United States President Barack Obama today joined other world leaders in calling for a “new chapter” in global development — to be manifested in the 17 newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals — as the General Assembly closed its special summit on the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.
“Today, we set aside scepticism and lift up the hope that is available to us through collective action,” he said, referring to the unanimous adoption of the new Agenda on Friday. Stressing that the seemingly never-ending cycle of poverty could, in fact, be broken, he described progress made in many target areas over the past 15 years. But, the task had not been finished, as some 800 million people were scraping by on less than $1.25 per day.
Mr. Obama committed his country, the largest development donor, to achieving the new Goals, emphasizing that the new chapter must not fall victim to the divide between developed and developing countries, nor the false choice between development and the protection of the planet. He also underscored the need to address bad governance, inequality, old attitudes that denied rights and opportunities to women, and climate change. Development was also threatened if the world did not recognize the potential of the African continent, or if it allowed wars and conflict to continue.
Many speakers highlighted the link between development and peace, with Alyaksandr Lukashenka, President of Belarus, warning that the world had come to the Sustainable Development Goals Summit more divided than it had been over the past three decades. There was a loss of trust among nations, which could only be corrected by recognizing the diversity of States as a prerequisite for common progress. The world was experiencing a crisis of responsibility, with many decisions based on self-interest and short-term advantages. Renewal of trust was the only way to safeguard peace and security and find effective responses to global threats and challenges together.
Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera, President of Costa Rica, said his country had repeatedly proposed that disarmament was a mechanism to channel significant resources to sustainable development. “Betting on disarmament is betting on peace. An equivalent of $1.7 trillion was spent worldwide in 2014 on military spending,” he said, calling on the five permanent members of the Security Council to reorient spending towards sustainable development. “I assure you there is no better formula for the safety of their countries than to ensure sustainable development throughout the world,” he said.
Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, said that, as a middle-income, landlocked country in transition, his nation still shouldered the heavy burden of caring for a large number of refugees and displaced persons in and after conflicts in the region, and coped with development-related problems. The uncontrolled influx of migrants transiting via Serbia to Europe was a collective challenge requiring a solution.
Also figuring prominently into today’s discussion was the untapped potential of Africa as a major force to help achieve the new development Agenda. John Dramani Mahama, President of Ghana, said it would be necessary to review the continent’s role in world production patterns, and to bring to Africa a significant portion of processing and value addition. In addition, he said, a new paradigm of development must be defined. The current high consumption of wasteful societies classified as “developed” could not be the model for sustainable development going forward.
Marie Louise Coleiro, President of Malta, was among the many speakers who highlighted the importance of Goal 5 on gender equality and empowerment of women. She said that stories of inequality and discrimination flooded the media daily. “How can we talk about progress without talking about women, girls and gender minorities?” she asked. Meanwhile, Enrique Peňa Nieto, President of Mexico, hailed the fact that the new Agenda included gender equality and the empowerment of women as cross-cutting elements across all the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Assembly also held two interactive dialogues — one on “Building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to achieve sustainable development” and the other on “Protecting our planet and combating climate change”.
Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, and other high-ranking Government officials, from Austria, Brazil, Ecuador, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Venezuela, Tajikistan, Bulgaria, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Romania, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, South Sudan, Pakistan, Belgium, Bangladesh, Grenada, Malaysia, Italy, Tunisia, Greece, Ukraine, Russian Federation, Qatar, Maldives, Singapore, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Paraguay, France, Lithuania, Montenegro, Solomon Islands, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Japan, Thailand, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Mauritius, Turkey, Slovakia, Philippines, Portugal, Andorra, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Australia, Algeria, Argentina and Poland. A representative of the European Union also spoke.
HEINZ FISCHER, President of Austria, said that since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals 15 years ago, the world had changed significantly. The international community faced myriad challenges, including from climate change and refugees. This year was a big one for the international community and would help set the path for a sustainable future. The upcoming Climate Change Conference should and must be a success. Reaching an agreement would not be easy, but Austria and the European Union would do everything possible to ensure success in Paris in December. The Sustainable Development Goals built on and completed the Millennium Development Goals, and were universal and applicable to every single country. Agenda 2030 made one thing clear: no one must be left behind.
DILMA ROUSSEF, President of Brazil, stated that the Sustainable Development Goals reaffirmed the basic tenet of Rio+20: “it is possible to grow, include, preserve and protect”. The Agenda required global solidarity and a commitment to confronting climate change, overcoming poverty and creating opportunities for everyone. Her country was investing in low-carbon farming and had reduced deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 82 per cent. Brazil also intended to reduce 37 per cent of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Brazil was one of the few developing countries to have committed to an absolute goal for emissions reduction. Despite having one of the world’s largest populations and gross domestic product (GDP), Brazil’s goals were just as ambitious, if not more so, than those set by developed countries. Further, it was important to secure dignified and fair conditions for workers. Sustainable development required the promotion of decent work and the generation of quality jobs.
RAFAEL CORREA, President of Ecuador, said that his country had fulfilled 20 of the 21 targets in the Millennium Development Goals. For the first time in history, there was not a scarcity of resources for all, but rather exclusionary systems that denied access to those resources for some. Reducing poverty required reducing cultural gaps, and the Sustainable Development Goals stressed specific targets concerning across-the-board equity. Human rights were not a process of extending the lives of people for just a few more hours; the focus should be on maximum, not minimum goals, with real change. In Ecuador, development was the means to bringing about well-being for everyone, in peace and harmony with nature, which was an extension of human cultures. He was happy to see the new goals granting rights to nature, where the environment was not just seen as an issue to be traded. Indeed, the environment must be a part of development, and not just an alternative to it.
DRAGAN ČOVIĆ, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said there was hope that hunger could be eliminated in his lifetime, and more children than ever were exactly where they belonged — in classrooms. Yet, the international community should be troubled that it had inflicted so much damage upon the planet in recent decades. Day after day, reports of unspeakable suffering emerged from the refugee crises. The world needed to employ lessons learned in order to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda, with a new sense of responsibility and resolve. There was no other way to achieve sustainable development in its true sense without integrating approaches and enhancing women’s role, especially in decision-making. The last five years had demonstrated the true meaning of climate change, which was not exclusively an issue of changed weather conditions. Rather, that translated into an inability to produce food during droughts and people’s exodus from their homes during floods. That was why his country was putting its faith in the Paris Conference in December, which must be a success.
NICOLÁS MADURO MOROS, President of Venezuela, stated that, 70 years ago, during the fight against fascism and Nazism, people had begun to build a system where people could come together to build a “common house of humanity”. Fulfilling the 2030 Agenda required a world of equals, as inequality were the source of all poverty. Inequality had carved up Africa and caused slavery, colonialism, and the killing off of indigenous cultures. If the international community wanted to meet the 17 ambitious Goals, it must construct a new social and economic order. Over the past 15 years, Venezuela had seen an economic, social and political revolution. The Bolivarian revolution, based on the original revolution of Simone Bolivar, involved restoring the independence of the people of the country and taking control of natural resources, such as oil. Today, Venezuela could present a satisfactory balance sheet to the General Assembly, showing that its resources had been used wisely, reversing the trends of capitalistic, throwaway cultures. Only a thorough transformation of the neo-liberal systems represented by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank could lead to the sustainability that the international community was aiming for. Regarding Mediterranean region’s crisis, he said that the unjust imperialist wars imposed on that region were the reason for the “horror film” of tragedies.
