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The inside guide to African drought

Farmers, traders and consumers across East and Southern Africa are feeling the impact of consecutive seasons of drought that have scorched harvests and ruined livelihoods.

The El Niño-driven crisis has increased the malnutrition rates of rural children, and driven up food prices for urban residents. Livestock deaths and fire sales have slashed the asset wealth of pastoralists, and cumulative bad harvests will make recovery all the harder for small-scale farmers.

In the worst cases, where conflict has made farming impossible and reduced humanitarian access, there will be famine. That currently applies only to South Sudan, but could also include Somalia if the emergency response falters.

What makes food price spikes all the harder to bear is that there is rarely a corresponding increase in people’s wages. And when the drought is over, prices often stay stubbornly high, note researchers Paul Adams and Edward Paice.

A number of countries wrestling with the impact of El Niño have still recorded decent macro-economic growth rates, but food price inflation means those benefits are rarely felt by ordinary citizens.

There are a number of strategies governments could adopt to address the situation: from improving the tradability of food, to coordinated climate change adaptation strategies, to meeting the African Union target of allocating 15 percent of budget spending to agriculture.

“No miraculous discoveries are required,” suggest Adams and Paice. “But the start point is recognition of the unsustainability of a relentless rise in the cost of food throughout Africa; and the fact that while droughts and conflict may create price spikes, the root causes of this phenomenon lie with government.”

The following is a list of 17 countries struggling to come to terms with the impact of two consecutive years of drought, which have left more than 38 million people at risk this year.

Angola

At risk: 1.2 million

The southern regions of Cunene, Huila and Namibe have been hard hit. As granaries empty and people sell off livestock, there are concerns over their ability to bounce back this year. Food prices are high and government services are limited.

Burundi

At risk: 3 million

Poor rains last year, a one-month delay in the harvest, above average food prices, and reduced income from agricultural labour is expected to hurt poor households. But food insecurity – affecting a quarter of the population – is also driven by the country’s economic crisis as a result of ongoing political violence.

Djibouti

At risk: 227,463

Djibouti is one of the world’s most arid countries. Some 227,463 people are threatened with food insecurity in the hardest-hit areas of Ali Sabieh, Obock and Dikhil.

Eritrea

At risk: 450,000+

Eritrea strictly controls humanitarian access, so the extent of the crisis is difficult to gauge. The government denies there is a problem. But UNICEF has noted that malnutrition has increased over the past three years in four out of the country’s six regions, where rates already exceeded emergency levels. UNICEF plans to reach 450,000 children this year with nutritional support. That is likely to underestimate the extent of the problem.

Ethiopia

At risk: 5.7million

The strongest El Niño phenomenon on record led to an extreme drought in 2016, with 10.2 million in need of food aid. A new drought means 2017 could be just as dire, throwing an additional 5.7 million people into crisis. Farmers and herders found their resilience tested to the limit last year. They have very limited resources left to cope with the current crisis.

Kenya

At risk: 2.6 million

Widespread crop failure and falling terms of trade for pastoralists have affected farming and agro-pastoral communities in the northwest, northeastern and coastal strip of Kenya. The two main rainy seasons failed in 2006. There are growing reports of conflict as a result of displacement and water shortages. Four million people could be in need of aid by July if the long rains fail.

Lesotho

At risk: 159,959

Ninety percent of people in need received in-kind and cash aid. Without the ongoing assistance, Lesotho would be in a food security crisis. With good rains this season, an average harvest is forecast.

Madagascar

At risk: 978,000

Maize, cassava and rice production dropped by as much as 95 percent in the south of the country last year. Some 845,000 people are in immediate need. Of those, 330,000 are facing emergency conditions. Countrywide, rice prices were up by 25 percent and maize prices had doubled by the end of January.

Malawi

At risk: 6.7 million

Half of Malawi’s rural population – 6.7 million people – are receiving food aid after two consecutive years of drought. In 2016, food prices were up 172 percent above the five-year average. The harvest this month should ease needs, and food prices are already falling as aid reduces pressure on the markets. But cash crop farmers are expected to see a fall in income this season after reducing the area they planted.

Mozambique

At risk: 2 million+

The impact of last month’s cyclone Dineo is expected to add an additional 300,000 to those in need. Drought has exhausted household food stocks, and aid is reaching only 45 percent the vulnerable. Dineo, which hit coastal Inhambane Province, affected nearly 551,000 people and destroyed 27,000 hectares of crops. Food aid and seeds are urgently needed.

Rwanda

At risk: unknown

Rwanda did not escape last year’s drought. Media reports said that between 50,000 and 100,000 families suffered severe crop losses, especially in eastern and southern districts.

Somalia

At risk: 6.2 million

Half of all Somalis are facing acute food insecurity. Of these, nearly three million need urgent life-saving aid. The worsening drought has led to widespread water and pasture shortages for livestock. Displacement, malnutrition and drought-related diseases are all on the rise, and famine could be declared in parts of the country. Access is complicated by the al-Shabab insurgency.

Sudan

At risk: 4.6 million

Sudan experiences unpredictable rainfall and desertification. The 2015 El Niño event was particularly severe and continued to be felt in the east of the country in 2016. Food insecurity is also driven by conflict, particularly in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Swaziland

At risk: 638,000

The 2016 drought scorched Swaziland, leaving an estimated 638,251 people in need of aid. Basic food prices remain high at the peak of the lean season. The rainfall forecast is for average to above-normal rains, but household productivity is expected to be lower than normal.

Tanzania

At risk: unknown

There have been media reports of failed harvests and livestock deaths. In response, a senior government official in the northern Manyara region released emergency food stocks onto the market. The government is resisting calls for a declaration of emergency.

Uganda

At risk: 390,000+

Food stocks are critically low in northeastern Karamoja. Between July and November last year, 390,000 people were at crisis/emergency levels. Of those, only 200,000 were receiving aid. Conditions are also bad around Arua in the northwest. Two consecutive seasons of poor rains have hit production across much of the country. Staple food prices are rising.

Zimbabwe

At risk: 4.1 million

Consecutive El Nino-related droughts has left half the rural population in need of food aid until the end of the lean season in March. The crisis is compounded by low purchasing power, reduced remittances from South Africa and high food prices. There have been good rains over the past two months but there is a national shortage of fertilizer. There has also been an outbreak of the hard-to-control Armyworm pest throughout the country.

For in-depth reporting on how climate change is affecting farmers and food security in several African countries, see this special IRIN project.

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Social Development Commission Integral to Helping World’s 786 Million Poor Reach Their Human Potential, Speakers Stress at Opening of Fifty-Fifth Session

The Commission on Sustainable Development — whose past work had been critical to the evolution of many principles underpinning the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — now had a critical role to play in that framework’s implementation, stressed delegates as they opened the Commission’s fifty-fifth annual session today.

Many speakers welcomed the relevance of the session’s theme, “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”, underscoring the Commission’s enormous potential to guide inclusive policies aimed at leaving no one behind.

“The adoption in 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a historic step forward in our common approach to tackling the many challenges all societies and countries face,” said Commission Chair Philipp Charwath (Austria), who was elected by acclamation at the meeting’s outset.  While progress had been made in promoting the rights of vulnerable people — including persons with disabilities and the rapidly growing number of older persons around the globe — poverty remained a major threat.  As part of its work, the Commission would help address such issues by supporting the thematic reviews of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, he said.

Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said the Commission’s longstanding work to promote people-centred development had helped shape key sustainable development concepts and laid the foundation for the 2030 Agenda.  The body would now help ensure that that “master plan for people, planet and prosperity” was implemented, he said, expressing confidence that the achievement of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals was “firmly within our reach”.

“Today’s generation can be the one that eradicates poverty and turns the tide on inequality, exclusion and environmental degradation,” agreed Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council.  Noting that it was increasingly difficult to reach people living in extreme poverty and that progress was often temporary, he emphasized that achieving the 2030 Agenda’s objectives would require a broad set of mutually reinforcing social and economic policies, as well as leveraging the synergies among them.

Delivering a statement on behalf of Secretary-General António Guterres, Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, said the Commission was meeting at a time of global contradictions.  While significant progress had been made in eradicating extreme poverty, conflicts were reversing gains in social well-being and the gap between rich and poor was growing.  Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require whole-of-society approaches tailored to national contexts, he stressed, adding that diversity must be viewed as an asset rather than a threat.

As the Commission began its general debate, many Government ministers and other high-level officials expressed optimism that the Commission’s unflagging support of inclusive, rights-based development strategies would dovetail with the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and continued reductions in poverty.

Nomtoibayar Nyamtaishir, Mongolia’s Minister for Labour and Social Protection, was among those reporting significant strides made towards achieving sustainable development, as well as positive returns on social investments.  Noting that his country had eradicated poverty while preserving its ecological balance, he described a number of key laws and strategies, including a policy aimed at job generation and several efforts to empower Mongolia’s youth.

Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, urged the Commission to send a clear message to the High-Level Political Forum that the Sustainable Development Goals were inextricably linked to the rights of women, young people, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.  He also noted that the slowdown of global economic growth, volatile world financial markets, high youth unemployment, humanitarian crises, climate change and others challenges had obstructed the achievement of global social development goals.

Malta’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that across Europe, 119 million people were at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with children and young people most vulnerable.  In response, the bloc had prioritized job creation and the connection between economic and social issues, while tax and benefits schemes were increasingly geared towards providing social support and work incentives.  National pension systems were also better reflecting life expectancy and efforts were being made to ensure that health policies supported social safety nets, he said.

Ana Helena Chacón, Vice-President of Cost Rica, delivering a statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, stressed that growing global inequities challenged the universality of human rights.  Youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, minorities and migrants, and women and girls continued to face paramount obstacles to their development, while people living in extreme poverty lacked the political power and the material and educational opportunities to take charge of their destiny.  Human dignity must be at the centre of any sustainable development process, she stressed, warning against the notion that people should be passive beneficiaries of the State.

Also today, the Commission held a panel discussion on the session’s priority theme, which was moderated by H. Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of the State University of New York-University of the West Indies Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development.  It featured a keynote speech by Martin Ravallion, Professor of Economics at Georgetown University and former Director of the World Bank’s research department, as well as presentations by a number of social development experts and Government ministers from around the world.

At the outset, the Commission elected, by acclamation, Lot Dzonzi (Malawi) and Alanoud Al-Temimi (Qatar) as Vice-Presidents of its fifty-fifth session.

Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, introduced a number of reports related to the Commission’s work, while Daniel Perell, Chair of the NGO Commission for Social Development, reported on the outcome of the Civil Society Forum held from 30 to 31 January.  In addition, Rozemarijn Ter Horst, a youth representative, briefed the Commission on the work of the Economic and Social Council Youth Forum, also held from 30 to 31 January.

Also participating were ministers and other representatives from Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Austria, Brazil, the Russian Federation, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Portugal and France.

The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 2 February, to continue its work.

Opening Remarks

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), Chair of the Commission for Social Development’s fifty-fifth session, declared:  “The adoption in 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was a historic step forward in our common approach to tackling the many challenges all societies and countries face.”  In that context, the Commission’s mandate was to discuss, evaluate and make policy recommendations in the field of social development, a task made all the more relevant by the Agenda’s promise to leave no one behind.

While extreme poverty continued to decline fairly rapidly, 786 million people still lived in poverty, he said, pointing also to worrisome trends of rising inequality and social exclusion in both developing and developed countries.  “Growth continues to disappoint,” he said, highlighting the particular need for prosperity to reduce unemployment and for effective youth policies around the world.  Through the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, the United Nations was already hard at work with many partners in that field, he said, drawing attention to the needs of girls and young women, youth with disabilities, indigenous youth, young migrants and rural youth.

