Rural Development, Gender Equality Figure Prominently, as Second Committee Takes Up Poverty Eradication

GA/EF/3425
13 October 2015
Seventieth Session, 9th & 10th Meetings (AM & PM)

Rural Development, Gender Equality Figure Prominently, as Second Committee Takes Up Poverty Eradication

As the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to consider poverty eradication, delegates debated the merits of rural and industrial development in achieving that.

Agriculture and food security remained Africa’s top priorities for eradicating poverty and hunger, the representative of Sierra Leone, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said.  Two-thirds of the continent was desert or dry land and droughts, such as the recent ones in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, were frequent.  At the same time, industrial development was crucial for enhancing the competitiveness of the continent in the global economy.

Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of South Africa also stressed food security and called for the deployment of resources for women farmers in developing countries.  It was also crucial to provide technical and financial support to developing countries as they implemented industrialization policies.

Cambodia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that poverty eradication was intricately linked with rural development.  ASEAN was prioritizing sustainable rural economic growth and food security amidst climate change.  Other cross-sectoral approaches focused on community empowerment and partnership for development.

Regretting the slow pace of poverty eradication, the representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said, “This cannot be the future that we want.”   He noted Ethiopia’s success in strengthening its agricultural and industrial sectors, and reminded delegates that while rural development played an important role in eradicating poverty, more and more least developed countries were becoming urban-oriented.

Poverty in the Caribbean was predominantly a rural phenomenon, said the representative of Suriname, who spoke on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM).  Access by the poor to health, education, water, sanitation and other basic services was usually limited.  The poor were also the most vulnerable to climate change and least able to respond appropriately.

For the representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Caribbean and Latin American Countries (CELAC), eradicating poverty and hunger was an “ethical imperative”.  He also expressed concern about the “feminization of poverty” and the unequal burden of unpaid care work, and highlighted the contribution of women migrant workers to countries of destination and origin.

Several delegates echoed his concern, stressing the importance of gender equality in eradicating poverty, with the representative of Sri Lanka noting that unsustainable development intensified gender inequality.  Her Government was addressing the needs of the victims of the long conflict in her country, from war widows to women-headed households.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan stated that her country was unable to eradicate maternal mortality because of poverty and early marriage.  The country would integrate gender aspects at State and municipal levels.  She also underscored the need to increase the economic and social rights of rural women.

In Iraq, that country’s delegate said, terrorism had created difficult conditions for women, who were often left to fend for themselves.  Murder, rape and sexual enslavement threatened their rights.  The country was focused on tackling terrorism as well as integrating women into economic life, by expanding their opportunities of work, from public to private sectors.

With women constituting a huge proportion of the working poor, Nigeria’s representative said, it was necessary to take greater effort to regulate labour markets and achieve a level playing field.  With significant achievements to its credit so far, the international community must now turn to the task of uplifting the “bottom billion” out of poverty.

Also taking part in today’s debate were representatives of Israel, Mexico, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Brazil, Venezuela, Qatar, China, Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Colombia, Cambodia (speaking in his national capacity), United States, Sudan, Morocco, Mozambique, Algeria, Ethiopia, Nepal, Maldives, Botswana, Namibia, Togo, Mauritania, India, Paraguay, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand, Côte d’Ivoire, Honduras, Timor-Leste, Zambia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Turkey and Bolivia.

The representative of Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee also heard from a representative of the State of Palestine, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See and an observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also addressed the Committee today.

Presenting reports for the Committee’s consideration were the Director of the Policy for UN-Women; the Director for Social Policy and Development for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs; and the Director of Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 15 October, to begin its consideration of globalization and interdependence.

Background

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to consider the issue of “Eradication of poverty and other development issues”.  The Committee had before it four documents relating to the issue (documents A/70/281, A/69/156, A/70/256 and A/70/293).

Introduction of Reports

DANIELA BAS, Director of Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the report on the “Implementation of the Second United Nations Decade for Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017)” (document A/70/281), said that while extreme poverty had declined in all regions, poverty remained unacceptably high in Africa and the least developed countries.  Highlighting the magnitude of decent work deficit in many States, she added that despite encouraging signs of recovery, the labour market situation remained fragile in countries that had been affected by the global financial crisis.  Unemployment was especially a problem among women, young people, those with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups.  The policy priorities for tackling poverty included the enhancement of economic productivity, investing in agriculture and improving access to quality education.

PURNA SEN, Director of Policy Division for UN-Women, introducing the report on “Women in development” (document A/70/256) said that meeting the 2030 Agenda required not only the commitment of Member States, but “transformative financing” to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals were effectively implemented and that gender equality and women’s empowerment were realized.  The slow economic recovery was not keeping pace with the rising need for jobs, and “jobless growth” was a problem that must be addressed by refocusing macroeconomic objectives on job creation and gender equality rather than focusing on price stability and fiscal consolidation.  Further, the burden of unpaid care work on women and girls constrained their ability to participate equally in education and paid employment.

