– As delivered –

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

15 April 2019

Your Excellency, Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, President of the Economic and Social Council,

Esteemed António Guterres, Secretary General,

Mister Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund,

Mister Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda,

Mister Tim Yeend, Chef de Cabinet and Principal Advisor to the World Trade Organization Director-General,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is truly a pleasure to participate in this Forum.

I believe that a difficult task brings us together today, but it is absolutely necessary if we want to transcend words and turn the commitments we have acquired to favor our peoples into a reality.

The current economic global context, contained in the 2019 Sustainable Financing for Development Report, I must say it, is not every encouraging insofar meeting the aspirations captured in the 2030 Agenda that require the annual mobilization of approximately 6 trillion USD.

Although the global economic growth has continued to be stable, its rhythm is barely 3% per year and continues to be uneven in all regions and countries. On the other hand, financial markets are very volatile. 30 developing countries are at high risk or have financial difficulties. The rate of business transactions went from 5,3% in 2017 to 3,8% in 2018 and the deficit in climate financing of between 2,5 and 4,5 trillion USD continues to be one of the most pressing challenges for the international community.

But there are also positive signs, according to the Report itself. In some African countries and eastern and southern Asia, the investment has been sustained by major infrastructure projects, mainly financed with public funds.


Four years after starting the path to development sustainability, the obvious question is: are we doing enough to generate and assign resources that correspond to the level of ambition of our goals?

Clearly, the answer is no, since financing gaps still exist.

However, we still have time to close those gaps and the formula is clear: we need developed countries to deliver on the commitments they acquired in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Official Development Assistance; we need both the private and public sector to make additional investments aligned with the SDGs; we need the financial systems to provide real support; and we need to generate favorable political environments at all levels.

I would also add that all these elements must be focused on generating the 600 million new decent jobs that are required until 2030.

Now then, how do we do that?

We know that to make this happen, political will is essential.

We must reform regulatory frameworks to take advantage of public and private funding for the SDGs.

Regarding the mobilization of national resources, we must target tax policies that can play their redistributive role and we must supplement them with international tax cooperation to deal with tax evasion and avoidance. 

For their part, the international financial systems must be renovated in order to contribute to a fairer and more equitable international economic order. We must strengthen the multilateral trade framework that we already have.

We must continue to drive technology transfer and digitalization. African countries and small island developing states must be a priority.

Debt sustainability must be addressed. Several countries risk a crisis due to the elevated costs. Let us think of ways to relieve this great burden for Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States and Landlocked Developing States.

We must involve the private sector as a key partner in this discussion. Let us reflect on how to create adequate incentives and favorable environments to invest responsibly, with social commitments, respecting human rights and the environment.

Developing low carbon technologies does not only contribute to the fight against climate change, it also has great economic potential. Approximately one thousand million people still do not have access to electricity. Therefore, investing in clean and accessible energy sources will generate great revenues. Likewise, circular economy has solutions for some of the challenges of sustainable development and tools to make our production processes more efficient.

Small and medium-sized companies represent between 60 and 70% of all sources of work around the world and therefore promoting them is vital, as is promoting companies belonging to the social and solidary economy sector.

Political will must also be aimed at the full and egalitarian participation of women in the economy. Empowered women are agents of economic and social change. Including them financially, providing training for them and eradicating the wage gap will make the difference.

Through South-South Cooperation we can drive economic and commercial integration to strengthen regional and sub-regional development banks.

A sustainable development future requires investing now, in the present. The roadmap and due dates are already outlined. Now it is time to act, to take decisive steps to make the promise to “free the human race from the tyranny of poverty” a reality and contribute to make our Organization more relevant for all.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the UN General Assembly


The results of these debates should be very useful in the following events of an economic nature mandated by the General Assembly, such as the debate on Inclusive Development and Inequality; the dialogue on Commodity Markets and the meeting on Illicit Financial Flows, on May 14, 15 and 16, respectively in New York.

Similarly, they will be important inputs for the Summit of the High Level Political Forum and the High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development. Both events are “golden” opportunities to highlight the progress made since 2015 and identify what is not working and the urgent measures that must be taken.


A sustainable development future requires investing now, in the present. The roadmap and due dates are already outlined. Now it is time to act, to take decisive steps to make the promise to “free the human race from the tyranny of poverty” a reality and contribute to make our Organization more relevant for all.

Thank you and I wish you a fruitful session.