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Delegates Urge Equitable Balance between Core, Non‑Core Funding Resources, as Second Committee Takes Up Operational Activities for Development

Reform activities must resolve the imbalance between core and non‑core funding and strengthen South‑South cooperation with respect for national sovereignty, speakers told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today as it took up its agenda item on operational activities for development.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said there was no “one-size-fits-all” approach to development and that the disproportion between core and non‑core funding countries weakened the multilateral framework for development assistance, created conditionalities and undercut development effectiveness.

Calling for an equitable balance between core and non‑core funding resources, he said the current trend increased operational costs and fragmented the United Nations system, particularly at the country level.  Development assistance should be responsive to national policies and be free from overprescribed contingents.

India’s representative said an estimated one third of international development cooperation was routed through multilateral channels, of which the United Nations development system controlled an estimated one third.  Development cooperation was largely dependent on earmarked funding from donors.  The top 10 donors accounted for almost three quarters of development system funds, and nine of those provided more earmarked than core contributions.

To address that trend, he said there was growing interest in South‑South cooperation, which worked more in accordance with the priorities of partner countries rather than the conditions accompanying traditional donor aid.  That cooperation also had a decades-long tradition emanating from shared experiences of a colonial past that had subjugated and distorted economies, he added.

Bangladesh’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said South‑South cooperation could accelerate development as a complement to North‑South cooperation.  The role of emerging economies as trading partners, investors and providers of development cooperation of least developed countries had substantially increased over the past decades.

Total development cooperation from emerging providers was estimated at about $32 billion in 2014, or 17 per cent of the global total, he continued.  Cooperation between the least developed countries and the South had gone beyond provision of aid to include more varied areas of cooperation.

The representative of the Russian Federation said South‑South cooperation should be strengthened with due consideration to sovereignty, responsibility and mutual benefit of the countries involved.

Expanding that sentiment, Cameroon’s representative said any changes to the development system should be aligned with national priorities and needed to avoid moving away from sustainable development into areas like conflict prevention or peace and security.  Such a trend could lead to interference in political processes and violate the sovereignty of States.

Earlier in the day, the Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system: funding analysis (document A/72/61-E/2017/4); and the Director of the United Nations Office for South‑South Cooperation in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the state of South‑South cooperation (document A/72/297).  The Deputy Secretary-General for the United Nations gave an introductory address.

Also speaking were the representatives of Ecuador (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Viet Nam (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Nauru (for the Group of Asia and Pacific Island Developing States), Maldives (for the Alliance of Small Island States), Philippines, Iran, Indonesia, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Jamaica, Belarus, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, China, Thailand, Zambia, Malawi, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Brazil, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Mozambique, Argentina, Japan, Algeria and Morocco as well as the Holy See and International Chamber of Commerce.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 31 October, to introduce and act on draft resolutions.

Introduction of Reports

AMINA MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General, introduced the operational activities for development of the United Nations system.  She said demographic trends, technological advancements and big data held immense potential for sustainable development, however the international community had to contend with a growing number of complex global challenges.  That included persistent inequality, migration and urbanization, climate change, conflict and violence and increased dissatisfaction with political institutions.  The global and economic crisis revealed imbalances in the financial system and slowed down financing of poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Given that, she said the international community must re‑establish the role of the financial sector and usher in an era of fair globalization with better policy and regulatory frameworks.  In regards to climate change, she said the international community must promote a critical shift away from high emissions and consumption patterns.  Noting the lack of confidence in governmental institutions, she said “a handful of rich men hold as much wealth as half the global population”.  Citizens around the world therefore demanded increased effectiveness, transparency and accountability.  To highlight that concern, she said a recent survey indicated that only 14 per cent of people trusted their Government to do what was “right” for their country.

For its part, she said the United Nations system would continue its reform efforts and aim to establish a new generation of country teams.  Those teams would further support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through stronger leadership and reduced fragmentation and ensure that the work of the United Nations would be properly calibrated to specific country needs.  Additionally, efforts were underway to support the provision and efficient use of official development assistance (ODA), bolster South‑South cooperation, improve urban working environments and support the meaningful participation of women, among other priorities.

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system: funding analysis (document A/72/61-E/2017/4).  He said the United Nations development system received $26.7 billion in 2015 which represented a 4 per cent increase compared to 2014.  At the same time, the share of non‑earmarked and core resources dropped to 22.9 per cent of total funding.  Between 2000 and 2015, the volume of funding more than doubled, indicating that the funding of operational activities for development grew at a faster rate than overall global ODA.  Funding in the non‑core resources grew roughly six times faster than the core funding during that same period.  The slow growth in that core funding was a cause for concern, given that core resources were seen as a better instrument for advancing national ownership while providing the flexibility needed to deliver in an efficient and effective manner.  The analysis showed a lack of progress in broadening the donor base, as only three Government donors accounted for 47 per cent of all Government contributions.

Regarding transparency and accountability in funding flows, he said that several United Nations entities developed and improved publicly accessible systems that map data on donor contributions and expenditures.  Improvements were also made to achieve full cost recovery.  Pooled funding accounted for only about 11 per cent of overall non‑core funding in 2015, despite the acknowledgement that inter‑agency pooled funds were useful mechanisms for strengthening system-wide coherence, reduced fragmentation and the development of economies of scale.  Funding for humanitarian assistance activities increased more rapidly than funding for development-related activities, but could not keep pace with the growing humanitarian demands.  He said the report stressed the need to explore options to supplement funding raised through more traditional means and looked at ways the ongoing structured financing dialogues could be improved.

JORGE CHEDIEK, Director of the United Nations Office for South‑South Cooperation in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the state of South‑South cooperation (document A/72/297).  He noted that United Nations agencies had taken a series of measures to further mainstream South‑South cooperation and triangular cooperation into their policy frameworks and incorporate strategies towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Moreover, they were increasingly allocating dedicated funds and/or recruiting specialists to boost South‑South cooperation initiatives at Headquarters and also at regional and country levels.

United Nations agency support for South‑South cooperation included facilitation of policy dialogues, research and analysis, capacity development, knowledge-sharing, partnerships and innovative financing, monitoring, evaluation and reporting, he said.  The Organization was also supporting regional and interregional South‑South cooperation through funding initiatives and partnerships with regional organizations.  By drawing on three key mechanisms to promote stronger coordination of United Nations support to South‑South and triangular cooperation — catalysing advocacy and dialogues, promoting research and knowledge-sharing and deepening partnerships — the United Nations had laid the basis for further institutionalization of South‑South cooperation, within the system and beyond it.

Questions and Answers

The representative of Mexico said that reform of the United Nations system, especially in areas of development, had different dimensions.  Some were part of the Secretary-General’s mandate and would be carried out internally with political support from Member States.  Another dimension depended on Member States working together and agreeing upon changes.  Two new contracts would be needed in carrying out reform — one between the Secretary-General and Member States and another between Member States.  He stressed that the United Nations must transform itself from a system built on lack of trust to one with more confidence in the future.  The new development agenda could not be implemented without reform and improved discussions among Member States.  The core forum for those discussions should be the Economic and Social Council, which was a central, important body, but one which had lost its original function and ability.  Now it could be transformed into a deliberative body that held more effective, relevant discussions in achieving the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Kenya noted that the United Nations had come a long way since it had been established more than 70 years ago.  However, it was now at an impasse because the world was changing so rapidly.  Adding that the 2030 Agenda had focused Member States on specific objectives, he said it was the instrument to keep the United Nations on track.  It was clear that funding was insufficient and that gap must be closed, which could be accomplished by building interrelations, including with the private sector.  The Committee should hear how that could proceed as well as trends of South‑South cooperation financing, which was not just about sharing experiences but leveraging resources.

Mr. HANIF agreed that successful United Nations reform depended upon building trust and a system able to respond to new challenges.  The $26.7 billion in funding for the 2030 Agenda was a vote of confidence in the United Nations system.  That amount was two thirds of the financing the Organization received for all pillars combined.  The development system must be a catalyst in ensuring that financing streams were targeted towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  It had evolved by design and default, but must now change its mindset and functional arrangements to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. CHEDIEK said the Department of Economic and Social Affairs was working together with UNDP and other partners to gather information about differences and complementarities of South‑South cooperation, which would be included in a report his office was preparing.  The report would consider options to advance South‑South cooperation, most of which was happening outside the United Nations system.

Statements

HENRY JONATHAN VIERA SALAZAR (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized that improvements in the United Nations development system should be aimed at adapting it to better support countries, particularly developing States, in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Such improvements should strengthen the system and mobilize more resources, mindful of the importance of multilateralism and the crucial role of the United Nations in development cooperation.  The Group recognized the importance of the resident coordinator system in supporting Government efforts, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of development efforts, enhancing sustainable development results and reducing costs at the country level.  In that regard, it was important to consider the need to build, promote and strengthen the capacity of developing countries in their efforts to achieve long-term sustainable development at the national level, while bearing in mind the different development levels and realities on the ground.

The quadrennial comprehensive policy review was the main instrument to better position the United Nations development system and any proposed reform of the development system should be based on that review, he said.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were of growing importance to collective efforts to achieve the future development agenda, and such cooperation was a complement to, rather than substitute for, North‑South cooperation.  There was an urgent need to address unmet ODA commitments, considering that it was still the main channel of financing development for developing countries.  He went on to highlight the role of the new regional banks of developing countries, which were designed to operate within and across regions based on the belief that a revitalized partnership among Southern countries was possible.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning herself with the Group of 77, said that the development cooperation between her group and the United Nations had been growing in many areas.  The 2030 Agenda and the Association’s Community Vision 2025 would be implemented in a mutually reinforcing manner to build an inclusive, people-centred ASEAN Community.

Turning to United Nations development system reform, she pointed out that its work should always be aligned with the needs, priorities and capacities of programme countries.  Furthermore, the reliance on earmarked contributions had weakened the multilateral characteristic of the system, increasing the risk of duplication and overlap.  In that context, she highlighted that ODA should be a key determinant in leveraging other international sources of financing, and to do so, the system should develop appropriate capabilities for promoting leverage by providing integrated policy support to Governments for mobilization of resources.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were complementary to, but not a substitute for the North‑South cooperation, she said, reaffirming the need for developed countries to meet their ODA commitments.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations development system must be repositioned to support least developed States for specific programmes, projects, follow-up and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda and other development projects in a coordinated and coherent manner.  United Nations entities dedicated to least developed countries must be strengthened and there must be a strong presence of the development system in all vulnerable States.  The United Nations must be well-resourced, supporting least developed countries to combat climate change, make technology and innovation available and facilitate partnerships for development.

South‑South cooperation had the potential to be a great means for accelerating development as a complement to North‑South cooperation, he said.  The role of emerging economies as trading partners, investors and providers of development cooperation of least developed countries had substantially increased over the past decades.  Total development cooperation from emerging providers was estimated at about $32 billion in 2014, or 17 per cent of the global total.  South‑South cooperation followed a broader approach than cooperation from traditional donors.  Cooperation between the least developed countries and the South had gone beyond provision of aid to include more varied areas of cooperation, especially in trade and investment.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC), urged for the United Nations development system to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals into all strategic planning documents and into their work at all levels.  In that regard, he emphasized that poverty eradication should remain a key priority.  He said that the governance structure of the development system must be more efficient and transparent, better able to respond to Member States, and more able to improve the coordination and efficiency of its operational activities.  Such reforms would allow for improved strategic planning, application, presentation of reports and system level assessments to implement the 2030 Agenda.

He said that the United Nations development system must incorporate and support South‑South and triangular cooperation under the leadership of developing countries.  In that regard, his Community would continue to promote such cooperation through its policies, funds and programmes for development.

TUMASIE BLAIR (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Alliance of Small Island States, said there was no “one size fits all” approach to development and development assistance.  Operational activities for development should be able to respond to the development needs of programme countries in a flexible manner, for the benefit of those States and at their request with respect to their national policies and priorities.  Similarly, operational activities for development should consider the need to encourage national capacity-building.  Greater emphasis should be placed on the strengthening of the multilateral framework for development, including by rearranging the funding core of the United Nations system.  The disproportion between core and non‑core funding countries weakened the multilateral framework for development assistance, created conditionalities and undercut development effectiveness, he stated.

Calling for an equitable balance between core and non‑core funding resources, he said the current trend increased operational costs and fragmented the United Nations system, particularly at the country level.  Development assistance should be responsive to national policies and plans and be free from overprescribed contingents.  He emphasized the importance of South‑South cooperation for development, which would be instrumental in addressing long-term challenges and would ensure the transfer of technologies, increase capacity-building and facilitate access to the range of services available in the United Nations system.

ANADELLA EDWARD (Nauru), speaking on behalf of Pacific small island developing States and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that her group of countries remained a “special case” for sustainable development.  They had myriad challenges and unique geographies, economies, and environments, she added, reiterating the need to fully implement the small island developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.  Small island developing States had been aided in that task by the recently completed independent analysis of United Nations system support for small island developing States, in the form of the report of the Joint Inspection Unit.  That report contained several findings and recommendations which must be fully implemented.

Coherence and coordination of all activities on the ground were paramount to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda, she continued.  Agencies must be able to jointly develop and implement programmes towards common objectives.  Those objectives must be derived from the Development Assistance Framework.  In that context, empowering the resident coordinator system remained essential, she said, adding that the resident coordinator must have visibility towards all projects and activities undertaken under her purview.  That would pose a challenge in the Pacific, where one resident coordinator oversees 10 countries.  She also emphasized the need to find adequate and predictable sources of financing through core resources.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, said the susceptibility of small island nations to natural hazards was just one of numerous challenges they faced on the path towards sustainable development.  In 2015, the Alliance did not hesitate to fully commit to the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that the Samoa Pathway was the blueprint for its development.  As an active participant in the 2016 quadrennial comprehensive policy review, he said the Alliance realized there were many matters that were unclear regarding the functioning and operation of the United Nations development system that hindered Member States from giving more specific guidance to the system.  As such, it still had some of the same questions as in 2016, in addition to new ones arising from some of the recommendations contained in the report.  Turning to the December report, he said the resident coordinator system was vital as to whether programme countries would be able to implement the 2030 Agenda.  He expected it to elaborate on outstanding matters raised in the June report.

The funding mechanism for the United Nations development system must be predicable and flexible to address the priorities of programme countries, he continued.  The entire system must discourage highly earmarked non‑core resources, as that encouraged silos and disconnection from priority areas.  In that context, the system should explore low-risk financing options.  While partnerships were particularly important to small island developing States, they must be genuine, durable and based on mutual respect.

A.P. JITHENDER REDDY (India) noted that an estimated one third of international development cooperation was routed through multilateral channels, of which the United Nations development system controlled an estimated one third.  Development cooperation was largely dependent on earmarked funding from donors, unlike other avenues.  The top 10 donors accounted for almost three quarters of development system funds, and nine of those provided more earmarked than core contributions.  The situation had to change if the development system was to become more effective and tuned to the needs of developing countries where it was operational.  In that regard, there was growing interest in South‑South cooperation, which worked more in accordance with the priorities of partner countries rather than the conditions accompanying traditional donor aid.  South‑South cooperation also had a decades-long tradition emanating from shared experiences of a colonial past that had subjugated and distorted economies.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Group of 77, said the operational activities of the United Nations development system should be allied with the development needs and priorities of States.  That was a basic principle in her country’s national process in the preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of its country programme document and national development assistance framework.  Noting the continuing imbalance of core and non‑core funding, she expressed concern that funding drove programming.  She urged States and donors to prioritize core and non‑earmarked funding and support the critical need for transparency, accountability and governance.  To that end, she called on States and the United Nations system to operationalize the critical mass of core resources, incentivize donors, broaden the donor base and ensure full cost recovery.  She additionally welcomed initiatives that contributed to the institutionalization of South‑South cooperation and encouraged greater programmatic and institutional support to those initiatives.

EBRAHIM ALIKHANI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the principles of national ownership and leadership in guiding the operational activities of the United Nations system at the country level were of critical importance.  The resident coordinator system should therefore respond to the plans, priorities and needs of host countries within their development assistance frameworks.  He expressed concern about the imbalance between core and non‑core resources and urged for the promotion of a more transparent and efficient governance architecture to enable system-wide strategic planning.  Given that the tendency to reduce programme activities would impair the performance of development projects and joint activities at the field level, he urged for the emphasis of quality of work rather than administrative considerations.  Similarly, he said South‑South cooperation could be maximized through subregional, regional and interregional frameworks and should be integrated into operational activities.  He welcomed efforts to mainstream South‑South cooperation and called for greater analytical information on the implementation of major intergovernmentally agreed developmental goals in the next Secretary-General’s report.

AINAN NURAN (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the Organization must work together and find innovative ways for Member States, partners and the international community to mobilize resources.  That included public and private resources focused on moving towards a stronger integrated financing strategy in accordance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  For its part, Indonesia partnered with the United Nations and the private sector to channel private capital to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  It also provided funding to rural smallholders to improve productivity while conserving the natural environment.  She called for greater coordination and coherence at the United Nations level in addressing development needs and priorities on the ground.  She also emphasized the importance of strengthening South‑South and triangular cooperation to assist developing countries.

TATIANA ZVEREVA (Russian Federation) said introducing any changes to the United Nations development system would only be possible with broad consensus among Member States, given its scale and complexity.  She urged the Secretariat to submit additional details about the ramifications of any changes.  Objecting to politicization of operational activities, she stressed that national ownership and priorities must be included in any changes to the development system.  Reform must aim to strengthen interactions between recipient States and United Nations country teams.  Formation of those teams should be based on the needs of the host country.  South‑South cooperation should be strengthened, paying due consideration to sovereignty, responsibility and mutual benefit of countries involved.

BIANA LEYVA REGUEIRA (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, the Alliance of Small Island States and CELAC, underscored the contribution of the United Nations development system in confronting pressing development challenges facing the most vulnerable countries.  Reform of the system must strictly adhere to the principle of neutrality and development-related aims guiding United Nations operational activities in those countries.  At the same time, the system should be more proactive in eliminating poverty, achieving sustainable development and responding effectively to national priorities.  It must also promote flexible and inclusive policies based on the principle of voluntarism, respect for sovereignty and leadership at all levels of the receiving State.  Indeed, the countries of the South knew their needs best and it was up to them to determine their assistance priorities, she said.

VLADAMIR BUDHU (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, Alliance of Small Island States, CELAC and CARICOM, said he expected the United Nations development system to be a stable, long-term, reliable partner in the foreseeable future to help his country achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Vision 2030 national development strategy.  As a high middle-income developing country, Trinidad and Tobago continued to grapple with its status which rendered it ineligible for international development assistance, while also coping with the vulnerabilities of being a small island developing State.  Operational activities for development must encourage national capacity-building by ensuring the promotion and transfer of new technologies to developing countries, while also enabling and facilitating those countries’ access to the full range of services available throughout the United Nations development system.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said reform of the United Nations development system must be guided by the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Additionally, the resident coordinator system must be informed by the country’s national plans, policies and priorities, and remain under the leadership and ownership of national governments.  While the review had captured the mutually reinforcing relationship between peace and development, it also rightfully pointed out that must not adversely affect resources for development.  The continuing and ever-increasing imbalance between core and non‑core resources remained a critical concern, as it hindered country-level programming.  The fragmentation of United Nations entities at the country level had also proved to be a major disservice to countries that required support from the United Nations development system.  He stressed that the international community must step up development enablers such as capacity-building, technology transfer and an enabling and fair international environment.

E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Group of 77, CARICOM, CELAC and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that regional policy coordination was operating at a suboptimal level due to an unclear division of labour and the inefficient use of United Nations policy capacities on regional priorities.  Jamaica attached great importance to the proposed improvements in the resident coordinator system and believed there must be empowered and well-resourced leadership within the system, with clear lines of authority over United Nations country teams on system-wide responsibilities.  The fact that United Nations agencies had been experiencing a reduction in resources available for investment was of concern, particularly due to their limited core resources and reliance on resource mobilization from donors.  In that context, United Nations agencies needed to augment their pool of resources by adopting more creative approaches.

ANNA BAGDASAROVA (Belarus) said her country supported the reorganization of the United Nations development system, to promote greater transparency, accountability and conform to the needs of recipient countries.  She encouraged a systematic approach to address the needs of middle-income nations which currently lacked access to coordinated financial assistance mechanisms, and in that regard, she called for the establishment of a middle-income-country-specific strategy.  Noting the need to revitalize operational development activities, she encouraged the creation of regional partnership mechanisms to link multilateral initiatives.  She expressed concern that financial assistance to middle-income countries might be reduced, and said that such a trend would lead to the politicization of the development system.  She urged all United Nations bodies to improve the efficiency of their work and the use of financial resources in existing mechanisms, without placing greater burdens on recipient countries.  She said efforts to strengthen the development system should not become “reform for reform’s sake” and that all efforts should be results-oriented and focused on specific operational needs.

YOLANNIE CERRATO (Honduras), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the international community’s compliance with the 2030 Agenda would require substantial mobilization of resources.  To that end, South‑South cooperation would be a fundamental complementary tool, could provide effective solutions to challenges and balance growth and equality.  South‑South cooperation had been vital in her country’s development efforts, particularly in technology transfer and sharing of expertise.  Honduras had strengthened its role as an “offering” country, as demonstrated in their national strategy called “Sharing Honduras”.  She urged all United Nations agencies, funds and programmes to continue their work with developing countries to maximize the impact of South‑South cooperation.

