Delegates Also Take Up Reports on Operational Activities for Development, with Many Expressing Concern over Official Aid Not Meeting Agreed Upon Targets
Least developed nations are not entirely on track to attain the Sustainable Development Goals or eradicate poverty, speakers heard as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up groups of countries in special situations today.
Heidi Schroderus-Fox, Director of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the report on implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 (document A/73/80-E/2018/58) stating slow growth in developing countries is due to elements including weak infrastructural development, natural hazards and low market penetration. The report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024 (document A/73/297) showed landlocked developing countries still only represent 1 per cent of global merchandise trade.
The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that least developed nations have yet to receive the full benefits of globalization. While the world economy rebounded from the economic crisis, 33.7 per cent of their populations lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013, meaning poverty eradication is unlikely by 2030. Malawi’s delegate stated the Group of Least Developed Countries has experienced 4.9 per cent growth, far from the 7 per cent sustainable development target. The representative of China observed that global growth is losing momentum, with protectionism and unilateralism threatening those lagging behind.
Maldives’ representative noted that although 12 least developed nations meet the criteria for graduation to middle-income country status, the General Assembly must use the economic vulnerability index as a benchmark, given post-graduation financial stressors will remain. In that vein, the delegate of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed that per capita income measurements do not always reflect the needs of developing countries. Transparent measures must be employed to reflect progress, recognizing poverty in all its forms and dimensions along with structural gaps and the social, economic and environmental dimensions of domestic production.
Speakers stressed the special needs of specific groups, with the Republic of Moldova’s representative noting that floods, drought and land degradation threaten the fragile progress achieved so far in health, education and energy. Afghanistan’s delegate said his nation remains at the forefront of countering global terrorism, but also faces pervasive and huge infrastructure gaps. The delegate of Paraguay stated implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action is slow and insufficient in many areas, leading to a declining share in international trade in landlocked developing countries.
Many speakers affirmed that developing countries continue to face low productive capacity, commodity export dependence, limited market access and high vulnerability to external shocks. Despite progress in areas, including mobile cellular subscriptions and Internet and broadband coverage, governance and capacity-building, official development assistance (ODA) targets need to be fulfilled. As a result, they called for a major drive by all stakeholders to ensure no one is left behind.
Ms. Schroderus-Fox introduced a report on implementation, effectiveness and added value of smooth transition measures and graduation support (document A/73/291).
Also speaking on groups of countries in special situations were the representatives of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), India, Russian Federation, Morocco, Bhutan, Mongolia, Nepal, Botswana, Ethiopia, Zambia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Angola, Turkey, Yemen and Bolivia. The representative of Chile exercised the right of reply.
In the afternoon, the Committee held a debate on operational activities for development, hearing reports from Marion Barthélemy, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (document A/73/63); Tarik Iziraren, Deputy Director for Policy and Strategic Partnership of the United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation introduced the report on the State of South-South Cooperation (document A/73/321); Keiko Kamioka, of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the Secretary-General’s note containing the “Progress report on the recommendations contained in the review of South-South and triangular cooperation in the United Nations system” (document A/73/311); and Simona Petrova, Secretary and Director of the Chief Executives Board Secretariat, introduced the note by the Secretary-General transmitting comments and those of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the progress report on the recommendations contained in the review of South-South and triangular cooperation in the United Nations system (document A/73/311/Add.1).
Antigua and Barbuda’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, underscored that economic growth, sustainable development and poverty eradication should be the guiding principles for operational activities, which must be flexible and reactive to programme countries’ needs and national policies and priorities. Expressing concern that ODA levels have not met targets and are decreasing despite the importance of funding to small island developing States, he reiterated that development must never use a “one-size approach”. The representative of Chile underscored the importance of South-South cooperation, recalling his country’s initiatives in technical assistance, dialogue and integration. Similarly, the delegate of Saudi Arabia said that his country supports development cooperation, particularly regarding South-South cooperation and among nations of the Middle East.
Also speaking on operational activities for development were representatives of Egypt (for the Group of 77), Viet Nam (for ASEAN), Malawi (for the Group of Least Developed Countries), El Salvador (for CELAC), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Nauru, India, Russian Federation, Cuba, Mexico, Philippines, Belarus, Thailand, Qatar, Sudan, Algeria, Nigeria, China, Nepal, Argentina, Venezuela and Indonesia.
The debate on operational activities will continue at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 23 October.
Groups of Countries in Special Situations
HEIDI SCHRODERUS-FOX, Director of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the report on implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 (document A/73/80-E/2018/58); on implementation, effectiveness and added value of smooth transition measures and graduation support (document A/73/291); and implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for the Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024 (document A/73/297).
There is mixed news for least developed countries, she said, which are not entirely on track to reach development goals and are unlikely to achieve eradication of poverty by 2020. Slow growth is in part due to weak infrastructural development, with the largest employment sector — agriculture — still providing only 26 per cent of value added in gross domestic product (GDP). Infant mortality and youth unemployment remain high, she added, while the number of slum dwellers has decreased but remains a cause for concern. Climatically, natural hazards affected 23 million people, claiming over 1,400 lives, and the past few years have been the warmest on record. She noted significant progress in some areas, including mobile cellular subscriptions and Internet and broadband coverage. Despite some progress in governance and capacity-building, official development assistance (ODA) targets need to be fulfilled and falling commodity prices, especially oil, must be compensated. A major drive by all stakeholders must be stepped up to leave no one behind.
