Agricultural Technology for Sustainable Development among Eight Texts Approved by Second Committee

GA/EF/3442
4 December 2015
Seventieth Session, 34th Meeting (AM)

Agricultural Technology for Sustainable Development among Eight Texts Approved by Second Committee

The General Assembly would underline the instrumental role of agricultural technology in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under the terms of a draft resolution approved by a recorded vote today by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), which also took action by consensus on six other texts as well as a draft decision.

Titled “Agricultural technology for sustainable development” and introduced by Israel during the meeting, it was sent to the Assembly by a vote of 124 in favour, with 37 abstentions and no delegations voting against.

By its terms, the Assembly would urge Member States, relevant United Nations organizations and other stakeholders to strengthen efforts to improve the development of sustainable agricultural technologies and their transfer and dissemination to developing countries.  Member States would be called upon to mainstream gender into agricultural policies, encouraged to develop youth-focused agricultural projects and invited to promote agricultural cooperatives in line with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.  States would also be called upon to make sustainable development an integral part of their national policies.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the State of Palestine said Israel had a lot of courage to submit such a text, as it conducted ethnic cleansing and exploited Palestinian resources in illegal ways.  After the vote, Israel’s delegate said the text would help improve the lives of millions around the world by enhancing the capacity of small-scale famers.

By the terms of other texts approved by the Committee today, the Assembly would proclaim 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, designate 5 November as World Tsunami Awareness Day and proclaim 11 February of each year the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.  It would also decide to convene a high-level United Nations conference on oceans, seas, marine resources and sustainable development, to be held in Fiji from 5 to 9 June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day.

A text titled “Follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS [small island developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States” would be approved without a vote after its introduction by the representative of Fiji.  By its terms, the draft would have the Assembly recall the sustainable development priorities for small island States as set out in the 2030 Agenda and decide to consider, during its next session, a mid-term review in 2019 of progress made on those priorities.

By the terms of a draft submitted by the Vice-Chair of the Committee, Reinhard Krapp (Germany), titled “United Nations forest instrument”, the Assembly would extend the timeline of the global objectives on forests to 2030 in order to bring them in line with the timeline of the 2030 Agenda.

Meanwhile, by the conditions of a draft decision, the Assembly would take note of a report of the Trade and Development Board on the venue of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2016 and welcome the Government of Kenya’s offer to host the event.

The Committee also heard the introduction of draft resolutions titled “International trade and development” and “Harmony with Nature” by the representative of South Africa on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and “Towards comprehensive cooperation among all modes of transport for promoting sustainable multimodal transit corridors” by his counterpart from Turkmenistan.

Before the meeting was adjourned, several delegates expressed concern about delays in the Committee’s work.

Also speaking today were representatives from Venezuela, Qatar, Syria, Colombia, Barbados, Canada (also on behalf of Australia, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and the United States) and Norway.

The Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 8 December, at 3 p.m., to take action on outstanding drafts, subject to an extension to be granted by the Assembly.

Introduction and Action on Draft Resolutions

The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, introduced several draft resolutions, including one entitled “International trade and development” (document A/C.2/70/L.44) and another one entitled “Harmony with Nature” (document A/C.2/70/L.42).

The representative of Fiji introduced a draft resolution on sustainable development entitled “United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14:  Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/70/L.3/Rev.1).

Turkmenistan’s representative introduced a draft resolution entitled “Towards comprehensive cooperation among all modes of transport for promoting sustainable multimodal transit corridors” (document A/C.2/70/L.10/Rev.1).

The representative of Israel introduced a draft resolution entitled “Agricultural technology for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/70/L.10/Rev.1).

The Committee then took up a draft decision entitled “Venue of the fourteenth session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in 2016” (document A/C.2/70/L.45), approving it without a recorded vote.

Under its cluster on sustainable development, the Committee took up a draft resolution entitled “United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development” (document A/C.2/70/L.3/Rev.1), approving it without a recorded vote.

Making a general statement following the text’s approval, the representative of Venezuela said that her country was not part of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and that it should not be the only instrument to govern oceans.  She expressed reservations towards Sustainable Development Goal 14, stressing that future updates to the Law of the Sea Convention must be well thought out, rather than premature and counterproductive.  Evolution of the regime must also address the most important challenges and be inclusive to all.

