Resolute Action Key to Retaining Development Gains, Meeting 2030 Agenda by Target Date, Speakers Say as Economic and Social Council Concludes High-Level Segment

ECOSOC/6865
20 July 2017
2017 Session, 47th & 48th Meetings (AM & PM)

Resolute Action Key to Retaining Development Gains, Meeting 2030 Agenda by Target Date, Speakers Say as Economic and Social Council Concludes High-Level Segment

Turning promises into progress in achieving a sustainable future depended on harnessing a collective will and taking resolute action to meet the deadline set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers said today as the High-level Political Forum concluded its general debate.

With more than 100 ministers, high-level officials and representatives sharing experiences and suggestions over the course of the 2017 session, many speakers had stressed the importance of working together to foster balanced progress in achieving the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Today, they also called for more targeted efforts to prevent the reversal of hard-won gains and to promote long-term sustainable development.

Sharing lessons learned in aligning the Goals with national plans, several speakers recommended new ways to do so, while others highlighted concerns about uneven progress.  Hugo Martinez, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, spoke on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasizing a need to recognize that each country — including the least developed countries, landlocked countries, small island developing States, countries in conflict and post-conflict countries, as well as various middle-income countries — faced specific challenges in seeking sustainable development.

Echoing that notion, representatives of developed and developing countries in special situations underlined a need to shift strategies.  In the face of persistent climate change risks, Vanuatu’s representative said a business-as-usual approach no longer worked, demonstrating a clear need to shift the Millennium Development Goals mindset into a Sustainable Development Goals approach.  In that vein, Namibia’s representative cautioned about the challenges posed by climate change, calling for international support by way of transferring technology related to climate action and access to climate financing.

Some delegates elaborated on how Goals-based aid targeting was helping developing States achieve results.  Hamish Cooper, Principal Adviser of Multilateral and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, said his Government had focused attention particularly on Pacific small island developing States, which faced economic and environmental vulnerabilities.  In recognition of the risk posed by natural disasters, New Zealand was pursuing development cooperation by investing in the design and construction of climate- and disaster-resilient infrastructure.

But, some speakers said, resilience must straddle other sectors.  Indeed, social gains must also be accompanied by economic achievements, said the representative of Bhutan.  Given the similarities between Bhutan’s development philosophy of the Gross National Happiness concept and the Sustainable Development Goals, integrating those Goals into national plans had been easy.  Having made progress in social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, Bhutan now needed economic transformation, which would be a game changer to bolster economies and develop resilient and sustainable infrastructure. 

After the general debate, the Economic and Social Council adopted a Ministerial Declaration aimed at accelerating the pace of implementing the 2030 Agenda and recognizing that fulfilling the Goals required bolstered partnerships and urgent action. 

Prior to the text’s adoption, the Council decided, by separate recorded vote, to retain two paragraphs.  Operative paragraph 4 — retained by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to two against (Australia, United States), with 18 abstentions — called for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to the full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continued to adversely affect their economic and social development and their environment.

Operative paragraph 21 — retained by a recorded vote of 32 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 16 abstentions — stated that efforts would continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

At the end of the meeting, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General of Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of Economic and Social Council, made closing remarks.

Also delivering statements today were ministers and high-level representatives of Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Oman, Australia, Andorra, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jamaica, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Albania, Armenia, Cabo Verde, United Republic of Tanzania, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Timor-Leste, Côte d’Ivoire, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Chad, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Tunisia, Ukraine, Myanmar, Israel, Greece, Azerbaijan, Syria, Malta, Russian Federation, Turkey, United States, Venezuela, Nigeria, Japan, Ecuador (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Mexico, Viet Nam and Iran, as well as the State of Palestine and the Holy See.

Also participating were representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Tourism Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The following organizations also made statements:  Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, OGT International, IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association, International Committee for Peace and Reconciliation Inc., International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, Le manif pour tous, Legiao da Boa Vontade, Financing for Development CSO Group and Together 2030.  

Speakers from the major groups for women, indigenous peoples, children and youth, non-governmental organizations, workers and trade unions, business and industry, as well as from the education and academic entities stakeholder group and the volunteer stakeholder group.

General Debate

HUGO MARTINEZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, spoke on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted that 11 members of the Community had presented their reviews, which reflected the region’s commitment and leadership in the first stages of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  There must be recognition that each country — including the least developed countries, landlocked countries, small island developing States, countries in conflict and post-conflict countries, as well as various middle-income countries — faced specific challenges in seeking sustainable development.  Despite the efforts of CELAC, many of its member States, many of them middle-income countries, still needed official development assistance (ODA).

He went on to reiterate calls for the developed countries to fulfil their ODA commitments.  CELAC also requested that the United Nations system, international financial institutions, regional organizations and others strive to ensure that specific assistance was provided to countries in need.  It was also important to develop multidimensional methods by which to measure development in various countries, with a view to defining the proper criteria for providing ODA.  That methodology should go beyond measuring per capita income, he emphasized, adding that it must also be balanced and integrated, while recognizing the different needs and challenges of each country in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

ERIC TEVI (Burkina Faso), associating himself with the “Group of 77” and China, and the Group of Least Developed Countries, highlighted his country’s national economic and social development plan, saying it had integrated 83 of the targets contained within the Goals.  The plan was designed to reduce inequalities and promote economic growth, while also protecting the environment, he said, adding that it should lead to the creation of about 50,000 jobs annually and a significant decrease in the poverty rate.  To better improve the national jobs situation, the plan would train young people for future employment, he said, adding that Burkina Faso had also undertaken significant reforms to improve internal resources for development.

