Global Partnerships Crucial for Progress But Must Be Tempered By United Nations Values, Delegates Say in Second Committee

GA/EF/3505
23 October 2018
Seventy-third Session, 21st Meeting (AM)

Global Partnerships Crucial for Progress But Must Be Tempered By United Nations Values, Delegates Say in Second Committee

Global partnerships are instrumental in harnessing investment, transferring technology, generating employment and promoting training, but must be tempered by adherence to United Nations values and Global Compact principles, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it took up that topic today.

Germany’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said partnerships can leverage public and private money, unlock new financial flows and help channel funding into investment needed for development.  Bringing together financial and non-financial resources, innovation, knowledge and technology will also bolster public resources in shifting the world to a sustainable and resilient path.

However, meaningful partnerships can only be built on alliances adhering to the Organization’s principles and values, as laid down in the United Nations Global Compact, he said.  These include responsible business practices like protecting labour rights, observing international environmental and health standards as well as abiding by human rights standards.

Similarly, the representative of Brazil agreed that partnerships will be crucial in bridging the “financial gap” in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but they must be based on appropriate policies, regulations and incentives.  Adding that an increase in the number of partnerships must be matched by equivalent efforts to adopt concrete governance mechanisms and policies to manage risk, he said Global Compact principles provide a good starting point.

Alignment with Global Compact principles will send a strong and consistent message on the importance of corporate sustainability and public transparency, he said.  However, due diligence support must be strengthened to avoid hooking up with corporations that have a dubious lack of respect for human rights, labour standards, environmental protection and gender equality.

In a like vein, Olajobi Makinwa, Chief of Intergovernmental Relations and Africa of the Global Compact, encouraged United Nations entities to embed multi-stakeholder partnerships into their core business models, but also to strengthen the Organization’s approach to due diligence in safeguarding its reputation and advancing a consistent approach to partner selection.

Introducing the report on “Enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector” (document A/73/326), she also emphasized that partnerships should always be considered a complement, rather than a substitute for traditional forms of development aid like official development assistance.

Addressing the hesitation of some United Nations entities to form partnerships, the Republic of Korea’s delegate stressed the need to take full advantage of existing initiatives, adding that the Organization “must transform itself to transform the world”.  Inter-agency competition, a lack of common tools and confidentiality barriers are obstacles facing the Organization in its pursuit of effective partnerships, she observed.

Earlier today, the Committee concluded its debate on operational activities for development, with speakers stressing that the repositioned United Nations development system must be independent, predictable, impartial and guided by national ownership.  Several also expressed concern over the continued imbalance between core and non-core funding, noting that this trend could impede agency performance and programmes at the country level.

Reports were also presented by Petru Dimitriu, of the Joint Inspection Unit, on the “United Nations system-private sector partnerships arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/73/186) and Federica Pietracci, Senior Programme Management Officer in the Secretariat of the Chief Executive Board for Coordination, on the report of the Joint Inspection Unit on the “United Nations system:  private sector partnerships arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/73/186/Add.1).

Also speaking today were the representatives of Pakistan, Iran, Morocco, Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Dominican Republic, Guinea, Ghana, Colombia, South Africa, Malaysia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Belarus, Qatar, Thailand, Ecuador, Togo and Nigeria.

The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 24 October at 10:00 a.m. to take up permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources.

Operational Activities for Development

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, highlighted concerns with operational activities.  The United Nations development system should remain focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Furthermore, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions, which must be tailor-made to individual countries, development priorities and long term needs, with geographical balance and hiring of appropriate nationals.  South-South cooperation is important, but no substitution for North-South cooperation.

Ms. SARVESTANI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, stressing that the new, repositioned United Nations development system must be independent, impartial and guided by national ownership, said it must also ensure predictability, sustainability and transparency.  All measures should be taken after full consultation and agreement with national Governments through an open and inclusive dialogue between the host country and development system.  He also noted that the imbalance between core and non-core resources continues to be a matter of serious concern in achieving development aims.  Since 2002, the core share of total funding has dropped from 37 per cent to 22 per cent and the core share of funding for development-related activities from 41 per cent to 28 per cent.