While some progress had been made with regard to the rights of persons with disabilities, he said, they nevertheless continued to face marginalization and barriers in daily life.  Poverty remained a major threat for older persons, whose numbers were growing rapidly and would reach about 1.4 billion globally by 2030.  The long-term success of strategies to end poverty also depended largely on policies targeting families with children.  The Commission would contribute to the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda by supporting the thematic reviews of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and would focus on the theme, “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the Commission’s work would set an example for all other commissions that would meet this year to discuss socioeconomic issues.  It played an essential role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Given that it was increasingly difficult to reach people living in extreme poverty, and that progress was often temporary for those who had moved out of poverty, he had identified infrastructure development and industrialization as his top priorities.  “Today’s generation can be the one that eradicates poverty and turns the tide on inequality, exclusion and environmental degradations,” he said, adding, however, that achieving those objectives would require a broad set of mutually reinforcing social and economic policies, as well as leveraging the synergies among them.  The Commission’s deliberations would provide important guidance to Member States in that regard.

LENNI MONTIEL, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, delivering a statement by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Commission was meeting at a time of global contradictions.  Significant progress had been made in recent decades in eradicating extreme poverty, and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda had set the bar higher with its goals aimed at leaving no one behind.  However, these were challenging times, with conflicts reversing gains in social well-being, and a growing gap between rich and poor.  Even in peaceful societies, prosperity had not been shared.  Anxiety meanwhile was growing as societies dealt with such megatrends as urbanization and climate change.  The Sustainable Development Goals would require whole-of-society approaches tailored to national contexts.  Social development was an end in itself and the best way to secure and ensure lasting peace.  Top priority must be given to gender equality and women’s empowerment, he said, adding that diversity must be seen as an asset rather than a threat.

Introduction of Reports

DANIELA BAS, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, introduced several reports related to the “Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly”, including a report of the Secretary-General on “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all” (document E/CN.5/2017/3).  The report provided an overview of progress made towards the eradication of poverty and highlighted strategies implemented by countries to achieve that objective.  It focused on challenges faced by countries and concluded with a set of recommendations for further action.

Among other things, she said the report demonstrated that new policy approaches and strategies were required to tackle poverty in all its forms, including extreme poverty.  It also underlined the importance of political will, institutions, governance, partnerships and the combination of mutually reinforcing social, economic and environmental policies.  Importantly, it cautioned that mainstreaming the policy “status quo” would not get the job done.  Strategies must be in line with varying national contexts, priorities, capacities and fiscal constraints.

Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on “Social Dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development” (document E/CN.5/2017/2), she said it highlighted progress made in implementing the Partnership’s various programmes and priorities, including reducing poverty and hunger, promoting employment creation, improving education and health outcomes, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and infrastructure development.  It urged African countries to continue to accord priority to investing in agriculture, promoting structural transformation, increasing investments in health, education, skills development and social protection, and strengthening inclusive and accountable institutions.

She said the Secretary-General’s report on “Mainstreaming disability in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document E/CN.5/2017/4) provided an overview of disability inclusion in existing international development frameworks, as well as the status of persons with disabilities in social and economic development.  It examined the evolution of the Commission’s role in mainstreaming disability in the development agenda and made related recommendations for the implementation of global development goals.

Next, she said a report of the Secretary-General on “Policies and programmes involving youth” (document E/CN.5/2017/5) spotlighted the need for robust, stand-alone youth policies coupled with consistent cross-sectoral efforts.  It also provided a compilation of recent youth policy initiatives based on input from Member States, United Nations entities and civil society organizations.  It made a number of recommendations under three broad themes of gender, participation and inclusion, and marginalized groups.

She also drew attention to the Secretary-General’s report on the “Third review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing:  preliminary assessment” (document E/CN.5/2017/6), which analysed the preliminary findings of the third review and appraisal exercise, including the identification of emerging issues and policy options.  Noting that the Commission in 2018 would conduct the global segment of the third review and appraisal cycle, she said the report listed substantive and organizational suggestions offered by regional commissions for consideration by Member States.  Delegations might consider those recommendations when elaborating the work programme for the Commission’s fifty-sixth session in 2018.

Finally, she said, a report of the Secretary-General on “Emerging issues” (document E/CN.5/2017/7) focused on areas that were important for promoting integrated poverty eradication policies in the context of youth development in the 2030 Agenda, for which the Commission could play a key role.

DANIEL PERELL, Chair of the NGO Commission for Social Development, reported on the outcome of the Civil Society Forum, held from 30 to 31 January.  Its deliberations had emphasized the role of social protection as a fundamental tool for alleviating poverty, he said, underscoring the need to reconsider the relationship between independence and interdependence in the context of development.

ROZEMARIJN TER HORST, a youth representative, then updated the Commission on the work of the Economic and Social Council Youth Forum, also held from 30 to 31 January.  Highlighting the Youth Forum’s focus this year on youth and poverty eradication, she said its outcomes would inform the Commission’s work.  Issues raised stretched from gender equality to youth unemployment to the meaningful participation of young people in decision-making.

Statements

HORACIO SEVILLA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, recalled that 2015 had been a historic year when the international community had come together around a universal set of commitments to guide its work in the coming years.  The 2030 Agenda, in particular, had acknowledged that poverty eradication was a sine qua non for the achievement of sustainable development, he said, stressing that the international community must bolster current commitments in that critical area.  It must also implement an ambitious sustainable development agenda to ensure that no one was left behind, he said, underscoring the Commission’s own responsibilities in that regard.  “This Commission must send out a clear message to the High-Level Political Forum” that the Sustainable Development Goals were inextricably linked to the rights of women, young people, indigenous people, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, he stressed.

Reaffirming the Group’s commitment to the goals agreed at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen more than 20 years ago, he went on to express deep concern about uneven progress in achieving those targets.  The slowdown of global economic growth, volatile world financial markets, high youth unemployment, humanitarian crises, climate change and others challenges had created obstacles for the achievement of social development goals.  “The eradication of poverty is perhaps the most imperative objective facing the global community,” he stressed, adding that social exclusion was still a major challenge around the world.  Warning against a “business-as-usual” approach to tackling those issues, he called for adequate financing for social development goals and underscored the Commission’s role in supporting the rights of vulnerable people, including those living under foreign occupation and colonial domination.

DAVID MANSFIELD (Malta), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that across Europe, 119 million people were at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with children and young people most vulnerable.  Priority had been placed on job creation and millions of young people had already benefitted from investment measures to combat the cycle of poverty.  More emphasis had also been placed on the connection between economic and social issues, while tax and benefits schemes were increasingly geared towards providing social support and work incentives.  National pension systems were also better reflecting life expectancy and efforts were being made to ensure that health policies supported social safety nets.

Further, he said, a plan launched last year sought to improve people’s skills and address the 70 million Europeans lacking adequate reading and writing abilities.  Efforts to engage with European Union and national public and private actors included those to promote better dialogue with social partners and civil society.  Going forward, the European Union would continue to promote an international development policy in the area of the environment, agriculture, and fisheries, while a new European Consensus on Development, once adopted, would provide the framework for a common approach to development policy.   While that proposal reflected that each country had a primary responsibility for its economic and social development, it also promoted a new global partnership for sustainable development encompassing shared policy and financial means.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, which complemented its efforts to raise living standards in the region.  Over nearly three decades, the share of people living in extreme poverty in the ASEAN region had fallen from one in three to one in eight.  While the 2030 Agenda would guide poverty eradication efforts in South-East Asia, there was no one-size-fits-all approach to its implementation, she said, emphasizing that efforts should be tailored to meet the unique needs, priorities and backgrounds of each country and region.  It was also important for any comprehensive strategy to build resilience against potential shocks such as economic instability, food insecurity and climate change, she said, citing ASEAN initiatives in that regard.

She said more could be done through participation and partnerships to eradicate poverty and advance sustainable development.  In that regard, she drew attention to annual ASEAN forums on rural development and social welfare, as well as the Association’s efforts in promoting public-private partnerships and strengthening its relations with international partners, including through the ASEAN-United Nations Plan of Action for 2016-2020.  ASEAN called for a strengthened global partnership that would include the fulfilment of official development assistance commitments, enhanced capacity-building and technology transfer, and the creation of favourable conditions for developing countries in the formulation and implementation of poverty eradication strategies.

ANA HELENA CHACÓN ECHEVERRÍA, Vice-President of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, said that despite all achievements, many countries had been left behind and growing global inequities challenged the universality of human rights.  Poverty was a system and the poor continued to be deprived, above all, of the capacity to claim their inalienable rights.  Human dignity must be at the centre of any sustainable development process, he said, warning against the notion that people should be passive beneficiaries of the State.  To the contrary, people must be genuine agents of change, entitled to certain basic living conditions, such as reaching their potential.

And yet, he said, the realization of economic, social and cultural rights remained a “mirage” for millions.  Youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, minorities and migrants, and women and girls continued to face paramount challenges to their development.  Moreover, people living in extreme poverty had neither the political power nor the material and educational opportunity to take charge of their destiny.  Respecting, promoting, and protecting rights required Governments to take positive action, which in turn, demanded national compliance with international obligations, particularly the 2030 Agenda.  Highlighting the vital role of civil society and other stakeholders in promoting human rights, he stressed that attaining sustainable development required commitment from all.

Ms. Chacón, speaking in her national capacity and associating herself with the Group of 77 and with the statement to be delivered by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), described a number of her Government’s strategies aimed at meeting the needs of vulnerable people and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Among other vulnerable groups, those instruments addressed the needs of persons with disabilities, women, young people, persons living on the street, persons of African descent, refugees and indigenous peoples.  Costa Rica’s poverty, as measured by traditional indexes, had decreased from 22.3 per cent in 2015 to 20.5 per cent in 2016, with extreme poverty having dropped significantly over the same period.  In addition, she said, the country was working to build a fairer, more inclusive society that fully respected human rights.

SOPHIE KARMASIN, Minister for Family and Youth of Austria, said war, famine and natural disasters in one region could have direct impacts on countries in other regions.  “We can longer deny the globalized, interlinked world we live in,” she stressed.  The global fight against poverty could only be won by improving the lives of children, and as such, families should be at the centre of economic policies.  Describing the “Companies for Families” network and efforts to combat gender-related inequality, she said Austria was working to support women in returning to work after giving birth and had allocated funds for child care.  Poverty eradication also depended on the availability of decent work, particularly for young people.  Associating herself with the European Union, she said the bloc’s Youth Guarantee initiative was an excellent tool to reduce youth unemployment.  She also described national efforts to enhance digital competence for those seeking to enter the workforce, underscoring the importance of both social protections and multi-stakeholder partnerships aimed at eradicating poverty.

NOMTOIBAYAR NYAMTAISHIR, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of Mongolia, said his country had eradicated poverty and preserved its ecological balance as it continued to build a strong and stable country.  It had integrated the Sustainable Development Goals into its policies, plans and budgets, including the Mongolia 2030 Sustainable Development Vision and the Action Plan for 2016-2020.  That framework was focused on establishing a national economic policy that collaborated with regional and international economic trends, while remaining absolutely sovereign from political influence.  Further, the new law on national development sought to create sustainable economic growth by generating jobs and shifting people from welfare beneficiaries to contributors to the achievement of the Goals.  Highlighting Mongolia’s various investments in its youth, he recalled that the country had hosted a regional forum on youth involvement in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

ALBERTO BELTRAME, Vice-Minister of Social and Agrarian Development of Brazil, said his country, through a rights-based approach, had made consistent efforts to reduce inequality.  It had overcome extreme poverty, reduced poverty and taken itself off the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) hunger map.  Going forward, Brazil understood that poverty was multidimensional and that policies to address it must be socially sustainable.  He outlined some of Brazil’s social policies, including the “Bolsa Família” cash transfer programme.  While income transfer strategies were important, he said, there was still a need for policies to address the intergenerational reproduction of poverty, create opportunities for human development and encourage labour market inclusion.

