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Strong Social Protections, Food Systems Key to Ending Poverty, Hunger, Speakers Stress, as High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Continues

Beginning its review of progress made in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the High-Level Political Forum today took an in‑depth look at country-level efforts to achieve the first two Goals on the eradication of poverty and hunger.

Tasked with evaluating progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Forum held two panel discussions today, followed by a thematic review, as it continued with its second annual session involving Government, private sector and civil society participants.

Decent work was critical to poverty reduction and universal social protections were a driver for reducing both poverty and inequality, stressed Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director-General for Policy of the International Labour Organization (ILO), in the first panel discussion that took up Goal 1 on poverty eradication.  Underscoring the need for fair growth, she noted that, in some parts of the world, the informal economy represented about 80 per cent of all work, which pointed to the need for social protections.  Unpaid care work as a huge barrier for women trying to move out of poverty, she said, calling for policies that addressed the care economy, which would be critical to enabling women to join the labour market and move into jobs with decent working conditions.

Effective monitoring of the Goals required comparable data over time and across space, stressed Janet Gornick, a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality at the City University of New York.  Microdata with multiple dimensions and outcomes were needed, especially in middle- and low-income countries, she said, while emphasizing the importance of efforts aimed at making comparable microdata widely available for research and analysis.

In the day’s second panel discussion addressing Goal 2 on ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, Esther Penunia, Secretary-General of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development, lamented that, despite producing as much as 70 per cent of its own food, Asia was home to the world’s poorest and hungriest people.  “We are hungry because we are poor,” she said, adding that eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition required a holistic approach to development that was socially just, environmentally sound and economically viable.  Policies and programmes were needed that promoted secured land rights, created easier access to financing and strengthened farmers’ position in value chains, she emphasized.

Privatization, reduced social spending, trade liberalization and growth‑driven development were being promoted as the magic wand to eradicate poverty everywhere, underlined Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina in Zimbabwe.  Yet, those policies had created poverty in the first place.  She went on to highlight that solutions must come from the very people the Sustainable Development Goals were designed to help.

For the first time in many years, there was evidence that gains made in ending hunger were at risk due to conflict, climate change, and a lack of appropriate policies and investment, said the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking also on behalf of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).  Just two years after the Goals were agreed, some 20 million people were at risk of famine, while millions more faced food insecurity.  Sustainable agriculture, resilience and productive food systems were needed, as well as a transformation of the rural economy that put smallholder farmers at the centre.

In the afternoon, the Forum conducted a thematic review on eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world, taking into account multi‑stakeholder perspectives.  Delivering a keynote address during that segment, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, recalled that the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Goals were the result of a truly global, inclusive and transparent negotiation process, which had included civil society, the private sector, grass-roots actors and many others.

The type of broad participation that characterized the creation of the future development agenda would also be required in its implementation, he said, stressing that “having everyone on board is crucial”.  Also underlining the need to create a sense of ownership among those actors, he said people must realize that the Sustainable Development Goals were about their daily lives and that they had a role in implementing them.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 July, to continue its work.

Panel I

The first panel of the day was titled “review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 1 (end poverty in all its forms)”, and was moderated by Caroline Sanchez-Parama, World Bank, with Stefan Schweinfest, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, providing a statistical overview.  Panellists included Martin Ravallion, Edmond D. Villani Professor of Economics, Georgetown University; Yang Zhi, Mayor of Jingzhou, China; Yaw Ansu, Chief Economist, African Center for Economic Transformation, Ghana; and Janet Gornick, Professor, Political Science and Director, Stone Center on Socioeconomic Inequality, City University of New York.  The lead discussants were Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director-General for Policy, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

Mr. SCHWEINFEST said that, despite progress, 750 million people still lived in extreme poverty.  He noted, however, that nearly 1 billion people had escaped poverty since 1999.  About half of the world’s poor lived in sub-Saharan Africa and among the working poor, young people were most likely to live in extreme poverty across all regions of the world.  Social protection coverage varied and did not reach many vulnerable populations, he said, noting that less than half of the world’s population was covered by at least one social protection scheme.  Only 30 per cent of children, 41 per cent of women giving birth and 68 per cent of people above retirement age were covered by some form of social protection.

Ms. SANCHEZ-PARAMA noted that, although there had been progress over the last 10 to 15 years in eradicating poverty, almost 800 million people continued to live in depravation, which was unacceptable in a world that had the means to end extreme poverty.  The extreme poor were concentrated in particular households and regions of the world, many of which were located in rural areas and worked in agriculture.  More than half of the extreme poor were children and most had little to no education.  Further, the majority of extremely poor people lived in places that were prone to natural disasters or in fragile or conflict-affected States.  She expressed concern that the risks of climate change could result in an additional 100 million people living in poverty by 2030.

Mr. RAVALLION said that there had been good overall progress against absolute poverty, but there were continuing challenges in reducing relative poverty and making sure that “no one is left behind”.  Poorer countries had relied less on direct interventions against poverty, as economic growth had done the bulk of the work, which was a dynamic that may need to change.  Poverty measurements focused exclusively on absolute poverty, which was not consistent with social thought and the aims of social policies.  There needed to be lower and upper bounds on global poverty measures that took into account the country in which people lived.  In other words, richer countries should have higher poverty lines and vice versa when measuring poverty in developing countries.  There had been progress in the number of people who were absolutely poor, although less progress in the number of people who were relatively poor.

Mr. YANG highlighted that, by the end of 2016, the impoverished population in Jingzhou under the absolute poverty level had dropped from about 409,000 to 156,000 people.  He stressed that, to end poverty, it was necessary to boost confidence and establish a mechanism of joint cooperation among all sectors of society.  An important characteristic of poverty alleviation in China was the wide mobilization of all sectors.  Further, ending poverty required greater efforts to improve infrastructure.  In that context, infrastructure investment had been increased in China with an aim of enhancing the availability of safe drinking water and improving the power grid.  Increasing income was a fundamental building block of reducing poverty.  Development was the key to solving all social problems and the most effective solution to ending poverty, which was ultimately, the Government’s responsibility.

Mr. ANSU pointed out that agriculture contributed about 30 per cent of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP), although that varied across countries.  It was clear that improving agricultural productivity would have a strong impact on poverty reduction, while also helping to improve food security.  Further, agriculture provided a major contribution to exports and foreign exchange that financed imports of other economic sectors.  Close to 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated, arable land was in Africa, while the continent’s year-round sunshine and youthful population provided opportunities.  However, access to land and the lack of security of tenure was a challenge, as was low productivity and the lack of profitability in farming, which meant that that youth often were not attracted to work in agriculture.  It would be important to improve the production of key staples and product diversification, while also leveraging agriculture to drive industrialization.

Ms. GORNICK noted that poverty rates varied considerably among affluent countries and among countries of similar levels of economic development.  For example, the United States had a much higher level of poverty than the United Kingdom, despite similar levels of economic development.  Effective monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals required comparable data over time and across space.  It also called for disaggregation, which required microdata.  Income was one measure of well-being.  Microdata with multiple dimensions and outcomes were needed, especially in middle- and low-income countries.  Supranational and national investments in high-quality microdata were crucial.  Equally important were efforts aimed at making comparable microdata widely available for research and analysis.  Complementing high-quality microdata with national and subnational macrodata on corresponding policies and institutions was needed for effective policy analysis.

Ms. GREENFIELD said that focusing on relative poverty meant that poverty was recognized as a global phenomenon.  By examining the situation of some middle‑income countries, it was evident that poverty was directly related to inequality, which was, in turn, related to stagnant wages.  Decent work was critical to poverty reduction and universal social protections were a driver for reducing both poverty and inequality.  It was not only about growth, but, really, it was about fair growth.  Global supply chains could be engines of growth, but did not necessarily equate to good jobs.  In some parts of the world, the informal economy represented about 80 per cent of all work.  In those places, social protections were of key importance.  Another area that needed to be better understood concerned the movement of people, as they moved from rural areas to more developed cities.  Policies that addressed the care economy would be critical to enabling women to join the labour market and to move into jobs with decent working conditions.  Unpaid care work was a huge barrier to moving women out of poverty.

Mr. CHIBEBE recalled that it was commonly understood that job creation was critical to ending poverty, although the reality was that poverty must be addressed through the creation of quality jobs compounded with social protections, better working conditions and democratic decision-making processes.  Trade unions believed that ending poverty required access to decent livelihoods, whereby workers were adequately compensated.  Minimum wages should be living wages and established through rule-setting processes with the direct involvement of social partners, including workers and employer organizations.  Workers should have the right to organize, join trade unions and negotiate wages and compensation.  Quality public services formed the cornerstone of efforts to end poverty.  Austerity measures must be thoroughly discussed, because if they were left to Governments alone, they would cripple efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Indonesia noted that his country had undertaken serious efforts to address the needs of the most vulnerable by expanding financial inclusion and the availability of universal health coverage, among other efforts.  The representative of Maldives emphasized that the combination of the effects of climate change, natural disasters and isolated locations kept many small island developing States such as hers unable to move forward with poverty eradication.  In that context, she stressed that such States remained a special case when it came to sustainable development.  The representative of Kenya noted that her country was implementing a national social safety net programme to improve the well-being of people in the country, particularly those who could not meet their basic needs.

Mr. ANSU noted that one challenge that remained was how to intensify agricultural production, such as through the use of fertilizers, without damaging the environment.  Mr. RAVALLION recalled that developing countries were reducing poverty at a much faster rate than developed countries had a century ago.  Mr. YANG noted the targeted solutions that had been put in place in his city to alleviate poverty, which were tailored to the varying conditions, both on the individual and household levels.  Ms. GORNICK said her work had shown that there were many statistical offices lacking data capacity, both in terms of fielding surveys and in preparing the data for use by Government policymakers.

The representatives of Azerbaijan, Switzerland and China also delivered statements.

Also participating was a representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization.

A speaker from the children and youth major group also spoke.

Panel II

Moderated by Gerda Verburg, Coordinator, Scaling-Up Nutrition Movement, the second panel, titled “review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture)”, included panellists Esther Penunia, Secretary General, Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development, and Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator, La Via Campesina, Zimbabwe.

Eugenio Diaz-Bonilla, Head of the Latin American and Caribbean Programme, International Food Policy Research Institute; Meena Bilgi, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management; and Patrick Caron, Chair, High Level Panel of Experts, United Nations Committee on World Food Security, were lead discussants.

Ms. PENUNIA said Asia produced as much as 70 per cent of its own food, yet it was home to the world’s poorest and hungriest people.  “We are hungry because we are poor,” she said.  Eradicating hunger, poverty and malnutrition required a holistic approach to development that was socially just, environmentally sound and economically viable.  Policies and programmes were needed that promoted secured land rights, easier access to financing, strengthened farmers’ position in value chains, and investment in roads, electricity, health care and education, among other things.  Affirmative action would promote gender equality in agriculture, she said, emphasizing also a need for better macrotrade policies.  She went on to say that transforming agriculture would require that family farmers be viewed not as victims and beneficiaries, but as agents and partners for sustainable development.

Ms. MPOFU said privatization, reduced social spending, trade liberalization and growth-driven development were being promoted as the magic wand to eradicate poverty everywhere.  However, for her organization, those policies had created poverty in the first place.  Such alternatives as food sovereignty, agroecology and popular and integral agrarian reforms were being ignored.  Solutions must come from the very people the Sustainable Development Goals were supported to help, she said, describing poverty as the direct outcome of extreme wealth accumulation by a few people.  Now was the time for real structural transformation, to end business as usual, and to reverse inequality and unfair power relations.

Mr. DIAZ-BONILLA, emphasizing the need to separate countries in conflict situations from those that were not, said that helping the poor and hungry meant going directly to the poor and hungry.  Social safety nets would help, he said, noting that they cost less than 0.1 per cent of global GDP.  Other issues included the political economy of the food system, food labelling, women’s empowerment and consumers who were not doing all they could to lead healthy lives.

Ms. BILGI, noting a decline in public investment in agriculture, said transformative change in food and agriculture was necessary.  That meant moving beyond increasing production without negative social and environmental impacts.   Small-scale producers, who made up the vast majority of food producers worldwide, must be empowered, she said, adding that emphasis must be placed on promoting the equitable sharing of opportunities for women farmers.  In India, she said hunger was approached mainly as a rural phenomenon and a question of food scarcity.  The emerging challenge of rapid urbanization — and a growing disconnect between food and nutrition — needed to be identified.

Mr. CARON suggested that the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development be addressed by looking at food systems as a lever.  A revolution was needed, not just incremental change, of the same magnitude of the green revolution.  Agriculture would be a game changer if transformation was considered within the wider perspective of food systems.  He went on to call for a “rainbow revolution” that entailed local innovations for improving resource efficiency, strengthening resilience and security social responsibility, alongside international frameworks such as the Paris Agreement on climate change and national policies to ensure the right to food.

In the ensuing discussion, delegations discussed their countries’ and organization’s efforts towards implementing Goal 2.

The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking also on behalf of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said that, for the first time in many years, there was evidence that gains made in ending hunger were at risk due to conflict, climate change, and a lack of appropriate policies and investment.  Some 20 million people lived at risk of famine, while millions more faced food security, just two years after the Goals were agreed.  Sustainable agriculture, resilience and productive food systems were needed, as well as a transformation of the rural economy that put smallholder farmers at the centre.

The representative of Finland said gender equality was absolutely crucial, given that women comprised 43 per cent of the agricultural work force in developing countries.  She cited a study that concluded that empowering women farmers could prompt a 20 to 30 per cent increase in farm yields while improving the security of their families and reducing by 100 million the overall number of people living in hunger.

The representative of the World Bank Group drew attention to the work of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, which had delivered $1.5 billion since it was created by the Group of 20, known as the G20, in 2009.  At the country level, bringing technical and financial stakeholders together produced much better results.  She added that it was very important for reforms to be recipient-led, rather than coming out of an office in Washington, D.C.  She went on to quote a farmer she had met in Manila who said:  “No farmer, no food, no future.”

The representative of Indonesia said his country had made promising progress in providing better nutrition for its people, but much more needed to be done.  Emphasizing the strong link between food security, poverty and health, as well as education, he said an integrated policy approach could ensure that food accessibility and availability were addressed effectively.  Intensifying agricultural research and development might be an answer, he said.