MARIA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and CELAC, expressed concern that a serious need for adequate means for implementation persisted two years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.  Developed countries must be encouraged to follow through on what had been agreed.  Eradicating poverty was the most serious challenge facing the international community, particularly since most of the wealth was held by a minority, she said.  Concerned about the lack of ambition and political will in terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda, Nicaragua called upon all States to shoulder the burden for the sake of future generations, she reiterated, adding that her country had transformed itself into a successful model of unity, dialogue and consensus between the private sector and the Government, which would create more jobs and reduce poverty.

ODO TEVI (Vanuatu) said that his country’s national plans were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, but the Government could not attain them alone.  Confronted with the consequences of climate change, Vanuatu faced unique challenges, exacerbated by fragile economic realities.  However, the Government recognized the existence of international instruments and mechanisms with which to address them, he said.  A business-as-usual approach no longer worked, he said, adding that the Millennium Development Goals mindset must shift to a Sustainable Development Goals approach.  Fostering relationships with development partners were crucial in that regard.

KHALIFA BIN ALI BIN ISSA AL-HARTHY (Oman) said his country’s Government supported free education, medical services, social security and food security.  Women’s contributions to national development initiatives were made on a playing field equal with that of men, he said.  Oman had invested in infrastructure and was planning development initiatives in the fishing sector.

HAMISH COOPER, Principal Adviser, Multilateral and Legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, said his Government had focused attention particularly on Pacific small island developing States, which faced economic and environmental vulnerabilities.  On Goal 3, the Government had updated its health strategy to ensure that all New Zealanders stayed healthy, including through increased immunization coverage for babies.  Due to the growing burden of non-communicable diseases in the Pacific, including diabetes and heart disease, New Zealand was working with other nations on primary health initiatives that screened and treated those diseases.  In recognition of the risk posed by natural disasters, New Zealand was pursuing development cooperation by investing in the design and construction of climate- and disaster-resilient infrastructure.  The country was also determined to protect marine resources from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said that her country’s Voluntary National Review, to be presented in 2018, would outline a range of initiatives, including the Smart Cities Plan intended to support productive, accessible, liveable cities.  The Women’s Safety Package was a series of measures to provide a safety net for women and children at high risk of experiencing violence.  Australia was also pursuing the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which would provide support for Australians with disabilities, she said, going on to highlight her country’s domestic, as well as international, leadership on oceans issues.  Australia was looking for opportunities to build stronger partnerships with civil society, the private sector and government that could deliver on shared goals, in accordance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, she said.

ELISENDA VIVES BALMANA (Andorra) said that, given its diversity, her country had initiated a participatory process to elaborate a white paper on equality, entailing participation across all sectors.  Andorra had also undertaken a systematic review of its public policies through a gender perspective, and was preparing a social programme for newly arrived persons.  Andorra’s Constitution defined the country as a democratic and social State in which access to work was a priority, including for those with disabilities, she said.  Describing environmental protection and the Paris Agreement on climate change as “a global point of no return”, she said Andorra supported the idea of education as an indispensable requirement for ensuring peaceful and inclusive societies based on good governance, respect for human rights and tolerance.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said his country had aligned its national goals with the 2030 Agenda, and was undertaking innovative approaches, including a five-year plan for industrial development.  The economic revival of the Silk Road connecting Asia with Europe was providing an impetus, with infrastructure development ranging from roads to rail projects.  Other areas of progress included broadening access to energy, he said, adding that a green economy plan was operational and related regional efforts under way.  Having graduated from a recipient to a donor country, Kazakhstan was committed to building a sustainable future for all.

MILOS VUKASINOVIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that while extraordinary progress had been made towards reducing poverty around the world, the number of people still living in extreme poverty remained unacceptable.  The fact that children were more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty was even more alarming.  Per capita income was not an adequate measure of poverty, he said, adding that building a world free of poverty required better understanding of its complex causes.  Emphasizing the need to invest in new technologies and modern infrastructure, he said the participation of young people, women and other vulnerable populations was essential to the rapid and sustained reduction of poverty.  The United Nations development system must continue to support developing countries, especially least developed ones, so as to improve the lives of their poorest citizens.  That meant delivering on ODA commitments, he said, adding that most middle-income countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, still faced significant challenges in their efforts to reduce poverty rates.  The risk of falling back into poverty remained present, he warned.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and with the African Group, outlined various national challenges confronting his country, including its vast geography, extreme economic inequality and regular droughts and floods.  Despite those problems, however, Namibia had been able to reduce poverty by 18 per cent since gaining independence in 1990, he said.  The Fifth National Development Plan, launched in May, incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals and was inspired largely by the African Union’s Agenda 2063.  It set out to modernize the production sector, increase investment in young people, women and girls, and to integrate disadvantaged people into the economy.  The Government’s results-based monitoring and evaluation system focused on transparency and accountability.  Namibia’s social protection systems also included access to regional food banks and basic health services.  Underscoring the challenges posed by climate change, he called for international support by way of transferring technology related to climate action and access to climate financing.

COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) shared national experiences, emphasizing that localizing the Sustainable Development Goals was among the Government’s priorities.  Vision 2030 Jamaica had produced an outcome document outlining targets, as well as monitoring and evaluation processes.  The Government had established an inter-agency core group to enhance progress and had approved the creation of a multi-stakeholder oversight committee, he said.  At the regional level, there was an effort to help countries mainstream the Goals into national planning processes and to identify targets for the region.  New initiatives in Jamaica included the formulation of a national poverty-reduction programme reflecting the interlinked nature of the Sustainable Development Goals.

MAHE ‘U.S. TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), associating himself with Group of 77 and China, and with the Alliance of Small Island States, said that his Government had been working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish a road map to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals into Tonga’s national plan.  Although Tonga was pleased that for the first time, planning, monitoring and review of development progress were being done in one system, there remained large gaps in the quality and availability of data.  Therefore, it was critical to strengthen statistical capacity, especially through national statistical systems in developing countries.  He reiterated the importance of recognizing the indivisible nature of the Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted the need to strengthen efforts to address non-communicable disease management and the impact of climate change on oceans.

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said her country’s Government had held a collaborative process to develop a national strategy for setting targets aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.  Emphasizing that people were central to national development objectives, she said that her country’s Vision 2030 national plan focused on eradicating poverty and improving conditions in education, health and environmental protection.  A draft report on strategies and implementation was currently under discussion, she said.

BESIANA KADARE (Albania) said economic growth had brought positive results in raising the employment rate from 50 to 56 per cent in just the last three years.  The Government’s main challenge was fighting poverty and social exclusion in order to minimize economic and social gaps between urban and rural areas.  Emphasizing the need for gender equality, she noted the encouraging results of Albania’s recent parliamentary elections, pointing out that women would comprise more than a quarter of the next legislature’s membership.  Albanian women were constantly investing in their own economic independence, she said, adding that statistics showed that women owned 26.8 per cent of private enterprises.  The participation of women and girls in all spheres of life was crucial not only to sustainable socioeconomic development, but also to ensuring peace in the world, she emphasized.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said his country’s Government had established a multi-stakeholder task force on the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the public-private Centre for Strategic Initiatives.  While public finance still represented a major source of development funding, its role seemed to be evolving and there was need for careful exploration of new forms of blended financing.  Underlining the importance of leveraging new and existing partnerships so as to impact investments, he said the latter had been the focus of a recent conference in Yerevan that had brought social entrepreneurs and investors together with members of Government and academia to explore the potential of leveraging social enterprises and impacting business in order to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.

JOSÉ LUIS FIALHO ROCHA (Cabo Verde) said his country’s Government plan was centred on strengthening democracy, ensuring economic growth as well as cross-cutting policies.  Yet it faced challenges, including limited access to funding, which had a negative impact on further progress towards realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.  The Addis Ababa Action Agenda must draw on different areas to fit individual cases, he said, adding that mechanisms and instruments, including those intended to bolster investment in small islands, were essential.  The United Nations could play a role in determining how the international community addressed the special needs of States like Cabo Verde, which had graduated least-developed-country status, he said.

MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his country had made significant progress in translating the Sustainable Development Goals into national time-bound targets implemented through key national policy frameworks, including the National Five Year Development Plan.  The Ministry of Finance and Planning would undertake follow-up and review of the Goals, while all local Government authorities would carry out their localization as well as awareness-raising activities.  Although the United Republic of Tanzania had enjoyed a 7 per cent average annual rate of growth in gross domestic product (GDP) over the past decade, that figure fell short of the projected annual average of 8 to 10 per cent, he noted.  The country sought to increase domestic resources by fighting corruption and reducing unnecessary Government expenditures, among other efforts.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the 2030 Agenda was in line with his country’s national development plan.  Highlighting Kuwait’s commitment to sustainable development, he said the Government had adopted policies to support other countries, particularly in terms of humanitarian needs.  Kuwait had spared no effort to provide sustainable development assistance, including through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Sustainable Development.  The Government had also launched New Kuwait, a national development plan that sought to build a prosperous and sustainable future, he said, adding that it was also mobilizing all efforts to implement the national development plan, based on seven pillars, for transforming Kuwait into a regional hub.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said that his country’s national development plan, Vision 2030, was built around a number of essential strategic goals that, among other objectives, would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of social services, increase the participation of women in the labour market, improve health-care services, ensure protection against health hazards and risk, ensure development and food security, improve local, regional and international networks of trade and transportation, improve the digital economy and protect the environment against pollution.

MARIA HELENA LOPES DE JESUS PIRES (Timor-Leste) reported that as part of her country’s 2030 Agenda mapping exercise, it had identified five enablers that would accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Inclusion, awareness and engagement would ensure that no one was left behind by unlocking the power of youth, she said, adding that decentralization and effective institutions would enhance public participation, integrity and accountability.  Integrated planning, budgeting and monitoring would be achieved through the creation of strong linkages between State budgets and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Timor-Leste would also seek to develop a financing framework for further future investment in transformative partnerships for sustainable development, she said.

