The devastating impacts of climate change threaten the progress and even existence of least developed countries, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today during the first of two days of debate on the issue of sustainable development.
Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa”, stressing that land is the basis for human health and livelihood. “Simply put, land feeds us all,” he said, noting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report that 25 per cent of the world’s land has been rendered unusable, “threatening everything we eat, drink and breathe”.
In the face of that daunting statistic, many speakers addressed the issue as an existential threat that forestalls development. The representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, noted the stark reality of the impacts of climate change citing the destruction of the Bahamas, the latest devastating storm in a series that have cost those countries billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and gross domestic product (GDP). Calling the “existential crisis” a wake‑up call to Member States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build up resilience, she noted the sad reality for all small island developing States is they have contributed the least to climate change but remain most at risk.
The representative of Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, stated that climate change is responsible for 80 per cent of worldwide disasters. He stressed concern over the vulnerability of these countries in view of their restricted production capacities. The observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said “Disasters can wipe out hard-fought development gains” and the poorest countries and most marginalized people continue to bear the brunt. Highlighting a “closing window of opportunity”, he urged developed countries to honour their commitment to provide $100 billion in climate financing to developing nations by 2020.
With her country experiencing dramatically volatile rainfall and forecasting a 12 per cent increase in precipitation, the representative of Honduras stressed “Our very survival is under threat”, calling for new financial resources and official development assistance (ODA) to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Echoing that, Cambodia’s delegate noted South‑East Asia has witnessed an alarming trend of more frequent and intensified floods, droughts and extreme weather conditions over the past decade, making climate change “the single most important battle of our life”.
Turning to positive measures, the representative of Bangladesh noted his country allocated over 1 per cent of GDP or $50 million for adaptation and mitigation purposes. To ensure food security, scientists have invented several salinity and drought‑resistant crop varieties, and initiatives aim to increase tree coverage from 22 per cent to 24 per cent in the next five years, including a $50 million project to conserve the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Bolivia’s delegate stressed that development must be limited to the regenerative balance of the natural world. The representative of Saudi Arabia cited environmentally friendly projects including recycling, waste water treatment and support of vegetation cover. However, Nigeria’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed the need for strong action on desertification, climate change impacts and environmental degradation on agriculture, given their profound effects. He called on the international community to honour its pledges and fulfil ODA commitments. If Member States do not help Africa address systemic structural issues and the progressing effects of climate change, they will have failed in their commitment to leave no one behind.
Reports were also introduced by the Officer in Charge, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on agriculture; chemical munitions waste at sea; Agenda 21, World Summit on Sustainable Development and United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development; mainstreaming sustainable development; small island developing States; harmony with nature; affordable, reliable and modern energy; and sustainable mountain development.
In addition, reports were presented by a Policy Specialist at the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme on the Lebanese oil slick; an Inspector at the Joint Inspection Unit on 2030 Agenda policy research uptake; the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Disaster Risk Reduction on the Sendai Framework; the Director of Finance, Technology and Capacity‑Building at the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat on protection of global climate; the Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, on biological diversity; the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme on the United Nations Environmental Assembly and on combating sand and dust storms; a representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on the implementation of education for sustainable development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda; and the Director of Sustainable Development of Tourism at the World Tourism Organization on sustainable tourism in Central America.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Malawi (for the Group of Least Developed Countries), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Fiji (for Pacific small island developing States), Belize (for the Alliance of Small Island States), El Salvador (for the Central American Integration System), Tuvalu (for the Pacific Islands Forum), Sierra Leone, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Eritrea, Cuba, Singapore, Iran, Afghanistan, Qatar, Syria, Nigeria (national capacity), Maldives, Zambia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (national capacity), Panama, Cabo Verde, Mozambique, China, Nepal, Montenegro, Pakistan, India, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Malaysia and Egypt.
The Committee will meet again on Tuesday, 15 October, at 10 a.m. to continue the debate.
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE, President of the United Nations General Assembly, addressed the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) saying the global response has not been sufficient given the urgency of advancing sustainable development, and the international community must refocus efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda. He noted that one‑third of the global food supply is lost or wasted, and the world can therefore do better in addressing hunger, which has been rising for three consecutive years. With one in five children not in school, he said any progress must include all stakeholders, and addressing the issues at hand must prioritize those at risk of being left behind. He stressed that progress is still possible “but only if we act now”. The international community must promote new and innovative initiatives and close the global $1.3 trillion financing gap.
Introduction of Reports
ALEXANDER TREPELKOV, Officer‑in‑Charge, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Agriculture technology for sustainable development” (document A/74/238). He noted that a broad portfolio of policies, approaches and inputs is needed to achieve the global goals to end hunger, attain food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. The application of science and technology in developing sustainable agricultural practices can play an important role in accelerating progress.
He then introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on “Cooperative measures to assess and increase awareness of environmental effects related to waste originating from chemical munitions dumped at sea” (document A/74/242). The report summarizes the views of Member States and several regional and international organizations on this topic to explore the possibility of establishing a database and options for the most appropriate institutional framework for such as database.
Next, he introduced the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development” (document A/74/204). The document, he said, gives a snapshot of current trends, major developments and remaining challenges with respect to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, advancing the Samoa Pathway, conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources, sustainable consumption and production, and financing and partnerships for sustainable development.
Following that, Mr. Trepelkov introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on “Mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system” (document A/74/72-E/2019/13). The report notes that positive trends in implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development remain robust, with renewed efforts by the United Nations system to transform institutions and align work programs and budgetary resources with the Sustainable Development Goals.
He then introduced the Secretary‑General’s report on “Follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small island developing States” (document A/74/66). According to that report, climate change and resilience‑building remain top priorities of the environmental pillar, while social inclusion, poverty eradication and combating non‑communicable diseases appear high on the agenda for the social pillar. Debt relief, access to concessional financial and connectivity challenges feature prominently on the economic pillar.