TOMISLAV NIKOLIĆ, President of Serbia, said that as a middle-income, landlocked country in transition, his nation still shouldered the heavy burden of caring for a large number of refugees and displaced persons in and after conflicts in the region and coped with development-related problems. The uncontrolled influx of migrants transiting via Serbia to Europe was a collective challenge requiring a solution. Development was not possible without peace and stability. In that regard, he supported Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies. His country invested in fostering good neighbourly relations, as the process of reconciliation and cooperation had no alternative. A candidate for the European Union, his country harmonized its legislative system with the Union and took steps to reform its economy and build its infrastructure. Attaining sustainable development was not possible without regional cooperation. Serbia planned to organize regional consultations later this year to discuss ways to work together to implement the Agenda. That ambitious project had no precedent, and “failure must not, and cannot be an option”.
EMOMALI RAHMON, President of Tajikistan, noting that his was a pilot country in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, said it had taken an active part in the development and coordination of the post-2015 development Agenda. Tajikistan was currently developing a mid-term development program for 2016-2020 and a new national strategy for development by 2030. Both would take into account the targets identified by the Goals and could also be supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country programme’s action plan for 2016-2020. National priorities included ensuring energy and food security, efficient use of natural resources and human capital, institutional development, and strengthening the middle class. Underscoring the need for resource mobilization, he urged support for countries with special needs, in particular the mountainous developing countries and landlocked developing countries.
ROSEN PLEVNELIEV, President of Bulgaria said that the 2030 Agenda was an impressive and transformative blueprint in many ways. For the first time in global history, there was a common agenda that was people-centred and based on the principles of universality and shared responsibility. His country had worked for the integration of children’s rights into the text, and, for the first time, children and youth were considered as active participants in all matters that concerned them. Bulgaria would do its best to help more vulnerable nations achieve the Goals. Calling for robust national and international accountability, he added that monitoring and review should be based on a well-defined set of global indicators and timely collection of disaggregated data. The Agenda was the only viable solution to the global challenges, and Bulgaria was fully committed to its success.
JACOB ZUMA, President of South Africa, said the United Nations was created to save future generations from the scourge of war. The world was very different today. Many members of the Group of 77 developing countries and China were not free, but lived under foreign and colonial occupation. At the same time, the world had seen many developments, including decolonization and the establishment of new free and independent nations. Despite such progress, however, the world had not adequately addressed increasing poverty and economic exclusion. Still, the number of people living in extreme poverty had declined significantly and progress had been recorded in some of the Millennium Development Goals. In South Africa, there had been a huge increase in a number of areas, including health and gender equality, and maternal mortality was on the decline. He endorsed the transformative 2030 Agenda without reservation. The Goals were also aligned to his country’s national development plan, as well as the African Union Agenda 2063. The 2030 Agenda should build on the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals, and address the needs of vulnerable sectors of society. He called on development partners, not only to meet their current commitments, but upscale overseas development assistance. Climate financing could not be counted as official development assistance (ODA), nor mixed with traditional development finance, he added.
NURSULTAN A. NAZARBAYEV, President of Kazakhstan, said that his country’s GDP had grown 19-fold and the life expectancy now exceeded age 70. Infant and maternal mortality had also been reduced as had greenhouse gas emissions. However, the disappearance of the Aral Sea had meant that the wind picked up dust and poisonous deposits, which had been detected as far away as Europe and Antarctica. With support, Kazakhstan had manged to restore the northern part of the Aral Sea, and was working to clean up the former nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk. He supported the Sustainable Development Goals, which represented a turning point for the peoples and countries of the world. The main responsibility for implementation fell to national Governments. The goals and targets fully coincided with Kazakhstan’s plans, which aimed to become among the 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050. Resurrecting the economy of the Silk Road would benefit many countries, and his was working on its infrastructure by building railways and roads across the nation, so as to connect Europe and the Middle East. The time had come to unite around a greater Eurasia, but globally, the gap was growing between the rich and poor. The migration crisis was connected, not only to wars, but to imbalances in development. In the future, successful States would not be judged by weapons but by their ideas. It was time to unite around the promise of a bright future, and Kazakhstan was ready to make every effort towards the aim of global development.
KLAUS WERNER IOHANNIS, President of Romania, stated that the new Agenda aimed to eradicate poverty in all its forms and attain sustainable development in all its dimensions. The 17 goals confirmed the Agenda’s comprehensiveness. It was the international community’s common duty to identify proper solutions at a time when science and technology were fully fledged assets for the promotion of economic growth. International peace and security were major objectives of the United Nations and could not be promoted without paying attention to development. Poverty could lead to despair, which bred extremism and violence. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war had crowded into Europe through risky means. The crisis was made complex by many issues: humanitarian, border protection, financial and integration elements. The new Agenda went far beyond the Millennium Development Goals, and national ownership and accountability were key to its implementation. The new Agenda should be implemented by local institutions addressing citizens’ needs. Romania would revise its national strategy to integrate the Goals, with a special focus on supporting the inclusion of the disabled, youth and women.
ALYAKSANDR LUKASHENKA, President of Belarus stressed the need for peace and prosperity to achieve sustainable development, and said that the world had come to the Summit more divided than it had been over the past three decades. There was a loss of trust among nations, which could only be corrected by recognizing the diversity of States as a prerequisite for common progress. The world was experiencing a crisis of responsibility, with many decisions being made based on self-interest and short-term advantages. Responsible politicians must take decisions in the interest of the entire international community. The United Nations should not be used to demonstrate one’s power, which contradicted the Organization’s very nature and mission. Rather, it must be a venue for cooperation over confrontation. Renewal of trust was the only way to safeguard peace and security and find effective responses to global threats and challenges together.
MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA, President of Sri Lanka, said that his country, in support of the post-2015 Agenda, would act as a pioneer of the “eco-sensitive civilization”, which was emerging in the twenty-first century. Along with emphasizing the protection of natural resources, Sri Lanka would formulate a State policy on resource consumption based on the environment’s sustainability. It would also pay special attention to environmental good governance, ensuring the participation, not only of the State, but also of civil society and the business sector. Fully committed to Goal 13 relating to climate change, his country would strive to minimize the risks of possible environmental hazards. In that regard, a proper study was required to ascertain how climate change aggravated Sri Lanka’s contemporary development challenges, such as poverty, food insecurity, an ageing population and natural disasters. As an aspiring middle-income country, it was focused on the Goals relating to poverty alleviation, food security, energy, education, income disparity and urban development.
MARIE LOUISE COLEIRO, President of Malta, said that the international community must build on the growing commitment to inclusive societies and assure meaningful dialogue among peoples of diverse cultures. For the sake of the millions of people around the globe, it was crucial to interrupt the cycle of power and privilege and poverty. Stories of inequality and discrimination flooded the media daily. “How can we talk about progress without talking about women, girls and gender minorities?” she asked. Nor was it possible to talk about inclusiveness without reaching beyond the safety of the privileged. The world community must take a critical reflective look at the underlying systems, and global leaders must become advocates for peace and well-being. That was not the most popular position, but it was inspiring to see the global commitment to improving the world, which would set in motion a structural and cultural transformation. Governments must actively partner with civil society to achieve those ambitions. The world had waited long enough; it was time to act.
ISMAEL OMAR GUELLEH, President of Djibouti, said that the new Agenda, with its 17 Goals with 169 ambitious and universal targets, aimed to transform all societies by bringing sustainable development to them. They would eradicate poverty, fight against inequality, guarantee freedom of women and children, and foster sustainable economic development. It was important to recognize the tangible progress made by African countries in the Millennium Development Goals, despite persistent difficulties. Concerning progress made in the area of food security, thanks to national development and regional cooperation strategies, it had been possible to boost agricultural production and halve extreme poverty in Djibouti. ODA was crucial for the least developed countries, and it was imperative that commitments undertaken in that regard be honoured. Decisions should be based on responsible environmental behaviour, which should help address differences between and within States.
