General News

Speakers Welcome Reform Proposals of UN Development System, Urge Faster Realization of 2030 Agenda, as Economic and Social Council Concludes High-Level Segment

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development concluded its third annual meeting today with speakers welcoming proposed sweeping reforms to the United Nations development system, warning of the impact of climate change, and calling for faster implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Wrapping up a total of nine days of work over the past two weeks, the Forum — tasked with monitoring global progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Goals — heard delegates also emphasize the importance of a multilateral approach to development, with some warning that unilateralism could undermine progress thus far.

“I think it is fair to say that the train has definitely left the station, but it hasn’t yet picked up the necessary speed,” said Austria’s representative, putting in a nutshell the viewpoint of many of the day’s speakers, whose comments also touched upon a variety of development issues — from the impact of climate change to the promise of new technology.

The representative of Bangladesh said enormous challenges face countries like his, where tackling inequality and creating decent jobs is a real challenge.  “We will have to adopt policies to reform our education and skill development sector so that the jobs created by the new technologies can be availed and the benefits of the technological change are shared broadly,” he said.  That, however, will require huge investments, in addition to addressing climate change.

In a similar vein, Ethiopia’s representative said a lack of sufficient progress in meeting the 2030 Agenda should be a collective concern.  “We must inject a sense of urgency” into the process by addressing such challenges as the diverse impacts of climate change, which require greater political commitment and multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Several representatives took the opportunity to review the progress in their respective nations, including Bolivia’s delegate, who reported that poverty in her country has fallen from 38 per cent in 2005 to under 15 per cent in 2018, alongside an increase in per capita gross domestic product (GDP).  Access to drinking water and sanitation is a key aspect of reducing poverty and inequality, she explained, and in that connection, Bolivia has increased its investment to their point where 85.6 per cent of Bolivians have access to clean drinking water and infant mortality has been dramatically reduced.

The representative of the United States, the largest single provider of official development assistance (ODA), emphasizing that business as usual can no longer be the way forward, said the United Nations must shift its priorities to demonstrate its full commitment to sustainable development.  An enhanced relationship between the private and public sectors is instrumental to addressing the many challenges facing vulnerable communities, he said, stressing the need to create affordable housing, invest in technology and support local business.  At the international level, the United Nations must think about the most efficient and effective way to generate progress.  Its system must be inclusive, welcoming the views and inputs of various stakeholders.  “Change will not happen overnight,” he stated, adding that United Nations agencies will need to move away from low‑priority activities to focus on the most pertinent ones — and that Member States must ensure the system is “fit for purpose” to best serve those in need.

The representative of Afghanistan, the largest single recipient of ODA, said that, despite repeated efforts, improved health, education and gender equality has come with a heavy price due to his country’s challenging security situation.  Nevertheless, the Government is committed to combating terrorism and violent extremism, he said, stressing that translating the goals into national and localized measurable targets and indicators, new tools for management, priority setting and policy coherence are being developed.

The representative of China said that, with countries around the world still facing an uphill battle to meet the Goals on schedule, more work is needed to help particularly developing countries break through bottlenecks.  He advocated for a more inclusive global economy, stronger core competitiveness and efforts to unlock development potential.  At the same time, he voiced concern over rising unilateralism, trade protectionism and challenges in global trade matters, noting that, for its part, China has opened itself up broadly since 2002 by accelerating its global investments that have created jobs and facilitated win-win relationships.

After the general debate, the Economic and Social Council, by a vote of 46 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions, adopted a Ministerial Declaration reaffirming its commitment to effectively implement the 2030 Agenda for all people, everywhere.  The same text was overwhelmingly adopted by the Forum on 18 July.  (See Press Release ECOSOC/6943.)

Prior to adoption, the Council decided, by separate recorded votes, to retain operative paragraphs — one calling for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to the full realization of the right of self‑determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continued to adversely affect their economic and social development and their environment; the other stating that efforts would continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization, as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

At the end of the meeting, Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary General of Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Maria Chatardová (Czechia), President of the Economic and Social Council, made closing remarks.

Also delivering statements today were ministers and high-level representatives of Jamaica, Honduras, Germany, Morocco, Israel, Mali, Belarus, Zimbabwe, France, Italy, Algeria, Montenegro, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Brazil, Iran, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Chile, Cyprus, Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, United Republic of Tanzania, Portugal, Bulgaria, India, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Turkey, China, Maldives, United Kingdom, Côte d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Iraq, Venezuela, Georgia, Ukraine, Vanuatu, Belgium, Denmark, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates and Tunisia, as well as the State of Palestine.

Also participating were representatives of the Pacific Island Development Forum, Sovereign Order of Malta, Association Internationale des Conseils Economiques et Sociaux et Institutions Similaires, International Telecommunications Union (ITU), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Inter‑Parliamentary Union (IPU), International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Organization for Migration (IOM), United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and International Trade Centre (ITC).

The following organizations also made statements:  International Federation for Family Development, Legião da Boa Vontade, Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and VAAGDHARA.

Speaking, as well, were representatives from the major groups for women, children and youth, non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples, workers and trade unions, scientific and technological society, and business and industry, as well as the aging, volunteers, education and academia, and Sendai stakeholder groups.


PEARNEL CHARLES, Minister of State of Jamaica, said that close alignment between Jamaica’s national development plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has enabled a strong and consistent sense of national ownership and commitment to the Goals.  Jamaica has achieved a relatively high human development ranking, improved its performance in key indicators of human capital formation and attained a measure of macroeconomic stability.  Yet, the country’s efforts are constrained as its faces challenges triggered by vulnerabilities aggravated by the negative effects of climate change and a high debt level.  Capacity-building is central to Jamaica’s efforts to implement targeted, well‑designed and cross-cutting strategies for achieving sustainable development.

JOSÉ ISAÍS BARAHONA, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Honduras, said the City of Tegucigalpa is home to 1.2 million people, the greatest concentration of urban poverty in the country, due in part to a lack of housing.  Thus, the Tegucigalpa housing action plan seeks access for all people to basic, adequate and affordable homes, and to improve slum areas, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 11.  It also seeks to tackle public safety, disaster vulnerability, land use and transport.  Noting that Honduras is among the 44 countries in 2017 to present its voluntary national review, he went on to stress that the supply of water and sanitation has improved, notably through the inclusive approach taken that involves interinstitutional and intersectoral workshops.  Water and sanitation are also among the country’s 37 strategic priorities for the period until 2022, he added.

RITA SCHWARZELUEHR-SUTTER, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety of Germany, said the upcoming sustainable development summit would offer high-level political guidance for implementing the Goals.  Indeed, multilateralism is an important means to do so and both the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change provide a solid framework to ensure human wellbeing within the planetary boundaries.  The transition to sustainable development models could offer a comprehensive modernization programme, with positive impacts on competitiveness and political stability, among other things.  Germany’s sustainable development strategy is regularly updated through consultations among stakeholders, she said, noting that the Government would also draw on the peer review of its national strategy, which itself was aligned with the 2030 Agenda.  Germany is committed to leaving no one behind, she said, stressing that the value of working with all relevant stakeholders could not be overstated.

NEZHA EL OUAFI, Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development of Morocco, said her country is deeply engaged in pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals.  She noted various steps taken by the Government to preserve biodiversity and address climate change.  “We have implemented a host of programmes for waste management and improving quality of air,” she added.  In pursuit of the ambitious 2030 Agenda, Morocco is drawing up plans at the provincial level to address climate change, implement the Paris Agreement and launch large solar energy projects.  All efforts of society are being mobilized.  Youth and women are particularly engaged in implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Morocco is further focused on ensuring gender equality in all sectors. 

YAKOV HADAS, Special Envoy for Sustainability and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, said it is a very profound task to ensure the well-being of the Earth for generations to come.  It is also a part of the Jewish tradition.  Noting Israel’s location in one of the most water-scarce regions of the world, he pointed to various steps by the Government to ensure water conservation.  Desalination has been a “game charger”, but must only be one part of the water solution.  “We have limited land resources,” he added, noting that Israel’s population is estimated to grow in the near future.  Israel is committed to sharing its solutions and expertise, he continued, adding that the Government recently decided to accelerate investments in the developing world.   Through sharing best practices, it is possible to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and create a better world for future generations.

