The 2016 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development concluded today with the adoption of a declaration that committed ministers from around the world to leaving no one behind in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Prior to the adoption, the representative of Nicaragua requested a recorded vote to delete paragraph 19 from the declaration. By 141 votes in favour to 1 against (Nicaragua), with 3 abstentions (Egypt, Myanmar, Russian Federation), the Council rejected the proposal.
Through the text, Forum ministers stressed that the 2030 Agenda was a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity that also sought to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. While reaffirming that eradicating poverty in all its forms was the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, they welcomed early efforts to address unfinished business from the Millennium Development Goals.
Speaking before the vote, the representative of Nicaragua said that, during negotiations, there had been no respect for General Assembly resolution 67/290, which guided the work of high-level meetings under the Council’s auspices. Certain things had been imposed on sovereign countries, he said, recalling that Nicaragua had rejected the Paris Agreement, a fact that should be respected.
Expressing support for including the paragraph in the text, a number of delegates underscored the need to truly reflect the views of all while others recognized that each State had the sovereign right to make its own decisions.
“It was only through active engagement and commitment that the High-Level Political Forum could fulfil its mandate,” said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, emphasizing that it provided political leadership, guidance and recommendations for follow-up and review. Congratulating 22 Member States for presenting national reviews, he stressed that they had showcased national actions and identified gaps.
Similarly, Council President Oh Joon (Republic of Korea) stressed that the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals required a transformative leadership, describing national development plans as the starting point. Such strategies must focus on reaching out to the most vulnerable, eradicating poverty and addressing discrimination.
In its final day of proceedings for its 2016 session, the Forum heard voluntary national reviews from 10 countries, spanning many regions of the world. Presenters discussed steps that had already been taken to integrate the 2030 Agenda into national plans, while also outlining challenges they faced in implementing the future development framework. Countries providing national assessments were Togo, Estonia, Philippines, Colombia, Egypt, France, China, Venezuela and the Republic of Korea.
Prime Minister Sélom Klassou of Togo said the country faced significant development challenges requiring new solutions. He recalled that Togo had participated in the consultations leading up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, and had been selected as one of two pilot countries for the Sustainable Development Goals. Since then, the Government had taken a number of steps to integrate the global Goals into existing development strategies, he said, adding that, as Togo awaited the adoption of its updated national sustainable development plan, it would continue with a number of flagship projects for the most disadvantaged and seek to mobilize both domestic and international resources.
Hanno Pevkur, Minister for Internal Affairs of Estonia, said his Government was already implementing measures and taking actions in the field related to all 17 of the Goals, although it would be a challenge for Estonia to provide the data needed to measure progress at the global level. Ensuring productivity, developing an energy- and resource-efficient economy, addressing the needs of low-income citizens and decreasing the gender pay gap were other challenges. To preserve Estonia’s rich biodiversity, one fifth of the national territory enjoyed protected status, he said, pointing out that e-services were also in place to help make taxation processes and business start-ups extremely easy and efficient.
Choi Jong-moon, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Korea, recalled that the country had experienced significant increases in its gross national income per capita and export volume over the last 50 years. Still, the country was facing challenges, such as the slowdown of economic growth, polarization of society, and low fertility rates. To address such issues and to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee on International Development Cooperation coordinated official development assistance (ODA) policies, he highlighted, while the Presidential Commission on Green Growth promoted the development of low-carbon and green technologies and industries.
In a parallel meeting under the main theme of “ensuring that no one is left behind”, the Forum continued its general debate where speakers discussed national efforts, synergies and partnerships between actors, and the use of reliable and aggregated data. Also today, the Forum held a panel discussion titled “prospects for the future (projections, scenarios and new and emerging issues)”.
Participating in the general debate were representatives, ministers and other senior Government officials of Australia, Libya, Croatia, Luxembourg, Germany, South Africa, Ukraine, Brazil, Jamaica, Syria, Romania, Guatemala, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Ireland, Nepal, Slovakia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, United Kingdom, Mali, Sudan, Lebanon, Bolivia, Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Albania, Cuba, Tunisia and Jordan, as well as the Holy See.
Also delivering statements were speakers and other stakeholders representing the major groups for children and youth, indigenous people, business and industry, workers and trade unions, older persons and persons with disabilities.
Also speaking were representatives of the World Bank, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
Taking the floor as well were representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Organization of the Francophonie, League of Arab States and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Speaking during the action on the Ministerial Declaration were the representatives of Nicaragua, Algeria, Egypt, Ecuador, Slovakia, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Russian Federation, Algeria, Iran and the United States.
Voluntary National Reviews I
Moderating the first set of voluntary national reviews was Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation.
Presenting the reviews were Komi Sélom Klassou, Prime Minister of Togo; Hanno Pevkur, Minister for Internal Affairs of Estonia; and Rosemarie G. Edillon, Deputy Director-General, National Economic and Development Authority, Philippines.
Serving as the expert discussant was Adil Najam, Dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, United States, while the lead discussant was Arvind Panagariya, Vice-Chairperson of NITI Aayog, India.
Mr. KLASSOU said Togo’s plans and strategies were based on the Millennium Development Goals and were already in place to address poverty reduction, adding that the Government’s national sustainable development strategy took environmental needs into account. Nevertheless, the country still faced significant development challenges requiring new solutions. Togo had participated in the consultations leading up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and had been selected as one of two pilot countries for the Sustainable Development Goals. Since then, the Government had taken a number of steps to integrate the global Goals into existing development strategies, including organizing workshops on the 2030 Agenda, and holding national consultations with a view to providing an overview of sectoral development policies. As the Government awaited the adoption of its updated national sustainable development plan, it continued with a number of flagship projects for the most disadvantaged and sought to mobilize both domestic and international resources, he said.
Mr. PEVKUR said Estonia ranked high on the human development index, and on indices measuring economic freedom and human rights. Its business and public health environments were also quite strong. Yet, the country wished to achieve more, which was why it attached great importance to sustainable development. Recalling that Estonia had adopted its Sustainable Development Act in 1995, and that its Parliament had subsequently adopted Sustainable Estonia 21, he said that keeping track of progress in a systematic and transparent way was essential in implementing the 2030 Agenda. However, it would be a challenge for Estonia to provide the data needed to measure the Sustainable Development Goals at the global level. The Government was already implementing measures and taking actions in the field related to all 17 of the Goals, he said. To preserve Estonia’s rich biodiversity, one fifth of the national territory enjoyed protected status. Additionally, e-services were in place to help make taxation processes and business start-ups extremely easy and efficient. Key remaining challenges included ensuring productivity, developing an energy- and resource-efficient economy, addressing the needs of low-income citizens and decreasing the gender pay gap, he said.