JAMES WANI IGGA, Vice-President of South Sudan, said that in spite of the fact that his country was born 11 years after the Millennium Summit in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals had become benchmarks to guide planning for decades to come. So while South Sudan might not have been realistically included in the timeframe set by those noble undertakings, it had nevertheless achieved something in that direction, within its own parameters and timeframes. The gap between the industrialized and developing worlds should not be closed by employing the same patterns of economic growth, which had damaged the environment. While the developed world remained the exclusive emitter of greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change, those in the developing world must be assisted in promoting green energy production for powering their industrial growth. South Sudan was extremely rich in terms of minerals and other natural resources, which remained untapped. Those resources made his country a suitable test case for implementing the 2030 Agenda.
MUHAMMAD NAWAZ SHARIF, Prime Minister of Pakistan, said that implementation of a framework of such scope and magnitude required political will and a paradigm shift in political, social, economic and developmental outlook. Sustained economic growth was at the heart of any effort to achieve the Goals. Enumerating key development priorities, he said that meaningful implementation demanded matching resources. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda complemented the means of implementation outlined in the new development framework, whose commitments must be delivered. Recalling that development strategies were first and foremost a national undertaking, he said that the Sustainable Goals complemented Pakistan’s needs and priorities. He also said that the Climate Conference in Paris should have an outcome that was fair, equitable and guided by the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He looked forward to a reinvigorated global partnership that complemented domestic policies and priorities.
CHARLES MICHEL, Prime Minister of Belgium, said that the Agenda provided a new impetus to global development efforts, but challenges were still numerous, including poverty, inequalities, and threats to peace and security, such as radicalization. Stressing the interlinkages of those problems, he said “they are the consequences of the others”. There was a need for a vision of real transformation. Time to think had passed, and time to act had come. The international community must respond to the needs of the current generation without jeopardizing those of the future generation. Multilateralism was more important than ever 70 years after the United Nations’ establishment. Conflict destroyed the hope of men and women, and efforts came to nothing without peace. Underlining social inclusion, the fight against inequality, and non-discrimination in the Agenda, he said he stood for the rights of homosexuals. Homosexuality should not be considered a crime anywhere. Access to reproductive health also was vital. Digitization was crucial to development, but should not be used to violate people’s privacy or broadcast hatred and radicalism. His country committed half of its development aid to the least developed countries.
SHEIKH HASINA, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, stated that over the past 15 years, her country had mobilized its people and resources to realize the Millennium Declaration’s commitments. Bangladesh had attained almost all the targets, including those relating to poverty eradication and reduction of child mortality, by aligning its development policies and strategies. “Some of our solutions and experience are now part of the global solutions,” she said, adding that it was time now to work for the full and effective realization of the 2030 Agenda. Realizing the Goals required robust global cooperation. The international community, in its “collective journey”, must deliver on the means of implementation for each Goal and across the Agenda. Support was needed on finance, technology, capacity building and debt. The fairness of global trading and financial regimes also must be ensured.
KEITH MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, said that the United Nations was built for the express purpose of avoiding great calamities such as the current environmental crisis. In his country, more and more ordinary Grenadians were seeing themselves as “shepherds of the environment”. Once considered below the hurricane belt, Grenada had suffered two successive hurricanes in recent memory. In line with Sustainable Development Goal 8 on energy and Goal 13 on climate, the country had created a new electricity act with a view to going 100 per cent renewable. Further, Grenada had 26,000 square kilometres of blue ocean space and had committed to conserve 20 per cent or more of its nearshore marine resources. Turning to Goal 4 on education, he added that not enough youth, in Grenada and around the world, were getting access to quality education. His Government, therefore, had set aside the largest portion of the operating fiscal budget for education.
DATO’ SRI MOHD NAJIB TUN ABDUL RAZAK, Prime Minister of Malaysia, said that many achievements had resulted over the last 15 years in connection with the Millennium Development Goals. Those results showed what could be achieved when “we recognize our common humanity”. However, much remained to be done. Targeted efforts were required to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. The world was still far from reaching the goal of eradicating poverty and hunger. That should be at the core of the post-2015 Agenda. Sustainable development had been important to his country’s aim of reaching the status of a high-income country by 2020. Its latest development plan mirrored the Sustainable Development Goals and placed people at its centre. National growth indices would include household income growth along with more traditional measures. Women’s participation in the workforce would be increased and, among its many other measures, there would be efforts to provide equal access to quality health care and decent housing.
MATTEO RENZI, Prime Minister of Italy, said what was needed now was a new global partnership among all stakeholders and a “new deal” for development. That required focus on, among others, people, prosperity, partnership and peace. Turning to the “crisis unfolding over the Mediterranean Sea” he said the unprecedented flux of people trying to reach Europe resulted from both poverty and war. Those who were escaping from Africa and Asia needed an answer. The only solution was a common system. Underlying the suffering from the current global situation, particularly for those in the small island developing States and Africa, he said that with the new Agenda, “We can absolutely give a message of hope” through collective efforts. Speaking personally, he said that it was his interest in development and desire to make a difference that made him want to be a politician. He saw the Agenda, not simply as an international occasion, but as an opportunity for hope.
HABIB ESSID, Head of Government of Tunisia, said that the Summit reflected the seriousness of the international community to achieve development, which was mankind’s aspiration — to enjoy happiness without discrimination. His Government had adopted its national development policy by working closely with civil society. The country had successfully met most of the Millennium Development Goals, but some gaps remained, including high unemployment. Following the revolution, Tunisia enshrined democracy and human rights in the Constitution of its second Republic, and developed a national vision based on social justice in order to rectify past discrimination. His Government cooperated with specialized United Nations agencies and had conducted a survey of 10,000 people to define a national development plan. Expressing concern about the Agenda’s implementation, he said the follow-up and review mechanism was essential.
ALEXIS TSIPRAS, Prime Minister of Greece, said that in the last 30-plus years the security, economic, social and environmental challenges faced on a global and regional level had stayed the same or gotten worse. Greece was at the centre of three overlapping crises: the Eurozone economic crisis, the security crisis resulting from increasing instability in surrounding areas, and the refugee crisis resulting in the mass migration of hundreds of thousands of people seeking a better life in Europe. In order to face those challenges, the international community must set and strive for goals such as the ones discussed today. But, none of today’s challenges could be addressed simply by setting goals and leaving the framework untouched. It was necessary to tackle the issue of debt as an international challenge at the centre of the global financial system. A system was needed that would allow the new Agenda to flourish in the next 15 years, rather than suffocating efforts as in the previous 30 years. As a great economist had said: “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”
FRANS TIMMERMANS, First Vice-President of the European Union, described how the world had improved from past generations, noting that millions of people who were born today could enjoy their rights. Girls now had a chance for real, if not equal, opportunities. The Union had helped drive the Millennium Development Goals, but it was ready for the next chapter. Lack of development or unsustainable development threatened security. The new Goals were universal, applying to all States, rich or poor. The list was long because it reflected today’s daunting challenges. Things that had worked in the past might not work in the future. There was a need to foster a new relationship with the environment. Fear could be a powerful engine to rethink everything. Turning to ODA, he said there was no excuse for the Union’s member States to not meet the 0.7 per cent target. Touching on other points of interest to the Union, he said Europe must integrate newcomers, who came as refugees; it was astonishing that a third of the food produced worldwide was being thrown away; and it was possible to keep the rise of global temperature below 2°C. Sustainable development’s three dimensions — social, economic and environmental — must reinforce, and not undermine, each other.
