The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee has to address a wide range of important topics related to economic growth and development this fall. Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, the Chair of the Committee, sat down with DESA News for an exclusive interview to share some of the major tasks before the Committee, including financing for sustainable development, sustainable development goals in the post-2015 development agenda and the global Ebola response.
Taking aim at the topic of inequality and featuring keynote speaker Professor Janet C. Gornick, Director of the Luxembourg Income Study Cross-National Data Center, the Second Committee kicked off its fall session on 7 October with the general debate including 94 statements, an increase compared to last year’s session.
“This is a testimony to the great interest of the General Assembly for the work of the Committee this year,” said Ambassador Cardi, as DESA News got an opportunity to speak with him following the Committee’s morning meeting, where it had just discussed the topic of sustainable development, one of its most extensive agenda items with a total of 24 reports under consideration.
“This year is a particular year, because we are going to face in 2015 some important processes related to the work of the Second Committee,” said Ambassador Cardi as he described some of the main issues before the Committee, highlighting financing for development and the post-2015 development agenda.
Taking aim at sustainable development, Ebola response and more
Ambassador Cardi also pointed to sustainable development as the one item being present throughout the work of the Committee. “I think we will be able to give substantial contribution by focusing on the sustainable development goals,” he said, also adding other important issues including climate change, disaster risk reduction and the importance of the least developed countries or landlocked developed countries.
“But there is one issue which is of particular worry for the general membership and it is of course the outbreak of Ebola,” Ambassador Cardi said, describing the swift action taken by the UN General Assembly in establishing the first-ever UN emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER).
“The problem is the potential spread of the virus, the situation it creates in terms of backtracking progress we have witnessed in some of the countries involved,” he said. “This will have an impact of the proceedings of the Committee and we will have to give special attention to this very important issue,” he continued, emphasizing the urgent need for the international community to tackle this challenge.
“I hope as Chair, to be able to create a good atmosphere that will in turn help the next phase of deliberations of the post-2015 development agenda”
Chair of the Second Committee
Climate change and financing for development
Discussing the wide range of issues on the Committee’s agenda this fall, Ambassador Cardi highlighted some of the more pressing matters, in addition to the Ebola crisis. “There are at least three items in which the Committee will have to send strong messages,” he said, pointing to the first being climate change. Referring to a successful climate summit convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September, Ambassador Cardi highlighted the upcoming Lima meeting at the end of the year and Paris COP21 at the end of 2015. “We hope to be able to send signals to the membership that can influence in some way the next processes that will take place in 2015,” he said.
“The second is financing for development,” Ambassador Cardi added, referring to next year’s Third International Conference on Financing for Development taking place in Addis Ababa on 13-16 July 2015. “It is important that the Committee helps and facilitates the deliberations of this very important conference because financing for development, the means for development, is one of the crucial issues,” he said.
Ambassador Cardi also highlighted the work of the Committee in setting the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals, praising the efforts of the Open Working Group and describing the Committee’s role. “I hope as Chair, to be able to create a good atmosphere that will in turn help the next phase of deliberations of the post-2015 development agenda,” he explained.
Side events provide further insights
E-government for sustainable development in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), social market economy and new instruments of social finance – these are some of the topics for the six side events and special meetings arranged by the Second Committee this fall.
“It is important to have side events because they help the general membership to understand better some of the issues we are examining and deciding upon,” explained Ambassador Cardi, describing how the Committee for these events brings in experts and external actors to address different topics.
“We started yesterday with the first side event […] on debt restructuring,” he said, pointing to the importance of this issue for a growing number of countries. “We had a very strong turn-out of Member States attending the session and listening very attentively to what our guests had to say,” he added.
“Monitoring is of course a big part of the post-2015 develop agenda,” Ambassador Cardi continued, referring to the side event on “Promoting accountability at all levels: monitoring the post-2015 development agenda,” which took place on 31 October.
“We will have to increase our capacity to be able to understand the progress of the development goals,” he explained, describing the importance of monitoring progress in various countries in order to change course, adapting strategies to the situation on the ground. Other events of the Committee this fall take aim at the investment promotion regime for foreign direct investment in Least Developed Countries and a renewed global partnership for development.
Building consensus the goal
“The main objective would be to give some contribution to the process of the post-2015 development agenda,” Ambassador Cardi said, as he discussed with DESA News some of the main achievements that he is hoping for as the Committee will wrap up the session in December.
“Promoting consensus on some contentious issues such as trade, finance, technology, the means of implementation and also on debt restructuring,” he added, explaining that these are some of the issues where there are sometimes different views from the various negotiating groups.
“Our goal is to build consensus, to bring about all the Member States to a shared objective,” Ambassador Cardi said encouragingly, also adding the hope to review working methods. “We hope to get a fresh look upon working methods, to make our work more effective for the benefit of the Member States and the international community,” he said.
For more information: