The General Assembly today adopted two resolutions, including one proclaiming 28 September the International Day for Universal Access to Information, and another containing a political declaration by which Member States renewed their commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
By the terms of the sustainable development text, adopted without a vote, the Assembly endorsed the Political Declaration adopted by the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, held at Headquarters in September. By the Declaration’s terms, Member States committed to taking a myriad of actions to implement the 2030 Agenda, ranging from mobilizing adequate and well‑directed financing to investing in data and statistics for the Sustainable Development Goals. Member States also pledged to bolster local action to accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, by empowering and supporting cities, local authorities and communities in pursuing the 2030 Agenda.
According to the Declaration, Member States emphasized that eradicating poverty remains the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. To that end, the Declaration commits Member States to promoting research, expanding capacity‑building initiatives and harnessing innovation and technologies towards advancing progress on realizing the Sustainable Development Goals and promoting the use of scientific evidence from all fields to enable the transformation to sustainable development.
In the ensuing discussion, delegates spoke in explanation of their position, with many expressing their support for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking on behalf of the Political Declaration’s co‑facilitators — Bahamas and Sweden — the latter’s representative said the collaboration involved in the process demonstrates that multilateralism works.
Canada’s representative echoed a common thread, describing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a blueprint for prosperity, the people and the planet.
Meanwhile, several delegates pointed out that much remains to be done, with Mexico’s representative saying no Member State has realized the Sustainable Development Goals “100 per cent”.
Some delegates offered suggestions on how to boost progress. The representative of the United States said that to meet the 2030 Agenda’s ambitions, countries will need to actively choose financially viable investments. Indeed, today’s global challenges will require international efforts to mobilize domestic resources and include other stakeholders, such as civil society and the private sector. Underlining the importance of good governance, she said private sector participation with non‑governmental actors is under threat in some countries.
Hungary’s representative said that whereas her delegation supports the Declaration’s adoption, it remains concerned about references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Hungary also disassociates itself from paragraphs 21 and 27 in section A of the Political Declaration, she added, emphasizing that, instead, it is focusing on development projects in origin countries in order to create an environment that allows people to live and thrive in their respective homelands.
Guatemala’s delegate said her country’s Government is already working with the business sector, civil society, municipalities and international partners to align its goals with the 2030 Agenda. Emphasizing the need to strengthen the means of implementation, including through private investment and technological assistance, she added: “We know that strategic alliances are fundamental in complementing the efforts of Governments.”
In other action, the Assembly adopted the resolution “Proclamation of 28 September as the International Day for Universal Access to Information” without a vote. By that text, the Assembly invited Member States, the United Nations and its agencies, international and regional organizations and civil society to celebrate the International Day.
Others delivering statements today were representatives of the Philippines, Belarus, Nepal, Eritrea, United Arab Emirates, India, Honduras, Australia, Benin, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Afghanistan and Liberia.
Observers for the League of Arab States and the International Union for Conservation of Nature also spoke.
Delegates will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 16 October, to honour the memory of Diogo Freitas do Amaral, President of the fiftieth session of the General Assembly.
World Summit on Sustainable Development
Turning to its agenda item on implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Political declaration of the high‑level political forum on sustainable development convened under the auspices of the General Assembly” (document A/74/L.2) without a vote.
The representative of the United States, explaining her country’s position after adoption, said her delegation joined the consensus on the text. Today’s global challenges will require international efforts to mobilize domestic resources and include other stakeholders, such as civil society and the private sector. The United States understands that economic ties are most valuable when they are rules‑based. To meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s ambitions, countries will need to actively choose financially viable investments. She emphasized the importance of good governance and the need to properly assess economic and social impacts. In some parts of the world, private sector participation with non‑governmental actors is threatened. With respect to the Paris Agreement on climate change, she reaffirmed that the United States would withdraw from the pact at the earliest opportunity.
The representative of Hungary, while expressing support for the Declaration’s adoption, said her delegation remains concerned about any references to the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and disassociates itself with paragraphs 21 and 27 in section A of the Political Declaration. The Government is focusing on development projects in countries of origin to create an environment that allows people to live and thrive in their home countries.
The representative of Sweden, speaking on behalf of the co‑facilitators of the Political Declaration — the Bahamas and his country — said that the collaboration involved in the process demonstrates that multilateralism works. The evidence also shows that the world is moving too slowly on the Sustainable Development Goals. Now that the Declaration has been adopted, the crucial decade of action and delivery is upon us, he said.
The representative of the Philippines said his country’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda remains resolute. In 2016, the Philippines was one of the pioneer countries to present its first voluntary national review. To date, it has achieved near‑universal enrolment in primary education, inclusive, sustainable employment and strengthened capacity‑building and partnerships for disaster preparedness.