Efforts in eradicating poverty are bearing fruit, with 12 least developed countries reaching targets, with four — Bhutan, Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe and the Solomon Islands — recommended for graduation and several qualifying for graduation consideration by 2021. Continued and revitalized efforts are required, with a package of benefits proposed to incentivize graduation, including analysis of graduation challenges, capacity-building, increasing awareness of credit ratings, enhancing technical abilities and assembling stakeholders to provide a platform for potential graduates.
Landlocked developing countries also exhibit mixed results in achieving Sustainable Development Goals, still only representing 1 per cent of global merchandise trade, she continued. To date, 24 of 26 have ratified the World Trade Organization (WTO) trade facilitation agreement. The African Continental Free Trade Area and China-led Belt and Road Initiative are among those providing opportunities, but ODA remains insufficient to address huge infrastructural needs. She noted the need for deepened regional integration and regional review meetings, while an international think tank for landlocked developing countries is a progressive move.
In a question and answer session that followed, Jorge Skinner-Klée (Guatamala), Chair of the Second Committee, asked how statistics are used to determine graduation. Responding, the representative of Malawi said that there are three criteria for graduation, although graduating least developed countries are at risk of depleting their specific benefit packages. Ms. Schroderus-Fox concurred that the process is challenging, and the United Nations should explore better support efforts.
MAHMOUD EL ASHMAWY (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said least developed nations have yet to receive the full benefits of globalization. While the world economy rebounded from the economic crisis, those nations continued to remain particularly challenged. Noting that the proportion of their populations living on less the $1.90 per day was 33.7 per cent in 2013, he said poverty eradication is not likely to be achieved by 2030. Climate change, natural hazards, pandemics, unprecedented human mobility and displacement continue to pose immense challenges and vulnerabilities to development. To avoid trade-off with the Sustainable Development Goals caused by national budget constraints, improved access to international climate finance is essential for supporting adaptation, mitigation and sustainable development.
Noting that development costs in landlocked developing countries is 20 per cent higher than coastal countries, he said key development challenges facing them result from their landlocked status, remoteness from world markets and geographical constraints. These challenges pose serious impediments to productive capacity, industrialization, export earnings, private capital, investment inflow and domestic resource mobilization, affecting their overall sustainable development. Drought, desertification, frequent incidences of disasters and impacts of climate change further aggravate challenges facing landlocked countries. Adding that infrastructure development plays a key role in reducing development costs for these countries, he said development and maintenance of transit infrastructure, information and communications technology (ICT) and energy infrastructure are crucial to reduce their high trading costs, improve competitiveness and allow them to become fully integrated into the global market.
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said least developed and landlocked developing countries continued to face development challenges due to poverty, low productive capacity, commodity export dependence, low economic transformation, limited market access, transport bottlenecks, high vulnerability to external shocks and the adverse impact of climate change. These are major constraints hindering their efforts to realize national development aims and meet agreed international agendas. Such nations must be given special priority, as their needs and challenges will not be overcome without support from the international community.
Recognizing the need to narrow the development gap among its members, the Association launched the initiative for ASEAN integration in 2002, he continued. This is designed to help less developed States accelerate the pace of economic integration with the regional and global community. Further, ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the ASEAN framework for equitable economic development and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity are being implemented to broaden regional economic integration under the framework of the ASEAN Economic Community and build a more competitive, inclusive, economic region, while promoting sustainable development.
PERKS MASTER CLEMENCY LIGOYA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, noted there has been 4.9 per cent growth in the group, far from the 7 per cent sustainable development target. People in extreme poverty decreased from 38.9 per cent in 2010 to 33 per cent in 2013, insufficient to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1.
Similarly, there has been little progress in structural transformation, he continued. Services represent half of economic growth, while agriculture represents just one quarter, not reaching the requisite structural benchmark to lead to greater diversification. He further noted Internet penetration has reached only 16 per cent, with just 39 per cent of people having access to electricity. Significant leap-frogging in new investments is therefore required. Least developed countries’ share of markets must double their total global exports, instead of continuing to decline, going from 1.09 per cent in 2014 to 0.89 per cent in 2016. Maternal and infant mortality and youth unemployment remain very high, while ODA is still only 0.09 per cent of developed countries’ gross national income.
JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, said it attached great importance to the key role played in development by international agreements like the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Paris Agreement and the Vienna Programme of Action. He noted, however, that progress made in implementing the Vienna Programme has been slow and insufficient in many areas, leading to a declining share in international trade in landlocked developing countries. In accelerating its implementation, there is a need to develop reliable and resilient infrastructure in these nations to make their economies truly competitive.
The midterm review of the Vienna Programme is important to landlocked and transit countries in taking stock of remaining challenges remaining in accelerating its implementation, he continued. Only through enhanced collaboration and strengthened partnerships can landlocked countries ensure their development path. He stressed that United Nations development system should give priority to economic sectors and capacity-building in landlocked developing countries.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), reaffirmed that per capita income measurements do not always reflect the needs of developing countries. There is a need to develop transparent measures to reflect progress, recognizing poverty in all its forms and dimensions along with structural gaps and the social, economic and environmental dimensions of domestic production. Access to concessional finance is reduced as countries grow and may not have access to other financing. With that in view, he encouraged all development partners to provide financial and technical assistance.
