|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
20th & 21st Meetings (AM & PM)
Unfulfilled Global Pledges Impact Fight against Hunger, Second Committee
Told as it Considers Agricultural Development
Delegates Also Debate Eradication of Poverty
Despite fewer people suffering chronic hunger and a drop in the proportion of the world’s population that was undernourished, gains in tackling hunger and food insecurity were “nowhere near good enough”, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told today.
As the Committee concluded its consideration of Agricultural Development and Food Security, a representative of the Rome-based agencies pointed to “mixed news” coming from the State of Food Insecurity report launched in October. She expressed her deep concern that nearly 900 million peopleremained hungry, despite the fact that tackling hunger was a critical component of the Millennium Development Goals.
Benin’s representative offered insight into why the figure remained so high, noting that, despite donor pledges to boost agricultural development and food security made at the L’Aquila Food Security Summit in 2009, only half of the total aid promised had actually been disbursed.
With only two months remaining until the end of the programme’s timeframe, he said it was unlikely those pledges would be met. Nonetheless, he stressed his gratitude for aid that had been received and welcomed initiatives such as the Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the “Zero Hunger Challenge” and the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement roadmap, which were extremely relevant to least developed countries.
Along with those global initiatives aimed at boosting nutrition and food security, several delegations described work being accomplished at national and regional levels. The representative of Suriname spoke of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) efforts to boost agriculture in the region through a variety of policies, including, among others, the Caribbean Regional Policy for Food and Nutrition Security, which focused on solving practical problems in Member States. The policy tackled hunger for the most vulnerable and sought to develop sustainable agriculture.
He pointed out that CARICOM members’ reliance on expensive food imports over local produce was increasing the incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases in the region, because imported food tended to be more energy dense, processed and higher in oil, sugar and salt. Those imports also caused decreases in income equality and reduced access to resources.
The representative of Brazil also took up the theme of food imports and exports, saying that protectionism in developed countries was threatening food security in the developing world, by hindering production through unfair competition from subsidized goods, and denying access to important external markets. Thus, unfair advantages were granted to producers in developed countries who already enjoyed better conditions, and discouraged production diversification and investment in the rural sector of developing countries.
Despite such challenges, delegates from developing countries remained keenly focused on boosting their rural populations and increasing agricultural output. Morocco’s representative was one of many who emphasised the inextricability of agricultural development and food security. He pointed to several national efforts to improve productivity, especially the improvement of irrigation, the enhanced use of water resources and improved seeds. Nonetheless, like many other countries, agriculture suffered the effects of climate change and faced reduced productivity in the longer term.
To answer such challenges, he said that Morocco’s agricultural development strategy had been revised to increase productivity while simultaneously adapting to climate change. The “Green Morocco Plan” made agriculture the main engine of economic growth for the next decade and emphasised the importance of the linkages between food security, protection of natural resources and investment in combating climate change and its effects.
It was important, New Zealand’s delegate said, that developed countries assist developing countries with adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change. His country was a founding member of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which explored how food production could be increased without increasing greenhouse gas emissions and he urged other countries to engage in the initiative.
Several delegates stressed that, with such a large part of food production theresponsibility of women, there was a need for policies and programmes to target them. Among those raising this point was Nicaragua’s representative who said that her country’s agricultural development policies emphasised women’s empowerment and that most of their national social programmes, including the expansion of microcredit schemes in the realm of agriculture, were targeted specifically at women.
Other speakers on the subject of Agricultural Development and Food Security were representatives of Namibia, United States, Afghanistan, Israel, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Philippines, Niger, Cuba and Guinea.
Following conclusion of that debate, the Committee began its consideration of the eradication of poverty and other development related issues. Reports on the issue were introduced by Daniela Bas, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, George Assaf, Director and Representative of the New York office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Kazi Rahman the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
Addressing the Committee on that subject were representatives of Algeria (for the Group of 77 developing countries and China), Suriname (for CARICOM), Indonesia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Libya, Nepal, Bangladesh, Brazil, Belarus, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Thailand, Ethiopia, Bolivia, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Iraq, Cambodia, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Morocco, Viet Nam, Israel, and Benin (for the Group of Least Developed Countries).
The representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again tomorrow morning, Tuesday, 6 November, at 10 a.m. to conclude its consideration of the Eradication of poverty and other development related issues.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to conclude its debate on agricultural development (for background see Press Release GA/EF/3348), and begin its debate on poverty eradication.
On poverty and other development issues, it had before it a number of reports. The Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017) (document A/67/180) examines trends and challenges relating to poverty eradication, with a particular emphasis on productive employment and decent work, the youth employment crisis and the persistent challenge of rural poverty. It also takes stock of the latest activities and joint initiatives undertaken by relevant organizations of the United Nations system in response to the plan of action for the Second Decade.
The report’s conclusions underscore the need to move macroeconomic and social policies away from austerity measures in order to promote job creation, decent work and the expansion of social protection schemes. Without basic social protection, countries would not be able maintain progress in poverty reduction and ensure an economic recovery that was also socially sustainable. It was also imperative to address the acute youth employment crisis through effective policy measures and to tackle the persistent challenge of rural poverty through a decent-work-centred approach.
The report encourages Member States to accelerate their efforts to eradicate poverty and promote empowerment of the poor through policies that improved productive capacity, and supported the creation of productive employment and decent work for all, as well as social protection. Member States were urged to consider establishing national defined social protection floors in order to contribute to reducing poverty and inequality. Also encouraged were employment policies and programmes that would address the quality of employment policies, including those for young people and other vulnerable groups through labour market policies and adequate protection.
The Committee also has before it the Director General’s report on Industrial Development Organization (document A/67/223), prepared in accordance with General Assembly resolution 65/175, which reviewed recent trends in industrial development, including manufacturing growth in developing countries and regions and its relationships to economic growth and development. The report also covers emerging challenges that impacted industrial development and which should be addressed through international industrial cooperation, including growth and jobs; resource efficiency, energy poverty and climate change; shifting demographics; knowledge creation and transfer; and growing inequalities.
In addition, the report makes clear recommendations for the role of industrial development in the context of the development agenda beyond 2015. One example for improved integration into the mainstream of the development agenda beyond 2015 was an emphasis toward achieving inclusive and sustainable patterns of industrial development, aimed at meeting economic, social and environmental goals. Member States should consider such goals to increase productive capacity and maximize productivity in a sustainable manner, as well as incorporating the goals on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy defined by the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Technology transfer and knowledge networking should be supported as key means to achieve sustainable industrial development. The role of UNIDO, as the specialized agency of the United Nations mandated to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development and international industrial cooperation, was included in the report, as well.
The Committee also had before it the World Tourism Organization Secretary-General’s report on Promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection (document A/67/228) which provides recommendations to assist in promoting sustainable tourism, including ecotourism, as a tool for fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development and environmental protection.
The report, prepared in response to General Assembly resolution 65/173, concludes that there was a need to take into account commercial and market factors, which could affect the successful development of tourism in any area, and to address wider constraints that would keep people in poverty. Furthermore, given that the market for tourism was highly dynamic, national tourism plans and policies needed to take into account market trends and to focus on those subsectors of tourism in which they had a competitive advantage, as well as to ensure that tourism activities and development were sustainable in the long term.
The report encourages Governments, the tourism sector and relevant organizations to adopt and implement policies and practices to promote the full participation and involvement of local and indigenous communities, in addition to the full empowerment of women, in all tourism operations and development. It also emphasizes that where projects used tourism as a tool to support poverty alleviation, environmental protection and/or biodiversity conservation, the tourism components should be clear evidence of market demand and a sound economic base.
Statements on Agricultural Development
RAYMOND LANDVELD (Suriname), speaking on behalf of CARICOM and aligning himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, highlighted the work being done to boost agriculture in the Caribbean. He spoke of the Caribbean Regional Policy for Food and Nutrition Security, which focused on solving practical problems in Member States. The policy was grounded in commitments made under the “Right to Food Convention”, as well as those made at the World Food Summit in 2009. It sought to tackle hunger for the most vulnerable and to develop agriculture sustainably in the medium to longer term. Several regional initiatives were aimed at boosting food and nutrition security, including the Caribbean Regional Food and Nutrition Security Plan, the Early Warning System for Food and Nutrition Security in the Caribbean region and workshops on Fisheries and on Small Scale Farming in the Caribbean.
In countering the threat of high food prices, he said there was an emphasis on agriculture aimed to reduce the high incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases in the region. Much of the reason for price increase was a switch by consumers from local staples to imported foods, which were more energy dense, processed and high in oil, sugar and salt content. The trend of greater reliance on food imports over local produce also decreased income equality and access to resources. Caribbean economies were poorly equipped to cope with the loss of export demand because of their small land areas and populations, and the transport problems created by the large distances between each State. It was difficult to exploit economies of scale.