Ms. EDILLON said the Philippines had undertaken an extensive review process following the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals period so as to identify lessons learned and opportunities for improvement. Several briefings to increase awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals had been conducted with Governments agencies, subnational agencies, business, academia and civil society. Four technical workshops on Sustainable Development Goals indicators had been held with the aim of coming up with indicators that would be relevant to the Philippines. The foundational objective for the country in the context of sustainable development was to create a rights-based, equitable and sustainable society, she said. The Government sought to maintain the high level of interest in the global Goals by making sustainable development growth relevant to everyday citizens. Among the lessons learned was that there was need to specify how to implement the Goals, which should include a plan and institutional arrangements for monitoring it. The coordination and monitoring bodies put in place for the Millennium Development Goals may be similarly used for the Sustainable Development Goals, she said.
Ms. CALVIN noted that all three presentations made the point that every country in the world, irrespective of size or level of development, would benefit from the Sustainable Development Goals. Each presenter had emphasized the need for quality, data as well as their efforts to integrate and mainstream the Goals into core internal policies and plans.
Mr. NAJAM said today’s proceedings would set an important precedent regarding the future functioning of the High-Level Political Forum. There were concerns that the Sustainable Development Goals would be a simple “repackaging” of efforts already under way, he added, questioning whether countries felt they were receiving adequate support in terms of the means of implementation. Data alone was no solution, he said, emphasizing that how it was used was what mattered. Part of the aspiration of the 2030 Agenda was the added value that would come from countries learning from each other, which was why the review process was of great importance, he said.
Mr. PANAGARIYA noted that the presentations represented three very different national experiences from diverse parts of the world. All three presenters had described growth as the most important element because it would have a trickle-down effect in many different areas. There was a clear interplay between national development objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.
The representative of Belgium, speaking in the ensuing discussion, welcomed Estonia’s efforts for digital solutions both at home and abroad. He also asked how the Philippines would proceed on the issue of climate change following that country’s recent announcement that it would not honour the commitments made under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Ms. EDILLON responded by stating that, since assuming office three weeks ago, the new administration had not yet been fully briefed on all the international agreements it had inherited, but it was to be hoped that would take place soon.
The representative of Luxembourg also spoke.
Voluntary National Review II
Presenting the second set of voluntary national reviews were Simon Gaviria, Minister for National Planning of Colombia; Sahar Nasr, Minister for International Cooperation of Egypt; Ségolène Royal, Minister for the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs of France; Li Baodong, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of China; Ricardo José Menéndez, Vice-President for Planning and Knowledge and Minister of Popular Power for Planning of Venezuela; and Jong-moon Choi, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Korea.
Mr. GAVIRIA, noting that Colombia had been actively involved in the design of the 2030 Agenda, said its Government had created the National Development Plan, with 92 targets. In the implementation phase, subnational actors, such as municipalities would have a key role to play, and their engagement would enable successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Other ongoing partnerships involved civil society, the private sector, Congress and academia, among others. Describing the Goals as a long-term development and integration tool, he said they had contributed to the peace process in Colombia.
The representative of Norway, speaking during the ensuing discussion, asked about the links between that peace process and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mr. GAVIRIA responded by emphasizing the deep engagement of the peace process in creating equality in Colombia. He also acknowledged the important role played by civil society organizations, saying their participation would be the key to moving forward.
Ms. NASR said Egypt played a leading role in Africa and was exerting strong efforts to promote regional integration. In 2016, it had hosted two African regional events on enhancing South-South cooperation, strengthening mutually beneficial partnerships and advancing the continent’s shared vision of a better future. In addition, the Government had launched Sustainable Development Strategy: Vision 2030, which was based on a comprehensive programme developed in consultation with the private sector, civil society organizations and academia. The programme reflected the Egyptian people’s priorities, maximizing the benefits of diversified resources and balancing regional development efforts, she said. Furthermore, an interministerial national committee established to follow up on progress had identified job creation and youth inclusion, sustainable infrastructure and gender equality as areas for major focus areas over the next 15 years.
The representative of Lebanon, describing the presentations as useful in helping countries in the Middle East to develop their national development plans, asked about Egypt’s job creation efforts.
The representative of the World Bank asked for further information about infrastructure financing and national efforts to address inequality.
The representative of a civil society organization, speaking on behalf of the major groups and other stakeholders, called attention to barriers preventing women and girls from realizing their potential as powerful agents of social and economic progress. She asked about existing policies and mechanisms for ensuring access to basic services and the empowerment of women.
Ms. NASR responded by saying that infrastructure was a key pillar of the national strategy due to its multiplier effect on other sectors. Regarding poverty elimination, she said the Government had carried out assessments at the national and subnational levels in order to ensure no one was left behind. In addition, every project in Egypt took the gender perspective into account in ensuring that equal opportunities were provided to all.
Ms. ROYAL, describing the Paris Agreement as the engine of the Sustainable Development Goals, noted that 70 per cent of the world’s population depended on marine resources for their livelihoods. A number of goals had been inscribed in the Agreement’s preamble, she said, commending the work carried out by non-governmental organizations throughout the process. France had adopted a law on biodiversity and established a related national agency. Also, measures were being undertaken to prevent food waste and achieve savings on energy. Calling attention to women’s role in solving the world’s problems, she expressed regret that they were always the poorest.
The representative of China acknowledged the important role played by France in the adoption of the Paris Agreement, and asked about linkages between that accord and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. ROYAL said the two historic documents were closely linked. According to the estimates, 2017 would be the hottest year, she said, emphasizing that the world must ensure that access to food and water were provided.
Mr. BAODONG said China was the largest developing country in the world. Stressing the importance of sustainable development, he said the National Congress had issued a communiqué that underscored the need for proactive participation in achieving the 2030 Agenda. In March, the Government had published its thirteenth five-year plan. It also had established the National Strategic Outline for Innovation-Driven Development, the China Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Plan of Action (2015-2030) and a coordination mechanism comprising dozens of Government agencies responsible for formulating a plan for implementation and reviewing progress towards that end. As the next five years would be critical for the implementation of the Goals, the Government had identified a set of targets, among them to lift 55 million people out of poverty and create 50 million urban jobs.
The representative of a civil society organization, speaking on behalf of the major groups and other stakeholders, asked about the methods of innovation and plans to strengthen rural-urban link.
