Reinvigorating the Resident Coordinator system and ushering in a new generation of United Nations country teams would be essential for the Organization to support Member States in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the Economic and Social Council heard today as it opened its 2018 operational activities for development segment.
Over three days, the Council would discuss the Secretary‑General’s proposals for repositioning the United Nations development system to deliver on the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its pledge to leave no one behind in the quest to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
Delivering opening remarks, Secretary‑General António Guterres said the United Nations was focused on building a system that was demand‑driven, oriented around achieving results at scale, and accountable in providing support to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The United Nations development system should be accountable at both the country and global level, he said, adding that a proposed funding compact would provide the system with the resources and the flexibility it needed to deliver — in exchange for more transparency and accountability for results.
Elaborating, Deputy Secretary‑General Amina J. Mohammed emphasized the importance of strengthening the Resident Coordinator system in order to support the 2030 Agenda in a cohesive, effective, accountable and efficient manner. “Being a Resident Coordinator is one of the most challenging jobs in the United Nations,” she said, noting how they pulled together the collective efforts of United Nations country teams with limited resources and capacities while serving as trusted advisers to Governments.
Under the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals, Resident Coordinators would be given the authority, staff and access to funding needed to steer country teams and improve accountability, she said. Their profile and function would be made clear, and they would be strong development professionals — chosen through a strengthened appointment process, with the skill sets needed to lead by substance. Granting more authority to Resident Coordinators would mean a more accountable United Nations development system on the ground — one that would be more responsive to national needs and more capable of delivering meaningful results, she said. It would not, however, reduce the prerogative for national Governments to set priorities or choose between development system entities.
She went on to say that the United Nations development system today relied too much on personalities and goodwill. “We need to institutionalize what works, across the board,” she said, recalling also the Secretary‑General’s proposal for predictable funding. A more robust coordinator function, at only about 1 per cent of annual contributions for operational activities for development, would bring value for money, she added, introducing the Resident Coordinators on the panels as “real champions of our work, wearing single, double and triple hats”.
Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve (Belgium), Vice‑President of the Economic and Social Council, said upholding the 2030 Agenda’s promises called for a more integrated, effective, efficient and responsible development system — in short, a system “fit for purpose”. Thanking the Secretary‑General for his leadership, vision and determination to overcome a difficult challenge, he said it now was up to Member States to boldly demonstrate the will to transform the development system.
Echoing that view, Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia), Vice‑President of the General Assembly, said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals hinged in no small part on the United Nations ability to deliver. It must be up to the task, and that was why repositioning discussions were so important. He conveyed the President of the General Assembly’s intention to promote Member State ownership of development reforms, adding that further action on the Secretary‑General’s proposals should proceed at the Assembly level through intergovernmental negotiations.
The morning featured a panel discussion focusing on the Secretary‑General’s proposal for a new generation of United Nations country teams, featuring Resident Coordinators based in Barbados, Tajikistan and Cabo Verde. In an interactive discussion with Member States, they discussed a range of topics, including country team innovation, working methods regarding implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, data- and evidence‑based decision‑making, and the role of non‑resident agencies, among other matters.
A second panel discussion in the afternoon threw the spotlight on a reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system that would better support needs in the field. It featured presentations from Resident Coordinators based in Sudan, Peru and, via videoconference, Afghanistan, as well as representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
At the end of the afternoon, a third panel took up the question of strengthening partnerships and stakeholder engagement. Representatives of the United Nations Global Compact, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the International Chamber of Commerce and the Global Policy Forum exchanged views with delegates on how empowered Resident Coordinators and a new generation of country teams could function as a one‑stop shop for external partners.
In other business, the Council decided today to postpone to its 2019 session consideration of its agenda sub‑item titled “South‑South cooperation for development”, after the General Assembly, through resolution 71/318, decided to postpone the twentieth session of the High‑level Committee on South‑South Cooperation — which was to be held this year — to June 2019.
The Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 28 February, to continue its operational activities segment.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), Vice‑President of the Economic and Social Council, said this year’s session would take stock of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/243 on the United Nations operational activities for development and discuss the Secretary‑General’s proposals to reposition the Organization’s development system in order to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Upholding the promises in that Agenda would require a development system that was more integrated, effective, efficient and responsible — in short, “fit for purpose”. Thanking the Secretary‑General for his leadership, vision and determination to overcome a difficult challenge, he said it now was up to Member States to boldly demonstrate the will to transform the development system.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said that the ambitious 2030 Agenda required an ambitious change in the way the Organization operated. That was why proposals to reposition the United Nations development system were founded on the creation of a new generation of country teams to support countries, reinforce national leadership and advance national ownership for sustainable development. The Organization was focused on building a system that was demand‑driven, oriented around achieving results at scale, and accountable in providing support to achieve the 2030 Agenda. It was working to support regional integration and to address transboundary opportunities and challenges in tune with reality and country needs.
The Secretary‑General said a set of adjustments had been proposed at the global level to make United Nations operations more cohesive, effective, and efficient, and he had launched a series of work streams to strengthen the capacity of the Organization to harness the power of partnership. The United Nations development system should be accountable at both the country and global level. Creation of a funding compact had also been proposed, to give the system the resources and the flexibility it needed to deliver, in exchange for more transparency and accountability for results.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), Vice‑President of the General Assembly, said that the issues to be discussed during the session were high on the agendas of Member States. During the general debate last September, 118 Member States spoke about the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals. The achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals depended heavily on the ability of the United Nations to deliver. It must be up to the task, and that was why repositioning discussions were so important. The President of the General Assembly would promote Member State ownership of the reforms; he had followed reform discussions and the briefing by the Secretary‑General and Deputy Secretary‑General closely, and had heard views during the Economic and Social Council consultations on the way forward. The President of Economic and Social Council had written to the General Assembly President to convey the general agreement that there must be further action on the Secretary‑General’s proposals through an intergovernmental negotiations process. That process should be done through the General Assembly, he stressed.
Panel Discussion I
The Council then held a panel discussion on the theme “Perspectives from the field: Building a new generation of United Nations country teams”. Moderated by Mr. Pecsteen de Buytswerve, it featured presentations by Stephen O’Malley, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Barbados; Pratibha Mehta, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Tajikistan; and Ulrika Richardson, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Cabo Verde.
Mr. O’MALLEY said the six country teams in the eastern Caribbean saw an opportunity several years ago to develop a regional strategy, in consultation with Member States, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and others. Among the issues which had to be addressed was the fact that United Nations entities had no common footprint in the region — some covered particular Member States, others covered the Caribbean as a whole. Moreover, smaller Member States wanted to be sure that a regional approach would not forget them, while bigger Member States did not want regional programming that did not address their own needs. Consultations with Member States aimed at identifying regional gains while allowing for national specificities. Significant commonalities existed across the region, as well as country‑by‑country differences that must be considered for successful programming.
Ms. MEHTA said the United Nations presence in Tajikistan began with the monitoring of peace agreements after that country’s civil war. Now it was a mix of development and humanitarian agencies, among others, most of them co‑located in a single United Nations House with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) acting as the back office for several agencies. Now was a good time for the country team to reflect on the way forward, in the context of reform discussions. It was clear that country teams, in order to support integrated and scaled‑up Sustainable Development Goal solutions, must strike a balance between project management skills, on the one hand, and policy and analytic skills on the other, while tapping into technological innovation. She underscored the need to expand the capacities of Resident Coordinators in order to move towards more substantive coordination and integration, in the form of a Sustainable Development Goals coordinator or a development economist who could facilitate technical work. She went on to emphasize that, given the scope of the Goals, it would be necessary to go beyond the United Nations agencies present in Tajikistan to include other partners, making use of different comparative advantages.