MERYEM HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, noted that sustainable development remains a challenge, with the United Nations development system requiring a repositioning effort.  The resident coordinator system also requires reinvigorating through genuine implementation on the ground.  She noted that each country’s specificity must be respected, with a balance between core and other sources of funding.  South-South and triangular cooperation continue to grow in importance, with a homogenous vision requiring synthesis with North-South cooperation.  In Africa, sustainable development can only be achieved through joint action and solidarity, and her Government has signed over one thousand agreements with 28 African countries.

Mr. LUANOKHOM (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), aligned himself with the Group of 77, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  He noted that United Nations operational activities play a crucial role in promoting development in vulnerable nations like least developed and landlocked developing countries as well as small island developing States.  These nations require a higher level of investment to address their specific needs and special challenges in supporting their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  The focus of the development system should continue to be on the development needs for projects in these particular groups of countries.  He expressed concern about the imbalance between core and non-core funding to United Nations agencies.  If this trend persists, it will have an adverse effect on development agency performance and programmes at the country level.

GEBEYEHU GANGA GAYITO (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted United Nations reform is important given that developing States require a more robust partnership with the Organization to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level.  His Government supports the creation of a more coherent, integrated, transparent and effective United Nations development system, and a reformed resident coordinator system.  A streamlined and coordinated approach at the regional level will reduce duplication and contribute to a more coherent United Nations presence.  He stressed the importance of sufficient financing for the development reform process, and reinvigorated South-South cooperation, which complements but does not replace North-South cooperation.

Mr. DIRJI (Bhutan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted that implementation of the reinvigorated resident coordinator system in January 2019 coincides with the start of her nation’s transition from least developed country status.  The five-year transition until 2023 will allow Bhutan, with the support of development partners, to undertake all necessary measures in ensuring its graduation is sustainable and irreversible.  As a small landlocked country, Bhutan will focus its efforts on addressing last mile challenges to ensure that graduation avoids a reversal of development gains with the sudden withdrawal of international support measures upon graduation.

PHILIP GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that much of the recent debate on operational activities for development has been focused on the implementation plan for the inception of the reinvigorated resident coordinator system, which is set to be in place from January 2019.  As part of these discussions, the Deputy-Secretary-General held a global meeting with resident coordinators at United Nations Headquarters in New York.  This innovative exercise proved valuable for Member States to hear testimonies of the coordinators’ ground-level experiences and expectations on their new mandates. Brazil supports the repositioning of the United Nations development system and has been stressing the importance of crucial elements that must stead its implementation, such as national ownership and leadership.

MADELIN LUNA (Dominican Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Alliance of Small Island States, expressed hope that the resident coordinator system will take into account specific needs of countries on the ground.  There should be better collaboration at regional and subregional systems.  Offering support for the work of Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), she also cited the importance of South-South cooperation in achieving sustainable development, a complement but not a replacement for North-South cooperation.  The United Nations development system has been key to development in her country, and with repositioning, should provide more efficient development assistance.

OMAR CISSÉ (Guinea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said South-South cooperation allows countries to promote their independence and consolidate their economic ties.  However, given the lack of sustainability therein when compared to traditional North-South cooperation, it must be stated that South-South cooperation cannot replace it and rather complements it.  His Government appreciates efficient solutions and local initiatives, and notes that triangular cooperation promotes partnership.  This is assisted by the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).  These efforts must be stepped up as they make multisectoral efforts key to fighting poverty.

MONICA BOHAM (Ghana), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said operational activities have proven invaluable for capacity-building in developing countries and implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  She expressed hope that transition to the new resident coordinator system will progress smoothly and looked forward to a strengthening of the Economic and Social Council.  She noted that there is a continuing necessity to involve Member States in development projects, which should be tailored to needs and priorities of host countries.  Also emphasizing that South-South cooperation has immense potential, she said North-South cooperation is still a vital aspect of international assistance.