The representative of Sudan, speaking as a member of the Committee on World Food Security, said ending hunger and achieving food security would require, among other things, raising smallholders’ incomes and securing their access to markets.  Sustainable food systems with strong accountable institutions and responsible investments were also required, she said, emphasizing as well the need to prioritize women’s empowerment.

The representative of the United States said recent events had reinforced how vulnerable the world remained to food insecurity.  A global response was needed, she said, describing the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an overlooked humanitarian crisis.  Emphasizing the importance of preventative action, she said bridging the gap between humanitarian action and development was vital.  She went on to note that discussions were under way on better indicators for measuring progress on Goal 2.

The representative of Chile underscored the value of cooperation with other countries to promote successful ways to tackle malnutrition.  She added that childhood obesity — which was related to poverty and inequality — had not been overcome, and explained her country’s implementation of food labelling regulations.  Reducing malnutrition would require incorporating economic aspects.

The representative of the European Union said sustainability was prominently reflected in the Common Agricultural Policy, in line with the 2030 Agenda.  European Union rules stipulated that farmers could only get European Union support if they accepted a basic layer of environmental regulations.  The Common Agricultural Policy was currently being modernized and simplified, with input from a just-completed public consultation.  Turning to external action, he said the European Union and its member States would continue to extend support to those facing acute food crises.

Also speaking were representatives of South Africa, Argentina, Finland, Benin, France and China.

Representatives of the food and agriculture cluster of the non-governmental organization major group and the stakeholder group for persons with disabilities also took the floor.

Panel III

This afternoon, the Forum held a two-part panel discussion on the theme “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world:  multi‑stakeholder perspectives”.  The first segment focused on the views of major groups and other stakeholders on challenges and pathways to the achievement of those goals.  Luisa Emilia Reyes Zuñiga, Co-Chair of the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders High-Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism, delivered opening remarks, followed by a keynote address by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General in the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  Moderated by Maruxa Cardama of Cities Alliance, it featured eight panellists:  Wellington Chibebe, Deputy General Secretary, International Trade Union (ITU) Confederation, workers and trade unions major group; Sehnaz Kiymaz, President, Women for Women’s Human Rights — New Ways, women’s major group; Louise Kantrow, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, International Chamber of Commerce, business and industry major group; Luis Miguel Etchevehere, President, Sociedad Rural Argentina, farmers major group; Verity McGivern, HelpAge International, stakeholder group on ageing; Jose Maria Viera, International Disability Alliance, persons with disabilities; Roberto Bissio, Social Watch, financing for development civil society group; and Katarina Popovic, Secretary-General, International Council for Adult Education, education and academia stakeholder group.

Ms. REYES opened the discussion, noting that her experience with a small women’s organization in Mexico had demonstrated the power of collective participation.  In its short life so far, the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders High-Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism had already agreed on a set of core principles, including abiding by the United Nations Charter, ensuring progress and human rights for all, and promoting the well-being of all people on a healthy planet.  Spotlighting the role of women’s human rights defenders in particular, she said the session would provide a platform for representatives of all major groups to be heard.

Mr. WU said the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Goals were the results of a truly global, inclusive and transparent negotiation process, which had included civil society, the private sector, grass-roots actors and many others.  As a result, the agenda was the most innovative and transformative in the history of the United Nations.  That kind of broad participation would also be required in its implementation, he said, stressing that “having everyone on board is crucial”.  Also underlining the need to create a sense of ownership among those actors, he said people must realize that the Sustainable Development Goals were about their daily lives and that they had a role in implementing them.  Emphasizing the importance of the participation of the major groups at the Forum, he told participants that their presence today could help build the necessary coherence to achieve development and other international targets, especially by building awareness among their constituencies and creating connections with those working on concrete projects on the ground.

Ms. CARDAMA, noting that major groups and other stakeholders represented a cross section of civil society, said the Forum would have been “blatantly incomplete” without their participation.  Indeed, the statements delivered today would provide a “reality check” in the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and spotlight the spirit of partnership that would be critical to its achievement.  Panellists would focus in particular on identifying cross-cutting challenges and lessons learned in building coherence among various sectors in achieving development goals.

Mr. CHIBEBE highlighted the active involvement of the world’s trade unions in achieving sustainable development, including through the production of a targeted report.  Noting that today’s development challenges could be overcome through inclusiveness, transparency and dialogue, he said that Sustainable Development Goal 3 on occupational health and safety could only be reached if the rights of workers were respected.  Drawing attention to the findings of the ILO Global Wage Report 2017, which revealed that increased minimum wages had the potential to reduce inequalities with no significant impact on overall job creation, he went on to note that women’s unpaid work constituted an estimated $10 trillion around the world annually.  He also stressed the need to advocate for the rights of informal workers, migrant workers, ethnic minorities and the disabled, and to enable collective bargaining.

Ms. KIYMAZ, pointing out that all eight individuals who held the most economic wealth in the world were men, underscored the need to overcome that “obscene” concentration of wealth and to end the deeply entrenched systemic barriers against women.  Describing the work of various civil society actors in that regard — including women’s organizations in Turkey working to provide support to women and girls disproportionately affected by conflict — she said the 2030 Agenda should provide new opportunities for connections and partnerships aimed at ensuring that no one was left behind.  She called for support to help amplify the voices of women’s and feminist organizations in the 2030 Agenda’s monitoring, stressing that women’s human rights defenders had to be able to work in an environment free from threats and harassment in order to bring the agenda to people on the ground.

The representative of Kenya, serving as a Member State respondent, spotlighted the importance of international cooperation in global trade, official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  However, there were many challenges in those financial flows, including the prevalence of illegal tax evasion and mispricing of products, which led to a situation “where Africa ends up supporting the West” through subsidies.  Also highlighting the importance of good governance, he added that without the appropriate inclusion and participation of women, youth, the poor, the working class, indigenous people and others, the international community would lack the drive necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda’s various targets.

Ms. KANTROW said the business and industry major group had established the “Global Business Alliance for 2030”, which brought together a number of partners committed to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  Among other things, business was a major driver of growth and a provider of decent jobs, she said, noting that many companies had already taken the Goals on board and begun to incorporate them into their practices.  Many already regularly reported on environmental sustainability, she added, noting that the business community looked forward to participating as an active, engaged partner in the Forum’s various monitoring and review processes.

Mr. ETCHEVEHERE said agriculture was the primary sector in many economies, and was responsible for guaranteeing food security — and therefore life — for people around the world.  It also provided job and development opportunities to women, men and young people, and contributed to building national GDP.  Describing the agricultural community’s long history of collective organization, including with other sectors, he expressed its commitment to the achievement of the Goals.  Innovation could support mechanization in the fields and improve market practices, he said, adding that it was only when farmers received appropriate remuneration for their work that economies functioned properly.  Sustainable agriculture required increased crop rotation, he said, adding that mixed agricultural systems based on a combination of crop and livestock farming would be critical to achieving sustainable development.

Ms. MCGIVERN said many of the changes taking place in the world today resulted from the fact that people were living longer lives.  Stressing that older persons had an equal right to development, she called for a better understanding of the significant barriers they faced.  Such barriers ranged from inadequate access to health and care services, increased gender discrimination in older age and a lack of relevant data, she said, calling for social protection floors based on schemes designed to do more than meet their basic needs.  Indeed, national development policies and other relevant structures must protect and promote the rights of older persons and do more to ensure their active participation in decision-making processes.

The representative of Indonesia, also speaking as a Member State respondent, said that, despite the decline in extreme poverty, 786 million people worldwide remained undernourished.  Governments could not lift people out of poverty alone, he said, calling for strong initiative on the part of every major stakeholder group.  Among other things, he also called for progress in several specific areas, including better interconnectedness; more strategic interventions; increased incentives in the form of subsidies, tax relief or other resources; innovation, science and technology; and international cooperation with major groups and other stakeholders, non-governmental organizations and many other actors.

Mr. VIERA, introducing a report produced by the persons with disabilities major group whose goal was to evaluate the challenges related to eradicating poverty, as well as to spotlight the role of the group in the 2030 Agenda monitoring process, outlined the range of challenges faced by persons with disabilities around the world.  They continued to experience violations of their most basic human rights, such as lack of participation, denial of their property rights and even institutionalization.  “We cannot deny that the many economic austerity programmes imposed by States have not only expelled large groups of the population, but also put persons with disabilities at even greater risk,” he stressed, adding that the voluntary national reviews had, in many cases, failed to be inclusive of the needs of persons with disabilities.

Mr. BISSIO, noting that the civil society financing for development groups comprised hundreds of organizations around the world and cut across all other major groups, described its work to make the financing for development process credible, open, accountable and relevant.  “Vision without implementation is a hallucination,” he said, urging States to go beyond their focus on ODA, which was hampered by illicit financial flows and many other challenges.  International collaboration was needed to enable Governments — rich and poor — to raise their own taxes.  Tax collaboration at the United Nations remained an “open agenda” as it had not been possible.  Underlining the important principle of “do no harm”, he said the resources required to achieve sustainable development currently existed, but were allocated to such things as military expenditures and fossil fuels subsidies.

Ms. POPOVIC, pointing to a “crisis of values” around the world that could be changed through education, drew attention to a number of examples of the contribution of education and life-long learning to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  Those included poverty alleviation through vocational training; the reduction of harmful practices, such as early marriage, gender-based violence and discriminatory laws; and improvements in the use of clean water and renewable energies.  However, many obstacles existed, including the freezing of education budgets in countries such as Brazil, rules prohibiting pregnant girls from going to school and a shrinking space for civil society.  Leaving no one behind meant that everyone — regardless of sex, age, nation or religion — had access to quality, affordable education.

The representative of the Netherlands, also participating as a Member State respondent, recalled that his country had hosted international public service forum in June, from which several recommendations had emerged.  Participants at that meeting had called on Governments to be more innovative, avoid working in silos and show more integrity and transparency.  They had also highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder participation and respect for diversity in the coordination of Sustainable Development Goal implementation.

The representative of the Climate Action Network, noting that climate change was “front and centre” in the 2030 Agenda, urged Member States to include that issue in their national reporting, he invited them to work with the Network in the implementation of the Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change and voiced his hope that climate change would be reflected in the Forum’s outcome document.

The representative of the indigenous peoples major group called on Governments to prioritize respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and small-scale farmers in their implementation efforts, especially by protecting and promoting their land tenure rights.

Naiara Costa of Together 2030 moderated the second part of the panel, titled “leaving no one behind:  ensuring an enabling environment for effective major groups and other stakeholders implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals”.  That segment featured presentations by Saul Zenteno Bueno, President, Fundación Manatí para el Fomento de la Ciudadanía, children and youth major group; Rosalea Hamilton, Founder and President, Institute for Law and Economics, and Vice-President of Community Service and Development and Professor, University of Technology, Jamaica, non-governmental organizations major group; James O'Brien, volunteer groups; Jan Van Zanen, Mayor of Utrecht and President, Association of Dutch Municipalities, local authorities major group; John Patrick Ngoyi of World Vision, on behalf of Together 2030; and Keikabile Mogodio,  indigenous peoples major group.

Mr. BUENO said children and youth had a critical role in implementing the 2030 Agenda and Member States were the duty bearers.  Highlighting a sample of related youth activities, he said target areas included policymaking, advocacy, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing.  For instance, he said, youth had worked with Governments in many countries in drafting national reviews and with awareness-raising campaigns.  Sharing best practices had enabled communities to adopt the Goals and foster context-responsive implementation efforts.  From climate change in Indonesia to food security in the United Republic of Tanzania, efforts were addressing issues related to the 2030 Agenda.  To ensure further progress, youth must have a platform and relevant mechanisms to be able to play their role, he said.

Ms. HAMILTON said universities, State agencies and non-governmental organizations in Jamaica were working together towards common goals.  One such example was a three-year USAID project that had begun prior to the 2030 Agenda’s adoption.  Executed by the University of Jamaica, the initiative addressed gender‑based violence and human trafficking and had now targeted those left further behind.  Underlining the central importance of Goal 16, she said a participatory budget approach was being used to craft community-based efforts to foster meaningful and sustainable solutions.  Taking note of several recommendations, she emphasized the importance of increased public education to change systemic barriers to eradicating poverty.

Mr. O’BRIEN said volunteers were promoting and fostering progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda by helping to extend the reach of efforts to ensure that no one was left behind.  Citing a range of examples, he said projects included awareness-raising and reducing the spread of HIV and AIDS.  Local and international volunteers were working with faith leaders to reduce gender-based violence.  The power of volunteers demonstrated a successful partnership with Governments.  Most importantly, volunteers wanted to share their experiences on working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Supporting strategies and volunteers’ work was needed, he said, calling on Governments to consider how volunteers were contributing to the 2030 Agenda and how their work was reflected in voluntary national reviews.

The representative of Slovenia said youth were significant contributors to achieving the targets set out in the 2030 Agenda.  Slovenia had created a strategy to address needs including education and jobs.  Voluntarism was a critical component that helped Government programmes and represented a visible sign of partnership among parts of society, he said, emphasizing that strong partnerships depended on creating an enabling environment.

Mr. VAN ZANEN said that more than 400,000 local and regional governments were presenting voluntary national reviews to the Forum, representing their ability to reach a total of 5.2 billion people.  As Mayor of Utrecht, he said the Goals had been part of an agenda for the entire city, which was exchanging experiences with others through the Municipality4GlobalGoals campaign.  “Full ownership of the Agenda at a local level is decisive,” he said, adding that the local and regional Governments were working on implementing the Goals at the local level.  National Governments needed to recognize that role and involve them in setting priorities for achievement.  Local governments around the world needed to be strengthened and required the legal and fiscal space to address poverty, inequality and other challenges in an integrated manner.

Mr. NGOYI said promises must transform into action, budget allocation and implementation.  Participation of all stakeholders was imperative, as it allowed the expertise and contributions of all groups to speed up and enhance the quality of delivery on the Goals.  Enabling civil spaces created opportunities for the poorest and most disadvantaged to engage in decisions that affected their lives while addressing challenges and devising strategies for solving them.  Unfortunately, since the 2030 Agenda’s adoption, the political landscape in many countries had been creating environments that hindered participation, silenced voices and oppressed diversity, he said, asking Member States and the Economic and Social Council’s President to establish clear and meaningful mechanism that went beyond online platforms to collect, publicize and analyse reports on contributions by civil society and stakeholders at all levels.

