– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly

21 March 2019

Your Excellency Mauricio Macri, President of the Republic of Argentina and President of the Conference,

Esteemed António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,

Your Excellency Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC,

Heads of State and Government, Ministers,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

As President of the General Assembly, and as a Latin American woman, it is an honor to participate in the opening of this historic Conference.

I would like to thank the Government and the people of Argentina for their kind hospitality and their active contribution to the preparation process of this Conference.

I also want to thank Ambassadors Audra Plepyté and Adonia Ayebare of Lithuania and Uganda, for the impeccable work in the co-facilitation of the negotiations for the Outcome Document.

Similarly, I wish to highlight the constructive spirit of all delegations during the negotiations in New York and I am also thankful for the efforts that have been made to obtain a solid Document about the role of south-south cooperation and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The United Nations Conference that was held forty years ago, in Buenos Aires, is a symbol of the solidarity and determination of southern countries to be the protagonists of their own development and of the need to establish a more equitable and inclusive new international order, in which everyone can contribute according to their own potentialities.

Excellencies,

Today’s world is different from the one we had in the past. The geopolitical reality has changed and clearly southern countries today have a decisive role not only in the economy but also in the alternatives to the multiple challenges of today, such as the climate, migratory and security crises.

Our vision for development has also changed. By adopting the 2030 Agenda we committed to transform the lives of today’s generations to preserve the future of the generations to come.

Today, we are here again, in this beautiful city, to confirm our commitment with south-south cooperation and the principles it is based on. But we are also here to emphasize the immense potential that this mode of cooperation offers us. All of this, without forgetting the historical commitment and the responsibilities accepted by developed countries.

These four decades prove that south-south cooperation and triangular cooperation are powerful tools to achieve positive changes in the countries of the south, in their efforts to eradicate poverty, in all its forms and dimensions.

Countless projects that have been managed under south-south cooperation have had wonderful results: from creating employments to strengthening public institutions and policies; improvements in health, education, culture, infrastructure and technology transfer and the capability to respond to natural disasters or emergency situations. The list is endless.

Our challenge, as of today, is to promote these examples, and adapt them to the new paradigm of sustainable development. And, why not? With innovavite forms of joint and solidary work.

For Middle Income Countries, south-south cooperation should reduce inequalities and contribute to financing and investment. In Landlocked Developing Countries and in Least Developed Countries, there is also the need to have initiatives to transform their productive capabilities and diversify them.

For Small Island Developing States, we must facilitate access to initiatives to adapt to climate change, resilience and debt sustainability.

The African Development Agenda 2063 should also benefit from this powerful tool.

For all of this, having more technical and financial resources is critical. According to UNCTAD, the annual financial gap to achieve the SDGs amounts to 2.5 trillion dollars.

We must also measure the impact of south-south cooperation and identify the main challenges for its implementation. We need more data and statistics.

And, in all our initiatives, we must include the gender approach. Attaining gender equality and the empowerment of women is both a need and an obligation.

Excellencies,

South-south cooperation goes back to awakening the awareness of countries and peoples from the south. With it, we have been able to overcome welfare and vertical cooperation models.

For instance, the technological trans-regional cooperation for renewable energies in India, China and Brazil are fundamental for the future of eco-friendly and economic sustainability. This is crucial if we think that the benefits of the fourth industrial revolution should also favor countries from the South.

In the area of health, we can highlight the contingents of Cuban physicians in Africa to overcome the health emergency caused by the Ebola virus or the promising initiative of the four countries of the Northern Triangle of Central America to develop a comprehensive plan to address the migration phenomenon.

However, south-south cooperation does not replace north-south cooperation; it complements it and enriches it. The Official Development Assistance is still critical and its fulfillment is urgent.

South-south cooperation is also the backbone of regional integration: it brings peoples closer and facilitates the political agreement processes that make us stronger.

Excellencies,

We are witnessing how the multilateral system and the regulations and institutions that we have worked so hard to build are now being challenged. Isolationist forces and extreme nationalism are re-emerging in several corners of the world.

The best way to respond is with more efficiency, more impact and collective actions. To do this, we need a strong leadership, now more than ever.

The question is: what do the 821 million people with hunger, the 258 million migrants or the more than 193 million of unemployed people dream of? What do they need? What do they expect from us?

The answer is that, in New York, New Delhi, in Paris or Pretoria, in Quito or Helsinki, they share all the same dreams: decent employment, health and education, a healthy and secure environment, a government that listens and responds, an effective international system with tangible results.

But these dreams, that seem so elemental, are becoming increasingly distant. The feelings of anxiety and frustration need a solid response that arises from a cooperation-based multilateral system, including south-south cooperation, and in its capability to influence, channel and accompany governments and its societies. 

It has been proven that south-south and triangular cooperation have generated these responses that allow us to connect with people and have a positive transformation in the lives of millions of people and entire communities. Clearly, we are contributing to restore faith in the effectiveness of international cooperation and multilateral action.

Countless projects that have been managed under south-south cooperation have had wonderful results: from creating employments to strengthening public institutions and policies; improvements in health, education, culture, infrastructure and technology transfer and the capability to respond to natural disasters or emergency situations. The list is endless.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the UN General Assembly

Excellencies,

To conclude, South-South Cooperation represents the best of our peoples. It is the very principles of solidarity and working for the common good that make south-south cooperation a powerful force.

Recalling Gandhi, we can assert that South-South Cooperation can be the change we wish to see in the world. I feel very encouraged by what we have achieved so far and I am certain of the transforming power that it will hold for the future. 

Thank you.