MAHAMANE A MAIGA, Permanent Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mali, said his country is facing major challenges in the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Despite these constraints, the Government is working to improve the lives of vulnerable populations.  He welcomed progress made with the adoption of peace agreements and the holding of recent presidential elections.  Government action is focused on providing citizens with basic services and ensuring that no one is left behind.   He noted several infrastructure projects, including the building of roads in rural areas and housing projects for vulnerable populations.

LARYSA BELSKAYA, Head of Directorate-General for Multilateral Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said that, in 2017, the national coordinator on Goals presented a report, which noted that much had been accomplished.  The Sustainable Development Council is an institutional platform for cooperation.  The principles of sustainability are included in legislation on public-private partnerships, water supply and the handling of organic produce, among other things.  In June, a special Government meeting was held to consider the Goals and the Government is considering using sustainable development indicators in regional economic, environmental and social programme.  Belarus is also planning to increase awareness on sustainability.  An open-ended partnership group on the Goals comprises business, civil society and academia, she said, noting that an expert maps mission was also held in 2017 and stressing that Belarus aimed to create a national network of coordinators for the Goals.

JUSTIN HUGH MBOMBO MUPAMHANGA, Deputy Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet of Zimbabwe, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the African Group, said his country continues to strengthen existing programmes and pursue new initiatives to build a resilient society.  He cited in that context the Presidential Inputs Scheme, which provided farming inputs support, reinforced by a command agriculture structure, which has restored the strategic grain reserve to 500,000 metric tons, a “great leap” towards food self-sufficiency.  On Goal 6, he said the national programme for the rehabilitation and repair of non-functional water points is being pursued, and a shift has been initiated towards solar powered piped water schemes.  Improved sanitation is still a challenge in rural and urban areas, with open defecation at 34 per cent.  A national behaviour change programme was launched which has eliminated the practice in 3,800 villages, he said, citing other programmes to increase the availability of renewable energy and address the resource gap, with measures taken for illegally externalized resources to be repatriated.

Mr. DE VAUJANY (France), said that, in 2016, his was among the 22 first countries to submit a voluntary national review, from the belief that the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement “are two faces of the same dime”.  He advocated effective, strong multilateralism to respond to collective challenges, noting that the One Planet Summit in Paris marked a step forward for Heads of State, development banks and businesses making commitments to protect the planet.  More broadly, France has implemented structural policies, notably the biodiversity plan, which sought to preserve biodiversity as a national priority and lead to a new global framework during the 2020 Conference of Parties meeting on biodiversity.  In July 2017, France adopted a climate plan for the Paris Agreement to be irreversible and would adopt a national deforestation policy.  France would also increase official development assistance (ODA) to 0.55 per cent of gross national income, he said, adding that it had devised a roadmap for the implementation of the Goals, which it would present during its next voluntary national review in 2019.

KEVIN MOLEY, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs of the United States, said that business as usual can no longer be the way forward.  The United Nations must shift its priorities to demonstrate its full commitment to sustainable development.  An enhanced relationship between the private and public sectors is instrumental to addressing the many challenges facing vulnerable communities.  He stressed the need to create affordable housing, invest in technology and support local business.  For its part, the United States is utilizing new technologies in its development work, including predicting drought and subsequently ensuring food security.  He noted various projects aimed at safeguarding safe drinking water.  At the international level, the United Nations must think about the most efficient and effective way to generate progress.  Its system must be inclusive, welcoming the views and inputs of various stakeholders.  “Change will not happen overnight,” he emphasized.  United Nations agencies will need to move away from low priority activities to focus on the most pertinent ones.  Member States must ensure the system is “fit for purpose” to best serve those in need, he added.

FRANCESCO LA CAMERA, Director-General of the Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, associating himself with the European Union, said a universal integrated approach will be possible only by adopting an innovative culture of governance based on policy coordination and coherence.  Following the adoption of a national strategy for sustainable development, Italy assumed a leading role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  It established a consultative forum to share best practices with its regional partners.  He noted that the financial sector is crucial in the transition to sustainable development.  A transition towards sustainable, resilient societies must give priority to addressing climate change, he added, stressing the need to adopt various international agreements focused on that goal, particularly in the most affected regions.  Italy has also set up an African center focused on combating climate change on the continent, notably recovery of Lake Chad.

RACHID BELADHANE, Ambassador and Chair of the Inter-Sectional Organ of the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said the 2030 Agenda shows the way forward to achieve human sustainable development.  “It shows us that we need to deepen our thinking towards sustainable societies capable of overcoming crises,” he added.  Building a resilient society is a priority for the Government of Algeria, which set up a social security system based on principles of solidarity, allowing the country to almost fully eradicate extreme poverty.  Algeria is also focusing on recovery and transformation of its economy.  Protecting water resources and the environment is an integral priority, as well, he noted, adding that considerable investments have been made in the construction of water reservoirs and purification systems.  A sustainable urban development policy was also implemented, with a focus on rural areas and improving the living conditions of those citizens.  He emphasized the importance of ODA in tackling major international challenges such as human trafficking.

MILICA PEJANOVIĆ-DJURIŠIĆ (Montenegro), noting that that the 2030 Agenda is enshrined in her country’s Constitution and guides its development framework, described efforts to explore how its implementation could also be linked to Montenegro’s European Union accession process.  The process, known as “Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support”, focuses on identifying points where the 2030 Agenda’s implementation can be expedited.  Noting that its implementation draws together experts and officials from across the European Union and the United Nations, she expressed support for the sharing of experiences and best practices, the development of research capacity and transfer of technology and expertise “to ensure that we are all on the same track”.  Such work has also revealed that the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and European Union integration are mutually reinforcing processes, she said.

TEODORO LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) said that, given the country’s geographic location and the increasing prevalence of typhoons due to climate change, the Philippines placed great importance on disaster risk reduction.  He underlined the urgency of developing timely, comprehensive and disaggregated data to better understand the needs of citizens, particularly the poorest and those living in the most marginalized sectors.  Such information was critical for crafting policies and programmes tailored towards fulfilling the needs of the people.  The Philippines is committed to improving the quality and quantity of disaggregated data to monitor progress towards the Goals.  The Philippines supports the inclusive data charter launched earlier in the week.

SEVINJ HASANOVA, Deputy Minister for Economic Development of Azerbaijan, said her country participated in the 2017 voluntary national review, prompting it to intensify its focus on sustainability as a driver for prosperity.  Indeed, the Goals required the establishment of an efficient implementation platform, and in that context, three factors were considered:  high-level commitment, ownership and institutional arrangements.  Thus, the National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development was created to institutionalize the Goals into the national development agenda.  Government commitment is important, but not enough, for comprehensive implementation.  “Wide public participation is a must,” she said, citing Azerbaijan’s advocacy campaign strategy, along with events featuring the involvement of civil society, children, women and private sector representatives.  Third, global partnership and information-sharing accelerate implementation of the Goals, she said, noting that Azerbaijan would host a high‑level sustainable development forum in 2019.

AFIRIN RUDIYANTO, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Maritime Affairs of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, as well as Mexico, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia, said that Indonesia’s National Action Plan on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals was enacted last month and will take effect until 2019.  A draft national road map will guide efforts until 2030 and 34 regional action plans will implement the Goals at the provincial level.  The Plan is an integrated planning document that incorporates both the Government and non-governmental organizations.  The Plan’s monitoring and evaluation mechanism will be a collaborative effort, with civil society organizations conducting independent evaluations of their programmes.  Further, the annual national accountability report on the Plan will be a consolidated document.

JOSÉ ANTONIO MARCONDES DE CARVALHO, Undersecretary General for the Environment, Energy, Science and Technology, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, said that, during its voluntary national review, his country highlighted its national commission for the Goals, which was set up to foster dialogue, engagement and integration of initiatives carried out by the Government, civil society and the private sector.  Brazil has since launched its first biannual action plan, allowing for greater transparency and accountability.  It also established its first working group on partnerships and means of implementation, which would cover a range of topics pertaining to the implementation of the Goals in Brazil.  Other working groups would be formed to ensure follow up, and coherence between the Goals and public policies.  Special attention must be given to the internalization and localization of the 2030 Agenda, he said, underscoring the need to align public policies with the Goals, promote ownership of the Agenda, ensure the engagement of all and guarantee that national ambition is matched by action.

