to a loss of natural and human resources, including oil, while the Government also had to deal with the impact of economic sanctions.  She urged the international community to support easing of sanctions and for the extension of debt relief.

During the review, India’s representative said persistent challenges continued to hamper achievement of the Millennium Goals.  External debt and the fight against armed groups had hampered initiatives to eradicate poverty and seek achievements elsewhere.  There needed to be appropriate and creative solutions.  The national dialogue process had helped to calm tensions and the international community should not interfere or impose sanctions.  He hoped for constructive solutions to Sudan’s external debt problems and noted that country’s limited human resources, infrastructure and industrial capacities.  A plan was needed to improve them.  India could help with capacity-building, lines of credit, best practices and the sharing of technical and human resources.

The representative of Brazil pointed to efforts to overcome conflict and the loss of important sources of revenue.  Sudan deserved recognition for the progress it had achieved and he commended the initiative to promoted broad political dialogue to form a unified national vision for confronting challenges.  The three-year sustainability programme was also praiseworthy.  He was encouraged by Sudan’s efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  He hoped to see modernization of agriculture, as it could provide vital export revenue and reduce the demographic pressure on cities.  Better integration with the world economy was needed and Sudan needed accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) without political conditionalities.  With the right support from the international community, Sudan could become a “regional bread basket”.

The representative of Indonesia said he admired Sudan’s “relentless will” to improve its people’s lives despite facing enormous challenges.  Most impressive was its commitment to reducing poverty in the face of a difficult political transition.  Sudan was “on the right path”, he said, stressing the need to sustain peace to sustain development gains.  International support to resolve and prevent conflict was very important to support that and durable solutions to reduce debt should form part of those efforts.  She wondered if Sudan could share its hopes for the post-2015 development agenda’s approach to international partnerships.

State of Palestine

JAWAD AWWAD, Minister of Health, State of Palestine said that his was the only State to face the occupation of Israel, noting the attacks in Gaza yesterday.  Those attacks had injured many people including children and the elderly, and had resulted in 68 fatalities.  The occupation impeded the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.

DANA EREKAT, Special Adviser to the Minister, Head of Aid Management and Coordination, Ministry of Planning and Administration Development, State of Palestine, presenting the report (document E/2014/60), said that although its achievement and development had been described as “miraculous”, such analysis was misleading.  That was due to superficial evaluations that had only addressed certain basic indicators.  Due to the occupation, it was not possible to assess development in Palestine in the same way as other countries.  Offering an overview of the Millennium Development Goals, she said that poverty rates had declined from 1997 to 1999 when the Israeli occupation eased restrictions on Palestinian economic activity and other international financial commitments.  However, in 2011, the poverty rate was 25.8 per cent.  Unemployment was at 23 per cent on a national average, with 43 per cent in Gaza.  Fifty per cent of youth were unemployed.  In regard to water resources, Palestine had water resources but lacked access to them, as Israel controlled that access.  She noted that today, Israel had bombed the sewage and drinking waterlines west of Gaza.

Turning to achieving universal primary education, she noted that enrolment stood at a 94.4 per cent and a retention rate of 88.5 per cent of pupils aged 6 to 10.  The first year of primary school stood at 99.7 per cent (99.3 per cent for boys and 100.1 per cent for girls).  Reducing child mortality rates were improving but they still remained high.  Between 1990 and 1994, child mortality stood at 33.2 deaths per 1,000 births.  That declined by 30 per cent to 23.4 between 2005 and 2009, but was still below the target of a 66 per cent reduction.  Infant mortality had fallen by 31 per cent during 1990 and 1994, from 27.3 deaths per 1,000 to 18.9 deaths per 1,000 during 2005 and 2009.  For vaccination, Palestine was close to meeting its target, with the measles vaccine being given to children under the age of 1, increasing from 49 per cent in 1996 to 96.8 in 2006, but declining in 2010 to 93.2 per cent.

Nonetheless, she stressed, there could be no sustainable development as long as Palestine remained under Israeli occupation.  The water extracted from Palestinian land by Israel was being sold back to Palestine.  Taxes on imports were collected by Israel and returned minus a 3 per cent fee.  She called on the international community to shoulder its direct and practical responsibility to ensure Israel respect international law and resolutions.  Meanwhile, the Government was doing its utmost to promote development.  The country was highly dependent on international assistance which constituted 31 per cent of its GDP in 2010.  Of the $2.5 billion provided as financial assistance, $1.5 billion was used to support the current budget.