ASHISH SINHA (India) said least developed countries are highly disadvantaged in their development processes, facing severe structural impediments to growth for structural, historical and geographical reasons. These countries are also characterized by their vulnerability to external economic shocks, natural and man-made disasters and communicable diseases. They are confronted with structural challenges due to their geographical disadvantages, resulting in disproportionally high transport and trade costs hindering competitiveness, integration into world markets, economic growth and overall sustainable development. Adding that India remains fully committed to partnering in the rapid growth and development in countries in special situations, he said it aimed to assist them with building productive capacities, institutional strength, infrastructure development, technical expertise and financial assistance.
DMITRY CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) noted there are still real problems facing least developed and landlocked developing countries, with the Istanbul Programme of Action not fully implemented, a lack of structural change and a 7 per cent drop in their share of global trade. Contributions of ODA are still inadequate to the task. However, there has been some progress, with 12 countries meeting graduation criteria and 4 moving even closer, meaning greater access to modern technology and better indicators on sustainable development. His Government continues to broaden its policy of tariff preferences to provide access to trade markets. A major transit country, the Russian Federation attaches great importance to landlocked developing countries, working to foster regional cooperation and develop the Asian transit corridor and other structural projects.
MERYEM HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, said there have never been as many countries declared ready for graduation from least developed status. However, three years following the creation of the 2030 Agenda, these nations are still the most vulnerable to climate change and funding problems in moving towards the Sustainable Development Goals. These graduates still require support to ensure they can transition smoothly and maintain their strategies for development. Renewed efforts must be made by the international community, as support is crucial in speeding up attainment of the 2030 Agenda. Preferential trade is also necessary and non-tariff barriers must be reduced. Her country has cooperated with least developed countries in the areas of electricity, education, fisheries, tourism and health.
TSHOKI CHODEN (Bhutan), associating herself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, highlighted her nation’s graduation after over five decades of planned development. However, she noted that graduation, while a milestone worthy of celebration, is not an end in itself and must be sustainable and irreversible. Similarly, graduation of least developed and landlocked developing countries must be promoted at a smooth pace, and not prematurely, with further tailor-made international assistance programmes underpinning it.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said least developed nations are confronted with special challenges. They are highly vulnerable to external factors given that they have weak productive capacities and a high dependence on primary commodities. They need more attention and support from the international community to generate increased economic growth and improve the well-being of their populations. Turning to his country, he said it has witnessed an economic resurgence with an accelerated foreign trade turnover, robust expansion investment and a budget surplus over the past two years. As a result, economic growth, which was 1.2 per cent in 2016, reached 6.3 per cent in the first half of 2018. Growth is projected to further increase to 8 per cent in 2019.
ZIAUDDIN AMIN (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his nation is experiencing the challenging task of implementing the 2030 Agenda while remaining at the forefront of countering global terrorism. Moreover, Afghanistan and the surrounding region face a huge infrastructure gap which needs to be addressed collectively and through an integrated approach. While his Government is committed to gradually reducing its dependency on aid, continued international support is needed throughout its transformation decade (2015-24). He called on development partners to honour their ODA commitments. Regional cooperation can serve as a cross-cutting enabler in terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda and other development, and should receive greater attention, he emphasized.
WANG YAN (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that global growth is losing momentum, with protectionism and unilateralism threatening least developed and landlocked developing countries. Stating that the Istanbul Programme of Action and Vienna Programme of Action duly reflect support for development, China hopes all parties will work together to implement their objectives. As the largest market for least developed countries, China is looking to further scale up its efforts in infrastructural development, and enhance the resilience of least developed countries against developmental risk, and will further open its market to them.
SURENDRA THAPA (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said it is important to redouble international efforts to assist least developed nations, with a focus on building productive capacity. Adding that technology transfer is critical, he said full and effective operationalization of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries is key to boosting development in those nations. Countries which are both least developed and landlocked face even greater challenges, mainly due to the high cost of doing business and undertaking development activities. Noting that disasters and climate change have further aggravated their daunting challenges, he stressed that remoteness, landlocked status and lack of access to oceans have made the development path extremely difficult.
VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova), associating himself with the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that the fragile progress achieved so far in some areas relating to health, education and energy is under threat of being hampered by the high vulnerability of landlocked developing States. That group of nations is faced with the effects of climate change, especially floods, drought, desertification and land degradation. While national ownership is key in mobilizing the required resources to implement the Vienna Programme of Action, he warned that without support landlocked developing countries risk being left behind. Increased international cooperation and enhanced partnerships are vital for the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda. Continued support from development partners, including multilateral development banks, is critical in mobilizing both financial and non-financial resources to pursue sustainable development in an integrated manner.
FARZANA ZAHIR (Maldives), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that 12 least developed nations meet the criteria for graduation to middle-income country status. Still, Maldives is concerned that criteria for graduation must be reviewed. The General Assembly must decide that the economic vulnerability index be a criterion for small island developing States approaching graduation, as their post-graduation financial stressors remain primarily due to structural and geographical vulnerabilities. Therefore, a smooth transition is critically important, with the United Nations system perfectly placed to assist. Although Maldives graduated in 2011, she noted progress but enduring vulnerabilities, and expressed gratitude that South-South partnerships have made possible progress in large-scale infrastructure and tourism. However, as a small island developing State, Maldives has found international financing to be inflexible.
