The loss of confidence and trust between people and Governments, multilateral institutions and international organizations highlighted the paradox that problems were increasingly global in nature and could not be solved by individual countries, participants heard today, as the ministerial segment of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development got under way.
Globalization and progress had dramatically increased global trade and wealth and the number of absolute poor had declined, but it was also true that inequality had increased, stressed António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his opening statement, as the Council began its annual three-day segment with a series of reports, presentations and a ministerial-level general debate.
Calling the large number of people who had been left behind and the severe challenges brought on by high unemployment serious obstacles to development, the Secretary-General said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aimed at a fair globalization and to create conditions for people to trust again; not only in political systems but also in multilateral forms of governance and international organizations like the United Nations.
Urging leaders to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change, he emphasized that the green economy was becoming the economy of the future, and that green business was good business. Those that did not embrace that trend stood to lose or would fail to gain economic leadership in the years to come, he warned.
Pointing to the eminent fourth industrial revolution, he called on leaders to anticipate trends and work together to move away from being reactive in order to foresee what was coming and tailor investment accordingly. In that context, reform must take place at all levels, including within the United Nations development system. Only by working together would leaders be able to rebuild the trust that was needed to ensure the fair globalization that the world so desperately needed, he added.
“We have arrived at a period of unprecedented and stunning inequality,” declared Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a keynote address. Global output this year was estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at $127 trillion, an average of $17,000 per each man, woman and child. That sum was enough to end poverty, ensure universal access to health care and quality education, and provide the investments needed to transition to climate-responsible policies. Yet, startling challenges persisted, he said, emphasizing that money that went to finance war and conflict could easily fund sustainable development for every person on the planet.
Spotlighting the world’s powerful coal, oil, and gas lobby, he warned: “It will kill the planet if it survives in its current form.” In that context, he urged the super-rich who resisted taxation and managed the levers of power to accept their responsibilities. “There seems to be no limit to the greed,” he lamented, noting that despite the extraordinary wealth in the world, 1 billion people still struggled to survive every day.
Indeed, the world was facing challenging and turbulent times, said Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, who noted that although the prevalence of extreme poverty had steadily declined in recent decades, the total number of people living in extreme poverty — more than 767 million in 2013 — remained unacceptably high. Inequality among and within countries remained deep; conflicts, tensions and terrorism were threatening humanity; and global temperatures were rising. In the face of those rising challenges, solidarity and working together was more important than ever.
“We all know the basic steps ahead,” said Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the United Nations General Assembly, who stressed that the necessary resources must be mobilized to meet the world’s sustainable development objectives. Awareness of the Goals must be global so that all citizens understood they had rights and responsibilities on the long road to international sustainability.
Following the opening session, the Council reviewed the main messages from the Forum’s first week of deliberations, as presented by Economic and Social Council Vice Presidents Marie Chatardova (Czech Republic), Cristián Barros Melet (Chile), Jürgen Schulz (Germany) and Nabeel Munir (Pakistan). It also received reports from the ministerial chairs of the Regional Forums on Sustainable Development: Lahcen Daoudi, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of General Affairs and Governance of Morocco; Francisco Guzman, Chief of Staff of the President of Mexico and Executive Secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Agenda of Mexico; Rosemarie Edillon, Undersecretary for Planning and Policy, National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines; Gervais Meatchi, Director of Planning and Development of Togo; and Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, Commissioner-General for Sustainable Development and Inter-Ministerial Delegate for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Seas of France.
Also today, the Council heard voluntary national reviews from Brazil, Luxembourg, Nepal, Monaco, Japan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Kenya, Netherlands, Chile and Malaysia, during which countries detailed their progress and challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
In the afternoon, the Council took up the Secretary-General’s reports on “Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges” and “Beyond gross domestic product: multidimensional poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals”, as presented by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. A report from the Committee for Development Policy’s nineteenth session was also presented to the Council by Committee Chair José Antonio Ocampo.
A general debate also took place, which included statements from high-level officials and representatives of Ecuador (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development (on behalf of the European Union), Sri Lanka (on behalf of the “Group of 15” developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America), Grenada (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Luxembourg (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Sustainable Development Goals), Philippines (on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries), Chad (on behalf of the African Group).
Also participating in the general debate were speakers for Romania, Monaco, Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Africa, Lithuania, Thailand, Guatemala, Slovenia, Indonesia, Denmark, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Republic of Moldova, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Council will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 18 July, to continue its general debate.
FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, stressed that the world was facing challenging and turbulent times. Although the prevalence of extreme poverty had steadily declined in recent decades, the total number of people living in extreme poverty — more than 767 million in 2013 — remained unacceptably high. Inequality among and within countries remained deep; conflicts, tensions and terrorism were threatening humanity; and global temperatures were rising. In the face of those rising challenges, solidarity and working together was more important than ever. Collective support for the poor and most vulnerable was in the interest of all. That solidarity and common responsibility were embodied in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals. “It offers an action plan for people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership,” he stressed.
The theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum was “Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges”, he said. A key message from that theme was that poverty eradication remained an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Integrated and coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level required interministerial collaboration and a clear connection to the means of implementation, he said, while stressing the need for full multi-stakeholder engagement. Further, during the Forum’s ministerial segment, 44 countries would present their voluntary national reviews, and two special events would take place on businesses and partnerships.