The representative of Indonesia, a reviewer, commended the achievements in light of the very challenging environment.  The Millennium Goals on poverty eradication, child mortality, environmental issues, and development of a global partnership needed work.  Relief from the occupation was needed to ensure those Goals were reached.  However, control of the West Bank and Gaza by the Israeli Government was curtailing efforts.  Palestine needed to focus on development assistance rather than humanitarian aid.  He expressed support for strengthening Palestinian institutions especially towards national reconciliation.  The facts on the ground over the past few weeks demonstrated the need to move the Millennium Development Goals forward, while highlighting the challenges of implementing sustainable development.  In that regard, he asked about strategies when dealing with areas that had restricted access such as “Area C”.

Interactive Dialogue

In an ensuing interactive dialogue, the representative of Mexico asked what elements the representative of the State of Palestine believed were relevant in the context of ownership when formulating the post-2015 development agenda.

The representative of the Russian Federation praised Bolivia’s approach to development that had yielded positive results.  Turning to Sudan’s presentation, he backed the African Union’s proposal in providing financial assistance to that country and writing off its excessive foreign debt.  It was time to lift sanctions imposed in the 1990s, particularly since Sudan was cooperating in countering international terrorism and in allowing the secession of South Sudan.  The original reasons for the counterproductive sanctions no longer existed.

South Africa’s representative agreed with the need to look at Palestine on the macro level.  Its difficulties meant it was not the same as other countries.  He asked how the Government of the State of Palestine was still providing services to marginalized communities and those to whom it did not have access.

The representative of Israel said his country had suffered 300 rocket attacks but had recently offered a ceasefire.  He stressed his belief that the State of Palestine did not satisfy the criteria for Statehood and lacked the necessary capacity for participation in the National Voluntary Presentations.  He said the presentation itself was distorted, inaccurate and filled with glaring omissions.  It contained no mention of positive cooperation and he outlined areas in which cooperation existed.  He queried also why there was no mention of Hamas banning school textbooks provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) or of the fact that gender inequality stemmed from local laws rather than Israel’s efforts.

The representative of Cuba asked Sudan’s representative about unilateral economic sanctions and their impact on efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals 1, 4, 5 and 6.

The representative of Turkey underlined the importance of sustaining education services in the State of Palestine and asked for further elaboration on the challenges faced in building education there.

Ms. HINOJOSA said Bolivia’s approach had a rights-based focus.  The State played a role in eliminating regional inequality, while looking at the skills and trades of each region.  The long-term agenda was to move from a consumer society to one accustomed to producing.  The “productive community” model also hinged on generating knowledge-based structures.  In that regard, State institutions, Government, and administrative reforms were essential to moving forward.

Mr. TOURAY said the observations on her country’s debt service were true.  Some major reforms were being instituted.  A National Debt Management committee had been established to ensure sustainable debt management along with monetary reforms.  As well, major tax reforms were being introduced.  It was also working with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) towards financial targets.

Ms. ABDALLAH called for the lifting of sanctions on Sudan as the country had met its commitments.  It was wedded to sustainability but international aid and support were critical to its success.  The significance of capacity-building was highlighted, and there was now an emergency plan of rapid reforms.  As well, investment in agricultural production played a role in food security.

Ms. EREKAT said that Palestine was committed to working beyond the 2015 deadline.  Its development plan was a national one intersecting with civil society, Government and other stakeholders.  The National Development Plan addressed the sustainable development goals with a variety of scenarios.  In regard to areas where there was limited access, such as “Area C” and Gaza, the Government worked with civil society and international agencies, as well as UNDP.  Although schools were not allowed to be built in “Area C”, transportation had been set up to bring children to other schools, although she pointed out that recently the Israeli Government had confiscated a UNICEF bus.  Despite that, enrolments were high.  She also noted that the Palestine and Israeli ministries of finance had collaborated on a database that would track revenues, but the Israeli Government was still taking a 3 per cent handling fee on Palestinian goods.  That was not sustainable development.