TLHALEFO B. MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that the latter face many challenges. Most notably, they have higher transport costs and are not as well diversified as coastal economies, he said, noting that the economies of landlocked developing nations are highly vulnerable to external shocks and volatility of commodity prices. Addressing desertification, land degradation and drought as well as the challenges of mitigation and adaptation measures, he pointed out the high cost of setting up businesses. He called on the international community to increase support to help with developing the necessary infrastructure for movement of goods and services as well as capacity-building, and technical and financial assistance for developing road, rail and telecommunications networks. Reaffirming its commitment to the Vienna Programme of Action, he noted efforts to implement projects such as the Kazungula Bridge Project between the Governments of Botswana and Zambia to facilitate movement of goods along the north-south corridor as well as building the Trans-Kalahari Corridor, a highway connecting Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to facilitate faster and cheaper movement of goods.
GEBEYEHU GANGA GAYITO (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said least developed nations still face daunting challenges in meeting development goals. Some progress has been made with the support of development partners, especially in the areas of access to energy and ICT. Also, for the first time, 12 least developed countries have met the graduation criteria for middle-income status. Despite this progress, however, there are still implementation gaps. With only two and a half years left to meet the 2030 Agenda, development partners should redouble their efforts to assist these countries by honouring their ODA commitments, as well as pledges made in the Istanbul Programme of Action and Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Noting that landlocked countries face special development challenges due to their geographic location and high cost of trade, he said it is critical to tackle infrastructure challenges that would enhance their trade and competitiveness.
JOSEPH MUSONDA (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said nations must uphold steadfast adherence to the Istanbul Programme of Action and make more progress to address barriers to development, including transfer of technology. Focus should be on micro- small- and medium-sized enterprises. Zambia is investing in road, rail and air transportation, working to make the country a regional transit hub, and making efforts in water sanitation and ICT infrastructure. The country is being transformed into a land-linked nation. However, with projection of a 35 per cent increase in least developed countries population by 2030, poverty will remain widespread. His Government advises countries to harness the demographic dividend to benefit from a population shift with more people in the working rather than dependent bracket, and calls on the United Nations system to provide technical and financial resources.
AINAN NURAN (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said landlocked and least developed countries face specific constraints and challenges, including poverty, low productivity, limited economic resources and market access as well as vulnerability towards external shocks and the adverse impacts of climate change. Another major challenge is their inability to effectively participate in the global economic system to derive tangible benefits on the road to sustainable development. Noting that 12 countries have met the graduation threshold from least developed status, she said the international community must ensure those nations go through the process smoothly, continuing a progressive pathway towards sustainable development.
AYE MYA MYA KHAING (Myanmar), associating herself with ASEAN, the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stated that the last-mentioned are the most vulnerable segment of the international community deserving immediate and special attention. Noting the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Development Countries (2011-2020), she said that these countries continue to face persistent poverty and multiple structural impediments. Even though their growth increased to 4.9 percent in 2017, their share of exports is yet to meet their target of 7 per cent. The impacts of climate change and natural hazards on Myanmar is devastating, and it will be more disastrous if the world’s temperature cannot be kept to a maximum of 1.5˚C, she said, stressing the importance of enhanced access to the Green Climate Fund by the most vulnerable countries. Noting the substantial digital divide between developed and developing countries, she welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank to enhance ICT. The implementation of the Istanbul Programme and the 2030 Agenda must be linked with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and Paris Agreement. Myanmar recently fulfilled all eligibility thresholds to graduate from the least developed countries category, she said, stressing the importance of a smooth transition and continued international support to ensure her country does not backslide.
JACINTO RANGEL LOPES CORDEIRO NETO (Angola), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the primary goal of the Istanbul Programme of Action is to overcome structural challenges to eradicate poverty, achieve development goals and enable graduation from the least developed nation category. Most graduated countries remain vulnerable, however, especially to the impact of climate change, natural hazards and other shocks and crises. Angola is scheduled for graduation in 2021, and a smooth transition strategy is a vital tool for ensuring a path of sustainable graduation. The principle components for such a graduation are integrated in his country’s national long-term strategy for development, “Angola 2025”. Noting that Angola’s GDP per capita for 2017 and 2018 has been well above the income-only graduation threshold, he also observed that the country’s human assets index continues to increase and economic vulnerability index continues to decrease.
ARMAĞAN AYŞE CAN CRABTREE (Turkey) stated that least developed countries require special attention from the international community, and are to be commended for developing productive capacities and improving governance and macroeconomic performance. Strengthened global partnerships are crucial, and developmental partners play a critical role in supporting sustainable graduation and smooth transition, with the ambitious goal of the Istanbul Programme far off. Turkey supports key accelerators, designing with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the Sustainable Development Goals Impact Accelerator to support entrepreneurs collaborating with least developed countries.