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the United Nations General Assembly, said that the last 12 months had been pivotal for the future development Goals. To drive progress at the speed and scale necessary, the primary focus had to be on-the-ground implementation and the transformative impacts it must have among communities and across nations and regions. Awareness of the Goals must be global so that all citizens understood they had rights and responsibilities on the long road to international sustainability. Meaningful partnerships were also vital. Success would rely on Governments at all levels, civil society, innovators, financiers and grassroots organizations working together in dynamic new partnerships to achieve the Goals and ensure that no one was left behind.
“We all know the basic steps ahead,” he said, adding that the necessary resources must be mobilized to meet the world’s sustainable development objectives. Official development assistance (ODA) commitments should be met and the allocation of resources in national budgets to implement the 2030 Agenda should be accelerated. The unprecedented power of technology, innovation and interconnectivity should be utilized to ramp up implementation. Much remained to be done to promote women and girls’ rights, equal opportunity, economic empowerment and political participation. Sustaining peace, preventing conflicts and addressing the root causes of displacement were core responsibilities. Sustainable peace and sustainable development were inseparable. Everyone should support the Secretary-General’s initiative to reform the United Nations development system.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, recalled that 20 years ago the world was surfing a “wave of optimism”, but now the picture was mixed. Globalization and progress had dramatically increased global trade and wealth and the number of absolute poor had declined, but it was also true that inequality had increased. It was clear that people had been left behind and unemployment had become a severe challenge in many parts of the planet, which served as an obstacle to development. There was a loss of confidence and trust between people and Governments, multilateral institutions and international organizations such as the United Nations. This dynamic highlighted the paradox in that problems were more and more global and could not be solved by individual countries. The 2030 Agenda aimed at a fair globalization, which did not leave anyone behind and created conditions for people to trust again; not only in political systems but also in multilateral forms of governance and international organizations like the United Nations.
The global economy was improving but areas of fragility were also increasing, which was responsible for many of the conflicts of today and contributed to the global threat of terrorism, he said. Nevertheless, those linkages should not be a pretext to move resources from development to security, but rather there should be a better understanding of the centrality of development and full recognition that sustainable and inclusive development was in fact a major factor for the prevention of conflict, as well as natural disasters. Mega-trends were interacting with each other, while climate change had become a main accelerator of many other challenges. In that context, there must be a strong reaffirmation of the commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and its implementation. The green economy was becoming the economy of the future, and green business was good business. Those that did not embrace that trend stood to lose or would fail to gain economic leadership in the years to come.
Human rights also applied to the rights of the people on the move, including refugees and migrants, he continued. Leaving no one behind must inspire us to look into migration with a different perspective based on understanding. The global mega-trends were forcing more and more people to leave their homes worldwide. Developed countries must abide by their ODA commitments, but, at the same time, that alone would not be enough to fund the implementation of the Goals. States must mobilize more of their own resources and international financial institutions must be able to multiply their capacities to fund the Goals. Further, countries must be able to access global markets and attract private investment.
He stressed that the world was facing a fourth industrial revolution, which would create challenges for developing countries that relied on cheap manpower as their competitive advantage. Leaders must anticipate trends and work together to move away from being reactive and foresee what was coming and tailor investment accordingly. Reform must take place at all levels, including with regard to the United Nations development system. Only by working together would leaders be able to rebuild the trust that was needed to ensure the fair globalization that the world so desperately needed.
JEFFREY SACHS, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said that global output this year was estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at $127 trillion, an average of $17,000 per each man, woman and child. That sum was enough to end poverty, ensure universal access to health care and quality education, and provide the investments needed to transition to climate-responsible policies. Yet, startling challenges persisted. Some 2,043 billionaires had among them control of almost $7.7 trillion. “We have arrived at a period of unprecedented and stunning inequality,” he said. Money that went to finance war and conflict could easily fund sustainable development for every person on the planet. Tax havens, in places like the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands, hosted almost $20 trillion in a system that, “in front of our eyes”, allowed billionaires to avoid and evade all responsibility. That system was actually created by Governments, especially the richest ones, he added.
Mr. Sachs went on to outline challenges facing the world, including the shortage of decent jobs and the need to decarbonize and move toward electricity produced by solar and other zero-carbon energy sources. There was also the big challenge of good governance, he said, highlighting the unprecedented opportunity to use information and communications technology (ICT) to deliver governance to remote places. Infrastructure development was crucial as well, he continued, noting projects in Asia and Africa that had the potential to transform the world. Spotlighting the world’s powerful coal, oil, and gas lobby, he warned: “It will kill the planet if it survives in its current form.” He urged the super-rich who resisted taxation and managed the levers of power to accept their responsibilities. “There seems to be no limit to the greed,” he added.
Despite the extraordinary wealth in the world, 1 billion people still struggled to survive every day, he said. In the United States, the coal, oil and gas lobby had contributed $100 million in the election cycle. “That is why we pulled out of our Climate Agreement,” he added, emphasizing that the world was witnessing the “corruption of our future”. “We need to understand that we are in a struggle of our survival now,” Mr. Sachs continued, urging global compliance by the oil and gas industry, which included Exxon Mobile, Chevron and Koch Industries. “We cannot allow a few powerful industries to endanger our entire planet,” he said, stressing the need to hold the fossil fuel industry to account and get to zero carbon emissions. “Those who bet on the destruction of the planet will end up losing,” he continued, adding that there was no room in the world for a Keystone Pipeline.
Mr. Sachs went on to stress the need to mobilize a sustainable development fund for poor countries. “We need billionaires to step forward with transparency and accountability,” he said. The $2 trillion going to armaments had nothing to do with creating jobs. Underscoring that history had left too many countries crushed by debt, he said it was time to move on from those massive unpayable burdens. Calling for a tax on off-shore deposits, he underscored the roles of the United States and the United Kingdom in allowing the stash of tax-free assets in the Caribbean. He also called on the Security Council to take on more accountability for sustainable development. On climate change, he warned that countries would suffer natural disasters. “You will ask for aid, but it is not aid you need. It is compensation,” he continued, adding that 90 per cent of the countries in the room had not done anything to cause climate change. “Let the countries accountable for climate change pay the bills of losses and damages,” he said.
Week One Recap
Mr. SHAVA took the floor to provide a recap of the Forum’s discussions from the past week on various topics, including the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the regional and subregional levels. He said that such cooperation and integration played an increasing role in supporting sustainable development, including through South-South cooperation, peer learning and the sharing of experiences between countries. The contributions of regional forums on sustainable development were a critical link between the national and global levels. On Goal 1 on poverty eradication, most progress had been seen in East and South-East Asia, although sub-Saharan Africa was still experiencing very high levels of extreme poverty. In 2016, only 45 per cent of the world’s population was covered by social protection systems. Investments in infrastructure, including water supply systems, access to stable and reliable energy and upgrading dilapidated housing were other important enablers for poverty eradication.
Reviewing the discussions on Goal 2, he recalled that speakers had stressed the need for greater recognition of the critical interdependence of poverty and hunger. Food security and nutrition governance must be more inclusive, at all levels. Urgent action was required to respond to the severe food insecurity and malnutrition crises, famine and threat of famine that currently existed. Women’s empowerment and gender equality were essential for achieving food security and sustainable agriculture, while agricultural transformation must become more knowledge intensive to achieve income and productivity targets. Reviewing the discussions on Goal 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, he said that robust and well-planned infrastructure underpinned all economic growth. Transportation, information and communications technologies, electricity, water and sanitation allowed industrialization to provide jobs and economic well-being to citizens. Development partners had been called upon to support the development of infrastructure and connectivity to provide universal access to basic services and to boost industrialization.
MARIE CHATARDOVA (Czech Republic), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, provided a review of Sustainable Development Goal 3, adding that health solutions would need to connect with efforts in education, nutrition and empowerment of women and girls. Equity was a fundamental principle that must be intentionally and proactively pursued. It was also important to ensure that Governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, devote adequate funding to health, research and innovation, community-based interventions, and social safety nets. At the local level, raising awareness and listening to community voices, including youth, women, indigenous persons, older persons and persons with disabilities, was crucial. More effort was also needed to collect and analyse disaggregated data and make it transparent and accessible to all. The single most effective health intervention was girls’ education. More must be done to invest in women and girls, including in their sexual reproductive health.
Moving on to Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, she said that achieving that goal was a prerequisite for prosperous societies. Women’s empowerment was critical for breaking poverty cycles and for economic growth. Some progress had already been made in ending discrimination against women and girls. Many countries had included in their legal provisions and institutional frameworks the need to eliminate discrimination against women and girls. Efforts had also been launched in some countries to encourage women’s participation in science, technology and engineering fields. While remarkable efforts had been made in setting laws and policies, two years was still early to map out full progress on implementation of Goal 5. Systemic and structural changes for gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls took time, she stressed. It was important to continue to develop the statistical capacity of State and non-State actors to collect, analyse and use gender-disaggregated data and information for planning.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, outlined the main messages from last week’s High-Level Political Forum, emphasizing that achieving sustainable development in small island developing States required political commitment at the highest level, including partnerships with the public and private sectors, civil society, youth and academia. “It is only through the meaningful participation of those furthest left behind that we can achieve the implementation of the 2030 Agenda,” he said. Investments in smallholder agriculture continued to be a primary means for growth for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and post-conflict countries. Development finance for countries in special situations must be more reliable, sourced from multiple stakeholders and targeted towards the specific needs of different countries. Post-conflict countries had specific development needs, and could suffer from fragmentation of development planning. He also underscored the need to increase investment in science, technology and innovation and to further explore ways to incentivize the private sector to channel their technology into innovation-related initiatives.
JÜRGEN SCHULZ (Germany), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, shared the main messages from the discussions on the multi-stakeholder perspectives on the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” and stressed that major groups and other stakeholders were key partners in the success of the 2030 Agenda, while the private sector also had a crucial role to play. Farmers, women’s groups and young people were other key partners and in that context, it was important to provide youth with an enabling environment and formal platforms to carry out their efforts. Non-governmental organizations were also doing their part. Turning to the discussions on Goal 14 on life below water, he said that the Ocean Conference had created universal momentum to forge new partnerships to achieve Goal 14. The establishment of marine protected areas was increasing. Utilization and respect of indigenous, local knowledge would be among the best ways to ensure the integrity of implementation actions. In that regard, the concerns and needs of local communities should be considered when designing conservation actions and management measures.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, shared the main messages on addressing the multi-dimensions of poverty and inequalities and said that the Millennium Development Goal-era saw significant progress in addressing poverty worldwide, although that progress had been uneven, leaving many behind. Depravation in the areas of health care, gender empowerment, housing and natural resource management and other areas had a direct correlation with poverty. Good governance was needed to take action, while social inclusion and engagement of all stakeholders was an important pre-condition to poverty eradication. Children suffered disproportionately from poverty, including in how they experienced poverty. Multidimensional poverty was attributed to several interconnecting trends, including climate change and other natural stressors. Turning to investing and financing for the Goals, he said the threats posed by a multitude of factors were undermining national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. In that context, there was a need to strengthen national efforts and improve international cooperation for investment in sustainable development. Investing in the Goals was about more than just financing; it was also about the need for institutions and governances mechanisms to create a coherent development framework.
Presentations: Ministerial Chairs of Regional Forums on Sustainable Development
LAHCEN DAOUDI, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of General Affairs and Governance of Morocco, highlighted several conclusions reached at the Arab forum, including that conflict and extremism had weakened the ability of regional States to achieve sustainable development. Peace, security and putting an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands were critical for development and poverty elimination in the region. The Arab forum had also emphasized the importance of governance and national ownership in achieving the 2030 Agenda. The root causes of war and poverty must be dealt with, he added. The Forum also addressed several regional priorities, including gender equality as a development agent. Regarding food security, he said agriculture must be enhanced in order to reduce dependency on imports. Providing health for everyone, particularly for disabled persons, should be included into national agendas to ensure that “no one is left behind”.
FRANCISCO GUZMAN, Chief of Staff of the President of Mexico and Executive Secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Agenda of Mexico, presenting the conclusions of a Latin American and the Caribbean regional forum, said the eradication of poverty remained the most critical challenge facing the world today. The forum agreed that it would welcome the participation of members of civil society, academia, and the private sector. Emphasizing the importance of ODA and South-South cooperation, especially in the region, he stressed the need to fight tax evasion and corruption. Forum participants had also agreed on the critical need to share lessons learned, he added, commending support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the United Nations system.
ROSEMARIE EDILLON, Undersecretary for Planning and Policy, National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines, said the forum was very inclusive and had even adopted a regional road map to achieve sustainable development. It served as a useful platform for Member States to share their achievements and challenges in harnessing the Sustainable Development Goals. The Asia and the Pacific region was the first to develop a regional road map, aimed at building on recent agreements and strengthening priority issues. Member States had now institutionalized a long-term plan for capturing and sharing regional perspectives. To that end, it was important to support countries with special needs, including through enhancing their capacities. The outcomes of the forum demonstrated that the countries of Asia and the Pacific were moving ahead and leading the way to implement the 2030 Agenda, she said, highlighting the critical role of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
GERVAIS MEATCHI, Director of Planning and Development of Togo, recalled that the third meeting of the African regional session for sustainable development was organized under the theme “Inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity for all”. A large number of changing factors were taken into account during the proceedings, including the need to eradicate poverty, changing demographics, climate change, the exhaustion of natural resources, and environmental degradation and pollution. It was important for African countries to devise a road map for the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, in harmony with national plans in all phases and lessons required for implementation. Growth alone would not be sufficient; a structural transformation that was accelerated and inclusive was required. It was important to strengthen modalities of existing international aid programmes. The Forum must give sufficient time for the consideration of issues of poverty and their impact on sustainable development faced by African countries. Attention must also be paid to economically empowering women and giving them opportunities within the businesses world. Africa’s ability to achieve sustainable development would depend, in part, on how the natural capital of the continent was managed.
LAURENCE MONNOYER-SMITH, Commissioner-General for Sustainable Development and Inter-Ministerial Delegate for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Seas of France, reported that the regional forum had been held on 25 April in Geneva and was dedicated to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Throughout the region, the 2030 Agenda was a challenge that was taken very seriously and implemented alongside the Paris Agreement on climate change. The United Nations system supported the organization of the regional forum, while civil society also participated robustly at the event, with several representatives focusing particularly on forest conservation. There were also some promising signs from business groups, with many participating in and telling the forum that sustainable development was an emerging priority for them. Several countries sought to update their political frameworks and coordinating mechanisms in order to better integrate the Goals in their national plans and policies. Overall, the integration process seemed to be advanced in the region and consultative processes had been leveraged to adapt the Goals to the realities of individual countries. National statistical bodies had a key coordinating role to play and cooperation across different statistical stakeholders, including within the United Nations system, must be strengthened.
Introduction of Reports
WU HONGO, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced two reports. The Secretary-General’s report on “Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges” (document E/2017/64) identified approaches to development challenges and presented several poverty-eradication initiatives. Transformative action required coordinated efforts, he said, emphasizing the need to break down barriers between ministries and engage private-sector partners. Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on “Beyond gross domestic product: multidimensional poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals” (document E/2017/69), he stressed the importance of addressing the multidimensional characteristics of poverty. The report provided examples of national progress and the tools toward that end, he said, noting that an increasing number of countries were integrating multidimensional strategies into national approaches. “Many of the building blocks are already in place,” he said, adding that the global economic situation presented a challenge. To ensure progress, adequate policy space was needed. The reports provided a good basis for helping efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO, Chairperson of the Committee for Development Policy, introduced its report on its nineteenth session (document E/2017/64), which he said explored the Council’s theme from the angle of building productive capacities in countries that had graduated or would graduate from the least developed country category. Building productive capacities for sustainable development required integrated policies in several areas, including development governance; policies for creating positive synergies between building productive capacities and social outcomes; macroeconomic and financial policies that supported productive capacity expansion and increased resilience to external shocks; industrial and sectoral policies; and international support measures in the areas of trade, official development assistance and international tax cooperation.
“There is no one-size-fits-all,” he said, noting that the Committee had identified three different pathways that countries were following towards graduation. The first was through rapid growth from natural resource exploitation — where large parts of the population often remained in poverty — while the second combined income growth with investment in human assets. Countries on that pathway were typically small economies with limited scope for economic diversification, he said, adding that they often specialized in sectors such as tourism or natural resources and continued to be economically vulnerable. For many such countries, international cooperation had been instrumental, and some had benefitted from their diasporas through remittance policies that mobilized resources and knowledge needed to expand productive capacities.
A third pathway was characterized by investments in human assets and structural transformation towards higher productivity manufacturing and services, he continued. Noting that such a path was primarily suitable for larger economies, he said it led to “steady, albeit slow, progress” towards sustainable development. Countries following that pathway placed strong emphasis on health and education in line with the view that “social policies” were needed right from the start of structural transformation. Successful policies had been oriented at closing gender gaps in health and education as well as at deploying “health extension workers” to achieve nearly complete health coverage throughout the country.
In addition, he said, the Committee had explored the reasons for and consequences of the on-application of the least developed country category by some United Nations development system organizations. While almost all the entities of that system recognized the least developed country category, there was no consistent application in priority setting and budget allocation. The Committee had therefore made several concrete recommendations on how to move towards more consistent support to least developed countries. Among other activities, the Committee had also reviewed and confirmed the graduation criteria while embarking on a multi-year programme for a comprehensive review of those criteria.
ANDRÉS MIDEROS, National Secretary for Planning and Development of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Sustainable Development Goals would not be achieved at the current pace as developing countries continued to face unique implementation challenges. Countries’ territorial integrity and political independence must be respected, he said, emphasizing that States must refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures that impeded the full achievement of economic and social development. The international community must address the current challenges and needs of developing countries, especially those in special situations.
While the 2030 Agenda emphasized the needs of the most vulnerable, he said, progress remained uneven. It was a tall order to eradicate poverty and address persistent income and wealth inequalities while ensuring access to opportunities and economic outcomes aimed at equitable and inclusive growth for a sustainable, peaceful planet. Highlighting several concerns, he said gender equality must be addressed. Infrastructure was a growth driver. There was an urgent need to channel effective and sustainable technical assistance and capacity-building in that area. Achieving the Goals depended on creating an international environment that enabled development, he said, calling for an effective follow up to global commitments and for ODA providers to fulfil their obligations.
IBRAHIM THORIQ, Minister for Environment and Energy of Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that as members continued to encounter unique challenges and vulnerabilities, international cooperation and global support remained the key components for achieving the Goals. Equally important was mitigating climate change’s harmful consequences. “Our very survival is at risk,” he said, highlighting the rapidly declining state of oceans and seas. Resource mobilization was needed to overcome those challenges and there was a need to unlock the means of implementation for small-island developing States as many countries were left out of funding spaces despite extreme needs and vulnerabilities. Data also remained a challenge.
Small-island developing States were committed to innovative, genuine and durable partnerships with the Partnership Framework, developed at the Samoa Conference in 2014, he said. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) global action programme was focused on food security and he hoped to continue that kind of cooperation with other United Nations agencies. “When we look back, there has been a great deal accomplished at different levels since the High-level Political Forum meeting in 2016,” he said, “yet much more is necessary before the 2018 Forum to get us to move closer to our goals, targets and aspirations for 2030 and beyond. Let us ensure that by 2030, we have left no one, island or place behind.”
LUCKY MULUSA, Minister for National Development Planning of Zambia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that while some progress had been achieved among members, more work remained to make them comparable to developing countries. Citing challenges to achieving a range of Goals, including on tackling undernourishment and child mortality rates, he elaborated on the special challenges landlocked developing countries faced, among them constraints on structural transformation and economic diversification. In addition, infrastructure challenges must be addressed and members’ calls must be answered for support in technology transfers, research and innovation.
At the closure of the 2030 Agenda, he said, the world must create an environment where landlocked developing countries no longer exported food in raw forms. “We need to galvanize the interest of all Member States to enhance added value on raw materials and create a sound industrial base for finished products and create jobs and wealth,” he said. In addition, the Group’s members must increase their access to oceans and seas. Noting the entry into force in 2017 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, he said countries also required assistance to attract foreign direct investment, as well as broadening tax bases. Asking why economic growth failed guarantee development, he said that question must be answered and it was imperative that local populations benefited from growth.