Mr. MOGODIO said that, while indigenous peoples made up 5 per cent of the world’s population, they represented 15 per cent of the poor, largely due to historical and continuous disrespect of identities linked to lands, territories and resources.  Mainstream development approaches and business-as-usual practices were fuelling unequal economic growth, devastating ecosystems and entrenching social injustice.  Those underlying causes of poverty were being compounded by exclusion from decision-making processes, as was the case in the voluntary national review process in many countries, including his, Botswana.  The lack of a legal identity and recognition of collective rights were major barriers to effectively participating and full contributing to sustainable development.  “Unless this is addressed, we will continue to be marginalized and excluded,” he said, urging Member States to prioritize legal recognition of land tenure of indigenous peoples, ensure policy cohesion and balanced implementation of human rights-based sustainable development, and ensure the full, effective participation of marginalized groups.

The representative of Sweden provided examples of current efforts to engage with non-governmental actors, emphasizing that “the 2030 Agenda will not be fulfilled if we do not work together”.  Indeed, the Government did not have the knowledge to accomplish goals alone, she said.  In submitting its national review, Sweden had included contributions from a range of partners, including the private sector, civil society and academia.  A committee representing various multisector actors had been assigned to inform and hold dialogue with the “breadth of society” and had proposed drafting a Swedish action plan on how to realize the 2030 Agenda.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, participants stressed that inclusion was key, as emphasized by speakers from civil society groups representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s caucus and faith-based organizations.  A speaker representing women’s land tenure rights called for changes to legislation that would recognize challenges and advance progress for females.  A representative of the persons with disabilities major group emphasized the varied contributions that could be made by all members of society.

Some speakers discussed implementation plans, including the representative of Mexico, who said a governmental working group had been drafting strategies that addressed all of the 2030 Agenda’s targets.

Private sector involvement offered vast possibilities, said a speaker representing the businesses major group.  The private sector could help in areas such as distributing food to reach the hungry, he said.

Representatives of Botswana and the Netherlands agreed with taking local approaches to implementing the 2030 Agenda, emphasizing that sharing experiences among towns and cities could foster more progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Speakers Focus on Ways to End Poverty, Gender Inequality, Structural Barriers, as High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Opens

The Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum tasked with reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development opened its second annual session today, with participants welcoming its focus on particular goals and targets, as well as its central theme of poverty eradication and the promotion of prosperity “in our changing world”.

“There are high expectations from this global institution and it is our duty to ensure that the [Forum] lives up to them,” stressed Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Council, as he opened the meeting.  Pointing out that it was the first time the Forum would discuss in-depth a particular set of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he said the session would also include national presentations from 44 countries and discussions about poverty eradication through the lens of addressing its multiple dimensions, especially in countries in special situations.  In addition, there would be keynote presentations from a range of speakers focusing on “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.

Delivering one such keynote address this morning, Vivania Ditukana Tatawaqa of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (Fiji), and representing the major group for women, urged the Forum to pursue robust, transparent and real transformation and change.  Noting that the international community had the ability to reverse today’s profound climate, ecological and political crises, she said the Forum should be a space to hear about challenges and structural barriers that could not be easily solved at the national level.  Stressing that the world was still far from achieving the 2030 Agenda because Governments were unwilling to address those barriers, she called for efforts to tackle the prevalence of financial, trade and wealth concentration, land and resource grabbing and other unsustainable practices, and for countries to meet their various human rights and environmental obligations.

Keynote speaker Robert Johnson, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Pointing to the emergence of “dangerous discontents” resulting from the global economic system’s lack of sensitivity to people’s needs — especially in less-advanced economies — he said such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.  He also spotlighted several priority issues to be addressed going forward, including those related to gender inequality, the health of the world’s oceans and the production and pricing of new forms of energy.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of International Affairs at The New School, stressed in her keynote address that a holistic approach would be critical to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  While that agenda had created a new paradigm of development and a new theory of change, its current set of indicators — laid out in a framework adopted last week by the General Assembly — was still a work in progress.  Cautioning that many of the present indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, she also drew attention to several similar criticisms from non‑governmental organizations and other members of civil society.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced a report of the Secretary-General detailing progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We remain accountable to all people and to each other,” he told the Forum, noting that while nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million had still lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.  Among other challenges, gender inequality persisted worldwide and while maternal mortality had declined, that progress must be doubled to achieve the relevant global targets by 2030.  He also outlined some of the critical opportunities identified in the report, including building new and resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation.

Participants also held two panel discussions today, addressing the themes, “implementation at the regional and subregional levels” and “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, respectively.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 July, to continue its work.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of Economic and Social Council, noted that the current session was the second since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the first since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 70/299, which had finalized the guidance on that Agenda’s follow-up and review.  It was also the first session of the High-Level Political Forum that would discuss in-depth a set of Sustainable Development Goals — namely, Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 — alongside Goal 17 on partnerships, which would be discussed every year.  In addition, the session’s theme, “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, was particularly pertinent as poverty remained “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

“There are high expectations from this global institution and it is our duty to ensure that the [Forum] lives up to them,” he said, underlining the importance of linking the planned presentations of 44 countries with the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature.  Each session on the Sustainable Development Goals would begin with a short statistical presentation leading to presentations by panellists on identifying challenges and progress and suggesting recommendations and possible solutions.  Keynote speakers would then discuss “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  The 2017 theme would be discussed through the lens of ways in which the multiple dimensions of poverty and inequality were being addressed in countries in special situations.  Spotlighting the importance of the regional dimension, he said this morning’s panel discussion would enable the Forum to take that aspect into account in the rest of its deliberations.

Introduction of Report

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, then introduced a report of the Secretary-General entitled, “progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” (document E/2017/66).  Noting that the 2030 Agenda recognized the international community’s common responsibility to address deprivations and ensure sustainable development for all, he stressed that “our aspirations touch all lives” and “we remain accountable to all people and to each other.”  The Forum provided the global platform to make that happen, he said, noting that an unprecedented number of stakeholders — some 2,400 — had registered to participate in the session and 44 countries planned to present their voluntary national reviews.

Outlining some of the main findings of the Secretary-General’s report — which reflected the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature by addressing, and then bridging, all the Goals under review — he drew attention to its basis in the new indicator framework adopted by the Statistical Commission in March, the Economic and Social Council in June and the General Assembly last week.  “I am struck by how far we have come and also how far we have left to go,” he said.  While nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million still had lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013, with many of the extreme poor were concentrated in regions where fragility, conflict and other challenges made interventions harder.  Many also lived in pockets of poverty in otherwise robust economies.

While maternal mortality had declined dramatically in recent years, he continued, achieving the relevant global targets by 2030 would require more than double the current rate of progress.  Gender inequality persisted worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities, and close to one fifth of women between 15 and 49 reporting having experienced some form of violence from a partner in the preceding 12 months.  Challenges still remained in protecting the world’s oceans, with a recent drop in global sea ice to the second‑lowest level in recorded history.  Noting that the impacts of those challenges were faced disproportionately by the poor — who often relied directly on the world’s natural resources — he went on to underscore the urgency of ending hunger and malnutrition, and ensuring universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.  Indeed, around 155 million children under the age of 5 were growth‑stunted and 11 per cent of the world’s population still suffered from hunger.

Identifying a number of critical opportunities, he highlighted the importance of building new and resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation, pointing to a number of positive signals in global investment levels and the share of official development assistance (ODA) devoted to infrastructure.  Nevertheless, there were also signs that a stronger commitment to partnerships was needed, with ODA levels falling by more than 3 per cent from 2015 to 2016 in real terms.  “The evidence is clear and it shows us the direction we need to take,” he said, emphasizing that local, national, regional and global efforts must be better connected and stakeholders must avoid working in silos.  A stronger role was also needed for science, technologies and innovations that could help to accelerate progress.

Remarks by Major Groups and Stakeholders

VIVANIA DITUKANA TATAWAQA, Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (Fiji), and major group for women, said that, as a young woman from the global South, she was speaking to the Forum at a time when the world faced profound climate, ecological and political crises, which the international community possessed the ability to address and end.  The Forum must pursue robust, transparent and real transformation and change.  Numerous public-private partnerships among Governments, organizations and societies were already building long-term solutions to those challenges.  Real strategies must be put in place and inadequate responses must be rejected.  The roles of multiple actors, including civil society, must be clearly and substantively reflected in the Ministerial Declaration, as well as in its implementation.  The Forum should be the space to hear about challenges and structural barriers that could not be easily solved at the national level so that global solutions could be identified.  However, she feared that the Forum was failing in its mandate to provide space for accountability.  The major groups and other stakeholders’ consortium had worked for a higher standard for participation and accountability at every step of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The world was far from achieving the 2030 Agenda because Governments were still not willing to address existing structural barriers, she continued, calling for efforts to address the prevalence of financial, trade and wealth concentration, land and resource grabbing and other unsustainable practices.  Policy coherence should also be pursued to move away from systems that prioritized corporate power above the well-being of people and the planet.  Developed countries must fulfil their financing for development commitments, and efforts must be made to ensure coherence between the 2030 Agenda and binding instruments, including on trade and human rights, to ensure that public interests were no co‑opted for corporate gain.  Governments must meet their human rights obligations in areas including health, housing, education, decent work and living wages, among others.  Stressing the importance of gender equality, she called for mainstreaming of gender issues across all policy plans.  Expressing concern that by 2030, it was estimated that there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans, she said the further exploitation of the ocean must end.  Leaders should not be speaking about sustainable development while rolling back progress on climate change.

Keynote Speakers

ROBERT JOHNSON, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, delivered a keynote address, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Capital markets were not “magical carriers of goodness”, but tools that reflected the desires of those with purchasing power — while Governments were not “magical entities”, but structures that needed to be informed by the desires of those they governed, he said, warning that today local governance was overwhelmed by global forces and lacked sensitivity to people’s needs.  Those “dangerous discontents” — in which the global system had not been designed to serve less-advanced economies — were now bringing dysfunction to those systems.  However, such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.

Outlining the benefits and drawbacks of various regional economic strategies, he described current efforts to set up a “Commission for Global Economic Transformation” aimed at addressing, among other things, challenges related to the production and pricing of new forms of energy.  Spotlighting the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, he warned that the “dreadful dysfunction” of gender discrimination and inequality could not be reversed simply by acknowledging it.  True healing, and particularly uncovering the anxieties of the perpetrators, was critical, he said, encouraging the Forum to make that issue one of its top priorities going forward.  On another urgent issue, Goal 14 on “Life Below Water”, he underlined the connection between the current devastation in the world’s oceans and poverty among its many coastal communities.

SAKIKO FUKUDA-PARR, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of International Affairs at The New School, cautioned that a holistic approach to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would be more effective than evaluating the implementation of the individual Goals.  Such analysis must be based on both quantitative and qualitative data, she said, pointing out that the new 2030 Agenda had created a new paradigm in development and a new theory of change.  What was particularly new was that the various development policies were integrated into a single agenda and that civil society, national Governments and the private sector played a critical role.  While the demand for data was very high, the indicator framework was still a work in progress.

Drawing attention to the 2030 Agenda’s priority on strengthening the capacity of data collection, she said not enough was being done in that respect, especially in developing countries.  Calling for more attention to national statistical agencies, in particular with regard to Tier 3 of the framework’s indicators, she also underlined the need to add disaggregation by ethnic groups, minorities, sex and other important factors.  She also noted that many of the current indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, pointing to a number of sharp criticisms from non‑governmental organizations in that regard.  Among other things, several such groups had expressed concern that the 2030 Agenda’s official monitoring and reporting arrangements omitted measurements of progress on some of its most ambitious propositions, as many of those were included in Tier 3.  Citing much discussion about “new data from new sources using new methodologies”, she said their usefulness remained an open question and could pose challenges to the accessibility, accountability and priority setting of national statistical agencies.

Panel I

Moderated by Mr. SHAVA, the first panel was titled “implementation at the regional and subregional levels”.  Panellists included Shamshad Aktar, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); and Aida Opoku-Mensah, Special Adviser to the Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Opening the discussion, Mr. SHAVA noted that regionalism had been growing for decades and regional cooperation and integration had been increasingly playing critical roles in supporting sustainable development, including through South-South cooperation, peer learning and the sharing of experiences among countries in similar circumstances.  The regional commissions had been at the forefront of helping Member States, as well as regional and subregional organizations, articulate and align their efforts.  Their analytical work, capacity building and inclusive platforms were proving to be highly valuable.

Ms. AKTAR said that expectations for implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be realistic given that efforts towards implementation were on in their second year.  Nevertheless, work was already under way in the Asia and Pacific region as countries there pursued their sustainable development aims.  Available data varied considerably, with small island developing States and least developing countries struggling to collect representative data.  However, from the data that had been gathered, it was evident that there had been steady progress in implementing the Goals, although those efforts had fallen short in several critical areas.  Poverty rates had dropped in the region, yet 400 million people continued to suffer from income poverty.  In that context, she highlighted that more than half of the global poor were living in the Asia and Pacific region.  Trends towards gender equality were not as strong as desired due to low and declining women’s participation in the labour market, which she described as a lost opportunity.

Ms. BARCENA noted that there had been six pillars for action and cooperation agreed by the 33 countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Nineteen of those countries had made political commitments towards intersectional high-level institutions and 14 countries from the region had agreed to provide voluntary national reviews as part of the Forum.  An inventory of national statistical capacities on the 17 Goals had been gathered in 26 countries, which indicated the need for some refinement and collection of supplemental information.  The Forum of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean had taken place for the first time in April, which included some 800 participants and nearly 290 civil society and private sector participants.  Progress on poverty reduction and inequality trends was threatened, while there had been steady but uneven progress on ending hunger.  She expressed worries about the lack of progress on gender equality, while also emphasizing that the threats to coastal areas were a persistent area of concern.