Next, he introduced the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Harmony with Nature” (document A/74/236), which highlights humankind’s evolving awareness of our relationship with Mother Earth, manifested through legislation, policy, education and public engagement.
Following that, he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on “Ensuring access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all” (document A/74/265), which notes that global progress on energy targets is falling short. Some 840 million people still lack access to electricity, 3 billion people are without clean cooking facilities, advances on energy efficiency are below targets, and renewable energy lags behind in heating and transport.
Introducing a final report titled “Sustainable mountain development” (document A/74/209), he noted that cooperation on mountain issues is on the rise, as is awareness of the vital contribution of mountains to life on the planet and sustainable development. Mountains are essential for fresh water, food, biodiversity and energy, but poverty, vulnerability and exclusion in those regions affect millions of people, hindering development opportunities.
SABRINA AUBERT, Policy Specialist at the Regional Bureau for Arab States of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), introduced the report of the Secretary-General titled “Oil slick on Lebanese shores” (document A/74/225). She said the spill is an ecological disaster cause by Israel’s forces affecting two thirds of her country’s shoreline. The report drawn up by UNDP notes that the Government of Israel must compensate Lebanon and others including Syria, although the Israeli Government has not acknowledged that demand. She called on Member States to assist in preserving Lebanon’s ecosystem, but observed that no voluntary funding has been paid. She said the Secretary‑General remains extremely concerned over the lack of implementation and stated that the slick has caused $856 million in damage.
PETRU DUMITRIU, Inspector at the Joint Inspection Unit, introduced the report on “Strengthening policy research uptake in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/74/216). He said there must be concrete changes and better use of the limited resources within the United Nations system itself. He noted that the report aims to trigger gradual but robust movement in helping the United Nations system operate, breaking down silos, taking into account the considered views of academia, and that interdisciplinary research is possible because “research is an activity that refuses to sit in individual boxes”. He said the system must optimize the use of research in the interests of global progress.
MAMI MIZUTORI, Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Disaster Risk Reduction, introduced the Secretary‑General’s report “Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030” (document A/74/248). Noting concrete evidence that investing in disaster reduction pays off, she also observed that the unintended negative consequences of development continue to pose risks. Recent disasters in the Caribbean have highlighted the urgency of managing disaster risk, which must be implemented into policies and strategies across all sectors.
The report expresses concern that national strategies are not fully aligned with the Sendai Framework, she said. Some 109 countries and territories have disaster risk databases in place, but today’s risk landscape is changing rapidly. Awareness and understanding of this rapidly shifting risk are insufficient across the board, indicating a need to transform risk reduction into easily understandable formats. The report notes that financing continues to disproportionately focus on post‑disaster recovery rather than disaster risk reduction and prevention.
DANIELE VIOLETTI, Director, Finance, Technology and Capacity Building, United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, introduced a report on “Protection of global climate change for present and future generations of humankind” (document A/74/207) as well as an overview of preparations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change twenty‑fifth Conference of Parties, to be held from 2‑13 December in Santiago, Chile. Noting that the report lists the main outcomes from the twenty‑fourth session — held in Katowice, Poland in December 2018 — he said the latter saw significant results across all bodies, most notably the adoption of the Katowice Climate Package, a robust set of guidelines for implementing the Paris Agreement.
“Parties have entered a new era in collective efforts to address climate action, focusing on increasing implementation and enhancing ambition,” he said, noting that the new guidelines operationalize an enhanced transparency framework and set out how countries will provide information about their nationally determined contributions on mitigation and adaptation actions. Parties will continue negotiations to resolve outstanding issues including cooperative approaches and a sustainable development mechanism. In addition, he said, other significant decisions were taken related to local and indigenous communities, action on gender issues, agreement on joint work in the agricultural sector, climate finance, capacity‑building and technology.
Turning to the upcoming Conference of Parties in Santiago, he said Governments and a broad range of non‑Party stakeholders met recently to discuss a series of political dialogues focused on the transitions needed to accelerate climate action. A rich agenda of events and satellite events was organized. The preparatory meeting also provided an opportunity to emphasize the importance of multilateral engagement and collaboration by all actors, including to promote advocacy of the far‑reaching economic and social benefits of urgent climate action, he said.
IBRAHIM THIAW, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, introduced the report on “Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification, particularly in Africa” (document A/74/207). He stressed that land is the basis for human health, livelihood and economic, cultural and spiritual well‑being. “Simply put, land feeds us all,” he said. He noted that science tells us that desertification, land degradation and drought are real threats to humanity, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reporting that 25 per cent of the world’s land has been rendered unusable, “threatening everything we eat, drink and breathe”.
While unsustainable land use practices are responsible for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, he noted that demand for agricultural products is predicted to increase by 50 per cent by 2050. He stressed that Asia and Africa will soon have the highest number of people vulnerable to increased desertification. Land degradation costs 10 per cent of the world’s annual gross domestic product (GDP), costing Central Asia alone an estimated $6 billion, with drought affecting every climatic region including around 70 countries. Citing impacts in Jamaica, Peru and across the Sahel, he said by 2050, the combination of land degradation and climate change may force 50 to 700 million people to migrate. However, he noted land is part of the solution, as nature‑based solutions can provide over one‑third of climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2°C. Around 2 billion hectares of land, twice the size of China, now degraded, can be restored, while halting and reversing current destructive trends could generate up to $1.4 trillion in annual economic benefits.
CRISTIANA PASCA PALMER, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity, introduced the report of the Secretary‑General to the seventy‑fourth session of the General Assembly on the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/74/207). The report covers key outcomes of the fourteenth session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention, which was held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt in November 2018. The high‑level segment of the Conference was convened under the theme “Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet” and the Conference led to the adoption of 37 decisions on strategic, administrative, financial and ecosystem‑related issues of relevance to implementing the Convention and its Protocols. The Conference also reviewed the progress in implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011‑2020 and concluded that despite many positive actions, most of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets were not on track to be achieved by 2020. The Convention’s Secretariat has begun a number of activities to advance and contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, she said.