CLAUDE STANISLAS BOUAH-KAMON (Côte d’Ivoire) said that despite gains in meeting national goals since 2012, certain challenges must be addressed, including the equitable sharing of wealth and environmental sustainability, in order to foster further progress.  Commitment to the protection of vulnerable groups was among the targets of the national development plan, which also treated the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals as priorities.  Government efforts were based on programmes to develop agriculture, which were helping to reduce poverty in rural areas, and other critical sectors, including health.

NEDRA P. MIGUEL (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) said that despite being vulnerable to exogenous and other shocks, her country was working towards full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the alignment of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets with national strategies.  Citing examples, she said the Government had established a parliamentary front against hunger as well as the Zero Hunger Trust Fund, a public-private partnership.  Yet the task of eradicating poverty would not be achieved with quick fixes, she cautioned, welcoming the High-Level Political Forum as a platform for States to learn from the experiences of others at various stages of implementing the 2030 Agenda.

ALI ALEFEI MOUSTAPHA (Chad), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that in 2015, his country’s Government had conducted a comprehensive study that had led to the elaboration of Vision 2030: The Chad We Want.  That plan made it clear that in order to address the lack of development in the country, there was need to create sustainable, resilient infrastructure in the country.  In that context, the Government was building new roadways linking Chad to other countries and major bodies of water, he said.  The country was working to strengthen national unity, good governance, the rule of law and inclusive growth, while also improving human capital and protecting the environment.  In those efforts, Chad requested the support of the United Nations system and other international partners, he said.

MOHAMMED SAHIB MEJID MARZOOQ (Iraq) recalled the devastation wrought by the terrorist organizations that had occupied his country, the subsequent widespread destruction of infrastructure, and the unprecedented displacement of large portions of the population.  Nevertheless, national efforts toward sustainable development continued, and Iraq continued to pursue its new development plan, aimed at creating a dignified way of living and stability for the people of Iraq.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said that the United Arab Emirates National Committee on the Sustainable Development Goals was working to align the country’s national development and foreign assistance frameworks with the Goals and to ensure comprehensive data coverage and reporting.  Realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would make a crucial contribution to progress across the Goals and targets, she said, adding that performance in both areas remained mixed.  It was important to mobilize all available resources in the pursuit of sustainable development.  The international community also must dramatically increase its investment in capacity-building to mobilize private-sector resources.

CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) said that despite progress, Lebanon continued to face persistent and emerging challenges across some of the Sustainable Development Goals that had been compounded by more than 1 million refugees entering the country as a result of the conflict in Syria.  Confronting that complex humanitarian crisis required international and regional support to meet the varied needs of refugees.  Lebanon was working with the United Nations to carry out analysis of gaps in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.

KARMA CHOEDA (Bhutan) said broad poverty reduction gains in his country were being bolstered by continued efforts for further progress.  Policies and economic measures were aimed at sustainable achievements over the longer term.  Given the similarities between Bhutan’s development philosophy of the Gross National Happiness concept and the Sustainable Development Goals, integrating those Goals into national plans had been easy.  Having made progress in social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, Bhutan now needed economic transformation, which would be a game changer to develop resilient and sustainable infrastructure.

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia) said the Government had made the Goals part of its national policies for 2016 to 2020, aligning them also with Agenda 2063.  Areas of focus included green economic development and good governance.  Priority attention to education, health and the rights of women had resulted in gains such as high literacy rates.  In addition, the Government was shaping programmes to reach vulnerable groups through efforts such as infrastructure development and political reform in human rights and combating corruption.

ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) was struggling to ensure stability and security, although it remained fully committed to the implementation of the Goals, as well as the Paris Agreement on climate change, which the country had signed in April 2016.  Last year Ukraine had reached an important benchmark after the completion of the United Nations Action Plan on Chernobyl and the Decade of Recovery and Sustainable Development of Chernobyl-Affected Regions.  The country had also improved its maternal health system and made progress in combating tuberculosis and reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.  Ukraine strongly believed that Member Stats should keep a steady focus on the implementation and realization of existing commitments at the national, regional and international levels.

EI EI KHIN AYE (Myanmar) said tackling poverty should focus on prioritizing substantial investments in health and education.  National efforts were also focused on nutrition and rural development, social protection and safety nets for vulnerable people, and financial inclusion.  Despite gains, she expressed concerns about the critical disparities across the world and emphasized that the international community must be united in addressing vulnerabilities and strengthening preparedness.  Highlighting that climate change was causing considerable setbacks in socioeconomic areas, particularly in developing countries, she said those challenges would be addressed by implementing the Paris Agreement.

NIZAR AMER (Israel) noted that the Knesset had held a special session to raise awareness of the Goals and motivate action among lawmakers, while in April a special conference was held to bring together representatives of Government, the business sector and civil society to discuss partnerships for sustainable development.  Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls was of particular importance for Israel, and in 2015, for the first time, Israeli lawmakers had integrated a gender perspective into the State budget, which aimed to mainstream gender into all aspects of society.  Sustainable agriculture and food security was another area in which Israel had been particularly engaged, he said, noting that Israeli experts collaborated with farmers and agricultural professionals across all regions of the world to increase crop yields, improve water and land management and build new capacities.

DIONYSIOS KALAMVREZOS (Greece), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said the eradication of poverty and tackling discrimination and inequalities were at the centre of the new European Union cooperative development policy.  The policy would be addressed in a holistic approach, with due attention paid to how domestic actions affected larger international efforts.  Greece was considering how to adopt and adapt the Goals to national priorities and circumstances, particularly given the country’s difficult economic situation.

