Concluding Session, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Adopts Ministerial Declaration Aimed at Expediting Fulfilment of 2030 Agenda

ECOSOC/6864
19 July 2017
2017 Session, 46th Meeting (PM)

Concluding Session, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Adopts Ministerial Declaration Aimed at Expediting Fulfilment of 2030 Agenda

Language on Multilateral Trading System, Obstacles to Self-Determination of People Living Under Foreign Occupation Retained Following Recorded Votes

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development today adopted a Ministerial Declaration aimed at accelerating the pace of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to lift millions out of poverty, as it closed its 2017 session.

Closing its session on the theme of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges, the Forum, by the Declaration (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2), recognized that achieving the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals required bolstered partnerships and urgent action.

However, some speakers representing blocs of countries expressed regret at the omission of key issues in the Declaration.  Ecuador’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was unfortunate that despite a number of proposals some States had made, there was no mention of harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  Echoing a concern shared by other groups of countries, Estonia’s delegate, speaking for the European Union, said that while the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development, many issues that the bloc had been promoted were absent, among them the root causes of migration and issues such as sexual and reproductive health rights.

High-level officials, by adopting the declaration, recognized that eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity required collective and transformative efforts, putting the furthest behind first.  They also acknowledged that while extreme poverty had fallen globally, progress had been uneven and 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty.

Prior to adopting the Declaration, the Forum decided, by separate recorded vote, to retain two paragraphs.  By a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 4, which called for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continued to adversely affect their economic and social development and their environment.

With 112 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 46 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 21.  That paragraph stated that efforts would continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

The Declaration as a whole, adopted without a vote, addressed a number of 2030 Agenda-related issues, touching upon the 17 Goals.  Stressing that climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, it also recognized pressing challenges to achieve Goals related to gender equality, food insecurity and the role infrastructure, industry and innovation could play in transforming and improving the quality of life for millions.

In terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Declaration stated “there can be no effective implementation, or accountability to our citizens, where no awareness exists.”  It also emphasized the need to take appropriate action towards localizing and communicating all the Goals from grassroots to national levels.

That notion was addressed during the ministerial segment, when ministers and other high-level officials shared experiences and fresh ideas for turning the 2030 Agenda into reality in their countries.  Maria Luisa Navarro, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, summed up a common thread of the day’s discussion, saying “you can govern in a way that reduces poverty” as she pointed to a range of national initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.

Many speakers from developing countries underlined the importance of partnerships in advancing progress on achieving the Goals.  Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized.  To change that, the international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.

Some speakers underlined the need to foster change and progress in other areas of concern, including gender equality and climate change.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” said Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland.  That translated into implementing the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance and as a road map for domestic action.

Likewise, William Amos of Canada said domestic action had been aligned with the Goals.  Abroad, Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and was executing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address gender inequality.

Throughout the day, the Council heard voluntary national reviews from representatives of Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Maldives, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Belize, Denmark, Togo, Iran, Cyprus, Botswana, Qatar, Slovenia, Tajikistan and El Salvador.

Participating in the general debate of the ministerial segment were ministers and other senior officials for Cyprus, Sweden, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Estonia, Brazil, Argentina, Sudan, Morocco, Croatia, Hungary, United States, Kenya, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Georgia, Latvia, Algeria, France, Colombia and China.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, 20 July to continue its high-level segment.

General Debate

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that empirical evidence had shown that countries and regions that had successfully developed their manufacturing sector had made spectacular progress in poverty reduction.  In developing countries, sustainable industrialization had enabled lasting and inclusive economic growth.  It had also significantly helped to reduce poverty, end hunger, create decent jobs and income, and reduce inequalities.  Unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized. 