The representative of Mexico said that no Member State has “100 per cent” complied with the Sustainable Development Goals. “This is why we must move from words to alliances,” he emphasized, noting various measures taken to align Mexico’s national plan with the 2030 Agenda. Mexico fully supports revitalizing its agriculture sector and plans to further work with and train small‑scale farmers. By the end of 2020, Mexico will have set up 100 laboratories in universities to focus on sustainable development implementation. Turning to gender equality, he said that women have not had adequate access to social security for far too long. As such, Mexico has begun to increase the availability of financial tools to women. Further, he rejected any attempt to renegotiate the 2030 Agenda and underlined the importance of including voices of the private sector, civil society, academia and indigenous peoples.
The representative of Belarus said creating a favourable economic environment and providing technological assistance are vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda. The private sector can provide financial resources, she emphasized, urging the United Nations to broaden its partnerships with business. Belarus is promoting the concept of “smart cities” and is committed to moving towards a stronger economy and to significantly cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. It is in partnership with all interested partners at national and international levels that Belarus will be able to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
The representative of Nepal said that the world’s leaders can return home from the current meeting with clear goals that are within reach. What matters now is the timely and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Global problems require a global response, which in turn requires strong multilateralism. However, four years of implementation have shown major gaps, and the international community must now focus on the neediest countries. Nepal is a landlocked, mountainous State that prioritizes sustainable development. While the Government has outlined a transformational economic pathway, $18 billion is required by 2050 to achieve Nepal’s Sustainable Development Goals. He therefore urged the country’s development partners to meet their commitments.
The representative of Eritrea said monitoring the progress the world is making towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is critical. There are positive trends in the reduction of extreme poverty and child mortality rates in many countries, but the progress remains uneven and too slow. Eritrea has been making modest strides towards achieving sustainable development in terms of people‑centred and balanced growth. The country has embarked on a twin programme of accelerating economic growth and working with countries in the region to achieve and sustain peace. Eritrea will continue to make the necessary interventions to boost domestic resources mobilization, both human and financial, which Eritrea regards as an essential driver for sustainable development.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates said the overall implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals has been slow. “We can even say we have gone off course,” he added, expressing support for launching a “decade of achievement”. The United Arab Emirates is focused on strengthening commitments to achieving the 2030 Agenda, providing the required resources, increasing its partnerships in the renewable energy sector and remaining committed to working closely with all partners to maximize global, regional and national potential. “The world needs more Sustainable Development Goal ambassadors to ensure that the Goals are sufficient for all people,” he said.
The representative of Guatemala said that with the Guatemala 2032 national plan adopted in 2014, her Government is working with its business sector, civil society, municipalities and international partners to align its goals with the 2030 Agenda. Emphasizing a need to strengthen the means of implementation, including through private investment and technological assistance, she said: “We know that strategic alliances are fundamental in complementing the efforts of Governments.” Highlighting the importance of ensuring access to adequate health and education, she pledged Guatemala’s commitment to tackling the effects of climate change and providing justice for all its citizens.
The representative of India said that the underlying principle of his country’s development is “through everyone’s support, for everyone’s development and toward everyone’s trust”. In India, fintech has enabled a record 370 million people to enter the financial system in the last five years. In September 2018, the country launched the world’s largest Government‑funded health coverage scheme, targeting 100 million households. The Government believes that it is possible to strike a healthy balance between development and conservation — the 33 per cent growth in India’s tiger population from 2006 to 2019 demonstrates this. In this vein, India has assigned a national think tank to monitor the Sustainable Development Goals.
The representative of Honduras said that while his country remains committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda, the world must redouble its efforts and prioritize the strategic mobilization of resources. Honduras has developed specific strategies to do this, incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national planning system. The Government will carry out effective monitoring and implementation initiatives in partnership with local Governments, the private sector and civil society. However, sustainable development will not be achieved without mitigating the effect of climate change. With this in mind, Honduras is concentrating on adapting its agricultural systems to change, employing intelligent water use and rolling out reforestation projects.
The representative of Australia said harnessing and developing the skills of women and girls is critical to achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Australia is focusing on boosting economic opportunity for women and girls both at home and abroad. At the same time, it is also combating violence against women and developing an action plan that can guide their meaningful participation in peace processes. The Government is also working on putting the Pacific region “front and centre” in tackling its long‑term challenges, such as climate change and ocean pollution, and is increasing Internet connectivity with its neighbours. “We are working across the multilateral system to ensure additional resources needed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals are flowing to our neighbourhood,” she added.