Added to their vulnerability, he continued, were the effects of natural disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Sandy, which had affected agricultural infrastructure and production. He called for support in disaster preparedness, as well as mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, and stressed that developing countries would be hardest hit and need substantially increased funding for adaptation. He welcomed United Nations agencies’ work in supporting policy development that increased market access for farmers in developing countries, tackling food waste and loss, aimed at transferring technology and helped developing countries meet the “Zero Hunger Challenge” launched by the Secretary-General at the “Rio+20” Conference.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU (Benin), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said while he was grateful for the aid received, he regretted the fact that, at two months from the end of the programme’s timeframe, only half of the amounts pledged for agriculture and food security at the L’Aquila Food Security Summit in 2009 had been disbursed. He welcomed the initiatives launched, including the new alliance for food security and nutrition, the Zero hunger challenge, and the SUN Movement roadmap which he called very relevant to the least developed countries.
He noted that the Group was concerned with the risks posed by efforts to attract large-scale foreign investment, and their impact on the living conditions of domestic smallholders and their communities. In addition, the Group took seriously the risks of transmitting shocks from the energy to the agricultural and, particularly, to the food supply sector through unchecked bio-fuel production. He called for sufficient measures to avert such risks. He appreciated the work done by the Committee on world food security, especially in the areas of food price volatility, development of a global strategic framework on food security and nutrition, and the mapping of food security at a national level.
He said that he hoped the development of agriculture in the least developed countries could be done in a way that left enough room for the local farmers, including small-scale farmers, who could make important contributions to sustainable development in a way that was environmentally sound, enhanced food security and the livelihood of the poor, and invigorated sustained economic growth. The United Nations should continue to follow up on the situation in that field and assist Governments in developing appropriate regulations and enforcement structures to prevent land grabs, which were detrimental to food security practically in the least developed countries. Lastly, he called on the international community to secure in the next decade or 15 years to come, the right to food to everyone on Earth.
FAIÇAL SOUISSI (Morocco), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, pointed out that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had warned the international community against further food crises stemming from increases in raw material prices and worsening human rights situations in sub-Saharan Africa. The conference at Rio+20 had emphasised the collective international will to develop a new development agenda focused on sustainable development and food security. In Morocco, food security would depend on the development of agriculture, particularly in the river base. Natural and human factors continued to affect that aim, despite many national level efforts to improve productivity, especially in irrigation, the enhanced use of water resources and improved seeds.
Nonetheless, he said, agriculture was still affected by climate change and, in the longer term, the effects of global warming would cause a drop in agricultural productivity. Morocco had revised its agricultural development strategy in order to increase productivity and simultaneously adapt to the effects of climate change. The Green Morocco Plan made agriculture the main engine of growth in the national economy over the next decade, with a focus on replacing vulnerable cereal crops with fruit, as well as a water saving plan that reformed 100,000 hectares of agricultural land. Irrigation projects saved considerable amounts of water to help meet the needs of agricultural development, while greenhouse gas emissions had been reduced by considerable planting of fruit trees. The innovative national level approach emphasized the importance of the linkages between food security, protection of natural resources and investment in combating climate change and its effects on agriculture.
He reiterated his solidarity with the African countries seriously affected by drought and suffering from price volatility, underscoring his support for the Secretary-General’s “Zero Hunger Challenge”, and calling for an enhancement of partnership relations. He stated his support for the conclusion of the 27th regional conference of FAO in Brazzaville, which encouraged a regional approach to food security, as well as the creation of a trust fund for food security in Africa that would be funded by interested Members States, particularly oil producers. He said he looked forward to increased South-South cooperation and he called for further enhancements of international cooperation to combat the underlying causes of food insecurity.
WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that Namibia, being arid to semi-arid, was very vulnerable to food shortages. A large part of the Namibian population depended on agriculture directly and indirectly for their livelihoods. Subsistence agriculture sustained approximately 48 per cent of rural households. His country and the region, as a whole, faced many challenges such as the severe effects of climate change, water scarcity and land degradation. Namibia also struggled to correct the historically skewed land distribution, where a small minority had, and continued to have, access to most of the farmland in the country. On a national level, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry was involved in the diversification of agricultural practices and products, job creation, improving competitiveness, developing a market locally and ensuring potable water and basic sanitation serves.
He went on to say that about 56 per cent of water used in Namibia was drawn from dams, rivers and so-called unconventional sources, such as water purification, while the remaining 44 per cent was drawn from groundwater sources. Just about one week ago the Namibian Cabinet approved a submission to subsidize water supply sources to around 84,000 poor households, beginning in 2016. He said he hoped that the enhancement of food and nutrition security would figure prominently in the post-2015 development agenda. As access to international markets often hampered his country’s ability to market livestock internationally, he looked forward to negotiating further bilateral, as well as multilateral, trade agreements. Highlighting the role women played in agriculture and food production around the world, he emphasized that the gender aspect of agriculture and food security was important and should be mainstreamed into national, as well as international development agendas.
COURTNEY NEMROFF ( United States) said that as part of its commitment fighting hunger the United States was involved in the Feed the Future initiative, which worked with donors, States, the private sector and civil society to address the root causes of food insecurity. Further, the Group of Eight had launched a new alliance for food security and nutrition, aimed at sustained and inclusive economic growth in Africa, with a view of raising 50 million people out of poverty. It had achieved significant progress in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, and had been expanded to Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Mozambique. The single most important investment in promoting global development was boosting nutrition. Integrating nutrition into development and food aid programmes was an essential part of that effort. Expressing her commitment to scaling up the success of the nutrition framework, she said the SUN Roadmap would help to prevent death and stunting of children worldwide.
She stressed the centrality of women who comprised 43 per cent of the agricultural labour force, especially in areas of subsistence farming, and who were responsible for the majority of unpaid work in the sector. The Feed the Future Initiative would place a heavy emphasis on the involvement of women and would leverage investment in research and development, the deployment of new technologies, and the strengthening of resilience among poor populations. She also stressed the humanitarian and moral imperative that compelled the United States to continue addressing the threat of global food insecurity and reducing the number of hungry people around the world.
SHARIF AHMAD WAHEEDI ( Afghanistan), aligning himself with the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, said it was of great importance to recognize the inextricable interconnectedness between agricultural development and poverty. Agriculture was a crucial means of combating both hunger and poverty and had traditionally been the main activity for much of Afghanistan’s population, particularly in the most remote and vulnerable areas. It was incredibly important to the Afghan economy, employing 80 to 85 per cent of the population and providing about 35 per cent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product.
Conflict over the last several decades, combined with high population growth and the overuse of natural resources, had, he said, caused widespread damage to Afghanistan’s farmland, infrastructure and irrigation systems. Therefore, his country made agriculture development the number one priority of the current Afghanistan National Development Strategy, whose objective for the agriculture and rural development sector was to jointly use private investment and public sector support for efforts to transform agriculture into a source of growth and means of livelihood for the rural poor. Although agricultural conditions had improved since the devastating drought last year, about 30 per cent of the Afghan population — 7.6 million people — remained in a condition of food insecurity. Drought affected regions were even worse off, he said, adding that millions of Afghans were nonetheless going hungry, and facing malnutrition and undernourishment.
Climate change, he continued, adversely affected food production and entire rural economies. Furthermore, increasing temperatures from climate change and decreasing water availability reduced crop yields, further reducing food production. To address that challenge, he called on all Member States to take effective and immediate action to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Looking forward, he warned that increased demand for food crops to produce energy and to feed livestock would put greater pressure on supplies of agricultural goods, while changing patterns and food waste would present obstacles to the efficient use of land already under cultivation. Such problems would have a disproportionately strong effect on developing countries, as they had less technological capacity to respond and greater numbers of people on the edge of food insecurity.
RONIT BEN-DOR ( Israel) said that despite severe water and land limitations, agricultural productions in Israel continued to grow. This was the result of the close and ongoing cooperation between researchers, extension workers, farmers and agriculture-related services and industries. The agricultural sector in Israel today was based almost entirely on science-linked technology, with the Government, academia and private sector working together to meet challenges and seek new solutions. Over the past 25 years, Israel’s agricultural output had increased sevenfold, with hardly any increase in the amount of water used. Extensive knowledge and expertise in cultivating agricultural systems in dry land had been developed. Currently, more than 40 per cent of the country’s vegetables and field crops were grown in the desert.
She said that agriculture was a main focus for Israel’s regional and international cooperation, as well. There was a high emphasis on agricultural training courses, adding that over 1400 participants from over 80 countries attended specialized courses in Israel every year. Israel was also involved with a project to build a model agricultural village in South Sudan with the aim to teach local farmers about breakthrough agricultural methods and technologies. However, it was not enough to assist developing nations with merely acquiring new technologies. It was also important to ensure developing countries develop their own capacities for technology and innovation through capacity building, education and skills transfer.