Mr. ALJAMALI (Yemen), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Counties, said progress in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals has been uneven. Noting that least developed countries continue to be the most vulnerable to poverty, he said it is imperative for the international community to assist this group in overcoming structural challenges impeding development. Also, when one considers those nations living with conflict, it can clearly be seen that there is no development without peace, and that these countries are lagging in achieving internally agreed development goals. Throughout its history, Yemen has seen little stability, which explains why its economy has remained stagnant since 2005, with the per capita share of GDP declining. The country is also beset by a lack of good governance, rampant corruption, weak infrastructure and deficits in the development of human resources.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia), associating herself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said there are geographical and historical reasons her country has no access to the sea, and must face the reality that development is limited as a result. Unfortunately, the progress of landlocked developing countries has not been even. Noting the principle that the seas belong to all peoples, she stated that Bolivia once had access to the Pacific Ocean, which was lost in the 1879 war with Chile. Following a 1904 treaty, new borders were established, which should have granted Bolivia access, but promises have not fully resolved the landlocked status. Economic and social development has been damaged, with unilateral monopolistic handling and tariffs by surrounding countries, and realistic, fair dialogue is required.
In response to the statement made by Bolivia’s delegate, the representative of Chile said that sea access through her country was resolved by a 1904 agreement. She also noted that the question of Bolivia’s access to the sea is not a matter for the United Nations, but a purely bilateral issue. Bolivia has been mixing up items relating to landlocked development countries with other issues, using expressions not in keeping with the United Nations or in agreement with the Vienna Programme of Action on landlocked countries. Bolivia is using this language to justify its own approach to the question of transit, when it actually enjoys certain benefits and has the right to commercial transit through Chile to the sea. Bolivia also has access to preferential tariffs and a tax-free status to ensure its connectivity through Chile on roads and in the ports.
Operational Activities for Development
MARION BARTHÉLEMY, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/243 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, 2018 (document A/73/63). Noting a total of $29.5 billion in funding for operational activities in 2016, she said this is an increase of 8 per cent from the previous year. Core funding was up 5 per cent in 2016, compared to 2015, after two years of decline. The share of core funding for the United Nations system was 21.7 per cent of total funding in 2016, an all-time low, dropping 15 per cent compared to 15 years ago. The total $29.5 billion for operational activities constitutes one-fifth of total global development assistance.
Humanitarian assistance funding increased by 80 per cent over the past few years, significantly more than that for development, she continued. Humanitarian assistance funding is earmarked so this rapidly growing share in total funding contributed to a decline in core resources. The donor base of United Nations entities has not expanded, despite the emphasis placed on this in the quadrennial comprehensive policy review. In 2016, only 4 per cent of donors accounted for 50 per cent of all contributions to the development system. The top 10 donors accounted for all Government contributions, suggesting that the United Nations system is highly vulnerable to top donor policy changes.
TARIK IZIRAREN, Deputy Director for Policy and Strategic Partnership of the United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation, introduced the report on the State of South-South Cooperation (document A/73/321), stating South-South cooperation advanced on all fronts during the reporting period of 2017‑2018. He noted the report emphasizes the catalytic role of cooperation and how the United Nations system is responding to developing countries’ demands.
Measures by United Nations organizations have placed cooperation at the centre of strategic priorities, and along with Member States, are undertaking promising efforts to turn cooperation into a force for poverty eradication, he said. Efforts to boost city-to-city cooperation are expanding, as 68 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050 including the rapidly expanding global South. He stated that nearly 30 United Nations entities are integrating policies, programmes and good practices drawing on expertise, experience and technology in the developing world.
The report highlights such initiatives as the Regional Integrated Multi-hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia, and centres of excellence and trust funds established by countries with various United Nations agencies, he continued. Recommendations include a call for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation to coordinate preparation of a system-wide South-South cooperation strategy, and to organize regular inter-agency meetings to disseminate information on activities. To date, he noted, the Office has convened two such meetings. He pointed to the Secretary-General’s reiterated call for the United Nations system to provide substantive input to prepare for the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation.
KEIKO KAMIOKA, of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the Secretary-General’s note containing the “Progress report on the recommendations contained in the review of South-South and triangular cooperation in the United Nations system” (document A/73/311). The report reviews progress on implementation of 12 recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit that were contained in its previous report in 2011. It notes that the majority of United Nations entities covered by the review have established dedicated and identifiable South-South cooperation units at their headquarters. Half of the entities reviewed have achieved target locations mentioned in the previous review for South-South and triangular cooperation. The governance of South-South and triangular cooperation has been reviewed and a strategic framework for the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation was developed and implemented.
In further improving the functioning of such cooperation, consultations with Member States should be pursued to bolster inclusivity and working arrangements, she continued. The leadership and coordination role of the Office for South-South Cooperation’s system-wide approach is appreciated by most respondents for this review. The Office could provide more support and guidance in mobilizing funds as well as more regular and timely updates on South-South and triangular coordination.
SIMONA PETROVA, Secretary and Director of the Chief Executives Board Secretariat, introduced the note by the Secretary-General transmitting comments and those of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on the “progress report on the recommendations contained in the review of South-South and triangular cooperation in the United Nations system” (document A/73/311/Add.1). She said that United Nations organizations welcomed the report of the Joint Inspection Unit and recognized the coordinating role of the Office for South-South Cooperation and that it should consolidate its role in knowledge-sharing, coordination of resources and resource mobilization in that domain. However, organizations expressed a need for further clarification of the report on the scope and purpose of a “system-wide resource mobilization strategy”.