Mr. BAODONG stressed that China had provided technical and financial assistance in order to help facilitate international development. As a developing country, China was fully aware that much remained to be done. The Government had explored ways to improve the lives of the Chinese people.
Mr. MENÉNDEZ said that, after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, President Nicolas Maduro had convened the Council of Ministers to start national consultations on its implementation, and the Government had developed a road map. “We want to build socialism, and eliminate poverty and exclusion,” he said, noting that the Government was striving to create an equitable society with the participation of all people. While grappling with a 77 per cent drop in export income, the Government continued to provide free education and free health care to everyone. In addition, millions of houses would be built by 2019. “We want to satisfy the needs of people.” Tackling hunger was essential for the successful implementation of the Goals. He also emphasized the negative impact of the economic war against Venezuela.
The representative of China asked for further information about institutional mechanisms to ensure successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Mr. MENÉNDEZ said that the Government would hold broad consultations with all stakeholders on implementation, and added: “We have taken the visionary approach of Chavez.”
Mr. CHOI said that, over the past 50 years, the Republic of Korea had experienced significant increases in its gross national income per capita and export volume. Rapid industrialization had led to an increase in urban population, and there had been improvements in literacy, higher education, and life expectancy. The private sector had made enormous strides, particularly in the electronics, steel, auto, shipbuilding and petrochemical industries. However, his country had been facing challenges, such as the slowdown of economic growth, polarization of society and low fertility rates. To address such challenges and to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, the country’s Committee on International Development Cooperation was coordinating official development assistance (ODA) policies. Additionally, the Presidential Commission on Green Growth had promoted the development of low-carbon and green technologies and industries, while the country’s Commission on Sustainable Development was in charge of drafting the Basic Plan every five years. The Government had drafted and adopted hundreds of plans and policies to implement the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of the Korean Civil Society Network said existing policies had been established prior to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. She asked about the main obstacles in adopting a whole-of-Government approach.
Mr. CHOI, acknowledging the reality on the ground, said different ministries had different perspectives. Therefore, the most important task ahead was to ensure coordination among them.
Also speaking during the interactive discussion were representatives of Spain, France, Pakistan, Serbia and Mexico.
Moderating the panel on “Prospects for the Future” was Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Panellists included Simon Gaviria, Minister for National Planning of Colombia; Edgar Gutierrez-Espeleta, President of the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly and Minister for Environment and Energy of Costa Rica; Fumiko Kasuga, Director of the Future Earth Global Hub — Japan and Senior Fellow at the National Institute for Environmental Studies and Visiting Professor at the University of Tokyo; Stewart Lockie, Director of the Cairns Institute at James Cook University; and Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
Ms. BOKOVA said the Sustainable Development Goals represented a paradigm shift in development thinking, particularly because of their interconnected nature. The 2030 Agenda built on the empowerment of people to understand and craft solutions to future challenges that were not yet even known. It called for more and better integration of science and governance to ensure that the best possible data and ideas were available to policy makers. Furthermore, the Agenda called for dialogue among scientific communities and decision-makers who sometimes spoke different languages.
Mr. GAVIRIA said there needed to be more discussions on inequalities within countries, not necessarily from a population point of view, but rather from a territorial point of view. The provision of health care, education and energy all required physical space, so understanding and maximizing available space would be even more important in the future. In Colombia, some 18 million more people were expected to be living in cities by 2050. Maintaining a high quality of life in cities would present a serious challenge, including the need for infrastructure and basic services. The percentage of young people living in many cities was quite high, which would require greater investment in education, early childhood development and health care. Including territorial equality as a specific development objective would be vital for countries like Colombia.
Mr. GUTIERREZ-ESPELETA said the political will of States would be fundamental for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Efforts must be made to prioritize the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals to identify which were most urgent to appropriately plan the use of limited strategic resources. Scientific evidence had exposed the deeply negative effects of things, such as unplanned urbanization, exposure to chemical, unsustainable production patterns, pollution and unequal access to resources. The emphasis on the interconnected nature of such areas should be addressed within the context of the 2030 Agenda. The connections between human rights and the environment had also been revealed, despite the fact that there was no global agreement that recognized access to a healthy environment as a human right.
Ms. KASUGA believed that there would be benefits from simplifying policymaking processes for the Sustainable Development Goals. To do so, stakeholder engagement from the very first stages should be encouraged. Science should be the basis for every stage in a systematic way, both domestically and internationally. Further, scientists should recognize their responsibilities and be ready to contribute in an inclusive, transparent and neutral manner. The Global Sustainable Development Report 2016 summarized scientists’ visions on emerging technologies critical for the Sustainable Development Goals, which also indicating several emerging concerns. Unstable political situations, serious natural disasters and negative environmental impacts were reminders that science and technology could have damaging effects. Innovations in information and communications technologies were important for reaching and engaging with the most vulnerable people.
Mr. LOCKIE noted that as the world embarked on the journey to 2030, emphasis needed to be placed on building statistical capacity and reporting data across a wide range of indicators relevant to the Sustainable Development Goals and targets. People and ecosystems in the equatorial tropics faced climate conditions that had never occurred before. Further complicating that dynamic were predictions that by 2050 more than 50 per cent of the world’s population and two thirds of the world’s children would live in the tropics. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require relentless focus on understanding the relationships between environmental, social and economic change that might otherwise go unnoticed. Investment in science and technology must reflect the unique characteristics and needs of all climate zones.
Ms. NAKICENOVIC said that carbon dioxide emissions were a good example to study as they represented the dividing point between human and planetary systems. In recent times, emissions had actually declined, but the road ahead would be difficult. If one looked at all 17 of the Goals, it became clear that they were holistic and indivisible, which meant that no Goal could be left behind and they must be pursued simultaneously. In that regard, he had helped launch a programme called The World in 2050, which involved about 30 groups that were studying the concept of “doing more with less”, with an emphasis on green businesses, cities, civil society and science. Truly achieving sustainable development would require radical solutions that respected planetary boundaries such as ecosystems and diversity which the earth needed to survive.
The representative of El Salvador spoke in the ensuing discussion and called upon the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to facilitate more universal preparations for the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, particularly for those countries that did not have a permanent representative in Nairobi.
A representative of the children and youth major group said that, although they were often considered to be politically sensitive, the concept of planetary boundaries was not a new idea. She called for greater attention to be paid to economic inequalities between and within countries, as well as the “backslide” within some countries on human rights issues.