ALAIN WILFRIED BIYA (Cameroon) said any adaptation or repositioning of the United Nations development system could be decided only based on an intergovernmental resolution.  The international community should avoid making hasty decisions that disregarded the legitimate procedure of intergovernmental bodies.  Any resultant changes to the development system should be aligned with national priorities, aiming to strengthen the energy and infrastructure sectors as well as stimulate economic growth and industrialization.  Any development system changes needed to avoid moving away from sustainable development into areas like conflict prevention or peace and security.  That could lead to interference in political processes and violate the sovereignty of States.  Given the scarcity of resources, uncalled‑for interference in political issues would be counterproductive.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica) said multilateral cooperation should play a major role in achieving the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must adopt a multidimensional stance in analysing poverty and its commitments to eradicating it.  One of the essential aims of cooperation was to support capacity-building in developing countries.  Access to concessional finance at the international level must consider the vulnerabilities of countries.  The global community must create new and larger sources of finance and also widen the selection criteria for access through a multidimensional analysis of the needs of developing countries.

LEULESEGED TADESE ABEBE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said implementation of the 2030 Agenda in developing States needed to support a more efficient United Nations development system.  Guiding principles of the reform process should be reinforcement of national ownership, ensuring country-contextual responses and making country-level delivery the litmus test for success.  South‑South cooperation had become a major source of development support and nowadays included trade, investment, infrastructure and connectivity.  South‑South cooperation should be further strengthened and institutionalized while reaffirming that it was not a substitute for North‑South cooperation.

LUO JIN (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, said developing countries had high expectations to eradicate poverty, improve livelihoods of people, strengthen economic development and rectify global imbalances.  First, she said the international community must fully implement the quadrennial comprehensive policy review for the benefit of programme countries and with respect to national ownership, leadership and priorities.  Second, it should reinforce and promote development through a system-wide reform with an aim to provide greater support to States, reinforce multilateralism, build partnerships, enhance cooperation and ensure effective global governance.  Third, the international community must bolster global partnerships and fix the current imbalance of resources.  To do so, she encouraged developed countries to honour their ODA commitments, increase donation to core resources and enable greater flexibility in non‑core resources.  Fourth, greater emphasis should be placed on South‑South cooperation.  For its part, China had incorporated the Sustainable Development Goals into its national development plan and enhanced efforts to eradicate poverty.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that as the home to more than 50 United Nations agencies, her country was of the view that coordination and consultations between various United Nations bodies and national authorities needed to be enhanced.  In that context, the resident coordinator played an important role and must be able to effectively lead and coordinate within the country team.  It was also crucial that the resident coordinator had the appropriate profile and skills to work in the context of development.  She called for the United Nations development system to be more transparent, accountable, coherent and coordinated at Headquarters and stressed that the global partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals must be revitalized and scaled up.

LEONARD NKHOMA (Zambia) said South‑South cooperation had great potential to advance equitable national development agendas, taking advantage of specific strengths and conditions of the region.  In recent years, the scope of South‑South cooperation had expanded well beyond technical cooperation and exchange of knowledge to include trade, investment, infrastructure and connectivity as well as coordination of policies and development strategies among developing nations, which was vital for least developed and landlocked countries.  He called for effective and concrete measures to support South‑South and triangular cooperation in view of the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations development system reform process.  United Nations regional commissions should continue to play a catalytic role in promoting South‑South and triangular cooperation.

NECTON D. MHURA (Malawi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the 2030 Agenda was a “big task with a limited timeframe”.  In that regard, he expressed his commitment to create a United Nations development system that would adhere to its values, while being adaptable and flexible.  Noting that the agencies, funds and programmes were essential to the success of the reform process, he urged for greater accountability, transparency and coordination.  The United Nations, he said, should foster partnerships within itself and with external actors.  He expressed alarm that the United Nations development system had not yet transformed to the Sustainable Development Goals framework, as evident by the fact that 50 per cent of the budget remained targeted to the Millennium Development Goals.  “By the time we realize it, it will be too late in the 2030 trajectory to enable us to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.  To that end, he called for a broader cultural shift that would discourage competition between agencies and programmes.  He also expressed concern about the decline in core and non‑core funding, while stating that the current trend would lead to increased inequality and failure.

PHOUTAVANH OUANEPHONGCHALEUNE (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations development system had played a key role in supporting projects in developing States.  United Nations development agencies had to focus on supporting and assisting the development of Member States in line with the United Nations Charter and their respective mandates.  Least developed countries required support and assistance from United Nations agencies, she stressed, expressing concern over the continued declining trend of core resources.  Member States, especially developed countries, must contribute funding to the core budget and non‑earmarked funding to the operational activities so that United Nations development agencies could effectively carry out their mandate and provide efficient and effective service to Member States.

LIVIA OLIVEIRA SOBOTA (Brazil), associating herself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said the 2016 quadrennial comprehensive policy review provided a solid foundation as well as the key policy orientation for the United Nations development system to support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s overall vision as laid out in his June report, she outlined elements that Brazil considered crucial in the upcoming deliberations of Member States.  Those included addressing insufficient levels of inter‑agency coordination; retaining the physical presence of the United Nations development system across all regions and contexts while paying special attention to the most vulnerable countries; retaining flexibility to operate in the context of the unique development dynamics in each country; coordinating and sophisticating capacity development at the country level; improving the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the country teams and the resident coordinator system; and reinforcing the system’s development focus.  South‑South cooperation was another important and diverse modality of development cooperation that must be fostered and supported, she added.

Mr. ELAWAD (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations development system was vital in assisting developing States in their efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must continue supporting them, focusing on challenges faced by the most vulnerable States, including least developed and landlocked countries.  It must also ensure that the system was adapted to suit the needs of developing countries and national strategies directed towards achieving development goals.  Further efforts were needed and resources had to be mobilized to promote the key role of the United Nations in development.  It was vital that the development system provide continued support to countries working on national plans and encountering serious challenges along the way.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the 2030 Agenda’s highly integrated nature made it imperative for the United Nations development system to increase collaboration and the sharing of expertise among its various entities, by leveraging their comparative advantages and ensuring that their work was complementary rather than duplicative.  Improving the system’s funding was also critical, he said, pointing out that Member States had long decried the imbalance between core and non‑core resources.  With the latter at 20 per cent, he said “this is unsustainable and does not bode well for the effective delivery of key mandates relating to the 2030 Agenda”.  Calling for more innovative means and partnerships to help bridge that gap — as well as adequate oversight to ensure that their objectives matched those set out in the 2030 Agenda — he underscored the importance of national ownership in countries’ development processes, the urgency of the humanitarian assistance and development nexus and the role of South‑South cooperation as a complement to traditional North‑South cooperation.

WON DOYEON (Republic of Korea) said unless the United Nations development system transformed itself, it would not be able to maintain its leadership in global development cooperation.  The reform should therefore reinforce the system’s role as a catalyst for action and innovation.  On prevention, reform efforts should go to de‑silo humanitarian, development and peacebuilding works on the ground by drawing on assets and the innovation of a new culture to maximize coordination in the field.  Additionally, he called for funding reform measures to secure sufficient core funding and address the imbalance between core and non‑core funding.  A big challenge was the inadequate quality of non‑core funding where over 90 per cent of non‑core contributions were allocated to a single donor project.  In that regard, he emphasized that the success of the funding compact relied on carefully designed funding options for more predictable and less earmarked funding in addition to core funding.  Relatedly, he emphasized inter‑agency pooled funds that incentivized collaboration would be instrumental. Concluding, he expressed high expectations for the reform to overcome bureaucracy and red tape to improve institutional effectiveness and efficiency, including through the design of a collaborative framework at the regional level.

SHANKER DAS BAIRAGI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, stressed the need to enhance United Nations effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and impact in helping countries meet their sustainable development needs.  Regarding the United Nations development system, he said it was important to reduce overlap and inter‑agency competitions over resources, and improve coordination and effectiveness to “deliver as one” on the 2030 Agenda.  He stressed that data must be reliable, accessible, timely and disaggregated by income, gender, age and other relevant characteristics.  He added that any systemic and organizational change or new resident coordinator system must consider ongoing works and ensure that the new system worked seamlessly and delivered better.  Additionally, funding must be predictable and aligned with priorities of programme countries.  There lay an enormous potential in South‑South cooperation, especially for countries in special situations.  South‑South cooperation must be elevated to a higher institutional framework.

ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the United Nations was once again called upon to reinvent itself, this time to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  In that regard, he urged for access to predictable financial resources and for addressing the imbalance between core and non‑core resources.  He called on his country’s bilateral development partners to ensure the fulfilment of all ODA commitments.  Efforts to reform the United Nations development system should take human resources into account, as there was a need to recruit people with the required knowledge.  The Organization should therefore recruit from within the countries it was serving, whenever capacity was available.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the Group of 77 and CELAC, said South-South and triangular cooperation formed an axis of his country’s foreign policy.  An Argentinian fund established to further such cooperation had mobilized more than 9,500 Argentinian and foreign experts in projects with over 70 countries.  South-South cooperation promoted inclusive development and articulated various positions in international fora.  Such cooperation could make a real difference to establishing national frameworks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  The main challenge was drawing on it to establish a strategic framework for achievement of the 2030 Agenda and other development platforms.

TOSHIYA HOSHINO (Japan) asked how a more independent and reinvigorated resident coordinator system would be structured.  He added:  “How will it function and interact with other players?”  It was important also to consider how it would be supported both at the country level and from Headquarters.  He emphasized the need to consider how the costs would be financed and the burdens shared, and asked whether a renewed resident coordinator system would improve their delivery on the ground.  Those questions required clear explanations.  He remained fully committed to the Secretary-General’s initiative for the United Nations development system reform and therefore welcomed additional and early explanations on those matters.

MOURAD MEBARKI (Algeria), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that reform efforts should focus on making the United Nations more effective, and in that context, increasing the coherence of the Organization’s work was vital.  Transparency and accountability were also essential for any reform efforts to bring real results.  Expectations were high that the international community would work together towards shared goals.  At times, the Secretary-General’s reports were not easy to read and they should be better-structured and more clearly identify problems that needed to be addressed by Member States.  Technical issues that should be addressed by the United Nations system should be elaborated in separate sections.  He went on to point out that the cost of preparing the Secretary-General’s reports was of concern for some delegations, particularly the costs associated with hiring outside consultants.

Ms. HATTANE (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, supported the consultation process on the repositioning of the United Nations development system and hoped that process would lead to tangible results that would give a new boost to the Organization.  While the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review was a useful tool for repositioning the operational activities of the United Nations development system, streamlining the expenditure of that system and striking a balance between core and extra-budgetary resources remained crucial for ensuring viable financing of projects and achieving the development goals.  Morocco continued to call for a culture of peace and solidarity, which was the backdrop for her country’s commitment to development in Africa, particularly in the context of South-South cooperation.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said that repositioning the development system required a system-wide review that considered the development needs of each country.  Focusing more on people meant not only protecting them from heinous crimes but also placing them ahead of all national and geopolitical interests and fulfilling all the international political commitments on social and economic development.  “Putting people always first means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the dignity of the person, and its human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he said.  The right to life and to freedom of religion were two rights from which all other rights flowed.  Those two human rights were indivisible from the other rights.  He warned against giving financial aid conditioned by the introduction of ideas and cultures not in consonance with the beneficiaries’ value system.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce, called for ideas that were “fit for purpose” in responding to global challenges and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals while also strengthening South-South cooperation.  Such ideas included enhancing inclusivity through strengthened multilateral, multi-stakeholder engagement; strengthening capacity-building, especially for women, girls and vulnerable populations; and fostering global trade.  Leveraging rapidly advancing technology was also crucial, as was short-term financing to support global trade — known as “trade finance” — that could support the growth of entrepreneurs by enabling access to global markets and value chains.  To those ends, the Chamber would be partnering with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development to host an expert group meeting on trade finance in November at United Nations Headquarters.