JAMIL AHMAD, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), presented the Secretary-General’s reports on the “United Nations Environmental Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme” on its fourth session (document A/74/25) and on “Combating sand and dust storms” (document A/74/263). He said one of the main outcomes of the fourth session was the Ministerial Declaration on “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production”, through which Member States expressed their determination to “ambitiously scale up efforts to overcome common environmental challenges’ by taking several actions relevant to the General Assembly agenda. The Environmental Assembly also adopted 23 resolutions calling for accelerated action and strengthened partnerships on key areas like marine litter and microplastics, innovative pathways to achieve sustainable consumption and production, food loss and waste, sustainable mobility, addressing single‑use plastic product pollution and an implementation plan to address pollution.
Regarding the report on sand and dust storms, he said it identifies three key messages. First, complementarities between initiatives can be improved further and coordination strengthened to ensure adequate collaborative United Nations system response in combating them. Second, there remain gaps in terms of date, information, knowledge, technology, capacity, finance, policy and other enabling conditions to undertake more effective and efficient actions to address sand and dust storms. Finally, sand and dust storms represent a significant transboundary hazard in numerous parts of the world, underscoring the need for strong partnerships and the strengthening of subregional, regional and interregional cooperation.
MARIE PAULE ROUDIL, speaking on behalf of the Director‑General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), presented the Report on “Implementation of Education for Sustainable Development in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/74/258). As the United Nations specialized agency for education, UNESCO is meant to lead and coordinate the achievement of the educational goal of the 2030 Agenda. The Education 2030 Framework for Action sets up the road map to achieve the 10 targets of Sustainable Development Goal 4, including providing guidance to Governments and partners on how to carry out the new education agenda and how to turn the commitments made at the country, regional and global level into practical tasks. To prepare for the implementation of Education for Sustainable Development beyond 2019, UNESCO developed a framework, “Education for Sustainable Development: Towards Achieving the SDGS”, to cover the period from 2020 to 2030. The Secretary‑General’s report confirms that education for Sustainable Development is essential for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The new framework will be officially launched at the Global Conference on Education for Sustainable Development in Berlin, Germany in June 2020. The framework emphasizes the learning content that is necessary for the survival and prosperity of humanity.
SAHAR N. ABUSAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reaffirmed the principles elaborated at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development including that of common but differentiated responsibility. Stressing the urgent need to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda — especially the eradication of poverty — he also underlined the need to implement other existing and ongoing sustainable development commitments. As small island developing States face emerging challenges from climate change and economic shocks, he called for a renewed sense of vigour in the Committee’s relevant negotiations, spotlighting a “closing window of opportunity” for those States. He further urged developed countries to honour their commitment of providing $100 billion in climate financing to developing nations by 2020.
“Disasters can wipe out hard-fought development gains,” he continued, noting that the poorest countries and most marginalized people continue to bear the brunt. As no nation can manage disaster risk alone, international cooperation and global partnerships are needed. Special support is required for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and middle-income countries, as well as those in transition which have recently exceeded the median income threshold but still suffer from structural gaps and vulnerabilities. Reiterating that ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy remains crucial to advancing economic opportunities, he called for swift and urgent action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt biodiversity loss and prevent the extinction of threatened species. He also outlined such challenges as sand and dust storms and obstacles ensuring quality education, while calling for more ambitious efforts to protect marine and coastal ecosystems and for support to efforts aimed at cleaning up an oil slick in Lebanon.
JULIO C. ARRIOLA RAMIREZ (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the development agenda is a collective effort. Food insecurity is dominant in many of those States, with climate change responsible for 80 per cent of worldwide disasters. Noting some progress on the gender divide, he stressed concern over the vulnerability of these countries in view of their restricted production capacities. Turning to climate change, he called for global collaboration in facing the challenge, as efforts must be stepped up to anticipate future risks. He said the group looks forward to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Chile as an opportunity to mitigate and reverse the consequences of climate change, given the success of the 2030 Agenda will be impossible without progress in that domain. Stating that landlocked developing countries need access to renewable energy and infrastructure to achieve progress towards sustainable development, he said the group is ready for a decade of action and results.
PERKS LIGOYA (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the Group of the Least Developed Countries and associating himself with the Group of 77, noted interconnected challenges that impede his Group from attaining development goals. Chief among these, he stressed, is climate change, which necessitated additional and predictable technical and financial support for adaption and mitigation in line with international commitments. He said that access to financial flows for that purpose remain a concern, however. He also called for urgent action to stem climate change and safeguard the planet.
Noting in addition the disproportionate effect of disasters on the least-developed, he welcomed the LIFE‑AR initiative launched by Bhutan at the Climate Summit and stressed the need to manage the complex set of human systems in a way that makes them more resilient. Turning to energy challenges, he underscored the urgent need for clean and modern cooking energy, noting the massive investment needed to increase clean energy access for poor countries and welcoming the forming of a coalition for that purpose. Pointing also for the need to radically boost educational levels in poor countries, he pledged those countries’ efforts in mobilizing resources and building institutions for all such needs, but also underlined the necessity of strengthened partnership including through increased official development assistance (ODA).
KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that the group has a rich terrestrial and marine biodiversity. He stressed the need to sustain ecosystem functions and services, whereby current challenges like climate change, rapid urbanization and continuing habitat loss from agricultural expansion and industrial activities are dealt with and adequately responded to. He also underscored the importance of increased investments, capacities, research and tool development for managing impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, slow‑onset disasters like drought and other climate‑related hazards. Adding that energy is an engine of economic growth in ASEAN, he said the region has made good progress in implementing the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation. ASEAN has reached its energy efficiency target thus far and the Lao‑Thailand‑Malaysia power integration project has successfully enhanced multilateral power trade in the region.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States and aligning himself with the Alliance of Small Island States, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Group of 77, welcomed the recognition of the special case status for small island developing nations. Acknowledging augmented national commitments made at the Climate Action Summit, he urged continued ambition in that regard. Leaders in his region, he stated, have consistently shown commitment to the Paris Agreement and continued to push for raised awareness of the climate crisis and to encourage the broadest efforts on the issue within the context of sustainable development. Given that small islands struggle to access international sources of finance, the application and reporting processes for climate finance must be made simpler, with vulnerability to effects of climate change and disaster taken into account.