SEYED ALI MOHAMMAD MOSAVI, Director General for International Environmental and Sustainable Development Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that increasingly frequent and severe sand and dust storms are one of the most pressing environmental issues for his country and the whole of West Asia.  Hopefully a clear and concrete set of actions to address this problem will be agreed soon within the United Nations system.  He added that implementation of the Goals is being undermined by “a broadly exercised unilateralism”, threatening to reverse the progress made in recent decades.  That is despite paragraph 30 of the 2030 Agenda, in which States are strongly urged to refrain from promulgating and applying any unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter, he said.

JULIUS MUIA, Principal Secretary, Ministry of National Treasury and Planning of Kenya, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said access to clean and renewable energy is a national priority, with the country having carried out a 310‑megawatt wind power project that is among the largest in Africa.  In addition, 2 million incandescent bulbs have been retrofitted with more energy efficient ones, with a 65 per cent success rate.  To accelerate energy access, Kenya adopted pay-as-you-go systems and robust microcredit services, supported by mobile money services.  Yet, affordability is still a challenge.  On housing, he said Kenya sought to provide 400,000 affordable houses within the next five years, notably through partnerships, and to improve the lives of slum‑dwellers.  It has taken a landfill approach to waste management, which is among the preferred disposal methods, he said, noting that fostering sustainable consumption and production, along with a ban on plastics, are among the other objectives.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, associating himself with the Group of 77, recalled that his delegation in 2017 told the Forum it would submit its national report on the implementation of the Goals.  This year, his delegation provided its report.  That a people under occupation could comply with such guidelines is a credit to them, he said, stressing that Israel’s occupation, widespread abuses and non-compliance with international law hampered Palestine’s obligations to international agendas.  In 2018, one such challenge took the form of cuts in contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is already under severe financial crisis.  The 2030 Agenda’s vision to leave no one behind could not be fulfilled without allowing Palestinians to exercise their right to self‑determination and ending Israel’s military occupation.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said the Goals reflected things highly valued by her country, including respect for its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage.  Australia’s 2018 voluntary national review highlighted such achievements as stewardship of the Great Barrier Reef and its contribution to delivering effective development assistance at record levels in the Pacific region, where it is working with its Pacific partners to strengthen economic resilience and improve health, education, action on climate change and disasters, governance and gender equality.  Emphasizing the need for finance from all sources to achieve the Goals, she said the review highlighted ways that Australian overseas aid is leveraging new resources and promoting aid for trade to drive inclusive growth and poverty reduction.

CRAIG HAWKE (New Zealand) said that his country has introduced legislation to create an enduring commitment to reducing child poverty and increasing the minimum wage, boosting incomes of low- and middle-income families.  New Zealand has also opened domestic consultations on legislation that will commit the country to zero carbon emissions by 2050, while also opening consultations on a trade for all agenda.  Further, New Zealand has announced a reset of its contribution to the sustainable development priorities of Pacific countries, including a substantial increase to its aid budget.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, emphasized the importance of Goal 17 (Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development).  For countries in special situations, the provision and availability of resources is essential in equipping them to deal with their unique challenges.  Reforming the United Nations system is a welcomed effort to make it fit for purpose and better serve Member States.  He called on development partners to provide adequate resources in a predictable and sustainable manner.  The Lao Government has set up a national committee focused on the 2030 Agenda.  In addition to setting up indicators of progress, it is also working to improve the livelihood of rural people.

MILENKO SKOKNIC (Chile) said that his country has continued to make development progress since presenting its voluntary national review in 2017.  It would be impossible to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals if they are not approached as national policy.  Chile has already achieved various targets including on public health, child health care and indigenous rights.  Chile has developed plans relating to water and sustainable and clean energy.  In terms of Goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, his country has implemented tangible and local measures.  It has also adapted a plastic bags bill which prohibits the handing out of such bags.  The Goal on gender equality is an enormous priority for Chile, he continued, adding that achieving related targets on women’s rights will help achieve the other Goals, as well.

KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus), associating himself with the European Union, outlined developments in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals since Cyprus presented its voluntary national review in 2017.  On Goal 6 related to water and sanitation, Cyprus’ efforts are guided by the integrated water resources management paradigm, with a focus on desalination and wastewater reuse.  It is also collaborating at the regional level, including with Greece and Israel, in the field of water and wastewater sustainable management.  On Goal 7 relating to sustainable energy, Cyprus aims to achieve 13 per cent renewable energy use by 2020 by switching from oil to natural gas in its electricity generation.  Spotlighting several other developments, he said the country is also working to improve citizen participation and to mainstream human rights in its urban development.  Additionally, he said a new national health insurance system will promote universal health coverage by 2020.

MAX HUFANEN RAI (Papua New Guinea) said his country’s National Vision 2050 road map, Development Strategic Plan and other guiding frameworks are underpinned by the 2030 Agenda.  The Government has prioritized access to water and sanitation as a basic human right and a vital component of poverty alleviation and improving living standards.  “Overall, this remains an ongoing challenge as the majority of the population, who are primarily in rural areas, lack equitable access to safe and clean water,” he said.  Expressing the Government’s commitment to addressing such challenges — and appreciation to partners including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank and the European Union for their support — he said Papua New Guinea has also adopted a national energy policy (2016-2020), aiming to address the major challenge of lack of access to affordable, reliable electricity.  Citing high investment costs due to the country’s rugged topography and remote communities as one obstacle, he said Papua New Guinea is nevertheless endowed with renewable resources that when harnessed can help it meet its development targets, including 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2050.

VERONICA GARCIA GUTIÉRREZ (Costa Rica), associating herself with the Group of 77, CELAC, Group of Middle Income Countries and the LGBTI Core Group, said her country has adopted the universal and transformative nature of the Sustainable Development Goals.  “Leaving no one behind is a State policy,” she emphasized, adding that her Government is focused on promoting sustainable societies, while examining production and consumption patterns.  The creation of sustainable cities is a “grand challenge” due to Costa Rica’s rapid urbanization, as well as the effects of climate change.  Costa Rica is committed to resolving the water crises, she said, adding that access to water is a major factor to human development.  Costa Rica faces grave challenges relating to climate change and pollution, as well.  It remains committed to protecting its natural resources and biodiversity, and conserving its parks and forests.  In terms of production and consumption, she underscored the need to adopt sustainable practices.  As a middle-income country, Costa Rica was dedicated to implementing the 2030 Agenda through multilateralism.

MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his country had made progress in mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda into national development plans for both the Union Government and Zanzibar, as well as on its commitment to increase domestic resource mobilization and conduct‑awareness workshops on the Goals.  Another milestone was the development of a monitoring and evaluation plan to track poverty reduction and Goal indicators.  Indicators for the Goals are now part of a local government monitoring database, thereby facilitating preparation of a baseline report.  Other actions include the mapping of plans and Goal indicators.  At the same time, the United Republic of Tanzania continues to face limited technology access, along with challenges around data, development financing and climate change.  He advocated greater cooperation, especially in capacity-building.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said the 2030 Agenda challenges countries to assume their responsibilities.  Portugal’s voluntary national review presented last year offered an analysis of objectives and policy alignment.  Implementation of the Paris Agreement, alongside sustainable ocean management, is integral to implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Advocating North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, he said financing would be essential to achieving the Goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda provided fundamental guidance to that end.   “We need to unleash new forms of finance from all possible sources,” he said, though ODA would continue to play an irreplaceable role, especially in the least developed countries.