To get on the path to economic transformation, least developed countries must overcome challenges such as low industrial capacity, lack of access to appropriate technology and knowledge, inadequate capacity to ensure high-quality environmental standards in industry, and the difficulty of attracting investment in nascent industry, he continued.  The international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.  He highlighted the role of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in assisting developing countries in designing and implementing industrial policies and enhancing local productive capacities.  However, despite its unique role, the organization had witnessed a decreasing membership over the past years, he added, calling for a reversal of that trend.

NICOS KOUYIALIS, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, said the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals were not binding did not relieve the international community from the responsibility to work towards their implementation.  Action must be taken through national development strategies and the appropriate resource mobilization.  That must include the involvement of civil society and the private sector.  He outlined several national programmes aimed at development of the social, tourism, and rural sectors.  Further to the national policies, Cyprus recognized its role in regional cooperation for achieving a number of targets, primarily Goal 14 on seas and oceans.  Cyprus had taken the initiative with Greece and Israel to draft an action plan that aimed to address marine pollution from oil spills.

ARDALAN SHEKARABI, Minister for Public Administration of Sweden, said that delivering on the agenda required leadership.  He added that Sweden’s foreign policy on gender equality was based on four Rs:  rights, representation, resources, and reality. It advocated reproduction rights and gender equality as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.  Sweden remained the largest donor per capita to the Green Climate Fund.  “We cannot afford to leave our people and our planet behind,” he continued, adding that leadership was about sharing the burden.  The Ocean Conference in June had stimulated cooperation and partnerships, which were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.  Decent work contributed to reducing inequality, he added.  Solutions to challenges could be found in many places, including within the United Nations and other international organizations as well as regional platforms.

ÁLVARO GARCÍA, Minister of Budget and Planning of Uruguay, said that no matter how small a country was, it could still implement change that could affect humanity for the better.  The Sustainable Development Goals had become national objectives that required State cooperation.  Uruguay was working in a cross-cutting fashion across its ministries, which had all committed to implementing the targets.  “We must work as a collective, hand-in-hand if we are to achieve the goals established,” he added, emphasising the need to work with civil society.  Additionally, the academic sphere had a critical role to play in identifying the root causes of poverty.  The private sector and official development assistance (ODA) were both imperative in filling national capacity gaps.  Development was multifaceted, he added.

PATRICK A. CHINAMASA, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe, said the Sustainable Development Goals represented a way to address core challenges, including infrastructure and economic growth.  As such, the Goals had been integrated into national plans.  Recognizing the need for partnerships was a key to achieving progress and national efforts were benefiting from collaboration with partners in the areas of health, gender equality and sustainable development.  National priorities were also informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and other relevant strategies.

ADO LOHMUS, Deputy Minister for Environment of Estonia, emphasized the importance of science, technology and innovation.  In that vein, the Government was operating programmes to ensure progress in those areas, including by working towards creating a digital society and supporting e-Government initiatives.  Smart e-solutions were not limited by borders and cooperation and coordination was needed on a global scale.  Pointing at the textile industry as an example, he said efforts should be made to reduce pollution levels and foster solutions.

MARIA LUISA NAVARRO, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, said national efforts had been presented in the voluntary review process.  “You can govern in a way that reduces poverty,” she said, pointing to initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.  Panama had worked to ensure the better mobilization of finances and strengthened institutions to maintain competitiveness.  It had also made progress in complying with international fiscal standards, bringing in domestic legislation in that regard.  Panama was moving from being a recipient to being a donor and could not afford to see any gains reversed.  A major goal now was to ensure that more women and girls participated in the process.

JOSE ANTONIO MARCONDES DE CARVALHO, Vice-Minister for Environment, Energy, Service and Technology of Brazil, said establishing a national framework for implementing the Goals was essential.  Relevant public policies and action would guide the way to ensure that no one was left behind.  Going forward, inclusive approaches were needed.  Brazil, emerging from a recession, was now working to restore order in public finance in a way that would have a positive impact on employment levels.  The Forum had provided an opportunity for Brazil to focus on finding solutions, with the 2030 Agenda being a road map.  All stakeholders must now adjust actions with a view to achieving the Goals set the 2030 Agenda.