ALEXY CHERKASOV, Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation, said the Commission would be an effective coordinator within the United Nations on a range of social development questions.  In his country, special attention was paid to such vulnerable groups as families with children, older people, those not in regular paid employment, and persons with disabilities.  The employment situation in the Russian Federation was stable, with unemployment lower than global Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union standards.  However, citizens without a legal source of income represented a serious socioeconomic problem, as they comprised 23 per cent of the working population, which had an impact on the national budget.  He outlined Government efforts to address the legal status of self-employed persons and the prevalence of low-paid, low-output workplaces, and to increase the minimum wage.

HECTOR RAMON CARDENAS MOLINAS (Paraguay) stressed the need to step up country efforts to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and combat climate change, all while leaving no one behind.  “We need to overcome the challenges of uniting political will to ensure more inclusive societies,” he added, reaffirming his country’s zero tolerance policy for discrimination.  In recent years, and thanks to the Government’s strategic efforts, Paraguay’s poverty – including extreme poverty – had dropped significantly.  Nevertheless, the Government continued to push forward to improve the participation of all people in the achievement of sustainable development, and provided support through such programmes as responsible cash transfers, school feeding programmes and the building of affordable housing.

MUHAMMETSEYIT SYLAPOV, Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Protection of Population of Turkmenistan, recalled that following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, his country had immediately begun to integrate its targets into its national policies.  Noting that the goal of development was to bolster the material and spiritual well-being of people while respecting their fundamental rights and freedoms, he described several recent changes to Turkmenistan’s Constitution, which reflected the country’s accession to various international human rights treaties.  In that regard, the Government had drafted a national action plan to combat human trafficking and was working on similar strategies for the protection of the rights of children and other vulnerable groups.  Economic and productive growth was another priority.

ANA SOFIA AUTUNES, Secretary of State for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities of Portugal, associating herself with the European Union, said poverty took different forms in different parts of the world, but it had one common consequence:  depriving people from fulfilling their potential and well-being.  Eradicating poverty required strategic, integrated and coherent measures at all levels, targeting such groups as persons with disabilities, migrants, refugees, and those from ethnic and religious minorities.  She described a social benefit that Portugal had introduced for those certified as disabled, and emphasized the difficulties that the long-term unemployed, particularly those over the age of 50, faced when returning to the labour market.

MARIE-CHRISTINE BAUDURET, Head of Labour, Employment, Social Affairs and Human Rights, European and International Delegation, Ministry for Social Affairs of France, associating herself with the European Union, said the Government maintained an integrated approach to poverty eradication that took into account the views of vulnerable populations.  France’s tool for achieving Goal 1 (no poverty) was a multi-annual plan to fight poverty and promote social inclusion that drew on input from private and public stakeholders.  She emphasized the importance of lifelong learning, noting that the digitization of jobs might bring with it employment loss for those lacking qualifications.

Address by President of General Assembly

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said the Commission’s longstanding work to promote people-centred development had helped shape key sustainable development concepts and laid the foundation for the 2030 Agenda.  The body now had a key role to play to ensure that that “master plan for people, planet and prosperity” was implemented over the next 14 years, he said, adding that this year’s theme on poverty eradication could not be more timely or relevant.  Expressing confidence that achieving those goals was “firmly within our reach”, he pointed out that the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world had been reduced from 1.9 billion in 1990 to about 702 million in 2015.

In that regard, he called for continued efforts to build sustainable, inclusive economic growth, in particular through people-centred investments such as the provision of equitable, quality education.  Peace must also be sustained, as people in conflict-affected countries were among those most at risk of being left behind.  “Without sustaining peace, sustainable development is not possible”, he stressed, noting that the United Nations had now accepted that the two concepts were deeply interlinked.  Finally, he underscored the need to secure long-term financing for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals — estimated to cost between $5 trillion and $7 trillion annually — through policies that supported both private and public funding efforts.

Interactive Discussion

In the afternoon, the Commission held a panel discussion on the priority theme “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”.  Moderated by H. Elizabeth Thompson, Executive Director of the State University of New York-University of the West Indies Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, it featured a keynote speech by Martin Ravallion, Professor of Economics, Georgetown University, and former Director of the World Bank’s research department.

It also included presentations by Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría, Vice-President of Costa Rica; Aisha Jumai Alhassan, Minister for Women Affairs and Social Development of Nigeria; Michelle Muschette, Vice-Minister for Social Development of Panama; Michel Servoz, Director-General of the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion in the European Commission; Ifeyinwa Ofong, development consultant and a national coordinator of women in development and environment in Nigeria; and Alberto Beltrame, Vice-Minister for Social and Agrarian Development of Brazil.

Mr. RAVALLION said “fantastic” progress had been made against extreme poverty.  “That’s great news, but there are continuing challenges, real challenges,” he said, emphasizing that poverty monitoring must be relevant to social policy dialogue.  While there had been good overall progress in reducing absolute poverty, challenges remained and poorer countries that had relied on economic growth — rather than direct interventions — to combat poverty might need to adapt their policies.

Maintaining growth trajectories since 2000 without a rise in overall inequality would lift about 1 billion people out of extreme absolute poverty over the next 15 years or so, he said.  Such an optimistic path would require economic reforms that would make markets work better for poor people.  It would also need a measure of good luck, such as avoiding a major financial crisis or success in dealing with climate change.  Given that path, however, more than 1 billion people would still be living in relative poverty.

Among his recommendations, he said policies must be tailored to the realities of local situations.  Local information — including greater community-based participation — could help identify those in need, reinforced with strong Governments.  He also emphasized the crucial nature of monitoring and evaluating progress, and the need for policymakers to learn from mistakes and adapt to evidence of failure.  Bureaucratic inertia appeared to be a common problem, he said.

Ms. CHACÓN stressed the need to design public policies to meet the needs of people facing constant hunger, exclusion and poverty.  No development could be sustained if millions of people were left behind.  Poverty was the most flagrant violation of human rights.  Social policy must end the income gap and move towards peace, justice and inclusion.  Costa Rica had worked to implement since 2015 the national “bridge for development” poverty-reduction strategy.  It entailed social maps to track impoverished areas and understand their socioeconomic conditions.  A poverty index was used to measure poverty beyond income and to take into account shortages in education, health care, water and housing.  The strategy focused particularly on women, with substantial results.  If current strategies continued, Costa Rica was poised to eliminate extreme poverty in less than 10 years.

Ms. ALHASSAN said that despite its immense natural and human resources, Africa remained underdeveloped and plagued with extreme poverty.  Fully, 48.5 per cent of the global population and one third of the sub-Saharan African population experienced malnourishment and exclusion.  To address that, in 2013 African Union Heads of State adopted 2063 Agenda to eradicate poverty.  Since 1995, Nigeria had adopted an affirmative action strategy, whereby 30 per cent of the Bank of Industry’s investment funds were earmarked to reduce female poverty.  The Government had set up a basic education scheme to end illiteracy and equip beneficiaries with lifelong skills to be self-reliant.  It provided free immunization for infants to reduce infant mortality.  Among other things, she cited a capacity-building scheme to reduce youth unemployment; an agriculture scheme for 3 million rural farmers to reduce hunger and end poverty; programmes to improve farming techniques and enhance food production; and an $800 million revolving loan scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria for small business entrepreneurship.  The current Administration was rolling out new initiatives to end poverty, such as cash transfers, a school feeding programme, and scholarships for science and technology classes.  Annually, $164 million was earmarked for no-interest loans for rural businesses.

Ms. MUSCHETT, discussing Panama’s policies for poverty reduction, emphasized the importance of taking stock of available resources and for a consensus with civil society to be in place.  In her country, macro policies such as an increase in 2016 of the minimum wage and a monetary transfer programme had assisted those in extreme poverty.  Reducing poverty brought challenges, however.  She explained her Government’s new strategy which focused on reinforcing links between existing policies, with the goal of reducing extreme poverty to the lowest possible level, guaranteeing social protection and halving multidimensional poverty by 2030.  The results should help families emerge progressively out of poverty.

Mr. SERVOZ, reviewing the features of the European Union’s approach to poverty, emphasized the importance of a comprehensive and integrated strategy, with specific instruments for the most vulnerable.  He also underscored the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships.  Noting that the European Union was still struggling from the 2007 economic crisis, he said an integrated approach that covered a range of issues, including education and fiscal matters, was needed.  The bloc regarded trade policy as essential to creating decent jobs and supporting its social protection systems.

Mr. OFONG said a one-size-fits-all strategy to end poverty would not work.  She asked whether people were poor because they were lazy or because institutions had failed to create policies for an enabling environment in which people could be well fed and cared for.  Among the lessons learned from poverty-eradication programmes was that data was vital in order to know whom to target.  In surveys of poor people in her country 95 per cent of respondents said they preferred to receive funds, rather than training.  Poor people had an important role in helping to develop strategies for charting their own path out of poverty.  Poverty eradication must be linked to rural development.

She said it was necessary to talk with the poor — many of whom had resigned themselves to their lot — and help them understand the meaning of sustainable development.  All strategies must enhance their capacity to help themselves.  Governments must develop good road networks and markets for their products, she said, noting that many developing countries lacked a well-functioning financial system to grow economies and create jobs.  Investment, particularly in domestic production chains and economic diversification, were vital.  Most African parliamentary systems, derived from European or United States models, were too costly to enable Governments to spend limited resources wisely.  New models were needed.

Mr. BELTRAME said remarkable achievements in recent decades, with millions of Brazilians lifted out of poverty and the nation removed from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Hunger Map, had helped raise quality of life and reduce inequality.  The challenge was to sustain those gains.  The national poverty reduction strategy entailed conditional cash transfers, social inclusion, and promotion of human development, with a focus on early childhood care.  Through the Bolsa Familia cash transfer programme, 13.6 million low-income people received stipends provided they kept their children in school and following a vaccination schedule.  This year, the Government would launch a National Strategy for Social and Productive Inclusion to build professional skills and generate income.  The Happy Child Programme was launched last year and would give regular assistance, including home visits, to 530,000 children in 2017 and 1.5 million in 2018.

In the ensuing discussion, the moderator asked Mr. SERVOZ why, for the European Union, partnerships were important.  He replied that, to implement the Goals, the commitment of Governments was not enough; others must participate as well.  However, he stressed, Governments had an obligation to mobilize other actors, particularly social partners.

A representative of the Baha’i community asked how to develop policies that did not create a sense of separateness between haves and have-nots.

Responding, Ms. MUSCHETT emphasized the importance, when identifying target populations, of understanding contexts and expectations.  Most policymakers were never going to understand “in their skin” what experiencing poverty was really like.  Panama’s history with cash-transfer programmes was fairly new and under constant assessment, but to judge from the experience of other countries, such as Brazil, those programmes alone would not free people from poverty.

Mr. RAVALLION added that it was expensive to address poverty at a micro level, especially for poor countries.  Policies must be tailored to local realities or they would not work.  There should be more discussion around State capacities and building effective Governments in poor countries.  Tension could emerge between finely targeted programmes and middle-class support, and in such instances, it would be necessary to strike a balance, appropriate to each country.

A representative of UNAMANA International said people living in poverty must be asked what they needed.  In that regard, she asked the panellists what interventions countries might take in consultation with their local communities, and how their success could be monitored.

Mr. RAVALLION responded that it was critical to consider what would work best in each situation.  “We have a menu of options,” he said, and there was no single magic bullet.  While the science of measurement and evaluation had come a long way, he warned against generalizing and stressed that methods should be adapted to the local context.