Mr. ALHAKIM, highlighting that his Commission served 18 countries in the Western Asia region, said that, despite their varied development levels, member countries were committed to an Arab region and looked to ESCWA’s substantive support and convening power to bring everyone around the same table to ensure that women, men and children were all progressing together.  However, that work was more difficult than ever due to the existing political and humanitarian crises that had pushed countries in the region to the breaking point.  To move forward on the Sustainable Development Goals, the region needed peace, political solutions and inclusive democratic structures.  However, it also needed sustainable development and could not use conflict as an excuse to do less.  Eradicating poverty required a regional methodology to measure and analyse both poverty and inequality, which was at the heart of the Commission’s mandate.  The Commission also focused much of its work on the factors that contributed to the region’s migration trends, while also aiming to address the depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the environment due to climate change.

Ms. ALGAYEROVA said that, thus far, initial efforts in the European region had focused on revising, adapting and implementing new policy frameworks for the achievement of the Goals.  Policy coherence was critical for implementing the 2030 Agenda due to its multisectoral nature and required aligning domestic and international actions.  Still, further efforts were still required, even in the most advanced countries.  Progress was often mixed within and between countries.  One area that required significant improvement and in which ECE was heavily involved was road safety.  Progress in curbing air pollution had increased life expectancy, an important advancement given air pollution’s large human and economic cost.  The Sustainable Development Goals represented an important opportunity for increased international cooperation.  Many of the Goals had transboundary implications, which highlighted the need for cooperative solutions.

Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that ECA’s work took into account the shared interests of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 across the African continent.  In 2016, economic growth in Africa had declined to 1.7 per cent.  High population growth required good planning, and in that context, she highlighted that Africa’s population was estimated to continue increasing by 2.6 per cent annually and was projected to almost double by 2050.  Poverty reduction and eliminating extreme hunger were key policy challenges with implications for the realization of the other Goals.  African countries were being urged to increase spending on agriculture, infrastructure and public administration.  Discussions on tax evasion must remain at the forefront, she urged, noting that African countries suffered from weakening public institutions and the depletion of resources.  The lack of data was another critical challenge, as was the timeliness of the acquisition of any existing data.

Asked by the moderator about the key drivers to achieving the objectives laid out in the 2030 Agenda, Mr. ALHAKIM stressed the need for a fundamental shift with regard to gender equality to support the wholesale change that would be required to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Ms. ALGAYEROVA pointed out that the overall policy and regulatory frameworks should encourage behaviours that would support the achievement of the Goals, while also underscoring the roles of civil society and public-private partnerships.  Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that one of the key drivers for the successful implementation of the Goals would be evidence-based policy making and the management of resources, while Ms. BARCENA highlighted the need to end the “culture of privilege” in Latin America and the Caribbean, which included tax evasion and corruption.  Ms. AKTAR underlined the importance of the global economy, while also noting that Asia had become the principle collaborator of South-South collaboration and the need for importance of new funding revenues.

When asked by the moderator to assess the means of implementation for the development agenda, Ms. AKTAR noted the importance of statistics as a dimension of the 2030 Agenda and that tax, trade and investment all had a role to play.  Ms. BARCENA said that the Latin and Caribbean region was simply not growing fast enough and it continued to be plagued by tax evasion totalling some $340 million annually.  Mr. ALHAKIM said that technology and innovation were important elements of means for implementation in the Arab region, particularly in the absence of strong financing for development.  Ms. ALGAYEROVA pointed to the role of the private sector, as well as the need to strengthen international cooperation to mobilize investment through which effective change would take place.  Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that, in Africa, the lack of infrastructure was not only hurting development, but was also an impediment to the achievement of the Goals.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, Oleg Pankratov, Vice-Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, delivered a statement on behalf of the Eurasian Economic Union, recalling that the 2030 Agenda, which united 193 Member States, was key to the United Nations agenda.  The 2030 Agenda was unique in that each Goal was linked to human development, based on the realization that the planet’s true wealth was its people.  In pursuing the future development agenda, leaders had agreed to pursue a historic opportunity to put in place environmental and social changes that would ensure peace and security.  The Eurasian Economic Union, which included five countries, had been active in implementing the Goals as part of their long-term development policies for 2030.  Its most recent report contained a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of development priorities in achieving the Goals.  He noted that the unemployment rate across the Eurasian Economic Union was lower than that of many developing countries at 5.7 per cent, while the gender imbalance was also being flattened.

The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that sustainable development was a key priority for countries in the region, which had sought to transform the vision of the 2030 Agenda into concrete projects.  In that regard, ASEAN member States appreciated partnerships with various parts of the United Nations system.  The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said those nations were committed to achieving sustainable development through proposals that included common solutions for the benefit of all peoples and leaving no one behind.  Adequate financial and non-financial resources would be critical, in that regard.

The representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed concern that the region suffered from persistent, low growth and the erosion of human development gains.  The countries of the region were being hindered by large amounts of debt and their classification as middle-income countries.  The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of South African Development Community (SADC), said that the African continent was unique in that it was pursing two development agendas simultaneously.  Continued and predictable funding was crucial for implementing those agendas.

The representative of the European Union said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change was an essential, complementary step forward.  He went on to note the importance of the recent adoption of the European Consensus on Development.  The representative of the League of Arab States said that the bloc had established the Arab Institution for Sustainable Development, which would work toward implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Also speaking were the representatives of Bhutan, Belarus and Mexico.

A speaker representing the major group for women also spoke.

Panel II

Moderated by Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada, the second panel was titled “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world:  addressing multi-dimensions of poverty and inequalities”.  Panellists included Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford; Claudia Vasquez Marazzani, Director of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia; and Anthony Lake, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Laura Stachel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of WeCareSolar, and Emem Omokaro, Executive Director of the Dave Omokaro Foundation and Secretary-General of the African Society for Ageing Research and Development, were lead discussants.

Mr. ALKIRE, emphasizing that numbers could motivate action and ignite policies, explained that multidimensional poverty indices took a set of poverty-related indicators and linked them together to provide one headline figure that could, in turn, be unpacked to inform policy.  Creating such indices involved first defining the indicators of poverty, going door to door to see which deprivations each household was experiencing, and creating a deprivation score for each person.  Several countries had developed multidimensional poverty indices, she said, adding that comparable measures could be created to compare across countries.  While such indices were not a silver-bullet solution for ending poverty, such numbers could move the world and Governments had found they could be useful tools for governance and accountability.

Ms. VASQUEZ MAAZZANI said her country was unusual in that it was transitioning from a “trap of violence” into a peace process that would hopefully create the conditions necessary to address poverty.  With support from the University of Oxford, it had introduced a multidimensional policy index with the aim of demonstrating which factors needed to be taken into consideration to improve decision-making at a public policy level.  One lesson drawn from the index was that poverty eradication required not just resources, but also education, health care, employment, housing and access to public services.  The index also made it possible to better focus on needs at the territorial level, reducing urban-rural disparities and enabling sectors and institutions to work in greater harmony.

Mr. LAKE said addressing poverty and inequalities required more than narrowing income disparities.  It was also necessary to tackle the drivers.  Poverty was disproportionately about children, which comprised one third of the world’s population, but half of all multidimensionally poor people.  Defeating poverty in the next generation depended on giving children a fair chance today.  Reaching them required a deeper understanding on who was being affected and how.  Better data and a renewed focus on equity were needed.  The wealth of data being generated had a real potential to change how programmes were designed and delivered at national and community levels.  On equity, he said investing in the most disadvantaged children yielded the greatest results, as demonstrated in a new UNICEF study of 51 countries who were using such an approach.  The study, “Narrowing the Gaps:  the power of investing in the poorest children”, found that more lives were saved than by equivalent investments that did not reach the most disadvantaged groups.  A commitment to equity and detailed, disaggregated data offered the surest route to making the promise of the 2030 Agenda a reality for succeeding generations.

Ms. STACHEL, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, emphasizing the connection between maternal mortality and poverty, said reliable electricity supply was a largely overlooked aspect of health care.  In response to that problem, her organization promoted a compact and rugged solar electricity unit that could fit into a suitcase, enabling medical procedures after dark.  Such units had so far reached more than 2,000 health facilities in Africa, as well as Nepal and the Philippines.  However, she said, getting national data on health centres most in need of electricity was difficult.

Dr. OMOKARO, a gerontologist, said economic growth would be inconsistent with poverty reduction unless the poor participated in growth processes and shared in prosperity.  Policies that were not based on human rights or which did not recognize a citizen’s intrinsic worth could not enable the poor to be participants.  Aggravating the situation were restrictions on such bases as gender or age.  She hoped that every Member State would adopt multidimensional poverty indices in the knowledge that everyone was worthy of the outcomes of development.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, speakers raised a range of issues and concerns.  Some provided examples of national poverty-eradication programmes.

The representative of Kenya asked about ways to enable the poor to participate in their own development, as well as the importance of determining which of the Goals would have the greatest community impact.

The representative of China emphasized the need for a systematic approach to poverty reduction.  He said his country had, through many years of practice, come up with poverty-reduction approaches with Chinese characteristics.  Given current trends, he added, all of rural China would be out of poverty by 2020.

The representative of Finland, recalling how poor her country had been in the 1940s, emphasized the significance of a universal social policy in overcoming poverty.  As the world was changing, policy must change, she said, underscoring Finland’s introduction this year of a national universal income pilot scheme that including previously unrecognized forms of work, such as unpaid care work.  She added that poverty eradication could not be accomplished without changes that ensured equal outcomes for women.

ADRIAN MARIUS RÂNDUNICĂ, Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Social Justice of Romania, described a national multi-pronged approach that included a poverty-eradication strategy identifying and targeting 18 vulnerable groups and a gender equality plan aimed at ensuring women’s participation in decision-making in political, economic and public life.  In addition, an employment plan focused on leaving no one behind in efforts to reduce joblessness, while a strategy on caring for elderly persons included adopting specific policies and integrating all long-term services.

Responding to questions from the floor, Ms. VASQUEZ MARRAZANI said that by law, poverty-eradication programmes in Colombia were constantly measured over time.  Social programmes meanwhile featured various participation and consultation mechanisms that made tailor-made measures possible.

LAWRENCE CHANDY, Director, Data, Research and Policy at UNICEF, taking Mr. Lake’s place on the panel, underscored that under the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty measures were meant to be country-defined.  Such an approach recognized that poverty was different in different places, while, at the same time, creating an opening for the poor and youth to participate.  Leaving no one behind was not just about identifying those living in poverty, but also ensuring that their deprivations were identified and addressed in the first place, he said.

Ms. ALKIRE referred to experiences in several countries, including Chile, the first high-income country to release a multidimensional poverty index.  In highly developed countries such indices gave visibility to issues not necessarily seen through monetary-based yardsticks.  With regard to China, she said that country’s systematic approach included connecting every poor family with a civil servant.

The representative of Azerbaijan referred to his country’s active labour market programmes, which gave its poor an opportunity to earn money.  Those programmes reduced poverty and unemployment in a long-term and sustainable way while, in the process, lifting people out of the poverty trap.

The representative of Indonesia said the pace of progress against poverty in her country had flattened.  To break the cycle of multidimensional poverty, its Government was emphasizing such sectors as education, infrastructure development and creating new economic opportunities, including support for entrepreneurship.  She also underscored the important role of international cooperation.

The representative of Sierra Leone recalled the adage that “what gets measured, gets done”, adding that what got measured appropriately got done most efficiently.

The representative of the major group for working people and trade unions said poverty eradication could not be addressed without taking up the question of low wages.

Also taking the floor were representatives of Kenya, China, Finland, Chile, Argentina, Comoros, India, Sudan, Mali, Romania, Azerbaijan, Norway and Sierra Leone, as well as the European Union.

Representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also spoke.

Speakers representing the major group for women, persons with disabilities, children and youth, and non-governmental organizations also spoke.

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Sahel Deterioration Due Partly to Lack of Development, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Economic and Social Council, Peacebuilding Commission

Despite numerous strategies to improve security, governance and development, the situation in the Sahel remained fragile, speakers in a joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council and Peacebuilding Commission agreed today, amid calls for Governments and international partners to improve coherence on the ground by matching short-term objectives with a longer term vision for the region.

Opening the session, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said deterioration in the Sahel stemmed in part from the lack of development, good governance, and respect for human rights.  While Mali was at the centre of Islamist violence, other countries had experienced attacks from across the border.  Niger faced a triple threat from Boko Haram, Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), along with spillover effects from the Libyan conflict.

Those and other groups were competing for ungoverned spaces, she said, and vigilantism was replacing legitimate authority.  Thirty million people in the Sahel struggled daily with food insecurity.  One in five children suffered from acute malnutrition, while more than 5 million people faced displacement and required protection.  That confluence had spurred a deadly flow of migration through the desert towards the Mediterranean and beyond.

She said reversing those conditions required regional and international cooperation, along with renewed efforts to close the gap between humanitarian needs and development imperatives.  Governments must link short-term objectives in pursuit of a long-term vision, with efforts to address root causes coordinated with the United Nations Development Group and the resident coordinators in Sahel countries.

She also expressed support for consistent efforts to reassert State authority, cautioning against a disproportionate emphasis on security.  Any approach must be based on increased financing by Governments and partners alike, while full use must be made of the Ministerial Coordination Platform for Sahel Strategies.  “We have set in motion reforms to enable faster, more effective, inclusive and sustainable action,” she said, stressing that improved partnership between the Council and the Commission was part of that approach.

Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said today’s meeting built on last year’s joint meeting on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace.  “We need to make sustaining peace part of the coordinated approach for implementing the 2030 Agenda”, he said.  Against that backdrop, the Council had joined forces with the Commission to focus on the situation in the Sahel, which remained fragile.  “This is a region with complex and multidimensional challenges” he said, ranging from socioeconomic inequalities, to climate change, to a lack of jobs.

He said today’s meeting would take stock of strategies for the region, and offer ideas about long-term stability and development, especially in taking a cross-border approach to building resilience.  It would explore how to coordinate strategies and plans to achieve results on the ground.

Cho Tae-yul (Republic of Korea), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, said that body had responded to the 20 January Security Council presidential statement encouraging it to assist the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) in implementing the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the region.  The Commission had convened a meeting on 6 March, where participants welcomed such a role.

Further, he had attended the 14 June Ministerial Coordination Platform meeting in N'Djamena, where the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel) countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger), the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the African Union High Representative and the European Union Special Envoy had reviewed progress since the launch of the Strategy in 2013.  Participants reiterated their commitment to maintaining the Platform as the political coordination framework to address transnational challenges.  They also welcomed efforts to expand it to include thematic groups focused on security, resilience and governance.