KRASSIMIRA BESHKOVA (Bulgaria) called for more efforts to address climate change, conflicts, inequality, poverty, hunger, rapid urbanization and industrialization, among other challenges.  “We need to reach the furthest behind first,” she said, noting that Bulgaria’s policies are based on this principle and built on strong disaggregated data.  Spotlighting several national initiatives — including on Goal 11 relating to improving energy efficiency, air quality and waste management — she said another critical target is Goal 12 on sustainable production and consumption.  Bulgaria is transitioning to a “circular economy” that effectively uses resources, while reducing their environmental impact.  On Goal 7, the country has gone beyond its national target of having a 16 per cent share of renewable energy, reaching a total of 18.8 per cent in 2016, and is continuing to ensure the security and efficiency of that energy supply.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that with more than 110 Member States presenting their voluntary national reviews by the end of the Forum, “we have moved from the era of preaching to the era of sharing”.  India has launched what is perhaps the world’s most ambitious sanitation programme, involving the construction of toilets in households.  More than 550 million Indians will have benefitted directly from this project.  India is also expanding its solar and wind power initiatives.  The rate of expansion in this sector in India is perhaps the highest in the world.  By 2030, 600 million Indians will be living in urban areas.  India is undertaking a new urban green and resilience infrastructure project to build additional housing.  Strengthening global partnerships is essential.  To demonstrate their commitment to that, India has pledged $150 million to international development projects.

MARÍA RUBIALES DE CHAMORRO (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said that this meeting offers an opportunity to encourage developed countries to comply with commitments made.  She noted with concern the lack of progress for marginalized groups everywhere, underscoring the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility.  “While wealth concentrates in the hands of a few, solidarity suffers, while inequality thrives,” she added.  In just the last 10 years, Nicaragua has made substantial progress in providing water and electricity to its citizens.  She stressed the need for global partnership, adding:  “If we want to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we have to ensure the survival of the human species and the rights of Mother Earth”.

TAKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), associating with the Group of 77 and China, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said a lack of sufficient progress in meeting the 2030 Agenda should be a collective concern.  “We must inject a sense of urgency” into the process by addressing such challenges as the diverse impacts of climate change, which require greater political commitment and multi-stakeholder collaboration.  While he expressed regret that the ministerial declaration was not adopted by the High-Level Political Forum by consensus, its implementation could help deliver the Goals by 2030.  For its part, Ethiopia had fully integrated the Goals into its five-year development plan, increased its water supply, invested “massively” in renewable energy resources and continued to implement a climate‑resilient green economy strategy, aiming to build a zero‑carbon economy by 2025.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) endorsed the statements by the Group of 77 and China, CELAC, Group of Friends of Middle Income Countries, Group of Friends for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People.  Stressing that all the Goals are interlinked, he said El Salvador launched a tool to monitor progress as part of its national planning system.  Local government, civil society and others would help ensure the Government had a better view of the progress achieved, which it would share in future voluntary national reviews.  He underscored the need for funding for the 2030 Agenda.  On migration, he welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration.  As El Niño, drought and floods have unleashed humanitarian emergencies, he advocated a focus on these issues, expressing concern over the difficulty in reaching consensus on the Ministerial Declaration and appealing for such.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said the national Sustainable Development Goals Executive Committee, established in 2017, provided a high-level coordination platform for engagement among Government representatives, the private sector, academia, civil society groups and international partners.  Coordination among those stakeholders has significantly increased and is steadily becoming part of the national development discourse.  Noting that 45 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is food insecure, he said that, in response to the latest drought, the Government launched the National Food Security and Nutrition Agenda in 2017 and joined the global SUN Movement.  Despite repeated efforts, improved health, education and gender equality has come with a heavy price, due to the challenging security situation.  Yet, the Government remains committed to combating terrorism and violent extremism, he said, stressing that translating the goals into national and localized measurable targets and indicators, new tools for management, priority setting and policy coherence are being developed.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said that poverty, widespread conflict and human rights violations are all compounded by environmental and climate problems such as desertification.  The international community must urgently adopt a common approach to deal with these challenges.  Kuwait will continue to devote its resources to realize the 2030 Agenda.  At the international level, it will continue to provide development and capacity-building assistance to developing countries.  It is essential to manage natural resources in a sustainable manner, he continued.  Kuwait has also implemented many laws to address the various crises relating to the environment and climate.  Kuwait has established a road map that runs to 2035, welcoming the participation of all its citizens.  “We are fully confident that the United Nations is entirely able to play a role in the monitoring and implementing of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.

BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan) commended the United Nations team in his country for its strong partnership with the Government.  Uzbekistan has been implementing far reaching reform in all areas to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Special focus has been placed on mobilizing all resources.  Economic growth has been positive, he said, noting the construction of industrial facilities.  Job creation has also been a top priority for the Government.  The Minister for Finance has established a fund to help improve water supply and living conditions of people living by the Aral Sea.  Entrepreneurs are also provided with support from the Government to further innovate the private sector.

SOVANN KE (Cambodia) said that his Government had recently developed Cambodia’s Sustainable Development Goal Framework and is set to formally adopt a set of 18 Goals — the 17 global Goals, plus an additional goal of ridding the country of landmines and remnants of war.  The Framework is designed to ensure alignment with the National Strategic Development Plan, he said, highlighting that more than two decades of economic growth have made Cambodia a global leader in reducing poverty.  As such, Cambodia’s poverty rate dropped from 53.2 per cent in 2004 to 13.5 per cent in 2014.  This trend is expected to continue in the coming years.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) noted the various initiatives adopted by his Government to track the successes of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Bangladesh has adopted “a whole‑of‑society” approach to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Creating a knowledge-based society using information and communications technology (ICT) is a major priority, he said, adding that his nation has been investing a lot to transform itself into a “digital Bangladesh”.  However, there are enormous challenges facing developing countries like Bangladesh, he continued.   Tackling inequality and creating decent jobs is a real challenge.  “We will have to adopt policies to reform our education and skill development sector so that the jobs created by the new technologies can be availed and the benefits of the technological change are shared broadly,” he said.  This will indeed require huge investments, he added, also stressing the need to address the frequent and severe impacts of climate change.

MAKBULE BAŞAK YALÇIN (Turkey) said her country’s sustainable development model is human-centred and focused on better income distribution, broad access to services and the realization of rights, including the empowerment of women.  It has made significant strides in meeting targets under Goal 6, with access to safe water at nearly 100 per cent.  Access to electricity already stands at 100 per cent, and Turkey’s national resource efficiency action plan strives to generate new investments in renewable energy.  The Government also supports home ownership and the building of safe settlements and launched a landmark “zero waste” initiative aimed at achieving targets under several Sustainable Development Goals.  Noting that Turkey’s ODA was nearly $8.2 billion in 2017 — a significant increase from previous years — with a major focus on humanitarian assistance.

MA ZHAOXU (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said countries around the globe still face an uphill battle in meeting the Sustainable Development Goal targets on schedule.  More work is needed to help developing countries break through bottlenecks.  Calling for their enhanced participation in global decision‑making, he also advocated for a more inclusive global economy, stronger core competitiveness and efforts to unlock countries’ development potential.  He expressed concern over rising unilateralism, trade protectionism and challenges in global trade matters, noting that, for its part, China has opened itself up broadly since 2002 by accelerating its global investments, creating millions of jobs and facilitating win-win relationships with its partners.  In the next decades, it plans to uphold the philosophy of green, open and shared development; help build an open world economy; safeguard multilateral trading rules; ensure balance; and safeguard the future for all of humankind.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said that in addition to inherent vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change, his country is also susceptible to external economic shocks.  With that in mind, the Government has made “varying” progress across the sectors, with significant gains in realizing the targets of some Goals, and challenges in realizing others.  During its 2017 voluntary national review, the need for better coordination among sectoral plans and policies was needed, efforts that would involve having an integrated data system to enable information sharing.  He encouraged all countries to take part in the review, noting that the High-Level Midterm Review of the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway, known as the Samoa Pathway, will take place in 2019 and emphasizing the importance of partnerships in addressing constraints.

Ms. DAVIES (United Kingdom), associating herself with the European Union, drew attention to the challenges faced by people with disabilities, including worse outcomes and fewer opportunities.  In that connection, her country would host the Global Disabilities Summit next week to shine a light on disability issues and call for greater investment from international actors.  Transformation towards sustainable societies requires tackling environmental problems.  The United Kingdom is firmly committed to meeting its climate commitments, including those under the Paris Agreement.  Her country would continue to lead the fight against illegal wildlife trade and would host the fourth international conference on this topic.  Gender equality also remains a key priority for the United Kingdom, although challenges remain, including ensuring that commitments translate into real change on the ground.