NEVEN MIMICA, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said much remained to be done to implement the 2030 Agenda and the bloc was committed to contributing both at home and internationally. “When it comes to achieving sustainability, we are all developing countries,” he said, noting that 10 European Union member States would present voluntary reviews in 2017 and several more would do so in 2018. Within the bloc, the 2030 Agenda’s implementation was being conducted in two strands of work. The first involved mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals into the region’s internal policies, he said, pointing out that it had reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change, adopted a Nature Action Plan and an ambitious energy policy, and was working to better direct financing towards sustainable investment.
Externally, the bloc’s Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy provided a vision for a joined-up, credible and responsible engagement in the world, he continued, noting that those plans placed sustainable development at their centre. On 7 June, the European Union had signed a new European Consensus on Development, which was fully aligned with 2030 Agenda. Among other things, the policy reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to a rules-based global order and to multilateralism — with the United Nations at its core — and underlined its intention to work more closely with all partners and countries in all stages of development. Through a new European External Investment Plan, it would also provide financial, technical and policy support to lower risk and increase the flow of investment, particularly from the private sector, to areas where it would otherwise not go. In addition, the bloc would launch a major initiative in September with the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
GAMINI JAYAWICKRAMA PERERA, Minister for Sustainable Development and Wildlife of Sri Lanka, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 15” developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, said the goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and manifestations by 2030 was possible together with the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and other international agreements that constituted a comprehensive global framework for sustainable development. As a niche group representing the Global South, the Group of 15 would be actively involved in the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and especially in its primary objective of poverty eradication.
Noting that the primary responsibility for achieving that objective lay with the respective Governments, he nevertheless stressed that most developing countries and least developed countries would face greater challenges in that regard given resource constraints. In that context, global partnerships should be intensified from the Millennium Development Goal era. Expressing hope that more recent ODA commitments on the part of developed countries would be “operationalized sustainably”, he also spotlighted the Council’s important role in the 2030 Agenda’s follow up and review and reiterated that those processes should reaffirm the national sovereignty of States. Concluding, he called for meaningful technology transfers and opportunities for capacity-building — particularly with regard to technologies that would result in higher rates of economic growth and renewable energy — and voiced support for the establishment of a technology facilitation mechanism for those purposes.
KEISHA MCGUIRE (Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said the central requirements for sustainable development were poverty eradication, the promotion of sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource base for economic and social development. Those areas would also require the promotion of sustained, inclusive and equitable growth, the creation of greater opportunities for all and the reduction of inequalities within and among countries, she said, noting that there must be a collective focus on how financial markets could be aligned with sustainable development and on identifying concrete ways of financing the implementation of the Goals.
The high debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of CARICOM member eroded their ability to implement the 2030 Agenda, she said. Despite their middle-income status those countries remained burdened due to their small size, extreme economic vulnerabilities as well as their vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change. The termination of correspondent banking relations in the region had the potential to threaten their economic stability and their ability to remain properly integrated into the global financial, trade and economic systems. Reiterating the call for dedicated support for strengthening national statistical systems and offices, which would improve the region’s collection and disaggregation of data, she said the countries of the region remained committed to cooperating in developing human resources and in providing basic education, health care and harnessing ICT’s potential.
CAROLE DIESCHBOURG, Minister for the Environment of Luxembourg, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Sustainable Development Goals, recalled that the Group had been formed to ensure that children’s rights were an integral part of the 2030 Agenda. Of the 44 countries presenting voluntary national reviews to the Forum this year, 20 were members of the Group, she said, noting that some of the presentations had spotlighted national efforts to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals among children in schools, increase child and youth participation and invest in children in order to secure a more prosperous and sustainable future. The Council’s 2017 theme on the eradication of poverty in a changing world was particularly pertinent to children, who disproportionately lived in extreme poverty. Ending child poverty in all its dimensions was a critical means to address the root causes of poverty, she stressed, adding that it could end intergenerational poverty and ensure a more prosperous future.
“Investing in all children from the earliest age and in children and youth through the second decade of life is imperative for building the human capital required to turn demographic transformations into growth dividends that reduce poverty and generate prosperity,” she said. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals would be “doomed to fail” if the international community was not able to meaningfully engage its youngest citizens.
ROSEMARIE EDILLON, Undersecretary of the National Economic Development Authority of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said those States still faced significant challenges to achieve sustainable development. As such, efforts must be strengthened through the exchange of experiences, improved coordination and better, more focused support of the United Nations development system, international financial institutions, regional organizations and other stakeholders. Policy coherence should be at the core of that cooperation.
Raising another concern, she noted a shift in the global distribution of poverty to middle-income States, where 70 per cent of the world’s poor lived. To address that, national experiences and capacities of the Group’s members needed to be supported, strengthened and promoted to facilitate their contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Calling on the United Nations development system to continue to support developing countries, she requested that it addressed the special challenges facing the most vulnerable countries and the specific challenges facing middle-income countries.
MOUSTAPHA ALI ALIFEI (Chad), speaking on behalf of the African Group, highlighted a number of gains and a range of challenges to ensuring further progress on the 2030 Agenda. In Africa, efforts were needed to increase incomes and bolster resilience against extreme poverty. Women provided an enormous contribution to economic and social progress, as did youth, and must be included in development initiatives. Today, about 70 per cent of Africans depended on agriculture for their livelihoods and efforts were needed to improve productivity, which could lift millions out of poverty.