In the ensuing panel discussion, Mohammed ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said that while the idea of a multidimensional approach was as valid today as in 2013, the complexity of the Sahel required a flexible response.  Marginalization and radicalization, as well as human, drug and arms trafficking existed alongside demand for employment and education access.  Success depended on collaboration in conflict prevention, prompt humanitarian intervention, early recovery and peacebuilding efforts that built on locally defined solutions.

Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said fragility in the Sahel had a number of causes, stemming from deficiencies in resilience, governance and investment, especially in agriculture and youth employment.  Many of the 17 strategies to address them were reactionary:  partial, short-term responses that covered limited territory.

It was important to have a vision of the future, which defined nature and scope of public and private investment, he said.  Creating that vision should include border communities.  The United Nations Integrated Strategy could be streamlined to serve as a framework for unifying initiatives around the region.  As border issues had been the “Achilles heel” of many strategies, building security required making the borders a link, not a barrier.  The 2016 Bamako Declaration on border management was a strategic frame of reference that would allow for organizing a response.

Speakers from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, joined delegates in posing questions to panellists, outlining both critical challenges and efforts to address them.  Mali’s delegate said G-5 Sahel countries sought to empower local communities to manage their own affairs and requested international support for those choices.  “We need resources,” he said, which must target their priorities.  Chad’s delegate, meanwhile, said the 14 June Ministerial Platform meeting highlighted the need for initiatives based on recommendations made at that meeting, the most important of which was communication of the actions already under way.

Mauritania’s delegate cautioned against making the Sahel a “laboratory” for different concepts.   He advocated support for “integrationist thinking” among regional countries, as an “ideology of dehumanization” was gaining ground.  Respect for State sovereignty was also essential in ensuring that what was done was actually viable.

Panel

The joint meeting then heard presentations by Mohammed ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), and Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Mr. CHAMBAS, speaking via video link, said the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) defined three strategic goals for tackling security challenges:  enhancing inclusive and effective governance, strengthening national and regional security mechanisms, and integrating humanitarian and development plans in order to build resilience.  Those areas were considered complementary and offered an integrated response to the multiple challenges in the Sahel.

Yet, he said, “a lot has changed and the situation has evolved since the strategic approach of 2013”, citing political and security developments, institutional changes in the United Nations field presence, and a growing number of partnerships and programmes.  While the idea of a multidimensional approach was as valid today as it was in 2013, the complexity of the Sahel required a flexible response, as challenges existed in different contexts.  Marginalization and radicalization existed, as well as human, drug and arms trafficking alongside demand for employment and education access.  Success depended on collaboration in conflict prevention, prompt humanitarian intervention, early recovery and peacebuilding efforts that built on locally defined solutions.

He underscored the need to redefine “the how” and address any duplication of efforts, pointing to a document titled “elements of an action plan for the UNISS” adopted during the Strategy’s steering committee meeting on 23 June, and which just today, he had sent to the Department of Political Affairs for transmission to the Deputy Secretary-General.  It outlined a clear division of labour for United Nations actors to separate coordination and advocacy functions from implementation of the Strategy’s programmes.

As the Sahel hosted 17 bilateral and multilateral strategies, which had grown difficult for countries, “we are compelled to have coordinated regional approaches to tackle security, governance, resilience and development challenges”, he said.  He underscored the need to focus on common objectives and consider the role of Sahelian countries, regional institutions and international actors.  An overemphasis on security or humanitarian response must be avoided, as that would only tackle the effects of the crisis, rather than its roots.

Mr. DIEYE said the fragile situation had a number of different causes, all of which were “well known and overstudied”.  They stemmed from deficiencies in resilience, governance and investment, especially in agriculture and youth employment.  There was also an enormous security challenge, stemming from trafficking, transnational crime, unregulated migration, identity issues, the war in Libya and emergence of extremist groups, along with the fact the Sahel linked the Atlantic with the Red Sea, and had enormous mining and energy resources.  Many of the 17 responses were reactionary in nature.  They were partial, short-term, and covered limited territory.  They were not coordinated and carried high transactional costs.  “Their aggregated effect is thus quite limited,” he said.

It was possible, however to build a Sahel that was not a prisoner to fatalism, he said, noting that such efforts would require a structural response.  First, it was important to have a vision of the future, which defined nature and scope of public and private investment.  Creating that vision should not be left to States alone; participation, especially by border communities, was appropriate.  The second imperative was the need to coordinate actions in the Sahel.  The United Nations Strategy could be streamlined to serve as a framework for unifying initiatives around the region.  Structures including the Lake Chad Basin Commission must be strengthened.  The third imperative related to optimal management of border regions, as border issues had been the “Achilles heel” of many strategies.  In a region of boundaries that often were artificial, building security required making the borders a link, not a barrier.  The 2016 Bamako Declaration on border management was a strategic frame of reference that would allow for organizing a response.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers from United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, joined delegates in outlining the critical challenges and efforts to address them.  The representative of the World Bank said that, as of this month, the financial institution will have delivered on the $1.5 billion commitment made by its President in 2013 while on a visit to the region.  A further $1 billion from the International Development Association would start 1 July and focus on irrigation, solar power and a Lake Chad initiative.  The Bank viewed the drivers of fragility as unequal benefit-sharing, demography, climate risk, the spread of extremist ideology and the trafficking of drugs, people, weapons and finance.  The speaker from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), meanwhile, said 13.7 million people in the region were severely food insecure, the most vulnerable of whom were in urgent need of food and livelihood assistance.  FAO was working with the World Food Programme (WFP) to improve resilience, especially in the Lake Chad Basin, where they provided humanitarian and livelihood assistance.

The representative of Mexico said the presentations made today reflected the inconsistencies and lack of coherence of the United Nations system and Member States alike.  There was clarity around the problems.  “It seems like the formulas we have get lost on route to implementation on the ground,” he said.  He asked what was happening, questioning whether the Organization was fragmented or if agencies were competing with one another.

The representative of Mali expressed concern over the security situation, which had worsened with the rise of terrorist groups and traffickers.  As the impact of both factors transcended individual countries, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad had formed the Group of Five for the Sahel (G-5 Sahel), which aimed to re-establish security and promote development.  Noting that the Security Council had recently endorsed the creation of a regional force to improve security, he said “we won’t be able to guarantee development for our populations until we’ve emphasized security,” stressing that the Group had also launched transport, farming and energy projects.  On the issue of governance, he said G-5 Sahel countries sought to empower local communities to manage their own affairs and he requested international support for those choices.  “We need resources,” he said, which must target their priorities.

The representative of Senegal, recalling a 2017 Security Council presidential statement, said “we have to recognize that poverty affects a very high proportion of the population”, in a region with limited economic prospects and faced with the impacts of climate change.  The positive trend of reinforced cooperation must be welcomed.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had become a platform for dialogue and he recalled the objective of promoting peaceful, inclusive societies.  Regional approaches were essential to sustaining peace in the region, he said, given the cross-cutting nature of the challenges ahead.

The representative of Indonesia registered his disapproval with how the term “jihadism” had been related with terrorism and violent extremism in the joint meeting’s concept note.  Jihad had no relation to terrorism and must not inadvertently validate such an understanding of it.  He supported the African Peace and Security Architecture 2016-2020 Roadmap for the peace and security architecture, calling for greater support for Strategy’s goals of governance, security and resilience, which must be adequately financed.

The representative of Norway, stressing that stability and development in the Sahel was important for her own region, said her State had increased political dialogue, as well as its contributions to humanitarian action and to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  “We must use our resources more strategically,” she said, linking long-term investments with humanitarian action.  In addition to health and education initiatives, she advocated mobilizing the private sector to create jobs.

The representative of Japan advocated a holistic approach to the Sahel, stressing that, as focal point for institution-building in the Peacebuilding Commission, his delegation had held a meeting earlier today on cross-border issues in the Sahel.  Participants had advocated greater partnerships and expanded support for cross-border projects, stressing that international assistance should support national and regional strategies.

The representative of Chad, noting that his country was recently declared eligible for peacebuilding funds, said such resources would help build national cohesion.  Chad was an integral part of the Sahel situation and he supported tackling deep-rooted security problems with a regional approach.  There were various plans and strategies under way, all of them requiring effective coordination.  The 14 June meeting of the Ministerial Platform in N'Djamena, attended by the Peacebuilding Commission, highlighted the need for initiatives based on recommendations made at that meeting, the most important of which was communication of the actions already under way.  “What is missing is a certain prioritization of actions,” he said, expressing support for the creation of a mechanism to promote coordination.

The representative of the United States advocated the whole-of-system perspective, stressing that breaking down institutional siloes was essential to meet the needs of countries in conflict or transition.  He expressed strong support for countries in the region to foster stability and enhance economic opportunities.  The situation in the Sahel had been over-strategized and over-studied by the United Nations and efforts should focus on deploying funds towards existing strategies and frameworks.

The representative of Cameroon said that many doctors had come to the bedside, yet the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin were still “very ill”.  Questions centred on whether the treatments were correct, whether those treatments had been administered in a timely manner, and whether the dosage was the right amount.  For some issues, the timing and dosage were off.

The representative of Mauritania said the relevant diagnoses had been made.  “We now just have to find the ways and means to guarantee peace and development in the Sahel,” he said, underscoring the need for both investment and an integrated United Nations strategy for development, which promoted initiatives from national communities and stakeholders.   He advocated support for “integrationist thinking” among regional countries, including through partnerships with national communities, especially as an “ideology of dehumanization” was gaining ground.  “Let’s avoid making the Sahel a laboratory for different concepts,” he said.  “We’re talking about peace and sustainable development,” for which there was much potential.  Respect for State sovereignty was also essential in ensuring that what was done was actually viable.

Also speaking today were representatives of Brazil, Russian Federation, Egypt, Chile, France, China and Australia.

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FACT FILE: Climate change, food security, and adaptation

The humanitarian crisis unleashed by drought in Somalia has again highlighted the close links between extreme weather and food security. But how exactly are the two connected? And what can farmers in developing countries do to lessen the negative effects of climate change? This Q&A provides an overview of the key issues, with a focus on smallholders in Africa.

What is food security?

The term may sound like jargon for simply having enough to eat or knowing where one’s next meal is coming from, but food security is a multifaceted concept that has evolved significantly over time. According to the current UN World Food Programme definition, people are said to be food secure when “they have availability and adequate access at all times to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.” In other words, it’s not just about now, but the foreseeable future; and it’s not just about food, but the right kind of food, and the ability to prepare it safely. “Access” is a key component of this definition: even when there is plenty of food in markets or granaries, people will be food insecure if they cannot afford to buy it, or have nothing to barter for it. Even famines sometimes occur when food is available but not accessible.

To help aid agencies respond effectively to a food crisis in Somalia, a system was established in 2004 to precisely define and analyse local food insecurity, using a scale consisting of five categories: None/Minimal, Stressed, Crisis, Emergency, and Humanitarian Catastrophe/Famine. The evidence-based Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system, run by a range of UN agencies and NGOs, and which was thoroughly updated in 2017, has now been adopted in 25 countries across the world.

How does climate change affect food security?

One of the key effects of climate change is that extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heatwaves, and rainfall variations become more frequent and more severe. Rising sea levels linked to climate change cause coastal erosion and loss of arable land. Rising temperatures encourage the proliferation of weeds and pests and threaten the viability of fisheries.

All this has a direct impact on agricultural production, on which the food security of most people in developing nations primarily depends. This is because agriculture in these countries is almost entirely rain-fed, and so when rains fail, or fall at the wrong time, or major storms strike, entire crops can be ruined, key infrastructure damaged or destroyed, and community assets lost. Consequently, climate change is widely seen as the greatest threat facing the estimated 500 million smallholder farmers around the world.

According to the WFP, “Changes in climatic conditions have already affected the production of some staple crops, and future climate change threatens to exacerbate this. Higher temperatures will have an impact on yields while changes in rainfall could affect both crop quality and quantity.

Rising grain prices and falling yields hit the world’s poorest people hardest, as they spend most of their income on food. In the long term, climate change could “create a vicious cycle of disease and hunger”, WFP warns.

By 2050, child malnutrition is expected to increase by 20 percent relative to a world with no climate change.

Meanwhile, the world’s population is set to reach nine billion by 2050. With more people eating meat and dairy products, and more farmland given over to biofuel crops, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization believes that (to satisfy demand in 2050) global food production will have to increase by 70 percent over 2005 levels.

This report from the International Food Policy Research Institute analyses in great detail the effects of climate change on agriculture, with an emphasis on developing countries.

Why is agriculture in Africa especially vulnerable?

Smallholder farmers account for some 80 percent of food production in sub-Saharan Africa. With only a tiny proportion of farmland under irrigation, and reliable water sources becoming scarcer, most crops depend on rainfall, which climate change is making increasingly erratic and unpredictable.

Farming in Africa is often done in marginal areas – such as flood plains, deserts, and hillsides – where ever more frequent weather shocks cause severe damage to soil and crops. While there have always been variations in climate, the current pace and intensity of these changes mean that traditional methods of adapting to changes in weather patterns are no longer sufficient.

The millions who raise livestock in more arid areas of Africa are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather, as the current drought affecting Somalia and Kenya demonstrates. 

When shocks do occur, and crops are ruined or livestock dies, the endemic poverty of most rural farmers means they little to cushion them in terms of savings and stockpiles.

Few African smallholders own the land they cultivate, so they have difficulty in obtaining credit for inputs, such as fertilisers and pesticides, or machinery. Many also lack the ability to store their crops, while poor infrastructure often limits their access to markets. Modern yield-boosting technologies, as well as insurance policies, are beyond the reach of many smallholder farmers. Even when farmers do have extra cash, there is little incentive to invest in the land they farm if they lack the title deeds.

According to the fourth assessment report of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, “Africa is likely to be the continent most vulnerable to climate change. Among the risks the continent faces are reductions in food security and agricultural productivity, particularly regarding subsistence agriculture, increased water stress and, as a result of these and the potential for increased exposure to disease and other health risks, increased risks to human health.”

For further information about climate change and Africa, read this factsheet from Africa Check.

What can African farmers do about it?