Ms. RICHARDSON said that the United Nations presence in that country was set up as a joint office, and after 10 years it had become a prototype of a modular, flexible presence, housed in one structure that combined and gathered agencies. At the beginning there were four agencies in the pilot, and then three. There was one set of business procedures and one back office structure provided by UNDP, which made for a cost‑effective presence. There was one representative, who represented the agencies equally and also served as the Resident Coordinator. The office also had a “one country programme” based on and integrated with the pillars of the 2030 Agenda, which was much better placed to address multidimensional challenges. The programme document helped to address the Sustainable Development Goals. Its funding was based on a pre‑established prorated formula.
In the ensuing discussion, the panel took questions and heard comments on such topics as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, as well as how multi‑agency offices operated, the role of Governments in decision‑making processes and the developing roles of country teams and how they worked specifically in small island developing States. They also asked about the role of the Vienna and Istanbul Programmes of Action, and whether UNDP was collecting a fee for its back office work for other agencies that shared an office.
Ms. RICHARDSON said that on the composition of her joint office, it was created with four agencies: UNDP, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Food Programme (WFP), the latter of which left after a few years after completing its mission. On whether UNDP had an overhead fee for its services, she said it did not. In addition to the three agencies still there, there were also many non‑resident agencies operating in Cabo Verde. On the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the country programme was created with the full leadership of the Government. It was not a short process behind closed doors, but rather a six‑month consultation at the local and national level. There were challenges to running a joint office and Cabo Verde’s example was ground‑breaking, but it was a good prototype for a single United Nations office that respected the mandates of each agency.
Ms. MEHTA said that the Development Assistance Framework was a subset of national development strategies that all Governments produced, and the United Nations often supported the development of those strategies. That was where harmonization should take place. On the Vienna Programme of Action, its priorities were already aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a lot of intergovernmental commitments were already part of the goals. On the role of Government in Development Assistance Framework preparation, she said that the preparation was a joint process of the United Nations and Government. In Tajikistan there was a joint steering committee that reviewed results every year against the Development Assistance Framework, and the Government was involved in annual planning retreats. In terms of staffing, the ratio of national and international was 90 to 10 per cent respectively, and the office was moving towards recruiting local capacity.
Mr. O’MALLEY said that the first Development Assistance Framework for Barbados was a subregional framework that was started in 2012 and ran to 2016, and which covered 10 countries. The multi‑country sustainable framework covered 18 countries; it was developed in consultation with and had been signed by all those countries. It was aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Samoa Pathway. He was also looking at the option of going as a country team to individual countries at the same time to have a more substantive dialogue.
Regarding the kind of help the Resident Coordinator Office needed for reform, he said that monitoring and evaluation was vital, as was the ability to be accountable for what it delivered. He also noted the special vulnerability of small island developing States regarding analysis and dissemination of statistics. In terms of reforms, he said he would not distinguish between the multi‑country setting and the single office. The principles were the same for United Nations agencies working together and delivering what the countries needed.
The panellists were then asked further questions on topics such as country team innovation, working methods regarding implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, data and evidence‑based decision‑making, as well as the role of non‑resident agencies, among other matters.
Ms. MEHTA said that in terms of a platform for the Goals, there had been support for creating a technical group within the Government of Tajikistan to support the Goals. The office had also initiated mapping of vulnerabilities with the help of the Government and nine United Nations agencies. It was important to focus on how to become more effective and to design reform processes around that. Coordination and integration required different tools, skill sets and kinds of accountability. The Goals required an integrated approach. The agencies needed incentives to work together and change behaviour and work culture. The Resident Coordinator function was critical to help offices deliver the Sustainable Development Goals in an integrated manner. On the Goal platform, she said it was not yet an operational objective but it was being assessed in the field.
Mr. O’MALLEY said that on innovation, there was a youth engagement proposal being developed that would go to the United Nations internal innovation fund, particularly for disaster risk reduction. There were some shortcomings on responses to online platforms and there were some limitations to social media. On the role of the non‑resident agencies, he said that his Office invited them to every meeting it had. Partners were essential if the Sustainable Development Goals were to be achieved. On evidence‑based decision‑making and data, he said there were a number of programmes that tried to boost data in certain areas. Regarding the reform process, there needed to be a focus on results.