PETRO POROSHENKO, President of Ukraine, said his country had worked hard to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, reducing the poverty rates threefold, although that rate was expected to drop because of Russian aggression. There had been other achievements in Ukraine, including improvements to the maternal health system, reduction in HIV/AIDS incidence rates and progress in combating tuberculosis. Ukraine’s “bitter experience” had revealed that peace and freedom were principal conditions for achieving the Goals. Sustainable development was not possible where explosions were heard and peaceful people were killed. Strengthening universal peace and promoting larger freedom should become a driving force behind the international community’s collective efforts towards achieving the Goals. Despite challenges, Ukraine was translating strategy into actions, from fighting corruption to ensuring food security and a healthy environment.
SERGEY V. LAVROV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that his Government had written off more than $20 billion of the principal debt owed by African countries, and had been funding aid projects on education, health, energy, food security and infrastructure, while using the capacities of the United Nations development system and humanitarian agencies without conditionality and in a politically unbiased manner. The Russian Federation’s ODA surpassed $875 million. He favoured a more equitable global economic order and reform of the governance structures of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The recently established Eurasian Economic Union was becoming important in facilitating strong, sustained and long-term economic growth in participating nations. Unilateral coercive measures, which contradicted the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, should be discontinued. His country was the global leader in the cumulative reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and had “over-fulfilled” its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol by reducing its emissions 31 per cent below the 1990 level. A legally binding, universal agreement was needed at the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris.
KHALID BIN MOHAMED AL-ATTIYAH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar, said that ensuring success required the international community to find solutions to current development challenges in a practical manner that would enable developing countries to take their place in the global economy. Policies should also meet people’s basic needs and ensure good governance. Commitment to the rule of law was essential to sustainable development. Effective cooperation among nations, the public and private sectors, and all stakeholders was also needed. He stressed that development aid must not be politicized. Qatar had provided such assistance, during 2014, in the amount of 0.76 per cent of GDP. That aid had gone to health, education and other fields represented in the Millennium outcome. In the interest of providing equal opportunity for all through education, the country had tried to share its own successful experience in other parts of the world, particularly in conflict areas. Realizing sustainable development at all levels required political will. Noting that Qatar had hosted the eighteenth Conference of State Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he looked forward to reaching agreement in Paris on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities.
DUNYA MAUMOON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Maldives, noted the progress made on the Millennium Development Goals, and stressed remaining challenges and the potential to realize more. Her country was a Millennium Goals success story. The Goals incorporation into development planning had achieved unprecedented gains. To sustain that growth trajectory required overcoming challenges such as the unique vulnerabilities of a small island developing State and the different structural conditions of a middle-income country. The country’s vision of development was inclusive and holistic. Investments were being made in youth, and a new set of policies had been launched to enable women to become productive national development partners in whatever capacities they chose. However, small island developing States would never achieve sustainable development without meaningful progress in the fight against climate change. She asked emitting countries to match bold statements with legally binding commitments in Paris. Praising the new Agenda, she said: “[It] is still words on paper. It is up to us to give meaning to those words.”
VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources of Singapore, said his country, which was both a small island developing State and a city-state, had pursued sustainable development since its independence 50 years ago. Despite, and perhaps because of, its natural constraints, it had achieved economic progress while preserving a good living environment. Key to the country’s development was pragmatism in governance and implementation, focused on outcomes not ideology, as well as collaborative partnerships, which had helped build capacity and develop human resources. To “pay it forward”, the country had established the Singapore Cooperation Programme in 1992, which conducted 300 courses for 7,000 officials from developing countries each year. Noting that many issues of sustainable development could not be addressed unilaterally, he said transboundary haze from forest and peatland fires in South-East Asia, for example, impaired the health of millions of people in the region, compromised airline safety and damaged the regional economy. While countries were tackling the problem individually, closer regional and international cooperation was needed to prevent errant companies from profiting from unsustainable land and forest clearing.
IBRAHIM AL-JAAFARI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, said that his country had promoted democracy and free elections since 2003, with assistance from the United Nations. The world had changed a lot from 70 years ago, but some challenges remained. A number of States had failed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Global challenges required global action, and in that regard, an oversight mechanism for implementation was essential. His country faced ferocious cross-border terrorism, which eroded development gains, as it was difficult to achieve development without peace and security. ODA was decisive, especially in building infrastructure destroyed by conventional warfare and terrorism. Iraq was seeking to grow its economy by fostering trade and industry. He welcomed the framework agreed in Addis Ababa, which would help conflict-stricken countries such as his own secure funding. Accurate and reliable statistical information was also critical. The United Nations, particularly its specialized agencies, had important roles in addressing transnational challenges, such as those of refugees and displaced persons.
ADEL AHMED AL-JUBEIR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, said his country had made every effort to realize the Millennium Development Goals since 2000, continually increasing allocations to that end. The country was recognized as having a high rate of development and was among the top 20 contributors to development, according to the United Nations. Realizing sustainable development remained difficult for peoples under occupation. All hurdles should be removed for them, particularly in Palestine and other Arab territories. Clarifying several statements in the text of the new Agenda, he said that in accordance with Islamic law, Saudi Arabia could only accept the mention of sex with reference to a man or a woman, and that marriage could only be understood as being between a man and a woman.
SILVAN SHALOM, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior of Israel, said that from swamplands and sand dunes, Israel had become a source of innovation and creativity. From energy and water to health and education, it had developed cutting-edge technologies that turned salt water into fresh water, converted waste into renewable energy and detected preventable diseases with the touch of a button. Its international development agency had trained over a quarter million professionals from more than 132 countries, helping them become agents of change in their own communities. However, as the world moved forward with the new Agenda, a new reality must be created — one that prioritized gender equality, women’s empowerment, youth, poverty eradication, and sustainable development. Noting that there were few regions of the world that could benefit more from the new Agenda than the Middle East, he called on Arab neighbours to forsake destruction and despair, and walk together on the path of prosperity and peace.
BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States, said that, despite the genuine compassion of many people towards those in need, it was sometimes said that certain people and regions were condemned to an endless cycle of poverty. “Today, we set aside that scepticism and lift up the hope that is available to us through collective action,” he said. Citing a number of development gains made over the past years — including the lifting of 1 billion people out of poverty — he stressed that “development works”, and that “we can break the cycle of poverty”. Warning against complacency, he said that, even as he spoke, some 800 million people were scraping by on less than $1.25 per day. In the face of such an outrage, “our common humanity compels us to act”. Supporting development was not charity, but one of the smartest investments that could be made in the future. As the largest donor of development assistance, the United States would continue to partner with the United Nations. The new chapter of development could not fall victim to the false divide between developed and developing countries.
He committed his country to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, stressing: “We all need to step up the will, the resources and the coordination.” He called on States to embrace reforms in trade and investment and to invest in striving entrepreneurs. “We will never achieve our goals if we do not squarely confront several insidious threats to the people around the world,” he said, citing bad governance, inequality and old attitudes that denied rights and opportunities to women. Development was also threatened if the world did not recognize the potential of the African continent, or if it allowed wars and conflict to continue. In addition, development was threatened by climate change. It was the world’s poorest people who would bear the heaviest burden from rising seas, droughts, and increasingly frequent natural disasters. “This is a moral calling,” he said, urging countries to promptly establish the tools and financing to help developing nations avoid the false choice between development and the protection of the planet.