Keynote Address

LI PENGDE, Deputy Administrator for the National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation of China, said that the effects of globalization had brought an increase of labour, goods, services and technology.  However, it also caused a worsening environment and resource-related conflicts.  With Rio+20, there had been a renewed focus.  Those goals required the input of scientific developments that created a road map providing structure, a timetable, and data collection.  The status of world mapping was uneven with developing countries’ data lagging behind.  In China, the Government recognized that sustainable development was the only way for the country to prosper and had established the Essential National Policy, which included returning farmland to forest and dealing with heavy pollution in soil and water.  Political reforms on all platforms, including industry, urbanization, agricultural modernization and information, were being engaged to create “a beautiful China”.

He said that geospatial planning for sustainable development also would address functional zone planning, among them ecological redline planning, land use, urban, new village, and industry, with each region mapped to optimize its development.  The Government was conducting the first geographic census and monitoring that would result in a physical and geographic map of the country.  “Globalland 30” would also focus on water conservation, wetlands, artificial surfaces, and forests, to name a few and that data would be the foundation for creating a post-2015 agenda.  Among several recommendations, he called for a “Geo Information Management Authority” that would produce a new map of the world.  A “Global Geographic Census” would also allow for a comprehensive understanding of real data of the planet.   The “digital Earth” would then translate into a smarter world with such geographical data which in turn would support social economic data and thus establish a better world.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presenting the Prototype Global Sustainable Development report, said that document focused on scientific–policy interface, based on input from scientific communities around the world and the United Nations system.  In particular, the report’s Chapter Four looked at visions, scenarios, future pathways to sustainable development and provided answers to discussions in the current session.  Although no one could be certain what direction the world would take in the next two generations, there was a scientific basis for what the consequences would be if things continued as they had in the past.  In 2050 the world would be more crowded, and, while reduced over current levels, widespread poverty and hunger would persist.  Further, the world would be “energy-hungry”, have greater pollution, fewer forests and a collapse of fisheries, among others.

He said that the challenge would be, by 2050, to eliminated poverty and hunger, while feeding, housing and educating 9 billion people and preserving the Earth’s resources and systems.  There could also be a world where universal access to water sources and basic sanitation with modern fuels were ensured, along with primary and secondary education.  Biodiversity could be stabilized at 2020 levels and the adoption of high-performing energy sources would greatly reduce pollution.  The world in 2050 would still have its share of problems, with human interference with global phosphorous and nitrates cycles continuing to rise and water stress still existing, among others.

Technology and financing, he noted, were critical to implementing global sustainable development.  It was possible to improve technology with eco-efficient goals, but global cooperation was needed to direct wisely $1 trillion spent every year on research and innovation.  Technical cooperation needed to be enhanced and accelerated, as the transfer of technology was happening too slowly to tackle the challenges.  The capacity of developing countries needed to be strengthened if they were to engage with technical advancements.  Among several figures, he said that up to $200 billion was needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals; $80 billion was needed to increase agricultural needs; and $49 billion would be required up to 2030 for universal access to modern energy services.  There was overall agreement on needed scenarios, but little agreement on policy specifics.  There was no “must-have” list of policies.  Making progress in one dimension could lead to synergy and trade-offs.  National planning followed sectoral lines, which could then ignore linkages in sectors and transborders, thus enabling success to come at the expense of problems elsewhere.  There were thousands of scientific assessments, but what was lacking was an assessment of those assessments.  He voiced hope that all stakeholders would mobilize and participate in creating a global sustainable development report.

Ministerial Dialogue

Martin Sajdik ( Austria), President of the Economic and Social Council, introduced the ministerial dialogue, “Charting pathways to the future we want”.

Moderating the dialogue was Romain Murenzi, Executive Director of the World Academy of Sciences.  Panellists were Elba Viviana Caro Hinojosa, Minister of Development Planning, Bolivia; Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, and Member of the German Bundestag; and Vesna Kos, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Croatia.

Lead discussants were Irina Bokova, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Irene Khan, Director-General, International Development Law Organization; and Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Professor and Director-General, European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Mr. MURENZI said all sustainable development goals would have a science and technology component, which was understandable given the nature of the global challenges at hand.  He outlined some of those challenges, with humans responsible for the planet’s warming at the same time as the global population continued to grow and put pressure on the planet.

Ms. HINOJOSA proposed a change in the style of development, stressing that inaction would mean deepening economic, social, political and environmental crises.  She was pleased that many countries had adopted Bolivia’s proposal that nature be seen as a principle actor in the development equation and underscored the need for harmony between nature and development.  Science could identify alternative technologies, initiatives and proposals to help achieve sustainable growth.  Her country was working on the methodologies of the proposal.