A representative of the non-governmental organizations’ major group questioned how the implementation of the 2030 Agenda could be pursued as a participatory and inclusive learning process that addressed the policy-science interface.
Mr. GUTIERREZ-ESPELETA responded that the interface between science and public policy had been emphasized for some time, although direct and efficient communications between the scientific community and policy makers were still a challenge.
A representative of the indigenous peoples’ major group said that the 2030 Agenda would require a paradigm shift to address poverty, discrimination, inequality and to empower those left behind. There must be a bottom-up approach whereby poor and marginalized groups were put at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals process.
A representative of Together 2030 said the crisis unfolding across three continents related to El Niño underscored the urgent need for rapid action to support Governments to use science and information to support early warning and action.
Also speaking was the representative of Sri Lanka.
Representatives of the business and industry and the persons with disabilities major group also delivered remarks.
A representative of the International Telecommunications Union also spoke.
NATASHA SMITH (Australia) expressed support for the intention of the United Nations to restructure its processes in order to strengthen delivery of the 2030 Agenda’s objectives. Australia was working with civil society groups, the private sector, developing-country partners and multilateral organizations, while its international development priorities were building on its existing aid programme, which focused on economic growth, gender equality, peace, governance, health and education. “If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, all sources of finance must be mobilized and all partners engaged,” she said, adding that, as a founding member of the Addis Tax Initiative, Australia was helping developing-country partners to strengthen their tax systems.
IBRAHIM DABBASHI (Libya) emphasized that developed countries must deliver on their ODA pledges made at Addis Ababa, which was most important for countries with no other source of revenue. A framework must be in place to address cross-border capital flows and corruption. He asked other countries as well as multilateral institutions to help Libya recover illegally exported capital, noting that, as a country transitioning from totalitarianism towards democracy, Libya was travelling a difficult path involving much chaos, which made implementing a national sustainable development programme difficult. He asked the international community and the United Nations system to help his country build its capacity and strengthen its institutions.
AMIR MUHAREMI (Croatia) said intelligent leadership and a suitable framework were needed to address emerging challenges to the 2030 Agenda. At the national level, Croatia had prioritized the empowerment of women and girls and youth employment. History had shown a mixed experience of conflict and recovery. Croatia, adapting to the changes over time, had increased its level of integration and international cooperation despite the modest size of its economy. Croatia had focused on small contributions that could make a notable difference in preventing conflicts.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), associating herself with the European Union, said there was a need to create synergies and partnerships with various actors, she said, emphasizing that cooperation between Government ministries was crucial. In that regard, the Government of Luxembourg had created an interdepartmental committee for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Stressing the crucial importance of gender equality, she also said that upholding the rights of the child, and promoting the rights of young people should be part and parcel of all global discussions. Decent work for all, reducing social inequalities, improving the situation of the most vulnerable and improving access to health care were all keys to development cooperation. She said Luxembourg was among the Member States dedicating at least 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) to ODA.
THOMAS SILBERHORN, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany, said the world had made unprecedented progress in reducing poverty, but many countries were still struggling to meet the basic needs of their citizens. In addition, inequality was increasing, he added. As incoming Chair of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, Germany would focus on the goal of leaving no one behind. Announced his country’s membership in the Leave No One Behind Coalition, led by the Netherlands, he highlighted some of its development efforts in fragile States, employment and education support to refugees, in particular. It was essential to identify those at risk of being left behind, he said, emphasizing the need for disaggregated data in that regard.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the African Group, said it was important to build upon the unfinished work of the Millennium Development Goals. For the first time in decades, there was a real opportunity to remove the conditions breeding violence in Africa and make a big impact for sustainable peace. South Africa had started its implementation of the 2030 Agenda by focusing on poverty, inequality and unemployment, he said, adding that its national efforts were premised on the empowerment of all stakeholders.
ANDRIY TSYMBALIUK (Ukraine) said there was a unique opportunity to open new horizons and build a new foundation for human development. The Goals represented a path in the right direction and an uncompromising belief in the human person. Ukraine had embarked on localizing the Goals, a task overseen by an interministerial working group, he said, adding that national consultations had been held to raise public awareness. The country was currently going through a most difficult period in confronting Russian military aggression. Ukraine knew first-hand what conflict meant, he said, emphasizing that no country could achieve sustainable development without sustainable peace.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said his country had already begun implementing the 2030 Agenda, with various actors coming together to create a platform for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government had aligned its national plans with the 2030 Agenda and a national system was being established to harmonize data. A set of national indicators would be created, with the participation of relevant stakeholders, he said, adding that various efforts were under way to bring the Goals and targets to the state and municipal levels. Brazil had been working to establish the 2030 Agenda as the cornerstone of South-South cooperation, and would engage fully in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) regional forum. Emphasizing that the High-Level Political Forum’s functions should not be restricted merely to follow-up and review, he said it could also provide space for effective leadership in the promotion of sustainable development.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda had led to a review of his country’s national strategies. An interministerial mechanism had been created to facilitate the participation of various stakeholders in the implementation efforts, he said, spotlighting particular efforts to address issues relating to population, poverty reduction, senior citizens, youth, climate change and hazard risk reduction. The regional commissions, including ECLAC, had a central role to play in implementation, he said, adding that the countries of the region had agreed to establish a sustainable development forum aligned with the High-Level Political Forum under the auspices of ECLAC, which would serve as the locus for review and follow-up for Latin America and the Caribbean. However, data collection and statistical analysis remained a major challenge for small island developing States, he pointed out. “If small island developing States are not to be left behind, the international community must make good on its commitment to support [their] efforts to strengthen national statistical offices,” he stressed.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country was dealing with terrorism perpetrated by Da’esh, Al-Nusrah and other groups whose attacks were financed by many countries in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Unilateral coercive measures weighed heavily on Syria, with disastrous effects on its economy and people he said, adding that foreign occupation and colonization undermined all sustainable development efforts. Emphasizing that developed countries must make good on their commitments to developing States, he said that politicizing the 2030 Agenda should be avoided and that help should be extended to countries facing terrorism. He called for the lifting of unilateral coercive measures imposed on his country.
ION JINGA (Romania) said working in silos was ineffective, and too much was at stake for that approach to continue. Romania’s efforts were focused on strong national ownership of the 2030 Agenda, which required a cross-sectoral approach, broad coalitions and a large spectrum of expertise. Parliament would also have an important role, he said, noting its adoption in April of a comprehensive declaration on the Goals. Money for implementing the Goals was available, but economies must be reoriented towards sustainable development, he said, noting that, although ODA would remain important, it was limited and must be used in such a manner as to build capacities.