YASSI MAXIMIN BROU (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that his country’s commitment to sustainable development includes the implementation of a national framework, which was adopted with remarkably high-level participation.  The country continues to focus on several key priorities, including ensuring access to drinking water, promotion of renewable energy, access to decent housing and the preservation of biodiversity.  He highlighted that the first large-scale solar power station will soon be set up in the north of the country.  Côte d’Ivoire is committed to the new international sustainable development framework and is in complete agreement with the common African position on the Goals.

KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, spotlighted the “paradigm shift” marked by the 2030 Agenda, as well as the need to create a global environment that will foster its implementation.  Noting that Malaysia is currently embarking on a new path as a high-income developed country, he said it has established a National Sustainable Development Goals Council, a multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder consultative framework — which convenes symposia to draw various participants together — and has embarked on several grass‑roots-level initiatives.

MOHAMMED HUSSAIN KATHOM ALESSAWI (Iraq) said the terrorist occupation of parts of Iraq since 2014 — as well as infrastructure destruction by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and the resulting drain of people fleeing Iraq — have all adversely impacted the country’s living standards and its development indicators.  Plans are under way to reconstruct areas recently liberated from those terrorist groups, focusing on the special needs of women, children and persons with disabilities.  Spotlighting Iraq’s commitment to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal targets, and the aim of leaving no one behind, despite its challenging economic and security situation, he declared:  “We are fighting not only for Iraq, but for the entire international community.”  In this context, he called on the country’s development partners to continue to stand beside it.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and CELAC, said major challenges to the United Nations system due to assaults against the basic principles of multilateralism have resulted in attacks on sovereignty and basic international rights.  Achieving resilience remains a critical challenge for States, he said, pointing out that unilateral coercive measures have recently intensified against his country.  The implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires all States to pull together, and in this connection, his country reiterates its unshakable will to work toward an inclusive and resilient future development agenda.

VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and CELAC, noted that, during the last 12 years, her country has worked towards the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality.  Over the last 10 years, Bolivia’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita tripled and is growing at 4 per cent per year.  As a result, poverty in Bolivia fell from 38 per cent in 2005 to under 15 per cent in 2018.  Access to drinking water and sanitation is a key aspect of reducing poverty and inequality, and in this connection, Bolivia has increased its investment in those critical areas.  Some 85.6 per cent of Bolivians have access to clean drinking water and infant mortality has been dramatically reduced.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), recalling that her country was one of the first States to present its national voluntary presentation at the High-Level Political Forum in 2016, described its innovative approaches to drive and monitor the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level.  Based on a “leave no one behind” strategy the Government works to ensure the equitable distribution of the benefits of sustainable development and economic growth, she said, spotlighting efforts to use resources sustainably, ensure access to safe water to all people, promote green transport, build a modern waste management system and manage Georgia’s forests more sustainably.  Remaining challenges include the need for stronger data collection, she said.

OLEKSIY ILNYTSKYI (Ukraine) said that implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is among his country’s main priorities when it came to international cooperation.  Ukraine continues to work towards fulfilling its development commitments, particularly those related to education, the promotion of gender equality and ensuring environmental sustainability.  No country can achieve sustainable development without peace and security.  Ukraine hopes that a constructive multi‑stakeholder dialogue will facilitate the widest possible cooperation, considering emerging development challenges in the most appropriate, mutually beneficial way.

JAN KICKERT (Austria), expressing his country’s full support for the Secretary-General’s reform agenda, said efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda must be accelerated.  “I think it is fair to say that the train has definitely left the station, but it hasn’t yet picked up the necessary speed,” he said.  Austria is proud to be, once again, among the top 10 in the so-called Sustainable Development Goal index, but it is aware that much more needs to be done to meet the 2030 deadline.  Space technologies can contribute to almost all the Goals, he added, noting that a symposium on this topic, co-organized with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, will take place in September.  He went on to emphasize that no development effort could be truly sustainable if it did not go hand in hand with the universal realization of human rights.

SYLVAIN KALSAKAU (Vanuatu), associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said climate change, including slow onset events, remain his country’s biggest single threat towards achieving the Goals.  Urgent action is needed to combat climate change and its devastating impacts to create the resilience needed by small island developing States and least developed countries to achieve the Goals.  Reiterating his Government’s commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda, he said Vanuatu welcomes opportunities to help deploy new technologies that would improve its water resources.  With Vanuatu earmarked to graduate from least developed country status in 2020, it looks forward to enhanced international support as it makes the transition into a middle-income country.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), Chairman of the High-Level Political Forum, speaking in his national capacity, stressed that swift measures and cooperative partnerships are more necessary than ever.  Belgium fully understands that message, and in that context, is continuing to put commitments into practice.  He emphasized the important role of regional and local authorities in implementing the Goals in that no policy could be effective without their contributions.  Moving towards resilient and sustainable societies is a priority that required reviewing how natural resources are managed.  Belgium has redoubled its efforts aimed at creating a circular economy focusing on green and blue approaches.  The interdependence between peace and security, development and human rights must be respected.

Ms. BECK (Denmark) noted that she is a youth delegate and was asked to speak on behalf of her country.  “The 2030 Agenda is here to stay — and luckily”, she said.  Today’s city planning requires a long-term process whereby local stakeholders find solutions to mobility issues that address their unique need.  Sustainable transportation is important for all.  Regarding Goal 12, many Member States need to take a “deep look within” and consume less, while, when it came to Goal 17, she stressed the need for partnerships between generations, highlighting the lack of youth voices at the Forum.  Youth all over the world want to discuss the substance of the future development agenda, she added.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said policymakers must ensure all Goals and targets receive equal attention.  Yet, a report by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has found that the Asia-Pacific region is failing to meet two thirds of the targets set under the 2030 Agenda, painting a “grim” picture of Goal 15, while Goal 13 is unlikely to be achieved at the current pace.  Goals 8, 10 and 16 are also lagging.  The lack of urgency could be detrimental to us all, she said, noting that resource mobilization could be suffering “the greatest hit”.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s planned conference on financing the 2030 Agenda, she underscored that States have the primary leadership role in implementing the Goals, which must be aligned with their priorities and needs.  Even before the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, Pakistan had started recalibrating its sustainability activities, she added.

MARIA HELENA LOPES DE JESUS PIRES (Timor-Leste), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Alliance of Small Island States, said her country’s institutions conducted the first presidential and legislative elections unassisted, and the eighth constitutional Government has been formed based on the results.  In urban areas, 91 per cent of the population has access to water supply, and 73 per cent has access to sanitation facilities.  The Government is also stepping up efforts to boost water security.  On Goal 7, the Government has prioritized Goal 7.1 to ensure electricity access across the country, which currently reaches 70 per cent of the population.  Under Goal 11, access to housing, improvement of transport, in particular for remote and mountainous areas, is a priority.  Under Goal 12, substantial investment has been made in agriculture infrastructure, while under Goal 15, countering land degradation and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems is a central aim, including for the diversification of the economy.

HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China the Group of Least Development Countries, said that, after seven decades of conflict, peace is the long-held aspiration of Myanmar’s people and the prerequisite for sustainable development.  Myanmar is striving towards full implementation of the 2030 Agenda with the overarching goal of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions.  The Government’s 2016 national economic policy encapsulates many of the Goals, she said, adding that a national sustainable development plan is now being formulated that will be firmly aligned with the Goals and other development agendas.  Noting initiatives in Myanmar to address housing, energy, safe water, sanitation and biodiversity targets, she said current global trends illustrated the urgent need to step up development efforts with inclusive and collaborative partnerships.  “We have 12 years to go, but no time to lose, and we must act now,” she added.

FRANÇOIS MARTEL, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, said that, for small island developing States, resilience was essential due to the impacts of climate change.  Sustainable development would not be possible for States unless they were climate resilient and climate smart.  Now with 14 members, the Forum is focused on a distinctive Pacific model of green growth in blue economies, aligned to sustainable development principles.  As a multi-stakeholder organization, the Forum is also focused on engaging and supporting the private sector at the local, national and regional levels to channel resources towards the Goals.