Ms. THOMPSON raised questions related to the role of governance, how best to address environmental issues in the eradication of poverty, and ways to galvanize people around the 2030 Agenda.  A representative of the International Association of Schools of Social Work then asked panellists how to ensure that the world’s current power concentrations did not hinder efforts to leave no one behind.

The representative of Romania said the best measure of social development was “jobs, jobs, jobs”.  Leaving no one behind meant moving forward together, he said, stressing that the motto represented the “best equation” for eradicating poverty.  He then responded to several questions by Ms. Thomson relating to his choice of the word “jobs” as opposed to “decent work” and whether jobs should be targeted to groups such as youth and women, stressing that he was talking about a “decent way of life” in general.

Ms. CHACÓN said the Sustainable Development Goals, while ambitious, were more realistic than their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, which had not been achieved by many countries.  In Costa Rica, the Government had created a public alliance through which it engaged academia, civil society and State institutions in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.  Measurable and specific targets and indicators, as well as implementation time frames, had also been put in place.  She underscored the importance of investing in education, which would help countries remain competitive and generate “jobs, jobs, jobs”.

Ms. ALHASSAN said that, without the appropriate frameworks, the roles of Government and other stakeholders remained unclear and those entities could not be held accountable.  Policies required adequate legislation to enforce them, she added, calling in particular for social safety nets for the most vulnerable and citing a number of examples from her country.

A representative of SustainUS, also speaking on behalf of native Hawaiians, raised a question about land rights and displacement, their relationship to poverty, and the situation of indigenous peoples.

Ms. OFONG said those who lived in poverty needed to know what the Sustainable Development Goals were about.  Civil society felt that Governments must simplify the Goals and translate them into local languages.  Thought should be given to teaching the Goals in schools.  Regarding governance, she said it was costly for most African countries.  Each country should revisit their political structures and reduce costs in order to have more money for poverty eradication.

Ms. ALHASSAN addressed the topic of land-holding by women.  In most of Africa, and especially in Nigeria, women had had no land-owning rights, despite that they represented the majority of farmers.  The Government in Nigeria was addressing that issue in equal opportunities legislation.

Mr. SERVOZ said many poverty strategies were about education, fiscal policies and other issues.  However, education ministers did not get along well with counterparts who dealt with social policies, and it was the same for finance ministers.  He also addressed a question from the moderator about the environment, saying the European Union was committed to full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and reducing energy poverty.

Ms. THOMPSON, emphasizing that environmental resources could not be squandered, said nobody got along with environment ministers, as they were considered too “restrictive”.

Ms. MUSCHETT said that, following a major consultative process, Panama was developing a national plan for indigenous peoples.  Poverty in her country was concentrated in five regions populated by indigenous peoples, but each of those regions was different.  She added that environmental vulnerability was one dimension of Panama’s multidimensional poverty index.

Mr. CHARWATH, Chair of the Commission, in brief closing remarks, highlighted the importance of data, stressing that without data, there could be no policy formulation.

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*     The 1st Meeting was covered in Press Release SOC/4837 of 12 February 2016.

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Preventing Climate Change, Acknowledging Needs of Specific States Focus, as Second Committee Concludes General Debate

Preventing climate change, enhancing international cooperation, and acknowledging the needs of specific groups and categories of States were necessary to implement the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Member States said today as the General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its general debate.

“Climate change is a serious threat to development,” said the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania.  “Early entry into force of the Paris Agreement is vital.”  Many States noted the risks climate change posed to their development plans, be it through natural hazards, desertification, or negative effects on glaciers.

The African continent’s development was already being threatened by climate change, said the representative of Niger, speaking on behalf of the African Group.  Land degradation was also advancing, and African countries were among the worst hit, along with mountainous regions and headwaters nations that were at risk of glacial melt due to climate change.  The representative of Kyrgyzstan noted that climate change had already led to increased natural hazards, increased glacial melts, devastation of mountain ecosystems and resultant effects on societies.  By 2025, the total area of glaciers in Kyrgyzstan could be reduced by 30 to 40 per cent, with a resultant decline in water flows, she said.  It was urgent to protect glaciers in headwater countries.

Several States highlighted the status of middle-income countries.  Those countries continued to face special challenges.  The representative of Mexico underscored the role of middle-income countries, which had much of the world’s population living in extreme poverty, and it was necessary to rethink the criteria for graduation of those countries as official development assistance recipients.  The representative of Chile said the majority of the United Nations membership were or would become middle-income countries in the near term, and it was necessary to strengthen United Nations support to those countries.  Nor could per capita income be the only tool by which to measure countries.

Many speakers said that it was necessary to strengthen international cooperation and partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  The representative of Rwanda highlighted the need for solidarity with vulnerable countries that could easily face economic downturns with the change of a few commodity prices.  Financing for development was a key factor in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as was international trade.

A number of States highlighted the importance of adopting the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  The review, said the representative of Paraguay, “will be crucial for forging correct strategies in the coming years.  This must be in line with the 2030 Agenda and take into account countries in special situations, notably landlocked developing countries.”  The representative of Australia stressed that the review “helps set direction for the UN system to implement the 2030 Agenda.”

While the work of the Second Committee was important, it needed to change the way it operated to ensure its relevance, stressed the representative of Australia.  The Committee needed to adhere to deadlines to achieve outcomes, and countries required sufficient time for consultations and debate on resolutions in order to achieve consensus.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Japan, Tajikistan, Panama, Botswana, Republic of Korea, Mauritania, Iraq, Georgia, Peru, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Venezuela, Turkey, China, Morocco, Myanmar, Costa Rica, Fiji, Kenya, Algeria, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Yemen, Kuwait, South Africa, Bhutan, Zambia, Nepal, Guinea, Serbia, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Argentina and Liberia.

Representatives from the State of Palestine, Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) also spoke.

Statements

NOBORU SEKIGUCHI (Japan), recalling with regret that collective efforts towards the Second Committee’s revitalization had failed, stressed that “we must not reopen what we agreed to in 2015.”  The completion of the Committee’s work within the mutually-agreed deadlines should be strictly kept, while any programme budget implications that were not urgent, necessary or based on clear mandates should be kept off the negotiating table.  Describing Japan’s priorities for the upcoming session, he said the setting of the Committee’s deliberations on aspects of sustainable development should be well aligned with the 2015 international agreements, especially the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Expressing his readiness to adopt the historic New Urban Agenda — which would draw a whole picture of sustainable urbanization over the next 20 years — he also underscored the importance of implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and pledged to support the sustainable development of countries in special situations.  Discussions on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review were also critical, he said, underlining the need to devise a reform plan that included a broader perspective.

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan) highlighted the important milestones reached in 2015, including the third International Conference on Financing for Development, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  There was a need to mobilize additional financial resources, notably official development assistance (ODA), the main component for financing development.  Countries that began their efforts to achieve a sustainable development agenda under less favourable conditions needed support.  Tajikistan was a host to a high-level conference on water and sanitation in August, and would put forth a draft resolution in the Second Committee on International Decade for Action, “Water for Sustainable Development, 2018-2028”, and encouraged all Member States to support it.

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) noted that it had been a year since the 2030 Agenda had been adopted, stressing that the Second Committee was especially relevant in achieving its goals.  In stepping up its collective efforts, the Committee’s main work should be to strengthen the operational guide or road map towards those goals.  Adding that the Paris Agreement was vital for sustainable development, she said many Latin American and Caribbean nations had reaffirmed their commitments to combat climate change.  Panama had set up an international centre to ensure implementation of the 2030 Agenda and inclusive development.  It was also seeking to become a carbon hub for the region by managing sustainable forests and combating deforestation.

SALVADOR DE LARA RANGEL (Mexico) said that, with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda framing development as a vital cornerstone of the United Nations agenda, it was now up to the Organization and its development system to align itself to that agenda and to modify its approach.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review extended to sustainable development and provided an opportunity to make the changes needed.  His country had been an active promoter of financing for development.  A cross‑cutting, multidimensional approach for financing was needed to push sustainable development forward.  He also underscored the role of middle-income countries, which had much of the world’s population living in extreme poverty.  It was necessary to rethink the criteria for graduation of those countries as ODA recipients.

TLHALEFO BASTILE MADISA (Botswana) said landlocked developing countries were faced with various challenges, including high transport costs, dependence on a single or limited number of commodities for export earnings, remoteness and isolation from world markets and a cumbersome transit procedure.  Countries’ efforts to overcome such difficulties on their own were insufficient, and there was a need for greater international support from all stakeholders, including transit partners.  Stressing that trade for landlocked countries was also key in achieving development goals, he said the World Trade Organization (WTO) remained vital in integrating those nations into global trade.  Climate change was another issue needing serious attention, as it continued to impact all economic sectors, manifested by constrained agricultural production, increased food insecurity, prolonged drought and water stress.

OH YOUNGJU (Republic of Korea) said that, while the international community had been focused on galvanizing political will for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, it must now create concrete actions for sustainable development.  To that end, the discussion on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review was vital in providing strategic guidance on the implementation of the sustainable development goals.  Furthermore, the reform of the United Nations development system should be based on gaps and lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals.  With regards to the Paris accord, her country would “exert its best efforts” to ratify the instrument by the end of this year.  Parallel to that, her Government would also establish a national plan on climate change to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets, in addition to expanding its support to developing countries through the Green Climate Fund.

CARLOS OLGUÍN CIGARROA (Chile) said that the majority of United Nations membership were or would become middle-income countries in the near term.  It was necessary to strengthen the Organization’s support to those countries, as they faced special challenges in developing policies.  He believed it was important that per capita income could not be the only tool by which to measure countries.  On climate change, it was important to consider both mitigation and adaption, or else developing countries would be the most vulnerable.  Chile welcomed the flexibility shown by all nations on a new urban agenda in preparation for the Habitat III conference.

TUVAKO NATHANIEL MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the African Group and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that review of sustainable development progress would help build ownership of the 2030 Agenda and create a virtuous cycle of implementation.  Studies had shown that land degradation was advancing and that African countries were among the worst hit.  Combating land degradation could contribute to easing forced migration flows influenced by a number of factors, including economic, social, security and environmental concerns.  That could in turn reduce current and potential fighting over resources.  He also called on all Member States to recognize the need to intensify efforts to enhance coherence and consistency of the international financial system and to tackle challenges confronting the global economy.  Welcoming the establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, he warned that an abrupt cut of assistance towards new graduates could lead into falling back to their previous status.

EL HACEN ELEYATT (Mauritania) said the world was confronting several challenges, including terrorism and poverty, as well as underdevelopment in certain regions.  It was necessary to improve people’s welfare through the principles of mutual cooperation.  Noting that the 2030 Agenda was vital in transforming the world and achieving prosperity, he said Mauritania had set up a national programme to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  His country had managed to alleviate poverty and its manifestations by improving income and increasing employment for youth.  The Government had adopted policies to empower women, who were now present in all sectors of society.  It had also established a social security programme that combated poverty and assisted vulnerable groups through health benefits and income producing projects.  In addition, it had worked to improve governance through transparency and by combatting corruption.

Mr. AL HAYANI (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the market economy was still the global model for development, notably through trade, wealth‑generation and technological innovation.  An unregulated market economy, however, would exhaust natural resources and cause economic crises.  As such, global economic growth needed to take into account the sustainable use of natural resources.  The goal of the WTO was to ensure the necessary conditions so that everyone had an equal chance, including developing countries that had not benefited from globalization.  He reaffirmed the importance of having more flexible membership criteria for States that were currently WTO observers, such as his country.  Sustainable development and economic development in Iraq faced major challenges due to terrorism, which had attacked peaceful cities, affecting economic prosperity and discouraging foreign investment.

