Humanity Modifying Environment Faster than It Can Regenerate, Says Keynote Speaker
Wealth inequality, inadequate international financing and reduced official development assistance (ODA) continue to hamper developing countries in progressing towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it began its general debate today.
Delivering a keynote address, Patrick Keys, a research scientist with the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University, United States, said that wealth inequality within countries has expanded significantly from the 1980s onward, with the very rich capturing more wealth than all other income groups. Vast holdings in offshore banks and tax havens and hidden financing of activities conspire to create a global financial system that enriches the few at the expense of the many.
According to many scientists, he continued, the world has entered the Anthropocene, departing from the normal course of planetary events with humanity unequivocally modifying the environment faster than it can regenerate. Against the dual backdrop of wealth inequality and accelerating global environmental change, he questioned whether sustainable development is possible.
Ashana Bigard, Executive Director of the New Orleans Community Accountability Project, focused on the financial inequality of her city, where native citizens who expended “sweat equity” do not benefit from the wealth generated by its tourist industry. Hurricane Katrina pulled back the curtain of extreme poverty, with half the population lacking access to basic necessities, and black and indigenous New Orleanians with no place at the decision‑making table. Citing a culture of “greed and toxic capitalism”, she noted that despite $72 billion allotted for reconstruction, the black male unemployment rate remains at 52 per cent.
The representative of Sierra Leone stressed that ODA remains a key source of international financing for least developed countries, and its decline over the years is “alarming”. Urging development partners to fulfil their commitments to least developed countries, he also highlighted similar needs for aid for trade, financing for development, technology transfer and capacity‑building for least developed countries in fragile situations.
Jamaica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), noted that its Member States face high debt burdens and restricted access to concessional financing. Some CARICOM Member States are further hampered as they are blacklisted by the European Union as non‑cooperative tax jurisdictions. He stated that the classification system used by international financial systems is overly reliant on per capita income as a yardstick for development.
Pakistan’s delegate called on developed countries to scale up beyond 0.7 per cent of gross national income and ODA, adding corruption must be fought at home but also tracked down globally. The representative of Cuba noted that only five countries have honoured their ODA commitments, suggesting that an alternate financial architecture is needed. Zambia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, urged the Committee to address illicit financial flows, a serious component to eradicating poverty and achieving the Goals. The representative of Liechtenstein noted that her country particularly emphasizes tackling financial flows stemming from modern slavery and human trafficking.
The representative of Belarus highlighted declining global growth rates due to the global instability of increasing tension in trade relations and debt. He called for an end to unilateral economic coercive measures, which harm the entire multilateral trade system. Iran’s delegate agreed that the protectionist policies and embargos imposed by some major global players cast doubt on the effectiveness of the multilateral financing and trading systems. He called on the international community to ensure that development financing is not held hostage to the coercive and restrictive agendas of financer countries and organizations. The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said the international community must never allow any attempt to check the independence of sovereign States, which is apparent when identifying sanctions applied by “a specific country” targeting as many as 70 countries.
Also speaking today were representatives of Paraguay (also for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Malawi (also for the Group of Least Developed Countries), Thailand (also for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Philippines (also for the Like‑minded Group of Supporters of Middle‑Income Countries), Belize (also for the Alliance of Small Island States, Fiji (also for Pacific small island developing States), New Zealand (also for Australia and Canada), Russian Federation, Israel, Indonesia, Argentina, Eritrea, United Kingdom, Algeria, Republic of Korea, Iceland, Norway, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Sudan, China, Afghanistan, Morocco, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Qatar, Switzerland, Syria, Nigeria, Honduras, Colombia, Zambia, United States and Lebanon, as well as the European Union, the observer of the State of Palestine and a representative the International Movement ATD Fourth World.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 8 October, to continue its general debate.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), said its work can be seen through the lens of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the “5 Ps”. The first, people, relates to poverty, women in development food security and education. The second, planet, addresses climate change, desertification and biodiversity and disaster risk reductions. The third, prosperity, is connected to macroeconomic policies, trade and financial inclusion. The fourth, partnership, focuses on financing for sustainable development and related illicit financial flows, external debt sustainability and the importance of science and technology. The final one, peace, is not on the Committee’s agenda, although it is an important prerequisite for development.
He stated the Second Committee is the one directly dealing with sustainable development in all three dimensions. Unless the international community accelerates action, a number of targets will not be reached by 2030, including reducing poverty, achieving food security, preventing biodiversity loss and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. He noted that last week, the Under‑Secretary‑General for Economic and Social Affairs had identified four interrelated megatrends — economic growth, inequality, climate change and technological innovation — that shape the trajectory of sustainable development. The Committee will address all of them.