Turning to other concerns, he said more robust efforts were required to improve health, eradicate diseases and to ensure access to medicines. Infrastructure, industrialization and innovation were also areas that needed investments. In addition, oceans and natural resources must be sustainably managed, as many Africans depended on those sectors. Cooperation was needed in those other sectors to advance gains toward achieving the Goals.
GRATIELA LEOCADIA GAVRILESCU, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Environment of Romania, associating herself with the European Union, said the success of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation required that the interlinkages between the Sustainable Development Goals be addressed in a holistic and coherent way that focused on synergies. The Forum offered the occasion to form new cross-sector alliances between civil society organizations in many countries, she said, adding that they could jointly develop analyses and recommendations for actions to implement the 2030 Agenda. Underlining the important role of the United Nations Environment Assembly in advancing its environmental dimension, she said the Assembly would tackle as its 2017 theme the issue of pollution and adopt an important Political Declaration on Pollution. In that regard, Romania had contributed $50,000 to the Assembly’s budget, which would assist its proper organization as well as the wider participation of delegates from developing countries. The country would also present its voluntary national review to the Forum in 2018, she said.
SERGE TELLE, Minister for State and Head of Government of Monaco, said the 17 Sustainable Development Goals joined all nations in a “virtuous and responsible cycle” for the benefit of all. Monaco had long been implementing sustainable policies and would continue to promote such efforts around the world. Noting that prosperity had once been based on policies of injustice, inequality and violence against nature, he pointed to a growing sense of solidarity in support of efforts to move the world away from that model and stressed that it would require the unquestionable, inalienable common responsibility of all towards humanity and the planet. For its part, Monaco would fully take on that responsibility to the extent that its means and scale allowed.
WILLIAM MARLIN, Prime Minister of Saint Maarten, speaking on behalf of the Netherlands, provided a snapshot of implementation efforts, noting that the key to success rested in a willingness to form partnerships at the national, regional and international levels. Saint Maarten, one of four autonomous countries of the Netherlands, shared an island with a territorial collectivity of France and had the biggest challenge in ensuring the Goals’ achievement. Saint Maarten had introduced several measures, including combating poverty and hunger and improving health-care policies and services. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided support to the Saint Maarten Government in integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into the national development plan and policies that were currently being challenged.
MIGUEL VARGAS MALDONADO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, said the scope of the development goals had become a reality. Institutional mechanisms were directing the coordination of related activities. Since 2012, a development framework and strategy was guiding action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Advances included building a statistics portal and working in areas that were lacking data. Major challenges in countries in special situations were a concern, he said, calling for action to address their unique needs and to strengthen their capacity. The Dominican Republic was also drafting policies to advance the Goals.
FRANCISCO GUZMAN, Chief of Cabinet of Mexico, said the 2030 Agenda was important to his country, serving to design better public policy. It was also a guide to having more effective development policies alongside a call for participation of all levels of government, civil society and the private sector. Current efforts addressed a range of issues and in many areas, social and political stakeholders were taking ownership of the 2030 Agenda and a total of eight local coordinating mechanisms had been established. The Forum should take up other international agreements and commitments as it continued to be a platform for sharing experiences.
BOMO EDITH MOLEWA, Minister for Environment Affairs of South Africa, appealed to the Secretary-General that the United Nations system work collaboratively to share information, tools and expertise necessary to assist countries in need. The 2030 Agenda resonated well with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. But, to eradicate poverty in Africa, ODA was essential. Combating illegal movements of money or capital from Africa was vitally important and attention must also be paid to food security and investment in research, development and infrastructure for science, technology and innovation.
KESTUTIS NAVICKAS, Minister for Environment of Lithuania, associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the mobilization of early action on the Sustainable Development Goals and underscored the importance of sustaining peace and ensuring respect for human rights. Outlining several national efforts to align Lithuania’s policies with the 2030 Agenda, including its prioritization in the Government Action Plan for 2017-2020, he cited the revision of social allowances and pensions, services for young families and families with small children, the improvement of access to medical care and a new tax system aimed at facilitating growth. As the world’s population continued to grow, the need for resources such as water, land, food, energy and decisions addressing pollution, climate change and energy efficiency had become the top priority. Lithuania was therefore committed to implementing the Paris Agreement and had based its climate change mitigation policies on the sustainable development of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The country would present it voluntary national review to the Forum in 2018, he added.
DON PRAMUDWINAI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the percentage of people living in poverty in his country had dropped from 42.3 per cent in 2000 to 7.2 per cent in 2015. The number of undernourished people had also declined dramatically, as had Thailand’s rate of maternal mortality. It had become the second country in the world to eliminate the mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. However, Thailand was not complacent, and it had aligned its 20-year development plan with the Sustainable Development Goals and policies aimed at the promotion of sustainable consumption and production. Emphasizing that the country’s policies were based on the principles of resilience, prudence, moderation, virtue and risk management in all endeavours, he outlined three key success factors to eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity, namely: localizing the Sustainable Development Goals at the community level; empowering people listening to all voices — especially the most vulnerable; and mobilizing new ideas and resources from the private sector. “We cannot sleep” while some 842 million people went to bed hungry every night, he stressed, nor when millions of people were being forced to flee their homes.