NAVID HANIF, Director of Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “Human resources development” (document A/70/293).  Human resources development was a vital component for achieving sustainable development, and for measuring progress towards that end, he said, highlighting three recommendations of the report.  The document emphasized the role of human resources development in national sustainable development strategies.  It underscored the need for broad and integrated human resources development approaches that were sensitive to the specific needs of vulnerable populations.  The report also highlighted the need for integration into strategic areas, including population, health, nutrition, education, training, employment, science and technology.  Countries that invested in human resources development were more likely to enter a “virtuous cycle”, where healthier and increasingly skilled citizens promoted innovation and economic growth.

In an ensuing discussion, the representative of Guatemala pointed out that the global economic situation had not recovered and there was no reference in the report to the consequences countries would face as they would increase their taxes.  Ms. Sen said it was important to address tax havens and loopholes to enable countries to enact policies that promoted development and Mr. Hanif said that poverty was the symptom and inequality was a disease.  The 2030 Agenda was designed to address it two-fold.  The regional and global conditions must be conducive to support national actions that supported poverty eradication in all its dimensions.

Statements

Ms. SOMHLABA (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that extreme poverty remained the greatest global challenge and must be linked to combating inequality and central to the undertaking of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by global leaders.  While employment was a key driver, the slow and uneven recovery of the global economic crisis greatly hindered progress.  Relevant policies and actions must include strong sustained and inclusive economic growth, affordable access to services and the empowerment of individuals.  One of the major factors that had hampered efforts development progress was the inadequacy of resources, she said, reiterating the importance of recognizing diversity and challenges faced in countries in special situations.  There needed to be a significant mobilization of resources and the provision of adequate resources for developing countries to implement policies.

Ending poverty must put emphasis on ending hunger and achieving food security, she said.  Resources had to be deployed to support women farmers in developing countries, and technical support and financial resources were needed in order for developing countries to design and implement industrialization policies.  Eradicating poverty would not be won with the continued marginalization of women, and gender equality was of fundamental importance.  The call to end poverty would be hollow if the international community did not work to ensure that women had access to health, education and decent work.  The effects of climate change posed a threat to development especially for developing countries.  A binding international community must address the effects of climate change through sustainable consumption and production.

EBUN STRASSER KING (Sierra Leone), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that agriculture and food security remained the continent’s top priorities for eradicating poverty and hunger.  In 2014, her group had reaffirmed the vision of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme and had set relevant targets for the coming years.  Calling upon the international community to support the implementation of various programmes under New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), she added that the African Group also looked forward to engaging in industrial development, to progressively enhance the competitiveness of the continent in the global economy.

Turning to climate change, she added that due to the continent’s low adaptive capacity, Africa remained extremely vulnerable to that problem.  Two-thirds of it was desert or dry land and the region was affected by frequent and severe droughts, which had been particularly severe in recent years in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.  Calling on Member States to support the implementation of the Convention to Combat Desertification, she said that Africa would work with all partners to ensure a successful adoption of a legally binding climate agreement at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

HENRY L. MAC DONALD (Suriname), speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), said that poverty in the Caribbean was predominantly a rural phenomenon.  Access by the poor to health, education, water, sanitation and other basic services was usually limited.  More than a quarter of the region’s unemployed were between 25 and 34 years of age, he said, emphasizing that high levels of unemployment among adolescents were linked to marginalization.  The poor were among the most vulnerable to climate change and economic shocks and the least able to respond and adapt appropriately.  Furthermore, poor households lacked the means to purchase wholesome foods and hence were more susceptible to adverse health conditions.

He said that CARICOM was concerned with the classification of all but Haiti, as middle-income countries on the basis of unidimensional criteria such as per capita income and the subsequent loss of opportunity in concessional financing.  Crime and violence had emerged as one of the major challenges facing Caribbean countries.  Multi-sectoral, culturally relevant risk reduction strategies addressing social and situational causative factors and targeting youths must be pursued.  However, that must go hand-in-hand with judiciary reform.  The focus must also be on building adequate infrastructure for attracting industries and employment and should be given priority along with promoting entrepreneurship, especially among youth.

ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the pace of poverty eradication was too slow in many of the States in his Group.  In sub-Saharan least developed countries, different programmes for addressing poverty had not yielded significant results.  “This cannot be the future that we want,” he stressed, adding that one of the key priorities of the Istanbul Programme of Action, which provided a road map for the graduation of least developed countries, was productive capacity-building.

Ethiopia, he noted, was a success story in significantly reducing poverty through foreign direct investment (FDI) and by strengthening the agricultural and industrial sectors.  Those were some areas where the countries of his Group needed assistance from the international community.  It was also crucial to look at the percentage of people living in poverty, not just the absolute number.  Further, while rural development played an important role in eradicating poverty, with every passing year, more and more least developed countries were becoming urban-oriented and the issue of sustainable urban life must be considered.