GABRIELA AGOSTO, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies of Argentina, said Latin America was the most unequal region in the world.  The 2030 Agenda enshrined a commitment applicable to all nations.  Argentina would continue to work toward achieving the 2030 Agenda and share its national experience.  The 2030 Agenda required the participation of national Governments, the business sector, civil society and the academic world.  Developing nations needed support in technology and in enhancing capabilities.  She noted the formation of a national cabinet whose ultimate goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the need for public institutions which were democratic and inclusive.  Achieving gender equality and empowering women was a top goal for Argentina, she said, outlining several initiatives including one that made it easier for women to enter the labour market.  She added that the most vulnerable people must be empowered.

IBRAHIM ADAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED, State Minister of Welfare and Social Security of the Sudan, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and the African Group, said that his Government had implemented a comprehensive framework for development, peace and prosperity.  Sudan had not been able to implement all of its goals but had set up a national mechanism to follow up on the progress.  It also established a five-year economic reform plan and economic policies in favour of disadvantaged people.  A fund had been set up to protect women and children.  Food security remained a focus both at the national and regional levels, he continued, adding that his country had been focused on development for many years.  However, unilateral sanctions, the burden of debt, illegal migration, desertification and internal displacement hampered Sudan’s capacity.  “We need external assistance,” he added.

NEZHA EL OUAFI, Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development of Morocco, said that while efforts had been made to implement the 2030 Agenda, many challenges persisted.  They required the international community’s attention and action.  “By 2030, we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals but everyone needs to get on board,” she added.  Morocco was working in the legislative and legal spheres to protect the environment.  Setting up a green economy by 2030 required increasing the use renewable electricity.  She also stressed the need to combat all forms of discrimination against women.  All stakeholders must be involved, including the private sector and representatives of civil society.

AMIR MUHAREMI, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said that as a Mediterranean country, Croatia was keen on protecting ocean, sea and marine resources.  There were several challenges, including growing urbanization of coastal areas, overfishing and global climate change.  It was critical to keep increasing the level of knowledge and introduction of new marine technologies.  Peace was a prerequisite to eliminating poverty, he added, also pledging his country’s continued fight against chronic non-communicable diseases.  Croatia also aimed to promote healthy lifestyles.  Ending hunger required tackling the great amount of food waste, he said, adding that Croatia was actively helping develop European Union guidelines in facilitating food donations.

ANDREW DOYLE, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland, said 2030 Agenda was being implemented domestically and with partners abroad.  Developing country partners’ efforts were being supported, using the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” he said, noting the detrimental effects on fragile States and vulnerable groups.  “As challenges for poor communities intensify, Ireland will continue to focus in particular on action to help such communities to adapt and, in the longer term, to end extreme poverty, hunger and undernutrition by 2030.”

FERENC DANCS, Deputy Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said national implementation steps included determining priorities and strategies to ensure a sustainable future.  Hungary held conferences on related issues, including trafficking and child labour, to examine ways to address challenges.  Several new policies had aimed at, among other things, strengthening child-care services and employment.  Gains had also been made in health-related areas.  Abroad, Hungary was helping developing countries in their effort to lift people out of poverty.

WILLIAM AMOS, Member of Parliament of Canada, said domestic priorities were aligned with the Goals and included investing in infrastructure, renewing a relationship with indigenous peoples and reaching gender balance targets.  Abroad, Canada was implementing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address inequality.  Priority areas included promoting respect for sexual and reproductive health rights and women’s economic rights.  Turning to climate change, he said Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Moving forward on all the Goals, innovative and new ways must address financing gaps to ensure the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

NERISSA COOK, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations of the United States, underlined the importance of identifying steps required for progress.  Efforts must ensure that the United Nations system remained effective, she said, calling on the Organization to better coordinate its work.  “We need a new way of doing business,” she said, one that would lead to cost-cutting and more results.  Reduction of overlap must occur and there must be a push to stop the tired, stale debates at United Nations Headquarters and focus on those in need.  Initial progress had been seen, but more should be done to make the United Nations even better than it was with regard to achieving development goals.