MOHAMED OMAR MOHAMED GAD (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, welcomed the reinvigorated resident coordinator implementation plan presented by the Secretary-General. He said the United Nations system must retain its strong development focus and respect the principles of national ownership and leadership. “Resident coordinators should ensure transparency and strong accountability to host Governments,” he said, also noting the importance of gender parity and geographical balance in the resident coordinator selection process. Resident coordinators must work in close collaboration with national Governments to effectively coordinate the implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.
“Sustainable, predictable and adequate” financing is essential in delivering a “dedicated, independent, impartial and empowered” resident coordinator system, he continued. The Group recognizes the need to enhance collaboration between resident coordinators and relevant regional partners, he said, adding that the Regional Economic Commission plays a “critical role” in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He reiterated the Group’s commitment to work with the Secretary-General, the United Nations development system transition team, and other delegations to collectively implement the 2030 Agenda. “South-South cooperation is a complement to, and not a substitute for, North-South cooperation,” he noted, also pointing to the urgent need to address unmet ODA, which he described as the main channel of financing development for developing countries.
DANG DINH QUY (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of ASEAN, welcomed plans for the repositioning of the development system as an important step towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda. He said that in that effort, the development partnership between the United Nations and ASEAN continues to strengthen and the Association will look for specific ways to further enhance cooperation based on complementary approaches defined in recent work by units of the two organizations. Looking forward to development system reform, he stressed the need to always uphold national ownership, with increase in local staff considered. Changes in resident coordinator positions should transpire in close dialogue with Member States. As an increase of core resources to at least 30 per cent in the next five years is essential, it is also ambitious; he called on donors to deliver on their commitments to operational activities. At the same time, units of the development system should seek to ensure full accountability for the use of funds and to strengthen evaluation of impact on the ground. Affirming the importance of South-South cooperation to ASEAN, he supported further promotion of triangular cooperation as well.
Mr. LIGOYA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed grave concern that United Nations development system expenditures in least developed nations have continued to decline in past years, as they are in growing need of support from all sources. Expenditures to those nations totalled $10.3 billion in 2016, which represents 46 per cent of total expenditures at the country level, a drop from over 50 per cent from 2014. This declining trend needs to be immediately reversed, with development system expenditures to least developed countries significantly increasing, both individually and collectively.
It is also worrisome that some development system entities have yet to specify a least developed country category in allocating development assistance and support measures, he continued. A survey conducted by the Committee for Development Policy indicates that, although entities recognized the category of least developed countries, this does not seem to translate into a consistent application of priorities and budget allocation. He also noted that the 2016 quadrennial review requested the development system to improve its support to graduating countries in formulating and implementing their national transition strategies. As more countries are stepping into the graduation process, strong and continued support from the development system is essential for them to transition smoothly, with a view to ensuring their development trajectory continues to grow even after graduation takes effect.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, stressed that the regional dimension of the United Nations development system and its repositioning process should consider the characteristics of each Regional Commission. These bodies play an effective role in supporting and promoting South-South and triangular cooperation, by harnessing the knowledge network, partnerships, technical and research capacity and by strengthening their technical and research support for countries of their regions. He reiterated support for the work carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) through its 70 years of operation.
It is essential that the United Nations continue to allocate resources to realize the development objectives of developing countries, he continued. Further, he called on organizations within the United Nations development system to allocate the appropriate resources, including through the corresponding Regional Bureaus. Welcoming the contributions of South-South cooperation to poverty eradication and sustainable development, he reaffirmed that South‑South cooperation is an important element of international cooperation for development. He also emphasized the importance of achieving a United Nations that is more strategic, accountable, transparent, collaborative, efficient and results-oriented.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, said that small island developing States with highly dispersed populations have found some traditional sustainable development strategies to be limited or ineffective. Building national capacity and using local mechanisms is critical for such nations, he said, not only in data collection but also for programme and project design and implementation. The Alliance’s member States have endorsed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and they see the Samoa Pathway as the blueprint for their development. Expressing concern that the current United Nations development system funding mechanism does not provide the hoped-for level of predictability or stability, he urged development partners to consider that matter with great urgency, also calling for a “proper, extensive and inclusive review” of the system’s multi-country offices. “Within this arrangement lies the destiny of a large number of [small island developing States] countries and their peoples,” he stressed.
WALTON ALFONSO WEBSON (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and CELAC, underscored that economic growth, sustainable development and poverty eradication should be the guiding principles for operational activities, which must be flexible and reactive to programme countries’ needs and national policies and priorities. Quantity, quality and predictability of assistance are key. The United Nations system plays a crucial role in transfer of technology, and capacity-building. Similarly, emphasis must address the growing imbalance of core and non-core funding, which weakens the multilateral framework of assistance due to unpredictability, increasing costs and fragmenting the system even at the country level. He also expressed concern that ODA levels have not met targets and are decreasing despite major funding gaps and the importance of funding to small island developing States. He reiterated that development must never use a “one-size approach”.
RENNIER STANISLAUS GADABU (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States and associating himself with the Group of 77, said United Nations reforms should consider the unique operating context of the Pacific. As a multi-country operating model, it faces such challenges as remote regional offices, which are only accessible by long and expensive air travel. He underscored the need for an expansion of United Nations personnel in underserved areas of the Pacific, with a strengthened function to meet today’s challenges.