JUAN MANUEL PEÑA (Paraguay), associating himself with the Group of 77, said eradicating poverty was the greatest challenge facing the world.  The 2030 Agenda must be implemented, along with other international programmes and plans, including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  It was vital to improve the global infrastructure and optimize mechanisms for international cooperation.  Stressing that developing countries were especially vulnerable to natural hazards, he said landlocked countries deserved special focus, as they were at greater risk to hazards like droughts and floods.  The United Nations should strengthen support for landlocked countries through the work of the Second Committee.  ODA was vital in implementing the 2030 Agenda, as were increased investments, capacity-building and a more inclusive international trading regime.

NINO SHEKRILADZE (Georgia) said that Georgia had participated in the first round of national voluntary reviews on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, underscoring that “we all learn by doing, but we also learn better together”.  It was important that the United Nations system, with its technical expertise, supported Member States in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  The upcoming quadrennial comprehensive policy review would be central to ensure that the United Nations development system would perform its function effectively.  There was a financing gap for the implementation of the Goals, and innovative financing could play a significant role in addressing that, alongside domestic financial flows, foreign direct investment and ODA.  In that regard, Georgia, through the establishment of its Solidarity Fund, had become an active member of the global partnership on innovative financing.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan), expressing her full supported for the 2030 Agenda, said that her country had actively begun its implementation.  Developing, mountainous, landlocked countries such as Kyrgyzstan faced unique circumstances and the inclusion of those issues in the Agenda was welcome.  Market access would help such landlocked developing countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Trade barriers and unilateral border closures were unhelpful.  Climate change had already led to increased natural disasters, increased glacial melts, devastation of mountain ecosystems and resultant negative effects on societies.  By 2025, the total area of glaciers in Kyrgyzstan could be reduced by 30 to 40 per cent, with a resultant decline in water flows.  It was urgent to protect glaciers in headwater countries.

JULIAN SIMPSON (Australia) said the Committee had a central role to play in ensuring that the General Assembly was focused on the 2030 Agenda and responsive to issues central to its implementation.  “We must change the way this Committee operates to ensure it remains relevant and valued,” he said, stressing that “business as usual won’t do”.  Indeed, the Committee must be a platform for constructive debate where Member States could work cooperatively.  It was important that all Member States allow time to consult, discuss and debate resolutions by ensuring that texts were submitted within set deadlines.  Calling for early warning of resolutions with possible budgetary implications, he said the Committee should avoid re-prosecuting recent leader-level agreements.  In addition, it should work efficiently to provide space to negotiate the resolution on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, which would help set the direction for the United Nations system in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), aligning his delegation with the Group of 77, said countries had a shared responsibility to implement the 2030 Agenda in ensuring sustained economic growth and preserving the planet for future generations.  The sustainable development partnership called for a stronger global framework and assured financing for development.  It was urgent to honour commitments and develop mechanisms to make resources available in achieving the Agenda.  Stressing that human beings must be at the heart of global efforts, he said development meant inclusion and the safeguarding of cultural diversity.  It was also necessary to focus on disaster risk reduction and the impacts of climate change.  His Government promoted the sustainable development of mountain areas, where people were subject to increased vulnerability and poverty, a challenge for middle-income countries like Peru.  In addition, it supported innovative initiatives for collective action to increase access to water and sanitation.

RUSLAN BULTRIKOV (Kazakhstan) stressed the importance of empowering women and girls, as well as youth.  It was important that all 17 Sustainable Development Goals be achieved, he said.  Kazakhstan was planning a green economy with reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, and was committed to ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2016.  It was important to identify marginalized populations that the 2030 Agenda had not touched.  Conflict prevention and resolution were also important.  Kazakhstan had managed to restore part of the Aral Sea and was rehabilitating the land around the Semipalatinsk nuclear-testing site with the help of the United Nations.  To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the efforts of landlocked developing countries would be needed to be matched by support from the international community.

ABU OBEIDA (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the current session of the General Assembly was the first step towards implementing the 2030 Agenda.  His Government was focused on eradicating poverty, given its disastrous effects on people in his country.  All nations must progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, but developing countries faced challenges, including the slowdown of global economic growth, as well as the need for capacity-building, technology transfer and tighter cooperation, especially South-South.  It was also essential that a balance be reached in the international financial system to address unexpected shocks.  Countries, such as Sudan, also suffered from an external debt burden, which negated ODA benefits and other sources of funding.  In addition, they needed access to international trade markets, which would help drive development and growth.

JO TONG HYON (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the independent right to development of all Member States should be respected for the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  It was necessary to transcend differences in ideologies and social systems.  Coercive measures, such as sanctions, blockades and pressure imposed by a few countries against others, damaged development efforts.  The monopolistic control by a few countries of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and WTO could not be tolerated any further.  His Government would make every effort, despite the constant nuclear war threats, economic blockades and sanctions against it, to replace the old international order with a new one and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

SUKHBOLD SUKHEE (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, outlined his nation’s development plan in the area of reducing income inequality, ensuring quality education and achieving ecological balance.  Mongolia was also working on bringing about more efficiency and transparency in governance.  Challenges facing landlocked countries did not only affect economic growth, but also had major implications for social and environmental aspects of development.  Mongolia was certainly affected by climate change, but it also faced several “special human activities” that led to its serious desertification.  For example, poor crop cultivation practices were causing oil erosion.  Mongolia’s urban population had increased sharply in recent years with 68 per cent of people living in urban areas.  The capital’s population had doubled in just the last two decades.  Such rapid urbanization had caused myriad challenges including unemployment, congested traffic and pollution.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said the premise of the Bolivarian revolution was to ensure the greatest happiness for the country’s people.  Venezuela had a “Poverty Zero” plan for 2019, and would continue to reduce exclusion and seek greater equity to transform the lives of its people.  The capitalist system was unjust and generated poverty, and a fair international trade system was needed.  Venezuela advocated for reform of the international financial architecture, which was unjust towards the poorest countries.  Its decision-making processes needed to be democratized.  The sovereign management of natural resources should be considered as an alternative to control of these resources by transnational corporations.  War and conflict hindered development in many countries in the Middle East and Africa, and it was necessary to put an end to foreign interference in domestic matters.

BARIŞ CEYHUN ERCIYES (Turkey) said that his country was not only a reliable donor both in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance but was also hosting the largest refugee population in the world, totalling 3 million people.  Migration could contribute to sustainable development through proper management, common strategies and proactive dialogue.  “Any strategy can be successful if it is carried out collectively,” he said, adding that individual efforts simply could not produce lasting solutions.  Greater international cooperation, burden- and responsibility-sharing were needed to assist host countries and communities.  Turkey welcomed the recent consensus reached for refugees and migrants and expected the international community to meet its commitments to better respond to the global phenomenon.  On climate change, Turkey believed that water and sanitation were vital elements of the 2030 Agenda.  In regards to Member States’ support to build a new global water architecture, he stressed that such steps be taken cautiously and conducted in transparent manner.

WU HAITAO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77 , said it was important to stick to the path of win-win cooperation and honour ODA, especially in helping developing countries enhance capacity.  It was also vital to improve global economic governance and create an enabling international environment for development.  Efforts should be directed towards building an open-world economy.  The United Nations must continue to play a central role in coordinating such development efforts.  Countries would do better by strengthening communication and coordination in macro-economic policy in order to avoid negative spillover.  As the second largest economy in the world, his Government had taken measures to adapt to the “new normal” of its economic development, including upgrading its economic structure and adding new drivers for economic and social development.  China had engaged in an “all-out” endeavour to achieve sustainable development.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77, said his country had integrated the 2030 Agenda directly into its Government’s policies and plans.  It had set implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals as a socioeconomic reference point, including women and youth in the process.  The Government had dedicated more than 54 per cent of its budget to financing the social sector to improve living conditions and eliminate social inequalities.  In promoting sustainable and renewable methods of consumption, Morocco had reached ninth place in the world in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.  Implementing the 2030 Agenda was an opportunity for the Government to adopt a development model that had sustainability at its centre, was mindful of equality and human dignity, focused on public and private institutional effectiveness, and targeted those who needed assistance.

EI EI KHIN AYE (Myanmar) said her country’s national economic and development policy was designed to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.  Food security, poverty alleviation and the promotion of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises were some of Myanmar’s top priorities.  In addition, building nationwide peace and security was paramount, and her Government was committed to the ongoing initiatives of the Panglong Peace Conference that intended to bring sustainable peace to the country.  Combating HIV/AIDS was another highly prioritized goal, she said, adding that the country’s national strategy plan focused specifically on prevention, treatment and care for priority populations.  Emphasizing the importance of close cooperation between developed and developing countries, she highlighted that ODA would continue to be important to developing countries as they pursued the 2030 Agenda.  Her delegation also underscored the importance of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review that would help developing countries achieve the 2030 Agenda and “narrow the development divide among the Member States”, she concluded.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica) said the Second Committee’s biggest challenge during the session would be the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Public and private resources must be mobilized towards that end.  Implementation should be accomplished through the solidarity and transparency of all Member States.  It must consider the needs of the most vulnerable and include middle-income countries, which represented the largest number of Member States in the United Nations.  He also stressed the importance of the Paris Agreement and announced that his country planned to ratify the accord in the coming days.

LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji), associating himself with the Group of 77, Association of Small Island States and the Group of Asia and the Pacific Small Island Developing States, stressed that implementation of the 2030 Agenda would not be realized without adequate financing.  It was necessary that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda be further strengthened and nations formed a global partnership.  As his country had had too many experiences with the adverse impacts of climate change, he urged countries that had not done so to ratify the Paris Agreement.  Extreme weather events would be more frequently experienced if the international community failed to fulfil its commitments.  Discussions at this year’s Second Committee session should maintain the focus on combatting climate change and contribute to finding durable solutions that tackle its multidimensional threat.  For Fiji, as a large ocean State, the Pacific was a lifeline and its declining health must be reversed.

ARTHUR AMAYA ANDAMBI (Kenya), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that at the time of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, his country was already implementing its Vision 2030 through five-year medium term plans which embraced the three dimensions of sustainable development.  It was important to focus on the means of implementation defined under all Goals and number 17 in particular.  It was critical to mobilize sufficient resources to meet the financial demands of implementation.  For Kenya, now a middle-income country, it was necessary to seek increased foreign direct investment (FDI) and to mobilize domestic resources.  Kenya continued to build effective and capable institutions at the national level to coordinate both within and across ministries.

MOURAD MEBARKI (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, described the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as global achievements.  The 2030 Agenda would ensure eradication of poverty if needed resources could be mobilized.  Algeria had succeeded in implementing the Millennium Development Goals and was working on the Sustainable Development Goals by putting in place national mechanisms drawing in all stakeholders.  He noted, however, challenges in funding the Goals, especially considering the negative forecast of international finance.  The World Bank had suggested increasing ODA and tightening South-South cooperation to combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows.  The international community must pay special heed to the funding needs of Africa and assist it in becoming more competitive in international trade.  It was difficult to put in place global partnership mechanisms without solidarity among nations.  The South-South partnership was the best proof of solidarity, but South-North cooperation and technology transfer must also be enhanced.

MAYTHONG THAMMAVONGSA (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself the Group of 77, said it was incumbent on countries, United Nations agencies and other organizations to mobilize resources to ensure the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The Sustainable Development Goals had been mainstreamed into his Government’s national development plans.  The country continued to remove unexploded ordnance that continued to impair the livelihoods of its citizens.  Enhanced partnerships would be important to mobilize resources to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Over the past years, the international community had provided support and assistance to his country, which had contributed to its efforts to eradicate poverty.  Climate change was a global challenge, if it was not addressed adequately, and no one country would be able to cope with or address it alone.  His nation was among the first group of countries to ratify the Paris Agreement and that accord would be implemented in an effective manner.