JAIME ANDRÉS GNECCO DAZA (Colombia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said South-South cooperation is a key element in his country’s foreign policy, and promotes repositioning the State in regional and national sectors.  Mutual benefits and shared costs contribute to sustainable development.  As a member of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation, Colombia reiterates it is a complement and not replacement for North-South cooperation, as it offers ample opportunities to face the challenges of implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Ms. RABOHALE (South Africa) said the international community must be guided by the comprehensive quadrennial policy review when striving to implement the 2030 Agenda.  She noted that eradicating poverty is the biggest global challenge, which should inform international efforts in transforming the United Nations development system.  She stressed that regular briefings are needed on the funding model for the United Nations development system, which should not be prejudicial to development needs.  Calling for proper consultations respecting a country’s policy space, she emphasized that the resident coordinator role should not be politicized.  Also stressing that South-South cooperation is not a substitute for official development assistance (ODA), she said it should continue to be guided by respect for national sovereignty, non-conditionality and non-interference.

Towards Global Partnerships

OLAJOBI MAKINWA, Chief of Intergovernmental Relations and Africa at United Nations Global Compact, introduced the report on “Enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and all relevant partners, in particular the private sector” (document A/73/326), saying greater engagement of all stakeholders is required to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  She noted significant alignment between the reports of the Joint Inspection Unit and the Secretary-General on United Nations partnerships.  Sustaining and accelerating strategic collaboration requires further pivoting towards partnerships that leverage the resources and expertise of partnerships.

Her recommendations include encouraging United Nations entities to embed multi-stakeholder partnerships into their core business models; prioritizing talent development to address skillset gaps; and strengthening the United Nations approach to partnership due diligence to safeguard its reputation, reduce duplication and advance a consistent approach to partner selection.  However, partnerships should always be considered a complement and not substitute for traditional forms of development cooperation, especially ODA.  In that sense, the United Nations, business and other stakeholders should amplify and accelerate Member States’ critical development work.

PETRU DIMITRIU, of the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced his office’s report on the “United Nations system-private sector partnerships arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/73/186).  He noted that the report is an attempt to propose arrangements for cooperation in sustainable development with the private sector.  Among factors which may cause United Nations entities to hesitate before cooperating with the private sector include various rules and regulations for cooperation as well as an unwillingness to step out of one’s comfort zone, which can take some time to overcome.  However, the United Nations cannot hope to transform the world if it will not transform itself.  A major objective of the report is to provide a system-wide model of cooperation that will avoid programme duplication and promote inter-agency interaction as well as knowledge sharing.  The report also intends to convey messages to private companies who wish to work with the United Nations in supporting sustainable development or promote sustainability in their business models.

FEDERICA PIETRACCI, Senior Programme Management Officer in the Secretariat of the Chief Executive Board for Coordination, introduced the note by the Secretary-General titled “United Nations system:  private sector partnerships arrangements in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/73/186/Add.1).  She noted that United Nations engagement with the private sector cannot be guided by a one-size-fits-all approach.  The Joint Inspection Unit is invited to tailor future recommendations to encompass other bodies besides the General Assembly to facilitate timely follow-up.  The Organization supported many recommendations and stated the clear role of Member States in the United Nations Global Compact governance structure is through a permanent seat on its Board.

MUHAMMAD SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), speaking on behalf ASEAN and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the United Nations system should recognize that the Association consists of countries in special situations — namely, least developed, landlocked developing, small island developing and middle-income States.  Adding that these countries face specific challenges, he said it is important for the system to develop tailor-made incentives and frameworks in advancing partnerships based on specific challenges and needs.