Changes made to mitigate the effects and risks of climate change, whether at the regional, national, or very local level, are known as “adaptation”. Smallholder farmers facing weather shocks and other climate-change related events are already using a variety of adaptation measures. These include diversifying and rotating the crops they grow, engaging in non-agricultural income generating activities, adjusting the times they sow their lots, conserving soil and water, building irrigation systems and flood defences, using more inputs such as fertilisers, sowing improved seeds, planting trees, and integrating crops with livestock.

Farmers need support from their governments to make the right adaptation choices. This support can take the form of more reliable and localised weather forecasts, subsidies for inputs, well-trained extension workers, better facilities for livestock health, well-funded agricultural research, and improved rural infrastructure such as road networks.

This academic paper uses Ethiopia as a case study detailing how farmers are adapting to climate change. This one focuses on Uganda.

Our own special project on climate change and food security includes field-level reportage on local adaption initiatives in Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, and Zimbabwe.

This document explores in detail how countries intend to address agricultural adaptation within the context of the UNFCCC. 

What about the money?

Although it directly affects the livelihoods of billions of people, agriculture has long received only a fraction of overall climate finance. According to this World Bank report, agriculture, forestry and other types of land use combined received just $6-8 billion of the $391 billion spent on climate finance globally in 2014. Mitigation – reducing emissions and transiting to low carbon economies – has traditionally received three times as much as adaptation.

But the importance of investing in climate-resilient agriculture is gaining recognition, notably in the Sustainable Development Goals and in the Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), both adopted in 2015.

Most countries party to the UNFCC have included at least some estimates of the costs of agricultural adaption in their individual climate change action plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Details of many INDCs can be found here and further analysis can be found here.

The newest and largest source of climate finance, the $10-billion Green Climate Fund, aims to balance its resources equally between mitigation and adaptation. Precisely what effect US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from both the Paris Agreement and the GCF will have on agricultural adaptation finance remains to be seen, but experts are pessimistic.

Globally, there are more than 50 different funds supporting adaptation projects. Some of the most important ones are outlined in our factsheet on adaptation finance.

See also: our Briefing on climate financing.

am/ag

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Conflict and drought deepen food insecurity in Africa, Middle East – UN agency

9 June 2017 &#150 Protracted fighting and unrest are swelling the ranks of displaced and hungry ins some parts of the world, even as large agricultural harvests in some regions are buoying global food supply conditions, according to a new report by the United Nations agriculture agency.

&#8220Civil conflict continues to be a main driver of food insecurity, having triggered famine conditions in South Sudan and put populations in Yemen and northern Nigeria at high risk of localized famine,&#8221 said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on today's release its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

FAO also notes that adverse weather conditions are exacerbating the threat of famine in Somalia. Refugees from civil strife in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Central African Republic are putting additional pressure on local food supplies in host communities.

It also points out that some 5.5 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in South Sudan, where maize and sorghum prices are now four times higher than in April 2016. In Somalia, about 3.2 million people need food and agricultural emergency assistance, while in Yemen the figure is as high as 17 million.

In northern Nigeria, disruption caused by conflict has left 7.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in the affected areas, with even more deemed to be in less dire but still &#8220stressed&#8221 conditions, according to the report.

According to FAO, 37 countries require external assistance for food, namely Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa rebounds, East Africa is parched

While worldwide cereal output is near record levels, production outcomes are mixed across the globe.

According to the report, South America is expected to post strong increases, led by Brazil and Argentina.

Regional production in Southern Africa is expected to jump by almost 45 per cent compared to 2016 when crops were affected by El Niño, with record maize harvests forecast in South Africa and Zambia. This should help to reduce food insecurity in countries, such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

After two consecutive years of bumper crops, the report notes that the overall food supply situation in the Sahel region is satisfactory.

However, at the start of the 2017 season, East Africa has suffered insufficient rainfall, armyworm infestations and local conflicts, leaving in the sub-region a record 26.5 million people in need humanitarian assistance.

The report warns that the situation could be aggravated further as the lean season peaks, saying, &#8220An estimated 7.8 million people are food insecure in Ethiopia, where drought has dented crop and pasture output in southern regions.&#8221

Moreover, cereal domestic prices reached exceptionally high levels in May, with the local cost of maize jumping by as much as 65 per cent this year in parts of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The report also notes that a severe drought in Sri Lanka, followed by heavy rains and local flooding in late May, will likely reduce the country's paddy production by nearly a third, compared to the average.

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Better Policies, Investment in Infrastructure, Industrialization Key for Creating Thriving, Sustainable Societies, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council

Unlocking developing countries’ potential for green growth depended on using the right keys, learning from past mistakes and shaping new ideas based on bolstered, more coordinated action, speakers told the Economic and Social Council today at a special meeting on innovations for infrastructure development and promoting sustainable industrialization.

Despite a plethora of obstacles, working together to foster equitable, inclusive growth — in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development — could produce concrete, lasting and environmentally friendly results on the ground, speakers stressed.

Structural transformation through industrialization was indeed a route to poverty eradication, said Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).  Countries and regions with burgeoning manufacturing sectors had achieved spectacular progress, he said, noting that between 1990 and 2013, the number of people living in poverty in East Asia and the Pacific had declined from 1 billion to 71 million.  In sub-Saharan Africa, although poverty numbers had increased, there were signs of progress.

While such success stories demonstrated that industrialization could be an engine of growth, the road ahead was long for the least developed countries, he said.  Most lacked the capacity to meet international social and environmental standards, with infrastructure remaining a critical missing piece of the puzzle.  “The only thing we need now is action, action, action, and we need to deliver now,” he said, announcing that the General Assembly would hold a high-level meeting in September on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016-2025).   The international community, including the United Nations system, could play a critical role in helping countries to overcome challenges, he stressed.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that with sufficient investment and effective planning and execution, infrastructure and industrialization could be key drivers of sustainable development.  That would require new ways of thinking and working, moving beyond “business as usual” in technology, policymaking and how poverty was addressed and the Sustainable Development Goals achieved.  There was ample space for collective action to fill the infrastructure financing gap, estimated to be about $1.5 trillion annually in developing countries.

Speakers suggested a number of ways to close that gap.  Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoilamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said public-private partnerships had an important role in tackling challenges facing many of the 92 States her office represented.  Multilateral development banks must provide technical support to vulnerable countries to attract foreign direct investment and there was great potential for regional cooperation, which could help boost countries’ economic development.  Transport, with regard to the industrialization-infrastructure nexus, and financing were critical areas that needed to be addressed.

New approaches were necessary, said Liberia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s declaration that 2016 to 2025 was the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa, he said the previous two decades had never been translated into concrete projects.  “If we are to expect different results, we need to avoid repeating the same mistakes,” he said, emphasizing that predictable financing and resource mobilization were key to realizing industrial development.  Efforts should focus on bankable projects and on helping Member States mobilize donors for specific programmes while harnessing regional integration for industrial development.

Obstacles included financing and technology transfers, speakers said, with some pointing at the current dearth of industrialization and sustainable infrastructure.  “Without a breakthrough in international cooperation in the field of technology, shifting to a more sustainable path would be very difficult and burdensome for developing countries,” said Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.

Echoing that view, China’s delegate, also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and South Africa, encouraged creation of a favourable policy environment for innovation and enabling conditions for entrepreneurship, and a focus on building infrastructure, including roads, information and communications technology and electricity.  Similarly, the representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said a blend of efforts could produce tangible results.  “Modern infrastructure development, seamless access to energy, market access for products and increased foreign direct investment can play a catalytic role in fostering industrialization,” he said.

The special meeting included three interactive discussions on “The industrialization-infrastructure nexus in developing countries”, “The potential of agro-industry and agricultural systems for sustainable development” and “Building capacities and mobilizing resources for infrastructure, industrialization and innovation”.

The first discussion featured speakers from Africa, who pointed out that the continent’s miniscule contribution to global growth was due to a lack of industrialization.  Ibrahim Mayki, Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), said that opportunities existed for Africa to leap-frog forward using the right technological and institutional innovations.  The continent could finance its industrialization through remittances, mineral revenues, stock-market capitalization and other means.

Economic and Social Council President Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe) delivered a statement during the opening segment.  José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) spoke in a video message for the occasion.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, in opening remarks on the theme “An Integrated Approach to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 9” said that in his travels across Africa, he had seen how limited access to reliable transportation, energy and communication could restrict people’s opportunities.  At the same time, he said, he was amazed by the region’s desire to create and innovate.  Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized the importance of industrialization and innovation for eradicating poverty and expanding opportunities, especially for the world’s poorest, he said progress on Goal 9 would have a ripple effect on other Goals regarding poverty, hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and sustainable cities and communities.

Today’s meeting would engage high-level representatives from key sectors and stakeholder groups with respect to Goal 9 in order to forge recommendations and propose practical steps for the Council to support and move forward, he said.  Recalling the preparatory meetings that took place in Dakar, Senegal, and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, on “Innovations for infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” and “Agriculture and agro-industries development towards sustainable and resilient food systems” respectively, he said the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had identified two important initiatives that they would announce in their respective interventions.  Their proposals — the Programme for Country Partnership and the Accelerated Agriculture and Agro-industry Development Initiative PLUS known as 3ADI+ — best reflected what the United Nations and its partners could do when working in tandem.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization, captured by Sustainable Development Goal 9, served a catalytic and cross-cutting role across the 2030 Agenda and the other 16 Goals.  With sufficient investment, when innovatively and effectively planned and implemented, infrastructure and industrialization could have enormous multidimensional benefits, being key tools for achieving poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Access to those tools and the promotion of sustainable industrialization was essential for inclusiveness.

Achieving it, he said, would require new ways of thinking and working, moving beyond “business as usual” in technology, policymaking and how poverty was addressed and the Goals achieved.  Challenges included the current global infrastructure gap, which was being addressed by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda’s Global Infrastructure Forum.  There was ample space for collective action to fill the infrastructure financing gap, estimated to be about $1.5 trillion annually in developing countries.  National projects needed to be financed by domestic resource mobilization, focused official development assistance (ODA), private investment and other sources and channels.  Leadership, policy integration and coordination were needed at all levels.  Additional challenges were urbanization and the importance of building and applying effective technology for resilient infrastructure and industrialization in rural areas.

“Now is the time to take action,” he said, pointing to elements such as integrated policy advice, capacity-building, partnerships, information and data on infrastructure for follow-up and review, and engagement of relevant stakeholders.  Multi-stakeholder engagement should be supported, with a focus on development banks and the private sector.  An evidence-based approach was instrumental to support policy evaluation.  The United Nations supported the institutionalization of resilient, sustainable, inclusive and equitable infrastructure and industrialization across the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental.  The Economic and Social Council, including its forums and segments, served to identify trends, analyse and affirm policy options and forge policy integration, thus supporting an effective follow-up and review of progress towards resilient infrastructure and industrialization.

Keynote Addresses

LI YONG, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said that at the Dakar and Victoria Falls preparatory meetings, there was a consensus that structural transformation through industrialization was a pathway towards poverty eradication.  Empirical evidence demonstrated that that consensus was warranted.  Countries and regions which had successfully developed their manufacturing sectors had made spectacular progress in reducing poverty, including among women and young people.  Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people living in poverty in East Asia and the Pacific had declined from 1 billion to 71 million.  In sub-Saharan Africa, although poverty numbers had increased, there were signs of progress, he said, citing the creation of 50,000 decent permanent formal jobs in the textile and garment sector in Ethiopia and an influx of $300 million of foreign direct investment into landlocked Rwanda.

Such success stories demonstrated that industrialization could be an engine of growth, but for the least-developed countries, the road ahead was long, he said.  Most of those countries lacked the capacity to meet social and environmental standards, while infrastructure remained a critical missing piece of the puzzle, with 1.1 billion people — many of them in sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries in Asia — lacking electricity.  The international community, including the United Nations system, could play a critical role in helping those countries to overcome such challenges, he said, citing UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership and FAO’s African Agribusiness and Agro-industry Development Initiative known as 3ADI.

He described the UNIDO Programme as an innovative model for accelerating inclusive industrial development, with Ethiopia, Senegal and Peru participating as pilot countries.  UNIDO was assisting them in setting up integrated industrial parks where small producers could add value to their export-oriented products.  For example, UNIDO had provided a master plan for an industrial park in the south of Ethiopia that would create 134,000 new jobs, particularly among women and young people.  For its part, 3ADI sought to speed up the development of the agro-industrial sector by supporting investment programmes.  As a result of the Victoria Falls meeting, it was proposed that the 3ADI initiative be scaled up, to be known going forward as 3ADI+, underpinned by a value-added approach.  “The only thing we need now is action, action, action, and we need to deliver now,” he said, announcing that the General Assembly would hold a high-level meeting in September on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa and that UNIDO would expand the Programme for Country Partnership by seeking a few more countries to participate in it.

JOSÉ GRAZIANO DA SILVA, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said, in a video message, that agro-industry was fundamental to achieving Goal 9 and other global goals on poverty eradication and ending hunger.  The recent Zimbabwe meeting had identified critical constraints, including limited access to finance and a lack of coordination of activities.  FAO would continue to support the Economic and Social Council to advance the outcome of the Victoria Falls meeting and enhance cooperation with key partners.

General Discussion

JONATHAN VIERA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said developing countries were the most affected by the lack of sustainable and resilient infrastructure.  At the same time, they faced serious financing challenges.  The result was a wider global infrastructure gap, he said.  Technical assistance and capacity-building needed to be channelled urgently to developing countries, which also required increased access to technology transfer on favourable terms.  He went on to emphasize the need for urgent action to bridge the technological divide, including a strengthening of the international intellectual property regime and full operationalization of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.

“Without a breakthrough in international cooperation in the field of technology, shifting to a more sustainable path would be very difficult and burdensome for developing countries,” he said.  Those countries needed adequate policy space for their industrialization and development efforts, he said, appealing to industrialized partners not to kick away the ladder upon which they had climbed to their current level of industrialization.  Developing countries needed an enabling global environment to complement their national efforts in achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development, he added.

LIU JIEYI (China), also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and South Africa, said the international community must support industrialization and mass entrepreneurship while assisting the growth of small-, micro- and medium-sized businesses to improve progress in developing countries.  With a view that industrialization could improve people’s lives and encourage economic growth, the Group encouraged assistance to create a favourable policy environment for innovation and enabling conditions for entrepreneurship.