Special attention must be paid to small-holder farmers, she continued, particularly rural women, who represented up to 90 per cent of farmers in rural regions. It was widely acknowledged that the number of hungry people could be reduced by up to 150 million if female farmers in developing countries were given the same access to land, credits, seeds, and tools as their male counterparts. “If we aspire to feed the entire human family at the global level, we should remember that it is the rural women who produce and provide food at the community level in most societies,” she said.
JEAN BENGALY ( Burkina Faso) aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that despite the “human right to food” existing for everyone, millions were faced with dramatic food situations. In Burkina Faso, it was not just drought and floods that were compromising grain production, but the replacement of food crops with cash crops and increased food prices. He said that Burkina Faso, a landlocked developing country in the Sahel region, saw limitations to its agricultural production. Rainfall was insufficient and unevenly distributed around the country. There was significant land degradation affecting access to water and prospects for agriculture. For a State where 80 per cent of agriculture was devoted to food crops, those were severe issues.
The Government, he said, was implementing policies that boosted agriculture and stressed land security, including small-scale irrigation projects. The National Programme for Food Security, which aimed to reduce the number of hungry people in the country by one-third, was a three-stage project, including an early warning system to give farmers information on droughts, flooding and other factors affecting access to food. The Programme also would manage national food stocks better and give food to areas where it was lacking. Increased productivity and diversification would be promoted, as well. He added that in order to guarantee agricultural production and food security, it was important to better organise responses to agricultural problems, to develop modern ways of working with the market and to improve conservation plans.
USMAN SARKI (Nigeria), aligning himself with the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, said that urgent action was needed to address the global food crisis that was threatening millions of people. Climate change, desertification, severe floods and drought had further exacerbated the effects of the global food crisis. Nigeria had experienced severe floods recently which had greatly hampered food production and had left many people homeless. Although the food crisis was global, African countries were among the worst affected, and he called on the international community to regard the food crisis as an opportunity to accord agricultural development, particularly in Africa.
The achievement of food security, he said, would require strengthening and reinvigorating rural communities, small and medium-scale farmers and especially women. It was crucial that the international community equip the developing countries with technology, capacity building, experience and knowledge. In addition, women’s access to markets, grants, health-care and social services was vital to their participation in the agricultural sectors. At the national level, his country had mapped out a strategic security program to boost domestic growth and outlined medium and long term strategies to ensure food security. Under that initiative, college students would receive a subsidy if they chose to study agriculture. Encouraging the sustainable use of water to enhance food production, he underscored that agriculture and food security remained a fundamental pillar to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and he urged the global community to assist developing countries in achieving these goals.
MAURICIO FERNANDO DIAS FAVERO (Brazil), aligning himself with the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, underscored that close to a billion people still went hungry everyday and many more were far from having access to safe, adequate and nutritious food. The Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, had provided a number of important guidelines on how best to address the issue of food security. It also stressed the need to focus on the situation in developing countries’ rural areas, where hunger and malnutrition were more prevalent. International trade played a decisive role, he said, adding that protectionism in developed countries had been threatening food security in the developing world. It hindered production by exposing them to unfair competition from subsidized goods while denying access to important external markets. Producers were also granted unfair advantages in developed countries, which already enjoyed better conditions. Production diversification and investment in the rural sector in developing countries was discouraged.
He called on World Trade Organization members to redouble efforts to achieve the conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda. Family farming and small farmers were crucial in ensuring food security in developing countries. Over the last decade, Brazil had made unprecedented progress, lifting almost 40 million people out of poverty, but many challenges remained. Cooperation was a fundamental tool and in that spirit, Brazil had undertaken a total of 34 bilateral and trilateral technical cooperation agreements in the area of agriculture with 17 Sub-Saharan African countries. He expressed concern with the excessive food price volatility in international markets, but said stable and affordable food prices could not, in and of itself, ensure food security. In the long run, it was the creation of jobs, the generation of income and technological advances that proved essential in guaranteeing access to adequate, safe, and nutritious food.
YIN PO MYAT ( Myanmar) aligned herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Stressing her concern over food price rises, she said the “Zero Hunger Challenge” and first Millennium Development Goal emphasized the need to reduce hunger in the post-2015 development agenda. Agriculture, critical to Myanmar’s food security and rural development, was also essential to the economy, contributing 35 per cent of total gross domestic product and employing 66 per cent of the total workforce. Agriculture development was focused on increasing seed production, improving education and training and developing research and development.
She went on to say that the Government promoted rice self-sufficiency and promoted the role of the private sector towards that goal. There was a rice price guarantee for farmers and some relaxation on the export tax for agricultural products. The Government had also encouraged the increased formation of farmers’ organizations, including agriculture produce cooperative associations to solve problems like the insufficient supply of fertiliser. Foreign direct investment in agriculture was at the lowest level of any sector of the economy. Because food wastage and loss were issues, investment and technology were needed to address those challenges. In that regard, Myanmar had been cooperating with the international community for post-harvest techniques and had invited investment in towards that end.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said although various commitments had been made in recent years, including those at L’Aquila by the Group of Eight, implementation had been far from satisfactory and official development assistance (ODA) was declining. Increasing agricultural productivity and ensuing food security was one of the top priorities on the development agenda of his Government. His country’s five year development plan aimed at ensuring smallholder farmers becoming the engine of agricultural growth. The plan outlined targets to increase agricultural production and productivity, improve natural resource management and utilization, build the capacity for disaster prevention and preparedness, and reduce the number of food insecure households, among others.
He said that the Food Security Programme had implemented in drought prone areas household-asset building, safety net programmes and “off-farm” income generating activities. Large-scale farming was also being encouraged by private investors in areas that were not inhabited, but suitable for agriculture. That resulted in food security, job creation, availability of foreign exchanges and infrastructure development. The primary responsibility of achieving food security and nutrition rested on the countries involved. However, such efforts needed to be complemented with commensurate support of development partners. He called for such partners to mobilize the necessary resources for agricultural productivity, food security, and rural development. That was, in fact, a simple call for carrying out commitments already made at different fora.
PATRICIA BAJAÑA ( Nicaragua) stressed the importance of avoiding a renewed food crisis, noting that Nicaragua’s National Strategy of Food Security and Sovereignty was designed to protect people from hunger. Policies were aimed at guaranteeing nutritional food, fair prices and food sovereignty, as well as increasing national capacities and stability in food supply. There were structural causes to food crises that were often mentioned, but the main problem was the current international economic order, which was unjust and which was responsible for much food insecurity in developing countries. Calling for a new international economic order, she went on to describe national policies, such as the School Food Programme, which had been judged the fourth best in the world by FAO. Further, Nicaragua had met the Millennium Development Goal on poverty and had achieved a major impact on reducing inequality that compared favourably with the rest of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States region.
Because so much of food production was the responsibility of women, she said that policies and programmes had emphasised their empowerment. Doors to microcredit had been opened and most social programmes specifically targeted women. The income redistribution policies of the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America (ALBA) had helped in that regard. Through that platform, poverty and inequality had been reduced, and jobs and fair and complementary trade had shown growth. The Alliance had also promoted trade in food and agricultural products by paying producers a fair price to enhance participation. She said there were tangible results in many projects that could be attributed to the solidarity and cooperation among the Alliance States. A firm basis for future programmes aimed at enhancing productivity had been established.
NOEMI T. DIAZ ( Philippines) aligned herself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, noting that enough resources existed to achieve food security. Further, 70 per cent of the 900 million people lacking food security lived in rural areas. With half of the Philippines population living in rural areas, agricultural development was a national priority. The Food Staples Sufficiency Programme sought to improve productivity, increase farmers’ incomes and reserve national food supply. There had been a 60 per cent increase in the national budget for agriculture since 2010, with heavy investment planned.
A Cash for Work Programme, she continued, engaged landless rural workers as service providers and aimed to reduce poverty by utilising their skills on small-scale irrigation projects, while the 2009 Magna Carta of Women ensured their active participation in the production of food security. Such initiatives, which were seeing success and causing optimism, would be bolstered by the planned completion of agrarian reform in 2014.
Good governance was crucial, both nationally and internationally, she said, with rules-based international trade regimes on agricultural products that struck a balance between developed and developing countries’ needs and aspirations. Such an obligation had been enshrined in the International Covenant on Socio-Economic Rights. She said she looked forward to 2014, which had been designated as the International Year of Family Farming, thanking the countries that had supported the initiative and the Food and Agriculture Organization facilitation of implementing and coordinating that initiative.
LAOUALI LABO (Niger) aligning with the Group of 77 and China, and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that the question of agriculture and food security was of great importance to Niger as it had been facing food insecurity for more than a decade. Long-term and lasting agricultural activities could improve the living conditions of his country’s people as a whole. The Nigerien people, as did all people, deserved to be safe from famine and malnutrition. However, agriculture in Niger was based on food crops which were subject to drought and flooding. Food crop production also represented 46 per cent of the gross national product and affected the rest of the economy. Having such dependency on one sector of the economy put his country’s progress, as well as other developing countries, in jeopardy.