MIGUEL ÁNGEL MOIR SANDOVAL, Minister for Planning of Guatemala, said the 2030 Agenda had helped countries to guide efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. While Guatemala had not reached all the Millennium Development Goals, it was making strides in many sectors today. A planning secretariat had linked the Sustainable Development Goals to its national plan and a new joint initiative with the United Nations had strengthened such efforts. The Government, supported by civil society, the private sector and the international community, was working towards advancing development initiatives through results-based management and accountability.
ALENKA SMERKOLJ, Minister for Development, Strategic Projects and Cohesion of Slovenia, said that to be successful, cooperation was necessary, including among civil society, academia and the private sector. Sustainability had been a state of mind and a way of life in Slovenia, which was poised to achieve the Goals set out in the 2030 Agenda. Efforts focused on building a strong business sector while improving the quality of life for all. Describing a number of projects, she pointed out the recent development of a model for cooperation among the business sector, science community and the Government to introduce digital solutions to challenges. In another endeavour, the private sector and the Government partnered to launch a project aimed at bringing electricity-powered mobility to more users.
BAMBANG PERMADI SOEMANTRI BRODJONEGORO, Minister for National Development Planning of Indonesia, said poverty eradication and prosperity enhancement needed to address interconnected aspects, including improving the quality of human resources. Despite progress, more must be done, as multidimensional poverty required interventions that went beyond economic growth. Interlinked issues must be appropriately addressed and inclusive implementation was essential, as was a strengthened global partnership. With a framework shaped by the Forum, the task at hand was to ensure that it could serve effectively as the follow-up and review mechanism of the 2030 Agenda. Deliberations must lead to concrete action, he said, with the ultimate goal of supporting countries with national implementation based on their actual needs.
KRISTIAN JENSEN, Minister for Finance of Denmark, associating himself with the European Union and noting that his country was presenting its voluntary national review this year, urged other countries to follow suit. Denmark’s sustainable development action plan reflected the universality of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, noting that the world needed to take bold action to implement those Goals “sooner rather than later”. The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement were key to accelerating the economic and social transformation that would be needed to preserve the common future of all people. “You cannot win with half the team sitting on the bench,” he stressed, emphasizing the importance of achieving the targets associated with Goal 5 on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Expressing Denmark’s commitment to respecting and promoting the rights of women and girls — including their rights to decide on their own bodies — he described efforts to ensure access to contraception and to legal and safe abortion, including in humanitarian settings.
MOMODU L. KARGBO, Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development of Sierra Leone, associating himself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, described extreme poverty and multidimensional deprivations as his country’s main development challenges. While the number of people in the country who lived in extreme poverty had fallen, it still stood at about 14 per cent of the population. Outlining various Government policies aimed at supporting its vulnerable population — including cash transfers to war survivors and war widows — he went on to describe Sierra Leone’s annual $350 million food import bill as “unacceptable”. The county was therefore pursuing a “Made in Sierra Leone” agenda aimed a meeting its own consumption needs, he said, also citing efforts to boost its domestic revenue position and curb illicit financial flows.
GEORGE GYAN-BAFFOUR, Minister for Planning of Ghana, said alignment, adaptation and adoption strategies were geared towards implementing the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 by incorporating them into the long-term national development plan. Going forward, the plan must be fully funded by budgetary allocations. The Sustainable Development Goals were an integral part of Ghana’s strategy and efforts had bolstered data collection and action in other sectors. Among a range of efforts, the Government was working towards a national mechanism for monitoring progress. Civil society had been made part of the governance structure to implement the Goals.
LILIAN DARII, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova, said achieving the Goals required a truly global partnership. Amid a range of challenges, efforts were being made to address issues of concern. The Republic of Moldova had mapped the Goals and targets against national policies and strategies. A data ecosystem mapping initiative was now assessing the availability of data and institutional monitoring capacity. A new partnership framework had been signed for the 2018-2022 period and joint initiatives, including projects with UNDP and with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, were tackling other challenges.
ALEXANDER DE CROO, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Post and Telecommunications of Belgium, underlined the potential of the Sustainable Development Goals to unite all stakeholders around clear objectives as well as their emphasis on “building bridges”. The Goals should be achieved for everyone, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, he said, stressing that the Secretary-General’s report should serve as a “wake-up call” in that regard. The total number of people living in extreme poverty remained unacceptably high while least developed countries and fragile countries were largely still left behind. Calling for the urgent reversal of that trend, he said Belgium had committed to allocate, by 2019, at least half of its ODA to those countries. ODA had to be used to leverage innovative sources of financing, including private investments, and should be focused on quality rather than just quantity. Noting that Belgium had been ranked in twelfth place on a recent Sustainable Development Goal Index ranking, he said that work nevertheless remained in such areas as environmental protection, energy transition, attention to lifelong learning and the fight against obesity.
AMY AMBATOBE NYONGOLO, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, described some of the challenges facing his country, noting that extreme poverty was a problem at a time when natural resources were being underused. A national development plan was being finalized, including a strategic framework for sustainable development. To facilitate the 2030 Agenda’s implementation, the Government had taken several steps. But investment and funding was needed, posing another challenge which must be addressed by strengthening technical and financial partnerships. The Government had also signed the Paris Agreement on climate change, which guided national action to build resilience and protect natural resources.