JOSÉ ALBERTO ANTONIO SANDOVAL COJULÚN (Guatemala), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Group of 77, said the experiences learned through the Millennium Development Goals process had helped countries to better understand the importance of national ownership — a lesson that had been carried forward into the new 2030 Agenda. There was also an understanding of the key role played by partnerships. The private sector in Guatemala had pledged to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as decent work for all, he said, adding that academia was also playing a major role in monitoring progress. The Government had created a national commission to provide technical follow-up to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Also, special emphasis was being placed on women and children, who were important agents of change, he said.
HORACIO SEVILLA BORJA (Ecuador), associating himself with CELAC and the Group of 77, emphasized that peace could not only result from the cessation of hostilities, but also from dialogue, social justice and the end of colonialism and occupation, among other things. An international mechanism was needed to promote economic progress for all people, he said, noting that some instruments had been created for that purpose but their results had been discouraging. Indeed, the world faced great inequality, with the richest 1 per cent of its people possessing more wealth than the other 99 per cent. Almost 15 per cent of its population still lived in extreme poverty, he pointed out. The 2030 Agenda, designed to address such challenges, was not yet in the dynamic stage of implementation. That would take place largely at the national level, he said, reiterating his country’s political will to build a society based on fair, democratic, productive, caring policies appropriate to national planning, but in accordance with the 2030 Agenda.
KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said his country’s economy had been adversely affected by the collapse in world markets, but despite the risks, new opportunities had emerged, with Kazakhstan adopting a “2050 Strategy” with the ambition of joining the ranks of the world’s 30 most developed nations. Kazakhstan was pursuing a proactive strategy entailing institutional reforms and a State programme of infrastructure development. The economic revival of the Silk Road would benefit many countries while reducing the transportation times and costs of moving between Asia and Europe. Inviting Member States to attend an international energy exhibition in Astana in 2017, he reiterated a proposal by the President of Kazakhstan on transforming the Economic and Social Council into a “Global Development Council” that would act as a global economic regulator, carrying out global projects to promote economic growth worldwide.
DAVID DONOGHUE (Ireland) said there was strong Government engagement in his country to create the most appropriate institutional arrangements for implementing and monitoring the Goals, with the Central Statistical Office playing a key role. Effective national implementation would require a broad integrated domestic policy response, and Ireland saw a strong role for civil society at all stages of implementation. He emphasized the role of young people if the Goals were to be inclusive and responsive. Ireland’s aid programme would focus on ending poverty and hunger in the world’s poorest countries, notably those in sub-Saharan Africa. While there was much work ahead, Ireland was aware of the cost of failure, as well as the transformative benefits that would come with success.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the High-Level Forum’s credibility would be defined by its ability to provide guidance to States on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals was a huge challenge for States facing considerable constraints, including Nepal, and ensuring that no one was left behind would require a spirit of solidarity. Nepal’s new Constitution provided a forward-looking vision and took a rights-based approach to development, he said, noting, among other things, that it had in place a post-earthquake plan to “build back better and smarter”, and it had placed an emphasis on education, gender empowerment and youth involvement. The Forum must not allow time to be lost for Least Developed Countries and Landlocked Developing Countries, as had happened during the Millennium Development Goal process, he emphasized.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia), emphasizing that the theme, “leaving no one behind”, implied a major commitment to the world’s people, expressed support for countries that had submitted voluntary national reviews, saying now was the time for implementation. Attaining the Sustainable Development Goals would require innovation in policymaking processes, as well as peace and inclusivity. Slovakia was preparing its national programme and hoped to be able to present it within the next few months, he said.
MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea) said a cornerstone of his country’s national strategy for responsible sustainable development was people-centred population management and stabilization in order to empower people to take responsibility for improving their lives. Such efforts required valuing and managing national forests, marine resources, water and biodiversity, with foreign capital investment strengthening the sustainability of those resources. His Government had passed an unprecedented planning and monitoring responsibility act that established a national planning framework for localizing the new Goals and linked annual budgets to development priorities. It planned to improve data collection, coordination and multistakeholder partnerships.
JOSEPH TEO (Singapore), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and with the Alliance of Small Island States, said sustainable development was intrinsic to his country. The Government had realized early on that a competitive economy, high quality of life and sustainable environment were complementary parts of a virtuous cycle of development. It was on track to meet or exceed targets that had been set out in its Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015 plan, which related directly to the 2030 Agenda. Noting that small States made up more than half of the United Nations membership, he said the achievement of the 2030 Agenda would depend on a revitalized global partnership bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and others. “We have to work together and support each other to build the future we want,” he said, and Singapore would play its part to support developing countries.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said history had not been made in 2015 because nearly 1 billion people still lived in poverty. Ahead lay 15 years of hard work, but the United Kingdom would reinforce its commitment to ensuring that history was indeed made. It planned to dedicate 0.7 per cent of gross national income to ODA — guided by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda — with the goal of reaching the poorest, most excluded people and those caught in crises. The United Kingdom would strive to end violence against women and do more to tackle sexual violence in conflict, he said, adding that it would carry out those efforts through partnerships in order to ensure that the widest views, especially those of the poorest, were heard at the national and international levels.
DIANGUINA DIT YAYA DOUCOURÉ (Mali) recalled that in 2015, his country’s National Assembly had adopted a law guaranteeing that 30 per cent of nominated and elected posts would be guaranteed for women. To ensure women were empowered in rural areas, programmes were in place to build their managerial capacities and ensure that they could gain access to economic resources. The 2016-2018 strategic framework for economic recovery convened workshops on the Sustainable Development Goals in order to combat poverty. There was a need for effective coordination with technical and financial partners since attainment of the new Goals hinged upon an integrated approach that took national priorities, as well as links to the African Union Agenda 2063 into account.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and the African Group, said all stakeholders would have to work together to address the challenges faced by developing countries. The right to development and the principle of common but differentiated responsibility must be the basis of all efforts to achieve sustainable development, he said, adding that implementation of the 2030 Agenda required an international plan for financing, technology transfer and capacity-building. Sudan had begun to draw up its national sustainable development plans and strategies, tackling, in particular, issues relating to climate change and renewable energy, he said. The achievement of peace required that the international community strengthen the capabilities of developing countries, and developed nations must honour their commitments, while eliminating all unilateral sanctions and coercive economic measures.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said his country had aligned its development plans with the 2030 Agenda, and while all the Sustainable Development Goals would be covered, more attention would be given to those identified as urgent in the national context. Emphasizing that implementation of the 2030 Agenda would stretch the resources and capacities of developing and middle-income countries, he said international the support community would be crucial, stressing that the United Nations development system must play its role, which would require a more coherent and integrated development framework, as well as more flexible funding. Welcoming references to refugees and people living in areas affected by complex crises in the draft declaration to be issued by the High-Level Forum, he said Lebanon had been engulfed in a protracted crisis since 2011 due to the influx of refugees from neighbouring States. The country needed longer-term development financing on concessional terms, without which its ability to deliver on the 2030 Agenda would be undermined.