Ms. ABDULLAH (Malaysia) expressed concern about the global economic crisis, which was having a negative impact on smaller economies.  She called on the international community to strengthen global financial regulation.  Repercussions of the financial crisis in developing countries were always costly and disruptive, especially in mobilizing resources for development.  She stressed the importance of South-South cooperation, which complemented efforts of developing countries to achieve sustainable development, but said it should not replace North-South cooperation.  The 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement were important milestones in paving the way for sustainable development, but the lack of financial resources in developing countries should be addressed.  It was also important to acknowledge that every country had its own challenges in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

ABDALLAH WAFY (Niger), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the continent’s plans for sustainable development were informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that the Second Committee worked to concretize the international outcomes of 2015 — including the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement and others — he said the importance of ensuring the adequate means of implementation could not be overemphasized.  In that regard, ODA commitments must be fulfilled and illicit flows of finance and resources out of Africa must be curbed.  While information and communication technologies (ICTs) were essential enablers for development, access to them remained a challenge for developing countries.  Restrictive trade measures created hurdles and made for an unfair international trade system.  Despite Africa’s insignificant contribution to the causes of climate change, it was also suffering from drought, flooding, climate-induced displacement and other climate-related challenges.  The international community should accelerate efforts to curb those negative effects, including at the upcoming Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Morocco.

RUBÉN ZAMORA (El Salvador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said it was important to speed up and implement recently signed agreements.  Those included the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda.  A fundamental task for the United Nations was to deal with the structure of the global financial and trade system, currently arranged to help the developed countries and punish those that were not developed.  Financing for development was critical to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.  The definition of middle-income countries needed to be revised because those States featured structural imbalances which were not reflected in the per capita income numbers, but were systematically covered up by averaging out gross domestic product (GDP).  It was necessary to understand the changing and evolving needs of societies that were evolving at different levels.  El Salvador confirmed its support for reforming the world economic governance structure to ensure more effective and coordinated handling of important global issues.

HORACIO SEVILLA BORJA (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the need for structural change in the international financial system limited the ability of developing countries to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.  To promote international peace and stability, the international community must have a dialogue to increase transparency and good governance in that financial system.  Its excesses had widened inequalities in the world.  She noted that taxes were tools to increase wealth within and between societies, but stressed the need to eliminate tax evasion, illicit monetary flows and tax havens.  Equador’s tax havens currently held $30 billion, an amount which would contribute substantially to sustainable development.  She suggested creating a world government body that discussed tax issues in tackling the problem of such havens.

APPOLINAIRE DINGHA (Congo) said the Second Committee’s work was taking place at a time of slow economic growth and geopolitical concerns.  He expressed hope that the upcoming Habitat III conference would be a strong policy effort to open up development opportunities for the world’s cities and eradicate poverty.  The first session of the high-level political forum on sustainable development drew a picture of the development programme through the 2030 Agenda, and the Committee needed to take that work to heart as it proceeded.  It was necessary to have better capacity-building in operational terms for the United Nations system for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  The 2030 Agenda touched on all aspects of development, but nonetheless, to ensure its effective implementation and to eradicate poverty, it was necessary to strengthen partnerships.  Congo had a national plan and through it the country had committed to taking ownership of the 2030 Agenda.

PAUL LOSOKO EFAMBE EMPOLE (Democratic Republic of the Congo) was committed to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, incorporating them into its national strategic plan.  The country sought to become a middle-income country by 2021, an emerging market by 2030 and a developed State by 2050.  The country continued its development and sought to reduce poverty, and had managed to have the appropriate economic and social infrastructure to improve the welfare of its population.  Climate change was an unprecedented global challenge and jeopardized the very future of humanity.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo was moving to finalize the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the end of 2016.  There remained a gap between developing and developed States, particularly among the least developed countries.  It was necessary to win the war against poverty so humanity would not suffer a failure of development.

NECTON MHURA (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his country had undertaken several economic initiatives to address high inflation and the decline in GDP.  Malawi had suffered from recent weather-related setbacks as well.  Women were at the very core of any society’s success and with that in mind, Malawi had risen the age of marriage to 18 years and was focusing on programmes that boosted girls’ access to education.  As a landlocked developing country, his nation would feel the positive impact of infrastructural development specifically in the area of increasing the number of Malawians that had access to electricity.  He noted the inconclusiveness of the trade negotiations surrounding duty-free and quota-free market access to certain products and said that the stalemate had only exacerbated the challenges faced by landlocked countries.  Malawi called on its global partners to continue supporting programmes that increased access to education for everyone but especially for girls.

JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that global development was a shared responsibility.  Solidarity needed to be encouraged to ensure that vulnerable countries could achieve sustainable development.  An over-reliance on a few key commodities had helped plunge many countries into recession, for instance.  Low or even shrinking growth would adversely impact the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, where growth of about 7 per cent annually was needed to eradicate poverty by 2030.  Rwanda would continue to invest in its people, enhancing citizen empowerment and community capacity-building.  It was imperative to respond to the aspirations of people; advance gender equality; tackle infrastructure and energy gaps; and realize that all actors needed adequate financing to implement the development agenda.

FREDERICK M. SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed the need for global partnership to achieve the 2030 Agenda, in the form of provision of financial resources, transfer of technology and capacity- building.  A supportive international environment, including an equitable multilateral trading system, was also critical for poverty eradication, as was follow-up on the Financing for Development agenda and reform of the international financial institutions to respond better to the needs of developing countries.  He expressed particular concern over the lack of commitment from some Member States in promoting cooperation on tax matters and addressing the problem of illicit financial flows.  On climate change, he urged developed countries to fulfil their commitments to provide means of implementation for adaptation and mitigation, in line with the Paris outcome.

TALAL ALI RASHED ALJAMALI (Yemen), associating himself with the Group of 77 and Group of Least Developed Countries, said that one year was not enough to evaluate progress but the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals could be reviewed and its successes and setbacks evaluated.  Those Goals would not have an impact on the poor unless they translated into action.  Yemen had signed the Paris Agreement and joined international efforts to preserve the planet, he said, emphasizing the principle of shared but differentiated responsibility.  Industrialized nations must accept their historic responsibilities.  Yemen was in a “particular situation” and “chaos was prevailing”, he said, adding that the country was now “struggling to reach relief” instead of focus on the development gains it had made.

ABDULLAH A KH A KH ALSHARRAH (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the Paris conference was extremely important in terms of dealing with climate change in a fair way.  The road map was done and now it was time to “shoulder responsibility” in the fight against extreme poverty.  It was critical to ensure respect for the environment and take into account ongoing climate change.  There were common but differentiated responsibilities for all to bear.  Conflict interfered with development and therefore it was critical to address immediate humanitarian needs and put an end to conflict worldwide.  Kuwait, as a high-income country, was doing its best to speed up new partnerships in various regions and was set on creating better living conditions for the people in its region.  “Our efforts had been somewhat successful,” he said, emphasizing that his country’s humanitarian assistance was in accordance with its values.

LAWRENCE XOLANI MALAWANE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said the success or failure in implementing the 2030 Agenda would depend on adequate means of implementation and meaningful follow-up and review architecture.  Convinced that the financing for development and the 2030 Agenda processes remained on separate tracks, he urged development partners to honour their commitments on ODA.  Addressing illicit financial flows was crucial.  Upgrading the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters should be upgraded into a universal and intergovernmental body which would provide developing countries with tools to deal with a number of tax related issues, including illicit financial flows.  To combat poverty, special attention should be given to agricultural development and food security.

KUNZANG C. NAMGYEL (Bhutan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that, as a landlocked least developed nation, it had faced immense development challenges.  Stressing that the transformation in the 2030 Agenda period must take place within the least developed countries, he said Bhutan had begun integrating the Sustainable Development Goals into its national priorities in its development planning framework.  The support of development partners was critical to those endeavours, and success would ultimately hinge on the quality of partnerships between Governments, the private sector and civil society at the national, regional and global levels.  Likewise, the 2030 Agenda required a United Nations development system that was able to deliver integrated and coordinated policy support on the ground in response to national needs and priorities.  Noting that Bhutan had been identified as eligible for graduation out of the least developed country category, he emphasized that graduation must be seen in the larger context of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and must be handled carefully.

MWABA P. KASESE BOTA (Zambia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said poverty, through its many offshoots, remained an overarching and pressing challenge around the world.  Promoting transformation and strengthening resilience of economies in Africa — especially countries in special situations — called for the active pursuit of industrialization.  Zambia had been creating a five-year national development plan aimed at fostering growth by initially placing a special focus on the development of rural areas that had the highest prospects for reducing poverty levels.  Other strategies included industrialization, appropriate infrastructure development and fostering rural development by focusing on agriculture and creating jobs.  It was also working to create Value Chain Cluster Programmes, diversification of the agricultural sector, promotion of forestry and Multi-facility Economic Zones and to prioritize infrastructure, energy, water, transport, communication, education and health.  Climate change also remained a national priority.

DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that implementation of the 2030 Agenda had not yet begun in real terms.  It was important to find and urgently remedy the delay so that 2030 commitments could be translated into meaningful results on the ground, including poverty eradication.  Poverty was the worst enemy of humanity, serving as fertile breeding ground for most social ills, beginning with hunger and illiteracy and resulting in anger and even terrorism.  National commitments, ownership, leadership, people-centric and accountable governance systems must be complemented by robust international partnership to win the arduous battle against poverty.  He also stressed that the international community was obliged to help graduate least developed countries and ease structural deficiencies of landlocked developing countries, as agreed in programmes of action for those countries.  It was also important to note the huge potential of South-South cooperation, which could be a game changer in ensuring implementation of new agendas.

ALASSANE CONTE (Guinea) said the international community had committed itself to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Guinea had suffered two years of the Ebola outbreak and was now paying strict heed to the Goals.  In May, the new Prime Minister had promised to re-establish rule of law, kick-start the national economy and combat corruption.  The Government was the first pillar around which sustainable development progress should be made.  Economically, specialists had noted that Guinea could supply the world’s aluminium needs for a century.  The country was currently focusing on mining, creating a framework favouring investment.  Programmes had been signed for several billion dollars in investment, which could make Guinea the mining capital of West Africa.  A large programme had also been put in place to improve agriculture, which could make his country the bread basket of the region.

IVA JEMUOVIC (Serbia) said that her country had begun the process of updating its national strategy for sustainable development and the financing to go along with that.  Failure to achieve the “lofty” goals set was not an option.  Each country had a responsibility to attain sustainable development but sub-regional, regional and global cooperation was indispensable to that.  Moving on to climate change, she noted the massive and devastating floods that had hit Serbia two years ago and outlined myriad concrete actions taken by the Government including stemming greenhouse gas emissions.  On migration, she said that over the past year and a half more than 700,000 refugees and migrants transited through Serbia.  Currently, there were more than 7,000 migrants and asylum-seeking people in the country.  As a nation that had experience protracted displacement for more than 20 years, Serbia simply did not have the capacity to be a long-term, mass shelter for migrants.  A comprehensive European and global solution was vital to address that phenomenon.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said there was a growing international consciousness intent on reducing development gaps.  He called on the international community to provide means to implement the 2030 Agenda, referring to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Stressing the importance of enhancing global partnerships, he pointed to the importance of abiding by agreed-upon development assistance for developing countries, especially in Africa, considering the harsh challenges they faced.  Due attention should also be paid to transition countries to overcome social and economic difficulties by reinforcing resources and transferring technology.  Efforts should also be made to eliminate tax evasion, illegal flows and financial corruption.  Finally, there was a need to facilitate the access of developing countries to special funds to alleviate the effects of climate change.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country had taken into account domestic risks and vulnerabilities in its implementation of sustainable development.  Its administration had invested in projects with hopes that Equatorial Guinea would become an emerging economy by 2020.  Society was informed by the planned targets through various public campaigns.  State stability fostered development and from that standpoint, the State was a clearly defined public entity that could represent many interests but its very existence was absolutely fundamental.  “Speaking quite frankly, if there is no State, there could be no development,” he said, noting the various failed States worldwide whose development gains and hopes had been squandered.  Equatorial Guinea and its Government were committed to applying the development agenda and had already budgeted for it until 2020.  It was focused on diversifying its economy by being less dependent on resources.