The coherence and coordination of all United Nations activities are paramount to fulfilling development objections, he continued. It is necessary to provide sufficient resources for travel and increased coordination to cover the costs of annual visits by the senior official responsible for the 10 countries under his or her purview. Adding that there is also a need to find adequate and predictable funding through core resources, he proposed a long-term funding model. It is also important consider whether it is appropriate to give one resident coordinator responsibility of so many countries.
Mr. SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the quality and volume of resources for implementation of the 2030 Agenda must lead to improvement in the United Nations development system’s predictability and impartiality. At the same time, the international community must ensure that resources meant for core development programmes are not diverted, as this will have a deleterious effect on the development agendas of developing countries, especially least developed and landlocked developing nations as well as small island developing States. Adding that global partnerships will also be crucial in meeting developing country challenges, he said South-South and triangular cooperation require that developing countries have the policy space for their own development. The scope of South-South cooperation has expanded well beyond technical cooperation and exchange of knowledge in recent years to include trade, investment, infrastructure and connectivity as well as coordination of policies and development strategies.
MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said that changes in the global panorama have had lasting impacts on global cooperation. He underscored the importance of South-South cooperation, recalling Chile’s initiatives in technical assistance, dialogue and integration. Chile has also focused on triangular cooperation. “We have many important projects such as school reconstruction in Haiti,” he added. Implementing the 2030 Agenda will require human, financial and non-financial resources. Expanding sharing of information and data will help measure development, he emphasized. Chile will continue to contribute to programmes, measures and global policy that add to the scale and scope of sustainability.
MOHAMMAD ABDURRAHMAN S. ALKADI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country fully supports international efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda and reform in the United Nations. He stressed the need for accountability and transparency in the way funds and resources are allocated to States to ensure consistency. Saudi Arabia supports development cooperation, particularly regarding South-South cooperation and among nations of the Middle East. His nation is providing direct assistance to those States suffering from humanitarian crises as well as to low-income countries. It focuses on creating jobs and forgiving the debt of least developing countries. He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to cooperating with the United Nations especially in ensuring that “no one is left behind”.
Mr. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation), stressing that the reform of the United Nations development system should be a priority for operational activities, said this process should be handled with full transparency and inclusiveness. Member States must be kept informed in detail about work done by the Secretariat. Restructuring should be aligned with the quadrennial comprehensive policy review and there should be regular briefings on the functioning of the senior officials’ steering committee, which is an important element in the reform agenda. The most appropriate arena for discussing specific steps would be the operations segment of the Economic and Social Council. It would be productive to use this body as an arena for discussion, rather than the executive boards of the agencies, as that would distract them from their functions.
BIANA LEYVA REGUEIRA (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and CELAC, said that North-South cooperation as well as regular, predictable and unconditional resources should remain the cornerstone of operational activities for development. Development system financing must preserve the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and maintain its distinctions with the financing for development mechanisms agreed upon to support 2030 Agenda implementation. Decisive involvement of developing countries in development system governance must be guaranteed, while flexible and inclusive policies must be promoted, she said, adding: “developing countries know best what their needs are and it is up to them to determine their assistance priorities”. She also reaffirmed her delegation’s strong commitment to South-South cooperation and the strengthening of inclusive cooperation schemes based on solidarity and mutual respect. Moreover, South-South cooperation should not be interpreted as a substitute for ODA commitments or as the primary mechanism for implementing the 2030 Agenda or other global targets.
SYLVIA PAOLA MENDOZA ELGUEA (Mexico) said that if United Nations reform is to be carried out, delegates must contribute to the discussion with constructive criticism. The support that States need to achieve the 2030 Agenda will not be provided if Organizational reform is not complete. Action can be taken by the resident coordinator, she said, adding that “Mexico cannot believe” that a resident coordinator cannot be involved in certain matters, including disaster relief. Coordination between delegates in the Second and Fifth Committees is essential. The best place to discuss monitoring and accountability is during the Operational Segment of the Economic and Social Council. “We have to do things differently now,” she stressed, adding: “That is the only way we can ensure that States are not left behind.”
LEILA CASTILLON LORA SANTOS (Philippines), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said that the operational activities of the United Nations development system must be aligned with the national plans and changing needs of Member States, especially regarding the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Voicing support for the Secretary‑General’s implementation plan for a reinvigorated resident coordinator system, she added that transparency and accountability are vital. The resident coordinator must be fully accountable to national Governments and guided by clear reporting lines. Further, countries must be consulted in the composition of country teams and the selection of resident coordinators.
Mr. SHUMSKI (Belarus) said the benchmark for successful reorganization of the United Nations development system will be a qualitative improvement to assist countries in achieving the 2030 Agenda. The international community must not allow new concepts that have not been approved at the intergovernmental level to be introduced. Reforms must be implemented in line with the national priorities of Member States, as they must coordinate and integrate them into their national development process. The reorganization must also take a new look at the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, which is the basic mandate for the entire development system at the country level. Adding that many aspects of reinvigoration of the sustainable development system have been considered, he noted that many practical issues have not been resolved. It is difficult, for example, to see how the resident coordinator system will be extended.