He noted slow economic growth demands everyone think outside the box and maintain global solidarity. In addition, inequality among and within countries continues to deprive people of their right to live in dignity. Climate change and environmental degradation are impacting lives and livelihoods, triggering instability and migration especially affecting the most vulnerable, with small island developing States losing 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually. Finally, he said rapid technological innovation is a powerful tool for realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, but societies must be safeguarded from its negative effects including a widening technology divide. He noted the Committee has a pivotal role in launching the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.
PATRICK KEYS, Research Scientist, School of Global Environmental Sustainability, Colorado State University, United States, speaking in a keynote address, noted that a just and equitable future is still possible, although little evidence points to that conclusion. What the averages hide is the fact that wealth inequality within countries has expanded significantly from about the 1980s onward. The very rich have captured more wealth than all other income groups and will continue to become wealthier. Revelations have emerged about vast wealth holdings in offshore banks and tax havens. These intermediary financial institutions are used to hide the financing of activities, including tropical deforestation. All of these realities conspire to create a global financial system that by definition enriches the few at the expense of the many.
According to many scientists, he continued, the world has entered the Anthropocene, or has departed from the normal course of planetary events and entered the Human Age. Humanity is unequivocally modifying the planet, water and carbon cycles, the chemistry of air and oceans, destroying soil faster than it can be created and exterminating tremendous amounts of biodiversity. This has led to the concept of Anthropocene risks, which are characterized by three things — human‑driven changes to the Earth system, global social-ecological connection, and cross‑scale interactions from local, global and immediate to very long‑term.
He questioned whether sustainable development is possible against the dual backdrop of wealth inequality and accelerating global environmental change. The answer is yes, he said, but the global community must identify a path forward that takes a radical look at global systems that have failed to deliver on past promises. This radical look includes questioning and perhaps upending assumptions that have guided macroeconomic decision-making for the past century. This is possible, as ideas exist that can be tailored to specific needs. Notions of restorative and circular economics provide alternative visions of how sustainable development can unfold. Alongside technological solutions, the international community can vastly expand nature-based solutions to Anthropocene risks that work with, rather than against, ecosystems and the planet.
ASHANA BIGARD, Executive Director of the New Orleans Community Accountability Project, said despite the “sweat equity” of native New Orleanians who built their city, they did and do not benefit from the wealth generated by its tourist industry. Hurricane Katrina pulled back the curtain of extreme poverty and inequality in New Orleans, where half the population could not attain basic necessities, while inequality prevented proper rebuilding. She noted that black and indigenous New Orleanians had no place at the decision‑making table, and that such barriers prevented 100,000 people from returning to the city. The rebuilding process left less access to hospitals and public education, and the city had one third of the affordable housing pre-Katrina, while structural racism still prevents an equitable city amid a culture of “greed and toxic capitalism”. She noted that despite $72 billion allotted for reconstruction, the black male unemployment rate remains at 52 per cent. She recommended that all people be invited to the decision table and consider the voices of those most impacted and vulnerable.
EDUARDO SIMAS, Brazilian farmer and member, International Movement ATD Fourth World, said he had moved to rural Mirantão to explore rural poverty, discovering such barriers as poor access to schools and the justice system, underemployment and lack of youth opportunity among indigenous farmers. He cited the generosity of the people, who gave him food without expecting any return or payment, saying “it is because we give that we have”. He noted that brand of sharing redefines the meaning of wealth and rebuilds an economy based on reciprocity. Policies, development projects and poverty programmes do not account for what exists locally, destroying local networks and depleting resources. He said the most valuable asset people possess is “our time, and our selves”.
ABDULLAH ABU‑SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed that international trade is an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty eradication as well as an important source to finance development and achieve sustainable development. He noted that climate change is one of the greatest challenges to growth. Its widespread, unprecedented impacts disproportionately burden all developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable. Climate change undermines and impedes the ability to achieve sustainable development, especially for disaster‑prone developing countries and those with lower levels of resilience and preparedness. Urgent and significant actions are needed to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and prevent the extinction of threatened species.
ALBERTO CABALLERO (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said unfortunately there has been insufficient action and financing to further sustainable development. He noted landlocked developing countries are populated by over 500 million people, facing challenges closely tied to climate change, lack of sea access and remoteness of markets. Their interests must be paramount in the work of the Committee, with a strengthening of multilateralism. He said it was a priority to effectively implement the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024 and cited the current ideal opportunity to renew collective efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
PERKS M. C. LIGOYA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted that persistent economic volatility poses a constant threat to implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Growth in domestic product in least developed States has increased moderately, but many countries are still exhibiting structural vulnerability. Shortfalls in economic growth may be attributed in many cases to climate change and increased global uncertainty. As for debt burdens, he pointed to increases in debt servicing among the nations in his group, which is posing severe institutional challenges.
VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning himself with the Group of 77, noted the responsibility of the Committee to carry on momentum in achieving sustainable development. Under his Government’s chairmanship, ASEAN promotes complementarities between its Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda including eradicating poverty, improving infrastructure, sustainable consumption and building resilience. He cited strengthening ASEAN cooperation to enhance response to climate change and strengthening capacity to address natural hazards through the “One ASEAN One Response” approach. The group is also focused on promoting dynamic, sustainable, equitable and inclusive economic growth, maximizing the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Speaking in his national capacity, he highlighted Thailand’s pursuit of inclusiveness, localization and home‑grown development under the Goals.
ARIEL RODELAS PENARANDA (Philippines), speaking on behalf of the Like‑minded Group of Supporters of Middle‑Income Countries, highlighted three key issues of importance to it. First, he strongly urged the United Nations development system to elaborate a comprehensive system‑wide, long‑term strategy aimed at facilitating sustainable development through provision of coordinated support to middle‑income countries. Secondly, he underscored the need to increase the access of middle‑income countries to development financing and climate finance to support national development plans and objectives. Finally, he said that advancing towards multidimensional criteria that goes beyond income per capita is key to understanding the specific challenges and potentials of each country in the developing world.
COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, noted small island developing countries face high debt burdens and restricted access to concessional financing, aggravated by social challenges and external environmental and economic shocks. Given the small size and limited resources of CARICOM, partnerships must be forged with the international community. He pointed to risks including blacklisting by some of its Member States by the European Union as non‑cooperative tax jurisdictions. As the classification system used by international financial systems is overly reliant on per capita income as a yardstick for development, he called again for a multidimensional approach accounting for structural gaps and inequalities between countries. On the magnitude and urgency of climate change, he recalled financing commitments of multilateral development banks of $175 billion annually by 2025, “well below what is required”.
LOIS MICHELLE YOUNG (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, outlined core areas for action in the Second Committee to assist small island developing countries. These included fashioning an appropriate response to drive a wedge between the cycle of extreme events and attendant high debt so that small island developing States can sustain socioeconomic gains and build the resilience of fledgling islands and low‑lying coastal countries. The Committee should also call for urgent integrated action to stem the rising pace of biodiversity loss and rapidly decelerate global greenhouse gas emissions through investments in low emissions climate resilient pathways. In addition, it should also focus on enhancing data capacity gaps and developing a monitoring and evaluation framework to support evidence‑based decision-making. Finally, it should revisit the terms of access for granting concessional finance to small island developing States.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said international challenges call for collective problem solving, only possible through multilateralism. Despite the obvious need for sustainable development, he said the tools required are not adequate, including technology transfer and funding. He urged the Committee to address illicit financial flows, a serious component in eradicating poverty and achieving the Goals. He noted the disproportionate effect of climate change on African countries including desertification, drought and agricultural uncertainty, despite the continent’s limited contribution to the damage. On all levels, the African Group cites the importance of funding and financing and is concerned about a decrease in official development assistance (ODA).
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking on behalf of Pacific small island developing States and associating himself with the Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of 77, said climate change remains the biggest threat to sustainable development for isle nations such as his. Sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather events and water security are but a few of the challenges these islands face due to climate change. Climate‑induced migration, impacts on food security, sea level rise and the changes it can cause to geographic boundaries of States are just the tip of the melting iceberg. Predictable and adequate climate financing is vital so that small islands can invest in people, institutions and resilient infrastructure. Access criteria for financing must consider vulnerability and fragility to the effects of climate change and natural hazards to ensure the most climate vulnerable are assisted.
SILVIO GONZATO of the European Union said the 2019 theme, “Inclusive societies based on new economic models and sustainable use of resources”, is timely, requiring a just transition to a green economy and the circular economic model. He noted the revitalization process of the Committee but called for a focus on maintaining resolutions that are actually relevant to the 2030 Agenda. He said that development is impossible without human rights, through an agenda that is people- and planet‑centred, gender transformative and grounded in international human rights law. Turning to the climate emergency, he cited the need for a green and inclusive economy, to step up biodiversity protection and restoration, strive for zero pollution on the continent and transform the entire food system from farm to fork. He noted that the Union is the world’s largest provider of ODA.
CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada, noted that inequality among and within countries as well as gender inequality persists. Global warming, climate change and biodiversity loss are accelerating, and the state of the oceans are deteriorating. Since 2030 is a mere decade away, the international community must do more. It must focus on achieving gender equality, combating the impacts of climate change and strengthening the means of implementation. No one must be left behind, which means paying special attention to the needs of least developed countries and focusing on the unique challenges faced by small island developing States. It also means addressing the specific structural challenges of landlocked developing countries. Expanding opportunities, creating decent jobs and achieving inclusive growth will also help tackle the root causes of conflict.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said global growth rates have declined, with increasing tension in trade relations and debt. The lack of geopolitical stability, making the Committee’s role as a multilateral forum, must be strengthened. There needs to be an end to the practice of unilateral economic coercive measures, which harm the entire multilateral trade system. He cited the role of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as a clearing house when it comes to examining trade and investment, and its importance to middle‑income countries, noting they are the only group without a specific United Nations cooperation document. Unless their interests are accounted for, the 2030 Agenda will not be a success. He said the digital transformation can be a global accelerator for growth, but technology transfer is important.
SOLOMON JAMIRU (Sierra Leone), noting that ODA remains a key source of international financing for least developed countries, said its decline over the years is “alarming”. He urged development partners to fulfil their ODA commitments to least developed countries of 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of gross national income. He also stressed the need to further support aid for trade, financing for development, technology transfer, capacity‑building and addressing climate change vulnerabilities. Least developed countries in fragile situations need specific measures addressing their particularly context. Development partners therefore need to fully understand the unique challenges of development in fragile contexts if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved. Sierra Leone itself has adopted measures to walk out of fragility by laying the foundation for medium and long‑term national development.
EVGENIY A. STANISLAVOV (Russian Federation) said attempts to replace World Trade Organization (WTO) norms through unilateral moves undermines global growth and stability. Instead, the international community must bolster multilateral oversight of trade relations. He noted that fundamental progress in development financing requires eliminating tax evasion and the erosion of the tax base. He called for the development of a transparent mechanism against corruption and transnational crime. The Bretton Woods system should be overhauled, he noted, to more effectively aid least developed and middle‑income countries. His Government systematically enhances its contribution to sustainable development, on a bilateral and multilateral basis including to achieve debt relief and has allocated $1 billion for those projects. On climate change, the Russian Federation is developing a national programme to implement the Paris Agreement.
ANAT FISHER TSIN (Israel) noted that the international community has made progress in such critical areas as maternal and child mortality and access to electricity, which continues to improve in poorer countries. Extreme poverty has also been retreating for years, although progress is now slowing. Other goals remain elusive and some are retreating even further from global grasp. Hunger is on the rise again after years of decline and the extinction of species is rising faster than at any other time in human history. Adding that both developed and developing countries have crucial roles to play in implementing the 2030 Agenda, she said long‑range policies are needed. This session, Israel is presenting its biennial resolution “Agricultural technology for sustainable development”. This year’s resolution highlights several new areas, including the importance of new and innovative technologies to spur youth employment in the agriculture sector, energy-smart food systems and efficient water management, which is increasingly a critical factor in food security.
KIM IN-RYONG (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), aligning himself with the Group of 77, noted the creation of a peaceful environment is critical to socioeconomic development. Pointing to manoeuvres by a specific country to put a brake on independent development, he said the international community must never allow any attempt to check the independence of sovereign States, the extent of which is apparent when identifying sanctions applied by that specific country targeting as many as 70 countries. The international community should oppose and reject the high‑handedness, arbitrariness and unilateralism that have a negative impact on global peace and security as well as implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Attaining the Goals also requires a fair international order, as under the current international financial and trade system dominated by a few privileged countries, there is no cooperation to assist developing countries. He said it will result only in political domination and subordination.
MUHSIN SYIHAB (Indonesia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, stressed that the international community must make poverty eradication its highest priority and seek ways of expanding employment in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It must address national disparities and invest in rural infrastructure to close the urban‑rural gap. Also imperative in achieving agreed goals are sustaining political momentum, transferring technology, sharing knowledge and forming regional partnerships. There is also a need to close investment gaps, which remain stubbornly below what is needed to reach 2030 Agenda targets.
ALEJANDRO G. VERDIER (Argentina), aligning himself with the Group of 77, cited the pivotal role of science and technology in reducing poverty and inequality. He further pointed to the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation to those ends, which also respect the unique local features of countries and cities. He said eradicating poverty is impossible without dignified, decent work for all, and therefore noted ongoing efforts to end slavery and forced labour. He cited his Government’s role in spearheading the establishment of the International Day of Micro-, Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses (June 27). Micro-enterprises can make a considerable impact because they improve the environment, mitigate climate change and promote the rights and progress of women and girls.