ESTEBAN CADENA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that nearly 165 million people in his region lived in poverty and 69 million in extreme poverty.  Eradicating poverty and hunger was an ethical imperative of all humankind.  Sustainable development could not be attained without the inclusion of groups in situations of vulnerability, such as indigenous, women, afro-descendants, the elderly, persons with disability and migrants.  Equity, social and financial inclusion and access to fair credit were central to ensure overall access to justice and citizen participation.  He highlighted the role of follow-up and review mechanisms and the strengthening of national and regional data systems.

He also reaffirmed the importance of women’s empowerment.  The status of women in development was of growing concern to CELAC, particularly the “feminization of poverty” and the unequal burden of unpaid care work, including care for children and the elderly.  The contribution of women migrant workers to the development of their States of destination and of their countries of origin must be recognized.  The human rights of migrant women must be respected regardless of their legal status.  CELAC supported the integration of science, technological knowledge and innovation systems into poverty eradication strategies.

Now, speaking in his national capacity and associating himself with the Group of 77, he said that development was the biggest “moral imperative of mankind” because for the first time in history it was the result of a distorted and exclusive system.  He welcomed the 2030 Agenda as it recognized poverty in all its forms and saw it as a major challenge.  The best strategy to reduce poverty was an encompassing approach that took into account social, economic, land, gender and environmental gaps.  The classic income measurement for poverty was not enough.  There should be a focus to promote higher social standards and stimulate upward mobility through skills, education and a strengthening of social systems.  Any programme designed in isolation ran the risk of cancelling out progress in other areas.  He supported the proposal of a multi-dimensional poverty index and stressed that it was time to value people over profit.

RY TUY (Cambodia), speaking on behalf of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that through the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the mission and destination of the 2030 Agenda was within reach of the international community.  His group was committed to the eradication of poverty and had established a number of integrated, cross-sectoral approaches to address rural development, community empowerment, engagement of stakeholders and partnership for development.  Poverty eradication was intricately linked with rural development and ASEAN was prioritizing sustainable rural economic growth and food security amidst climate change.

ASEAN States, he added, were conducting programmes targeting the individual, family and community levels, including greater access to microfinance, promotion of entrepreneurship skills, women’s empowerment, promotion of local agriculture and vocational skills development.  Partnership between countries was crucial to creating an enabling environment and his group urged developed countries to fulfil their internationally agreed target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent to least developed countries.

NIZAR AMER (Israel) said that his country had transformed in 68 short years from a barren desert into a flourishing nation by adopting an approach that put an emphasis not only on financial investment, but also investment in human capital.  Israel believed that empowering women was a prerequisite to eradicating poverty and had passed several laws that regulate matters relating to equal pay and opportunity in the workplace.  Discrimination on the basis of gender would not be tolerated in places of work.  Israel was also committed to sharing its expertise in innovation and entrepreneurship to assist people living on the margins of society.  His country was expanding the field of venture philanthropy — businesses that turned a profit while providing opportunities and skills to disadvantaged populations, from high school dropouts to disabled adults.

SARA LUNA CAMACHO (Mexico), associating herself with CELAC, said that Agenda 2030 aimed at eradicating the causes of poverty and not just its symptoms.  The concept of multidimensional poverty was crucial to identifying a new global framework for development.  Starting in January 2016, her country would start implementing the Sustainable Development Goals through public policies and appropriate follow-up.  Mexico was crusading against hunger and as a middle-income country would focus on a social policy and a comprehensive economic strategy that brought together Government efforts, private initiatives and educational institutions.  Her country measured poverty using indicators that went far beyond income, including access to education, health care and social security.  That approach encouraged an interaction between social and economic policies.

RAJA REZA BIN RAJA ZAIB SHAH (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that only 1 per cent of households in his country currently lived under the poverty line.  Malaysia recognized that the maximum participation of women in the economy remained vital to national development.  His country also continued to strive to address women’s concerns to reflect the changing socioeconomic roles of women.  Legal and institutional frameworks had also been put in place to safeguard women’s rights and further improve their status in society.  Enrolment of women for first degrees in public universities had been consistently above 62 per cent in recent years.  The Government continued to take measures to increase the participation of women in the workforce, and was confident in attaining 55 per cent participation by the end of 2015.  Malaysia continued to make strides in nurturing healthy, educated and able workers.

MADINA KARABAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that her country had done well in achieving the Millennium Development Goal on education.  In 1999, the literacy rate in Kyrgyzstan was 98.7 per cent and by 2009 it had increased to 99.2 per cent.  In achieving the 2030 Agenda, her Government’s task would be to arm the youth with education.  Eradicating maternal mortality was hindered by poverty and early marriage.  She noted a national plan of action and health-care reform that had decreased the financial burden on vulnerable populations.  Furthermore, a national strategy to achieve gender equality by 2020 had been adopted with a focus on including women in the economy, justice and political sectors.  Within the UN-Women campaign Planet 50-50 by 2030, Kyrgyzstan planned to integrate gender aspects at State and municipal levels and to ensure support of participation of women at all levels.  She also underscored the need to increase economic and social rights of women especially in rural levels.  While Kyrgyzstan had made progress in reducing poverty, the global financial crisis of 2009 and the political events in her country in 2010 had led to a slowdown as did sanctions in the region and the devaluation of national currency.

SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) warned Member States against resting on their laurels and urged them to continue efforts towards the 2030 Agenda with a focus on a balance between different regions.  His country continued to increase its contribution to global poverty eradication.  That was one of the key targets of State policies.  The Russian Federation, independently and in coordination with the United Nations system, funded programmes that aimed to develop and assist countries in need and help solve global challenges in health care, energy, infrastructure, environmental protection and strengthening economic trade.  His country had also worked to alleviate debt burden of poor States.  The Russian Federation had already written off principle debt of more than $20 billion for African countries alone.  The volume of assistance from the Russian Federation had increased.  In 2014, it had risen by 20 per cent.  Through the United Nations it had provided $127 million and total assistance amounted to $875 million.

MAKI KHAMAS (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that achieving effective participation by women and youth required overcoming economic obstacles by enabling women integration in economic life.  There must be a private sector depending on the mechanisms of the free market where women could occupy permanent positions.  Women in Iraq preferred to work in the Government rather than the private sector.  Terrorism created unbearable conditions, particularly for women, who were often left to fend for themselves.  Iraqi women occupied various senior positions in the State but that needed to be expanded.  Several organizations had been established to care for the advancement of women.  Murder, rape and sexual enslavement of women remained a serious concern in Iraq.  Defeating terrorism was imperative to addressing those scourges.

SÉRGIO RODRIGUES DOS SANTOS (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that his country’s experience over the last decade proved that market forces alone could not offer solutions to poverty.  States needed to put in place strong, social, economic and environmental policies aimed at ensuring inclusive development, with effective income distribution, access to basic public services and targeted action to mitigate and reverse the structural drivers of inequality, with an emphasis on vulnerable groups.  The flagship programme of his country was “Bolsa Familia” or the Family Stipend Programme, which guaranteed a complementary income for 14 million poor families in Brazil while simultaneously conditioning that cash transfer on the enrolment of children in school and frequent health check-ups.

CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER (Venezuela), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that the neoliberal policies of the countries of the North had led to a marked increase in poverty because of the unjust distribution of wealth and the concentration of resources in the hands of exclusive minorities.  Eradicating poverty and hunger without sovereignty over natural resources was unviable.  Therefore, the 2030 Agenda must apply to both the poor and rich.  Instead of continuing its previous capitalistic thinking, the international community must build a new and ethical social architecture.  Venezuela was focused on equity, justice, human rights, citizen partnership and gender equality.  Early childhood development and education was crucial for destroying the cycle of poverty.  Eradicating poverty was a complex task that required a multidimensional approach and could not be reduced to just monetary terms.

SULTAN ALKHAYARIN (Qatar), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Arab Group, said that working in a spirit of cooperation was crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Despite progress in eradicating poverty, huge gaps remained, especially in providing decent work to all.  Therefore, it was crucial to invest in quality education.  In its national policies, his country had prioritized the providing of education for all citizens.  Further, efforts to eradicate poverty fell short of their aim unless supplemented by efforts to enhance gender equality.  Women bore the greatest bulk of economic and ecological problems and Qatar had put in place programmes that sought to integrate women in employment and enhance their social protection.

LU YUHUI (China), associating himself with the Group 77, said poverty was one of the root causes of regional conflicts and terrorism.  Poverty eradication must be given priority in the 2030 Agenda, efforts must focus on optimizing resources and fiscal support must be strengthened to assist Governments in addressing the concerns of vulnerable groups.  However, poverty eradication cannot come at the cost of the environment.  It was necessary to promote comprehensive and social development and improve the quality of national development.  Eradicating poverty through cooperation and hence global partnerships was key particularly with aid flow from developed States to developing countries.  Global trade and investment should seek “win-win results”, he added.  Although it had lifted 400 million people out of poverty in one generation, China remained the largest developing country in the world.  Some 200 million Chinese still lived under the poverty line, he said.

Ms. KOROLOVA (Ukraine) said that the insurgent activities which had breached the territorial integrity of his country had led to a major humanitarian crisis.  Those actions had caused increased poverty in the Ukrainian population, especially affecting vulnerable groups such as families with children, those with disabilities, people residing in rural areas and orphans.  The external aggression had led to the emergence of a new form of poverty, namely sudden or unexpected poverty which affected the lives of about 1.5 million internally displaced persons in the country.  Despite those challenging circumstances, his country was establishing internal mechanisms for fighting poverty and developing relationships with international partners to initiate development and recovery plans for the affected areas.

SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that there was no better time than now to focus on the pivotal role played by women in development.  The effects of unsustainable patterns of development had intensified gender inequality, as women and girls were often disproportionately affected by economic, social and environmental troubles.  In her country, women had been important partners in development, with the nation making an early start in women’s empowerment with the introduction of the Universal Adult Franchise as far back as 1931.  However, the long drawn-out conflict had resulted in a large number of female victims, including orphans, war widows, single mothers and women-headed households.  Addressing their concerns was a priority for her Government.

MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that despite progress achieved with the Millennium Development Goals, more than 1.2 billion people continued to live on less than $1.25 per day.  Unequal access to basic social services, high demographic growth rate estimated at 3.1 per cent and external shocks continued to hinder development in Burkina Faso.  To truly eliminate poverty in rural areas, the focus must be on development of agricultural infrastructure and women’s empowerment.  The development of the agriculture sector promoted food security and combated hunger.  The “despair of youth” because of a lack of employment opportunities drove young people to migrate.  That segment must benefit from programmes that promote micro loans.  A lack of financing was a major challenge in development and without it combating poverty remained “words only”.

MOHAMMAD HELMY AHMAD ABOULWAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said it was unfortunate that the Middle East and Northern Africa continued to experience the highest unemployment rates of all regions.  In Africa, and despite strong growth rates over the past decade, the total unemployment rate on the continent had not declined in the previous couple of years.  The international community must implement agreed commitments and scale up global partnership for development.  Facilitating transfer of technology helped developing countries to accelerate economic growth.  On international trade expansion, he said that market access in developed countries for agricultural, manufactured goods and services of developing countries helped create productive jobs.  Microfinance and microcredit was also essential especially for the empowerment of women.

ISABEL CAVELIER ADARVE (Colombia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that in her country 4.4 million people emerged from poverty between 2009 and 2014.  However, that was not enough.  Poverty was multidimensional and not simplistic which only involved measuring income.  Reducing inequality required strengthening the middle class and improving the condition of those most marginalized.  Redoubling cooperation would mobilize financial and non-financial resources, she said, calling for a diversification of the national and international economy by revitalizing the global alliance for development.  Decent work led to socioeconomic progress and meant stronger people, families and communities.  The empowerment of women was a precondition of sustainable development.  Her country recognized the “irreplaceable” role of all women.  Needed were concrete policies that would reduce and redistribute the burden of non-remunerated work.  Men should be equal caretakers.

RY TUY (Cambodia), speaking in his national capacity, said that his country had made remarkable transformations over the past two decades, especially in securing full peace, strong political stability and improved public security.  The Government, along with development partners, had taken a number of actions to address poverty and rural development.  The priority actions were maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving rural livelihoods, expanding job opportunities, improving capabilities and promoting gender equality.  Agricultural development was crucial for the country, and steps had been taken to implement land reforms, distribute farmland to landless farmers, expand irrigation and extend credit to farmers.  As a result, his country had achieved a remarkable decline in poverty rates.

RICHARD ERDMAN (United States) called poverty a scourge “wider and deeper than any disease or conflict” as it impacted millions of lives every day.  For the first time in history, the international community had the tools, technologies and political will to end poverty and ensure that everyone shared in the progress and had the opportunity to watch their children grow up and contribute to their families and communities.  Fifteen years of experience achieving the Millennium Development Goals taught the world that setting the proper goals and measuring results could drive meaningful change.  The transformations required that ‘no one was left behind’ on sustained and inclusive economic growth.  It also meant that institutions and Governments invest in people and gender equality.  Mobilizing domestic resources through tax reform and efficient tax collection, providing access to financial services, channelling official development assistance (ODA) to countries in need and investing in quality education for women and girls were areas of great importance.

KHALID M. OSMAN SID AHMED MOHAMMED ALI (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that women had the right to equitable treatment.  The elimination of poverty depended on investments in education and training for both sexes on an equal basis.  His Government was participating in providing education, health services and training of young people so that they could be suited for jobs in the private sector.  While developing the countryside and villages, Sudan laid emphasis on developing women especially through microcredit.  The national budget focusing on the elimination of poverty had also increased in Sudan.  However, “certain sanctions” prevented access to credit and therefore hindered development.  Inequality within countries and between countries had an affect when States fought poverty and attempted to mobilize funds, he said, emphasizing that partnerships must give priority to least developed countries.  Climate change was also affecting the quality of soil and therefore affecting livelihoods in his country.

ABELMALEK ACHERGUI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that many countries have yet to address the millions living in poverty.  He called on Member States to work tirelessly to mobilize resources.  In Morocco, combating poverty and social exclusion had always been a priority.  Deep institutional reforms had allowed Morocco to address the poverty rate, decreasing it in recent years.  Poverty was predominantly a rural phenomenon and required focus on agricultural sectors, developing infrastructure and empowering rural women.  He noted that Morocco had brought rural electricity rates to 98 per cent, and also touched on his country’s programme to ensure decent housing to all and a strategy to improve irrigation through South-South cooperation.

ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that sub-Saharan Africa’s poverty reduction rates were significantly less compared to other regions.  After 15 years of implementing the Millennium Development Goals, it was clear that global targets needed to be merged into national governance agendas.  Mozambique had expanded access to education and reduced child mortality.  Further, the country was operationalizing the 2030 Agenda by consolidating national unity and peace and developing social and human capital.  The main challenge remained the mobilization of necessary resources.