Reiterating commitment to address climate change and disaster risk, he recalled the adoption in 2017 of a regional framework for building resilience through an integrated approach. Noting recent meetings under that framework, he highlighted the need for improved coordination of disaster risk reduction across the United Nations system. In addition, he noted the recommitment to the Samoa Pathway made at the recent mid‑term review. In that context, he stressed the need for improved access for financing for development and strengthened capacity for data collection and analysis. He called on partners and the international community as a whole to continue to enhance their support for sustainable development in the Pacific region. Welcoming the decision on a United Nations multi‑country office in the North Pacific, as well the decision of the countries concerned that it be hosted in Micronesia, he looked forward to its timely establishment and operationalization.
ELIZABETH THOMPSON (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, noted the stark reality of the impacts of climate change in view of the “recent decimation of some of the islands in the Bahamas”, the latest devastating storm in a series that have cost those countries billions of dollars in damage to infrastructure and GDP. This existential crisis for CARICOM should serve as a wake‑up call to Member States to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build up the resilience of the most vulnerable countries. She noted the sad reality for CARICOM, as with all small island developing States, is they have contributed the least to climate change but remain most at risk. Despite recent pledges of $175 million in annual financing to combat climate change by 2025, she stressed that pledges do not necessarily result in delivery. She expressed concern that despite the expanded mandate of the Samoa Pathway, resources allocated to the small island developing States Unit within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs have remained unchanged, when it should be predictable and reliable.
SHARON LINOT (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, reiterated the nuances and challenges of small island and low‑lying coastal States. “The development gains made are often overshadowed by the prospects of growing inequality, constrained growth and rising vulnerability to exogenous shocks,” she added. For 30 years, small island developing States have repeatedly stressed that the unsustainable practices in other parts of the world should not be their burden to bear. And yet the international community sits in idle contemplation while countries face indescribable destruction, growing and unsustainable debt burdens and the social fallout of these impacts. Small island developing States have also advocated unceasingly for a system that is able to respond at scale and in an appropriate timeframe to disasters. They know these risks all too well. “We face them year after year,” he continued, adding that the literature emerging from experts in this area has been more vocal in the acknowledgement that the existing mechanisms are not fit‑for‑purpose. “Small island developing States do not beg,” she stressed, also adding: “We only ask for justice and fairness.” Small island developing States ask for the destructive behaviour of some States to be curtailed and for decisions to be based on science.
SAMUEL V. MAKWE (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed the need for strong action on desertification, climate change and environmental degradation on agriculture, given their profound effects on the continent’s countries and their ability to achieve sustainable development. He welcomed the opportunity to engage in discussion but emphasized that mere dialogue is not enough to reach the targets of the 2030 Agenda or address obstacles to sustainable development already noted by the Committee. He called on the international community to honour its pledges and fulfil ODA commitments. If Member States do not help his continent address systemic structural issues and the progressing effects of climate change, they will have failed in their commitment to leave no one behind. He said Africa will continue to strive to work towards food and water security but requires assistance to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
EGRISELDA LÓPEZ (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Central American Integration System and associating herself with the Group of 77, said one of her organization’s fundamental objectives is to identify, establish and maintain coordination and concrete actions to preserve the environment through responsible administration that is in harmony with nature and sustainable development. The Central American Integration System Regional Strategic Agenda is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals. It positively views the contribution of ODA to strengthen national development strategies and reduce structural gaps.
Recognizing the region’s vulnerability to climate change and man-made disasters of natural and anthropic origin, she said the System recognizes the importance of strengthening the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2020 and the fulfilment of its goals in the region. For the Central American region, it is important to strengthen the means of implementation and make financing mechanisms more flexible to adapt to and mitigate the harmful effects of climate change so the most vulnerable countries can access these mechanisms. The System also recognizes the importance of stimulating the public and private sectors’ role in advancing climate action with sustained promotion of renewable energy and clean technologies in industry and transport. At the recent Climate Action Summit, the System presented an initiative, “Building Resilience in the Central American Region under a Synergistic Approach between Mitigation and Adaption — Focusing on the Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use”. This initiative aims for the region, by 2030, to establish and manage 10 million hectares of sustainable productive landscapes that are resilient to climate change, with a goal of not less than a 40 per cent reduction in emissions from the sector’s 2010 levels.
FAKASOA TEALEI (Tuvalu), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said the full and effective implementation of the Samoa Pathway remains the priority concern for small island developing States, and “the Second Committee is the right place to ensure that the necessary action is taken”. At a recent High‑Level Midterm Review of that instrument, leaders endorsed a Political Declaration reaffirming their commitment and called for the full cooperation of the United Nations and the international community. Warning that the catastrophic impacts of climate change and extreme weather events can undo decades of hard‑won sustainable development progress, he called for support in enhancing the resilience of small island developing States to those threats as well as efforts to ensure that their economies and national sustainable development initiatives are not negatively impacted. Welcoming efforts to reform the United Nations development system and render it more fit for purpose, he hailed the decision by Micronesia to host the new Multi‑Country Office in the Northern Pacific, while outlining regional efforts to accelerate the implementation of the Samoa Pathway.