Ms. RICHARDSON said that the Sustainable Development Goals framework was enriching in the development of the Development Assistance Framework. On the Goals and their implementation, she said there was constant consultation with Governments. In the case of Cabo Verde, the oceans and the blue economy were a new area of priority. “Leaving no one behind” had also made its way into the national planning. On budget support partners, she said that in Cabo Verde, there had been increased discussion between the budget support group and other development partners, and that had been helpful in order to provide a more integrated approach to the work. Cabo Verde was also setting up a platform to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals.
The representatives of Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Iran, Paraguay, Belarus, Bangladesh (on behalf of the least developed countries), Brazil, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Nauru (on behalf of the small island developing States), Switzerland, Morocco, Thailand, Norway, Cuba, Canada, South Africa, Netherlands, China, Germany, Australia, Cabo Verde, Malaysia and Egypt (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) participated in the discussion.
Panel Discussion II
In the afternoon, the Council held a panel discussion on the theme “In support of the field: A reinvigorated, impartial and independent Resident Coordinator system”. Moderated by Mr. Pecsteen de Buytswerve, it featured a keynote speech by Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary‑General of the United Nations, and presentations by Mourad Wahba, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, UNDP; John Ging, Director, Division for Operations and Advocacy, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs; Marta Ruedas, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Sudan; and Maria del Carmen Sacasa, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Peru.
Ms. MOHAMMED emphasized the importance of strengthening the Resident Coordinator system in order to support the 2030 Agenda in a cohesive, effective, accountable and efficient manner. “Being a Resident Coordinator is one of the most challenging jobs in the United Nations,” she said, noting how they pulled together the collective efforts of United Nations country teams with limited resources and capacities while serving as trusted advisers to Governments. Under the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals, Resident Coordinators would be given the authority, staff and access to funding needed to provide direction for country teams and improve accountability. Their functions would be separated from those of UNDP, thus increasing accountability and transparency while mitigating any possible conflict of interest and allowing the Programme’s leadership to fully focus on sustainable development.
Elaborating further on the Secretary‑General’s proposals, she said a dual reporting system would be put in place to ensure mutual accountability with country teams. Country teams would at the same time still report and remain accountable to their respective entities. In addition, the profile and function of Resident Coordinators would be made clear across all countries. In any context, they must be strong development professionals, chosen through a strengthened appointment process, with the skill sets needed to lead by substance. She emphasized that more authority to Resident Coordinators would mean a more accountable United Nations development system on the ground — one that would be more responsive to national needs and more capable of delivering meaningful results. It would not mean reducing the prerogative for national Governments to set priorities or choose between development system entities.
The United Nations development system today relied too much on personalities and goodwill, she said. “We need to institutionalize what works, across the board,” she said, recalling that the Secretary‑General was also proposing predictable funding for a strengthened Resident Coordinator system. A more robust coordinator function, at only about 1 per cent of annual contributions for operational activities for development, would bring value for money, she added, introducing the Resident Coordinators on the panels as “real champions of our work, wearing single, double and triple hats”.
Ms. RUEDAS said that very often, steps to foster conflict prevention, provide humanitarian assistance and address development needs were overlapping. The challenge was to ensure that each part of the Organization made efforts to build upon the work of others. To make a genuine impact against malnutrition, there must be concerted efforts to join forces across the various work streams of the United Nations and the larger humanitarian community. Maximum results could be realized by working together in a more coordinated, effective fashion to make a genuine dent in achieving the 2030 Agenda in a holistic way. In Sudan, the United Nations was working with the Government, non‑governmental organizations, donors and the private sector to identify the collective, prioritized outcomes with regard to the development goals, which would make the biggest impact on the situation in the country.