NEBIL SAID (Eritrea), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that the lessons learned from half a century of international development are indicative that “we will not succeed unless we revamp multilateralism”. The world cannot expect to succeed and benefit from the billions residing in the developing countries when global governance institutions are disregarding and stifling the views of the global South on policies related to international finance, trade and security. “We cannot succeed in implementing the 2030 Agenda when we refuse to recognize that the dominant social, economic and political ideologies are exploitative; and only benefits the few at the detriment of humanity and our planet,” he continued. Successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda demands rethinking economic models and demonstrating solidarity. “We would like to see [that] the resolutions we adopt are concise and action oriented,” he added. In the Horn of Africa, much of the human, material and financial resources, which were mostly diverted to ensuring peace and security for several years, can now be devoted to accelerating development.
MYRIAM OEHRI (Liechtenstein) said that her country has been actively engaged in the fight against illicit financial flows which deprive Governments and citizens from financial resources for sustainable developments. Liechtenstein particularly emphasizes tackling financial flows stemming from modern slavery and human trafficking. Its Government and partners from Australia and the Netherlands launched a public-private partnership to confront these problems, she added. The final product of this partnership, called the “Liechtenstein Initiative”, equips the global financial sector to prevent and combat these crimes by means of sustainable and innovative financing, responsible lending and investment, as well as compliance and regulation. Lichtenstein has also just adopted comprehensive legislation for blockchain and other trustworthy technologies to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risk that these new technologies provide, she said.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom), associating herself with the European Union, said the international community is falling short on its agreed vision for sustainable development. She encouraged the Second Committee to put evidence at the heart of its discussions and focus on areas where progress can be made. A high level of ambition is needed if any headway is to be made tackling climate change and all climate meetings should seek to accelerate action on that phenomenon. On financing for development, she said major efforts must be made to ensure aid is provided for people who need it the most, with the maximum sustainable input squeezed from each dollar spent. Harnessing private and multi-stakeholder investment is critical in mobilizing the resources needed.
MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria) said international prospects “seem not bright” with slower global economic growth, trade tension, rising income inequalities and conflicts, which require a new focus on interlinkages to address them concertedly. He noted poverty eradication in all forms remains a global challenge necessitating increased ODA. The United Nations must continue to back African countries as they invest towards eradicating poverty in one generation. Raising the issue of the permanent sovereignty of peoples under colonial domination or foreign occupation over their natural resources, he said that illegal exploitation and trade must stop. Countries involved must realize they are alienating peoples left behind from their legitimate natural wealth, which critically affects their future development. Citing a wide range of United Nations-related summits, he said they represent a sort of pledge to multilateralism “without which we would simply have to close the United Nations and go back to our countries”.
ANA SILVIA RODRIGUEZ (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, said the international system must not be used to legitimize unilateral measures taken by States, as these are counter to the multipolar order required in implementing agreed development goals. Stressing that poverty elimination must be a prerequisite for sustainable development, she said wealth is concentrated in the hands of a rich elite, exacerbating efforts to improve conditions in many areas of the world. What is lacking is the political will and commitment to make progress in this area. Only five countries have honoured their ODA commitments, suggesting that an alternate financial architecture is needed. Noting that climate change threatens the survival of various species on the planet, she said no country should forget its ecological debt.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said the entire 2030 Agenda must be implemented in its entirety, but that a one‑size‑fits‑all approach will not work. Development programmes must be tailored to the individual needs of Governments. She called on developed countries to scale up beyond 0.7 per cent of gross national income and ODA. The international tax system, especially regarding the utilization of profits by multinational companies, must be overhauled. She further said the availability of resources in developing countries can be enhanced by combatting illicit financial flows and returning ill‑gotten wealth. Corruption must be fought at home but also tracked down globally. While South‑South cooperation is crucial, it is not a replacement for North‑South cooperation. She stated that the eradication of poverty is the overarching objective of the Goals. Turning to climate change, she called it a critical issue for developing countries like hers, affecting not just development and employment but its very economic viability.
CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) said that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are interlinked and indivisible and expressed concern over the inequalities both within and among countries. “Although we don’t have a stand‑alone resolution on inequality, the issue should be addressed through the work of the Second Committee in a holistic manner,” he added. The Republic of Korea is doing its part to implement the Paris Agreement and transition to a low‑carbon economy. It is also encouraging the international community to enhance its cooperation on addressing climate change. More attention should be given to strengthening partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The engagement of the private sector, especially in mobilizing and redirecting resources for the 2030 Agenda, is vital. Local communities, civil society organizations and academia are also important partners, he added.
JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland) said that his Government remains committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda, both at home and abroad. That includes fulfilling the targets in the Paris Agreement. Iceland aims to become carbon neutral by 2040 and, with other European States, is working towards a 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, he said. In 2019, the country’s Parliament agreed on a new policy for international development cooperation, focusing particularly on addressing climate change, reducing gender inequalities and securing human rights. Sustainability has long been vital to Iceland’s prosperity. Since the early twentieth century, the country has focused on recovering land quality and limiting land degradation. It pledges to share its knowledge of renewable energy, fisheries, land restoration and gender equality with the world, he said.
MONA JUUL (Norway), recalling that young activists at the recent Climate Action Summit demanded that world leaders stop talking and start acting, declared: “We must step up, speed up and scale up.” The message emanating from small island developing States, which are already paying the price of climate change, is equally clear. Meanwhile, the most recent disaster in the Caribbean highlighted once again the need to manage and reduce such risks, she said, adding that if the climate emergency is not halted the world will witness setbacks “that no agenda can mend”. Noting that the planet’s loss of biological diversity is closely linked to those challenges, she said Norway is redoubling is contribution to the Green Climate Fund and stepping up its climate resilience efforts as a main component of its development assistance. Stressing that the world is not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, she went on to call for stronger financial mobilization — including from domestic sources and the private sector — and related efforts to combat corruption.
DAOVY VONGXAY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said his country has encountered unexpected heavy rainfalls as a result of tropical storm Podul, which caused significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture and people’s livelihood. Meanwhile, trade tensions have affected the growth projection of international trade governed by the rules‑based multilateral trading system. Global economic uncertainties compounded with climate change, natural hazards and widening income inequality within and among countries threaten to severely disrupt global economic activity, he added. Economic growth remains unequally allocated across countries and regions and fails to reach those most in need. He called for a revitalized and resilient multilateralism trading system as well as enhancement of regional and international cooperation.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said financing for development faces more challenges today than ever. Citing recent “rampant blows to multilateralism”, he said the protectionist policies and embargos imposed by some major global players cast doubt on the effectiveness of the multilateral financing and trading systems. Calling on the international community to ensure that development financing is not held hostage to the coercive and restrictive agendas of financer countries and organizations, he said the concerns expressed by some countries about the Addis Ababa Action Agenda remain relevant and ODA levels stand far below expectations. Turning to climate change, he urged States not to lose sight of the foundation laid in the cornerstone Paris Agreement, under which developed countries agreed to take concrete action to provide adequate, predictable and timely support — including through financing and technology transfer.
OMER MOHAMED AHMED SIDDIG (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said eliminating poverty and tackling other major challenges was imperative in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Climate change is having a devastating impact on the planet through such effects as soil degradation, drought and famine, which are worsening economic recession. Sudan is a poor country, which is supporting 2 million refugees, suffering from sanctions, debt ridden and deprived of any financial assistance, which has had a negative impact on programmes, strategies and plans for economic development. As financing is a vital prerequisite for the 2030 Agenda, ODA should be ramped up and debt burdens lifted so countries can implement the sustainable development agenda.
WU HAITAO (China), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said poverty is the greatest challenge to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, but investment in infrastructure, education and health care must also be enhanced. He called for the international community to deepen global cooperation based on a foundation of mutual respect. Developed countries must honour their ODA commitments, while developing States should forge greater solidarity and deepen South‑South cooperation. He also stressed that States must oppose all forms of protectionism and unilateralism, working instead towards a multilateral framework and heeding the interests of the developing world. He noted that since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative, China has signed 190 cooperation documents with 160 countries and institutions, ultimately creating 300,000 jobs at the local level. His Government is the second largest contributor the United Nations peacekeeping budget. However, China remains a developing country itself and will always link its own development with other such States.
ADELA RAZ (Afghanistan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said pressures on multilateral cooperation are hindering implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Poverty and income inequality are also on the rise, suggesting that more international cooperation is needed in this area. Despite terrorism, poverty and displacement, Afghanistan is taking firm steps to implement the 2030 Agenda, while taking into consideration its national resources. Challenges countries like Afghanistan face in implementation are not uncommon, as conflict reverses decades of hard‑won gains. Strengthening the means of implementation and reinforcing partnerships is important for least developed and landlocked developing countries. Greater partnerships are needed to reach trade targets by 2030, especially for landlocked developing countries, which suffer from infrastructure and transport gaps.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said that his country continues to implement the 2030 Agenda. It has already achieved significant progress in the areas of poverty reduction, critical infrastructure‑building, and the consolidation of rights and freedoms. This progress is the result of the Government’s ambitious strategies and initiatives, such as the Green Morocco programme for agriculture, he said. Sustainable development requires further investment in human elements, which is why Morocco established a special commission to update the country’s development agenda. In March, the Government adopted the commitments resulting from the second High‑level United Nations Conference on South‑South Cooperation, he continued. Africa is particularly affected by climate change and is uniquely able to offer solutions as a result. The recent Climate Action Summit was further evidence of that. Generating funding and financing for action to counter climate change is crucial. He suggested that the United Nations set up a fund to support the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa.
SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said a worldwide temperature rise above 1.5°C will lead to a devastating effect on the global ecosystem. In Mongolia, the temperature has risen more than 2°C, drying out many lakes, rivers and streams and negatively affecting rural livelihoods. The country has abundant wind and solar resources and plans to substantially increase these forms of energy by 2030. It is also working to economically diversify, encouraging private partnerships and forming more competitive industrial chains, which will open up more opportunities, especially in the textile industries.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said that eradicating poverty and ensuring that everyone lives a dignified life lies at the heart of the world’s development vision. Saudi Arabia has moved forward in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, incorporating the 2030 Agenda in its policies. His State wants to be a development model for countries around the world, he continued. It has a particularly open public sector, and the private sector is a strong partner. The country has created many new jobs and is working to end unemployment. It is now seventh in the world in the effectiveness and efficiency of its public expenditures, he said. It has diversified its economy, leading to an increase in its income derived from sources other than oil. That progress involved the National Center for Competitiveness. He reiterated his country’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.
ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama), associating herself with the Group of 77 and middle‑income countries, noted that the first review of the 2030 Agenda stated that eradication of poverty should still be the main aim of the agreement. Both poverty eradication and sustainable development will require significant effort at the national, regional and international level. Cooperation is becoming even more crucial, given the current global backdrop, which strives to weaken multilateralism. Decisive political commitment is needed to mobilize the needed resources, provide capacity‑building and transfer technology. She added that countries entering the middle-income level face challenges, as sources of finance can be more difficult to obtain.
AHMED BIN SAIFI AL-KUWARI (Qatar) said that climate change is a challenge requiring multilateral efforts, a global phenomenon requiring international cooperation. Climate change is also likely to be an obstacle to the economic and social development of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said. Qatar played a major role in the recent United Nations Climate Action Summit, leading a coalition on carbon pricing. The country has also demonstrated the seriousness of its international commitments by pledging $100 million to States suffering the repercussions of climate change, he said. Qatar will continue to work with the international community as part of its ratification of the Paris Agreement. He said that an open, inclusive and fair global trading system is also essential to generating effective action to combat climate change. Qatar is building systems to monitor its implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he continued. It is also among the leading countries in offering humanitarian relief. In 2018 alone, it provided $585 million to more than 70 countries around the world. In addition, as part of its strategic partnership with the United Nations, Qatar has committed $500 million to the 2030 Agenda.
JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said the Second Committee concerned itself with too many obsolete resolutions that should be dealt with on a biennial or triennial basis. After all, the United Nations should be consistent when it comes to reforms. Adding that such reforms mainly aim to enhance development activities on the ground, he said Switzerland strongly supports this process. Regarding implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said the 2030 Agenda is ever more integrated into the United Nations agenda, but stated that time is pressing to implement these 17 ambitious goals. Noting that digitalization can offer multiple opportunities to speed up implementation, he called for cooperation in establishing a digital integrated world that capitalizes on new technologies.
BASHAR JA'AFARI (Syria) said that his country’s unique circumstances make implementing the 2030 Agenda a priority. Despite its current difficult situation, the relevant agencies of Syria’s Government have developed a national plan for the 2030 Agenda and will submit its first national review. These developments will enhance cooperation with the United Nations and international partners and make possible projects for developments that meet the needs of Syria’s people and deal with the special circumstances the country is undergoing because of terrorism and the economic blockade. A challenge is creating enabling conditions to permit refugees and displaced people to return home. This will require serious cooperation by the United Nations to ensure that it is not stymied by the hostile agendas of particular Governments that stand in the way of the reconstruction of infrastructure and the return of refugees. If the United Nations wants to have an effective role in development, it must oppose unilateral measures that result in the slowdown of Syria’s economy, a decline in its human development index, increased poverty, and losses in the vital sectors of health and education.
