Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Opening of the Second Committee of the General Assembly

Delivered by
Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General
for Policy Co-ordination & Inter-Agency Affairs, DESA

Your Excellency, Ambassador Cardi, Chair of the Second Committee,
Distinguished Delegates,

Let me begin by congratulating the Bureau members, and you, Ambassador Cardi, as Chair, on your election.

The Second Committee is meeting at a critical juncture as we gear up for a new ambitious development agenda.  We see modest economic growth in some parts of the world. At the same time, we are also witnessing growing inequalities, and increasing challenges of disease and conflict in many parts of the world. Climate change impacts are no longer a threat but a reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The global economy continues to expand at a moderate pace, despite widening divergence in the growth rates among major economies.  According to the World Economic Situation and Prospects, the world economy is expected to grow by 2.8 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively, in 2014 and 2015.

Developing countries as a whole will continue to contribute significantly to global growth. But their growth rate is also markedly lower than before the global financial and economic crisis.  Exposures to international shocks, country-specific challenges – including structural imbalances – infrastructural bottlenecks, increased financial risks, as well as social and political tensions, continue to bedevil a number of these countries.

Against this background, more effective international policy coordination is imperative. In particular, stimulating global demand and output growth should remain an overarching priority.  But we must pay attention to the environmental consequences of such growth.  Efforts should also continue to promote secure and stable societies.

Mr. Chairman,

The rate of unemployment remains high in both developed and developing countries. Progress in addressing inequality between and within countries has been uneven. The framework of the second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, therefore, remains important.

Countries must invest adequate resources to fight poverty, and strive for sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth. The focus should be on job creation, reducing inequality, improving equality of opportunity in areas such as education and training, health care, and access to credit and productive assets. We should also continue to invest in agriculture in poor countries, and scale-up social protection. All these are crucial for achieving and sustaining the MDG gains.

The momentum we need requires policies to advance the reforms in financial regulation to reduce risks of financial and economic crisis, and strengthen counter-cyclical policy space.  These reforms should also provide incentives to long-term investment for sustainable development.

Mr. Chairman,

I had the honour to serve as the Secretary-General of the recent Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States held in Samoa.  I am happy to report that it ended on an optimistic note – a true testimony that multilateralism is alive. The outcome of the Conference – the SAMOA Pathway – leaves no doubt that SIDS issues are global issues.  DESA is working with the UN system and beyond to ensure that the actions contained in the Pathway – and those announced during the multi-stakeholder partnerships dialogues – are followed through.

The SDGs, as recently proposed by the OWG, go farther than the MDGs, proposing goals and targets on sustainable energy for all, sustained and inclusive economic growth and industrialization, reducing global and national inequalities, climate change, sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and the protection of the earth’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems, including oceans, seas and forests.

We are also making tangible progress integrating issues related to international migration, migrants and labour mobility into the United Nations development agenda. At the High-level Dialogue last year, the General Assembly recognized the contribution of international migration to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

A robust monitoring and review framework, as well as a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development will be necessary for the success of the post-2015 development agenda. Your contribution to this process, across all agenda items before the Committee, will be critical.

Mr. Chairman,

Arriving at a comprehensive financing framework for the post-2015 agenda will be a major challenge that must be addressed. The international community expects an ambitious outcome at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. This will help to strengthen the means of implementation and global partnership for development.

I have been appointed as the Secretary-General of the Conference and I look forward to supporting all Member States in ensuring that the Conference is a singular success.  At the high level general debate, many heads of government and state emphasized that the means of implementation would be critical for the success of the transformation envisaged in the post-2015 development agenda.

The Second Committee can contribute to the preparation of the Conference, including through the related special events you will hold. The regional commissions should also allocate time for consultations prior to the Conference.

Mr Chairman,

We appreciate the value you attach to the work of the UN system in providing operational linkages between the global policy and normative frameworks, and national policies and strategies, through capacity development. 

As the Manager of the UN Development Account, I am mindful of the challenges posed by a transformative, universal post-2015 development agenda.  I have, in this regard, decided to narrow the focus of the 10th tranche of the Development Account to better support Member States in implementing the post-2015 development agenda: strengthening statistics and data, evidence-based policies and monitoring.  The logic here is clear – monitoring demands transparency and evidence; and robust policies and programmes are built on reliable data and statistics.

Within DESA, we have taken steps to consolidate our capacity development work across all divisions, building on our strengths, to evolve coherent assistance to countries in pursuing sustainable development.

A large number of countries do not have well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics systems. As a result, fertility, morbidity and mortality statistics are often unavailable on a consistent and timely basis. Many countries will need support in order to build and strengthen their national statistical systems so that they can produce the necessary high-quality information for decision-making.

DESA has, therefore prioritized improving the availability and quality of basic data essential to monitoring progress in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. We are also supporting the Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Development.

Mr. Chairman,

The successful outcome of the first substantive meeting of the high-level political forum under the auspices of ECOSOC, in July this year, amply demonstrated your commitment to dealing with complex issues and reach positive outcomes.  I urge all Member States to continue to nurture this spirit of commitment, for a more prosperous and sustainable future.

I wish the Committee every success as you navigate the busy calendar ahead. Thank you for your attention.