JITVIPA BENJASIL (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said a repositioned United Nations development system that delivers tangible results is instrumental in rebuilding faith in the Organization, especially when multilateralism is being questioned. Underscoring her country’s support for a reinvigorated resident coordinator system, she emphasized the importance of regular dialogue and consultations between resident coordinators and host Governments. Cooperation between regional economic commissions and other regional and subregional organizations can deepen the implementation of global agendas and enhance regional coherence. Thailand supports South‑South and triangular cooperation, alongside North‑South cooperation, as a means for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, she continued, noting its $50,000 contribution to the United Nations Fund for South‑South Cooperation.
Mr. AL-MAHMOUD (Qatar), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda have emphasized the importance of activating international partnerships. International cooperation is the “ideal way” to realize the objectives and goals of the 2030 Agenda. A State’s unique position and its needs must always be considered, he added, stressing the importance of reinvigorating the role of the resident coordinator. There is consensus within the United Nations system that information sharing and technology transfer are good ways to realize sustainable development. With the aim of strengthening regional and international partnerships, Qatar will continue to assist countries facing economic and humanitarian crises.
OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, urged Member States to focus on sustainable development and poverty eradication. He called for the establishment of a “new generation” of country teams to consider the national needs and priorities of Member States. Noting the specific situations of countries emerging from conflict, he said that there is a large operation in Darfur working to ensure its transition to peace and stability. The United Nations country team there must be strengthened, he stressed, reiterating that the role of the mission is crucial. He added that South-South cooperation and solidarity must remain complementary to North-South cooperation, also emphasizing: “It is not a replacement.”
ZOUBIR BENARBIA (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that Member States have provided the United Nations development system with tools to improve its work in achieving the 2030 Agenda. The time is now for implementation, with all mandates carefully respected. There should be regular updates on actions taken to operationalize the resident coordinator system as well as the status of contributions to the special trust fund to invigorate the resident coordinator system. While that system is being put in place, other areas of the repositioning of the development system are yet to be discussed. Adding that operational activities for development also relate to South-South cooperation, he said this should catch the General Assembly’s full attention during its current session.
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the importance of strengthening the capacity of developing countries to achieve long-term sustainable development cannot be overemphasized. He said United Nations development system entities must fully comply with their mandates and welcomed the reinvigorated resident coordinator system. The resident coordinator must strictly adhere to the principles of national leadership, national ownership and non-politicization, he said, adding that United Nations operational activities must respond to the specific needs of developing and least developed countries. He noted that ODA remains a main channel for financing development projects and must not be diverted to the humanitarian track. Nigeria recognizes the relevance of South-South cooperation and supports United Nations efforts to promote knowledge sharing in that context. He closed by welcoming the United Nations gender parity strategy and calling for geographical balance among the Organization’s senior-level positions.
LI JIA (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that the international situation is currently filled with instability and uncertainty and it will be an arduous task to achieve the 2030 Agenda on time. The United Nations development system should actively implement the General Assembly resolution on repositioning it, understanding that follow‑up of such reform is essential. The international community should stick to its mandate in the resolution, making poverty elimination its primary task. It should also increase the representation of developing countries in such a process to ensure they benefit from reform. She also emphasized that there is a need to mobilize and increase development resources, as the system has been lacking sufficient funds for some time. There is an additional need to deepen international development cooperation and strengthen development partnerships, with North‑South cooperation as the core component and South‑South cooperation a complement.
LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that while the development pillar of the United Nations has historically remained weak, the scale of ambition of the 2030 Agenda demands a highly responsible and streamlined United Nations development system. The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review resolution adopted in December 2016 provides good guidance in this direction and looks forward to the full implementation of the reinvigorated resident coordinator system starting in January 2019. He underscored that country ownership and leadership at the national, subnational and local level is all the more important while implementing development outcomes such as the 2030 Agenda. The resident coordinators should coordinate and make sure that multiple United Nations agencies working in the field produce a coherent development result in line with national plans and policies.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said South‑South cooperation has been constantly widening and developing over the past several years. It has become a collective project led by countries of the South, based on principles that are still valid today. Despite real achievements, however, developing countries still face major economic and environmental challenges. Countries of the South should integrate cooperation into national development programmes, strengthening their abilities to meet international agendas. Adding that recent repositioning of the United Nations development system will be an excellent opportunity to move ahead, he said it is crucial to highlight the role played by South‑South cooperation, which should be seen as a complement to North‑South cooperation.
CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER (Venezuela), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, noted the crucial role of regional and subregional approaches in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. “There is no one‑size‑fits‑all,” she added, reiterating the importance of strengthening national capacity. South‑South cooperation is a complement and not a replacement for North‑South cooperation. It should help empower States and lead to more effective, efficient, relevant and sustainable progress. She called for greater focus on transfer of technology to developing countries to ensure greater diversification of their production systems. She also noted various bilateral agreements between South America and Africa, and Asia and the Middle East.
RIO BUDI RAHMANTO (Indonesia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that the adequate, predictable and sustainable funding of the resident coordinator system is crucial. The new resident coordinator system should be able to minimize overlapping programmes and funding as well as manage limited resources in an effective and efficient manner. As a complement to North‑South cooperation, South‑South cooperation is becoming more viable with its impact increasing over time. There is also greater trade and investment among developing countries. Developing countries have home‑grown solutions and various comparative advantages that could be shared among the Global South. He outlined various programmes his country had contributed to including in health care, education and good governance.