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, aligned himself with the statement of the Group of 77 and said that since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, his country had created a high-level group to implement the national development plan, in line with the Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda.  Development and peace were indivisible.  The 2030 Agenda allowed leaders to move their people towards peace and justice.  The people of Palestine were ready to achieve many things and were able to do so, if Palestine could control its natural resources, transit paths and borders.  True development in Palestine was being hampered by 50 years of Israeli occupation, which was characterized by oppression, violence and negative growth.

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said his country was mainstreaming the Goals into national policies and strategies and had already established a taskforce and participated in the most recent voluntary national review process.  National action programmes aimed at achieving improvements and providing social assistance and food security for vulnerable families.  New business sectors were being developed and gender equality initiatives were enhancing women’s participation in political processes.

ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria) said the Government was currently battling terrorism, which had been exploited to achieve political gains and was dangerous.  Despite those dire challenges, Syria had adopted a national plan that would build institutions and achieve sustainable development.  Ministerial consultations and administrative reform had aimed at, among other things, combating corruption and ensuring the satisfaction of citizens.  Combating poverty required meeting a broad range of challenges, but the foundation must be peace and security, she said, adding that the crisis in Syria and unilateral measures against her country must end.

Ms. RABIATOUGERAH, Association Internationale des Conseils Economiques et Sociaux et Institutions Similaires, said eradicating poverty required a close examination of roles that could be played by all stakeholders.  Actions must take into account policies to combat poverty based on a notion of social protection, including in the areas of employment and housing.  The rights of women must also be considered.

Mr. CHUNGONG, Inter-Parliamentary Union, said his organization had recently adopted a declaration that provided policy recommendations to address challenges to making development gains.  Inequality could not be resolved by only economic growth; in addition, a proactive effort must give rise to an equitable distribution of wealth.  For its part, the Union would encourage more Parliaments to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

OSCAR DE ROJAS (Malta) said that his country operated more than 2,000 projects in more than 120 countries, many of which were focused on providing humanitarian assistance for the most marginalized and vulnerable people.  Malta continued to devote a large part of its efforts to assisting refugees, migrants and internally displaced persons, including in the Middle East and Africa.  Malta welcomed the call for a change in the narrative on migration from discrimination and xenophobia to greater recognition of the intrinsic human dignity, human rights and value of every refugee and migrant.  The increase in human trafficking, especially of women and girls, was of great concern to Malta, and in that context, his country welcomed the upcoming special meeting in September on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) drew attention to the problem of the working poor, which represented 10 per cent of the world’s working population and their families.  Such a situation undermined incentives towards productive employment, without which sustainable development seemed impossible.  Diverse solutions were needed, he said, noting his country’s implementation of measures to create an environment for decent work.  He added that Ukraine’s statement contained unfounded allegations about his country.  It was an attempt to make excuses for Kiev’s unwillingness to ensure that people in territories not under its control were not left behind, he added.

VINICIUS CARVALHO PINHEIRO, International Labour Organization (ILO), welcoming the Ministerial Declaration’s adoption, said decent work was central to achieving a world without poverty and hunger.  It was encouraging to see an unprecedented level of engagement on the part of business, trade unions and other major groups in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The ILO stood ready to work in partnership with its constituents and others to achieve the vision of the 2030 Agenda.

DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said more than half the world was still offline, unable to benefit from the positive impact that information and communications technologies could have on their lives.  The ITU was committed to leaving no one offline, she said, adding that several countries were increasingly relying on such technologies to accelerate implementation of the Goals.  Reiterating the critical importance of partnerships, she recalled that information and communications technologies were a development indicator and aspiration in and of itself.

Ms. BOZKURT, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, underscored the importance of Goal 5 on gender equality, calling it an accelerator for the achievement of all the other Goals.  Women’s full and effective participation at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life was essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda.  The same applied to Goal 16 on peace, justice and accountable institutions.  The engagement of key stakeholders was crucial, and must include national legislatures, civil society, and academia.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said his country had made significant progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and was now determined to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Poverty in rural and urban areas had been radically reduced.  Women had been integrated into the workforce and decision-making positions.  The next development plan was being prepared, he noted, adding that sustainable development would only be achieved with international support.  ODA was particularly critical for countries in special situations.  Turkey had exceeded its development assistance target for providing aid to least developing countries, particularly in Africa.

MS. DE BOLT, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said that air transportation was vital to delivering humanitarian aid and responding to crises.  The industry was also well-aware of the need to protect the environment.  Some 3.5 billion people were transported by aviation each year as was a large portion of traded goods.  Air transport systems had played a significant role in the development of countries in special situations.  Helping Member States mobilize air transport potential was a key factor in their achievement of sustainable development.  It was critical to make regular review of the air transport system a priority, she added, calling on Governments as well as other stakeholders to invest in the sector.

Mr. MASELI, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said historical evidence had shown that countries and regions that had successful developed their manufacturing sectors had made major strides in reducing poverty.  He outlined how Goal 9 on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation was interlinked with all the other Goals.  The fulfilment of Goal 9 would enable sustained economic growth, help reduce poverty and hunger, and increase resource efficiency.  Yet, the world’s poorest countries were struggling to achieve that Goal.  Their productivity remained low, he said, adding that developing countries must increase their industrial capabilities, address environment challenges and develop appropriate infrastructure.

CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said it was worrying that, less than two years after the Goals’ adoption, some 20 million people were at higher risk of famine, with many others facing severe food insecurity.  A shift to a more sustainable, resilient, inclusive and productive food production system was needed.  Family farmers, fishers, pastoralists and indigenous peoples must be recognized as agents of change and drivers of sustainable development, supported by appropriate policies and programmes, she said, adding that zero hunger would only be achieved through concrete action by everyone at all levels.

NATELA MENABDE, World Health Organization (WHO), emphasizing the right of everyone to basic health services, said universal health coverage was the centre of gravity for achieving Goal 3, among others.  Such coverage was not a luxury for the rich, but the right of all citizens, requiring investment in robust primary care, she said, stating that every year, 100 million people went into poverty because they had to pay for health care out of pocket.  She went on to underscore the impact of climate change on public health as well as the steady rise of non-communicable diseases.

SARBULAND KHAN, World Tourism Organization (WTO), said tourism was not the first thing that came to mind when thinking about the Goals, yet it was one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors of the world economy.  It was among the main drivers of economic growth, export earnings, job creation and poverty reduction in many developing countries.  Growth in sustainable and responsible tourism could contribute directly to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that the Goals had been mainstreamed into his Organization’s work.

Ms. DURANT, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that it was stepping up its support to countries to ensure that cross-border trade and investment become more inclusive.  Special instruments were being deployed to ensure that women were participating in trade.  It was also helping developing countries address the looming digital divide.  She stressed the importance of an inclusive bottom-up approach to food security.  The Goal on promoting oceans was critical, particularly for small island developing States and coastal cities. 

Ms. AVTYAN, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that many challenges still needed to be addressed.  Some 30 per cent of people living with HIV still did not know their status.  The AIDS response was connected to, and dependent upon, progress on different goals.  Eradicating poverty and promoting food security helped strengthen HIV prevention and adherence to treatment.  Eliminating gender inequality and violence against women and girls was essential to reverse HIV’s disproportionate impact on them.  The epidemic could not be ended without going beyond a bio-medical approach and addressing the broader socioeconomic determinants of health and vulnerability.

Ms. SOL GUEVA, women’s major group, said the gender gap was among the most prevalent inequalities in the world.  The 2030 Agenda was not just about achieving a set of goals, but rather it was about recognizing, protecting and realizing the human rights of women and girls in housing, sanitation, food, and decent work and wages.  The equal distribution of resources was critical.  She expressed concern that the High-Level Political Forum had fallen short of its mandate of being the “face of accountability” and was losing the chance to increase commitments toward that goal.

Ms. URLABAMA, children and youth major group, said that, despite a lack of data on children and youth living in poverty, their marginalization was clear.  Noting that young people had proven their dedication to sustainable development, she said youth organizations should be strengthened, including through more financial resources.  The sacrifices of young people in development must be honoured by promoting their participation in decision-making.

Ms. SPERKOVA, OGT International, said children, youth, women and those with mental health problems were vulnerable to discrimination and poverty fuelled by alcohol and drugs.  Her organization called on the High-Level Political Forum to take bold steps to use taxes on alcohol to promote development and to curb the unethical practices of the alcohol industry.

Mr. SAPIT, indigenous peoples major group, said indigenous peoples were leading sustainable lives through low-carbon lifestyles and sustainable resource management based on traditional knowledge.  Their contribution, however, was not being acknowledged or supported.  He added that effective mechanisms for the full and meaningful participation of indigenous peoples must be established, as so-called multi-stakeholder forums dominated by big non-governmental organizations and the business sector did not represent indigenous rights’ holders.

The representative of IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association said that rather than seeing poverty as a cause of individual factors, the Sustainable Development Goals had helped explain poverty as a social structure and process.  Rather than blaming victims of poverty, the Goals had helped explain poverty as a problematic condition, capable of solutions.  Social and economic change was needed to eradicate poverty.  With mass inequality in the world, people must understand poverty’s underlying causes in order to end it. 

The representative of the non-governmental organizations major group said that non-governmental organizations had committed to implement the 2030 Agenda.  She called on the United Nations and its Member States to increase their participation with civil society to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  A political space for non-governmental organizations was critical for their participation, she emphasized, expressing concern about the shortage of funds allocated for realizing the 2030 Agenda.  Mobilizing resources was essential for least developed countries and other nations in special situations, she continued, urging wealthier countries to meet their ODA commitments.

Mr. CHELLURI, International Committee for Peace and Reconciliation Inc., said that if the poor remained silent and waited for the rich to hand them economic justice, they would have to wait and transmit their hope to the next generation.  Hence, the poverty cycle would continue.  A society where people lived without fear, where peace and justice prevailed, and where there was no exploitation of the poor and the downtrodden by the rich, was a distant, but achievable, possibility.  Meantime, a wakeup call must be given to beckon all to march forward.  “Those who will not respond will be left behind,” he added.

JAMIL AHMAD, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said drought, pollution and poorly planned urbanization had a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest people.  With the global population estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050, inaction would see problems multiply exponentially.  Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity meant recognizing the true social and economic value of the environment.  Plastic packaging could be reused, for example, and money spent on the effects of air pollution could go to education instead.  He said the outcome of the Forum would contribute to the work of the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi later this year.