Ms. SACASA said that Peru faced unique challenges regarding inequality, poverty and the impacts of climate change. It was one of the 10 most vulnerable countries in the region to climate change. About half of the agencies working in Peru were subregional or regional organizations, each of which brought to bear particular expertise that expanded beyond Peru’s borders. The youth were considered to be an essential part of the country’s sustainable development agenda, and in that regard, there was a need for more disaggregated data to identify the most vulnerable populations. Despite being an upper middle‑income country, the Government was seeking to address malnutrition. The United Nations was working to launch an open web portal that could identify development gaps to allow for more targeted interventions.
Mr. WAHBA said that Resident Coordinators must work closely with peacekeeping missions in countries and ensure there was long‑term development support provided once peacekeeping efforts were completed. Country teams would greatly benefit from working more closely with Member States, particularly with regard to funding. Malnutrition was often not due to the lack of availability of necessary resources, but rather to the inability of citizens to purchase what they needed. There must be an understanding that humanitarian crises continued beyond their initial onset; that reality must also be reflected in medium- and long‑term humanitarian funding, he said. Resident Coordinators saw themselves as impartial and were often directly involved in coordination efforts on the ground.
Mr. GING said that the issue of accountability was one of great importance to the humanitarian community, including how to deliver to those who were in need. In that regard, he noted that there were now clear terms of reference for humanitarian coordinators. There was support for an integrated approach, although it was also important to respect the mechanisms that were there to carry out specific activities on the ground. The key was to establish clarity on what humanitarian actors and others would be held accountable for. At the end of the day, it was about what the international community was there to do to help the people in need. There was a collective responsibility to ensure that the international response on the ground would be focused, unified and coherent in identifying needs and responding to them. At the field level, clarity on roles was of great importance; while on the global level, there was a need for greater dialogue and coherence between leadership.
In the ensuing discussion, the panel heard comments stressing the importance of development as a primary activity for country teams, the need for Resident Coordinators to have sustainable development expertise, and the relevance of clear reporting lines between United Nations country team members and Resident Coordinators. Questions were also posed regarding the economic pillar of the 2030 Agenda, oversight and reporting lines between Resident Coordinators and host countries, and funding for development and humanitarian work, among others.
Ms. SACASA emphasized the importance of the independence and impartiality of Resident Coordinators, as well as their access to the necessary expertise and resources to perform their functions. There were clear accountability mechanisms that were established between her office and the Government in Peru, including regular reporting cycles with clearly defined indicators. Countries must lead development processes, she said, underscoring that the United Nations work must focus on areas where there were gaps. From Headquarters, her office would benefit from a more standardized operational system, better‑defined reporting mechanisms and greater authority over programmes that were being carried out at the local level. These were not necessarily issues of resources, but rather the efficient use of existing capacities.
Ms. RUEDAS said one of the issues that presented great challenges was the earmarked nature of the funding streams that were provided to country teams. Many of the issues that were being dealt with on the ground overlapped with one another, and were neither distinctly humanitarian nor development in nature. Pooled funds were extraordinarily useful when they were properly used and placed at the disposal of country teams, in large part because of their flexibility. She believed that most of the Resident Coordinators brought with them a wide range of skills, which was beneficial due to the dynamic nature of the challenges on the ground.
Mr. WAHBA said that serving as a truly empowered Resident Coordinator with the capacity to lead the different programmes and agencies on the ground was a full‑time job, and did not leave much capacity to serve a “dual hat”. A Resident Coordinator’s authority should not be seen as being separate from that individual’s function, which was to implement a specific programme. On accountability, the results framework was of great importance and allowed the host Government to oversee the role of the Resident Coordinator and measure progress.
Mr. GING said that in a humanitarian setting, the premium was on the ability to make decisions quickly, prioritize activities and quickly adjust and calculate risk. The confidence of colleagues and operational experience was necessary in order to be effective. Across the United Nations, there were staff that possessed those skills, but the challenge was getting the right people in the right place, when they were most needed. The point of departure must be about fulfilling needs, which should be a collective endeavour.
The representatives of Germany, Egypt, Bangladesh, United States, Russian Federation, Morocco, United Kingdom, Cuba, Switzerland, China, Brazil, Australia, Thailand, Norway and Iran participated in the discussion.