Under a new vision adopted by his Government, he said, Niger would almost double its cereal production, improve farmers’ access to rural financial services, and enhance agricultural research and adaptation, among others. Also, the plan hoped to reduce the people living in poverty in half by 2015. He calculated about 900 million dollars were needed to achieve the country’s initiative. This would require external support in the institutional sense, as well as financial sense, he said. Niger had included in its development strategy various global agricultural goals and also planned to undertake some measures outlined by the Rio+20 Conference. His country, he said, was fully counting on the implementation of various commitments by the international community to reduce, by 2015, the percentage of people suffering from hunger.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said that his country’s almost 160 years of prosperity had been built by the hard work of farmers, as most of New Zealand’s exports stemmed from the agricultural sector. He remained aware of both the opportunities and the challenges associated with agricultural development, and welcomed the commitments made at Rio+20 to increase global sustainable agricultural production and productivity. He also emphasised the importance of empowering rural women as critical agents for enhancing agricultural and rural development, food security and nutrition. Closing the gender gap was a high priority.
He went on to say that climate change was a major issue for the agricultural sector, with small-holder farmers in developing countries being particularly affected. Climate change also impacted oceans and the availability of fish stocks, on which many people depended, both for their food and their livelihoods. Innovation and technology, alongside local knowledge, would increase both productivity and production in an environmentally sustainable manner. Investment in agricultural research on climate-related adaptation was a priority, as was the importance of adaptation programmes, particularly in developing countries. New Zealand had been instrumental in setting up the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases to explore how food production could be increased without increasing greenhouse gas emissions. He encouraged other countries to engage in this initiative.
Agricultural cooperatives were a serious business model, he stressed, pointing out that New Zealand’s position as the world’s largest dairy exporter was sustained by dairy industry cooperatives. Further, his country had a long-standing record of sharing its agricultural expertise, and was exploring new partnerships, beyond traditional ones, with Governments, including those in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In regards to trade, he called for an open and transparent system. The further liberalization of agricultural trade under the Doha Round remained a top priority. Furthermore, the phased reduction of tariffs, and agreed disciplines against protectionist measures, which contributed to excess price volatility in the global market, would provide a sound basis to move towards a food-secure, more stable global economy.
Mr. GONZÁLEZ ( Cuba) aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed the impact of food insecurity and poor nutrition on people, especially children, around the world. It was unpardonable that so much food was wasted, while more than 10 million children around the world died each year from malnutrition. As well as those lacking food, there were also those on the brink, due to food insecurity. Production patterns needed to be changed to address and to truly tackle eradicating hunger. In addition, developing countries needed to see significant levels of debt reduction. Then they could begin to address the agricultural development.
He called for fair treatment of developing countries by developed countries, especially in international trade, where protectionism needed to be restrained. Money spent on wars by developed countries should, instead, be spent on eradicating poverty in developing countries. Cuba followed the principles of solidarity and mutual assistance on the issue of food security, he said, recognising the human right to food, and the important work of FAO and its Committee on Food Insecurity. The economic blockade imposed on Cuba, he pointed out, was the primary obstacle to his country’s ability to ensure food security. Such measures were morally and ethically unsustainable, he said.
MOHAMED CHERIF DIALLO (Guinea), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that despite the encouraging results of recent years, the food crisis remained a major concern to the international community, particularly to least developed countries. The ineffectiveness, dysfunction, lack of investment in infrastructure, and the absence of mechanisms that reduced the risks suffered by producers all led to the deteriorating agricultural situation in least developed countries, including his own. On a national level, Guinea was working towards increasing productivity and competitiveness with the aim of increase access of farmers to markets.
The basic production of rice in his country, which many people depended on as a main source of food, remained inadequate, he said. To supply the market on a regular basis, the Government intervened, along with the private sector, to ensure that products were available on the market. The dangers represented by the loss of production were evident and there were plans to deal with the after-harvest distribution period, when a large portion of the food, which otherwise would get delivered to markets, went bad due to a lack of distribution capacity. In that regard, Guinea intended to enhance direct access of the people to the goods. Lastly, he said that all the efforts being made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals would fail as long as significant progress was not achieved in the agricultural sector.
Ms. BIEMEN-HAYLOCK, representative of FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP) said the “State of Food Insecurity” report showed a decline of 130 million suffering chronic hunger and a drop — from 18.6 per cent to 12.5 per cent — in the proportion of the world’s population that was undernourished. Yet, those gains were “nowhere near good enough.” It was essential to address high and volatile food prices and to work out how to produce, trade and consume food in an age of increasing population growth, demand and climate change. It was also essential to get nutritious food to the poorest.
The United Nations Rome-based agencies were working on those challenges, she continued, actively engaging in international development processes and promoting partnerships and enhanced dialogue among different stakeholders. An Inter-Agency working group on Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition and Rural Development in least developed countries sought to articulate development approaches specifically relevant to those countries within the framework of the Istanbul Programme of Action, she said. Women’s centrality to rural development was stressed, with the recently launched UN-Women-Rome-based agencies joint programme on rural women, which focused on improving food and nutrition security, increasing incomes, enhancing leadership and participation and creating more responsive national and international policy environments. She also outlined the important contributions of several programmes and strategies but stressed that it was important to do more.
Introduction to Reports on Eradication of Poverty
DANIELA BAS, the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development for the Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the trends and challenges relating to poverty eradication, describing progress achieved, as well as the outlook for poverty reduction. At the global level, extreme poverty had continued to decline despite challenges posed by the financial and economic crisis and the food and fuel price volatility. The report noted that the growth that had fed poverty reduction up to this point remained threatened by further economic downturns. For poverty reduction to continue, special attention needed to be paid to redistribution and structural transformation, thus ensuring that vulnerable populations were less likely to “slip through the cracks”, she said.
Less than half of the global youth population actively participated in the labour market, she said. Further, the majority of young people in developing countries worked in the informal economy. The move by a growing number of countries towards fiscal austerity, reduced social spending, job cuts and calls for greater labour market flexibility, had increased the vulnerability of youth to joblessness, unemployment and working poverty, and had contributed to increased social unrest. Employment disparities between rural and urban areas prevented rural women and men from contributing fully to the development of national economies.
The report, she said, also provided an overview of the measures carried out by the United Nations system to implement the system-wide plan of action for the Second Decade. In particular, it discussed promoting greater awareness of employment and decent work as an effective development strategy for poverty reduction, strengthening capacity building, and sharing best practices in promoting employment. Among the recommendations, Member States were encouraged to give priority, in their development strategies, to creating decent and productive jobs and implementing employment policies and programmes that addressed the quality of employment, particularly for young people and other vulnerable groups.
In addition, she said, priority should be given to reducing inequalities, through a variety of means, including improving access to quality education, health care and promoting rural development policies to increase investment and productivity and promote employment opportunities. Finally, given that employment, decent work and social protection must remain prominent in the post-2015 development agenda, the United Nations should continue to give priority to implementing the system-wide plan of action for the Second Decade.
GEORGE ASSAF, Director, New York Office, UNIDO pointed out that the geography of poverty was changing, shifting from low-income countries to middle-income countries. He also said significant changes had taken place of how development cooperation was taking place. ODA levels had decreased, but South-South cooperation was on the rise, with the focus falling on boosting industrial and economic activity rather than the social, humanitarian and governance sectors.
He said developing countries had been relatively resilient to the financial crisis, with the manufacturing sectors shielding them somewhat. The United States and Japan were emphasising the industrial component of their recoveries. European Governments were also considering modification of their focus on fiscal consolidation to, instead, one that stressed industrial policy. The central challenge for the near future was how the evident and significant benefits of a healthy manufacturing sector could be spread more equitably and sustainably. It was important to create jobs and economic growth in the face of shifting demographics, to address the critical inequalities between and within countries and to increase resource efficiency, reduce energy poverty and address climate change.
In that regard, UNIDO had focused on addressing those very issues, he said, as he outlined some of the Organization’s activities. The economic and financial crisis had taught the international community that the world was no longer divided into industrialised and developing countries. Instead, he noted that it was a highly inter-dependent, globalised world where “we were all in it together”. Looking beyond 2015, he said there was a unique opportunity to build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals and build a new global development agenda.
KAZI A RAHMAN, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), introduced the report entitled, “Promotion of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection”. During preparation of the report, his organization had sought and obtained input from Member States, and relevant specialized agencies, bodies and organizations. Member States viewed ecotourism, as well as other sub-sectors of tourisms within the framework of sustainable tourism.
While almost all of the respondent countries had tourism policies, he noted that more than a third of them did not include specific components on ecotourism. The analysis indicated that a lower proportion of the least developed countries, Small Island developing States and African countries did not have tourism polices that included specific components on ecotourism, although tourism constituted a significant economic sector for many of them. He called for Member States to address that gap.