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Delegates Call for Heightened Commitment to Official Development Assistance, as Second Committee Debates Groups of Countries in Special Situations

Speakers stressed the need to increase official development assistance (ODA), build infrastructure, widen export bases and stimulate trade in least developed and landlocked developing countries, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up groups of countries today.

Bangladesh’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said her group was limited by narrow production and export bases, stagnant trade, low investment flows and widespread poverty.  Expressing concern over inward-looking and restrictive policies of development partners, she called for timely implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Climate change was also undermining development efforts, she said, as were difficulties in accessing the Green Climate Fund and Least Developed Countries Fund.  She lauded the newly established Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, but said the United Nations development system must reposition itself to better support the world’s most vulnerable States.

Addressing development finance, Ecuador’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed concern that total official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015.  Preliminary data from 2016 showed that bilateral ODA to least developed countries had further decreased by 3.9 per cent, compared to 2015.

Urging the international community to meet its ODA commitments, Ethiopia’s representative noted that 35 per cent of the population of least developed nations would remain in poverty in 2030.  “It is certainly correct to state that the battle of achieving the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] would be won or lost in least developed countries,” he said.

Addressing the plight of landlocked developing countries and speaking on their behalf, Zambia’s representative said attracting resources and investments in infrastructure development was a major challenge.  Accordingly, he called on the international community to support efforts by the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries through technical assistance, investment and public-private partnerships.

Establishing and maintaining secure, reliable, high-quality sustainable infrastructure, including transport, energy and information and communications technology (ICT), were critical to reducing the high costs of trade, he added.  World Trade Organization (WTO) members should implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and development partners should provide technical, financial and capacity-building support.

Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (document A/72/272).

Noting that efforts were underway to expand and upgrade road and rail transport infrastructure in landlocked areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America, he said substantial expansion as well as maintenance requirements were still urgently needed.  On international trade, he observed that landlocked countries accounted for a low share of global merchandise exports at just .88 per cent in 2016, down from .96 per cent in 2015.

He also introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on crisis mitigation and resilience-building for the least developed countries (document A/72/270) and implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 (document A/72/83-E/2017/60).

Also speaking were the representatives of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Maldives (also for the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (for the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Haiti (for the Caribbean Community), El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), India, Russian Federation, Moldova, Botswana, Mongolia, Thailand, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Brazil, Kuwait, China, Lesotho, Myanmar, Mali, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Maldives and Timor-Leste.

A representative of the International Chamber of Commerce also spoke.

The Committee will meet again on Wednesday, 18 October, at 10 a.m. to take up the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

Introduction of Reports

SANDAGDORJ ERDENEBILEG, Chief of the Policy Development, Coordination, Monitoring and Reporting of the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011 to 2020 (document A/72/83-E/2017/60).  He said the average gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of least developed countries was estimated to have increased to 4.5 per cent in 2016 from 3.8 per cent in 2015, but that rate was well below the target of 7 per cent growth.  Progress towards building productive capacity was stagnant, as the share of manufacturing increased only marginally to 12.7 per cent in 2015 from 12.1 per cent in 2014.  Investment declined in 2015 to 23.5 per cent of GDP, down from 25 per cent in 2014.  He commended the establishment of the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries and the related contribution agreement which was signed in 2017.  In terms of human and social development, he expressed concern that 32 million children remained out of school from 2009 to 2015 and that millions of persons suffered from food insecurity in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

Additionally, he noted that bilateral official development assistance (ODA) to least developed countries fell by 3.9 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015.  The foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to least developed countries also declined in 2016 by 13 per cent and only accounted for 2 per cent of the world.  In terms of governance, 14 least developed countries were considered compliant with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and six became candidate countries.  Numerous least developed countries also reached the graduation threshold and others were set to graduate soon.  To that end, he urged all stakeholders to reverse the declining trend in ODA, FDI and trade, all of which were critical for the sustainable development of least developed countries.

Mr. Erdenebileg next introduced the Secretary-General’s report on crisis mitigation and resilience-building for the least developed countries (document A/72/270).  He noted that least developed countries were highly exposed to shocks, as they often had topographies with geological fault lines, floodplains and coastal area, placing them at high risk of earthquakes, cyclones, flooding and typhoons.  Climate change and increasing globalization made them even more vulnerable to external shocks.  Many had experienced various disasters and shocks with consequences of a high magnitude.  Also, most least developed countries were commodity-dependent and market shocks had severe consequences on their economies.

Severe external shocks and crises not only halted the pace of economic progress and exacerbated poverty, but also undermined the capacity of least developed countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.  Most losses in those countries were uninsured and Governments did not have the financial reserves or access to contingency financing that allowed them to absorb losses, recover and rebuild quickly.  Least developed countries did not have the necessary resources to establish effective resilience-building mechanisms.  Indemnity-based commercial insurance was not available to them for most natural hazards, as the market was simply non-existent or insufficiently developed.  Least developed countries needed increased international assistance, both technical and financial, to build their resilience and gain access to capital market-based risk transfer mechanisms in the form of insurance and catastrophe bonds.

Concluding, he introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action (document A/72/272).  He noted that landlocked developing countries had experienced a decline in annual GDP growth, which fell from 3.5 per cent in 2015 to an estimated 2.6 per cent in 2016.  They had also experienced a reduction in their under‑five mortality rates, HIV incident rate and prevalence of undernourishment, malaria and tuberculosis.  Efforts were under way to expand and upgrade road and rail transport infrastructure in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  However, there were still missing links that needed to be closed and substantial expansion as well as maintenance requirements were also urgently needed.

The average proportion of population with access to electricity in landlocked developing countries had increased from 42 per cent in 2010 to 49 per cent in 2014, he continued.  Regarding information and communications technology (ICT), they lagged behind other groups of countries and faced high costs for broadband.  On international trade, landlocked developing countries accounted for a low share of global merchandise exports at just .88 per cent in 2016, declining from .96 per cent in 2015.  Their merchandise exports remained highly concentrated on commodities, as the share of commodities exports averaged 83.1 per cent in 2015.

Interactive Discussion

The representative of Nigeria asked for information on the strategies and recommendations to address maternal mortality and children’s education in least developed countries.  In response, Mr. ERDENEBILEG said the United Nations system organizations had dedicated support mechanisms that addressed those issues.  Efforts included the promotion of trade and access to global markets as well as programmes to support the enrolment of children in schooling.

Statements

DIEGO FERNANDO MOREJÓN PAZMIÑO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said ODA had continued to be the critical source of external financing for least developed States, providing a buffer to weather impacts of the unstable and volatile global economic environment.  He expressed concern that total ODA from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee countries to least developed States had declined from $41 billion in 2014 to $37.3 billion in 2015.  Furthermore, preliminary data from 2016 showed that bilateral net ODA to least developed countries had further decreased by 3.9 per cent compared to 2015.  He also noted that such countries were disproportionately affected by systemic shocks, including the economic crisis, commodity price volatility, health epidemics, natural hazards and other environmental shocks.  Such events not only halted the pace of economic progress, but undermined their capacity to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The Group recognized the special development needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries, arising from their remoteness from world markets and geographical constraints, he said.  Those disadvantages imposed serious impediments for export earnings, private capital inflow and domestic resource mobilization, adversely affecting their overall sustainable development.  He stressed that infrastructure development played a key role in reducing the cost of development for landlocked developing countries and that the development and maintenance of transit transport infrastructure, ICT and energy infrastructure were crucial for them to reduce high trading costs, improve competitiveness and become fully integrated into the global market.

KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) spoke on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligned himself with the Group of 77.  He expressed hope that the international community would translate their commitments into concrete action, especially for the benefit of least developed countries and landlocked developing States.

He said his region placed great importance on providing support to least developed and landlocked developing countries in addressing their development challenges, particularly in relation to their geographical handicaps and structural vulnerabilities.  Under the regional cooperation framework, he recognized the existence of development gaps among ASEAN States and thus highlighted the important work of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III which assisted less developed countries in capacity-building activities.

SHANCHITA HAQUE (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that structural transformation was slower in her Group than in other developing States due to institutional and capacity constraints.  Those limitations included narrow production and export bases, stagnant trade and investment flows, weak land and natural governance, and widespread poverty.  The principle of State ownership remained crucial and the nations in the Group were committed to take the lead in formulating, implementing, following up and reviewing their own coherent economic and development policies to implement the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020, she said.

Expressing concern about the inward-looking and restrictive policies adopted by some development partners, she called for the timely implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Further, climate change was undermining development efforts and there were difficulties in accessing and utilizing the Green Climate Fund as well as the Least Developed Countries Fund.  Thanking Turkey for its generous contribution to the newly established and operationalized Technology Bank, she said that the Organization’s development system must reposition itself to effectively support the most vulnerable countries of the world.

Mr. RAUSHAN (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that eight of his bloc’s members had least developed country status.  While none of them were landlocked, they were all “sea-locked”.  As island and coastal States, they understood the unique challenges faced due to remoteness, highly dispersed populations, limited connectivity, poor infrastructure and transport, among other characteristics.  The Maldives had only graduated from the status of least developed country six years earlier, he pointed out, adding that targeted approaches were necessary to support the efforts of countries in special situations to achieve sustainable development and economic growth.

He went on to highlight the need for all countries in special situations to consider transparent measurements of progress on sustainable development that moved beyond per capita income.  Income-based indicators reflected neither a society’s holistic advancement nor its vulnerabilities, he observed, and did not address the unique circumstances and challenges of each country.  That distinction became even more pertinent when assessing countries for graduation because many least developed nations on track for graduation were extremely vulnerable to shocks such as large-scale disasters.  Such occurrences could not be stopped, but better graduating policies could be formulated and better safety nets provided for newly graduating countries so they could make smoother and more successful transitions.  As such, he called on the Secretary-General to ensure that the system was better equipped to address and respond to countries in special situations, both in his repositioning of the United Nations development system and his broader reform of the Organization.

LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said it was critical that the special challenges of those countries be mainstreamed into the 2030 Agenda follow-up processes.  The Group emphasized the importance of fostering synergies and coherence in the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change and other critical development processes.  The establishment and maintenance of secure, reliable, efficient, high-quality sustainable infrastructure, including transport, transit systems, energy and ICT, remained critical to reducing the high costs of trade and transport, particularly for the Group’s countries.

The magnitude of resources and investments in infrastructure development was a major challenge, he continued, calling upon the international community to support the Group’s efforts through technical assistance, facilitating investment and strengthening public-private partnerships.  He also called on World Trade Organization (WTO) members to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement and called on development partners to provide technical, financial and capacity-building support.  Inclusive and sustainable industrialization was critical for the structural transformation of economies.  Meanwhile, regional integration and ensuring coherent regional policies was essential to enhancing connectivity, improving regional trade and linkages with regional and global value chains.  The Group expressed concern with the stagnating trend of ODA as well as the sharp decline in FDI.  It also stressed the importance of continued support and international cooperation on efforts in adaptation and mitigation to climate change and strengthening resilience.

