Second Committee continues economic and financial review

Sebastiano Cardi, Chair of the UN General Assembly's Second CommitteeThe General Assembly’s Second Committee continues its review of issues relating to economic growth and development. Some 40 draft resolution texts are being considered for adoption in the Committee and it is expected that it will conclude its work shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday. As of 21 November, some 24 draft resolutions are still being negotiated.

The Chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi (Italy), emphasizing the need to speed up consultations on draft texts, has encouraged facilitators of ongoing consultations to continue their work to reach agreements on these texts. It is expected that consideration of a number of draft resolutions, including some on active topics such as financing for development, Agenda 21 follow-up, and debt restructuring will be decided upon by the Committee in early December.

The Committee opened its general debate on 7 October with a keynote address by Professor Janet C. Gornick, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, City University of New York, addressing issues on the topic of “High and Rising Inequality : Causes and Consequences.” Professor Gornick addressed the Committee at a crucial moment of change in orientation of the UN development agenda. Recently, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has included a stand-alone goal to directly address national and global inequality, as part of its proposals to the General Assembly for a post-2015 development agenda.

Ebola outbreak and MDGs among wide range of topics addressed during general debate

During the general debate, held from 7 to 9 October, a total of 94 interventions covered a wide range of topics. The Chair expressed the Committee’s solidarity with and support for the countries affected by the Ebola virus and recognized and commended the many aid workers engaged in combatting the epidemic. Many countries acknowledged the progress in achieving the MDGs, yet also expressed disappointment that the MDGs had not been met in full, stating that the unfinished business of the MDGs must be completed.

Countries unanimously emphasized the importance of the post-2015 development agenda for the work of the Committee. Most stated that the agenda should have poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core. Many underscored the issue of inequality. Several stressed the inclusion of particular issues, such as technology transfer, empowerment of women, climate change, oceans and seas and affordable energy. Many delegations stated that the basis for formulating the post-2015 agenda should be the report of the Open Working Group.

Others called for a stronger global partnership for development and an ambitious outcome for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. Several emphasized South-South and triangular cooperation as important complements to North-South cooperation. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities was recognized by many speakers as a foundation for international cooperation.

Debt restructuring and sustainability were mentioned by many as a continuing challenge, with some stressing a need for regulation. The negative risks of vulture funds were also highlighted.

Calling for climate action

Many countries called for action on climate change and commended the Secretary-General for the Climate Summit, which added impetus to the ongoing negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. Many called for a new legally binding agreement, with several emphasizing common but differentiated responsibilities. The vulnerabilities of SIDS were emphasized, including as a factor to that should be considered in concessional financing.

Many countries emphasized that special focus must be given to countries in special situations. The SAMOA Pathway and its follow-up were emphasized by many, as was African development, and the concerns of the LDCs and LLDCs.

Side events provide platform for debate

Throughout its review of the various agenda items, the Committee also held a number of side events and joint meetings with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as part of its programme of work. Many of these debates provided useful insights that will facilitate the negotiations on a post-2015 development agenda, expected to be adopted by the General Assembly in September next year.

On 24 October, a debate on investment promotion for foreign direct investment in least developed countries (LDCs) [video] highlighted that FDI had played a catalytic role in building and strengthening productive capacity in these countries. LDCs had made strong efforts over the years to attract increased FDI flows and enhance the benefits for their economies. Yet, the total share of global FDI to LDCs remained modest; therefore, speakers at this event explored ways and means to attract and retain increased investments in LDCs.

On 30 October, a joint meeting of the Second Committee and ECOSOC on a renewed global partnership for development [video] highlighted that a unified and universal post-2015 development agenda must be supported by a renewed global partnership for development to mobilize the unprecedented financial resources and other means of implementation that are necessary. The event emphasized that both private and public financing from domestic and international sources were needed, and should be effectively utilized to fill the large needs for support.

On 31 October, an event on accountability and monitoring the post-2015 development agenda [video] explored practical ways in which progress in implementation of a universal agenda, reinforced by the international community’s commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development, could be measured within and between countries and entities. Speakers debated how an appropriate monitoring and accountability framework could be conceived to support the new development agenda.

On 4 November, the Committee heard speakers in a side event on New Instruments of Social Finance [video]. Several speakers explored how these instruments could contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in both industrialized and developing countries. Sharing experiences to date, speakers from philanthropy, the private sector, banking and trade unions engaged in a discussion, exploring what changes in public policy would be needed to scale up its adoption and effectiveness in delivering sustainable development outcomes.

Finally, on 14 November, a side event on e-government for sustainable development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) [video] discussed the implementation of the policy recommendations from the outcome document of the third SIDS Conference, especially on supporting e-government development and enhancing capacity building of SIDS countries in delivering citizen-centric services to address multiple challenges in pursuing sustainable development.

For more information: Second Committee of the UN General Assembly