SANNE DE WIT, International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, elaborated on interlinkages between eradicating poverty and health, emphasizing that measures to prevent and control non-communicable diseases were financially sound and prudent.  Since such diseases were projected to contribute to a cumulative output loss of $47 trillion from 2011 to 2025, action to address the situation had the potential to curb the impact of those diseases in the future.  In addition, universal health coverage was essential for ending the vicious cycle of poverty.  To ensure access to medical facilities, she called on all to develop policies and implementation frameworks focused on increasing the rural health workforce and distribution of services worldwide.

Mr. SANNA, workers and trade union major group, said the Goals were a trade union issue.  Gender equality would require measures to reconcile work and home life, including child care services.  Sustainable industrialization would meanwhile require a major transformation, with the right environment, social and economic policies.  The Goals would be better achieved through partnership with trade unions at the national and international levels, he said, emphasizing the importance of social protection, freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Ms. DE LA ROCHAIRE, Le manif pour tous, said surrogate mothers were being exploited for reproductive aims because they were women.  Surrogacy went against Goal 5.  It was a highly lucrative business for everyone involved except the surrogate mothers themselves, who were paid very little if anything at all.  It was a new form of violence against women as well as a form of slavery, she said, calling for a universal prohibition on surrogacy.

Ms. DIAZ, business and industry major group, said forward-looking businesses were already making a meaningful impact to achieve the 2030 Agenda by incorporating responsible business strategies.  The pace of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals must be accelerated, she added, stressing the need to report on results and create an enabling policy environment.  Her organization would step up its efforts to raise awareness and work with Governments and civil society to develop business solutions that were environmentally-friend, efficient, and inclusive.

Mr. PARMEGIANI, Legiao da Boa Vontade, said the best way to overcome poverty was through a holistic solution.  A recent study on the correlation between poverty and education had revealed that achieving primary and secondary education for all people would reduce the number of the world’s poorest by more than half.  Education goals must go beyond the intellect and “combine brain and heart”.  In the last five years, more than 3.5 million people benefitted from his organization’s intensive education programmes.

Several other stakeholders participated in the segment, starting with a representative of volunteer groups who shared her experience of volunteering in various projects aimed at achieving sustainable development.  She said that volunteers were at the heart of global partnerships and must work with Governments, civil society, the private sector and academia.  She also called on Governments to develop volunteer-conducive policies and support volunteer schemes in their own countries.

A representative of educational and academic entities noted that despite positive steps in setting the stage for implementation of the Agenda, there were obstacles, including insufficient domestic budgets and a reduction in budgetary allocations to educational programmes.  She emphasized the need for tax justice and the creation of a globally inclusive intergovernmental body to set and enforce tax rules.  The implementation of the 2030 Agenda could only take place in the context of strengthened democracy.

A representative of the Financing for Development CSO Group said that the human rights framework, gender equality and sustainability criteria should be considered crucial elements for operationalizing the Goals.  Marginalized peoples must be included in dialogues on the future development agenda.  Governments continued to hail the contributions of civil society, yet there was diminishing political space at the national and global levels.  The full, meaningful participation of women and the realization of their rights must take priority to achieve transformative and systemic change.  There must be a redistribution of financing and the reprioritization of financing for development.

A representative of Together 2030 said it was time to move from policy to action.  Governments must set up effective and inclusive institutions to fulfil the 2030 Agenda and they must integrate and balance the three pillars of sustainable development into action plans.  A strong investment in quality education was an essential element to achieving sustainable development.  Governments must explore the role of civil society in achieving the 2030 Agenda and ensure that funding toward that end was available.

Action on Ministerial Declaration

The Forum then turned to the Ministerial Declaration on the theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2).

A recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 4, with the results as follows:  30 in favour to two against (United States and Australia), with 18 abstentions.  By that action, operative paragraph 4 was retained.  

The representative of Israel then said his delegation had disassociated itself from the vote, due to the politicized language contained in the paragraph.

Another recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 21, with the results as follows:  32 in favour to one against (United States), with 16 abstentions, which meant the paragraph was retained.

The Council then adopted the draft Ministerial Declaration, as orally revised.

The representative of the United States said he had called for a vote on paragraph 4 due to its unacceptable reference to foreign occupation, expressing concern that certain Members States had sought to politicize development issues at the United Nations.  The United States could not affirm all aspects of the 2030 Agenda and emphasized that countries should pursue their development efforts in accordance with their own national interests.  The United States disassociated itself from portions of paragraph 7 referring to climate change, he said, noting President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.  He also expressed disappointment that trafficking in persons was not mentioned in the Declaration and that women and girls had not been referenced earlier.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the Declaration reflected interests in a balanced way, expressed disappointment that the Forum had been unable to avoid a vote on specific paragraphs in the outcome document, as his country had sought to strengthen the role of Economic and Social Council.

The representative of Venezuela stressed the importance of the sovereign management of natural resources and strongly rejected the exploitation of resources.  Unfortunately, the Palestinian people and those living under foreign occupation were deprived of the benefits of their resources with major detriment to their development potential.  She also noted that unilateral coercive economic policies were contrary to the United Nations Charter and international law.  They affected the self-determination of people as well as the inalienable right of all States to choose their own systems free of interference.  Interfering actions that violated the sovereignty of Venezuela must cease.  She also aligned her statement with the Group of 77 and China.