ASTRIDE NAZAIRE (Haiti), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77, said that least developed countries continued to face a set of interconnected global challenges.  For one, ODA remained the most important source of external development finance for them.  “It is therefore a matter of grave concern that the total ODA from donor countries to least developed countries declined,” she said.  Developed countries must step up efforts to increase their ODA and make additional concrete efforts towards the ODA targets.  Since most least developed countries struggled to mobilize domestic resources, it was essential to increase domestic public finance including at the subnational level.  That would help enhance Governments’ abilities to provide public services, finance infrastructure and help manage macroeconomic stability.

Coordination of support for domestic resource mobilization and the recognition of the importance of country ownership was crucial, she continued.  To that end, it was essential to reduce illicit financial flows by 2030 with a view to eventually eliminate them.  Technology transfer and South‑South cooperation were vital.  While some least developed States were graduating from the category of countries by 2020, it was important to keep in mind that they would still face significant challenges.  In that context, she called on the United Nations and development partners for more institutionalized and coordinated support to countries graduating from that group.  She also emphasized the need to support least developed countries in addressing climate change, noting the heavy toll on the Caribbean region with back-to-back hurricanes Irma and Maria.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), expressed hope that the mid-term review of the Istanbul Programme of Action and the monitoring results of the fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries would be positive.  Similarly, he welcomed the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014‑2024 through General Assembly resolutions 69/137 and 69/232.

To that end, he reaffirmed his Group’s commitment to promote the consideration of special needs and challenges of landlocked developing countries, in accordance with those agreements.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, pointed out that more than one‑fourth the total Member States of the United Nations continued to be recognized as least developed countries, a fact that reflected the “huge scale” of the challenges faced and the work required to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Among other things, the needs of countries in special situations included the diversification of economies; education and skills to expand countries’ human resources bases; better infrastructure and connectivity; access to affordable energy and emerging technologies; resilience to natural hazards or external economic shocks; debt burden management; and better terms of international trade and investment.  Expressing hope that the Technology Bank would facilitate the building of national capacities, he said India had longstanding development partnerships with other developing nations, focused on the sharing of technological expertise and financial assistance as well as the provision of scholarships and training.  In 2008, India had become the first emerging economy to offer a duty-free trade preference scheme to provide market access to least developed countries, and in 2015 it had extended an additional concessional credit of $10 billion to African countries over the next five years.

Mr. MASLOV (Russian Federation) commended national strategies and programmes aimed at strengthening the development of least developed and landlocked developed countries, but said additional support should be given to facilitate employment and economic diversification.  In that regard, he encouraged a greater role for the Technology Bank.  His country worked to broaden the access of least developed countries’ goods into global markets through the Eurasian preferential tariff, which benefitted 48 least developed States.  To that end, it provided concessions in the form of $3.13 million in 2016 and $2 million in 2017.  His country encouraged the stabilization of food prices and commodities and participated in international humanitarian efforts to provide food aid to States, both bilaterally and multilaterally.  In collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), the Russian Federation provided 30 States with $220 million of food aid.  His country also supported long-term development and food security programmes, including a 3‑year programme with a $6 million budget to strengthen agriculture, which was led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  His Government also provided $3.3 million to combat the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

VICTOR MORARU (Republic of Moldova), reaffirming his country’s commitment to the development priorities listed in the Vienna Programme of Action, outlined recent progress in improving his nation’s business climate.  Among other things, the Government had optimized the regulatory framework, expanded business support infrastructure and established a “one-stop shop” for all public sector services to enable both citizens and the private sector to easily access information.  Free economic zones, offering customs and tax benefits, had been created across the country to attract foreign investment, resulting in the diversification of Moldovan imports and the creation of new jobs.  While the Secretary-General’s report highlighted slight progress achieved by least developed States in several  areas, including the eradication of extreme poverty, it also noted challenges faced by landlocked developing countries in their pursuit of sustainable development.  Significant resources were therefore still required to achieve the priorities set out in the Vienna Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

TLHALEFO BATSILE MADISA (Botswana), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that it was a well-known fact that the latter were confronted with challenges that pertained to their geographical disadvantage.  Botswana attached great importance to the effective implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action and had made significant strides in that regard.  That implementation had not been undertaken in isolation but alongside already existing strategies and policies, he said.  Higher transit costs and cross-border delays in landlocked developing countries militated against their integration into the global trading system.  Botswana had signed numerous treaties to facilitate the free movement of peace and goods through its territory.

ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia) said her country was working with the Russian Federation and China to build a tripartite economic corridor to improve transit in the region.  In June 2016, the three countries had agreed on basic principles, a mechanism of coordination and priority projects for the corridor.  Her Government had recently decided to set up an investment and research centre at its Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the tripartite economic corridor’s focal point.  The corridor would promote increased trade turnover, cross-border transportation and improved competitiveness.  The establishment and maintenance of secure, reliable, efficient infrastructure also remained critical to reducing the high cost of trade and transport and enhancing the integration of landlocked developing countries into global markets.  In addition, her country had learned that diversification of the economy was crucial.  Mining still dominated Mongolia’s economy, making it vulnerable to external shocks.  Her Government would make sustained efforts to diversify with value-added production in other sectors, with a strong emphasis on green development and ICT.

YONATHAN GUEBREMEDHIM SIMON (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that 35 per cent of the population of least developed nations would remain in poverty in 2030.  “It is certainly correct to state that the battle of achieving the 2030 Agenda would be won or lost in least developed countries,” he said.  Least developed countries should be the primary beneficiaries of international cooperation, and in that regard, he expressed concern that the current global circumstance was not favourable enough to realize the vision of leaving no one behind.  He noted that the bilateral net ODA to least developed countries was $24 billion in 2016, representing a fall of 3.9 per cent compared with 2015.  He urged for the international community to meet its ODA commitments and called for enhanced resource allocation within the development system to give priority to least developed countries.  Similarly, he encouraged development partners to fulfil their commitments to the Istanbul Programme of Action and the Vienna Programme of Action.  For its part, Ethiopia had mainstreamed those agreements into its national transformation plan for 2010 to 2015, its second national plan for 2015 to 2020 and its national development plan.

PUNNAPA PARDUNGYOTEE (Thailand), associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that least developed and landlocked developing countries were endowed with enormous human and natural resources.  They had the potential to contribute to sustained and inclusive global economic growth with the proper international support aimed at strengthening their capacity to cope with various global challenges.  She stressed that all stakeholders must do their part in mobilizing available resources to achieve sustainable development and emphasized that ODA, domestic resource mobilization through good governance and public-private partnerships were critical.  South‑South and triangular cooperation were important frameworks in assisting developing countries as well.  She noted that as part of Thailand’s commitment to the WTO, it was among developing countries granted duty‑free and quota‑free market access for thousands of products.  Thailand had also signed free trade agreements with several least developed countries.

SONAM TOBGAY (Bhutan), associating himself with the Group of 77, noted that the Committee for Development Policy, at its next triennial review in March, would consider Bhutan, along with five other countries, for possible graduation from the least development country category.  Graduation represented a moment of national satisfaction, and also was a testament to successful partnership and collaboration between his country and its development partners, he said.  However, he pointed out that challenges remained, adding that while Bhutan had achieved the income and human asset index criteria, it fell far behind in the economic vulnerability index which was critical to ensuring sustained economic growth and development.  He also highlighted the importance of smooth transition and continued support, noting that some development partners were withdrawing from his country because of its modest success.  As the Secretary-General had stated, he recalled, “graduation should not be punished, but instead, rewarded”.

JONIBEK HIKMATOV (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that lack of access remained a main obstacle for the integration of the latter States into the global trading system.  As a landlocked developing country, Tajikistan encouraged strong synergy and implementation of development objectives at all levels.  His country had promoted efforts to strengthen its transit infrastructure, facilitated trade, simplified its customs regulations and offered tax benefits through free economic zones.  He recalled the agreement to establish an international think tank for landlocked developing countries, and said his nation would support its efforts to advance the interest of landlocked developing countries at the global level.  Noting that Tajikistan was yet to overcome structural and developmental challenges, he said that the lack of access to sea markets interfered with integration of landlocked developing countries into the world trade system.  Similarly, he urged all States to cease economic and unsubstantiated barriers to trade and transportation.  On climate change, he said that more than 2,000 people suffered annually in his country due to the damage caused by environmental and natural hazards.  To address existing challenges, Tajikistan furthered efforts to enhance its transportation, communication, electrical and energy routes and markets.  He encouraged donor countries to extend greater support through technological and financial assistance, including through grants and concessional loans.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that least developed States faced unprecedented challenges owing to their structural weaknesses.  In that context, he underscored the importance of a “sustainable and smooth graduation process” by ensuring enhanced, predictable and continued international support to those nations graduating from the least developed category.  “The core issue here is not the mere acknowledgement of their specific challenges but the fulfilment of the means of implementation — its sources, reliability, predictability and sustainability,” he said.  The role of technology was vital to help develop least developed countries, he stressed, calling for an effective operationalization of the Technology Bank.  “Landlockedness” was now known to make development 20 per cent costlier and incur double price for export with disasters and climate change further aggravating challenges.  Nepal continued to face such challenges, and was therefore focusing on developing connectivity, trade facilitation, transfer of technology and promote investment.

SHERWIN LUMBAN TOBING (Indonesia) said special attention must be paid in addressing diverse needs and challenges faced by African countries, least developed nations, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.  Many of those countries were disproportionately confronted with various systemic shocks, including unfavourable macroeconomic situations, conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, natural hazards and climate change.  Such shocks impeded efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda and could reverse developmental achievements.  The international community must enhance support for implementation of international agreements and provide ODA to help those countries overcome vulnerabilities and build resilience.  Debt restructuring must be prioritized for countries impacted by conflicts or natural hazards.  Investment in infrastructure must be encouraged to generate employment and help countries integrate better with the world economy.  Investment was also needed to diversify their economies, thus avoiding over-reliance on limited export commodities.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil) said that the slow pace of recovery in the world economy had had a significant impact on developing countries’ capacity to mobilize resources towards sustainable development.  That challenge was particularly true for the least developed and landlocked least developed countries.  Least developed States needed improved global support to overcome the structural challenges they faced in implementing the 2030 Agenda, he said.  The midterm review of the Istanbul Programme of Action in 2016 renewed the collective impetus for achieving the goals included in its eight priority areas, with a view to meeting the general goal of graduating half of all least developed countries by 2020.

FAWAZ BOURISLY (Kuwait), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the effects of climate change had negatively impacted the economies and infrastructure of the least developed countries.  He said the “lack of respect” by donors to their international commitments resulted in a decrease in the rates of ODA.  For the tenth consecutive year, Kuwait committed to provide 10 per cent of its assistance to the least developed countries.  His Government also fulfilled its ODA commitments and provided 12 least developed countries with technological assistance and preferential and flexible loans through its Kuwait-Arab Economic Fund.  Kuwait also provided development cooperation to 106 countries, particularly through efforts to mobilize the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and Africa. Since 2015, his country allocated $15 million each year to finance development projects through the Kuwaiti Fund for Economic Development.