OSCAR DE ROJAS, Sovereign Order of Malta, said his organization was responding to today’s challenges in the world’s poorest urban and rural areas, assisting refugees, migrants and displaced persons and providing first aid, among other things, especially in Africa.  Refugees from Syria are cared for in a field hospital along the border with Turkey, while asylum seekers in Europe receive medical care and participate in the Order’s programmes to foster integration into new communities.  In Mali, the Order is working with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), he said, welcoming the conclusion of negotiations for the Global Compact on Safe and Orderly Migration, efforts that coincide with a change in the approach to such populations, from a standpoint of discrimination and xenophobia to one of recognizing the human rights of each refugee.

JEAN-LOUIS MENANN-KOUAMÉ, Association Internationale des Conseils Economiques et Sociaux et Institutions Similaires, said the digital revolution, considered the fourth Industrial Revolution, could be a vector that impacts the how countries interact, produce and improve living conditions.  It is an opportunity to be seized by all.  Technological innovations have facilitated access to education, health care and other public services, as well as reduced gaps in knowledge and fostered the exchange of ideas.  He expressed concern, however, that they could also lead to inequalities amid a growing digital gap.

DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN, Chief of the Strategic Planning and Membership Department of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), reaffirmed her organization’s commitment to supporting countries as they digitalize and implement new ICT in critical areas, such as smart cities, health, digital literacy and e‑waste.  Recalling that ITU had recently held its second “AI for Good” Global Summit, which gathered leading minds in artificial intelligence and humanitarian action, she counted infrastructure among the elements needed to bridge the digital divide, along with innovation, investment and inclusivity.  If not properly managed, the wave of technological change could deepen the divide between digital “haves” and “have-nots”, she said, underscoring ITU’s commitment to “leaving no one offline”.

CONNOR STRONG, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate, with his organization — in its Red List of threatened species — putting at 26,000 the number of species threatened with extinction.  Many of the Goals include targets that would secure the natural world, “but we need to act and we need to act now”.  Relevant policies must be adopted, finances mobilized, and thought given to how the international community will address biodiversity after 2020.  In that regard, he said the conversation must take place in conjunction with ongoing discussions at the Conference of States Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, where parties are currently determining the framework for biodiversity post-2020.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said a lack of progress on Goals relating to energy, biodiversity and water is alarming, yet a clear action plan to address the problem has yet to be formulated.  She encouraged the United Nations to be more explicit about proposing ways to address implementation gaps.  Welcoming the repositioning of the United Nations development system, she said action must occur at the country level, with empowered Resident Coordinators who would translate national Goal indicators into explicit requests for support back into the full United Nations system.  She added that her country is pleased to see the Organization step into the new arena of technological cooperation for development, which could help speed up implementation of the Goals.

GABRIELA CUEVAS BARRON, International Parliamentary Union, said multilateralism and cooperation are the fundamental foundations of her organization’s work.  Global transformation can only come about if it begins in communities, she said, adding that the work of parliamentarians vis-à-vis development is fundamental, as they are responsible for ratification of international agreements and the adoption of national laws required to implement the Goals.  They also allocate budgets, alongside the responsibility to oversee implementation of the Goals.  She went on to describe her organization’s efforts to raise awareness of sustainable development among parliamentarians, including the creation of mechanisms to exchange experiences and best practices.

VINICIUS CARVALHO PINHEIRO, International Labour Organization (ILO), said that the nexus between economic growth, the environment and decent work is a core issue in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Currently 1.2 billion jobs rely directly on the effective management and sustainability of a healthy environment, including jobs in farming, fishing and forestry.  Environmental degradation threatens ecosystem services and the jobs that depend on them.  The transition to a green economy is not only urgent for the sake of the planet, but is also compatible with improvements in decent work.

LUCAS TAVARES, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that, while more than 800 million people are undernourished, one third of the food produced is either wasted or lost.  Rapid urbanization meant that more food, social protections and opportunities for city‑dwellers are required.  Extreme poverty is also concentrated in rural areas, affecting women, children and youth in particular, as well as family farmers and indigenous peoples.  A new rural urban alliance is needed to ensure inclusive and sustainable food systems, he said, noting that such systems can improve the quantity of food and quality of diets.  Transforming food systems is also necessary to ensure that agriculture supports the sustainable use and management of natural resources.

ASHRAF EL NOUR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the environmentally related goals being considered at the High-level Political Forum are relevant to contemporary migration movements.  The drivers and effects of migration are most strongly felt at the local level, and the phenomenon must also be adequately addressed in the urban dimensions of development, as it is a crucial factor in promoting inclusive and productive communities.  For its part, IOM is developing the Migration Governance Indicators, in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit, to help Member States assess the comprehensiveness of their migration policies.  Also, an indicator on “the number of countries implementing well-managed migration policies” was developed in partnership with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

MARCO TOSCANO-RIVALTA, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said such strategies are essential for risk-informed sustainable development.  The Sendai Framework is critical to achieving both the Sendai targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.  Greater focus is needed on devising strategies to help women, girls, persons with disabilities and youth, among others.  Disaster risk must be integrated into ODA.  The disclosure of disaster risk is essential to ensure risk‑informed investment and all stakeholders have a shared responsibility to reduce such risk.  It is critical embed disaster risk into the review of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2019.

The representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said industries supported by energy efficiency policies, technologies and practices, coupled with access to affordable renewable energy for production activities, would help countries transition to low-emission economies.  Smart industrial clusters also could be located in industrial zones to help achieve efficiencies.  The UNIDO Vienna Energy Forum identified multiple benefits, from decarbonization and digitization to decentralization.  The demand to simplify the achievement of sustainable energy has opened space for entrepreneurship in clean energy.

MARINE DAVTYAN, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said HIV prevalence is higher in urban areas than in rural ones.  One quarter of all people living with HIV reside in about 200 cities and large numbers could be reached with cost-effective services.  Yet, too many people lived in urban slums, lacking access to essential health services, which increased their vulnerability to HIV.  Safe, healthy cities can help in efforts to tackle AIDS, she said, drawing attention to some 250 cities committed to accelerating their AIDS responses and addressing disparities in basic service provision.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country is integrating the Goals into its national development plans for 2016-2020.  That plan included all three sustainable development pillars, as well as several national priorities, notably for creating a green economy.  Tunisia is working to improve water use by creating dams and through better water collection.  The Government is creating clean energy and he encouraged the private sector to invest, noting that the country is also working to use natural‑gas‑fired plants.  It is developing a green economy by creating renewable energy sources and technologies, and working to combat illicit fishing, he said, adding that Tunisia would present its voluntary national review in 2019.

Ms. BLICKLEY, women’s major group, recommended support for women’s participation in decision-making.  From increasing access to safe drinking water and ensuring that women and girls have the information and means necessary to practise menstrual health, to protecting forests, women offer expertise.  Governments should create formal opportunities to ensure the most marginalized women are most supported by policies and programmes.  She advocated investing in the collection of sex and age disaggregated data, and addressing gender‑discriminatory norms, stereotypes and gender-based violence.  Governments should also value, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid care work, as well as use gender-responsive budgeting to ensure equality in the use of funds, and protect women’s rights to own and control land, property, energy and other productive resources by eliminating discriminatory laws.

DEJAN BOJANIC, major group for children and youth, said young people make a society sustainable.  “As stewards and future custodians of our planet, children and young people must be engaged in building sustainable and resilient societies,” he said, noting that the Secretary-General has recognized their involvement as a vital part of the 2030 Agenda.  Also calling for a stronger focus on evidence and data — “what works and how it affects different groups of people” — he warned that current unsustainable practices are putting children and young people’s futures at risk.  The current wave of anti-collectivism, backlashes against multilateralism and backtracking on human rights undermine efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda, he said, calling on all those present to ensure that their efforts go beyond mere rhetoric and words.

The representative of International Federation for Family Development said his organization is leading the Inclusive Cities for Sustainable Families Project in the context of Goal 11 and the New Urban Agenda.  Experts agree that city design should consider all family situations and social groups, facilitate access to housing — including smart co-housing solutions — improve the link between new technologies and social inclusion, focus on accessible and affordable childcare, and feature programmes that recognize the value of unpaid work and care.