The representative of Nigeria said there should have been stronger language in the Declaration on the issue of illicit financial flow and asset recovery.  Recognizing the scope and complexity of that issue, he said it was critical to assist African countries in domestic mobilization.  Any future Declaration must be focused and balanced on issues of development.

The representative of Japan said his country had not broken the silence procedure as it accepted the draft as a whole, though some parts were not satisfactory.  Paragraph 21 was not balanced, and for that reason his delegation had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Australia reiterated her delegations’ concerns expressed during the adoption of the Declaration at the High-Level Political Forum on Wednesday, mainly that language on empowering women and girls had been left out of the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation had presented to the co-facilitators a reference to principles enshrined in the 2030 Agenda and it had advocated a structure for the Ministerial Declaration’s treatment of the Goals, an action-oriented follow up and review section, and a thorough treatment on the sections for the means of implementation.  Yet, many of those issues were missing in the Ministerial Declaration, as were the Group’s proposals for agreed language on, for example, references to harmony with nature.  It was conversely surprising that paragraph 40 of the New Urban Agenda had been incorporated as operative paragraph 8 in the current version.  On means of implementation, issues such as the recognition of States’ primary responsibility for their development deserved more ample references.  The co-facilitators did their best to reach consensus and also deliver a relevant ministerial declaration.  While the 10 July text had fallen below the Group’s expectations, it had committed itself to “go along” with the compromise proposal, he said, reiterating the need to remove obstacles to realizing the right to self-determination for countries and peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation.

The representative of Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the realization of the 2030 Agenda could not be achieved without collective international effort that was inclusive to all.  It was critical to respect the process and continue to review the ambitious agenda.  While there was a need to prioritize goals nationally, globally it was important to take a holistic and collective approach to achieve the type of progress the world had committed to.  “The year 2030 will arrive whether we are ready for it or not and we have an obligation as authors of the 2030 Agenda,” he said.

The representative of Mexico said it was regrettable that the Declaration lacked strong language on women and girls.  Universal agreement of the Paris Agreement was critical as well.  He said he did not understand why the Group of Scientists for the Forum had convened in Long Island.  The Group’s experience and knowledge could have been enriched at the United Nations.  Keeping the Group on the side-lines had not helped prepare its report on the follow-up process, he continued, adding that the Forum must ensure that scientists were represented fairly.  That would help States understand details of what was being evaluated.  It was also important to redouble efforts to allocate and mobilize funds for the 2030 Agenda, he stressed, underscoring the role of the private sector and international financial organizations.

A representative of the Holy See said the document was balanced and an expression of efforts to find a good compromise, even if it had not met the aspirations of all delegations.  The Holy See did not consider abortion or access to abortion or abortifacients as a dimension of the term “sexual and reproductive healthcare services”.  The Holy See understood that gender was grounded in biological sexual identity and difference.  Gender was not a psychological state nor was it to be interpreted as a social construct.

The representative of Viet Nam expressed concern over language in operative paragraph 8, adding that it contained concepts that had not been fully clarified and were out of context.  Implementation of commitments contained in that paragraph must take into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development.

The representative of Iran, aligning himself with the statement of the Group of 77, said that the follow-up of the Goals in his country were in accordance with national laws, development policies as well as religious and social values.

Oral Decision

The Council then took note of the documentation that had been before it during the high-level segment of the 2017 session, including the Report of the Secretary-General on eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges (document E/2017/64); Report of the Secretary-General on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (document E/2017/66); Report of the Secretary-General entitled “Beyond gross domestic product:  multidimensional poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals” (document E/2017/69); Note by the Secretary-General — Progress report on the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns (document E/2017/63); The World Economic and Social Survey 2017 — Reflecting on seventy years of development policy analysis (document E/2017/50); and the World economic situation and prospects as of mid-2017 (document E/2017/65).  

Closing Remarks

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary General of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, recalled that the Forum’s high-level segment had featured several key messages on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including that eradicating poverty remained the greatest global challenge and was an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.  The 2030 Agenda — together with the Addis Ababa Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction — provided a comprehensive structure for eradicating poverty.  Integrating policy across the three dimensions of sustainable development had become the standard and an inclusive follow-up and review would be fundamental.  The Forum had featured far-reaching discussions that had pointed to tremendous capacity gaps, but also new opportunities.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of Economic and Social Council, noted that the Council system had worked to provide integrated policy recommendations, address gaps and contribute to the overall review of progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The high-level segment represented the culmination of that work.  An international enabling environment in the form of institutional frameworks and actions could be decisive for the effectiveness of poverty eradication and strategies, although globalization had created pressing challenges. 

The challenges faced by the global institutional system required a new assessment of how the promise of sustainable and equitable growth could be turned into a reality for all people around the world, he said.  There was growing consensus that the interconnectedness and global nature of challenges in all areas of sustainable development could not be solved by one nation alone.  The 2030 Agenda provided a comprehensive framework for addressing economic, social and environmental tasks by providing global norms for sustainable and inclusive development.  Discussions over the past two weeks had emphasized the importance of keeping the momentum going forward, and in that context, efforts must continue to be intensified.

For information media. Not an official record.