Countries interested in incorporating specific ecotourism contents in their respective tourism polices, he said, could benefit from the several key considerations identified in the report for the promotion of sustainable development. He asked that special attention be paid to the sections relating to recommendations for national actions towards increasing the contribution of tourism to sustainable development, to the suggested areas of assistance from the United Nations, specialized agencies and regional and international financial institutions, and most importantly, to the conclusions and recommendations of the report.
Demand for tourism, he continued, had been consistently rising, and the world was poised to cross the billion persons mark for international tourists. Global growth in international tourism was predicted to average 3-4 per cent a year over the coming decade. That growth, he said, underscored both the importance and the timeliness for the Committee’s consideration of the subject of ecotourism for poverty eradication and environment protection within the framework of sustainable tourism development.
Statements on Poverty Eradication
MOURAD BENMEHIDI (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, although he acknowledged some minimal progress made in recent years, the number of people still living in poverty in a number of countries continued to increase, with women and children constituting the majority of the most affected groups, especially in the least developed countries and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Further, significant pockets of poverty existed in middle-income countries and the global economic situation posed a severe risk of reversals in economic growth and an increase in the levels of poverty in those countries. It was very important to scale up efforts to address unemployment and the job crisis, while promoting productive capacities and strengthening agricultural development.
The Group believed that the global financial system should, as a matter of priority, enthrone debt sustainability policies including outright debt cancellation to heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC), particularly those from the least developed countries and Africa. He urged developed partners to remove trade barriers and agricultural subsidies, which constituted serious impediments to market accessibility by developing countries. Also, the transfer of technology by developed countries to the developing world played a critical role in facilitating their developmental efforts and accelerated economic growth. Further, the Group reiterated the need for all stakeholders to maximize their micro-finance instruments, including microcredit for poverty eradication and especially for the empowerment of women and the rural population, particularly in the agricultural sector and for the development of small-and-medium enterprises. He reaffirmed support for the Global Jobs Pact and called for the continued coordination and coherence in its implementation to avert a further job crisis.
The Group recognized the importance of addressing the issue of women in development as the advancement of women worldwide, particularly in developing countries, had been impeded by widening economic inequalities, unemployment, and high levels of poverty among women. He also emphasized the role of the public sector in the promotion of Human Resources Development and the role of the United Nations system and contribution from private and civil society in supporting the actions and priorities of the national governments. Although national governments had the ultimate responsibility to ensure the success of the campaign against poverty, engagement of the international community was required toward the realization of the established international goals and targets.
RAYMOND HAROLD LANDVELD ( Suriname) spoke on behalf of CARICOM and aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China. He reiterated that poverty eradication should be the cardinal development objective of the United Nations and should take the highest priority in the development agenda. He said urgent policy action was needed to move macroeconomic and social policies away from austerity measures in order to promote job creation, decent work and the expansion of social protection schemes. He looked forward to the Millennium Development Goals review and elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. Stressing the importance of agriculture to development strategies of developing countries, he said the objective of CARICOM’s strategy was to counter food price volatility and to ensure that the region’s population ate what it produced, that it was nutrition secure and that the high incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases were reversed. He also called for increased effort to attain social integration of disadvantaged segments of society. Poor people’s greatest asset, he said, was their ability to work and he was concerned that the economic crisis had impacted negatively on the creation of full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Challenges remained in the fight against poverty, he said, including the sharp fall in employment and the lack of recovery, the growth in the number of working poor, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, the disproportionate effects of unemployment on young people and rising food prices. He added that the crises had adversely impacted investments in health, education and skills training and he was also concerned about the classification of all members of CARICOM, bar Haiti, as middle-income countries, based on their per-capita income. He called for the adjustment of those criteria to take into account the vulnerabilities faced in the region, including proneness to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) speaking on behalf of ASEAN and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the economic, food, and energy crises had hampered progress in eradicating poverty. The poor continued to suffer from persistent inequalities, not only in income and wealth, but also in access to education and health care. ASEAN believed that peace, political stability, as well as economic stability supported by a vibrant development partnership were keys to sustainable development. ASEAN was also deeply committed to rural development and poverty eradication. The ASEAN Ministers had adopted the Framework Action Plan on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication, which outlined new strategic thrusts and concrete actions in areas of food security, poverty eradication and climate change.
He encouraged initiatives to promote an exchange of views and best practices in social security systems and supported research and information exchange on the development of viable social security measures for vulnerable groups. Beyond regional efforts, he called for better coordination and participation of all stakeholders globally including the public and private sector as well as the United Nations system. He called for continued regional and international efforts to provide adequate employment opportunities and decent work for all. ASEAN also supported the recommendation that the creation of full and productive employment and decent work be at the centre of Member States’ policy framework for sustained, inclusive and equitable growth.
Lastly, ASEAN stressed the need for adequate resources to be invested toward helping the developing countries to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. In this regard, he urged developed countries to meet their commitment to the international agreed target of 0.7 per cent ODA for all developing countries, as well as to meet the internationally agreed target of 0.15 per cent to 0.20 per cent of the gross national product to the least developed countries. Poverty eradication was a “treasured dream”, he said adding that the international community had to overcome multiple challenges to attain the dream and, despite many roadblocks, “must never give up”. Each day that the dream was not accomplished was another day that millions continued to suffer.
ELMAHDI S ELMAJERSI ( Libya) aligning himself with the Group of 77 Developing Countries and China, said that despite progress achieved in poverty eradication, economic and agricultural development remained weak. Climate change, conflict, as well as the world economic crises posed a great risk to the progress made. Poverty eradication was in line with achieving sustainable development in developing countries. Given the slow progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals during the first decade, he called for measures to be taken to reverse the deterioration of international flows, reduce debts, expand trade and remove trade barriers. Further, it was urgent to address the technological exclusion of the countries of the Global South.
Peace and political and economic stability were major factors in achieving rural sustainable development, he said. He called for a partnership to be implemented to assist developing countries in achieving the eradication of poverty. That partnership would require political will and support for the most vulnerable, he said, adding that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals required the cooperation of the United Nations, the public and private sectors. He said that Libya, in the pre-revolution era, lived under a socialist regime that had a negative impact on the citizens. In large part, they had been dependent on the state for salaries and income. The new government issued a decree to enhance citizens’ salaries, in order to eradicate poverty. His country was also focusing on establishing programs to achieve political stability, in order to promote investment in both the public and private sectors.
DEEPAK DHITAL ( Nepal) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries. He said that in 2007 the second decade for the eradication of poverty was proclaimed, in recognition of the need for everyone to work towards poverty eradication. He said that extreme poverty continued to decline at the global level despite the multiple economic crises. However, the gains were extremely fragile and would reverse without enhanced support. It was encouraging that it had been halved within the targeted time, but there was still much to be done. For Nepal, poverty alleviation was the greatest priority. There had been significant achievements, with poverty reduced from 42 per cent in 1996 to 25.2 per cent in 2009.
Nepal’s current development plan sought to continue the reduction sustainably through employment opportunities and decent work and through inclusive, productive and targeted programmes. Noting the presence of several hurdles in the way of the fight against poverty, he said it was essential to build agricultural capacity. He said he was committed to reaching out to the most vulnerable and needy sections of society, including women, the elderly, children, and dalits through social protection schemes. With limited gainful opportunities in the Nepalese economy, migration for foreign employment was on the rise and the importance of remittances was increasing. As such, he placed great importance on the basic rights of immigrant workers. As such a multi-dimensional problem, poverty eradication required combined effort locally, regionally and internationally.
ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China and said that recent reductions in global poverty remained below expectations and were uneven. In some cases, progress had even been reversed, he said, pointing out that most national efforts required commensurate international support in order to be successful. As such, he was disappointed to see declining ODA levels, insufficient debt relief and a “far from optimal” international trade regime. Women and children were among the worst affected, but prospects of achieving the agreed poverty reduction targets by 2015 were bleak. Hunger remained a severe problem and the current economic crises were responsible for sending 119 million into poverty, while Climate Change would put 50 million more people into danger of hunger by 2020 according to Oxfam.
He said this demanded an immediate and comprehensive action plan and he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to develop a comprehensive and pragmatic plan in support of the Second Decade. It should include a program of substantive work spanning the analytical, normative and operational work of the United Nations in the area of poverty eradication, he said, but should also be supplemented by a reversal of the decline in resource flows. In addition, international trade expansion was needed, including through a successful, development oriented conclusion to the Doha Round. He supported the Global Jobs Pact as a useful framework for countries to formulate appropriate policy packages specific to their national situations and priorities and called for continued coordination and coherence in the Pact’s implementation.