DIRK GLAESSER, Director of Sustainable Development of Tourism at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), introducing the report of the Secretary‑General on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America” (document A/74/208), noted a recent decrease in Caribbean tourism due to extreme weather. However, tourism is continuing to promote poverty reduction in Latin America, boosting the economies of Honduras and Guatemala, with El Salvador developing employment programmes in that domain. He noted the importance of preserving protected areas for biodiversity make soft‑impact tourism a priority, with El Salvador and Nicaragua among the countries developing programmes in that sector. Similarly, a number of States are fostering initiatives to protect the sector, he said, spotlighting waste management and recycling programmes. There is also progress in promoting responsible tourism that does not exploit women and girls. Countries in the region are enhancing the role of tourism in building sustainable development and also fighting poverty and driving entrepreneurial opportunities in poorer areas.
ALIE KABBA (Sierra Leone), aligning himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, reiterated unwavering support to achieve the 2030 Agenda in an integrated manner. He said that the second voluntary review of the country’s progress saw the most significant advances in the education and justice sectors. Given the under‑performing economy and other challenges, he commented, it is necessary to revisit the approach to advancing the agenda, particularly as concerns least developed countries such as his. In that light, his country has prioritized education and justice as “accelerator goals” in line with the national development plan, while ensuring the other goals also get significant funding. Noting that Sierra Leone co‑chairs the Global Task Force on Justice, he stated the country’s commitment to foster just and peaceful societies around the world. Noting also his country’s extreme vulnerability to climate change, he called for urgent action to fully implement the Paris Agreement.
NURUL ISLAM NAHID (Bangladesh) said his country is extremely vulnerable to climate change, which has made it more determined to face this challenge. At the national level, Bangladesh has mainstreamed climate actions and disaster management into national planning and sustainable development strategy. Over 1 per cent of GDP or $50 million has been allocated for adaptation and mitigation purposes. To ensure food security, the country has been transforming agriculture and making it more resilient to the impacts of climate change and natural hazards. Scientists have invented several salinity and drought‑resistant crop varieties. Adding that initiatives have been taken to increase tree coverage from 22 per cent to 24 per cent in the next five years, he said a project worth $50 million is being implemented for the conservation of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
IAN NAUMKIN (Russian Federation) noted the importance of providing electricity in driving sustainable development, pointing out that 840 million people worldwide have no access to power. However, he said the international community must be realistic, as demand for electricity will increase by 25 per cent by 2040. As previously, fossil fuels will prevail in the global energy balance, but the world must progress to renewable forms of power. He noted the increasing use of natural gas as an ecologically friendly power source. His Government is implementing a modern system for State regulation of emissions and cites the importance of international cooperation in balancing the need for power with ecological responsibility.
AINAN NURAN (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country is increasing funding to small island developing States for infrastructure projects in combating climate change. She stressed her country’s need to develop sustainable energy and enhance its capacity for disaster risk reduction. Noting that several nations are facing different levels of funding gaps, she emphasized the importance of countries honouring their commitments under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Adding that Indonesia has launched an environmental funding facility to support implementation of the Paris Agreement, she invited partners to invest in this fund.
NADJA MICAEL (Eritrea), associating herself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developing Countries, said her country is located in arid and semi‑arid region of Africa, making it vulnerable to the effects of climate change, land degradation and desertification. Eritrea is committed to land degradation neutrality, she said, stressing the importance of land‑based natural resources to the socioeconomic development of the country. To ensure food security, construction of micro and macrodams has been in full swing, a project that has opened opportunities towards efforts to transform subsistence agricultural production to irrigated farming. Eritrea is part of the other 10 countries of the Great Green Wall Initiative to halt the advancement of the Sahara desert and its consequences.
BIANA LEYVA REGUEIRA (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said wealth inequality is on the rise with a widening gulf between the North and South. She called on developed nations to honour commitments and shoulder historic responsibilities. Stating that climate change poses a threat to the very existence of the human species, she noted the United States is one of the great polluters of yesterday and today yet refuses to support the international community under the Paris Agreement. She said the economic blockade of Cuba, in its sixth decade, is the most unjust and severe system of unilateral sanctions in history in violation of the rights of her country’s people, and can be described as an “act of genocide” that flouts the Charter of the United Nations, and precludes development and international access, costing it billions of dollars.
KANGWEN WONG (Singapore), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Alliance of Small Island States, said the recent rise in temperature and destruction wrought by intense storms and weather events “should lay to rest any lingering doubt over the clear and present danger of climate change”. Governments must take the lead in catalysing durable change and green growth, he stressed, noting that in 2019 Singapore became the first country in South‑East Asia to implement an economy‑wide carbon tax. “This policy is not without short-term costs but will incentivize the transition towards a low‑carbon economy,” he said. Among other things, Singapore also recently passed a Resource Sustainability Bill to hold large companies accountable for improving their waste management. Innovation and long‑term strategic planning are key to overcoming natural resource constraints and adapting to unique national circumstances, he said, describing climate change as a “global commons challenge” requiring international cooperation.
BANDAR MAHDI S. ALNAHDI (Saudi Arabia), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country is continuing to roll out large-scale projects for infrastructure, which are also creating employment. Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit is still being attended to and the country is struggling to diversify the economy. Regarding climate change, it is working to implement the Paris Agreement, with special focus on environmental protection, conservation and reduction of pollution. Numerous environmentally friendly projects have been adopted, including in the areas of recycling, waste water treatment and support of vegetation cover. The country is focusing on good quality education for all to meet job market needs, including for individuals with disabilities.
ALI HAJILARI (Iran) said that his country maintains that the 2030 Agenda is not a legally binding instrument. As the 2030 Agenda stipulates, any follow up and review processes should be voluntary and country‑based, based on different national realities, capacities and levels of development. However, Iran, based on its own initiative, has embraced socioeconomic and environmental goals. The country follows its own low‑carbon plan, which aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Iran has constantly viewed access to quality education as the main pillar of its national development policies, eliminating the gender group in education. In addition, 99 per cent of the urban population in Iran has access to safe drinking water. The international community must take concrete measures to end the illegal sanctions against Iran and create an environment for sustainable development, he said.