The representative of Bolivia, associating himself with CELAC and the Group of 77 and China, described the Sustainable Development Goals as an opportunity for humanity to live in harmony with Mother Earth. However, implementation was becoming a scenario for multinational corporations to make money. Emphasizing that water, food, education, health, housing and biodiversity could not be privatized, he said the patriarchal capitalist development model could not be the means for implementation. Bolivia was grateful to Member States that had presented alternatives, and welcomed April’s interactive dialogue in which experts had discussed the rights of Mother Nature in the context of promoting sustainable development. Implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be universal, without leaving countries under foreign occupation behind, he stressed.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) emphasized the importance of involving all stakeholders at all levels in order to create a strong sense of ownership and increase coordination. Common efforts and shared responsibility should be intensified, he said. Indonesia had mainstreamed the Goals into its national development planning, and to ensure success, it planned to continue measures undertaken during the Millennium Development Goals process, including an online system for monitoring progress and the presentation of awards to acknowledge the success of local government implementation efforts.
EDEN CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said the national Vision 2030 aimed to provide a broad socioeconomic development framework and process that defined policy priorities as achieving sustainable economic growth through diversification, and improving social conditions in an inclusive and environmentally sustainable manner. Recognizing the need for a society in which the basic needs of all people were met, the Government had crafted draft national development goals that were aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and underpinned by the principle of national ownership. A whole-of-Government approach would be carried out, ensuring that ministries, departments and agencies pursued a collaborative agenda at the sector level. He underscored the importance of multistakeholder partnerships, with the United Nations development system at their centre.
LANA NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Forum must remain an objective, credible, annual assessment of implementation efforts. Each year should be concluded with clear next steps. A stronger focus was needed on the mobilization of private sector resources, and there should be an effort on the part of the United Nations and multilateral development banks to spearhead capacity-building. Such efforts must not be prescriptive, she warned, “but we should aim at scale”. Underscoring the need to get smarter about ODA as a scarce, essential resource, she went on to call for a minimum package of education and health services for women and children in conflict and post-conflict situations, among other things. “We must not flag in our efforts on gender equality and women’s empowerment” she added, noted that her country had recently signed an agreement for a United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) liaison office in Abu Dhabi.
NAUMAN BASHIR BHATTI (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the Forum provided an opportunity to evaluate early implementation efforts and that it would further catalyse action and ambition. National ownership remained critical, and the Sustainable Development Goals had to be mainstreamed into national approaches. Pakistan’s Vision 2025, along with its adoption of the 2030 Agenda, was driving its sustainable development plans. Globally, trillions of dollars would be required to implement the 2030 Agenda, and renewed partnerships were needed. Stressing the need to address financing gaps, he said that climate financing must not be counted twice as ODA. In addition, the United Nations development system — which must support the implementation of the agenda — required recalibration.
EI EI KHIN AYE (Myanmar) noted her country was undergoing political, economic and social transformation while addressing the root causes of poverty. After decades of conflict, the Government’s top priority was achieving sustainable peace nationwide. To that end, it was working towards an all-inclusive peace conference, expected to take place in August. It was also focusing on building human resources and capacity, creating an enabling economic environment, expanding access and connectivity, and enhancing resilience in the face of natural disasters. Many least developed countries faced multiple structural challenges and obstacles to development. Addressing those needs was important in the context of the 2030 Agenda, she said, emphasizing how sustained and effective partnerships would be essential to overcome those challenges.
BERNARDITO AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, called the 2030 Agenda a sign of hope that set priorities and brought together the human family in solidarity as countries assumed the obligation to eradicate poverty, protect Earth and promote sustainable and integral human development. Implementing the 2030 Agenda would require political leadership, financial commitments and resources, and the transfer of technology to as many countries and people as possible. But, even if all those requirements were met, something would still be lacking — the compassion that led to solidarity and helping people in need. He expressed appreciation for the annual Forum, saying it would be a steady reminder that success would depend on the commitment of the entire international community to work together and act effectively on a shared responsibility.
HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that, given current trends, the target of zero hunger would be missed. Youth employment should be given special attention, as that would help address violent extremism. Good practices needed to be shared and duplicated. He reviewed the current situation in Azerbaijan, which had seen a decline in both poverty and unemployment, and where the Government was actively investing in renewable energy. He went on to emphasize the need for the international community to put more effort into resolving conflicts.
ARBEN IDRIZI (Albania) said that his country’s National Strategy for Development and Integration 2015-2020 was the main document that supported economic, social and environmental development. The path to such development was driven by the commitment to meet European standards in governance and the rule of law. With the assistance of the United Nations and other partners, Albania was working to further refine targets and ways to disaggregate and monitor data. In the area of education, the Government had adopted a new National Youth Action Plan 2015-2020. Regarding social inclusion and gender equality, it had undertaken a number of measures to integrate minorities and initiated campaigns to stop violence against women.
EMILIO GONZÁLEZ SOCA (Cuba), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, CELAC and the Alliance of Small Island States, cited a “deep gap” between the ambition of the Sustainable Development Goals and the international support available for their implementation. In a world where some 18,000 children still died each day from poverty-related causes, but where $1.7 billion were spent on military expenditures, there was a need for an immediate reversal. “Let us use these colossal resources to achieve a climate of peace and security,” he said, calling for the creation of an international mechanism to facilitate the transfer of environmental technology, as well as for a revision of international trade rules. The unilateral coercive measures imposed by developed countries on developing States were a major impediment to sustainable development, he said, noting that the economic blockade imposed on his country for more than 50 years had hindered development efforts. Nevertheless, Cuba had managed to carry out democratic, participatory processes to establish a sustainable economic and social model.