Ms. ASSAF ( Brazil) said that, last June in Rio de Janeiro, Member States had reaffirmed their strong commitment to urgently free humanity from poverty and hunger. The outcome document of “ Rio+20”, known as “The Future We Want”, stressed that commitment and underlined that “eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensible requirement for sustainable development”. While important progress had been made in that respect, the positive results achieved so far could dangerously conceal the enormous challenges still ahead. In that vein, it was worth underlining that, although middle-income countries had been enjoying relatively good macroeconomic conditions in recent years, they still had the majority of the world’s poor. In that sense, the United Nations system and developed countries must avoid the misconception that middle-income category countries could do without assistance.
The important goal of poverty eradication was made even more evident as the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals approached and discussions began on the Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda of the United Nations, she said. Brazil agreed that, in the “last sprint” towards 2015, the focus by the international community and local Governments in fighting poverty must concentrate on the expansion of social protection schemes and the promotion of job creation and decent work. “Only by fulfilling the basic social needs of its poor population will a country be able to unlock its productive potential and ensure a sustainable economic recovery”, she said in that regard. As Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had stressed during the opening of the General Debate of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly, the grave economic crisis that began in 2008 had now taken on “new and worrisome contours”. Indeed, monetary policy could not be “the only response to growing unemployment, the increase in poverty and the dismay that affected the most vulnerable segments of the population throughout the world”. One strategy that would be crucial in boosting the creation of jobs and decent work, particularly for unemployed youth, would be the promotion of industrial development, although, unfortunately, there had been nearly no reference to that issue in the international debate. Effective and coherent national industrial policies aimed at boosting productive capacity and job creation were necessary.
Ms. LESHKOVA ( Belarus) said that the further development and transfer of industry was important to the development of economies and to ensure the well-being of the global economy. She commended the activities of UNIDO in promoting new and renewable energy sources and ensuring access to modern energy sources around the world. Access to energy reserves through a diversified and sustainable long-term context entailed success for international poverty eradication and ensured employment among women and young people. It was difficult to overestimate the importance of global agreements that promoted new sources of energy, she said. One such measure was the launch of the Green Industrial Platform, which she believed would become a driving force of green industry and assist in transforming the economy to an environmentally green path. Lastly, she called for the United Nations to establish a global energy agenda.
SHARIF AHMAD WAHEEDI ( Afghanistan) said that, notwithstanding gains made, global poverty eradication in some corners of the world remained inconsistent. In fact, successes had been seen almost entirely in East Asia, while other areas, including South Asia, remained mired in poverty. Afghanistan was one of the many countries that had not kept pace with the reduction of poverty in the rest of the world, he said in that respect. The rapid, sustained growth necessary for poverty reduction had been hampered by food price volatility over the last several years, and 36 per cent of the country’s population still lived below the national poverty line. Many of those difficulties stemmed from Afghanistan’s unique position and history, he said; as a landlocked country, it had a natural disadvantage in exporting goods to the world market, which was aggravated by damage done to its transportation networks by decades of conflict. Floods and droughts, which had always threatened Afghans, were intensified by climate change, he stressed, adding that the Government was very limited in its ability to carry out emergency relief projects.
In addition, he said, high unemployment rates, a low level of education and high food prices could drive poor Afghans to work for criminal organizations or militias, leading to a decline in the security situation and making it more difficult for the Government to implement development projects. While such self-reinforcing problems made poverty a “vicious cycle”, they also meant that development efforts could be a “virtuous cycle” where successes in one area could lead to improvements in others. For example, improving the highway network in Afghanistan would both enable further development projects and improve the ability of Afghans to sell their goods abroad. The Afghan Development Strategy envisioned a country which, by 2020, would have a “strong, private sector-led market economy, social equity and environmental sustainability”. “We cannot, however, get there on our own”, he stressed in that regard. The support of the international community was crucial, and international aid to Afghanistan must be country-owned and focused on development priorities.
Ms. BIELKINA ( Ukraine) said she fully supported an integrated approach to poverty eradication and said the post-2015 development agenda needed to be much broader. Several issues not included in the Millennium Development Goals were now considered critical, including the development of national productive capacities and energy efficiency. The role of middle-income countries in development cooperation was also increasing, she said, including in combat against poverty and the marginalisation of least developed countries. The implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and of the Istanbul and Brussels Programmes of Action required broad international cooperation at all levels.
Poverty eradication was an absolute priority for Ukraine, she said, and that was reflected in several national development policies which identified the main directions in which poverty reduction would run. In March 2012, the Ukrainian president presented new social initiatives that were focused on employment and job creation. They aimed at improving the national labour market situation and encouraging employers to create jobs. It had helped almost 1.5 million people to emerge from poverty. The rate of extreme poverty had also been reduced by half and some progress had also been made in addressing child poverty. Industrial development in the Ukraine was among the very highest in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), she said, adding that agricultural production had also grown significantly despite the crisis. Much of that success was due to technical cooperation between Ukraine and UNIDO and she praised UNIDO’s contributions to growth worldwide, as well as in Eastern Europe. In June, she said, Ukraine had joined the UNIDO green industry platform and she hoped that that partnership could contribute substantially to green industry and make the country more resource efficient.
APISAKE MONTIENVICHIENCHAI ( Thailand) said the eradication of poverty was a high domestic priority, and as such, the government had expanded social protection and state services for the poor, including through the improvement of management of natural resources, capacity building programmes for communities and individuals, and the economic empowerment of women. Of particular importance for the long term was the need to provide better and more inclusive access to quality education and universal healthcare. Equally, he believed poverty eradication should remain a top priority for the international community, and in that regard Thailand supported the declaration of a Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty and believed that the spotlight needed to be maintained on that globally critical issue.
He urged the international community to come together to formulate short, medium and long-term measures to cushion the impact of the crisis on the global poor and encourage development in the right direction. During that process, the needs of the developing countries, especially the least developed countries, needed to be comprehensively addressed through bilateral and multilateral frameworks. Thailand stood ready to do its part and had earmarked 90 per cent of its ODA budget to assisting its neighbours through education and public health programmes. Further, Thailand called on relevant United Nations agencies, particularly those in the energy and environment sectors, to work in a more integrated manner at the national and regional levels to assist developing countries in accessing technologies and capacity-building programmes and increase awareness and understanding of environmental issues and the efficient use of energy.
AMAN HASSEN (Ethiopia) aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that the adverse impact of climate change together with low investment in productive sectors, acute infrastructure bottlenecks and a lack of fair trade opportunities had threatened the development gains made by African countries over the last decade. Though there had been progress in reaching the target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in certain regions, Africa lagged behind and had the highest proportion of people living in extreme poverty. Momentum should be kept and scaled up in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in the remaining three years in order to achieve the agreed development goals and realize the development aspirations of African Countries. Ensuring comprehensive and integrated activities, in accordance with the outcomes of the major United Nations Conferences and Summits in the economic, social and related fields, would be crucial for the overall progress for poverty eradication and sustainable development. He called for Bretton Woods institutions to play a central role.
The Government of Ethiopia had been exerting its efforts with the aim of achieving a broad based, pro-poor and sustained economic growth and development. The Government had embarked on a five year plan, which was designed to ensure the speedy economic transformation of Ethiopia and enable its people to prevail against poverty and facilitate Ethiopia joining the group of middle income countries by 2020. As a result, during the year 2010/2011 the country registered 11.4 per cent real gross domestic product growth rate. The rapid economic growth contributed positively to the creation of employment and improvement in the standard of living. Although much remained to be done in overcoming existing challenges, he believed the country was on the right path to achieve most of the Millennium Development Goals.
Mr. LLORENTY ( Bolivia) endorsed the statement of the Group of 77 and China and said the world was still experiencing the consequences of policies handed down by the Bretton Woods institutions in the 1990s. The policies had adversely affected developing countries and had resulted in the highest hunger and poverty levels ever seen. Further, in 2013, 207 million people would be unemployed, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). That was alarming because some families lived on less than $1.50 or $2 a day. Within the framework of the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty it was important to boost consistency between the organisations of the United Nations system and to promote full employment and decent opportunities for everyone. The Plan of Action was an important instrument for dealing with the priority of decent work to ensure poverty eradication. It was also important to address the causes, not just consequences of poverty and it was important to understand the negative impact of the policies of the Bretton Woods institutions.
To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he said, the international community needed to support policies put forward by developing countries, while developed countries needed to ensure they met their obligation of donating 0.7 per cent of gross domestic product to ODA. Further, despite the financial crisis, Latin America continued to grow above the level of the rest of the world. Bolivia had seen job creation that was helping to bring people out of poverty in line with a national agenda to eradicate poverty and hunger by 2015. He said that the failure of financial capitalism had given rise to the need for “green capitalism” and the system needed modification so new financial means and patterns could improve drastically the lives and means of people worldwide.