Mr. CARVALHO, non-governmental organizations major group, said immediate action is needed to restructure global systems towards human equity, rights and justice.  He called for a collective focus on delivery of the 2030 Agenda, expressing concern that the High-Level Political Forum provided no mandate for parallel or shadow reports, and he encouraged consideration of that proposal.  He welcomed the proposal to pre-approve one side event for major groups, but expressed regret that the overall space for civil society at the Forum is shrinking.  Opportunities for major groups to intervene in major sessions have decreased, he said, stressing that “two minutes is not enough to represent all major groups in one statement”.  He instead urged Governments to use the Forum to advance the Agenda through leadership and political guidance.

DANILO PARMEGIANI, Legião da Boa Vontade, said his organization was founded 70 years ago to combat poverty through 95 education and services centres in Brazil, Argentina, United States and other countries.  It impacted more than 600,000 vulnerable people.  He advocated pursuit of holistic human development for the creation of a more ecumenical society.  It is equally necessary to promote ethical, moral and spiritual development, without which efforts in achieving the 2030 Agenda would be insufficient.

Mr. JENSEN, Mr. ELZINGA and Mr. ASHENAFT of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences said mountain communities are among the poorest and most neglected in the world, with climate change and migration making their living conditions worse.  Goals 6 and 15, under review by the Forum this year, featured mountain-related targets that must be addressed.  They underscored the work of the Utah International Mountain Forum to address the real‑world problems faced by mountain communities, which demonstrated the active role that students can play in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

RIEFQAH JAPPIE, International Trade Centre (ITC), said her organization used the 2030 Agenda as a compass in its efforts to help micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises.  However, these are trying times for international trade and multilateralism, which are being seen as an unwelcome constraint on national sovereignty and zero-sum game.  Emphasizing that trade and trade-related capacity‑building can deliver on inclusive growth and poverty‑reduction, she said the solution is not to abandon multilateralism, but to make it more inclusive and transparent and “to make it work for the 99 per cent” while helping businesses find their place in the value chain and become more sustainable.

JAYESH JOSHI, VAAGDHARA, said indigenous communities in the western part of India are, despite a rich and glorious past, vulnerable, as well as socially and economically deprived.  Their traditional knowledge and wisdom should be acknowledged in order to promote eco-friendly farming, he said, with the aim of ending the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides while promoting soil conservation and agricultural self-sufficiency.

ROBERTO BORRERO, indigenous peoples major group, said the international Indian Treaty Council is an Economic and Social Council-accredited non-governmental organization.  Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge is recognized as critical in addressing the global climate crisis, he said, noting that, while 80 per cent of world’s biodiversity is on their territories, indigenous peoples represent 15 per cent of the global poor, while comprising 45 per cent of the global population.  Climate change and economic globalization add pressures on indigenous peoples, especially from extractive industries, leading to the loss of livelihoods and food insecurity.  States must fulfil their obligations to respect indigenous peoples’ rights and freedoms, including the right to self-determination.  Broader development processes must not negatively affect their rights, and States should ensure that the benefits of development be equitably distributed.  They must also seek indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent before launching projects that affect their interests.

Ms. CRAVIOTTO, workers and trade unions major group, called for a fast and fair transformation towards environmentally sustainable and socially responsible societies.  The transition must focus on decent work and ensure that no one is left behind in the collective bid to reduce emissions, protect the climate and advance social and economic justice.  Significant investments in infrastructure will be needed to implement the Goals, while Governments should support the regulatory and policy frameworks required the enable the private sector to contribute to development.

REGINALD VACHON, Executive Vice‑President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, speaking on behalf of the scientific and technology community major group, said the United Nations should encourage, leverage and support the group’s activities to promote international cooperation in science, technology and engineering for implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Engineering and science practice must be transformed so that all dimensions of sustainability are addressed.  The hallmark of the Sustainable Development Goals is their interconnectedness.  “Meeting a single goal is only one part of the sustainable development challenge,” he said.  Scientists and engineers must acknowledge the diversity that sits between disciplines and across the intellectual traditions of different geographical regions.

BRIAN GRIFFITH, business and industry major group, encouraged Member States to do more to involve business in the voluntary national reviews earlier in the process, and for all involved to work to achieve the Goals on a daily basis.  Front-line involvement already by many companies and business associations demonstrates that the private sector is stepping up to invest in the transformations required for each Goal to be met, to eradicate poverty, advance sustainability and for prosperity to be widely shared.  They did that despite increased uncertainty created by rising tariffs, he said, stressing the importance of the World Tarde Organization (WTO) and the multilateral trade system.

MARCUS RIELY, stakeholder group on ageing, said advancement towards the Goals must be underpinned by attention to older persons and a life-course approach to implementing the Goals, allowing for positive outcomes for all segments of society.  Challenges are magnified for older persons across urban and rural settings, especially when experiencing marginalization or inequality.  Such characteristics interact with housing accessibility and infrastructure which can prevent equal access to public services and constitute a violation of human rights.  “At what age should a person be considered less deserving of health care,” he asked, or considered less valuable?  He called for the full participation of older persons in the planning and design of Goal initiatives, investment in mechanisms to foster their independence, including preventative health, and a commitment that all Goal activities will work towards the absence of neglect of older persons.

WESLEY MOE, Volunteer Groups Alliance, said his group has more than a billion members worldwide who use their energy, time and skills to better their communities.  “Volunteer labour may be the most valuable labour that exists precisely because it comes without the expectation of compensation,” he said, noting that volunteers are often the first to respond in disasters and often stay the longest to rebuild.  The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies alone has some 14 million volunteers, and millions more respond when necessary.  However, he said, the best way to ensure these efforts are successful is to create a supportive environment and a culture of volunteerism before a disaster strikes.  Citing several examples, he called on Governments to support volunteerism politically, financially and through concrete legislation.

Mr. CAPPALAINEN, education and academia stakeholder group, said financing is the biggest challenge for Goal 4 regarding quality education.  Domestic budgets remain insufficient, and in some cases, have gone down, he said.  Proposals to close the financing gap through loans point to a worrying return to the debt motif.  In some countries, for-profit actors are taking advantage of gaps in public provision, undermining the responsibility of States as duty‑bearers for the 2030 Agenda.  For education, as a human right, to be accessible to all and to contribute to the realization of the other Goals, it should be supported by States through adequate policies and sufficient financing.

Mr. DE GUZMAN, Sendai Stakeholders Group, encouraged Member States to reinforce the urgency of risk-informed development as a means to creating coherence among the Goals, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda.  They should also raise awareness about the feasibility of involving all stakeholders in the design, implementation and monitoring of sustainable development agendas; make use of science, technology, indigenous and local knowledge to support collection and understanding of risk information; and promote accountability in the national delivery of global agreements.


The Council then took up the “Ministerial declaration of the high-level segment of the 2018 session of the Economic and Social Council on the annual theme ‘From global to local:  supporting sustainable and resilient societies in urban and rural communities’”, and the “Ministerial declaration of the 2018 high-level political forum on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, on the theme ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’” (document E/2018/L.20-E/HLPF/2018/L.2) and the proposed amendments to it.

The representative of Venezuela, noting that as Egypt, chair of the Group of 77 and China, is not a Council member, and per a decision by that group, requested a recorded vote on amendments to paragraphs 28 and 12 of the Ministerial Declaration contained in document E/2018/L.23.

The representative of the United States said his delegation proposed an amendment to paragraph 28 to protect the fundamental principles of sustainable development, urging delegates to support the amendment.

The Council then rejected the first amendment to paragraph 28 by a recorded vote of 31 against, to 14 in favour, with no abstentions.

The Council then turned to the second amendment to paragraph 28.

The representative of the United States said his delegation proposed the amendment, as the Council must respect the independence of the WTO from the United Nations system, urging delegates to support the amendment.

The Council then rejected the second amendment to paragraph 28 (document E/2018/L.23) by a recorded vote of 42 against, to 1 in favour (United States), with 2 abstentions (Japan, Republic of Korea).