The second afternoon panel of the day titled, “Strengthening partnerships and stakeholder engagement”, was moderated by Gavin Power, Deputy Director, United Nations Global Compact. It featured statements by Laurie Manderino, Associate Director, United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Barbara Adams, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Policy Forum; and Andrew Wilson, Permanent Observer to the United Nations, International Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. POWER said that partnerships with the private sector would be essential for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 17. Many of the companies in the Global Compact saw the 2030 Agenda as a partnership agenda. It was clear that there were strong, local, unmet needs for partnership at the country level, and the work of the Global Compact’s local networks was designing partnership pathways within countries. Principles were vital in partnership approaches, and he welcomed the Secretary‑General’s outline of 10 principles. Without principles, partnerships could become public relations exercises, he said.
Ms. MANDERINO said that the Sustainable Development Solutions Network was launched in 2012 to mobilize scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society and the private sector. It was led by a leadership council of global experts. The Network offered support for countries and United Nations country teams by diagnosing challenges, mobilizing stakeholders, hosting participatory dialogues and collecting and monitoring data. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals required transformations in such sectors as energy and food systems. The Network had developed projects to aid those transformation strategies.
Ms. ADAMS said that civil society organizations were natural allies to the United Nations. How the engagement with civil society was facilitated was an essential question. Partnerships were not the primary way that civil society had engaged with the United Nations. Civil society had been active in the 2030 Agenda, but it was an uneven relationship at the country level and with the Regional Coordinators. The Development Assistance Framework was the primary interactive vehicle at that level. One essential question was how to include the key beneficiaries in a partnership modality. The primary way of leveraging resources to implement the Sustainable Development Goals for civil society organizations would be with regard to fair and progressive taxation. Civil society groups would be looking to those to provide essential services. Better clarity in measuring the results of partnerships was also needed.
Mr. WILSON said that the word “gatekeeper” was an interesting concept, as someone who allowed access. But perhaps it was a limited concept regarding what the United Nations offered in terms of partnerships. To be effective, it was not about controlling access to the United Nations but rather how the Organization reached out to businesses in areas where they could add value. The United Nations Office for Partnerships could act as a hub for a business looking to interact with the Organization. If a business had an interest in a particular Sustainable Development Goal, it might not know where to go, and not even know that the Office of Partnerships existed. The United Nations should also go out to the business community.
In the ensuing discussion, the panel took questions and heard comments and questions on topics such as how the private sector could be a source of expertise rather than funding, voluntary partnerships and how the United Nations could help Governments in leveraging partnerships. On the Global Compact, one delegate wished to know more about the role of the private sector within that organization. Another delegate wanted to know what made a good enabling environment for partnerships.
Mr. POWER said that in committing to the Global Compact, companies must submit an annual progress report. Without that, they risked expulsion.
Ms. MANDERINO said that it was helpful to have a task force to assess the integrity of potential partners and the concept of “partner ready” in terms of the willingness to bridge cultural, financial and resource gaps. The United Nations country teams could play a key role in helping to prepare partners on both sides — between a private company and either the United Nations or a Government — and serve as a bridge to help facilitate those partnerships.
Mr. WILSON said that the issue of resource had to be considered alongside the question of expertise. The one‑stop shop would be a facilitator but not involved in every step of the process. On how the private sector was viewed, he said that it was important to look holistically at where businesses across the board could add value, and the different ways they could do so beyond just financing.
Ms. ADAMS said that a new word was needed instead of “partnership” as it might help the conversation. In terms of the comments on expertise, there was expertise in every stakeholder, and all parts of society should be engaged. It was difficult to tap that with a one‑size‑fits‑all approach. On the language in the Secretary‑General’s report, there was a mix of seeking vetting of partners and calling for a pool of partner ready companies. The whole dynamic of being partner ready would change and was not controlled by the United Nations but rather a variety of factors.
The representatives of the United States, Egypt, China, Netherlands, Switzerland, Afghanistan, Germany, Bangladesh (on behalf of the least developed countries), Australia, Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States) and Thailand participated in the discussion.