The United Nations is in a unique position, he continued, as a universal forum to strengthen international cooperation for promoting development in the context of globalization.  The integration of developing countries into the global partnership will enable them to take full advantage of all their potential for economic growth and development.  The United Nations must play a fundamental role in promoting and strengthening cooperation.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of CELAC, said its Member States highlight the central role of public policies at the global, regional, national and local levels in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and the vital role of Governments in promoting responsible business practices and supporting United Nations efforts to engage with the private sector.

He noted CELAC recognizes the vital role the private sector plays in development, through various partnership models and by generating employment and investment, promoting access to new technologies and offering vocational training.  These initiatives must recognize non-discrimination, gender equality and women's empowerment, also ensuring conformity with national ownership of development strategies.  In particular, he highlighted the significance of new ways of interaction between Governments, academia and the productive sector in fostering development of science, technology and its transfer and innovation, in preferential and concessional terms.  Civil Society, the private sector, financial institutions and cities are invited to scale up efforts to reduce emissions and decrease vulnerabilities to climate change.

FARZANA ZAHIR (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said partnerships hold significant potential to help advance achievement of sustainable development.  Partnerships are important in the mobilization and sharing of knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, he said, adding that they serve as a compliment, not replacement, for ODA.  The Samoa Pathway prioritizes partnerships as a means of implementation, he noted, adding that the Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States provides a space for engagement on issues affecting those countries.

In advance of the 2019 mid-term review of the Samoa Pathway, he said the United Nations is conducting a review of small island developing State partnerships.  Initial findings point to wide ranging challenges, key among which is inadequate financial viability.  “Other concerns include the adverse effects of political and policy nuances, impacts of climate change and financial debt burdens,” he noted.  Efforts to improve partnerships must include increased community involvement in decision-making and project design, greater youth engagement, and recognition of the relevance of sustainable energy projects.  He closed by urging continued support to small island developing State partnership initiatives.

ROBERT SACHSO LORENTZ (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the resources, ingenuity and creativity of the private sector, civil society, scientific community, academia and local authorities are indispensable as a complement to Government efforts for the timely achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Noting that resources needed to implement the 2030 Agenda are partly of a financial nature, he said partnerships can and should leverage public and private money, unlocking new financial flows and helping to channel private funding into investment needed for sustainable development.  Partnerships should also be about leveraging knowledge and technology, employing the creativity and innovative force of the private sector and societies more broadly to address sustainable development challenges.

Bringing together all financial and non-financial resources, different actors, innovation, knowledge and technology in a holistic way will also help make the most of public resources employed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path — economically, socially and environmentally, he said.  Meaningful partnerships can only be built on alliances that adhere to the principles and values of the United Nations.  Responsible business practices as advocated by the United Nations Global Compact are key to achieving the 2030 Agenda, including the protection of labour rights, observing international environmental and health standards as well as adhering to international human rights standards.

Mr. SHUMSKY (Belarus) said his country seeks closer interaction between States and the private sector as key to successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Although the Secretary-General’s report states partnerships are evolving towards deeper cooperation, he noted there remains a trend to see the private sector as business and donor rather than full-fledged partner.  This perception must be set aside for new forms of partnership, and Governments must create infrastructure to enhance the contributions of private sector in the field.  His Government looks towards a reinvigorated resident coordinator system and United Nations country team and has spearheaded an initiative for United Nations-wide partnership coordination.

Ms. AL BAKER (Qatar), associating herself with the Group of 77, said achieving the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda meant forging global partnerships for sustainable development, focusing primarily on the poorest countries.  Given their importance, the Agenda paid special attention to global partnerships and the necessity of reinvigorating them.  Adding that the foreign policy of Qatar is based on cooperation and partnerships to face common challenges, she said the country is strengthening its regional and international role.  Noting that Qatar’s national development strategy 2018-2022 emphasizes global partnerships for development, she said it voluntarily provides aid for development, especially to least developed countries.