KHALED BENHAMADI (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that conflicts, pandemics, volatile commodity prices and climate change had adversely impacted the progress achieved in Africa so far.  An enabling international environment that rested on a revitalized global partnership was required if the continent was to reach sustained economic growth.  On women’s empowerment, he highlighted various reforms and achievements in his country, from mandatory education to increased representation of women in the judicial system.  Algeria’s current Parliament was composed of nearly 32 per cent women.

SAMUEL SONNI YUSUF (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that while there had been remarkable achievements in reducing poverty, the international community now confronted the task of uplifting the “bottom billion”.  Social protection as a right was a powerful instrument for meeting that challenge and his country commended the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) crisis response initiatives such as the Global Jobs Pact.  With women constituting a huge proportion of the working poor, gender equality was of fundamental importance and more efforts should be exerted to regulate labour markets and achieve a level playing field.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that in his country absolute poverty had decreased from 44 per cent in 2000 to 22 per cent in 2015.  Its policy was anchored in achieving comprehensive rural transformation.  Despite progress, there was still some distance to go to ensure food security.  Ethiopia was working to mitigate the impact of drought, which had been a significant contribution to poverty reduction.  The adverse impacts of climate change continued to pose a threat to the poor and other vulnerable groups.  His country was also transforming its manufacturing sector by promoting industries in the areas of textile and leather.  It had also created a favourable business environment that aimed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

DURGA PRASAD BHANDARI (Nepal), associating himself the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May had caused an “unprecedented scale of damage” estimated at $7 billion.  The incident was likely to push an additional 3.5 per cent of Nepalese into poverty.  The catastrophe not only hampered ongoing activities undertaken in the field of poverty eradication but also added challenges in Nepal’s graduation process from the status of least developed country.  The Government was committed to take both the task of pursuing reconstruction and rehabilitation.  Nepal’s Constitution had recently broadened the rights of women and promoted programmes raising awareness on gender-based violence.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that 2015 would go down in the annals of history as the year the United Nations made the biggest commitment to address the world’s most pressing problems.  The 2030 Agenda was a blueprint for the most urgent needs of the world, he said, pointing out how his country had embarked on a people-centred approach to development.  The Maldives had experienced an unprecedented “youth bulge” with more than 44 per cent of its population under the age of 25.  The Government took a keen interest in investing in youth and children through several policies aimed at increasing employment, education opportunities and improving health.  Vocational training programmes had also been set up with students being placed within private companies for internships.  The Maldivian economy was largely dependent on tourism and fisheries, he said, expressing concern that both sectors remained “highly volatile” in the face of extreme climate and weather patterns.  Overfishing, pollution and ocean acidification threatened fisheries while rising sea levels and the threat of natural disasters directly impacted tourism.

TLHALEFO B. MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said there were several major impediments to the eradication of poverty in low income countries, especially in Africa.  They included trade barriers, loss of competiveness in markets, declining levels of investment in key infrastructure like transportation and communities, as well a high unemployment among young people.  Those problems were amplified by the multiple global crises of food, energy, economic and financial meltdowns.  Hence, Botswana faced an “uphill battle” of ensuring provision of its social infrastructure and the welfare of its people.  The key to addressing those problems was striking the right balance between promoting sustainable development at the national level and ensuring that commitments were fulfilled at the international level.  In the meantime, social safety nets continued to be rolled out as an intervention to protect the country’s most vulnerable.

WILFRIED I. EMVULA (Namibia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that development efforts targeted at poverty eradication must respond to challenges at both national and international levels.  A supportive, and fair economic architecture as well as a genuine global partnership were crucial to complement the efforts of national Governments.  His country believed that global trade and investment rules must be designed to meet the constraints faced by developing countries.  Poverty was a structural legacy of apartheid in Namibia and the Government had established a Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare to coordinate various cross-cutting programmes being implemented by different Ministries.

KOFFI ZOMBLEWOUH EDOU (Togo), said that his country was implementing a national programme for agricultural improvement and food security, which took into account various restrictive factors facing women and youth.  The women of Togo played a crucial role in the agricultural sector and there were focal points in the Ministry of Agriculture to integrate gender-friendly policies into all programmes.  Togo had also facilitated access to agricultural imports through a “quick start” operation which enabled the country to improve food security.  As a result of such actions, Togo had halved the rate of malnutrition, and had received a distinction from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for its programmes.

EL HACEN ELEYATT (Mauritania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that eradicating poverty required economic, environmental and social policies that allowed equal opportunity for everyone.  Mauritania was focusing on training its youth and enhancing access to labour markets.  In addition, specialized agencies were focusing on poverty among vulnerable segments of the population.  The President of the country had expressed his determination to make its citizens, both men and women, reach the standing they deserved in the social, political and economic fields.  The country paid special attention to gender equality through measures ranging from improving women’s participation in administrative posts to combating violence against women.  As a result, in the last few years, there had been a qualitative leap in the well-being of its women.