WILSON IRUNGU NYAKERA, Principal Secretary, State Department for Planning, Ministry of Devolution of Kenya, said Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s long-term development blueprint, mirrored the 2030 Agenda.  Underscoring the need for quality, reliable and timely data, he said that Kenya was building the capacity of its Bureau of Statistics to allow for effective reporting on the implementation of the Goals.  Kenya continued to put in place targeted economic empowerment programmes aimed at specific segments of the population, particularly the youth, women and persons living with disabilities.  To ensure universal access to comprehensive health care, the National Hospital Insurance Fund had been reformed to include the introduction of free maternal health in all public health facilities and to address disparities among regions.  In addition, the country had adopted a devolved system of Government that had decentralized both services and resources to the subnational levels.  Kenya recognized the critical role of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation in the achievement of its long-term development goals and had instituted programmes to empower youth to enable them to participate effectively in productive economic activities.

ALENA SABELOVA, Director-General, Office of the Government of Slovakia, said the world did not have the “luxury to even waste one day” in the fight against poverty.  It was clear that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would require open minds in the area of policymaking.  While progress had been made, there was still a long way to go.  Slovakia was ready to carry its sustainable development responsibilities in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.  The Government had already adopted a national strategy with help from the academic sector and it would convene next week to discuss a road map for achieving the 2030 Agenda.  Slovakia’s national framework aimed to engage all stakeholders, particularly civil society.  “No real progress can be achieved without paying attention to those most in need,” she added.  A complex review mechanism, soon to be introduced, would help ensure that resources were being used in the most effective manner.

JEONG JINKYU, Director-General of the Development Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, noted efforts to improve domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda as well as the country’s efforts to help developing nations achieve the Goals.  The Republic of Korea was deeply interested in providing assistance to the most vulnerable, although efforts to combat poverty, however laudable, would fall well short of achieving prosperity without fairness, justice and equal opportunities for all.  Government efforts alone would not be enough to realize the vision of poverty eradication, and in that context the private sector’s contribution to and participation in development cooperation was of great importance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT of the United Kingdom, associating himself with the European Union, said no task was more urgent than eradicating extreme poverty.  However, Governments alone would not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We need the private sector to be there with us,” he said.  Meeting the goals also depended highly on how the multilateral system responded to global challenges.  The United Kingdom would continue to aid those caught in crises and at risk of violence.  It would also strengthen its work on gender equality and boost its focus on helping persons with disabilities and combating child exploitation.  He stressed the need to deepen understanding of vulnerable populations and partner with civil society and the private sector.  Delivering a short statement on behalf of the Champions of Women’s Economic Empowerment, comprising 17 Member States, he said more must be done to address the gender opportunity gap worldwide. Governments must push structural change, he continued, encouraging Member States to consider the group’s recommendations in their national plans.

NINO TKHILAVA, Head of the Department of Environment Policy and International Relations, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, said his Government had recently established a council that brought together task forces committed to planning, monitoring and evaluating policy.  Georgia had also improved the environment for entrepreneurs and was promoting green growth.  It was also taking specific measures to alleviate extreme poverty, including with a social assistance programme which provided cash benefits for those living in extreme poverty.  Georgia had also taken steps to expand access to health care with a programme that covered the basic package of planned and emergency in-and-out-patient clinical care, including oncology and maternity services.  On the agriculture front, the Government was working to foster competitiveness and it was promoting the steady growth of high-quality food production.  Georgia was also focused on ways to ensure gender equality and empower women.