ZHANG YANHUA (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that with three years left to implement the Istanbul Program of Action, least developed countries continued to face multiple challenges and obstacles in their development efforts.  He called on all parties to work together to translate promises into action, implement the outcome document of the Comprehensive High-level Midterm Review of the Implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011‑2020 and work at enabling half of the least developed States to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020.  All countries, especially developed ones, must meet their commitments and help landlocked developing nations overcome numerous challenges, such as complex transit requirements and high transport costs.  He noted ways China was supporting countries in special situations through South‑South cooperation.  His State was also writing off certain eligible countries’ debts, providing aid for trade, increasing investment in the least developed countries and extending zero tariff treatment.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, underlined the vital importance of reducing the vulnerability of States in those groups to the economic, social and environmental shocks to which they were prone.  Lesotho had mainstreamed the Istanbul Programme of Action into its national development agenda, known as National Vision 2020, as well as its strategic development plan for 2012‑2017, with the aim of facilitating its graduation from the group of least developed countries soon.  While implementation had been slow, reforms and initiatives aimed at fast-tracking those development plans were now underway, including a national jobs creation strategy.  As a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Lesotho was addressing the challenges presented by its landlocked status within the framework of the Community’s Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, which sought to improve vehicles’ freedom of transit from one member State to another to facilitate trade.  It was also a member of the Southern African Customs Union, among other relevant regional agreements.

AYE MYA MYA KHAING (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of 77, said structural transformation had occurred more slowly in least developed States than other developing countries.  Poverty was very real due to decreased trade and investment, which was exacerbated by environmental degradation and disappearing biological diversity.  ODA was still the largest external means of financing for least developed countries, but that assistance had declined in 2016.  She encouraged developed nations to meet their ODA commitments.  Noting that technology and innovation were key engines for sustainability, she welcomed establishment of the Technology Bank, as least developed countries lagged behind in that area.

NOËL DIARRA (Mali) associated himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the Group of Least Developed Countries.  A landlocked developing country, Mali had established a transit agreement protocol for goods with all its bordering neighbours, and created a private transport sector that comprised professional public entities with the autonomy to deal with transit countries.  Stressing that a lack of access to coastlines and high transport costs had hindered Mali’s economic development, he urged all States to implement the Vienna Programme of Action and the Istanbul Programme of Action.  Faced with a lack of resources, famine, malnutrition and widespread poverty, Mali welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank, and called on partners to support capacity building, foreign investment and cooperation.  Similarly, he expressed concern over decreasing ODA and urged them to fulfil their financial promises.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco) said least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States faced major difficulties in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  The international community must take specific measures to integrate those countries into the global economy.  Many least developed countries needed enhanced ODA and FDI in areas guaranteeing a sustainable economy.  Diversification of their economies was also vital for sustainable growth and strengthening resilience to shocks.  Realization of donor promises was crucial in offsetting financial limits those countries had endured.  Morocco was cooperating with least developed countries and small island developing States in the Pacific region, providing know-how transfer and technical assistance.

ONISMO CHIGEJO (Zimbabwe) stressed the importance of international cooperation in achieving the Vienna Programme of Action, and thus, called on partners to help close the infrastructure gaps in landlocked developing countries.  For its part, Zimbabwe had set up one-stop border posts to encourage the seamless flow of goods, people and vehicles, as well as improved trade through efficient customs procedures.  It had upgraded customs technology at border posts and rehabilitated highways to facilitate cross-border movement.  Yet, Zimbabwe still needed to add value to its agricultural and mining products, undergo appropriate skill training and enhance funding to achieve its development goals.  Evidence-based data should be collected by landlocked developing countries and provided to the international community so appropriate support might be given.  It was also vital to ensure that coastal neighbours remained economically healthy, as they were crucial portals to landlocked countries.

LEONARD NKHOMA (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said his State had been integrating the Istanbul Programme of Action priorities into its development planning framework.  That started with the formulation of a national vision to become a prosperous middle-income nation by 2030.  He supported the call for increased domestic resource mobilization and fulfilling ODA commitments, to drive productive capacity and place least developed countries on a path towards sustainable development.  Zambia’s economy had improved in recent months, with GDP growth projected to reach 4 per cent in 2017.  However, sustaining high and inclusive growth required a stable macroeconomic environment, and he called for new actions to reduce poverty, notably by:  promoting industrialization and diversification of the agricultural sector, improving incentives in the tourism and manufacturing sectors, and investing in research and development in key economic sectors.

KHAMPHINH PHILAKONE (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said members of the latter two groups would not be able to overcome their special development needs without support and cooperation from the international community.  The Lao People’s Democratic Republic was a least developed and landlocked nation that faced multidimensional challenges in its national development, including limited productive capacity due to low skill levels, lack of technology for industrialization, insufficient infrastructure and remoteness from the world market.  To address those issues, the country was mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the Istanbul Plan of Action and the Vienna Programme of Action, into its national policies.  The Government had also increased investment in roads and railways linking the country with the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway networks.

Mr. RAUSHAN (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said countries in special situations continued to seek the opportunity to build resilience to achieve prosperity.  Least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States must be provided a “level playing field” where they could forge enduring partnerships for economic and social development.  Despite graduating from the list of least developed countries seven years ago, the Maldives faced extremely high costs of providing basic services and building critical infrastructure.  He stressed the need to revisit the graduation criteria and process as the current one did not consider the country’s resilience.  “When a small island State, with a small and extremely dependent economy, with just one or two industries, is graduated from the protections provided within the LDC [least developed country] category, there is no doubt that country becomes more vulnerable,” he said.  A more holistic approach must be considered.

JOAQUIM JOSE COSTA CHAVES (Timor-Leste) associating himself with the Group of 77, said that as a small island developing State, his country understood the challenges of sustainable development.  He welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank and said that partnerships among the Government, private sector and civil society would be fundamental. Timor-Leste provided support to conflict-affected countries, notably to share experience in elections, help manage extractive resources and advocate the “New Deal” principles.  Moreover, it had promoted economic cooperation while serving as President of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, from 2014 to 2016, and as a member of the Pathfinders and 16+ Forum. He called for additional and predictable financing to help least developed countries, small island developing States, countries emerging from and in conflict situations, and Non-Self-Governing Territories.

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, speaking on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce, said WTO had estimated that effective implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement could reduce trade costs by an average of 14.3 per cent, with developing countries benefitting even more.  That Agreement could also create 20 million jobs.  It would also foster cooperation and coordination of various stakeholders at the national level via the National Committee for Trade Facilitation.  That collaboration would drive maximum gains for stakeholders, she said.

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Adequate Social Protections, Equal Employment Opportunities Vital to Eradicating Poverty, Say Delegates in Second Committee

Domestic job creation, education and social protection were crucial in strengthening national economic situations, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today as it concluded its debate on the eradication of poverty.

About 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty, Indonesia’s representative told the Committee, while stating that progress in poverty eradication had remained uneven.  If current trends continued, its eradication would constitute the biggest global challenge when the second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty ended.

The representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require 600 million new jobs by 2030.  Additionally, less than one-third of the world’s population had adequate social security coverage and more than half lacked any coverage at all.  In response to that figure, she said the ILO provided guidance to Member States in expanding coverage for all while building sustainable and effective social protection systems.

Similarly, the representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said industrialization made poverty eradication achievable by providing decent jobs, especially for those with limited skills.  Jobs in manufacturing tended to be more productive, offering higher wages, relative to occupations in agricultural and other sectors.  From 1970 to 2014, manufacturing had created 257 million jobs in developing countries and those in transition, he stated.  Additionally, evidence surveyed by UNIDO suggested that every job created in manufacturing induced two to three additional jobs in other sectors.

Although Thailand’s representative said her country achieved the Millennium Development Goal target on poverty, she said the social dimension of poverty pointed out the importance of enhanced social protections and equal employment opportunities for vulnerable people to enable sustained and inclusive development.  To promote parity and improve education systems, she said her country had established an equality act to eliminate gender-based discrimination and provided 15 years of free education to schoolchildren.

As a result of assistance from development partners, Bhutan had reduced poverty by half and was expected to graduate from the least developed country category soon, said that State’s representative.  To sustain those achievements, Bhutan planned a range of policy and economic measures including enhanced productive capacities, developed infrastructure, promotion of small businesses, increased youth employment, skilled training and gender equality.

Noting that there were 1 billion people with no access to electricity and 2.4 million people without adequate sanitation, Mongolia’s representative urged States to adopt multidimensional and integrated responses, including through tracking mechanisms with evidence-based policy interventions.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mali, India, Brazil, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Nigeria, Timor-Leste, Bahrain, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Russian Federation, Nepal, Lesotho and Sudan.

Representatives from the Holy See, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also spoke.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 13 October, to discuss globalization and interdependence.

Statements

Mr. RAHMANTO (Indonesia), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said progress in poverty eradication had remained uneven, with about 1.6 billion people still living in multidimensional poverty.  If that continued, poverty eradication would still constitute the biggest global challenge when the second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty ended.  The international community must continue raising awareness, including through the third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.  The multidimensional nature of poverty required measures beyond economic growth, including efforts to build up human resources and sustainable livelihoods.  Poverty eradication could only be achieved within a conducive and enabling environment.  Variability of valid and reliable data was also important in the formulation of poverty eradication strategies.

ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia), associating herself with Group of 77, said development progress had been uneven across regions and countries.  She said 10.7 per cent of the world’s population remained in extreme poverty.  There were 1 billion people with no access to electricity, 2.4 million without adequate sanitation and 50 million children stunted due to malnutrition.  She urged States to adopt multidimensional and integrated responses, including through tracking mechanisms with evidence-based policy interventions.  She said poverty remained persistent with one in five persons living below the poverty line.  Her country improved access to social services and promoted enabling environments for equity and rule of law.  Regarding education, Mongolia’s 2016 human development report demonstrated that 99 per cent of children were enrolled in primary schooling and 96 per cent in high school.  Turning to the economy, she said that it had grown at an annual rate of 8 per cent from 2011 to 2013, however recently growth had weakened partially due to the country’s reliance on mineral mining.  To combat that trend, she said her Government would focus on economic diversification through jobs creation and skills training, particularly in rural and remote areas.

SASIYADA NAOWANONDHA (Thailand) said that, despite the eradication of poverty remaining high on the global agenda, more remained to be done in equalizing progress between countries.  Though Thailand had achieved the Millennium Development Goal target on poverty, it nevertheless recognized the social dimension of poverty and pointed out the importance of enhanced social protections and equal employment opportunities for vulnerable people to enable sustained and inclusive development.  To promote parity and improve education systems, her country had established an equality act to eliminate gender-based discrimination and provided 15 years of free education to schoolchildren.  Furthermore, to protect citizens from impoverishment due to health reasons, Thailand now provided medical coverage to 99.87 per cent of its population.  As an emerging donor country, her nation pledged its support and contribution to help in development issues between countries and was committed to working constructively with all stakeholders.