AMIT NARANG (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed concern over child mortality rates in low-income countries being 20 times higher than in high income States.  Almost 15 per cent of the population in developing countries were undernourished.  He expressed hope that the 2030 Agenda would attack the problem of poverty more directly by keeping it a priority at the centre of all deliberations.  He urged the international community to address the problem of climate change and pointed out that environmental degradation greatly impacted inequality.  The urgent imperative of “going green” should not mean millions of poor people going hungry, millions going homeless and millions of children being condemned to a permanent state of poverty.

FEDERICO ALBERTO GONZALEZ FRANCO (Paraguay), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the fight against poverty in all its dimensions was at the core of his Government’s policies.  Since 2000, Paraguay had reduced extreme poverty significantly but that scourge remained prevalent in rural regions.  Solidarity and international cooperation were essential.  Paraguay included women in all aspects of public life.  Women were the main recipients of conditional transfer and health programmes.  On youth, he said, one out of four Paraguayans was less than 40 years of age.  In 2014, the rates of youth literacy exceeded 98 per cent.  However, young Paraguayans did not think that was sufficient.  They recently took to the streets in protest demanding more from the Government, he said, emphasizing that national potential would be actualized when complemented and strengthened by international efforts and support.

MUHAMMAD ANSHOR (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said it was important to harness cross-sectoral actions and integrated policy approaches in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  His country’s experience showed that growth was the most important force behind poverty reduction.  However, getting growth to the poor was as important as getting the poor to grow.  On gender equality, he said that having equal enrolment of girls and boys in primary schools was an excellent start but it was crucial to enable them to continue to higher education.  Further, increased investment in infrastructure, such as roads and telecommunications, could connect the poor to markets.

VIENGXAY THAMMAVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said her State was eager to graduate from the status of least developed countries.  The Government had adopted several strategies to develop and implement initiatives to eradicate poverty and sustain growth.  The rate of poverty in her country declined significantly from around 28 per cent in 2002 to 17 per cent in 2014.  To ensure the continuity of such efforts, especially in rural areas, the Government was pursuing the path of sustainable development by empowering communities and villages in strategic planning and in their own development while enhancing cooperation with partners.  She also called on partners in both private and public sectors to support such national efforts.

Mr. BUNNAG (Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that bridging the urban and rural populations would be critical in achieving poverty eradication.  That included providing equitable access to finance, increasing capacity, enhancing productivity and the efficient use of resources.  The global community needed to work towards an inclusive, fair and equitable society to bridge inequality among peoples.  Promoting health care was central as healthy citizens were drivers of economic growth.  Thailand had continuously promoted legislation on gender equality and invested in women.  Communities must be empowered to adapt and minimize losses caused by the impact of climate change.  Bridging inequality among countries must be advanced through global partnerships and development aid in the form of science and technology.

FEH MOUSSA GONE (Cote D’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said a significant proportion of the global population continued to live in poverty and hunger.  The 2030 Agenda was a source of hope for Cote D’Ivoire, which had experienced a decade of poverty that defined much of its progress.  Implementation of a national plan led to remarkable results in economic growth, health care, education and employment.  That economic revival combined with efforts to improve living conditions led to real progress, but the challenge remained to continue such efforts and accelerate growth.  The Government considered the empowerment of women essential and policies were focused on women in decision-making bodies such as the Parliament and in the justice sector.  No development was possible without abundant human resources, he said, pointing to several national initiatives including the construction of several universities.

ROBERTA MARIA ORDOÑEZ SOLANO (Honduras), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, pointed to her country’s progress in achieving satisfactory levels of education, economic development and gender equity.  Honduras placed special emphasis on ensuring that employment was equitable.  In 2014, her country had achieved more balance and equality of sexes in primary and secondary education.  As of 2013, 20 per cent of its national budget had been allocated for the training and promotion of women.  They could now take part in everything of national importance and were themselves involved in promoting equality.  Honduras had also created the platform “A better life” which sought to improve housing, job training and microcredit support.

ALMERIO DO CARMO VIEIRA (Timor-Leste), associating himself with Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that his country was working to end poverty through several measures, including by providing a safety net for vulnerable members of society.  Recognizing that it was particularly important to reduce malnutrition among children, a school meals programme had been established.  Increasing agriculture production was being invested in by the establishment of schools which taught best practice farming techniques to young people.  Timor-Leste was committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 and ending poverty in all forms everywhere.

MWABA PATRICIA KASESE-BOTA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that despite her State having reduced poverty from 58 per cent in 1991 to 42.3 per cent in 2010, it was unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goals target of 29 per cent by the end of 2015.  Her Government would continue implementing policies that focused on creating jobs and reducing poverty and inequality, especially in rural areas.  As part of the effort to increase access to markets and reduce the cost of doing business, the Government had also increased investment in road infrastructure.  In rural areas, where poverty was three times higher than in urban areas, Zambia was conducting multiple interventions, such as cash transfers.

WILLIAM JOSÉ CALVO CALVO (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, emphasized the linkages between gender equality, human rights and development, and welcomed Sustainable Development Goal 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls.  Respect for women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, would be crucial for achieving that.  Women and girls were agents of change for the 2030 Agenda and they must be given the political and financial tools they needed.  The international community had a collective responsibility to create an enabling environment for women, taking into account the restrictive impact of fiscal policies.  It was also the responsibility of men to counter stereotypes and ensure more just societies.