HORACIO MANUEL CARTES JARA, President of Paraguay, said his country had made notable progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals through sustained effort and persistence, having reduced by more than half the proportion of the people living in extreme poverty. Despite achievements across other indicators, much remained to be done. The Sustainable Development Goals were ambitious and posed a challenge to the international community. However, through international, regional and national political consensus, they were fully achievable. The Agenda would be transformative for countries in special conditions, such as transit countries and landlocked developing countries, to the extent that their challenges were incorporated in the work programmes of relevant international organizations and international financial institutions. With common wellness its ultimate goal, the Government of Paraguay would honour its people and prepare the way for generations to come.
FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, President of France, said the international community, by adopting Agenda 2030, had taken one of its most decisive steps in the United Nations 70-year history towards ensuring the collective well-being of the people and the planet. The time for empty declarations and statements was now over and the time had come for action. The world today was in a fragile state with refugees fleeing climate change, war and hunger; 80 per cent of those refugees were being hosted by countries of the South. The Agenda contained three priorities. First, on the protection of the climate, the Paris Conference needed to come up with a text that would commit the international community to a universal and binding set of rules. If the planet warmed by more than 2°C, it would mean extinction of many countries. The urgency of the task called for changes in consumption patterns as well as sufficient financing for adaptation and mitigation. Second, combating poverty required the same priority and approaches. And third, to ensure that all people enjoyed basic rights in full equality and dignity in a peaceful world, resources must be mobilized across the three pillars of sustainable development. France would step up to the task by apportioning an additional €4 billion and revitalizing its official development assistance.
LUIS GUILLERMO SOLIS RIVERA, President of Costa Rica, said his country has repeatedly proposed that disarmament was a mechanism to channel significant resources to sustainable development. “Betting on disarmament is betting on peace. An equivalent of $1.7 trillion was spent worldwide in 2014 on military spending,” said President Solis, calling on the five permanent members of the Security Council to reorient spending towards sustainable development. “I assure you there is no better formula for the safety of their countries than to ensure sustainable development throughout the world.” As a middle-income country, he noted that more than 70 per cent of the people living in poverty were in the so-called middle-income countries, where the challenge of inequality and poor income distribution was the first issue to be addressed. He called for better internal coordination and the required institutional coherence within the United Nations to support its efforts. Costa Rica also called for the development of an index that measured the multidimensional nature of poverty and included criteria beyond per-capita income.
JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA, President of Ghana, said it was time to seize the opportunity presented by the new development Agenda and to tackle the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals. A new paradigm of development must be defined. The current high consumption of wasteful societies classified as “developed” could not be the model for sustainable development. If the world was to attain the objective of sustainable consumption and production patterns cited under Goal 12, it would be necessary to review the relationships between labour, production and capital. It would also be necessary to review the role Africa played in world production, he said, stressing that a significant portion of processing and value addition must be relocated to that continent. The country’s Agenda for Transformation called for those and other changes; meanwhile, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 made a strong case for integrating African economies to accelerate transformative change. Goals 2 and 7 would provide the needed impetus to ensure economic growth and transformation. Ghana was an example of a country with two decades of consistent positive economic growth, he said, adding that the last 15 years had helped to address socioeconomic inequalities and disparities in national, regional and global development. He pledged his country’s support and commitment to working towards the Sustainable Development Goals and making them a reality.
ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, President of Mexico, hailed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda a “historic agreement for humankind”. The 17 Goals and 169 targets reflected the determination and commitment of nations to respond to complex challenges. There were no shortcuts to resolving those challenges, he said, calling on States to build a global alliance that drew sustenance from the impetus that had built the United Nations 70 years ago. In the new development Agenda, he welcomed, in particular, social inclusion, the adoption of a broader concept of poverty based on a multidimensional approach, the inclusion of gender equality and the empowerment of women as a cross-cutting element of development, the inclusion of the rights of migrants, the inclusion of biodiversity and national commitments to confront climate change. He urged States to embrace the principles of openness and participation. The international community had managed to agree on the contents of Agenda 2030; now the challenge was to ensure its proper implementation. Mexico accepted the Agenda as a “collective mission” and a national responsibility.
DALIA GRYBAUSKAITĖ, President of Lithuania, said the Agenda had the promise of making a lasting impact on humanity. To that end, special focus needed to be placed on ensuring peace and security and building democracy. The threats faced by her country’s neighbours, such as Ukraine, were a source of concern, which underscored the need for strengthening the rule of law. Promoting gender equality, inclusive institutions, good governance and safe migration required political will. Success of the Agenda depended on the identification and mobilization of all necessary means of implementation, she stressed, adding that global partnership meant global responsibility.
FILIP VUJANOVIĆ, President of Montenegro, said the Agenda placed before the international community the extremely demanding task of implementation, monitoring and review of progress. In fulfilling that task, the basic principles of inclusiveness, empowerment, transparency and respect for human rights needed to be followed. The defined Sustainable Development Goals delivered a wide range of interrelated issues and challenges. Each country was responsible for its own social and economic development. Therefore, national strategies should be based on the approach that the production of goods and services was crucial to improving the material and spiritual well-being of the people. That required four basic groups of national resources — human, social, natural and economic — keeping intact the right to development for each succeeding generation. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be achieved in the framework of a revitalized global partnership and supported by concrete policies and actions identified in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
MILNER TOZAKA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Solomon Islands, said small island developing States could not have a discussion on sustainable development without talking about climate change. The frequency and intensity of climate-related disasters last year had wiped out more than 9 per cent of his country’s GDP, and this year alone, two cyclones kept the country under the constant stress of disaster response. The Goals, however, were not just about eradicating poverty; they were also about healing the health of the planet. Goal 13 on climate change kept all other ones on track in terms of reversing unsustainable consumption and production patterns, as well as cleaning up the planet. The Goals were about balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental protection. “This is our last chance of getting it right,” he said. There were enough resources and technology to “turn things around”. The Goals required only a new form of cooperation and the political will to breathe life into them. The slow pace of negotiations on a global climate change agreement was worrisome. Last month, Pacific island leaders issued the Suva Declaration on Climate Change, which called for global temperature rise to be well below 1.5°C.
NIKOLA GRUEVSKI, Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said the Agenda would be the guiding light in crafting the future for the world’s countries and citizens. The vision for a more stable, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive and environmentally sustainable world could only be accomplished through joint work on a global, regional, national and local level. The Central European Initiative, which his country was currently presiding over, sought to actively engage in implementing the Agenda. Central European States had expressed their readiness to make a concrete contribution, to transfer know-how and to exchange best practices in different sustainable development initiatives, capacity-building of public institutions and awareness-raising. Each country should find its own strength and bear a fair share of the burden for its own development.
SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister of Japan, said the new Agenda had forged an ambitious plan focused on women, health, disaster risk reduction and other key areas. Japan, which had proposed sustainability goals as early as the 1990s, welcomed the important adoption. In order to achieve the new Agenda, however, the world must overcome the traditional North-South dichotomy. Over its modern history, Japan had contributed some $330 billion in ODA, and would carry that effort forward in line with its Development Cooperation Charter. His country would take a leading role in investing in infrastructure, not only in Asia but on other continents as well. It would also emphasize the empowerment of the vulnerable. He went on to describe other national initiatives, including in health, education and disaster risk reduction, on which Japan would take a leading role. On climate change, Japan would steadily contribute to assist developing countries and would share with the world its knowledge on sustainability — in particular, the need to “reduce, reuse and recycle”. Lastly, Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the largest in the world, had just signed the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.
PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, Prime Minster of Thailand, said the United Nations had transcended doubt that human activity had been the prime contributor to climate change, the greatest threat to humankind. Knowing that, Member States had a choice to make — continue on the path of rampant consumerism and maximize growth at all costs, or choose to live sustainably, focusing on quality, moderation and balance. Another pressing challenge of the time was inequality. To address that injustice, countries must pass effective laws that created a level playing field for all; recognize the intrinsic worth of each and every human being; create an environment that enabled and sustained development; and reduce disparity not only within countries, but also among them, through partnerships for development. Thailand had worked to narrow the development gaps in mainland South-East Asia by promoting connectivity and setting up economic zones under the “Thailand-Plus One” initiative. The country also aimed to strengthen cooperation among friends outside the region through South-South and trilateral cooperation. Only when individuals and communities were strong could nations and the global countries find strength.
Raising a point of order, the representative of Greece reminded the Chair that Security Council and General Assembly resolutions had provided use of the term “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” when referring to that State.
XAVIER BETTEL, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, said the Agenda provided a two-fold challenge: continuing to harness the Millennium Development Goals and channelling goals of long-term durability. Rigorous monitoring of implementation would be crucial to measuring results and reviewing progress through United Nations, regional and national efforts. The year 2030 was not far off; future generations would judge the current one on its ability to act now. Renewed universalism could only develop with shared responsibility, respect for human rights and good governance. Civil society was central to the dialogue, as the old North-South divide had become outdated. The race to competitiveness should not lead to onerous and irreversible challenges tomorrow, he said, stressing that the Goals were not a threat to industry but would create cleaner and more sustainable modes of production. Private sector collaboration was crucial to State efforts in achieving the Goals.
DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, described some of the “huge strides forward” that had been made since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000. The United Kingdom’s open markets, trade and investment had helped to spur global growth, and it had kept its promises on development aid, enshrining the 0.7 per cent target in its national plans. “Aid is not enough on its own”, but it was essential and it worked, and he, therefore, called on all States to deliver on their commitments. “This is a clarion call to the whole world to eliminate for the first time the scourge of extreme poverty,” he said. The poorest, the weakest and the most marginalized must be put first. He committed to move forward in a way that was sustainable, as all progress would be nullified if nothing was done to combat climate change. He stressed that corruption, “rotten government”, lack of access to justice, no rule of law and other related elements kept people around the world entrenched in poverty. Now, for the first time, the entire world was committing to address those issues. Investment, trade, growth and jobs were needed, as was investment in new forms of clean energy. He called on States to “smash down” barriers that prevented people from trading freely. The United Kingdom would lead the way internationally on a number of issues, including bringing an end to corruption. In that regard, it had committed to host a major anti-corruption summit in 2016.
ANEROOD JUGNAUTH, Prime Minister of Mauritius, said his country had largely achieved the Millennium Development Goals and was comforted that the new Goals earmarked for 2030 mirrored his country’s own sustainable development agenda, which he had laid out in his Vision 2030 Economic Mission Statement in August at the national level. Mauritius looked forward to a binding agreement on climate change in December in Paris and was fully committed to monitor climate variability and change and address the problems related to the rise of sea levels in coastal regions. It particularly welcomed the inclusion of a stand-alone goal on the oceans and was making its ocean economy a pillar of its sustainable development path. Regarding financing, Mauritius believed it was important to increase and rationalize overseas development aid and financial flows and mobilize new and additional resources for developing countries, including small island developing States, from multiple sources. Mauritius particularly welcomed the Economic and Social Council’s annual forum on financing for development to review the development financing outcome and ways to carry out the post-2015 Agenda.
AHMET DAVUTOĞLU, Prime Minster of Turkey, said humanity faced complex and interconnected challenges, such as global health threats, humanitarian crises, food insecurity, climate change, terrorism and an increase in the number of people seeking refuge. All countries must commit to the new global Agenda, and it was particularly important that the new Agenda finished the business started 15 years ago, particularly addressing sustainability and stability. The current humanitarian crisis in the Middle East had been caused by the lack of sustainability and stability, and because Turkey had hosted more than 2 million people and spent almost $8 billion in aid — with a very modest contribution from the international community — it could not address its development goals. The real measure of success would be the concrete steps in the implementation phase of this new plan. The Climate Conference in Paris would provide some keys to solving the development challenge, as would help for the least developed countries, including an increase in ODA. Actions spoke louder than words. Member States had come together to adopt the Agenda; it would only be honoured if they pledged to work together.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia, said one of the crucial lessons from the Millennium Development Goals was that they focused mostly on the statistical targets of poverty reduction. They insisted less on creating socioeconomic conditions and infrastructure, addressing the global threats to development and creating an enabling environment to support these objectives. Slovakia considered all these aspects, including rule of law and good governance, equally important, and considered security sector reform as necessary to achieve Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies. The lack of an enabling environment could have a negative impact on the other Goals, such as gender equality, the empowerment of women and inclusive economic growth. Slovakia supported a revitalized global partnership, as proposed in Goal 17, and ODA was vital for the development of many countries. At the same time, the mobilization of all domestic resources was a crucial element. The Goals had to be implemented at two levels: a global level of coordinated and inclusive cooperation and an individual level of domestically implemented strategies.
ARSENIO M. BALISACAN, Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning of the Philippines, said that, as President of the Climate Vulnerable Forum and one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, his country would work at the upcoming Climate Conference in Paris to ensure that a new legally binding climate agreement was adopted. In that regard, the Philippines appreciated the emphasis placed on Goal 14 and the need to conserve and sustainably use the world’s oceans, seas and marine resources. There would be no true development if the most vulnerable groups still did not have access to opportunities, and the Philippines aspired to achieve education for all, universal health coverage, food security and social and economic inclusion, supported by quality infrastructure. Since the Goals would require financial and technical resources, the Philippines sought partnerships for capacity-building, developing technology and expertise, expanding access to resources for domestic resource mobilization, leveraging private sector participation and achieving resiliency. He noted demand for official statistics to be more disaggregated, frequent, timely and accessible.
RUI MACHETE, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said the global challenges — from climate change to epidemics and the dramatic situation faced daily by migrants and refugees — showed that nations could not think of their individual welfare or security. The universality of the 2030 Agenda was crucial and embodied true shared responsibilities that aimed for a better future. That future would move beyond the traditional and outdated North-South approach, the division between public and private actors, and the understanding that ODA was the only response to the world’s common challenges. It was a time of celebration and great responsibility as well as a time to craft a new international cooperation paradigm and carry out its commitments. The United Nations had to play an essential role in addressing these global challenges. Portugal’s development approach focused on strengthening the link between peace, security and sustainable development. It focused on governance, rule of law, human rights, education, health and institutional capacity-building, as well as adopting measures that empowered women and girls and eradicated all forms of gender-based violence.
GILBERT SABOYA SUNYÉ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Andorra, said no country could be left behind. The international community had to guard against complacency. Progress up to now had been uneven and more demanding goals had to be set. Dignity for everyone was essential and could not be met without equality, democracy and respect for human rights. Education, crucial to achieving the Goals, had been made a national priority in Andorra. Andorra also placed special attention on gender equality and the protection of human rights. As a landlocked country which welcomed 8 million visitors each year, Andorra was very aware of the need to protect the environment. The Climate Conference in Paris later this year was vital to achieving progress on the environment. A real global commitment could not be achieved without strong political will and a strategy of follow-up and review of the implementation of the Goals. There had to be a common effort to transform the world in which we all lived so everyone could live in dignity. No one could be left behind and that had to be the international community’s commitment today.