MARA SIMANE, Adviser, Cross-sectoral Coordination Centre, Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia, associating herself with the European Union, said that the time had come for pragmatic action.  That meant mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda into national budgets and plans.  Latvia had created its own development programme in 2010, under which it fully supported policy coherence, the effective use of resources and building synergies.  However, to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, strengthened United Nations action would be vitally important.  Latvia continued to support the targets on gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies as those Goals accelerated achievement of all the other ones.  Latvia also supported public sector reform and combating corruption.  She noted the 2030 Agenda’s universal nature and said that today’s global challenges transcended borders.  In the same vein, results would depend on attention to detail and leaders who could make critical choices, she added.  

BELHIMEUR MERZAK, Director-General of International Economic and Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said that it was up to the international community to gain consensus and overcome inertia and procrastination.  Eradicating poverty was a top priority in his country’s development policies, he continued, adding that Algeria had achieved almost all the Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 deadline.  In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, Algeria had set up a national strategy with human well-being at its centre.  Social programmes aimed to protect the most vulnerable by combating the negative impacts of natural disasters, building low-cost housing, and helping young people find jobs. Implementing the 2030 Agenda would require international commitment, particularly in Africa where 40 per cent of the population still lived in poverty.  The United Nations had a major role to play in raising-awareness and advocacy.

HATEM CHAKROUN (France) said national and international efforts included steps such as building a Sustainable Development Goals’ community and selecting indicators most relevant for domestic action.  The 2030 Agenda was a new social contract aimed at getting all stakeholders involved.  Succeeding in energy, environmental and territorial efforts were essential to protect the planet.  France had launched an appeal in June to call for a new global pact for the environment.  That pact would render ongoing efforts easier because all related principles would be enshrined in one text.  Climate partners must strengthen their collective efforts to ensure future success.

MARIA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said ambitious results must be achieved and greater action was needed to achieve genuine sustainable development.  Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would make a decisive contribution towards achieving the Goals, including respecting their sexual and reproductive rights.  If that happened, the global economy would be more dynamic.  Without an international environment that fostered the movement of financial flows, it would be impossible to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  In addition, all stakeholders must participate in what should be an inclusive effort.

LIU JIEYI (China) said development must be a priority and countries needed to align their strategies with the 2030 Agenda.  Major international cooperative initiatives should help countries in their efforts to move ahead and States must work towards a global partnership.  Developed countries must honour their aid commitments and provide more access to assistance for other countries.  All countries must work to create a new type of international relations concerning climate change issues.  For its part, China was taking steps to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Action on Ministerial Declaration

The Forum then turned to the ministerial declaration on the theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2).  A vote was requested on operative paragraph 4.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said he called for a vote due to the politicized language contained in the paragraph.  Such language aimed to single out Israel and shine a spotlight on a highly controversial issue that did not belong in the Economic and Social Council.  Israel had constructively engaged in the Forum’s informal negotiations and opposed making the Forum yet another political battleground against Israel.

By a recorded vote of 104 in favour, to eight against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, operative paragraph 4 was retained. 

Another recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 21, with the results as follows:  112 in favour to one against (United States), with 46 abstentions, which meant the paragraph was retained.  

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Mexico said it was absurd to reiterate the fact that the rights of women and children were human rights.  Some delegations felt uncomfortable speaking of gender equality and the empowerment of women.  “We cannot understand why people do not understand that without women and girls our societies could not grow or prosper,” he added.  It was skewed practice to analyse one group of goals rather than all of them together.  He expressed support for paragraph 21.  Noting that some delegations were trying to change the Addis Ababa Action Plan, he said it was not the right place nor time to reopen what had already been agreed.  The Paris Agreement on climate change must be upheld as well.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, reaffirmed support to the World Trade Organization.  Public policy and mobilizing the effective use of domestic resources was central to the common pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Plan, core objectives to meeting those goals were omitted from the Ministerial Declaration.  It was for that reason his country and others had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Japan, in explanation of vote, said his country had not broken the silence procedure as it accepted the draft as a whole, though some parts were not satisfactory.  Paragraph 21 was not balanced and had focused too much on economic models.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized the importance of self-determination and sovereignty.  Unfortunately, several issues of concern did not appear in the Ministerial Declaration, including issues such as harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  On the means of implementation, the text had not included fundamental issues such as acknowledgement of the need to have an economically enabling environment and the need for States to honour their ODA obligations.  However, the Group had supported the text to demonstrate its commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development.  Yet, many issues that the bloc had promoted were absent.  He regretted to say that there was no mention of the root causes of migration.  Even though references to gender equality appeared early in the text, he expressed dissatisfaction in the way the issue was handled.  For instance, paragraph 17 did not align with Goal 5.  The 2030 Agenda had already identified Goal 5.3, 5.6 and 5.8 as integral to progress.  Leaving out issues such as sexual and reproductive rights was not acceptable.

The representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China as well as the Alliance of Small Island States, said that while the outcome document was not perfect, it best reflected consensus after weeks of consultations.  Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it was important to be conscious of the fact that “time is not on our side”.  Small island developing States required particular support and assistance as they worked to achieve the 2030 Agenda as well as the Samoa Pathway.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Albania, Andorra Iceland, Monaco and New Zealand, said the language on Goal 5 on empowering women and girls departed from the 2030 Agenda.  The 2030 Agenda had recognized the link between achieving both gender equality and sustainable development, she continued, expressing concern that the elimination of harmful practices carried out against women and girls was omitted from the Declaration.  Such language was essential as women continued to be denied their basic human rights.  While she had joined today’s consensus, that “did not mean we accept a weakening of what we agreed to”.  It was imperative that Member States demonstrate the highest calibre of leadership.

The representative of Canada remained concerned that the Declaration’s language failed to reflect what was agreed in the 2030 Agenda.  When leaders gathered in New York in 2015 they committed to taking steps to give women equal rights.  Those commitments remained as critical as ever to “leaving no one behind”.  An estimated $28 trillion was missing from global gross domestic product (GDP) because no country had yet managed to achieve gender equity.  Women and girls deserved to have the same opportunity as men and boys.  Women and girls continued to be subjected to discrimination and violence and did not have access to information they needed to make healthy decisions.

The representative of the United States said she joined Israel in voting against operative paragraph 4 because some Member States had attempted to politicize sustainable development.  On operative paragraph 21 and its mention of the World Trade Organization, she said it was not appropriate for United Nations members to comment on the membership of another international organization, particularly one that was not part of the United Nations.  The United States disassociated itself from portions of paragraph 7 referring to climate change.  She noted President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and reiterated her Government’s openness to renegotiating a text that would be beneficial to the United States.  She also expressed disappointment that trafficking in persons was not mentioned in the Declaration and that women and girls had not been referenced earlier.

The representative of Switzerland said more must be done to avoid holding recorded votes on parts of such declarations.  Switzerland supported some passages of the text on which votes had been called, he said, emphasizing that gender equality and trade were important issues and calling on all delegates to spare no effort to ensure consensus in the future.

The representative of Morocco regretted the absence in the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda’s recognition of territorial integrity, yet in the interest of consensus his delegation had supported the Declaration.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the Declaration reflected interests in a balanced way, disagreed with attempts to interpret issues or to add new points to them.  He regretted to say that for two years, the Forum had been unable to avoid holding recorded votes on paragraphs, as it had today.  That trend would have a negative impact on the perception of the Forum as a platform to implement the Goals, he said, encouraging all States to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Venezuela emphasized the importance of the sovereign and permanent management of natural resources by States and rejected the pillaging of resources in cases of occupation.  Unfortunately, the Palestinian people and those living under foreign occupation could not benefit from their natural resources, he said, also calling for an end of unilateral and coercive economic policies.

The representative of France underscored a legal point, emphasizing that all rights must be enjoyed by all people and not just a few.

For information media. Not an official record.