ANNU TANDON (India), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77, stated that ensuring economic growth was fundamental to eradicating poverty. Her country had been singularly successful in that, notwithstanding the turbulence of the 2008 crisis and its aftermath. However, growth itself was not sufficient to distribute opportunities and resources and therefore, India had adopted policies to ensure inclusive growth. The Government had launched large-scale socioeconomic programmes and interventions to reduce poverty, fight malnutrition and hunger, reduce infant mortality and promote gender empowerment.
Developing countries, she added, constricted by the global economic slowdown, needed enhanced resources and policy space to pursue their development aspirations. The 0.7 per cent ODA commitment of developed countries, with some honorable exceptions, still remained unmet. India was deeply concerned that ODA in 2011 had declined by almost 3 per cent. Developing countries, in particular the least developed countries, the landlocked developing countries, and the Small Island Developing States and countries in Africa were in urgent need of an “enabling international environment” that was conducive for eradicating poverty, she concluded.
ABDULLAH KHALID O. TAWLAH (Saudi Arabia) aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, believed that attaining development and poverty eradication was a moral and humane responsibility, adding that it could only be achieved through collective efforts away from selectivity and based on global partnerships. The attainment of the Millennium Development Goals was key to his country, as it was one of the countries that had attained the Millennium Development Goals in the areas of education, healthcare, and poverty eradication. Following the eradication of poverty in Saudi Arabia, the country attached special importance to eradicating poverty abroad in the form of contributions to national programmes and to the initiatives of the International Monetary Fund. More specifically it contributed to reducing the debt of the poorest countries. Saudi Arabia honoured its commitments on the national and international levels and provided generous donations to least developed countries. His country had donated $500 million to the World Food Programme to combat hunger. He shared the aspirations of the whole world to achieve sustainable development and continued to work to implement the Rio+20 “The Future We Want” document in order to achieve economic, social, and environmental development.
CLARICE LI (Singapore), aligning herself with the statement of Algeria on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and the ASEAN statement, said her country believed that the creation of quality jobs and raising productivity were the most sustainable ways in which to bring about higher wages, and also the best way to help those in the lower income bracket. To that end, an array of economic and tax strategies had been implemented to achieve those objectives; among them a Jobs Credit Scheme that gave employers cash rebates for each local worker that was kept on their payroll, so as to sustain jobs to the maximum extent possible. Singapore’s approach to helping the lower income was, therefore, centred on opportunities, not entitlements.
Beyond broad policy strategies, it was ultimately effective implementation that would enable the strategies to come to fruition, she stated. That was especially relevant for a country liker hers, where both government taxes and expenditure were low as a percentage of gross domestic product by international standards. Like many other countries, Singapore also faced significant challenges in the developmental road ahead, she noted, explaining that the forces of globalization, while bringing about economic opportunities and growth, had at the same time caused increasing inequality. The incomes of the country’s lowest income workers had stagnated over the past decade. A rapidly ageing population would also inevitably stress the social infrastructure and expenditures. While each country had to take primary responsibility for its own development, national strategies against poverty could also be complemented by assistance from regional and international partners, she added.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said since the 1970s his country had successfully reduced poverty that had besieged nearly half its population in 1970, through the implementation of various poverty eradication programmes. Notably, the country had achieved the target set in Millennium Development Goal 1 by reducing poverty to about 2.8 per cent of the population. Moving forward, Malaysia was looking into the daily needs of the bottom 40 per cent of Malaysians — 2.3 million of the population — by improving the quality of their livelihood. In doing so, by 2015, the poverty rate would be further reduced from 2.8 per cent in 2010 to an all time low of 2 per cent by 2015. To ensure the effectiveness of the poverty eradication programme, the government had established a centralized Malaysian National Poverty Data Bank that stored information on poverty. He attributed the successful implementation of poverty eradication programmes in his country to the successful power sharing and political stability Malaysia had enjoyed in the past 55 years. It was also attributed to Malaysia’s strategic planning and effective implementation of economic programmes, coupled with continuous investments in physical infrastructure, education and primary healthcare services.
Despite those successes, the country was aware that there were still vulnerable groups among its population. Therefore, an inclusive development approach that broadened the ability of Malaysians to participate in and benefit from the nation’s economic development was not an option, but a necessity, he explained. Realizing that measures to overcome socioeconomic inequalities needed to be implemented in the context of an expanding economy, the government had embarked on structural economic and political reforms through the “One Malaysia” agenda, among similar other initiatives aimed at delivering high economic growth in a sustained, inclusive and equitable fashion — and eventually enable Malaysia to become a developed country by 2020. He said Malaysia firmly believed that youth participation was a critical driver of the nation’s growth. At the regional and global level, the country would continue to share its development experience in the field of poverty eradication with fellow developing countries, in order to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
FENG XIN ( China) noted that extreme poverty had halved globally since the designation of the Second Decade to Eradicate Poverty in 2007. However, more than a billion were still in extreme poverty and daunting times lay ahead. Poverty eradication needed to be a priority. It was the greatest global challenge and did the most to hamper achievement of sustainable development. It remained an ongoing challenge, with progress restrained in South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. It also needed to be at the core of the post-2015 development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
She said that it was also important to enhance policy support for employment creation, which should be incorporated into poverty reduction strategies, with a particular emphasis on youth and women. A successful and development-oriented conclusion to the Doha trade talks was essential to enable the continued steady recovery of the world economy and sustainable economic growth. In addition, the international community also needed to provide debt relief and support for poverty eradication. There was a need for wide-ranging support, and to that end, the United Nations should ensure effective inter-agency cooperation to help with capacity building. In addition, Governments needed to mobilise resources in support.
Since 1978, China had reduced the number of its people in absolute poverty to 200 million, though it was important not to lose sight of the glaring disparities that still existed between urban and rural areas, as well as the disparities between the county’s diverse regions. Additionally, new measurement standards had led to increased poverty levels in China. While China continued to strive to reduce poverty, it also assisted other developing countries through South-South cooperation. She acknowledged the achievements in poverty eradication, trade capacity building and on energy and the environment by UNIDO. They played an essential role in allowing countries to achieve sustainable industrial development and enhanced productivity in the face of multiple economic challenges.
Mr. AL-DURRA ( Iraq) said that poverty was one of the biggest challenges that had accompanied the development process in his country over the past three decades. Poverty struck at the very core of structural institutions and threatened the social fabric and its cohesive mechanisms. Despite some accomplishments, challenges and obstacles threatened human security in Iraq. Today a quarter of Iraqis lived in poverty as a result of crises and terrorist attacks. Furthermore, there was a clear disparity in income levels, a legacy that the Iraqi State inherited from the policies of former dictatorships.
The Iraqi Government was striving according to its abilities to contribute to achieving the goals that were consistent with the national strategy to reduce poverty and efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Some of the initiatives included, among others, increasing agricultural work productivity for the poor, establishing lending programs, improving health services and education, and others. In conclusion, he stressed the importance of peace and security in eradicating poverty and called for the distribution of pledged aid to developing countries. He hoped that the global financial crisis did not undermine or slow down the implementation of those countries’ obligations towards developing nations, especially those related to ODA.
NAY MENG EANG ( Cambodia) stated that his country welcomed the adoption of the Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, and strongly advocated that the Millennium Development Goals should remain a fundamental milestone on the international development agenda. Cambodia also fully embraced the Istanbul Program of Action on the Least Developed Countries 2011-2020 and welcomed the commitments of donors to deliver fully on their promises of ODA to those countries by 2015. Further, his country was confident, despite its limited resources, of achieving the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Attaining food security and adequate nutrition were very crucial to the ongoing efforts to eradicate hunger in all countries, he continued. Cambodia had made progress on reforming those sectors by prioritizing them and incorporating them into the National Strategic Development Plan. The achievement of food security and nutrition called for a close cooperation among government institutions, private sector, development partners, and non-governmental organizations. He concluded by reaffirming Cambodia’s strong commitment to eradicating poverty and hunger while addressing climate change, food security, and gender considerations.
DIANA ALI AL-HADID ( Jordan), aligning with the statement delivered on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, stated that with over one billion people still living in extreme poverty, it was necessary to accelerate progress towards its eradication. The Rio+20 Conference had outlined poverty eradication as a key focus area in achieving sustainable development for all.
Empowering rural people through measures such as education was an essential first step, she said. Human resources development had been the cornerstone of Jordan’s poverty reduction efforts, as social capital was critical for poverty alleviation and sustainable human and economic development. In order to protect vulnerable categories at risk of poverty and to support their active participation in economic activities, Jordan had adopted a new poverty alleviation strategy. In addition, the National Strategy for Microfinance made the provision of such financial services more accessible to small businesses and had been recognized for its ability to help reduce poverty.