Ms. SCHWARZELÜHR-SUTTER said the “true cost of inaction is the future of our children and our children’s children”.  The planet could become more and more uninhabitable and inequalities between people and countries could widen.  There were also economic reasons for a transition to more sustainable development, for example, the fact that the planet’s resources were not limited.  Several planetary boundaries had been crossed and more would be soon.  Land degradation was a reality, as were regional conflicts over access to water and the strain on health-care systems caused by the effects of air pollution.  “The writing is on the wall and is amounting to a bill that neither we nor our children will be able to shoulder,” she said, calling on Governments to turn to science to help make their future policy choices.

Ms.  KOS said the cost of inaction should be viewed from a human development standpoint, with sustainable development taking place in a people-centred paradigm.  Costs were apparent in terms of natural disasters, which were vastly more expensive to respond to than to prepare for and to mitigate; in terms of women’s empowerment, which had clear political and economic consequences; and in terms of conflict, which could force development benchmarks downwards.  Science could help Governments find the best policy choices and help produce a better world by 2030.  The alternative could be catastrophe.

Ms. BOKOVA noted that sustainable development policy depended upon up-to-date knowledge.  She welcomed the fact that the Secretary-General had established a Scientific Advisory Board within UNESCO.  Among the findings of the Board’s first report, it had stressed the importance of science to sustainable development, noting the complementary relationship between basic and applied sciences.  It had also underlined the effect science could have in poverty eradication efforts and in furthering democratic practices.  She called for increased investment in science education to reduce inequalities and encouraged the participation of women scientists and those from least developed countries.

Ms. KHAN approached the questions from a social scientific angle, noting that at the core of sustainable development was the effort to eliminate economic, social and environmental injustices.  Inclusive and environmentally sustainable development was needed.  She emphasized the importance of the rule of law, providing certainty, predictability, accountability and equality.  She noted the link between justice and property rights and literacy improvements and expanded women’s rights.  Policy choices needed to aim at creating a level playing field and broadening international participation in the decision-making processes.

Mr. HEUER warned that the sustainable development goals would be useless unless they were underpinned explicitly by science and people.  The 32 possible goals and targets that he had seen were “all fine” but not one was dedicated to explicitly supporting science and education.  Science was referred to within other goals but a specific goal was needed.  Countries investing more in science and education were more innovative and better at coping with societal difficulties.  Science could provide the basis of an international response to sustainable development if education was central to that.  He called for measureable investment in education, and in “basic science”, suggesting that a percentage of GDP could be a good basis for measurement.  He also called for strong implementation and monitoring.

Mr. MURENZ, opening the floor for discussion, noted that more people would be moving to the middle-class, purchasing commodities, buying cars, and heating homes which then would have huge implications for sustainable development.

The representative of Zambia said that sustainable development was the only way to secure “the future of Mother Earth” and without it all life was going to be threatened with extinction.

The representative for the Workers and Trade Unions Major Group stressed that the working force wanted to commit to an agenda that was socially and environmental sustainable.  Deep seated changes were required to establish new indictors measuring people’s well-being, human development and environment preservation.

Ms. HINOJOSA agreed that without solid data there would be no improvement, not just for developing countries but for the entire international community.  Further, labour rights would play an important role in sustainable development.

Ms. SCHWARZELÜHR-SUTTER noted that many people had the same goals but what was needed was a common agreement.  An ambitious post-2015 agenda based on scientific data would be needed, and measuring and monitoring were crucial in order to see the results of implementation.

Ms.  KOS said that, in a “rights-based” approach, the lack of access was an impediment to sustainable development.  Further, the link between women and science was also connected to content.  An integrated approach was necessary in the post-2015 agenda.

Ms. BOKOVA said that science and development were drivers to sustainable development and should be anchored in future debates.

Ms. KHAN said that access to science should be equitable and fair to everyone.  The rule of law was important to that access.  Although there had been messages of “gloom and doom”, as well as hope, she stressed that the arc of the moral universal “bends to justice”.

Mr. HEUER emphasized that education and science needed to be implemented into developing and developed countries’ goals.  “You can entice 7-to-10-year-olds and if you trigger their fascination you get something out,” he stated, emphasizing that all stakeholders had to join together to support this.

Mr. MURENZ, closing the discussion, urged that children have the right to access science as that led to critical thinking, and that science be considered a human right.

* *** *

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