BAGNAME SIMPARA (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the topic of poverty eradication touched on one of the root causes of the severe multidimensional crisis that had been affecting his nation since 2012 due to conflict, economic difficulties and food insecurity.  Seeking a long-term solution to that crisis had remained at the heart of his Government’s priorities.  It had developed a strategic framework for economic recovery and a medium-term guide to follow up on various development strategies.  The guide aimed to strengthen peace and security and macroeconomic issues as well as stimulate institutional development, good governance and favourable growth that was pro-poor.  The Government had also put in place a social safety programme, which included cash transfers targeting households affected by food insecurity.

SONAM TOBGYE (Bhutan), acknowledging progress on the global eradication of poverty, said, however, that it had had been uneven and therefore required the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  For its part, Bhutan had sought to balance economic growth with social development, environmental sustainability and cultural preservation.  His State had reduced poverty by half and was expected to graduate from the least developed country category soon, a result that was made possible with the support and assistance of its development partners.  To sustain those achievements, his country planned a range of policy and economic measures including enhanced productive capacities, developed infrastructure, promotion of small businesses, increased youth employment, skilled training and gender equality.

SANTOSH AHLAWAT (India) said poverty had multiple, often interlinked, causes due to a host of factors including: lack of education and skills; disability or poor health; insufficient access to basic services; and social discrimination.  One-sixth of the global population was Indian, thus her country worked hard to alleviate poverty through policies designed for the welfare of people and in benefit of national interests.  Early gains included self-sufficiency in food production, improved access to education, affordable health care, a diversified economy and social reforms.  Progress was also made in financial inclusion, including the use of digital technology to issue biometric-based unique identity cards for more than 1 billion citizens.  The Government promoted a mobile phone scheme, small loans initiatives and education schemes for girls.  Special attention was also paid to agricultural productivity and sustainable farming, large scale infrastructure projects, manufacturing and vocational skills training, solar and wind energy, rural electrification, health-care services and affordable housing.

PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Group of 77, said that considering the multidimensional character of poverty, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 1 depended directly on the implementation of all Goals in an integrated manner.  He highlighted the importance of integrating all relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process and having a multidimensional strategy based on a human rights approach that valued the empowerment of women and girls, decent jobs, access to food, health and education.  In the context of Brazil’s efforts to eradicate poverty, women had played a central role in conditional cash transfer and housing credit programmes.

Ms. BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country had reduced poverty by 4 per cent through an economic development and poverty reduction strategy focused on people.  The only way to achieve the goals set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was through inclusive development, she said.  That was particularly important in Rwanda as 70 per cent of the working age population were youth and more than half of the country’s population were women.  In that regard, the support of the United Nation system and other international partners for the exchange and mobilization of resources would be crucial to national and international initiatives targeting poverty eradication.

MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan), noting that the global poverty rate had been halved since 2000, said his country had brought down its rate significantly through poverty reduction strategies.  However, the eradication of poverty was still among the priority areas for Tajikistan, which aimed to improve well-being and reduce poverty from 30 per cent in 2016 to 20 per cent by 2020.  To eradicate poverty worldwide would require stimulating economic growth and building the resilience of those still living in extreme poverty.  Addressing food and energy security as well as climate change could improve the living standards and well-being of those living in poverty.  Social protection also needed to be expanded and risks mitigated if the global community was to eradicate poverty by 2030.

ARNOLD JACKSON (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country considered it expedient to evaluate the progress of poverty eradication globally.  At the national level, poverty remained a key priority.  His Government established various development interventions and initiatives to bridge the gender gap, address unemployment and strengthen human resource development.  Priority was given to the diversification of the economy through non-oil export, infrastructural development, and strengthening the agricultural and mining sector and efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).  Noting the “N-power” programme that engaged 500,000 youth, he said the scheme would help in diversifying the country’s economy and bolster food security and self-sufficiency.  Agricultural schemes targeted opportunities for women and youth, and included a “green initiative” among others.

JOAQUIM JOSE COSTA CHAVES (Timor-Leste), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said providing good quality education and health care for its citizens had become one of his country’s important strategies in reducing poverty since its restoration of independence in 2002.  It had also been focusing on building infrastructure to support economic activities in the country.  Poverty reduction could not occur without providing infrastructure that included an effective network of roads and bridges, efficient seaports and airports, reliable electric power and a telecommunications system, schools, clinics and hospitals.  Through those strategies, the country had seen significant progress in basic education and health care, with net enrolment in school rising along with adult literacy rates.  The infant mortality rate had declined by a quarter to 36 infants per 1,000 live births.  Despite significant progress, he said rapid growth of the younger population, with at least 70 per cent under 25 years of age, posed specific challenges to development.  The Government was developing a stronger non-oil economy through job creation, development of agriculture, tourism, fisheries and manufacturing as well as more investments in infrastructure.

Mr. ABDULRAHMAN (Bahrain) said his country attached great importance to the status of women, acknowledging their contributions and capabilities and working to advance them socially, economically and politically.  Bahrain’s Constitution provided for women’s inclusion in many walks of life, including development.  Women in the country had acquired many rights, setting a model to be followed.  Harmonizing Government and citizen efforts had strengthened the process, which had positively contributed to advancement of women with achievements in all areas of life.  Government policies and plans had provided women with access to financial resources, consultations and training.

Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her continent continued to suffer from extreme poverty, especially those countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  Accordingly, her country’s public policies increased the budget to strengthen the social sectors including in education, health, housing and support to youth employment.  Priority was given to improve the living conditions of the disadvantaged population through proactive programmes, especially for rural women.  Morocco adopted a strategic framework which included a participative approach, efforts to strengthen the democratic process and build a fair society and a robust economy, while generating lasting inclusive growth.  Her Government undertook initiatives for human development, created a national human development observatory, established the “Green Morocco” plan and enhanced health care for those most vulnerable.  Regionally, her country promoted South-South and triangular cooperation and mobilized public institutions for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

ONISMO CHIGEJO (Zimbabwe) said progress made in reducing poverty had been inadequate and uneven as many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, continued to grapple with it.  Limited financial resources remained among the major setbacks in efforts to eradicate poverty.  His Government had made supporting the productive sectors of economy, mainly agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism, one of its priority focuses.  It was seeking to increase domestic production, stimulate economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty.  Currently, much effort was going towards improving capacity utilization across productive sectors.  Quality education was also a foundation for economic growth, skills development, creation of employment opportunities and poverty eradication.  In 2016, he noted that the Government had introduced a new education curriculum fostering entrepreneurial growth, innovation and equipping learners with the requisite knowledge and skills needed to stimulate economic growth.

DILYARA S. RAVILOVA-BOROVIK (Russian Federation) said the rapid development of technology had led to new types of poverty, namely poverty among the working population.  A lack of opportunities forced people to refuse full-time employment and move towards semi-legal employment.  That trend led to a loss of social guarantees and increased corruption.  The human capacity development index had demonstrated unequal growth, thus she called for a greater multidimensional response to addressing the issue of the working poor.  Her country had carried out several measures to ensure decent work conditions aimed at fair remuneration.  Increased mobility and the changing nature of labour relations were addressed through partnerships with private businesses.  She said her country was ready to share its experience in eradicating poverty in the working population.  Regionally, the Russian Federation pursued several initiatives, including through financial contributions.

DILIP KUMAR APUDEL (Nepal) said it was alarming that more than a billion people were still living on less than $1.25 a day across the globe.  Poor and limited physical infrastructure and a lack of access to resources and opportunities remained some of the fundamental constraints facing least developed countries in developing productive capacities and reducing poverty to reap the benefits of economic globalization.  The international community must redouble its efforts with utmost sincerity.  As poverty reduction had been at the core of Nepal’s development agenda for the last two and a half decades, it had made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and hunger.  Extreme poverty had dropped from 33.5 per cent in 2000 to 16.4 per cent in 2015 and the percentage of people living below the national poverty line had dropped from 38 per cent in 2000 to 21.6 per cent in 2016.  Under the current development plan, Nepal aimed to reduce poverty to 17 per cent by 2018.

KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that about 793 million people were undernourished globally between 2014 to 2016, compared to 878.2 million between 2008 to 2010.  The proportion of people in Africa living on less than $1.90 per day fell from 44.8 per cent in 2008 to 39.2 per cent in 2013.  In least developed countries, extreme poverty fell from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013.  Despite strong economic performance in Africa, such growth did not translate into significant reductions in poverty levels or job creation.  He said the continent’s rapid growth remained too focused on exports of primary resources without value addition.  He urged countries to support employment-intensive small and medium‑sized enterprises and pursue policies to assist the working poor.  He noted that women continued to be denied equal pay for work of equal value, and were less likely than men to receive a pension.  That trend translated into large income inequalities throughout their lives.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the “obvious antidote to exclusion was a concerted, strategic developmental focused on inclusion and participation” to eradicate poverty.  He emphasized investment in early child development and in health and education.  Policies to cut health and education spending to achieve “fiscal balance” had the unintended consequence of harming development because they had reduced investments in people, he said.  As the 2030 Agenda stated, only through integral human development could poverty eradication be achieved.  Another pathway out of poverty was the implementation and expansion of social protection policies such as pensions, child benefits and cash transfers to indigent families.  Programs of inclusion “must have a preferential focus on women and girls” he stressed, since they are among the poorest.

Mr. ISMAIL MOHAMMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that progress in eradicating poverty was slower in sub-Saharan Africa.  In that region, poverty remained the greatest challenge to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  He said 1 million Africans were living in poverty, which affected the development of the region.  To address that challenge, his Government undertook several measures and development programmes, including through its 2015-2019 economic reform plan.  His country also strengthened its national plan for the eradication of poverty, as led by the Ministry of Social Security which created a fund to employ youth, combat unemployment and provide microcredits and grants.  The Government also allocated 30 per cent of its legislative and executive seats for women.  As a developing country, Sudan’s debt burden remained a significant hindrance to development.  The effects of climate change led to population displacement due to desertification and drought, and he said his country had recently emerged from domestic conflict.  For its part, his country would undertake a population census to update national databases and ensure the development of better policies.  He called for the international community to respect its commitment to support developing States through official development assistance (ODA).

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), referenced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the second United Nations Decade for Eradication of Poverty, stressing the importance of the private sector solutions in the eradication of poverty.  Fostering sustainable trade would be crucial, she said, as it would spur economic growth, raise living standards, fight poverty and protect the environment.  Financial institutions could play a key role by providing trade finance, thus encouraging free markets and integrating emerging economies into global trade flows.  Capacity-building would be key in adapting the workforce to a rapidly changing labour landscape, as well as improved education and skilled training.  In addition, physical and digital infrastructure would all contribute to growth and attract investment.  Concluding, she pointed out the important role the private sector played in resource mobilization.