He said attention must focus on building infrastructure, including roads, information and communications technology and electricity, and developing countries must be supported to be able to seize the opportunity to transform industry in ways that would achieve sustainable development.  Mobility of professionals and workers also needed to be facilitated.  For its part, the Group had already achieved positive results, including the establishment of a development bank to promote progress among least developed countries and to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

TAREQ MD. ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said one of the major challenges to unlocking the potential of vulnerable States was a lack of adequate resilient infrastructure, which hampered economic diversification and social development.  Industrial development was critically important for structural transformation, employment generation and sustained economic growth.  Raising several concerns, he said the value-added share of manufacturing among the Group’s members had remained stagnant for the last decade.  While the Istanbul Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda had addressed existing financing gaps, he said the state of science, technology and innovation remained poor, with disparities between least developed countries and the rest of the world.

Public-private partnerships, he said, were an effective method to address that divide, with regional infrastructure projects, including in transport, energy and tourism, providing additional benefits.  While the global market’s various venture capital and pension funds could be a significant financing source for Sustainable Development Goal-related infrastructure projects, the main challenge was the long-term nature of returns.  Therefore, packaging infrastructure projects to make them attractive from a profitability perspective was an important first step, coupled with increased engagement between States with bankable projects and the managers, owners and shareholders of those financial resources.  Relevant United Nations agencies and other stakeholders could help least developed countries to address that aspect and continue to support financing-related projects.

Least developed countries must take appropriate steps to significantly increase inclusive and environmentally friendly industrialization with a view to enhancing the share of manufacturing in their total economic basket and diversifying local productive and export capability, he said.  “Modern infrastructure development, seamless access to energy, market access for products and increased foreign direct investment can play a catalytic role in fostering industrialization,” he said.  Innovation and access to modern technology were also vitally important for rapid industrialization.

Special Address

FEKITAMOELOA KATOA ‘UTOILAMANU, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the link between industrialization and poverty reduction was crucial to vulnerable countries.  Many of the specific challenges in the 92 States her office represented were highlighted in the 2030 Agenda, with industrialization also highlighted in the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020, Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024 and Samoa Pathway for Small Island Developing States.  Outlining obstacles, she said many vulnerable countries had limited productive capacities and declining value added in manufacturing and agriculture.

Elaborating on that point, she said the 48 least developed countries, with a population of 900 million, had seen slower structural transformation, with a general consensus that building infrastructure was a precondition for structural transformation and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.  Poor energy access remained a key impediment.  The 32 landlocked developing countries suffered from geographical disadvantages, with infrastructure deficiencies and poor trade facilitation.  Similarly, small island developing States shared geographic remoteness, narrow economic bases and isolation from major global markets.

Highlighting common challenges among the three country groupings, she said transport played a key role in the industrialization-infrastructure nexus and achieving growth would require financial and technical support and strong partnerships with various stakeholders.  Access to financing was another challenge, with major constraints including a lack of scale and substantial local investment, poor credit ratings and low project preparation capacities and skills to deploy financing models that encouraged blended finance to attract more funds.  Public-private partnerships would have an important role to play, being specifically tailored to meet each country’s aspirations.  To attract foreign direct investment, multilateral development banks must provide technical support to vulnerable countries.  There was great potential for regional cooperation, which could help boost countries’ economic development.

Session I

The Council then held its first session of the day on “The industrialization-infrastructure nexus in developing countries”.  Moderated by Macharia Kamau (Kenya), it featured presentations by Ibrahim Mayki, Chief Executive Officer, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); Abdou Mamane, Minister of Industry of Niger; Brian Mushimba, Minister of Transport and Communication of Zambia; and Maria Kiwanuka, Special Presidential Adviser, Uganda.

Mr. KAMAU said the world was in the throes of a new industrial revolution that was expected to be global, to leave no one behind and to transform the lives of all, with the 2030 Agenda guiding the way forward.  He also noted that the panel was made up entirely of Africans — a rare event which he suspected had never happened in the Council before.

Mr. MAYKI said that Africa’s 0.1 per cent contribution to global growth was due fundamentally to the fact that it did not significantly add value to its products because of a lack of industrialization.  By comparison, China accounted for 15 per cent of the global economy, having made significant investments in its industries under a policy going back to the 1970s.  However, opportunities existed for Africa to leap-frog forward, using the right technological and institutional innovations.  It could finance its industrialization through remittances, mineral revenues, stock-market capitalization and other means.  It only needed to focus on what its key priorities were in terms of policies and projects.  Identifying African pension funds as a financing source, he said infrastructure projects should be reclassified as an asset class so as to attract investment.

Mr. MAMANE said that one of the benefits of infrastructure development and industrialization was that it promoted investment and helped build human capacity.  International cooperation and private-sector support were indispensable for meeting challenges.  In Niger, the Government had undertaken a number of reforms to promote investment and industrialization, including the creation of a dry port at Dosso to serve as a logistical platform between the port of Cotonou in Benin and the interior of the country.  A railroad between Cotonou and Ouagadougou via Niamey was meanwhile under construction, as well as a trans-Saharan road network.  With regard to agriculture, he said the Government had put into place a development programme for agro-business and agro-industry that included the 3ADI initiative.

Mr. MUSHIMBA noted the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, including their geographical location and the feeling that they were isolated and marginalized.  Market access for those countries was difficult, their economies were under-diversified and Internet and mobile-phone saturation was limited.  Significant resources would be required to close existing gaps, he said, noting Zambia’s vulnerability to price fluctuations in copper, its main source of foreign earnings.  Describing the Vienna Programme of Action as a good guide, he said Zambia wanted to ensure that it could improve infrastructure and industrialize its economy, adding value to its raw materials by exporting semi-finished and finished products, thus creating more jobs and reducing poverty.

Ms. KIWANUKA, noting that all the countries represented on the panel were landlocked, said the nexus between infrastructure and industrialization must be considered on a country-specific basis.  Uganda was 1,000 kilometres from the sea, but it considered itself “land-linked” through its neighbours, which imported Ugandan food.  Each country needed to assume a holistic approach and recognize its advantages.  She added that infrastructure, while accounting for more than 50 per cent of Government expenditures, was a support structure for agriculture, industry and mining that must pay its way.  In Uganda, the Government needed to concentrate its limited resources and capacities in those areas where it alone could act, including the creation of a stable macroeconomic framework and a regulatory system that ensured a level playing field for all investors.  She emphasized the need for Government to work in concert with the private sector to develop human resources and create skills that the market — rather than academicians in ivory towers — wanted.  Describing the private sector as very agile, she said it could run rings around any Government any day before lunch, and then eat the Government for lunch.  She added that Governments needed to ensure that whatever was foregone in tax exemptions was less than the benefits accrued for the country as a whole.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the United Arab Emirates discussed the outcomes of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit, hosted by the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi, which sought to promote a road map for future industrial development to echo the evolution in international trade and global best practices.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan, noting the structural challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, described her country’s nationwide digital transformation programme, which would provide a unique opportunity for making a rapid breakthrough in its economic development.

Session II

In the afternoon, the Council held a session on “The potential of agro-industry and agricultural systems for sustainable development”.  Moderated by Gerardo Patacconi, Acting Director, Department of Agri-business Development, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, it featured presentations by Lisa Dreier, Head of Food Security and Agriculture Initiatives, World Economic Forum LLC; Magnus Arildsson, Head of Internet of Things, Product Management, Ericsson; Bill Polidoro, President and CEO, ACDI/VOCA; and Andrew Ndaamunhu Bvumbe, Executive Director, Africa Group I, World Bank Group.

Mr. PATACCONI said the discussion would look at the connection between innovation, industrialization and the agro-business sector, and how by adding value agriculture could lead to new jobs, new technology and new markets.  A bigger issue would be urbanization and its impact on food and other agricultural products, he said, adding that solutions would be found through partnerships, innovation and the avoidance of fragmentation.

Ms. DREIER said that part of the work of the World Economic Forum involved catalysing public-private collaboration in order to achieve food security and agricultural development.  Currently, the food system was not serving the planet in the way that it should.  Many issues and obstacles needed to be overcome and that would require systemic change, she said, proposing a concept called “system leadership” that would bring together all stakeholders behind a shared goal and facilitate their efforts towards achieving that goal.  Mobilizing decentralized action was the spirit behind system leadership, she said, referring to such initiatives as the Grow Africa Partnership and Grow Asia Partnership.  Multi-stakeholder partnerships were not the solution to every problem — they could be complicated and slow, with high transaction costs — but in the long run, she said, the results could have a big impact.

Mr. ARILDSSON described the “internet of things” as a network of sensors that would send data to a central system that would process the information and send back commands, such as opening doors and turning on lights.  With sensors poised to outnumber mobile phones, he said his company was moving away from communications and into the internet of things.  He presented several examples of how sensors could be used in agriculture, including planting one in the stomach of a cow, making it possible to more accurately monitor its health over its lifetime and immediately alert farmers to problems.  Sensors could also be used for soil monitoring, thus helping to determine when fields needed fertilizer, pesticide and irrigation.  “We can do a whole lot more than we are doing,” he said, adding that the benefits would affect many people.

Mr. POLIDORO, recalling his organization’s roots in the cooperative sector in United States agriculture, described produce storage as a binding link between the various Sustainable Development Goals.  With a warehouse receipt system, he said, farmers would take their commodity to a licenced warehouse, get it graded and stored, then obtain a receipt that could then be used as collateral for loans.  Local context and scale mattered, he added, saying that in places that lacked infrastructure, it could be hard to get the basics in place.  Having a regulatory infrastructure in place was incredibly important.  Benefits would include reduced post-harvest losses, better quality, market price stability, improved food security and more formal agro-business practices.

Mr. BVUMBE, focusing his remarks on challenges faced by agriculture in Africa, said subsistence farmers could not be expected to connect with agro-business when they were still using hoes in the twenty-first century.  Most land tenure systems in Africa did not support financial inclusion; without security of tenure, problems would continue.  He went on to emphasize the need for skills development and support to farmers, as well as the effects of droughts and climate change.  Turning to financing, he said it was critical to look into de-risking lending to smallholder farmers in Africa.

In the ensuing discussion, a representative of the FAO emphasized the need to shift to more sustainable, inclusive and resilient agricultural and food systems in order to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals’ promise of leaving no one behind.  She added that smallholders required better infrastructure in order to access markets.

Thailand’s representative described measures being taken in her country, such as the creation of water retention areas that stored rain-season water for use in dry seasons, thus mitigating the effects of drought.  She added that infrastructure development needed to go hand in hand with capacity-building so as to provide farmers with the knowledge, expertise and skills they needed.

The representative of Ethiopia asked what policy measures could be taken to encourage the private sector to invest in long-term projects.

The representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) asked about the challenges involved when a single large buyer of agricultural produce had to buy with many smallholders.

The representative of Mexico asked to hear more about productivity chains.

Responding, Ms. DRIER said policy measures to incentivize long-term investment depended on the type of investment.  One that involved a new seed variety might be different from another required for a processing plant.  Given the broad variety of incentives that could be employed, she suggested that Governments maintain a dialogue with the private sector to discuss policy barriers and how they might be addressed.

To the question posed by the IFAD representative, she said that, from the experience of the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture, it appeared that private-sector companies were not accustomed to including smallholders in their value chains.  They considered doing so to be risky and expensive.  Others, however, were finding ways to engage smallholders to be part of a larger value chain while providing technical expertise to meet quality standards.

Mr. BVUMBE said that, whatever the policy, clarity and consistency were important for the private sector, especially with regard to land tenure.  Dialogue was also critical.  He also described how, in India, smallholders had come together at the village and community level, thus reducing transaction costs when dealing with buyers.

Mr. ARILDSSON said it was a matter of building ecosystems — something that businesses did all the time.  For farmers, such ecosystems would be different in each country, but it was important to ensure a win-win situation at all levels.

Mr. POLIDORO said that not all smallholders were created equal.  Sometimes, warehouse receiving systems could be brought down by incorporating too many smallholders too fast.

General Discussion

REMONGAR T. DENNIS (Liberia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said industry was an important driver of economic transformation and growth, job creation and human development.  The Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa, included in the African Union Agenda 2063, emphasized that prosperity depended on the development of a robust industrial sector.  The continuing gap in productive industrial capacities on the continent stemmed from many linked factors, including a lack of related finance and investments and technological capacities, inadequate entrepreneurship, energy and infrastructure bottlenecks, small and fragmented markets, low purchasing power and limited demand.  Financing remained the main challenge.

Welcoming the General Assembly’s declaration that 2016 to 2025 was the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa, he said the previous two decades had never been translated into concrete projects.  “If we are to expect different results, we need to avoid repeating the same mistakes,” he said, emphasizing that predictable financing and resource mobilization were key to realizing industrial development.  The new Decade and its promoters must establish inter-agency mechanisms for coordination and for the strategy’s implementation.  Efforts should also focus on bankable projects and helping Member States mobilize donors for specific programmes while harnessing regional integration for industrial development.

Underlining the importance of increasing investment and improving the quality and productivity of existing and new investments, he said more public funding should catalyse private investment.  Africa’s contribution to the global value chain must be raised because almost 70 per cent of it occurred in developing countries.  Since developed countries’ investments in Africa included high value-added activities such as research, innovation, design, sales and marketing in their headquarter countries, priorities must include promoting domestic manufacturing capabilities in high value-added sectors or technology-intensive sectors.  In that regard, the role of Governments and adequate policy space were essential.

He said additional efforts must focus on enhancing domestic resource mobilization to create fiscal space to boost public investment in infrastructure.  At national, regional and international levels, attention must be paid to curb capital flight, including through preventing tax evasion and illicit cross-border capital transfers.  As such, rules must be introduced to ensure that multinational companies did not shift profits across borders to avoid taxes.  He encouraged the United Nations development system, bilateral and multilateral partners and private-sector operations to join hands in translating the Decade from a statement of intentions into concrete actions.