KORAWAT WUTTIWONG (Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said States must pursue every opportunity to cultivate new partnerships at all levels.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations to enable United Nations agencies to unlock the full potential of partnerships with relevant stakeholders and fully supports the work of the United Nations Global Compact.  He called for stronger collaboration and coordination between Global Compact Local Networks and the United Nations system at the country level.  At the global level, he welcomed United Nations efforts to promote and implement partnerships between the Organization and other stakeholders.  He called for revitalized efforts to scale up partnerships between and among countries to implement the 2030 Agenda.  He closed by noting that the Economic and Social Council plays a key role in promoting and strengthening global partnerships.

Mr. CARDONA (Ecuador), associating himself with CELAC, noted national collaboration between the private sector, academia and local Government among other actors.  The work of global cooperative partnership transcends national endeavours and therefore prioritizes multilateralism and reciprocity.  He said Governments must listen to those countries in complex situations with which they seek common solutions.  Entrepreneurship produces growth, freedom and well-being, and the private sector at the global level has a role beyond generating wealth, as an active player generating inclusion, diversity, peace and prosperity.  To that end, Ecuador has signed more than 100 agreements in 13 production sectors, with $9 billion in job-creating investment.

Mr. GOUGH (Brazil), stressing that partnerships must be based on appropriate policies, regulations and incentives, he said they will be crucial in bridging the existing “financing gap” in achieving the 2030 Agenda.  While Governments have the primary responsibility in financing for development, the Sustainable Development Goals will not be achieved without the active involvement of private sector partners.  Adding that an increase in the number of partnerships must be matched by equivalent efforts to adopt concrete governance mechanisms and policies to manage risk, he said Global Compact principles provide a good starting point.  Emphasizing also that the United Nations should lead by example, he said further alignment with the Global Compact principles will send a strong and consistent message on the importance of responsible business practices, corporate sustainability and public transparency.  It is also necessary to strengthen due diligence support functions to avoid United Nations engagement with corporations that have dubious records including a lack of respect for human rights, labour and environmental standards as well as the promotion of gender equality.

JEON YU JIN (Republic of Korea) said sustainable development cannot be achieved by Governments alone and that the 2030 Agenda can only be realized through strong commitment to partnerships.  Noting the Organization’s role as a “builder of bridges”, she said the private sector is increasingly aligning its business practices with sustainable development.   She said there is a need to increase collective efforts to take full advantage of existing partnership initiatives within the United Nations while at the same time the Organization “must transform itself in order to transform the world”.  Inter-agency competition, a lack of common tools and confidentiality barriers are challenges affecting the Organization in its pursuit of effective partnerships.  She said the United Nations must “expand its efforts to leverage growing private sector interest in sustainable development”.

TIFOUMNAKA KOUBODENA (Togo) said States must ensure synergy between strategies, actions and policies to reduce inequalities and poverty worldwide.  More specifically, the Secretary-General’s report calls for stronger strategies for United Nations partnerships to speed up progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.  She reminded that financing the Goals is estimated at $5 trillion to $7 trillion per year.  The private sector is already an essential partner in development and a primary facilitator in achieving sustainable development.  Her Government understands the necessity of seeking and developing innovative partnerships between the private sector and civil society and is promoting the transformation of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors to create wealth.

Mr. VICTOR (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the importance of scaling up alliances and partnerships, especially with the private sector, cannot be overemphasized.  Socially responsible private sector partnerships are a major driver of inclusive growth and job creation, stimulating and sustaining equitable economic growth.  Despite the importance of ODA in financing for development, especially for developing countries, strategic partnerships with the private sector can also facilitate financing for development.  Adding that stronger United Nations system-wide coordination is needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda, he said greater effort is required to unlock new financial flows, especially from mainstream institutional investors.  In particular, it is important to forge stronger global partnerships to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on assets return from safe havens.  He called for greater collaboration at all levels in providing legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to the proceeds of assets of illicit origin.

For information media. Not an official record.