RI SU YONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said a peaceful and durable environment for development should be created in order to eradicate poverty. Instead, some specific countries were creating artificial obstacles through the imposition of sanctions for military and political purposes. If such acts against the independent aspirations of developing countries continued, the Agenda just adopted could not be attained. The United States should realize that the more vicious the sanctions against his country became, the stronger the will and spirit of the people would be become. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was striving to provide its people with a more abundant life by making maximum use of its self-reliant economy. That effort would continue to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.
JULIE BISHOP, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, said the 2030 Agenda recognized a more modern, contemporary understanding of the drivers of development and the changing distribution of global wealth. The last 15 years had demonstrated the benefits of building economic resilience and the Agenda rightly had a strong focus on economic growth. Every single resource should be captured to ensure the rights and opportunities of women and girls were recognized in a stand-alone goal as well as across the Agenda. The World Bank estimated that more than 40 per cent of the world’s extreme poor lived in conflict-affected and fragile environments and that percentage would at least double by 2030. That meant the goal on peace and governance, for which Australia strongly advocated, would be critical for the eradication of extreme poverty and the success of the entire Agenda. As a critical driver of economic growth, job creation and an important source of development finance, the private sector had a key role to play. Australia was increasingly partnering with that sector, including with projects providing access to financing for remote communities in the Pacific.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said a renewed global partnership was necessary to make progress on the Goals. Fifteen years ago, the Millennium Development Goals had been set down as ambitious targets to create a new world. Algeria was pleased that those objectives had created an unprecedented mobilization to deal with the challenges of development. Algeria had achieved many of those aims, including those involving the eradication of poverty, education and the advancement of women. The world was passing through historical times and the obstacles it was facing were complex. A common responsibility had to be created to achieve a better future for everyone and future generations. The international community had to work on the basis of a common conscience and vanquish its selfishness so as to assist future generations and provide a safe future and dignity and prosperity for all.
HÉCTOR MARCOS TIMERMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina, said his country was proud of being one of the few States to have achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals, and it looked ahead to the Sustainable Development Goals with the same commitment. Argentina believed the United Nations must bring about a more just and equal world with a human rights approach to implementation of those Goals. He underscored the importance of the Agenda, which would hopefully reverse decades of colonialism and reaffirm countries’ commitment made in Rio. Regarding the right to development, countries could not have that without respect for human rights, which must be interdependent and inclusive. To that end, his Government was concerned about the process of the committee of the Agenda, believing there was an imbalance between developed countries and undeveloped countries with financial commitments. His State had increased its South-South cooperation to share the burdens of meeting the needs of undeveloped countries.
ANDRZEJ DUDA, President of Poland, said the debate about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals should not focus on individual categories, but rather on equal progress in each of the priority areas. Attainment of those Goals would demand significant funding. As such, the United Nations must ensure that allocated money was spent in a reasonable way in order to bring concrete results. Completing the Goals did not hinge on spending the money, but on making smart investments. Member States also had to avoid linking development aid with actions deemed by others as imposing a system of values or ideology, in such issues as the model of the family, education, upbringing and the protection of life. The international community should concentrate on norms that guaranteed freedom and a better life for all. Furthermore, action aimed at ensuring development must promote effectiveness through small, concrete projects as much could be attained with little money. Helping countries with the Goals required putting them on their own “two feet” so that they were able to join, on equal footing, the global economic system without unnecessary limitations and barriers.
Interactive Dialogue I
The morning’s round table on “Building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions to achieve sustainable development” was co-chaired by Park Geun-Hye, President of the Republic of Korea, and Michelle Bachelet Jeria, President of Chile. Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals, dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, calls for the building of effective, accountable institutions at all levels for that purpose.
In opening remarks, Ms. PARK said that experience of the past 15 years had shown that effective institutions were crucial for inclusive development. Her country had built an economically viable democracy following its devastating war through building such institutions and through education, which nurtured good citizenship. Government leadership was critical in planning for national progress and synergy between all institutions was necessary. She hoped that today’s discussion would be a stepping stone to achieving the full Sustainable Development Agenda around the globe.
Ms. BACHELET, in her introduction, said that agreement on Goal 16 was not sufficient to ensure inclusive and effective institutions. Governments must make the right decisions to go beyond social welfare to an integral democracy. For that purpose, she stressed, States must promote transparency, accountability and cooperation between countries and sectors. All countries, including her own, had unfinished business in those areas. For that reason, her country was promoting universal education, women’s empowerment, decentralization, entrepreneurship in all regions, and integrity in business and politics. The purpose was to guarantee legitimate institutions.
Following those remarks, leaders and high-level representatives of States, international organizations and civil society took the floor, affirming the importance of effective and inclusive institutions to achieving sustainable development. The President of Croatia, KOLINDA GRABAR-KITAROVIĆ, said that current crises, including the migration crisis in Europe, showed that strong, interconnected, accountable institutions were particularly important at present to deal with urgencies and create the space required for sustainable development to occur. In her country, social dialogue, including through social media, was being prioritized to strengthen accountability in that context. The President of Mongolia, ELBEGDORJ TSAKHIA, welcomed Goal 16’s continuation of the work that had been sparked in his country by the related Millennium Development Goal 9. “Let’s be accountable to our people,” he urged all leaders.
Relating his country’s national experience in institution-building, the Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, ADRIAN HASLER, underlined the need for a deep commitment to United Nations principles in the effort, particularly the rule of law. Also prioritizing rule of law, Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister, RUI MARIA DE ARAÚJO, said his country’s brief history provided a clear illustration of the need for an inclusive, representative and responsive State, focused on people’s needs. An earlier lack of clear focus on such basics had been the cause of setbacks in progress. Promoting the rule of law at all levels required intensified reform and the rationalization of existing institutions, Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration, IGOR LUKŠIĆ, stressed.
Highlighting the need for a political culture that enabled inclusive institutions, the President of Switzerland, SIMONETTA SOMMARUGA, described how her country disseminated governance rights and responsibilities throughout the citizenry. Togo’s representative, PALOUKI MASSINA, said that for such participation, the citizenry in developing countries had to benefit from capacity‑building, which required sufficient financing both from international and national sources.
In that context, Spain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, JESUS GRACIA ALDAZ, described his country’s development cooperation efforts related to justice systems and increasing access in several States. Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister, KONRAD PAWLIK, said that his country’s development cooperation in institution-building had benefited from its recent history of transition that prioritized human rights, transparency and the fight against corruption.
Civil society representatives stressed the need for institutions to be reoriented to encourage ground-level participation. The President of the Southern Africa Trust, BHEKINKOSI MOYO, stressed the importance of an enabling institutional environment that allowed people in communities to participate. For that, the new Agenda must be localized, requiring adequate financing, which must come from innovative sources.
Similarly, SABER CHOWDHURY, of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said that the first priority should be actualizing national ownership of the Agenda. To make that process inclusive and accountable, the balance of power between executive and parliamentary branches had to be recalibrated. In that context, YVES LETERME, Secretary-General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) stressed the need for the improvement of the quality of representational institutions.