ZIAUDDIN AMIN (Afghanistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that the Government is working with the private sector, civil society, academia and development partners to fulfil implementing the 2030 Agenda. Despite the challenges Afghanistan faces in peace, security, and development, it remains committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. The Government continues to invest in agriculture, infrastructure, natural resources, human capital, private sector development and women’s economic empowerment. Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy plays a key role in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without peace and security, he emphasized, urging the need to pay special attention to conflict‑affected countries as they continue to face large investment gaps.
TEMEM AL-MANSOORI (Qatar), associating himself with the Group of 77, said there is a global need for multilateral efforts in tackling the major challenge of climate change, which threatens sustainable development. His Government is contributing $100 million in financing to small island developing States and least developed countries, which bear the main brunt of the damage, and is also providing multi‑year assistance of $20 million for country‑led laboratories on sustainable development. He cited quality education for all as one of the most powerful tools for development, as well as nurturing a society of tolerance and peace. His country accents the importance of consolidating international partnerships in the interests of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
ROUA SHURBAJI (Syria), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country looks forward to continuing its work with the United Nations development system, despite the terrorist war it is contending with. Syria is currently working towards going beyond development input to using its own resources in meeting humanitarian needs. She stressed the need to reinforce the capacity of institutions as well as social justice, promoting conditions to achieve social and economic development. Her Government calls for supporting development needs away from polarization and political considerations, adding that it is impossible to move on from satisfying basic needs if coercive economic measures are imposed on the country.
IFEANYI NWAKUDU (Nigeria) said his country is using the National Social Investment Programme to redistribute resources for the benefit of the poorest and most vulnerable members of its society. It is also using the Government’s Enterprise and Empowerment Programme to make it easier for traders, market women and cooperative societies to access financial services. Nigeria is currently up‑scaling its Conditional Grants Scheme to make it one of the global best practices in counterpart contributory mechanisms, which encourage subnational governments to accelerate progress in 2030 Agenda core targets, with potential to engender multiple developmental outcomes. The country has integrated sustainable development goals and targets into its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, which the Government is supporting with financial resources within its means.
FADUA ORTEZ (Honduras), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and the Central American Integration System, said new financial resources and ODA are crucial to her country achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. She stressed that South‑South cooperation is vital but not a replacement for North‑South cooperation. Turning to climate change, she noted global warming is projected to reach 1.5°C over the next decade, and that the pressure of cyclical droughts causes land degradation and inhibits sustainable development. Her country is experiencing dramatically volatile rainfall and is forecasting a 12 per cent increase in precipitation. “Our very survival is under threat” she stated, calling for complementary financing and expressing support for sustainable tourism in the region.
AHMED SALMAN ZAKI (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that his country is shifting towards the blue economy, with priorities including reduction of dependence on fossil fuels, investing in waste management, safe water and sanitation, providing young people with the skills and support to contribute to economic growth, and improving governance mechanisms. At the recent Climate Action Summit, his country’s President presented a plan to make Maldives climate smart islands, using natural solutions, promoting innovation and leveraging new technologies to build resilience in communities. Maldives is a founding member of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, a platform initiated by India to find common solutions.
ESTHER SIYANDA (Zambia), aligning herself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries, Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the African Group, said that her country has integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development plan with priorities being given to economic diversification, job creation, enhancing human development and reduction of poverty, inequality and vulnerability. Reiterating the call for universal access to modern energy, she described Government efforts in that regard along with regulation to encourage the move towards clean energy sources, including for cooking energy. In education, she added, free primary schooling and school feeding programmes have significantly increased attendance. Education is being also utilized to better prepare communities to use new production and resilience technologies to counter the effects of climate change. In that vein, she invited UNESCO to continue to support Member States to promote education for sustainable development.
LILIANA OROPESA (Bolivia), aligning herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, cited a “climate” crisis” nearing a critical point of no return, and said that the Paris Agreement is not enough to address it, especially given major polluters are turning their backs on it. She said luxury consumption threatens human life itself, as human beings and nature are at the heart of any possible sustainable development. Development must be limited to the regenerative balance of the natural world. She said economies must not simply measure GDP but also environmental degradation. Sustainable development depends upon living in harmony with nature.
NATTHINAN INTARAJUMPA (Thailand), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, welcomed what she saw as a positive momentum in efforts to address climate change, pledging to help it continue. She underscored that climate action must focus equally on mitigation, adaptation and resilience in a way that is supported by funding, capacity‑building, technology development and exchange of best practices. Reaffirming her country’s commitments towards reducing carbon output and boosting resiliency, she said that a sectoral action plan has been finalized. Stressing the need, in addition, for the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction to be integrated into development policies, she called attention to her country’s use of local knowledge in addition to technology to provide early warning, and its efforts to encourage preparedness beyond borders by contributing to the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) fund for that purpose. She affirmed the importance of access to sustainable energy in reaching the 2030 Agenda, describing her countries commitments in that regard. She underlined the need, finally, to raise consciousness about the planet, to minimize trade‑offs and better leverage synergies in reaching the goals. Her country stands ready to work with all partners to achieve genuine sustainable development in that regard.
MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) spotlighted her country’s progress in localizing the Sustainable Development Goals through its National Strategy for Development. Noting that Kyrgyzstan will present its voluntary national review to the High‑Level Political Forum in 2020 and that it is in the process of ratifying the Paris Agreement, she said the country, like others in Central Asia, is working to overcome the consequences of extensive uranium mining — including radioactive waste. Recalling that Kyrgyzstan successfully advocated the General Assembly to adopt a resolution on that issue, she went on to outline the specific obstacles facing her country’s sustainable development, including its geographic characteristics and limited resources and a fragile mountain ecosystem that is vulnerable to climate change. In that vein, Kyrgyzstan along with partner countries initiated the designation of 11 December as World Mountain Day and helped to establish a Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries.