RAMZI LOUATI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, and the African Group, said his country had adopted the Sustainable Development Goals and was also working to implement the African Union’s Agenda 2063 with a focus on social inclusion, regional development, the green economy, education, health care and the promotion of women’s rights. The country was aiming to reduce poverty to 2.5 per cent, he said, recalling that it had instituted numerous political reforms and good governance measures following the January 2011 revolution. In addition, it had adopted policies for human rights, public administration, taxation and for combating corruption and bribery. He called on the international community to assist in related efforts to fight illicit financial flows and tax evasion.
MARTIN CHUNGONG, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, said the 2030 Agenda acknowledged the central role parliaments could play in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals by adopting enabling legislation, including key budget bills. It also recognized that parliaments were uniquely placed to hold Governments accountable for the effective implementation of the Goals. Governance, represented by Goal 16, was a key driver of change, he said, noting that the rule of law, justice, effective, accountable and inclusive institutions, as well as other elements, provided the enabling environment necessary to engage people in the new agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals would be a major part of the Union’s work going forward, he said, noting that, among other things, it would provide direct assistance to parliaments and develop a toolkit to help them assess how “fit for purpose” they were in helping to implement the Goals in their own countries.
JEAN-PIERRE NDOUTOM, Director of the Institut de la Francophonie pour le développement durable, speaking on behalf of the International Organization of the Francophonie, said the Francophonie had adopted an operational strategy that stressed the need for its 80 member States to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals. They would address the issue again at their next summit, to be held in Madagascar. Senior leaders of the Francophone shared the goals of the Forum to ensure that no one was left behind. The indivisible nature of the Goals called for new analytical and operational tools, he said, emphasizing also the role of local governments. The Francophonie remained mobilized for implementation and it would share tools and knowhow. The fundamental goal was capacity-building and building expertise in order to overcome challenges.
BADRE EDDINE ALLALY of the League of Arab States said that, in the Arab region, leaving no one behind was an elusive dream. A lack of stability and falling commodity prices had led to the failure of basic services and the collapse of economies in certain Arab countries. They faced a difficult situation. They could not implement the 2030 Agenda amid war conflict, occupation and a lack of resources. Despite the bleak picture, there was still light at the end of the tunnel, with the League having adopted a resolution welcoming implementation efforts. Stressing the importance of providing data at the national and regional level, she said the League would act as a focal point for identifying obstacles to implementation.
CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the New York liaison office of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking on behalf of the Rome-based agencies, said those entities were committed to turning the 2030 Agenda into reality. Noting that 70 per cent of the world’s poor and undernourished lived in rural area, she said it was paradoxical that so many people facing food insecurity were food producers who lacked coping mechanisms, particularly in the face of climate change. “Let us not forget that agricultural growth is one of the most cost-effective means for developing nations to reduce poverty and end food insecurity,” she said, emphasizing that participation by rural people would lead to a more sustainable and equitable development path.
AMJAD AL-MOUMANI (Jordan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals required all actors to live up to their responsibilities to leave no one behind. His country had embarked on its journey to implement the Goals. However, its population had risen by over 20 per cent over the last three years due in part to the influx of refugees from neighbouring States, and that sudden increase had led to serious development challenges. Nevertheless, efforts were under way to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, with new national-level indicators and a system set up for monitoring and review. The country was also working to advance public-private partnerships and other sources of financing.
VINICIUS PINHEIRO, Special Representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said a resolution on “advancing social justice through decent work” provided a strong mandate for the ILO to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda and contribute to its follow up at national, regional and global levels. It requested the ILO to support States in integrating decent work into national sustainable development strategies, develop a five-year plan for 2018‑2021, align with the 2030 Agenda, and strengthen the institutional capacity of States, as well as employers’ and workers’ organizations. It also requested the ILO Director-General to communicate to the Forum elements from its 2016 International Labour Conference relevant to the 2030 Agenda.
LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN‑Women), said gender inequality remained the most pervasive form of inequality around the world. The 2030 Agenda would not be achieved unless all women and girls lived a life free from discrimination, fear and want, and were empowered. While Sustainable Development Goal 5 specifically targeted gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the systematic mainstreaming of gender equality was also crucial and there was a need to build on the interlinkages between the Goals and targets to ensure that girls and women were not left behind. The Commission on the Status of Women had recently translated the concept of “gender-responsive implementation”, calling for a focus on non-discriminatory legal and policy frameworks, among other key elements.
BRENDA KILLEN of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said her organization was upgrading its work to support the 2030 Agenda, notably through its action plan on the Sustainable Development Goals, which outlined how it would use existing data, policy tools and dialogue platforms to help Governments build capacity. While the Goals must be viewed in an integrated, horizontal manner, equally important was the need for political coherence. OECD was developing a tool to assess starting positions of its member countries on the new Goals and it would estimate the distance countries would need to travel to meet specific targets, she said, adding that ODA would be critical.
ROBERT GLASSER, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Disaster Risk Reduction, said over the past two decades, disaster losses had topped $1.5 trillion. When the substantial social and environmental costs of disaster were accounted for, losses were even higher. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) recognized that the cost of disaster would increase dramatically if risk was not incorporated into development choices. Furthermore, if not addressed urgently, climate change would overwhelm efforts to reduce disaster risk and develop sustainably. In that respect, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions was the single most important way to decrease risk.
RUTH BLACKSHAW of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), drew attention to the vulnerabilities of key populations, including sex workers, people who injected drugs, transgender persons, migrants and internally displaced persons. If those groups continued to be left behind, it would not be possible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, she said, calling upon all to put an end to stigma, violence and discriminatory laws. For its part, UNAIDS stood ready to assist countries in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of the indigenous peoples’ major group acknowledged the emerging good practices, which included consultations and inclusions at the national and international levels. He stressed that data collection and partnerships with stakeholders were necessary for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of the business and industry major group said business was the biggest engine of poverty reduction. It would be a major source of the funds needed for sustainable development. A distinct role for business would be important. It was time to think outside the box and one way to start would be to get rid of outdated characterizations.
COLIN ALLEN, President of the World Federation of the Deaf, speaking on behalf of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, said references in the 2030 Agenda to persons with disabilities needed to be translated into action at the national level. Persons with disabilities faced barriers to fully participating in the design, implementation and review of national development programmes. He recommended that Governments considered working with organizations of persons with disabilities so that they could take an active part in national implementation efforts.
The representative of the workers and trade unions major group said increasing inequality risked leaving many people behind. Inequality was at odds with odds with established paths to sustainable development and achievement of the Goals. The importance of collective bargaining could not be underestimated in combating inequality. It should be promoted as a means of implementation that would support all three pillars of sustainable development, he said, emphasizing the role of ILO in supporting implementation.