Session III

The Council’s final session for the day on “Building capacities and mobilizing resources for infrastructure, industrialization and innovation” was moderated by Ms. Dreier.  It featured presentations by Tadeo Garcia Zalazar, Mayor of Godoy Cruz, Argentina; Marcos Bonturi, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Special Representative to the United Nations; and Paul Winters, associate vice-president, a.i., Strategy and Knowledge Department, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Ms. DREIER said the dialogue would focus on Sustainable Development Goal 9, to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, and how to bridge the financing gap with a view to achieving that objective.

Mr. ZALAZAR said Godoy Cruz, a municipality facing vulnerabilities, including climate change consequences and seismic activity, had aimed at building its resilience.  Sustainable development activities included building resilient infrastructure and joining an innovative network of 200 municipalities geared towards taking climate action such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The city had also promoted sustainable industrialization, established a high-tech park and using renewable energy.  Solar panel tax breaks were available for homes and businesses and a social housing project had mixed public-private investments, acting as a model for future sustainable development programmes.  Streamlining public policies had also worked to ensure a budget balance with local participation.  Moving forward, it was important to move from theory to practice, he said, emphasizing that Godoy Cruz had already taken steps to do that.

Mr. BONTURI asked why, if investment in infrastructure was so beneficial, it was not more common.  Donors had provided $60 billion a year for infrastructure projects in developing countries, but there was still an infrastructure deficit.  In OECD countries alone, $80 trillion in assets were held, with a small percentage used for infrastructure, primarily for member States.  Collaborating with the Group of 20, OECD had worked to help all Governments learn how to mobilize public finance and leverage private finance.  Attracting private investment must take into account the business climate, he said, noting that a study examining 60 countries had found barriers, including that energy and transport were the most restrictive sectors.  In other cases, public procurement was not transparent and green technology was highly regulated, posing additional barriers for the private sector.  But, money did not always guarantee success.  What was critical was good governance, which must work to involve the right stakeholders and ensure smooth operations while fighting corruption.

Mr. WINTERS said farmers were business people who invested.  That could be seen in results of recent FAO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports on projects that had provided cash transfers to farmers, who had spent funds investing in their communities.  Unleashing their potential could be helped by providing them with innovative opportunities.  Such initiatives included helping farmers organize to build sustainable irrigation systems.  Another project saw the construction of 2,000 kilometres of roads to bolster economic growth dairy farmers.  Urban bias in some countries had tended to ignore rural areas.  In resource mobilization, efforts had been made to ensure a balance in that regard with a view to promoting development in both urban and rural areas.

During the ensuing discussion, speakers raised concerns and examples of how they had addressed national or regional challenges.  A speaker from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said the private sector had said investment was too risky on the continent and regulations were not ideal.  In response, a continental model law governing areas such as procurement and project ownership had been drafted and was now ready to be adopted domestically.  If the private sector said there was a problem, ECA wanted to address it, he said.

Providing a national perspective, Zimbabwe’s representative said resource mobilization challenges had led to efforts to release resources to targeted projects.  Special economic zones had been created to attract the private sector.  To eradicate the perception that African projects were white elephants, Zimbabwe had created one-stop investment shops to attract investment.

Mr. ZALAZAR, responding to a question posed by the representative of Chile, said networks of municipalities had focused on concerns by pooling responses and approaches.  Networks focused on different themes.  His network addressed climate change and took action by crafting tailored plans because a one-size-fits-all approach did not work.  Answering a question posed by Argentina’s delegate, he said public-private partnerships had been addressed in a local law.  A smart fiscal approach had been taken to respond fully to the Sustainable Development Goals by local municipalities for issues including roads and green spaces.

Mr. BONTURI, responding to a question by the representative of the Republic of Korea, said blended finance included complex projects that had taken years to establish.  OECD was not designed to provide technical cooperation, but it worked with the United Nations and other partners in that regard, including with regard to domestic resource mobilization.

Mr. WINTERS, answering a query made by Chile’s representative, said money was available for microfinancing and then for projects with $1 million price tags, with little in between.  The African Development Bank was working around the $1 million level, but there was a gap in the middle-level and efforts should be made to address that.

Closing Remarks

Mr. WU, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said it was clear from today’s speakers that economic growth and job creation largely depended on enhanced productivity and upgraded industrial sectors.  However, those two factors were being held up by persistent infrastructure gaps which curtailed opportunities for progress on poverty eradication and sustainable development, especially in developing countries.  Both hard infrastructure, such as energy, transport and industrial networks, and soft infrastructure, such as institutions and capacities, were mutually supporting and reinforcing, underlining the need for integrated action in pursuing the 2030 Agenda, he said.

Citing the recent report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, he said investment in productive sectors and sustainable infrastructure, among other areas, could spur growth, support climate-smart economies and energy, and move the world closer to the Goals.  Much was known about what worked in each area.  The challenge was the sheer scale and breadth of resources and technological know-how needed to deliver.  One finding from that report was the need to better align investment incentives with long-term funding, he said.  That would require bringing together all relevant actors.  The two initiatives announced today by UNIDO and FAO indicated how incentives could be better aligned with the new demands of 2030 Agenda.  Their potential at the national level was exciting, he said, adding that he looked forward to hearing more about their implementation and result.

Mr. SHAVA (Zimbabwe), Council President, said a key message that had been reinforced during the day had been the importance of keeping people at the centre of discussions on Goal 9.  “Ultimately, our objective should be to build societies where everyone can thrive, aided by infrastructure, industrialization and innovation,” he said.  In many developing countries where the potential for industrialization loomed large, advances in science, technology and innovation in sectors had the potential to promote employment and income growth.  Developing key infrastructure would also foster achievement of the entire 2030 Agenda and help to bolster people’s ability to meet their basic needs and fully participate in society.

Although there was broad agreement that infrastructure, industrialization and innovation were essential for poverty eradication and sustainable development, he said, gaps existed in investment, capacities and policy frameworks.  “We know the scale of the challenge,” he said, noting that the 2030 Agenda provided a road map for addressing those challenges and complemented the Addis Agenda as a framework for overcoming obstacles for investments.  Progress would also be made through the various partnerships and frameworks that had been formed as a response to those challenges, he said, expressing hope that all participants would commit to proposals that had been announced today with a view to maintaining the impressive momentum in support of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation.

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Economic and Social Council: Special meeting on innovations for infrastructure development and promoting sustainable industrialization

Note: Following is a partial summary of today's special meeting of the Economic and Social Council. After the conclusion of the afternoon meeting, a complete summary will be available by close of business today as Press Release ECOSOC/6845.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, in opening remarks on the theme “An Integrated Approach to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 9” said that in his travels across Africa, he had seen how limited access to reliable transportation, energy and communication could restrict people’s opportunities.  At the same time, he said, he was amazed by the region’s desire to create and innovate.  Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized the importance of industrialization and innovation for eradicating poverty and expanding opportunities, especially for the world’s poorest, he said progress on Goal 9 would have a ripple effect on other Goals regarding poverty, hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and sustainable cities and communities.

Today’s meeting would engage high-level representatives from key sectors and stakeholder groups with respect to Goal 9 in order to forge recommendations and propose practical steps for the Council to support and move forward, he said.  Recalling the preparatory meetings that took place in Dakar, Senegal, and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, on “Innovations for infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” and “Agriculture and agro-industries development towards sustainable and resilient food systems” respectively, he said the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had identified two important initiatives that they would announce in their respective interventions.  Their proposals — the Programme for Country Partnership and the Accelerated Agriculture and Agro-industry Development Initiative PLUS known as 3ADI+ — best reflected what the United Nations and its partners could do when working in tandem.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization, captured by Sustainable Development Goal 9, served a catalytic and cross-cutting role across the 2030 Agenda and the other 16 Goals.  With sufficient investment, when innovatively and effectively planned and implemented, infrastructure and industrialization could have enormous multidimensional benefits, being key tools for achieving poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Access to those tools and the promotion of sustainable industrialization was essential for inclusiveness.

Achieving it, he said, would require new ways of thinking and working, moving beyond “business as usual” in technology, policymaking and how poverty was addressed and the Goals achieved.  Challenges included the current global infrastructure gap, which was being addressed by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda’s Global Infrastructure Forum.  There was ample space for collective action to fill the infrastructure financing gap, estimated to be about $1.5 trillion annually in developing countries.  National projects needed to be financed by domestic resource mobilization, focused official development assistance (ODA), private investment and other sources and channels.  Leadership, policy integration and coordination were needed at all levels.  Additional challenges were urbanization and the importance of building and applying effective technology for resilient infrastructure and industrialization in rural areas.

“Now is the time to take action,” he said, pointing to elements such as integrated policy advice, capacity-building, partnerships, information and data on infrastructure for follow-up and review, and engagement of relevant stakeholders.  Multi-stakeholder engagement should be supported, with a focus on development banks and the private sector.  An evidence-based approach was instrumental to support policy evaluation.  The United Nations supported the institutionalization of resilient, sustainable, inclusive and equitable infrastructure and industrialization across the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental.  The Economic and Social Council, including its forums and segments, served to identify trends, analyse and affirm policy options and forge policy integration, thus supporting an effective follow-up and review of progress towards resilient infrastructure and industrialization.

Keynote Addresses

LI YONG, Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said that at the Dakar and Victoria Falls preparatory meetings, there was a consensus that structural transformation through industrialization was a pathway towards poverty eradication.  Empirical evidence demonstrated that that consensus was warranted.  Countries and regions which had successfully developed their manufacturing sectors had made spectacular progress in reducing poverty, including among women and young people.  Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people living in poverty in East Asia and the Pacific had declined from 1 billion to 71 million.  In sub-Saharan Africa, although poverty numbers had increased, there were signs of progress, he said, citing the creation of 50,000 decent permanent formal jobs in the textile and garment sector in Ethiopia and an influx of $300 million of foreign direct investment into landlocked Rwanda.

Such success stories demonstrated that industrialization could be an engine of growth, but for the least-developed countries, the road ahead was long, he said.  Most of those countries lacked the capacity to meet social and environmental standards, while infrastructure remained a critical missing piece of the puzzle, with 1.1 billion people — many of them in sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries in Asia — lacking electricity.  The international community, including the United Nations system, could play a critical role in helping those countries to overcome such challenges, he said, citing UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership and FAO’s African Agribusiness and Agro-industry Development Initiative known as 3ADI.

He described the UNIDO Programme as an innovative model for accelerating inclusive industrial development, with Ethiopia, Senegal and Peru participating as pilot countries.  UNIDO was assisting them in setting up integrated industrial parks where small producers could add value to their export-oriented products.  For example, UNIDO had provided a master plan for an industrial park in the south of Ethiopia that would create 134,000 new jobs, particularly among women and young people.  For its part, 3ADI sought to speed up the development of the agro-industrial sector by supporting investment programmes.  As a result of the Victoria Falls meeting, it was proposed that the 3ADI initiative be scaled up, to be known going forward as 3ADI+, underpinned by a value-added approach.  “The only thing we need now is action, action, action, and we need to deliver now,” he said, announcing that the General Assembly would hold a high-level meeting in September on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa and that UNIDO would expand the Programme for Country Partnership by seeking a few more countries to participate in it.

JOSÉ GRAZIANO DA SILVA, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said, in a video message, that agro-industry was fundamental to achieving Goal 9 and other global goals on poverty eradication and ending hunger.  The recent Zimbabwe meeting had identified critical constraints, including limited access to finance and a lack of coordination of activities.  FAO would continue to support the Economic and Social Council to advance the outcome of the Victoria Falls meeting and enhance cooperation with key partners.

General Discussion

JONATHAN VIERA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said developing countries were the most affected by the lack of sustainable and resilient infrastructure.  At the same time, they faced serious financing challenges.  The result was a wider global infrastructure gap, he said.  Technical assistance and capacity-building needed to be channelled urgently to developing countries, which also required increased access to technology transfer on favourable terms.  He went on to emphasize the need for urgent action to bridge the technological divide, including a strengthening of the international intellectual property regime and full operationalization of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.

“Without a breakthrough in international cooperation in the field of technology, shifting to a more sustainable path would be very difficult and burdensome for developing countries,” he said.  Those countries needed adequate policy space for their industrialization and development efforts, he said, appealing to industrialized partners not to kick away the ladder upon which they had climbed to their current level of industrialization.  Developing countries needed an enabling global environment to complement their national efforts in achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development, he added.

LIU JIEYI (China), also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and South Africa, said the international community must support industrialization and mass entrepreneurship while assisting the growth of small-, micro- and medium-sized businesses to improve progress in developing countries.  With a view that industrialization could improve people’s lives and encourage economic growth, the Group encouraged assistance to create a favourable policy environment for innovation and enabling conditions for entrepreneurship.

He said attention must focus on building infrastructure, including roads, information and communications technology and electricity, and developing countries must be supported to be able to seize the opportunity to transform industry in ways that would achieve sustainable development.  Mobility of professionals and workers also needed to be facilitated.  For its part, the Group had already achieved positive results, including the establishment of a development bank to promote progress among least developed countries and to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

TAREQ MD. ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said one of the major challenges to unlocking the potential of vulnerable States was a lack of adequate resilient infrastructure, which hampered economic diversification and social development.  Industrial development was critically important for structural transformation, employment generation and sustained economic growth.  Raising several concerns, he said the value-added share of manufacturing among the Group’s members had remained stagnant for the last decade.  While the Istanbul Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda had addressed existing financing gaps, he said the state of science, technology and innovation remained poor, with disparities between least developed countries and the rest of the world.

Public-private partnerships, he said, were an effective method to address that divide, with regional infrastructure projects, including in transport, energy and tourism, providing additional benefits.  While the global market’s various venture capital and pension funds could be a significant financing source for Sustainable Development Goal-related infrastructure projects, the main challenge was the long-term nature of returns.  Therefore, packaging infrastructure projects to make them attractive from a profitability perspective was an important first step, coupled with increased engagement between States with bankable projects and the managers, owners and shareholders of those financial resources.  Relevant United Nations agencies and other stakeholders could help least developed countries to address that aspect and continue to support financing-related projects.

Least developed countries must take appropriate steps to significantly increase inclusive and environmentally friendly industrialization with a view to enhancing the share of manufacturing in their total economic basket and diversifying local productive and export capability, he said.  “Modern infrastructure development, seamless access to energy, market access for products and increased foreign direct investment can play a catalytic role in fostering industrialization,” he said.  Innovation and access to modern technology were also vitally important for rapid industrialization.

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