CATHERINE UDIDA (Nigeria) said her country supports all efforts to accelerate means to implement the 2030 Agenda. Remaining faithful to the commitments outlined in the outcome document of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit requires strengthening the means of implementation across all seven action areas of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Nigeria’s Government has worked towards diversifying its revenue base and incrementally mainstreaming funding provisions, for priorities related to the Sustainable Development Goals, into budget mechanisms at its national and subnational levels. Noting how illicit financial flows distort the growth and development of countries, Nigeria would like the Second Committee to spend more time discussing concrete steps to dismantle safe havens that create incentives for the transfer abroad of stolen assets and illicit financial flows. Nigeria will seek Member States’ commitment to update, for implementation, the Assembly resolution on this subject. Acknowledging that climate change is a great contemporary challenge, Nigeria notes that many countries used the Climate Action Summit to recommit to boosting their national climate action plans. Nigeria encourages the Committee to build on the momentum created by the Summit to encourage all countries, especially the most industrialized, to step up their commitment to address climate change and its associated challenges.
FADUA ORTEZ (Honduras), stressed the importance of considering the challenges of developing countries, including middle‑income nations, which suffer from climate change, persistent pockets of poverty and a lack of needed infrastructure. The participation of all development partners is vitally needed in achieving sustainable development. She noted that middle‑income countries are increasingly unable to access development finance, which hinders their efforts to reach targets laid down in the 2030 Agenda. It is therefore necessary to measure poverty in multidimensional ways, not simply through income. She added that tackling climate change and achieving sustainable development must be two sides of the same coin if the international community does not want to undo progress over the past decade.
JAIME GNECCO (Colombia) said that the 2030 Agenda is the crux of the country’s national development strategy. Indeed, 98 per cent of the Government’s development indicators align with the 2030 Agenda indicators. To build a more sustainable and equitable State, Colombia knows that it must remove the barriers to its citizens’ access to basic services and enhance productivity, particularly for its most vulnerable population sectors. The Government has undertaken unprecedented actions to create a business environment that fosters innovation and strengthens creative industries. Columbia is committed to protecting biodiversity and supporting renewable energies as part of the battle against fighting climate change. That phenomenon poses a direct challenge to international development and is the greatest threat to humankind. Colombia’s Government has taken strides forward at the United Nations Climate Action Summit and elsewhere to identify initiatives to implement the Paris Agreement. The country supports the reform of the United Nations development system championed by the Secretary‑General and embraces the transformative spirit to enhance cooperation and consultation.
SYLVESTER MUDANDA (Zambia) said his nation notes with deep concern the negative impact illicit financial flows have on developing countries. With the increased scope and complexity in illicit financial flows, Zambia, like other nations, has continued to lose revenue through various mechanisms, such as structuring, currency exchanges, undervaluing of assets, front businesses, false currency reporting and offshore corporations as well as inadequate capacities to tax the fast‑growing digital economy. To address these challenges, Zambia is implementing measures, including the operationalization of the currency reporting threshold to improve the ability to detect and prevent illicit sources and uses of cash. He called for improved reporting mechanisms, enhanced and inclusive date sharing mechanisms as well as reduced digital gaps at the global level to benefit developing countries.
JASON LAWRENCE (United States) said that his country continues to believe that the Second Committee cannot justify issuing annual reports or resolutions. Negotiating on a biannual or triannual basis would be better, he continued. The United States will look for the Committee to establish clear benchmarks to ensure its work is conducted on time and follows best practices. The Government’s commitment to international development is strong and the country remains the largest provider of security assistance around the world. However, contributions from the country’s private sector and humanitarian organizations outweigh those delivered by the Government. This diverse funding can increase the self‑reliance of poor countries, he said. The United States does not want to displace private sector players or pursue initiatives that should be undertaken by national Governments. The new United Nations Development Corporation will help facilitate capital in emerging markets. In addition, the United States Government is launching an initiative that will contribute to women’s development globally, contributing $50 million by 2025. This initiative will focus on supporting workforce development, female entrepreneurs, and changing laws and regulations that limit women’s economic participation. At the same time, the United States knows that a country’s enabling economic environment matters significantly, he said. He added that the United Nations must respect the independent mandates of different organizations and must not involve itself in issues better undertaken by other bodies, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). The United States will continue to push back against the politicization of the Second Committee.
FARAH SIBLINI (Lebanon), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said her country has shown remarkable resilience in the face of numerous political, security and economic shocks. Despite this situation, it officially launched the Sustainable Development Goals process almost two years ago. A catalyst of development continues to be the Lebanese diaspora, which adapted and integrated into new societies and provides immense contributions to the economic and social development of both their home country and countries of destination. However, Lebanon’s development agenda will need to be financed through highly concessional lending and grants as well as through mobilizing private sector resources. This financing will also be used to upgrade Lebanon’s overstretched infrastructure due to the Syrian crisis and the massive influx Syrians displaced to Lebanon. This massive influx has slowed economic growth, increased unemployment and poverty levels and overburdened infrastructure in various sectors.