The representative of the Stakeholder Group on Ageing, drew attention to the discrimination based on age, and said that it must end. “Leaving no one behind requires changing mind sets,” she said, emphasizing that for successful outcomes, it was critical that the voice of elderly was heard.
KAROL ALEJANDRA ARAMBULA CARILLO, Advocacy and Strategic Partnerships for Development, stressed the need to involve all sectors of society in the implementation phase. That required establishing partnerships with actors, including local governments, the private sector and academia.
VERONICA BRAND, Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, said the commitment to leave no one behind required paying close attention to who was counted and who counted. She expressed regret that many remained uncounted, such as unaccompanied children in borders. Their invisibility made them vulnerable to threats, she said.
The representative of the International Human Rights Education Association based in Rome spoke of the revitalization of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Overall inequality had negative impacts on everyone, including people in the United States, he said.
The representative of the China Energy Fund Committee referred to careless use of water, food and electricity. Sustainability must become a way of life for all people, he said, adding that “a sustainable life for all” should be an overarching theme that would bring people together to realize the Goals.
Action on Ministerial Declaration
OH JOON (Republic of Korea), President of the Economic and Social Council said that, in his view, general agreement had been reached through negotiations on a draft ministerial declaration. As this was the first high-level political forum since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, such a declaration would send a strong political signal of Member States’ firm commitment to implement the Goals. He wished that the declaration be adopted without a vote.
He said he understood that Morocco originally requested the inclusion of language from the 2030 Agenda reaffirming the need to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of States. During consultations, some delegations opposed such language, even though Morocco noted that it was part of the Charter of the United Nations. He said he met Morocco’s permanent representative, requesting flexibility on the matter. He thanked the permanent representative for his understanding and readiness to accept the draft.
He went on to say that Nicaragua wished to propose a vote on part or all of the text. As it was the only Member State that did not agree with the draft, he suggested that it disassociate itself from the agreement, to avoid a vote by the whole Forum.
The representative of Nicaragua said that, during negotiations, there had been no respect for General Assembly resolution 67/290, which guided the work of high-level meetings under the Council’s auspices. To say there was general agreement on the draft was to disguise the fact that certain things had been imposed on sovereign countries, he said, recalling that Nicaragua had not signed the Paris Agreement, a fact that should be respected. There had been no consensus within the Group of 77 and China because two States had not accepted Nicaragua’s proposal. Nicaragua had been more than prepared to negotiate and it had made proposals which could easily have been accepted, but it had been told that “that doesn’t fly”. He requested a recorded vote on paragraph 19. He would not insist on a vote on the whole draft.
The Council President, requesting clarification, asked if Nicaragua sought a vote to delete paragraph 19 or to amend it.
The representative of Nicaragua asked for a vote on paragraph 19 only.
The Council President said he understood the Forum would vote on whether or not to retain paragraph 19.
The representative of Algeria quoted the Council President as saying that a delegation had joined consensus after expressing reservations with regard to territorial integrity and the independence of States. As a matter of transparency, he asked him to identify the delegations that had opposed the reference to territorial integrity and the independence of States.
The Council President said he had quoted what the representative of Morocco had explained to him.
The representative of Egypt expressed concern about the unbalanced language on climate change, which was inconsistent with the principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. For that reason, he would not vote against the proposal.
The representative of Ecuador, while expressing support for the declaration, stressed that the text must reflect the views of all Member States.
The representative of Slovakia, speaking on behalf of the European Union prior to the vote, said the negotiations on the Ministerial Declaration had been conducted in a transparent manner and a constructive atmosphere. The bloc had made a number of concessions, including with regard to the paragraph in question. Expressing disappointment with the present situation and welcoming the Paris Agreement, she applauded Member States who had signed and ratified that document. The European Union member States would be voting in favour of maintaining paragraph 19 in the text and called on others to do the same. Indeed, the vote was not reflective of the efforts, good will and enthusiasm generated over the last eight days and it set a bad precedent for the future work of the Forum.
The Forum then voted to retain paragraph 19 by a recorded vote of 141 in favour to 1 against (Nicaragua) with 3 abstentions (Egypt, Myanmar, Russian Federation).
Speaking after the vote, the representative of Cuba said that, in the Forum’s future work, greater efforts should be made to accommodate each delegation regardless of its size or power. As a result of the present developments, millions of people from sovereign States would now not be part of the Declaration.
The representative of Bolivia, also speaking in explanation of position after the vote, said his delegation had voted in favour of retaining paragraph 19 as his country was a signatory to the Paris Agreement. At the same time, Bolivia recognized that each State had the sovereign right to determine its own decisions.
The representative of Venezuela said her delegation had voted in favour of the reference to the Paris Agreement. However, she echoed concerns over the non-inclusion of sensitive issues for developing countries. Issues such as the sovereign right of States to use, manage and regulate their natural resources had not been included in the Declaration, and there was no mention of rejecting unilateral economic or financial measures that were incompatible with international law.
The representative of the Russian Federation said the present situation had created a negative precedent, which he hoped would not have a long-term character. Expressing his hope that it would serve as a lesson for the Forum to avoid similar mistakes in the future, he said the body was now forced to consider its rules of procedure. While the former Commission for Sustainable Development had written rules in place, there was no such process for the Forum. “We need to think about the political damage which this vote will bring to the future of all United Nations members,” he said, calling on all States to listen carefully to the words of the Nicaraguan delegate.
The representative of Algeria said that the present situation was “not a good sign” and that it ran counter to the “no one left behind” slogan. The issue was one of the shortcomings of the negotiations in the working group on reinvigorating the work of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, he said, underscoring the need to go deeper into discussions when the main goal was consensus. He understood Nicaragua’s position, and launched an appeal that, in the future, consensus would be privileged with inclusiveness. When the Forum negotiated, no one should be set aside.
The representative of Iran said his delegation attached great importance to the Paris Agreement. However, it was the legitimate right of countries, including Nicaragua, to request a vote on any paragraph in the Ministerial Declaration. “We have to learn from our mistakes,” he said, adding that when there was no consensus the voice of the dissenting delegates must be heard.
The Forum then adopted the draft Ministerial Declaration as a whole, as orally corrected, without a vote.
The representative of the United States, speaking after the adoption, said that the declaration was important and ambitious, and it honoured the spirit of the 2030 Agenda. She then expressed support for the text’s emphasis on gender equality. None of the provisions had created obligations under the international law, she said, reaffirming her country’s strong commitment to international development.