The representative of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (Indigenous Peoples Major Group), JOAN CARLING, said that institutions must provide space for the participation of all peoples at all levels and must strengthen mechanisms to eliminate discrimination. Laws in themselves could not end discrimination and other ills, said IRENE KHAN, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). For that reason, effective national institutions must be anchored in communities. For justice, true transparency was essential. She, along with many speakers this morning, stressed the core requirement for institutions to respond to the needs of women and girls.
Similarly, ROBERT COLLYMORE, of Safaricom, said that a key indicator of effective institutions was their responsiveness to the needs of all vulnerable groups. Youth were particularly important in that context, AYSEL ASGAROVA, of the Youth Peer Education Network, stressed. Representing United Cities and Local Governments, Istanbul Mayor KADIR TOPBAŞ stressed the need for local institutions to work with each other across world geography to become solution partners in confronting the challenges of vulnerable people, including migrants.
Leaders of United Nations units and other international organizations pledged intensified efforts to support Goal 16. The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), YURY FEDOTOV, said that a world free of crime would be a boon for progress in creating responsive institutions. The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), CHRISTIAN FRIIS BACH, called for support to his organization in creating a “data revolution” to enable a corresponding transparency revolution in institutional operations. The Chair of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security, GERDA VERBURG, stressed the need of institutions of all sectors to work together to achieve the new Agenda in a holistic manner.
Also speaking were representatives of the GAVI Alliance, Asian Development Bank, Saferworld, International Olympic Committee, ICT4Peace Foundation, Economic and Social Issues Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Yes Bank.
Interactive Dialogue II
The afternoon’s interactive dialogue on “Protecting our planet and combatting climate change” was co-chaired by François Hollande, President of France, and Ollanta Humala Tasso, President of Peru. It explored national actions and resources required to achieve Sustainable Development Goals targets in the areas of, among others, disaster risk reduction; sustainable consumption and production; conservation of oceans, seas, freshwater, biodiversity and ecosystems; and degradation and desertification.
Mr. TASSO called on Heads of State to direct finance ministries to promote climate change negotiations that would take place in October in Lima, Peru, in the framework of the International Monetary Fund Board of Governors meeting. “We must urge various Governments to present to the United Nations their national commitments.”
When the floor was opened for discussion, world leaders, ministers for environment and foreign affairs and other representatives agreed a strong global climate agreement was needed when world leaders gathered for the Climate Conference in Paris in December. Some speakers had “reasonable” demands that it be legally binding and contain a new loss and damage mechanism as a stand-alone component. In addition, said TAUKELINA FINIKASO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tuvalu, leaders must commit to keep warming below 1.5°C. “We can’t sign an agreement that would spell the end of Tuvalu,” he said.
Indeed, natural resource consumption had already exceeded the Earth’s carrying capacity. “We need to change practices and attitudes for the sake of our common survival,” stressed FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique. In arguing for change, some cited the Brundtland Report — “Our Common Future” — which highlighted the limits of unregulated natural resource use.
GRO HARLEM BRUNDTLAND, Vice-Chair, United Nations Foundation Board of Directors, said the recommendations in the report she had led nearly 30 years ago remained relevant. The world was moving towards a 4°C temperature rise, rather than the 2°C cap committed to in 2009. The pace of change must urgently be scaled up. “It is up to us to do what is right,” she said.
Mr. HOLLANDE said it was thanks to Ms. Brundtland that the world understood sustainable development. “You were the one who launched the process,” he said. States now must submit their national plans to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by the end of October. Thus far, 80 contributions had been received, from countries accounting for 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. An assessment clause would be introduced, to apply every five years, to ensure that new commitments were taking root. He called for funding that enabled developing countries to adapt and use appropriate technologies, as well as a “solutions agenda” to engage business.
Poor countries faced the greatest risks, speakers said, some due to their geography, and many due to their inability to access appropriate adaptation and mitigation technologies. BONI YAYI, President of Benin, speaking for the least developed countries, said that African countries did not significantly contribute to climate change, yet suffered its dramatic impacts. He underlined the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, as well as the pooling of resources to keep the global climate below 2°C.
LORENA TAPIA, Minister for Environment of Ecuador, underlined a sense of justice in that regard, stressing that industrialized countries had polluted a common asset and now owed a debt to humanity. She advocated the use of cap‑and‑trade schemes and technology transfer.
Small island developing States were also especially vulnerable, speakers stressed. As such, said FREUNDEL STUART, Prime Minister of Barbados, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) should not be the sole indicator used in determining a country’s access to concessional finance. He emphasized the need for capacity‑building, financial assistance and technology transfer through national and regional modalities, partnerships and cooperation.
Along similar lines, KENNY ANTHONY, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, said small islands’ achievement of the Goals required access to financing and they needed support. He called for a more evidence-based approach to national decision-making. Governments must strengthen their statistical systems so that national and regional institutions could respond quickly when needed.
In that connection, ACHIM STEINER, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said he saw “enormous” scope for resolving long‑standing problems, whether related to energy access, food insecurity or vulnerability. The United Nations was challenged to reassess its approach to such work. The ability to turn an energy dilemma — as in Africa, where 700 million of 1 billion people lacked access — into an opportunity was now a real possibility. What happened in capital and financial markets would determine progress.
INGER ANDERSEN, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, said even a 2°C temperature change would have severe impacts on the planet’s ecosystems. Food production would shift, and floods and drought would intensify. She called for nature-based solutions: the deployment of and investment in nature’s infrastructure to create resilience.
Many offered prescriptions for the international community. SAULI NIINISTÖ, President of Finland, said success depended on coherent policies, a price tag for pollution and inclusive participation. At the national level, a holistic Government approach was needed. Food security, water and energy issues were crucial within the fight against climate change. “We all need to opt for renewable energy and energy efficiency now,” he said, urging carbon pricing.
Others noted that achieving carbon neutrality meant moving towards more sustainable consumption and production and reversing deforestation. TSHERING TOBGAY, Prime Minister of Bhutan, said his country had exceeded its pledge to remain carbon neutral and was now a net carbon sink. While it generated 2.4 million tons of carbon dioxide, its forests sequestered as much as 6.3 million tons annually. It also collaborated with its neighbours to offset 5.6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually through the production and export of hydropower.
Action was needed at the regional level as well, argued EMOMALI RAHMON, President of Tajikistan, who said that in Central Asia, a comprehensive regional strategy for climate change adaptation had become urgent long ago. It should include medium- and long-term measures that ensured water security.
Many also spoke to the issue of funding, with Queen MÁXIMA of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, stressing that access to credit and savings, together with financial education and consumer protection, helped small businesses cope with unforeseen risks. Five hundred million small-holder farmers were responsible for more than 80 per cent of the world’s food supply. They required access to affordable credit and insurance against crop loss caused by bad weather. She highlighted a microinsurance programme in Kenya that had been expanded to other African countries.
ATSUYUKI OIKE, Director-General for Global Issues, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that to facilitate private investment, an enabling environment in receiving countries was required. In renewable energy projects, public finance could take care of the initial phase, while private funding could cover more profitable portions of a project. A regulatory framework that facilitated such efforts was most important.
Also speaking in the discussion were Heads of State and Government and senior officials of Nigeria, Luxembourg, Fiji, Georgia, Tonga, Italy, Germany, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Tuvalu, Grenada, Netherlands, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Uruguay, Andorra, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Egypt (on behalf of the African Group), Portugal, Kazakhstan, Czech Republic and Cyprus.
Senior officials of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the European Parliament also spoke.
The representatives of Novozymes, Enda Energy Senegal, Planet Labs, Climate Action Network, and the International Indian Treaty Council also made interventions.