NOUR MAMDOUH KASEB ALJAZI (Jordan), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that some development gains had been jeopardized by various factors including the recent flow of migration.  The number of displaced people worldwide was beyond 60 million, she added, emphasizing the need for an international response.  Partners, civil society and the private sector must join forces to address the phenomenon.  The Syrian crisis had substantially increased “the burden on Jordan’s shoulders”, she said, adding that her country had taken in 1.3 million refugees.  That caused problems with social infrastructure and availability of Government services but despite those immense challenges, Jordan remained committed to sustainable development.  Financing represented a major challenge, she said, underscoring the importance of ODA for both developing and middle-income countries.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the 2030 Agenda recognized that the elimination of poverty was a serious challenge and crucial to sustainable development.  The Agenda provided a new framework for sustainable development and was universal in nature, eliminating imbalances and inequalities within and between countries.  It was a commitment that applied to all countries, considering the priorities and capacities of each.  Argentina had begun strengthening its institutional regulations to implement each part of the Agenda.  He stressed that climate change was the biggest challenge facing mankind today.  Argentina had attempted to improve its governance, setting up a national network on climate change to monitor reductions in emissions and determine steps to take in future years.  He also emphasized that operational activities for development must have a broader and greater role to help countries achieve the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must develop national capacity in developing countries and integrate South-South and triangular cooperation into the strategic plans of several United Nations agencies.

LEWIS G. BROWN (Liberia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that while everyone had been analysing challenges pertaining to sustainable growth it was equally important to note that the Millennium Development Goals deepened humanity’s understanding of global poverty, rising inequality and pervasive injustice.  Liberia had embarked on the process of domesticating the Sustainable Development Goals through robust initiatives, working with the private sector, civil society and faith-based leaders.  Efforts to enhance national ownership were also manifested in several areas, including the national budget.  The focus was on a process of localization and decentralization.  With 42 per cent of biodiversity in the West African region, Liberia understood the importance of protecting the environment from the trappings of global warming and the effects of climate change.  It remained committed to the sustainable use of land and forests.

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, aligning his statement with that of the Group of 77, asked how the Second Committee could promote development when the people of Palestine faced acute challenges.  Israel was the occupying Power and was destroying in a systematic manner all pillars of development.  Forty eight years ago, Israel had occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and since then Palestinian development had gone backwards.  Palestinian resources were being looted and depleted in full view of the international community, producing an imbalanced relationship where the Palestinians were being denied access to their natural resources while Israeli settlements were being enlarged.  The 2030 Agenda stated that peace and development were inseparable.  Israel continued to take hundreds of military actions depriving Palestinians of their right to development, notably through the policy of settlement expansion.  “They are terrorist settlers armed to the teeth, armed with racial ideologies,” he said, and added that it was high time to end the Israeli occupation.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the recent conclusion of many significant international commitments demonstrated a willingness among political leaders to come together to address global challenges.  At the same time, however, there had been a continued breakdown of trust as inequalities among and within countries had widened and the number of violent conflicts had increased.  A human-centred approach must form the centre of all efforts to address the interconnected challenges of environmental, economic and social development, he said, underscoring the need to avoid a reductionist approach that viewed the human person as an obstacle to development or, even worse, as the cause of his or her own underdevelopment and neediness.  Among other things, he called for a renewed commitment to just and equitable mechanisms for global trade and multilateral financial assistance, and warned against “global indifference” to the needs of others.  “The strength of international cooperation is based on the principle of one common humanity rooted in the equal dignity of all,” he said.

XOLISA MABHONGO, International Atomic and Energy Agency (IAEA), said that nuclear science and technology had myriad peaceful applications which could help countries reduce poverty and hunger, improve energy supplies, and diagnose and treat diseases.  When it came to treating cancer, numerous countries lacked both the equipment and the trained medical personnel.  In Africa alone, there were 28 countries which did not have a single radiotherapy machine.  The Agency was working to provide both technology and training to health professionals.  Two years ago, it had helped countries in West Africa deal with an outbreak of Ebola by providing diagnostic kits and laboratory supplies.  It was now adopting a similar approach in Latin America and the Caribbean in the response to the Zika virus.  It was also developing nuclear techniques to fight insect pests.  While energy was the engine of development, over a billion people still lacked access to electricity.  Nuclear power was one of the lowest-carbon technologies to generate electricity.

LAKSHMI PURI, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), urged Second Committee delegates to make gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda a central element.  The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review should empower and reposition the United Nations development system to reflect the gender aspect of the Agenda and maximize its impact at the country level.  The Review should leverage normative gains of 2015 to help accelerate gender equality achievements and ensure no one was left behind.  It should also provide operational policy guidance on accelerating transformative results, as well as build and empower the next generation of gender equality champions across all United Nations entities.

CARLA MUCAVI, Director of the New York Liaison Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said that 795 million people still suffered from chronic hunger, and over 70 per cent of the world’s poor and food insecure lived in rural areas of developing countries.  When opportunities for a decent life were not present, rural people were often forced to leave their homes.  Global action must be geared at overcoming constraints to accessing markets and resources.  Action must focus on building resilience, promoting sustainable approaches and supporting efforts to adapt to climate change.  It was also important to create jobs and opportunities that rural communities needed.  Rural development and improved food systems were also important parts of the effort to promote sustainable production and consumption and reduce food loss and waste.

VINICIUS CARVALHO PINHEIRO, International Labour Organization (ILO), said a major sustainable development challenge for the coming years was creation of decent jobs for young people.  Ongoing trends of low and jobless economic growth and dissemination of labour-saving technologies may impact the future of work could compromise Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda.  ILO studies showed that, since the low-carbon economy was more job-intensive, work created by a transition to clean energy and more sustainable production patterns could more than offset the loss of jobs in emissions-intensive industries.  If managed well, transitions to environmentally and socially sustainable economies could become a strong driver of job creation, job upgrading, social justice and poverty eradication.

CHANTAL LINE CARPENTIER, Chief of the New York Office of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), expressed concern about the global economy as illustrated in UNCTAD’s recent Trade and Development Report and World Investment Reports.  “If we don’t get trade, investment, finance and technology right, and right now […] we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” she said, stressing that the Goals must be used to turn the global economy around.  Countries would need to pool their knowledge, tools and funds to support implementation, especially to the benefit of least developed, African, landlocked and small island States, as well as middle-income countries and others in special situations.  That was the only way to stem protectionism and isolationism and re‑establish globalization as an engine of inclusive prosperity for all.  UNCTAD was launching a multi-donor trust fund on trade and productive capacity and initiating deeper and more inclusive partnerships.

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With main planting season weeks away, millions in drought-hit southern Africa need farming support – UN

28 July 2016 – Some 23 million people in southern Africa are in need of urgent support to be able to produce enough food to feed themselves and avoid being dependent on humanitarian assistance until mid-2018, the United Nations agricultural agency has warned.

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), if farmers are not able to plant by October, the result will be another reduced harvest early next year, severely affecting food and nutrition security as well as livelihoods in the region.

“The main way people are able to access food is through what they themselves produce. Assisting them to do this will provide lifesaving support in a region where at least 70 percent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods,” David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, said in a news release issued by the agency.

“We must make the most of this small window of opportunity and make sure that farmers are ready to plant by October when the rains start,” he added.

To respond to this developing humanitarian situation, FAO aims to ensure that seeds, fertilizers, tools, and other inputs and services, including livestock support, are provided to small-holder farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists to cope with the devastating impact of an El Niño-induced drought in the region.

The agency has estimated that at least $109 million is required to provide this urgently needed support.

The precarious situation has been brought on by the worst drought the region has witnessed in 35 years, with widespread crop failures exacerbating chronic malnutrition. Vulnerable families in rural areas have been hit hardest by the ensuing increase in prices of maize and other staple foods.

Barren fields due to the impact of El Niño-induced drought in the Southern African nation of Lesotho. Photo: FAO

Furthermore, as the impact of El Niño continues to be felt in the region, FAO has projected that almost 40 million people could face food insecurity by the peak of the coming lean season, between January and March 2017, when the effects of the drought are expected to peak.

All countries in southern Africa are affected and more than 640,000 drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe alone due to lack of pasture and water as well as outbreak of diseases.

In the news release, FAO urged investments that equip communities with the ability to produce drought-tolerant seed and fodder, along with climate-smart agriculture technologies like conservation agriculture. The aim is to enable rural families to build resilience and prepare for future shocks.

Meanwhile, El Niño’s counter-phenomenon, La Niña, is likely to occur later this year and while it could bring good rains needed for agriculture, the agency noted that measures must be taken to mitigate the risk of floods which could destroy standing crops and threaten livestock. Such measures could include strengthening river banks and stockpiling of short-cycle crop varieties which can be planted after flooding subsides and still yield a decent crop

Separately, concluding a week-long visit to southern Africa, the Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-wha Kang called for increased efforts to help mitigate the impact of the La Niña weather phenomenon.

Coordinated regional response

Given the complexity and scale of the crisis, FAO is working closely with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) an inter-governmental organization that is working to promote socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among its fifteen southern African member countries. FAO is also collaborating with other UN agencies, humanitarian partners, regional authorities and national governments.

The agency’s call for more funding comes on the heels of an SADC regional humanitarian appeal, launched in Gaborone on 26 July by the SADC Chairperson and President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

The SADC appeal put the overall price tag of helping all sectors of the region’s economy recover from the 2016 El Niño at $2.7 billion, of which $2.4 billion is yet to be funded.

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Race against time in drought-ravaged Southern Africa to ensure 23 million people receive farming support

Photo: ©FAO/Desmond Kwande

Widespread crop failure has exarcerbated chronic malnutrition in the region.

28 July 2016, Rome - With only a few weeks before land preparation begins for the next main cropping season, some 23 million people in Southern Africa urgently need support to produce enough food to feed themselves and thus avoid being dependent on humanitarian assistance until mid 2018, FAO said today.

A FAO-prepared response plan aims to ensure that seeds, fertilizers, tools, and other inputs and services, including livestock support, are provided to small-holder farmers, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists to cope with the devastating impact of an El Niño-induced drought in the region.

At least $109 million in funding is required to provide this urgently needed support.

Farmers must be able to plant by October and failure to do so will result in another reduced harvest in March 2017, severely affecting food and nutrition security and livelihoods in the region, FAO warned.

Worst drought in 35 years

Two consecutive seasons of droughts, including the worst in 35 years that occurred this year, have particularly hit vulnerable families in rural areas, as prices of maize and other staple foods have risen. 

The result is that almost 40 million people in the region are expected to face food insecurity by the peak of the coming lean season in early 2017. All countries in Southern Africa are affected.

"The high levels of unemployment and sluggish economies, means that the main way people are able to access food is through what they themselves produce. Assisting them to do this will provide lifesaving support in a region where at least 70 percent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods," said David Phiri, FAO's Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa.

"We must make the most of this small window of opportunity and make sure that farmers are ready to plant by October when the rains start," he added.