KHAMPHONE PHOMMALANGSY (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), addressing sustainable development challenges in her country, said more than 60 per cent of global indicators, especially those considered relevant to national development, have been adopted and mainstreamed into the current development plan. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 2018 successfully presented it first voluntary national review, sharing experiences and lessons learned with the international community. To increase awareness among the general public, a Sustainable Development Goals advocacy campaign was conducted through workshops organized at central and provincial levels to enhance understanding in all segments of society. Adding that partnership plays a critical role in supporting implementation of the Goals, she said the country continues to work with development partners, United Nations agencies and international organizations.
SOPHEA SOK (Cambodia), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said his country’s economic growth is expected to remain robust at around 7 per cent per annum in the medium term and has graduated from a low‑income to a lower‑middle income country. His Government expects it to be a high‑income country by 2050. Despite limited capacity, Cambodia prioritizes inclusive and sustainable development, with environmental stability and a readiness to respond to climate change. He noted that South‑East Asia has witnessed an alarming trend of more frequent and intensified floods, droughts and extreme weather conditions over the past decade, making climate change “the single most important battle of our life”. He urged developed countries to expedite providing the means of implementation as well as an efficient accessibility mechanism to access opportunities for capacity‑building, technology transfer and financing to address and mitigate loss and damage associated with climate change.
MARIA T. PETROCELLI (Panama) highlighted the importance of integration of three dimensions — social and economic, environmental — of sustainable development. Education is the driving force for sustainable development, as it empowers individuals, she said, stressing the need for access to education and partnerships to exchange knowledge. Tourism has a critical role in sustainable development, but the industry has been affected by the effects of climate change in Central America. She called for support on a resolution tabled by El Salvador on sustainable tourism. Her country ushered in an institutional paradigm shift in attacking climate change, she said, noting the crucial importance of implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
ISABEL MONTEIRO (Cabo Verde), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said her country faces several structural constraints, including a great vulnerability to external economic and environmental shocks, which hamper its ability to move at a faster pace. Climate change affects Cabo Verde in various ways, from the general rise in temperature and sea level to salinization of arable land and floods. In addition, it is especially concerned with the incidence of successive drought cycles — a kind of silent disaster — resulting in desertification of the islands. Mitigating these effects diverts resources from other important economic and social sectors.
ANA NEMBA UAIENE, (Mozambique), aligning herself the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said some scientists consider her State as one of the most vulnerable countries to disasters and the impact of climate change because of its geographic location. The focus of the Government’s Five‑Year Plan 2015‑2019 includes improving the understanding of disaster risk at all levels and consolidating the processes of public investment, territorial planning and financial protection against disasters. The implementation of the Master Plan lets Mozambique align its national disaster risk reduction strategies with the Sendai Framework as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. The extremely severe tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which devastated vast regions of Mozambique in March and April and caused more than 700 deaths, are clear evidence of the extreme weather events that increase disaster losses. To address these challenges, the Government has taken several measures. These include approving an annual contingency plan with practical actions for the coordination, management, response and assistance to the victims; the declaration of a National Emergency Situation; and the creation of a coordination office for post‑cyclone reconstruction.
XU ZHONGSHENG (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that the 2030 Agenda has written a new chapter for global development. As 2020 marks the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations founding and the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, China expects the Second Committee to inject impetus into implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Advocating an action‑oriented approach focused on infrastructure, education, health and other issues closely related to life, he stressed the need to strengthen development partnerships through the United Nations and South‑South cooperation. The United Nations can play a greater role in helping multilateral mechanisms to take more effective measures. China sponsored many multilateral events to help mainstream development. For its part, China is promoting Belt and Road initiatives to improve livelihood.
LOK BAHADUR POUDEL CHHETRI (Nepal) said his country attaches high importance to sustainable mountain development, which considers all issues facing mountains and those living around them, from poverty and food insecurity to disasters and climate change. Scientists have found that one‑third of the glaciers will melt by the end of the century, even if the global community meets the 1.5°C scenario. If the current trend goes unabated, loss of glaciers could amount to up to two‑thirds. Such a situation will be detrimental to millions living in the mountains and more than a billion people living downstream. He stressed the need to implement the Paris Agreement in synergy with the 2030 Agenda, with all stakeholders on board.
MILICA PEJANOVIĆ-ĐJURIŠIĆ (Montenegro), associating herself with the European Union, said her country was among the first to internalize the Sustainable Development Goals through its National Strategy for Sustainable Development until 2030. Furthermore, it was among the first countries to present its voluntary national review in 2016. Apart from the 232 Sustainable Development Indicators established by the United Nations Statistical Commission and integrated into its National Strategy, Montenegro is also applying an additional group of 291 national indicators related to the human development index, ecological footprint, domestic materials consumption, resources productivity and space consumption. Based on these indicators, it has defined a model for reducing domestic consumption of materials by 20 per cent by 2020, compared to the average for 2005 to 2012. Through investment in energy efficiency and transfer of technological solutions, Montenegro’s use of renewable energy has grown and in 2016, 41.6 per cent of the country’s gross final energy consumption came from renewable energy sources. This amount exceeded its 2020 target of 33 per cent. For the first time, from 24 May to 2 June 2019, Montenegro produced enough energy from renewable sources to meets its entire domestic needs.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said landmark international agreements in trade, development and climate change are unlikely to achieve their objectives in such a fraught global environment. While there has been success in reducing extreme poverty and hunger, they persist in many parts of the world with conflict, drought and climate change reversing long‑term progress and making the prospect of ending hunger by 2030 difficult. Nevertheless, Pakistan is fully committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda and is acting on key priorities including the conservation and sustainable use of water resources, ensuring green growth and the expansion of the social safety net. Illicit financial flows have serious implications for stability and development, she noted, calling for enhanced international cooperation to combat them, especially as it pertains to recovery of stolen assets. Climate change is the most critical challenge of our time, she stressed, welcoming the Climate Action Summit and expressing hope that the Paris Agreement objectives will be achieved by 2020.