Next, the Council turned to two amendments to paragraph 12 contained in document E/2018/L.28.

The representative United States proposed the Council amend paragraph 12 to remove the words “right to development”, as the phrase has no agreed international meaning, urging delegates to support the amendment.

The Council then rejected the first amendment to paragraph 12 by a vote of 31 against, to 1 in favour (United States), with 14 abstentions.

The Council then considered the second amendment to paragraph 12.

The representative United States proposed removing language on foreign occupation inserted by those wishing to politicize the Ministerial Declaration.

The representative of Israel said paragraph 12 contains politicized language serving those aiming to discriminate against Israel.  Such language did not belong discussions of the Council or the High-Level Political Forum and she urged delegates to support the amendment.

The Council then rejected the second amendment to paragraph 12 by a recorded vote of 30 against, to 2 in favour (Israel, United States), with 14 abstentions.

Next, a recorded vote was requested on paragraph 16 of the Ministerial Declaration (document E/2018/L.20).

The representative of the Russian Federation underscored his country’s commitment to comprehensively consider the gender factor in implementing the 2030 Agenda, underscoring the importance of empowering women and girls.  The 2030 Agenda set precise guidelines for cooperation and did not need to be adjusted.  He expressed deep regret that there was a deviation from the principle of transparency in conducting negotiations, notably the introduction of wording.  The current wording is far from the international consensus concepts.  He could not support the adoption of paragraph 16, he said, stressing that attempts by some groups of States to impose approaches on others do not have any prospects, and calling for solutions pursued on the basis of constructive dialogue.

The representative of Canada, requesting that his delegation’s explanation of vote, delivered on 18 July on behalf of 66 countries, be included in the meeting’s official record, urged the Council to retain the paragraph.

The Council then retained paragraph 16 of the Ministerial Declaration by a recorded vote of 35 in favour, to 5 against (Belarus, Guyana, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Sudan) 4 abstentions (Algeria, Chad, China, Iraq).

The Council then turned to the Ministerial Declaration, with the representative of the United States requesting a recorded vote.

The representative of Turkey disassociated from fifth sentence of paragraph 23 of the Ministerial Declaration, as it failed to reflect the agreed scope of Goal 6.5.  She also requested replacing the words “all levels” with “at appropriate levels” as a compromise.

The Council then adopted the Ministerial Declaration by a vote of 46 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The representative of Venezuela, associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, deplored that a Member State has put the Declaration to a vote, reiterating sovereign use of natural resources is fundamental to promoting economic and social development.  Unilateral coercive measures hamper development and contravene the principles of international law, notably equal rights among States, self-determination and non-interference in internal affairs.  She called for a cessation of such policies against her country, expressing a reservation to goal 12c as ending fossil fuel subsidies is interventionist.  She expressed her reservation to various points in the “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” document.

The representative of the United States expressed regret that his delegation had been unable join consensus, noting that its issues are well known and that its amendments were made in a spirit of compromise.  He voted “no” due to inappropriate language on foreign occupation and trade.  On paragraph 12, the United States’ concerns over the existence of a right to development are long‑standing and well known.  The international community faces challenges to making any such rights in line with fundamental human rights.  All development must be carried out in a manner consistent with human rights, and there are no circumstances that allow countries to deviate from their commitments in that regard.  Paragraph 12 also contains an unacceptable reference to foreign occupation, and he expressed disappointment that some sought to politicize development by including such wording.  On the Paris Agreement, the United States would withdraw from that instrument as soon as possible, he said, noting that climate change is a complex global challenge.  The United States also rejected language that opposes intellectual property rights, and in paragraph 28, language on trade.

The representative of Morocco regretted that the proposed wording of the Group of 77 and China reaffirming the need respect the territorial integrity and political independence of States was not included in the Declaration.  The Group had sought to reinforce language related to the means of implementation.  Such principles are in other international documents, including “The Future We Want”, adopted at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  While the text did not meet Morocco’s expectations, it nonetheless voted in favour of it.

The representative of China, associating himself with the Group of 77, expressed regret that the entire Ministerial Declaration, which reaffirmed the need to promote a universal and equitable trading system, had been put to a vote.  Trade is part and parcel of the means to implement the 2030 Agenda and it is vital for achieving the Goals, he said, adding that any issues arising from globalization must be addressed by moving it forward.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country believes that children’s participation in work should be limited to the family and school before they reach the age of maturity.  That was demonstrated today when a child was taken out of the Council chamber when the Ministerial Declaration was being adopted.  Summing up, he noted with disappointment that every year, an ever-growing number of paragraphs, as well as the entire text of the Ministerial Declaration, are being put to a vote.  Member States are being urged to improve the work of the Charter bodies, including the Council, but, at the same time, they are breaching everything put into place by their predecessors.  Moreover, for many decades there has been a tradition of putting resolutions up for adoption when they enjoy universal support.  This time, that tradition was breached, as well, he said.

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, making a general statement, expressed regret that some of the Group’s proposals had not been included in the Ministerial Declaration.  However, the Group decided to accept the last version of the text in line with its constructive approach and the need to ensure consensus in support of the 2030 Agenda.  He said the Group is also disappointed that amendments had been proposed at a very late stage and that a vote had been requested on certain paragraphs, putting out a negative political message.  The Group of 77 reaffirmed the right to development and called for more measures and action to remove obstacles to the full exercise of the right to self‑determination.  He added that the Group will keep promoting a universal, rules-based and equitable multilateral trading system under WTO, as well as meaningful trade liberalization.  He went on to say that worrying signs have emerged regarding the international community’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development.  Requests for a vote in the Forum yesterday and in the Council today clearly demonstrate such signs and the Group is Group extremely concerned by these recent developments.

An observer of the Holy See said Pope Francis in 2015 referred to the 2030 Agenda as a sign of hope as it united the United Nations family.  She expressed regret that consensus had not been reached.  The Council’s success hinges on a return to the principle of consensus, which is the only way to achieve its objectives.  She expressed reservations, noting that references to gender and gender equality are based on the biological identity of male and female, reinforced by numerous references in the 2030 Agenda to both sexes.  On the concept of gender roles, she said the Holy See did not recognize that gender is socially constructed.  On paragraph 17, she expressed concern over the absence of references to parents, as the protection and care of children must be ensured considering the rights and duties of parent and legal guardians.

The Council then took note of a number of documents.

The Economic and Social Council then took note of the documentation before it during the high-level segment of the 2018 session, including the World Economic and Social Survey 2018:  Frontier technologies for sustainable development — overview (document E/2018/50); Report of the Secretary-General on trends and progress in international development cooperation (document E/2018/55); Report of the Secretary-General titled “From global to local:  Supporting sustainable and resilient societies in urban and rural communities” (document E/2018/61); World economic situation and prospects as of mid-2018 (document E/2018/63); Report of the Secretary-General on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (document E/2018/64); Report of the Secretary-General titled “Harnessing new technologies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” (document E/2018/66); and note by the Secretary-General titled “Discussions held during the twenty-first session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on the theme of the 2018 session of the Economic and Social Council, ‘From global to local: supporting sustainable and resilient societies in urban and rural communities’” (document E/2018/71).

Closing Remarks

LIU ZHENMIN, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said this year’s Forum — which brought together more than 100 Ministers, Vice-Ministers and decision-makers from around the world, among others — provided a better awareness of where the gaps are in the implementation of the Goals.  It is evident that greater attention must be paid to the impact that technological change and population ageing will have on every aspect of society, he said, welcoming the General Assembly’s intention to refocus the high-level segment on long-term trends and scenarios.  “Let us now embark on the new cycle with enthusiasm and renewed commitment to show progress when the (Forum) meets next year”, first in July and again — as a summit of Heads of State and Government — in September, he said.

MARIA CHATARDOVÁ (Czechia), President of the Economic and Social Council, noting that her Presidency was drawing to a close, said the Council had learned during the past cycle that implementation of the 2030 Agenda is mixed and uneven, yet bottlenecks and obstacles have been identified.  “Now we need to work together in an inclusive manner to overcome them and to make the vision of the 2030 Agenda a reality,” she said, before declaring closed the high-level segment.