ANTHONY ANDANJE (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that since its independence, his country had endeavoured to make women active partners, enabling them to increase their economic productivity.  To safeguard women’s right to property, his Government had enacted various legislation.  Among them was the National Land policy, which recognized a woman’s right to own property as equal to that of men, as well as the Matrimonial Property Act, which safeguarded women’s property rights during and upon dissolution of marriage.  His Government had also introduced free primary education in 2003 to all children, which had resulted in an increase in the number of girls attending school, as well as gender parity in primary education.

CEREN HANDE ÖZGÜR (Turkey) said her country had managed to eradicate extreme poverty.  The root causes of that scourge were complex and in that framework she expressed support to a multidimensional poverty index.  Unemployment and inequality remained key drivers of poverty.  Women’s empowerment must be at the centre of all policy as it was crucial not only from a social point of view but in achieving economic growth.  Turkey had supported and made contributions to UN-Women for programmes in Europe and Central Asia.  Opportunities for prosperity must be created with each State so that people did not have to “chase them elsewhere”.

IARA BEEKMA REIS (Bolivia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said capitalism pillaged natural resources, operated by means of a dictatorship and favoured large banking organizations.  There were more than 800 million people in the world that lived in poverty and were victims of capitalism.  The eradication of poverty was an ethical imperative and solutions must take into account nature and collective rights.  Development had to be based on human happiness for all.  In her country, living well meant living in solidary with Mother Earth.  In that respect, she welcomed Agenda 2030 as it recognized that every country had unique challenges and requirements.  Reducing extreme poverty in Bolivia was achieved in 2009, with the help of global, regional, and national support as well as community participation.  She warned against a framework that favoured some over others and emphasized that the aim must be to live in harmony.

BERNARDITO AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that the challenge of poverty eradication was even more daunting, in light of the fact that progress had been slower at higher poverty lines.  Further, some people, after having defeated extreme poverty, regressed back to misery, either because of forces beyond control such as natural catastrophes or because of the inability to keep pace with the skills necessary to maintain an economic level above poverty.  Recalling Pope Francis’s words to the General Assembly, he said that to enable men and women to escape from extreme poverty, they must be allowed to be “dignified agents of their own destiny”.  The Holy See joined the Secretary-General in calling on Member States to ensure that social inclusion policies promoted the participation of all segments of society in the labour market, particularly women, youth, persons with disabilities, older persons and indigenous groups.

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, a representative of the State of Palestine, associating with the Group of 77, said that poverty eradication meant a life with dignity but global reports indicated that more than 1.5 billion people were living in poverty.  In the State of Palestine, poverty was increasing due to a multitude of factors, including the terrorism exercised by settlers.  The ongoing construction of the separation wall was isolating more than 100,000 Palestinian people.  Palestinian farmers needed a special authorization to reach their land, and, in 2014, only half the applications for such permission were approved.  Settlers also destroyed agriculture, the lifeline of the Palestinian economy, by attacking fruit-bearing trees, uprooting them, burning them or chemically poisoning them.  The aggressive war against Gaza was another matter of concern.  The representative of the occupying Power had said that Israel had transformed a desert but that desert was the historic and ancient land of Palestine.

BERTRAND DE LOOZ KARAGEORGIADES, an observer for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said that the topic of finance and economy which was the concern of the Committee also touched on various other matters.  That was because the elimination of poverty was key to eliminating many other ills.  Solidarity with those facing exclusion and reaffirming human dignity was at the heart of the Order’s activities, which took place in more than 120 countries.  Its projects ranged from coming to the aid of refugees to providing medical aid to victims of conflict.  In a conversation between Pope Francis and the Grand Master of the Order, concern was expressed about human trafficking in the Mediterranean region.

A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that poor farmers were extremely vulnerable to protracted crises.  Without adequate coping mechanisms, rural families could quickly fall into a vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.  The FAO report published today highlighted how social protection could support poverty eradication through local sourcing from family farmers to supply school meals.  It also highlighted the importance of cash transfers and cash for work programmes, two initiatives that would allow poor families to buy locally the food they need.  Cash transfers contributed to higher incomes as well, and gender sensitive programming further bolstered the impacts of social protection.  Women who were empowered to manage household incomes improved family welfare and nutrition.  Social protection by providing relief to poor families could not break the cycle of rural poverty on its own and must be part of a wider strategy that included productive support to those families.

Right of Reply

Exercising his right of reply, the representative of Israel called the remarks made by the representative of the State of Palestine “blatant lies” and “slander”.  Such claims did nothing but inject hatred into the minds and hearts of Palestinians.  Dozens of Palestinians had been involved in attacks in recent days which were incited by such false accusations.  “Repeating lies did not make them true,” he said.  During such sensitive times it was important to calm tensions rather than incite more anger.

For information media. Not an official record.