FAKHRI ALIYEV ( Azerbaijan) welcomed the theme of decent and productive employment for the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, because of the strong relationship between employment and poverty eradication. Macroeconomic policies influenced the pace and pattern of economic growth, he said, stressing their facilitation of employment, income generation and social inclusion. He said he had examined with great interest the impact of national policies on poverty eradication and employment. In shifting to a market economy, Azerbaijan had focused on people-centred development and inclusive societal policies. As a result of sustained economic growth, it had been possible to launch long-term national programs on poverty eradication and the socio-economic development of regions and to support their implementation in a sustainable manner. He said development of the private sector was a particular focus of development.
Due to the presence of refugees and internally displaced persons in Azerbaijan, resulting from conflict with Armenia, he welcomed the report’s emphasis on vulnerable groups. Azerbaijan had provided significant economic and social integration measures, including provision of income support and social protection schemes. Employment had been integral to Azerbaijan’s efforts to reduce poverty from 49 per cent to 7 per cent over the past eight years. Significant numbers of jobs were being created and significant investments were being made in rural areas and agricultural production development. In that regard, he appreciated the cooperation and support of FAO. He also hailed the role of ILO, which had supported efforts to boost education and training, particularly among the youth.
AUNG KYAW ZAN (Myanmar), associating with the statements made by the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, said that although by the end of 2010, according to the World Bank, the proportion of people living under extreme poverty had been halved, progress in poverty eradication was uneven. While the poverty rate had been reduced in some middle income countries, the number of people at the edge of extreme poverty continued to increase in some least developed countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The focus should be on creating full employment and decent work, as well as ensuring greater social protection, access to education, health care, and adequate nutrition. In that regard, he underscored the importance of both government strategies and public-private partnerships.
Describing his own country’s poverty eradication efforts, he said that the government was taking several actions designed to help its rural people, who comprised about 70 per cent of the total population. Encouraging farmers to enhance their productivity by using marketable and high-yield strains of paddy, prioritizing investment in down-stream industries that created decent job opportunities, and promoting education and health care were just some of the ways Myanmar was assisting rural development. Despite considerable progress in reducing the nation’s poverty rate, many challenges remained to be addressed in order to meet the target of the first Millennium Development Goal. In that regard, he was grateful for assistance from the World Bank, whose strategy would focus on accelerating poverty reduction by helping reform national institutions to better deliver services. In conclusion, he hoped the United Nations would continue to extend its support in implementing the system-wide plan of action for the Second Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.
FAIÇAL SOUISSI ( Morocco) aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that during the last decade much progress had been made in eradicating poverty. That was at the risk of being undermined by food price volatility, climate change, and lack of energy sources. Concerning Africa, progress had been achieved, but outcomes varied depending on the country. The poverty and food insecurity situation in sub-Saharan Africa was of concern following a number of serious droughts and he called on the international community to address the issue. The multidimensional aspect of poverty required a multidimensional solution. He called for the establishment of strategies and policies focused on providing employment, especially for women and young people.
Ecotourism was a good source of job creation in developing and least developed countries, he said. In addition, technology transfer was also vital to poverty eradication. More than 5 million people had benefitted from the first national development initiative, which in addition was responsible for the creation of 40,000 jobs. The next phase included improving the population’s quality of life, which he said would entail social services to all citizens. Much of the assistance remained inadequate, he said, adding that perhaps efforts were hampered by the global financial and economic crises. He emphasized the importance of South-South cooperation and called for the end of the terrible “scourge” of poverty.
MINH T VU (Viet Nam) aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and with ASEAN, was concerned that the rate of decline in many countries had not been sufficient to reduce the absolute number of people living in extreme poverty. She was also concerned that, in the context of a fragile and uncertain global economic outlook and rising food prices, greater pressures would be exerted on poverty eradication across countries. Viet Nam had witnessed significant success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals target of extreme poverty reduction, with the number of people living in extreme poverty decreasing by 75 per cent between 1990 and 2010. She called that a reflection of the strong political will and sound policies by the State of Viet Nam in its socioeconomic development path.
However, as a new lower-middle-income country and in the face of declining development assistance and global economic vulnerabilities, Viet Nam was confronted with numerous challenges common to other middle income countries, including a slower decline in the rate of poverty, the risks of poverty relapse and the pressures of stable job creation. The Government had devised a sustainable poverty reduction framework for the period of 2011-2020, which would focus on assisting the most vulnerable groups, including poor households, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities, women and children. The measures were wide-ranging, with an emphasis on investment in infrastructure for poor areas, agricultural assistance policies, preferential credit for poor households and housing provision for low-income families especially in urban areas. Finally, she said Viet Nam was grateful for the assistance by the United Nations and the international community extended to Viet Nam in the mutual quest for poverty eradication for the past 30 years.
RONIT BEN-DOR ( Israel) said that the Old Testament taught society to consider the least privileged within it in order to thrive. She quoted, “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow.” Israel, she said, believed those principles must prevail in the international society as well, but it was important to acknowledge that poverty could not be defeated through charity alone. It was crucial to provide decent jobs that provided a secured income and empowered the poor, especially women and young people. There were some principles that Israel considered fundamental, such as enlarging participation in the workforce, increasing access to education, especially scientific higher education and placing great emphasis on entrepreneurship.
Israel encouraged its citizens to participate in the workforce, she said. The majority of Israeli families had both parents working full-time while children enjoyed a subsidized childcare system. The last few years had emphasized how important the middle class was for social cohesion and Israel continued to look for ways to best cater to their needs. Numerous Israeli initiatives promoted employment, particularly among the Orthodox Jews and Arab-Israeli populations. One such example was the Appleseeds Academy, which provided people from disadvantaged communities with technological training, leadership skills and personal empowerment workshops. Israel recognized that entrepreneurship had the power to help build societies in which people had the confidence, skill, and desire to solve the problems they see around them. Israel also greatly valued small and medium sized enterprises, especially the micro-enterprises. MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development cooperation, worked to promote entrepreneurship around the world including in Latin America, where MASHAV alone had taught entrepreneurial skills to over 22,000 young people. It also worked to empower women, as the positive effects rippled across the entire community. It was important to ensure that women were given the tools to be able to prosper, and that included giving them the ability to make their own decisions about their own reproduction. She outlined the ways MASHAV was involved in empowering women, including through a workshop on the empowerment of rural women.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that the eradication of poverty stood as the most serious development challenge mankind faced today. The situation of the least developed countries had been worsened with the reversal of many development gains in the wake of multiple crises and by the adverse impacts of climate change. Sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and development required the removal of constraints and building of productive capacity and long-term resilience to shocks. The Group called for the expansion of the Social Protection Floor Initiative launched by the United Nations system in 2009, so as to help each least developed country put in place a sustainable social protection mechanism as a necessary component of their development strategies to address poverty, inequality and social exclusion. That could be used as an investment in the people, which he called to be a prerequisite for sustainable and fairly shared economic growth.
The least developed countries were most hit by youth unemployment and youth underemployment, he said. Youth’s potential should be maximized, including through access to adequate education which responded to the needs of specific economies in the least developed countries. The issue of the promotion of productive capacities in the least developed countries was directly related to youth employment. In that respect, the promotion of Ecotourism was a field of high interest for the least developed countries. The Group welcomed the recommendations contained in the report of the World Tourism Organization on Ecotourism and took note of the seven main mechanisms through which the poor could benefit from tourism.
The economic structure of least developed countries had been largely stagnant over the past decades with several countries even experiencing deindustrialization, he said. That posed a great challenge for countries that needed to diversify their economies, as well as build productive capacity and manufacturing, as stressed in Istanbul Program of Action. The Group needed the strong and steady partnership of their development partners, in order to address constraints and to finance development efforts efficiently. In this respect, he welcomed the recommendations regarding the measures to be taken by the United Nations System and the national Governments for the acceleration of efforts to eradicate poverty and promote empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable.
Right of Reply
The representative of Armenia , exercising his right of reply to Azerbaijan, said that the reference to aggression was misleading. Azerbaijan had been the first to use tanks, rockets, and missiles against the civilian population in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The representative of Azerbaijan, responding, said that the statement of the Armenian delegation was untrue and sounded like he was describing something out of a “Star Wars” movie. She said the evidence was clear and proved that Armenia had attacked Azerbaijan and carried out ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. Today’s discussion was on poverty and she was rightfully placing attention on the vulnerable refugees displaced by the conflict.
In response, the delegate of Armenia said it would be too time-consuming to fully respond to Azerbaijan and that it was not the right forum to raise internal political issues. Armenia had not acted aggressively, but had been defending itself to avoid the mass deportation of its people in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. He reiterated his country’s dedication to the protection of human rights, calling it one of the main prerequisites for development in the region.
Once again exercising her right of reply, Azerbaijan said it was “crystal clear” that ethnic cleansing by Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region had been documented by multiple bodies of the United Nations, including the Security Council, thus leaving no room for misinterpretation. She called upon the delegation of Armenia to take into account how its country’s “use of force” contributed to poverty and hampered development.
* *** *For information media • not an official record