SIDDHARTH MALIK (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that his country’s efforts to pursue inclusive and sustainable development are in close sync with the 2030 Agenda, stressing the need for multilateral action to achieve them and welcoming the presentation of voluntary national reviews in that context. Also welcoming steps taken to reform the United Nations development system, he noted that his country made a voluntary contribution to the trust fund for the new resident coordinator system. Listing a variety of programmes instituted to boost development, he added that at the same time tigers have been protected and a massive initiative to reverse deforestation and other land degradation has begun. Monitoring and incentive programmes have been established at the provincial levels to elicit better performance in all areas. To address climate change, goals in renewable energy output have been scaled up, and resiliency bolstered. A South‑South cooperation fund has been established by the country to aid worldwide achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, he added, re‑emphasizing India’s steadfast commitment to partnership in meeting them.
VLADAMIR BUDHU (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Group of 77, CARICOM and the Alliance of Small Island States, said her Government is implementing its ambitious strategic development plan, Vision 2030, which was developed in collaboration with its citizens and is closely aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. Vision 2030 places specific focus on eradicating poverty and inequality by ensuring all citizens, especially women and youth, have opportunities to learn, grow and prosper. Trinidad and Tobago are still grappling with many development challenges that are exacerbated by its inherent vulnerabilities to exogenous economic and environmental shocks. The country welcomes the convening of the High‑level Midterm Review of the Samoa Pathway and the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration, which affirms the commitment of the entire international community to ensure that no small island developing State is left behind. Multilateral institutions must keep pace with the challenges of developing countries, including the design and implementation of tailored financial tools and facilities specifically for small island developing States.
ALIA ALI (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country remains committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. It has formed a national committee focused on implementation in which all sectors are involved in accordance with international efforts. The Government has restructured its foreign assistance programme to direct investment towards achieving all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It is essential to address the energy gap worldwide, she stressed, noting that the lack of electricity hampers development and growth and can severely impede implementation of the 2030 Agenda. She noted various achievements of her country including the establishment of new centres focusing on sustainable development implementation.
VITALII BIILAN (Ukraine) said implementing the Sustainable Development Goals is one of the main priorities of international cooperation for his country. In particular, efforts are being made to ensure sustainable economic growth, overcome poverty and increase employment, to ensure effective law enforcement and judicial reform as well as promote innovation development, sustainable infrastructure, an effective public health system, affordable education and decent work. Stressing that no country alone can achieve sustainable development without peace and security, he said Ukrainians know first‑hand what conflict means. The existential challenge States affected by armed conflicts face lies at the heart of foreign and internal policy in Ukraine.
SERGE PAMPHILE MEZANG AKAMBA (Cameroon) said his country’s Government is working tirelessly to meet the triple requirement of sustainable development economically efficient, socially equitable and ecologically bearable, adopting its 2018‑2020 United Nations Development Assistance Framework built on to responding efficiently to the country’s structural challenges including social inclusion of the most vulnerable. Cameroon is committed to increasing its national production of renewable energy to 25 per cent by 2030, and initiated reform on environmental taxation to achieve carbon neutrality.
FRED SARUFA (Papua New Guinea) emphasized the importance of being more realistic about the prevailing circumstances at the national, regional and global levels and pragmatic in the national leadership and ownership of the Sustainable Development Goals. Success of the 2030 Agenda will depend on financing for development and how Papua New Guinea addresses the challenges posed by climate change. Domestic financing streams, including reforms in taxation, customs, State‑owned enterprises, and legislation for natural resources development are a work‑in‑progress geared to support the national development agenda. “Much more work remains,” he emphasized. Supplementary financing for development from development partners will be necessary. Papua New Guinea has been identified as one of the highly vulnerable countries to natural hazards and climate change, he added.
NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia) said his country may be one of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change. It is subject to high climatic variability characterized by persistent droughts, unpredictable and variable rainfall patterns, sporadic floods and desertification, which damage infrastructure and livelihoods. The country is currently into its fourth consecutive year of the worst drought it has ever experienced, which is severely affecting both humans and animals. Drought has negatively affected agricultural production, especially small‑scale farmers, and ultimately the quantities of exports has declined. In response, Namibia will continue scaling up and diversifying food systems to promote more sustainable production and consumption patterns in reinforcing food security and becoming more resilient to climate change.
GLORIA CORINA PETER TIWET (Malaysia), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said experiences in achieving the 2030 Agenda should be shared, given the uneven progress thus far. Malaysia has learned the necessity of multi‑stakeholder participation, along with coordination among all levels of Government, adequate mobilization of both domestic and foreign resources and integration of private and Government data for tracking. To ensure no one is left behind and to transition to high‑skilled labour, the country recently announced a Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, along with a new data monitoring system. At the same time, it is implementing programmes to protect its rich biodiversity and has signed onto related treaties. She maintained it is therefore being unfairly accused of putting the need for development before the needs of the forests. Steps have been taken to ensure that the country’s palm oil production is certified sustainable by 2020, and the commitment to maintain at least 50 per cent forest cover has been kept. Urging all Member States to combat climate change, she reiterated that the only way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is through multilateral efforts.
AHMAD EL MAHS (Egypt), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country adopted a national plan called “Egypt 2030” to align the Sustainable Development Goals with its own ambitious targets. Egypt has increased investments in the fields of health, education and combating climate change. Development cannot be achieved without the conservation of the environment. Egypt has worked with various countries in leading forth coordination on climate resilience. Turning to the challenges posed by desertification, he said that water is the source of man and the right to water is a fundamental human basic right. He called on all people, especially in Africa, who are affected by the scarcity of water to work together to manage the resources effectively. All partners must cooperate at the regional level and work through mediation.