The representative of Benin said national ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals has encouraged his Government to identity its own targets. This has led to better coordination with all sectors of Government as well as the private sector and civil society. Vast projects have been implemented in the areas of social protection, agriculture production, education, health and clean drinking water. Benin has also developed a range of programmes, including those providing school lunches to children, promoting renewable energy and combating land degradation. The pace of progress on the global level is not in line with what is outlined in the 2030 Agenda, he cautioned, urging Member States to meet their commitments.
The representative of Qatar, recognizing the great significance of helping least developed countries and the small island developing States, said Doha will host in March 2021 the fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries. In addition, the Government agreed at the United Nations Climate Action Summit to contribute $100 million to the least developed countries and the small island developing States to help them deal with the effects of climate change. Qatar also announced a contribution to support United Nations development programmes. Alongside other contributions, this funding makes Qatar one of the greatest contributions to the United Nations in all areas.
The representative of the Republic of Korea said that while his country is proud to have achieved democracy and economic development and become an international success story, excessive focus on growth resulted in increased inequality and social exclusion. As part of a course correction, the Government announced its vision and strategy for an innovative and inclusive growth approach, renewing its action plan for sustainable development, which will serve as a comprehensive monitoring mechanism to ensure inclusive, sustainable economic development. Seoul has continually increased its development assistance and plans to more than double its current amount by 2030.
The representative of Canada said that the 2030 Agenda is a blueprint for prosperity, the people and the planet. These ambitious targets cannot be achieved by one country alone. Canada believes that the shared goal of “leaving no one behind” represents the best of multilateralism. “We must step up and meet these challenges together while paying close attention to least developed countries and conflict‑affected countries,” she said. Even though Canada has a rather high level of development, 3 million people are still struggling to meet their needs. Indigenous peoples, immigrants and women are particularly affected by social and economic exclusion, she said, emphasizing the need to work together in order to achieve sustainable development for all.
The representative of Saudi Arabia underscored a need for national, regional and international partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Investing in human capital will help to guarantee long‑term gains. Saudi Arabia is working to ensure effective cooperation with the private sector on projects conducive to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, also highlighting the importance of regional cooperation.
The representative of Portugal said the World Summit on Sustainable Development was a way to demonstrate support for the Goals and their respective targets. His country remains committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda, serving as host to the World Youth Day in 2022 and the second United Nations Ocean Conference in 2020. The Sustainable Development Goals form a vision to which everyone aspires, and every State should work towards their full implementation.
The representative of Afghanistan said his country has been working to fulfil its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, even amidst conflict and poverty. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Economy has been designated as the primary Government agency to lead and coordinate technical work on the Sustainable Development Goals. All Government agencies in Afghanistan have identified national priority targets and focus areas with a view to maximizing impact through integrated planning and budgeting and to guide development programmes to mainstream initiatives into the country’s priorities during the next decade. He highlighted a need for sustained international assistance to achieve Afghanistan’s Sustainable Development Goal targets in a timely manner.
An observer for the League of Arab States said her organization is determined to implement the agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals with great resolve. The universality of the 2030 Agenda compels the world to achieve well‑being for its people. The League’s challenge is to eliminate poverty by 2030, which will require mobilizing all its resources. The League encourages the world to fulfil its commitments to contribute financial assistance as a key source of financing developing countries. The Arab region faces huge regional challenges, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine lies at the centre.
An observer for the International Union for Conservation of Nature said his organization was encouraged to see the strong reference in the Political Declaration of the 2019 World Summit to conserving and sustainably using the planet’s marine and terrestrial resources, and to halting ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss. Conserving and restoring the world’s ecosystems can help countries to adapt to climate change and build their resilience. The world must build on the momentum coming out of the September summits to make 2020 a watershed year, one that offers an opportunity for Member States to scale up their ambitions by increasing their contributions for nature‑based solutions, as well as by adopting an ambitious new global biodiversity framework.
Universal Access to Information
DEE-MAXWELL SAAH KEMAYAH, SR. (Liberia), introducing the draft resolution “Proclamation of September 28 as International Day for Universal Access to Information” (document A/74/L.1), said that access to information is essential for the democratic functioning of a society. “None of these Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved without access to information,” he said. As a country that has experienced conflict and a major public health crisis with the Ebola pandemic, Liberia appreciates the value of access to information. By adopting the draft, the Assembly will create the biggest global platform for Governments, civil society organizations, citizens and development partners to reflect on the importance of access to information. “L.1” will help to identify challenges and design new and innovative ways to promote the advancement of access to information as a tangible tool for development and the realization of the 2030 Agenda.
The Assembly then adopted resolution “L.1” without a vote.