The FAO response plan covers 10 countries - Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe - which requested specific assistance.

Responding to El Niño, preparing for La Niña

The impact of El Niño continues to be felt, with the effects of the drought expected to peak during the lean season between January and March 2017, FAO said.

Widespread crop failure has exacerbated chronic malnutrition in the region. More than 640,000 drought-related livestock deaths have been reported in Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe alone due to lack of pasture, lack of water and disease outbreaks.    

FAO urges  investments that equip communities with the ability to produce drought-tolerant seed and fodder, along with climate-smart agriculture technologies like conservation agriculture. The aim is to enable rural families to build resilience and prepare for future shocks.

El Niño's counter-phenomenon, La Niña, is likely to occur later this year and while it could bring good rains that are positive for agriculture, measures must be taken to mitigate the risk  of floods which could destroy standing crops and threaten livestock, including making them more vulnerable to disease. Key mitigation measures include strengthening river banks, building of small dams to reduce flash flooding and stockpiling of short-cycle crop varieties which can be planted after flooding subsides and still yield a decent crop. 

The complexity and scale of the crisis facing the region demands strong collaboration among humanitarian agencies, regional authorities and national governments. FAO is working closely with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), as well as with the World Food Programme and other United Nations agencies within the framework of the Regional Interagency Standing Committee (RIASCO).

FAO's call for more funding comes on the heels of an SADC regional humanitarian appeal, launched in Gaborone on 26 July 2016 by the SADC Chairperson and President of Botswana, Seretse Khama Ian Khama. The SADC appeal put the overall price tag of helping all sectors of the region's economy recover from the 2016 El Niño at $2.7 billion, of which $2.4 billion is yet to be funded.

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UN seeks to boost response to El Niño's dire impact in Africa and Asia/Pacific, urges La Niña preparedness

Photo: ©FAO/Tamiru Legesse

Farmers in Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa is one of the areas hardest hit by El Niño.

6 July 2016, Rome - Combined efforts to prevent further human suffering, strengthen resilience and safeguard livelihoods in the wake of El Niño's devastating effects worldwide must be rapidly ramped-up by governments and the international community, United Nations (UN) leaders said today.

More than 60 million people worldwide, about 40 million in East and Southern Africa alone, are projected to be food insecure due to the impact of the El Niño climate event.

The heads of the three Rome-based UN agencies urged greater preparedness to deal with the possible occurrence later this year of a La Niña climate event, closely related to the El Niño cycle that has had a severe impact on agriculture and food security.

The Horn of Africa, Southern Africa, Central America's Dry Corridor, Caribbean islands, Southeast Asia and Pacific islands have been hit the hardest.

Scientists are predicting an increasing likelihood of the opposite climate phenomenon, La Niña, developing. This will increase the probability of above average rainfall and flooding in areas affected by El Niño-related drought, whilst at the same time making it more likely that drought will occur in areas that have been flooded due to El Niño.

The UN estimates that without the necessary action, the number of people affected by the combined impacts of the El Niño/La Niña could top 100 million.

To coordinate responses to these challenges and to mobilize the international community to support the affected governments, UN agencies and other partners met at the Rome headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today. The meeting included the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office of Lesotho, Kimetso Henry Mathaba, Minister for Livestock, Forestry and Range of Somalia, Said Hussein Iid, and Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of Zimbabwe, Priscah Mupfumira, also attended. Keynote speakers included World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General, Petteri Taalas, and UN Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate, Ambassador Macharia Kamau.

Participants noted that almost $4 billion is required to meet the humanitarian demands of El Niño-affected countries and that almost 80 percent of this is for food security and agricultural needs.

The meeting called for action to recover agricultural livelihoods that have been severely damaged by the droughts associated with El Niño. Acting now will ensure that farmers have sufficient levels of agricultural inputs for upcoming planting seasons.

Furthermore, FAO, IFAD and WFP are redoubling efforts to mitigate the negative impacts and capitalize on positive opportunities of a likely La Niña phenomenon in the coming months. This means acting decisively to prepare for above-average rainfall in some areas and potential drought conditions in others.   

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned that the impact of El Niño on agricultural livelihoods has been enormous and with La Niña on the doorsteps the situation could worsen.

"El Nino has caused primarily a food and agricultural crisis", Graziano da Silva said. He announced that FAO will therefore mobilize additional new funding to "enable it to focus on anticipatory early action in particular, for agriculture, food and nutrition, to mitigate the impacts of anticipated events and to strengthen emergency response capabilities through targeted preparedness investments."  

Mobilizing resources for rapid action now can save lives and minimize damage while reducing costs in the future, said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

"The massive impact of this global El Niño event, exacerbated by persistent poverty and chronic hunger in many countries, threatens the food security of millions of people who are the least able to cope," she said.

"Farms have failed, opportunities for work have evaporated, and nutritious food has become increasingly inaccessible for many communities," Cousin added. "But new humanitarian crises are not inevitable if we invest in support for communities and provide the tools and skills required to endure climate-related shocks."

IFAD Associate Vice President, Lakshmi Menon, reminded the global community not to forget about small-scale farmers, who are the most vulnerable to these extreme weather events. "Small-scale farmers in rural areas are disproportionally impacted by these natural disasters because many of them depend on rainfed agriculture for their lives and livelihoods, and they do not have the capacity to bounce back from shocks. We need to invest in building their long-term resilience so when the next El Niño and La Niña cycles hit, they are better prepared and can continue to grow food for their families," she said.

UN Special Envoy for El Niño and Climate, Ambassador Macharia Kamau said: "It is clear that these types of extreme weather events are stressing already-vulnerable communities, threatening to undermine development gains of recent decades and impede achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals."

He noted that the humanitarian community in partnership with governments and regional authorities have developed a number of plans in order to respond to the current El Niño event, and that these plans are multisectoral and require longer-term, predictable funding in order to ensure they are fully implemented.

Responding to El Niño, preparing for La Niña

Drought has gripped large swathes of east and southern Africa and has also hit Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam, while El Nino-associated storms have wiped out harvests in Fiji and some of its neighbouring island states.

Participants noted that in southern Africa a three-month "window of opportunity" exists before the 2016/17 planting season begins and that adequate interventions, including agricultural input distributions are  urgently needed to avoid the dependence of  millions of rural families  on humanitarian assistance programmes well into 2018.

In Southeast Asia, drought and saltwater intrusion are threatening the livelihoods of farmers in Viet Nam and also seriously impacting household food security and cash availability. With the monsoon season fast approaching, most farmers need to purchase inputs for their upcoming agricultural and animal production activities. While in the Pacific region the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau have already declared a state of emergency and below-normal rainfall is forecast to continue across the northern and western Pacific areas threatening the livelihoods and well-being of 1.9 million people.

Working in partnership

FAO's work

In Southern Africa, FAO is supporting more than 50 000 households including in Zimbabwe with livestock survival feed and drought-tolerant sorghum and cowpea seeds, and in Malawi,  by vaccinating small livestock and providing drought-resistant cereals and irrigation support.  In Lesotho and Mozambique, FAO has been strengthening national response and providing coordination support.

Throughout the Horn of Africa, in partnership with governments NGOs and other UN agencies, FAO is coordinating drought-related interventions, providing agricultural inputs, helping to rehabilitate water structures and animal health and production, and plant and animal disease surveillance and control.

In the Asia Pacific region, FAO's El Niño response includes a detailed assessment of the situation in Viet Nam where it is also on standby to provide emergency seeds and tools. In Fiji, FAO is currently providing emergency assistance to 1 050 households as part of the Cyclone Winston response. FAO is working with partners in Papua New Guinea to support farming families in the worst affected provinces with drought-tolerant seeds and smart irrigation material (e.g. drip-irrigation systems). In Timor-Leste, additional maize and cover crop seeds are being distributed to farmers affected by El Niño.

IFAD's work

Building climate resilience to drought and other extreme weather events is a priority in IFAD-supported projects and this is helping vulnerable families cope with the impacts of El Niño. For example, in Ethiopia small-scale irrigation schemes have ensured farmers are less dependent on rainfed agriculture. This is coupled with training in more sustainable water usage, water harvesting techniques and rehabilitation of degraded soils. In the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam, IFAD-supported projects are helping farmers to access saline-tolerant rice varieties and to diversify their incomes into small-scale aquaculture, so they are not solely dependent on rice and can continue to earn incomes during the drought.

WFP's work

World Food Programme has rapidly scaled-up relief operations to assist communities grappling with El Niño's impacts, providing emergency food where needed or cash to buy food where markets are functioning. In Ethiopia, more than 7.6 million people have received food assistance from WFP and more than 200 000 people have also received cash transfers.

In Swaziland, WFP has launched emergency food distributions and in Lesotho, has begun cash-based transfers. In Malawi, WFP will scale up its new lean-season food assistance programme to reach more than 5 million people by November. In Papua New Guinea, over 260 000 people affected by El Niño-related food insecurity are receiving WFP food assistance.

Resilience-building is integrated into emergency responses when possible. In Zimbabwe, a grains production pilot supported by weather-based financing facility FoodSECuRE trains smallholder farmers in climate-smart agriculture and the use of drought-tolerant grains. The Rural Resilience risk management Initiative (R4) has provided El Niño-related payments to affected farming families in Ethiopia, Malawi and Senegal. WFP also works closely with African Risk Capacity (ARC), an insurance pool to lower the cost of the response to disasters before these become humanitarian crises."

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Using Productive Assets To Change Lives In Zimbabwe

In Chiredzi district, the rehabilitation of an irrigation scheme through WFP's Productive Asset Creation programme has brought much more than water to the drought-affected community...

Eighteen-year-old Alford Chinodya never expected to take on a parental role before his high school graduation. After both his parents’ tragic death, and as the eldest of five, Alford dropped out of school to do everything he could to care for his younger siblings.

 “After my parents passed on, I had no option but to drop out of school and be both a mother and father for my siblings,” says Alford.

Suddenly responsible for four mouths to feed, Alford had little time to grieve. His situation was made all the more challenging by his family’s reliance on agriculture for both their livelihood and food needs. Faced with failed harvests from the cumulative effects of past seasons’ drought, the repercussions of erratic rainfall and late planting, Alford struggled to put food on the table. Renewed hope came in the form of a small irrigation scheme, which Alford himself helped to rehabilitate alongside other community members. The scheme has helped to provide access to water for farming and livestock year-round, regardless of poor rains.

“Since I joined this irrigation scheme project, we have been able to plant maize and beans,” says Alford, “Now we can feed ourselves.”

The project is part of WFP’s Productive Asset Creation (PAC) programme in Zimbabwe’s Chiredzi district and is implemented in partnership with Plan International. For families like Alford’s, it has helped to provide a much needed source of temporary food assistance. Importantly, it serves as a productive asset with long-term sustainable benefits for the livelihoods of those in the community.

The programme also helps strengthen households’ resilience to climactic forces by providing monthly rations of food assistance in exchange for participants’ work on projects, such as the rehabilitation of small dams and canals in arid parts of the country and the establishment of nutritional gardens. WFP is able to buffer the impact of food insecurity and boost vulnerable households’ resilience to future shocks through its PAC projects in Chiredzi thanks to a generous contribution from USAID.

Besides regaining a sustainable food source for his family, Alford has been able to gain an income from the increased crop production. 

“I sell the surplus food we grow,” explains Alford, “and now afford to pay school fees for myself and my siblings.”

The irrigation scheme provides more than a sustainable source of water for Alford and his community: it has provided them with a new source of hope. While Alford knows it won’t be easy to provide opportunities for his siblings amid hard times, he plans to make the most of the opportunity to return to school and look towards the future again.

“Thanks to WFP, maybe one day I will fulfil my dream to become a pilot,” says Alford.

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