The Committee then took action on a draft resolution entitled “International year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, 2017” (document A/C.2.7/70/L.5/Rev.1), approving it by consensus.

The Committee then turned to a draft resolution entitled “Agricultural technology for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/70/L.12/Rev.1), which the representative of Israel introduced earlier in the morning.

Making a general statement before the vote, the representative of Qatar said the draft had not considered the challenges of developing countries, including removing obstacles that hindered the transfer of technology.  Israeli practices completely contradicted the provisions of the draft resolution submitted by Israel, he said.  Israel had systematically destroyed Palestinian farmers’ arable land, created obstacles that hindered access to Palestinian resources and confiscated water resources.  He rejected Israel’s attempt to use the United Nations to improve its image and said that all Arab countries would abstain from voting on the draft.

The representative of Syria said that Israel had submitted a resolution which diluted and ignored commitments of developing States in terms of agricultural technology transfer.  Israel did not respect the content of recommendations made and continued its occupation, depriving Palestinians from developing their agriculture and violating all international laws.  Racist and illegal practices on a systematic basis were all Israel offered to those living in the occupied territories.  For those reasons, he said his country would abstain from the vote.

The representative of the State of Palestine said that Israel had a lot of courage to submit such a resolution as it conducted ethnic cleansing and exploited Palestinian resources in every illegal way possible.  The restrictions of the West Bank prevented access to about half the arable land, which made it impossible to work in the agricultural sector.  Farmers had been hit by the lack of equipment, preventing them from exporting agricultural products to markets.  Arable land had been reduced by 30 per cent between 1960 and 1990 due to the confiscation of land by Israel.

The Committee then approved the text entitled “Agricultural technology for sustainable development” (document A/C.2/70/L.12/Rev.1), by a recorded vote of 124 in favour to 0 against, and 37 abstentions.

Making a general statement following the vote, the representative of Israel stressed the importance of the text, saying that smallholder farmers accounted for 75 per cent of the world’s poor.  Those farmers lacked the skills, tools and opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty and hunger.  Today’s resolution was about improving the lives of millions around the world by enhancing the capacity of small-scale farmers.  Israel had learned, through its own experience, that investing in people produced lasting results.  His country focused on finding solutions that were simple and smart and, most importantly, sustainable.  Regrettably, despite wide support, the resolution was not adopted by consensus.  It was quite ironic that the group of nations — the Arab Group — that blocked consensus on the text would have benefited from it the most.  Those Member States showed that, instead of harvesting peace, they preferred to sow seeds of hate.

Making a statement in explanation of vote, the representative of Colombia said he voted in favour of the draft resolution.  Once the resolution would be adopted by the General Assembly, priority would need to be placed on strengthening research development and addressing land needs, particularly in developing countries.  Favourable conditions in the context of an international system were critical to sustainable agriculture, he stressed, expressing concern that some language on technology transfer should have been included in the text.

Moving on, the Committee took up a draft resolution entitled “United Nations forest instrument” (document A/C.2/70/L.46), approving it by consensus.

Again under its sustainable development cluster, the Committee took up a draft resolution entitled “Follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS [small island developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” (document A/C.2/70/L.47).

The representative of Barbados took to the floor to orally amend the text.

The Committee then approved the draft resolution as orally amended.

Additionally, the Committee took up a draft text entitled “World Tsunami Awareness Day” (document A/C.2/70.L.11/Rev.1), approving it by consensus.

It also took up a draft text entitled “International Day of Women and Girls in Science” (document A/C.2/70/L.4/Rev.1), approving it by consensus.

On the programme of work, the representative of Canada, speaking also on behalf of Australia, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and the United States, expressed concern about the delay, which she said questioned the credibility of the Committee.  It was unfortunate that the Committee session had been further extended, she added, calling on delegates to speed up negotiations.

The representative of Norway also expressed concern about the delay of work and called on all delegations to respect deadlines and speedily conclude negotiations.  South Africa’s delegate also reiterated the need for a quick conclusion.

For information media. Not an official record.