AMBER BARTH, International Labour Organization (ILO), said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require 600 million new jobs by 2030, adding that the conditions of work needed to be improved as well.  Poor job quality remained a pressing issue for workers in both developing and developed countries, especially for women who earned lower wages and had higher risk of being in vulnerable employment.  She pointed out that less than one-third of the world’s population had adequate social security coverage and more than half lacked any coverage at all.  The ILO recommendation 202 provided guidance to Member States in expanding coverage for all while building sustainable and effective social protection systems.  Informal employment was another concerning issue which the ILO tried to provide guidance on within the wider context of rethinking and strengthening existing labour market policies.  In particular, employment policies should be integrated within comprehensive macroeconomic policy frameworks tailored to country-specific needs and priorities, she said.

PAUL MASELI, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), noted that economic growth had occurred with a dramatic increase in the share of manufacturing employment and manufacturing value added in the economy in areas that had successfully reduced poverty, such as East Asia and the Pacific.  In regions that had failed to reduce poverty or reduced it at a much slower rate, such as Africa, economic growth had occurred with a stagnant or decreased share of manufacturing employment and manufacturing value added in the economy.  In those regions, economic growth had been resource-driven and unaccompanied by structural transformation.  Industrialization made poverty eradication achievable by providing decent jobs, especially for those with limited skills.  Jobs in manufacturing also tended to be more productive, offering higher wages, relative to occupations in agricultural and other sectors.  From 1970 to 2014, manufacturing had created 257 million jobs in developing countries and those in transition.  Additionally, evidence surveyed by UNIDO suggests that every job created in manufacturing induced two to three additional jobs in other sectors.

CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noting that 779 million people lived in extreme poverty, said the World Bank reported that roughly two-thirds of the extreme poor lived in rural areas, primarily in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  She said the transformation of rural agriculture would not be able to meet the growing urban food demand without assistance of supportive public policies and investment.  Policy actions should support access to credits and markets, while fostering environmentally friendly agricultural approaches and technological advancement that were adapted to local needs.  Noting that the development of the agro-industry was a crucial element to connecting rural areas and urban markets, she highlighted challenges relating to youth unemployment.  Many young people had left the agricultural market to pursue low‑paying, informal jobs in urban areas, thus she encouraged States to promote job creation in local economies.  Similarly, she called for greater investment in infrastructure, such as roads and electricity, which would further bolster job creation.

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Access to Quality Health Care, Education Vital for Improving Children’s Well-Being, Speakers Stress as Third Committee Concludes Debate

Governments around the world were focused on improving access to quality education and health care for children and adolescents to ensure they reached their full potential, speakers told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as they concluded discussion on children’s rights.

Indeed, children’s fundamental freedoms could be best protected by ensuring their education and health care needs were met, said Bangladesh’s delegate, who noted that children at all educational levels in his country were provided free textbooks on New Year’s Day, the world’s largest such distribution that had seen 360 million textbooks handed out this year.  The education system also had been enhanced by the introduction of information and communications technology in school curricula.

Similarly, Bhutan’s delegate said children were provided free education up to the tenth grade, while in Ukraine, a law on inclusive education ensured all Ukrainian children had access to high-quality education, said that country’s representative.

Efforts to boost education had borne fruit, several said, with South Africa’s delegate noting that 98 per cent of girls were enrolled in school.  Rwanda’s delegate said primary school enrolment had risen to 95.4 per cent, with girls’ 96.5 per cent rate higher than the 94.2 per cent rate for boys.  Overall, primary school completion in Rwanda was 76 per cent.  In Indonesia, said that country’s delegate, a Child Labour Reduction Program focused on education and vocational training had led to 49 children returning to school.

In terms of child health, there had also been gains.  El Salvador’s representative said a comprehensive child health care policy had fostered a 42 per cent decrease in chronic malnutrition and reduced parent-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS.  In Thailand, meanwhile, particular attention had been paid to achieving universal health coverage, said that country’s delegate, with a grant introduced to help poor families with new-born children.  Libya’s representative likewise stressed that, despite instability, his country was determined to provide children with free education and healthcare services, including vaccinations.

Speakers also underscored that education and health care policies must be inclusive to meet children’s varying needs.  The Dominican Republic’s delegate highlighted the establishment of a centre for children with conditions such as autism and Down’s Syndrome.  “We know that investing in the rights of children means investing in our future,” he said.  Echoing this sentiment, Tonga’s delegate added that every child, including those with disabilities, had the right to education. 

Children also deserved access to social services regardless of their nationality, speakers noted.  The representative of the United Arab Emirates said immunizations were offered to Yemeni children who had been affected by conflict.  Spain’s delegate added that child migrants were accorded the same rights as Spanish citizens.

However, the Republic of Korea’s delegate pointed out, girls often lacked access to healthcare and education.  Adolescent girls left school much earlier than their male counterparts.  Girls also suffered disproportionate violence, and lacked access to health care and nutrition.  It was well documented that societies which empowered girls through education achieved better results in every area of development, she observed.

Also speaking were representatives of Botswana, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Iceland, Kazakhstan, China, Georgia, Kuwait, Turkey, Nigeria, Maldives, Pakistan,

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Financing Gap Hampering Sustainable Development Efforts for Low, Middle-Income Countries, Say Delegates as Second Committee Concludes Debate

Traditional funding for development was insufficient due to the global economic and trade slow-down as well as persistent natural hazards, especially in small, vulnerable and highly indebted economies, Jamaica’s representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today, as it continued its general debate.

The current financing gap to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in low and middle-income countries was between $3 and $5 trillion per year, he noted.  Bilateral net official development assistance (ODA) reached $142.6 billion in 2016, but that included humanitarian and disaster relief, technical assistance, cultural exchanges and other Government-related activities.  Moreover, middle-income countries like Jamaica were deemed too well-off to warrant official development assistance (ODA) and lost access to certain financing windows.

The representative of Zimbabwe lamented that ODA was declining and most development partners were failing to fulfil their commitments.  If developing countries were to stand a better chance of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, international public resources had to be significantly increased.  Development partners should avoid using domestic resource mobilization to escape ODA commitments.

Papua New Guinea’s delegate underscored the need for multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank to expand the definition of fragility when considering financing, especially for small island developing States.  He also emphasized that United Nations reforms and improved cost effectiveness must not come at the expense of countries in special situations.

Similarly, the representative of the Maldives said his country would need more foreign investment to move from its current upper-middle income country status.  But the lending framework of international financial institutions failed to favour small States, even if projects in the pipeline were sound and bankable.

The current imbalance in the development system should be corrected to ensure equal access to sufficient and predictable funding, stressed Morocco’s delegate.  Since ODA, often a catalyst for partnerships, was still essential to many countries, international commitments must be respected to maintain development momentum.

Speakers also focused on the need to reduce developing country debt, which seriously impeded implementing the Goals, especially in least developed States.  They also stressed the importance of open, transparent and inclusive international trade, as it played a vital role in economic growth and development.

Also speaking were representatives of China, Paraguay, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Georgia, Mongolia, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Africa, San Marino, Chile, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, United Republic of Tanzania, Qatar, Sudan, Kuwait, Brazil, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Honduras, Slovenia, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Iraq, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Nigeria, Argentina, Venezuela, Croatia, Zambia, Armenia, Nepal, Libya, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Eritrea, Kenya, Tunisia, Turkey, Fiji, Senegal, Serbia, Algeria, Andorra, Solomon Islands, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, and Timor-Leste, as well as the Sovereign Order of Malta, Holy See and State of Palestine.

Representatives of the International Criminal Court, Common Fund for Commodities, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also spoke.

The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 5 October at 10 a.m. to take up macroeconomic policy questions.

Statements

WU HAIT

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Youth Delegates Demand ‘a Seat at the Table’ to Help Shape Inclusive, Safe, Sustainable Future, as Third Committee Continues Debate

Young people’s hopes and concerns, ranging from growing discrimination to direct participation in decision-making processes, came under the spotlight as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its debate on social development.

Several youth delegates stressed that they wanted “a seat at the table” and to be active participants not only in shaping decisions affecting them, but also on national and global issues.  Ireland’s youth delegate emphasized the importance of engaging young people in the implementation, review and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that engagement should go beyond ticking a box.

Those views were echoed by Sweden’s youth delegate, who also called on countries to create an inclusive and enabling environment for all young people by providing accessible welfare systems, free access to education and mechanisms to fighting prejudice.  Some youth delegates pointed out that conversations with their peers revealed that they believed in building inclusive societies founded on respect for human rights.  However, Germany’s youth representative pointed out that young people were worried the path towards a peaceful and inclusive future was being threatened by conflicts, rising right-wing populism and growing militarization.

While such challenges persisted, some States said their belief in the next generations made them try harder to overcome obstacles.  Young people were a pillar of development, said Libya’s delegate, adding that although his country was going through a difficult transition period, it was working to ensure schooling for displaced children and protect them to allow them a better future while trying to ensure the participation of youth.

In response to a growing interest from young people to take part in political processes, several Member States had put in place measures to engage them in decision making.  Nigeria’s representative said the Government had created targeted programmes for youth, including a “Prosperity Scheme” and a bursary programme providing support to engineering, mathematics, science and technology students.  The United Arab Emirates’ delegate described efforts such as establishing national youth councils and holding seminars for young people to exchange ideas.  Myanmar’s representative said youth had a say in the national peace process while Jordan’s speaker elaborated on a joint effort with Norway to launch Champions of Youth, a group of countries aimed at continued political commitment to youth agendas of peace and security, and the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism.  Similarly, Malaysia’s delegate highlighted its national youth development policy, which encompassed leadership and volunteering.

Countries had also introduced programmes to cater specifically to the needs of young people, such as providing them with quality education and jobs.  Sudan’s representative said national efforts included youth employment and gender equality programmes.  Bahrain’s speaker said his Government had recently hosted youth from around the world to discuss strategies for achieving sustainable development and was also working with the private sector to promote growth, with young people as a guiding force.  The Government of Maldives had implemented entrepreneurship programmes to help young people launch small and medium enterprises with the aim of allowing them to make a decent living.

To many youth delegates, preparing young people for the workforce must start with quality education.  Suriname’s youth delegate said efforts were underway to advocate strongly in favour of draft legislation to increase the age of compulsory education to age 16 from age 12 while her counterpart from Romania placed access to education and the creation of skills as a policy priority.

Youth delegates also took the opportunity to bring attention to the plight of migrant children.  Serbia’s young representative noted that migrant children in her country were given access to social services such as schools.  Thailand’s young speaker said youth also played a key role in helping migrants integrate in society and stressed the importance of teaching multiculturalism in schools.

Also participating in the debate were representatives from Saint Lucia (for the Caribbean Community), Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, China, United States, Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Turkey, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Kuwait, Venezuela, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Djibouti, Bangladesh, Morocco, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Burundi, Togo, Denmark, Madagascar and Bolivia, as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office to the United Nations.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, Georgia and Ukraine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 October, to begin its debate on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) continued its debate on social development today.  For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4195.

Statements

COSMOS RICHARDSON (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said a regional strategy had been approved to guide development efforts among CARICOM members.  The strategy sought to build economic, social, environmental and technological resilience from early childhood to old age.  Social resilience had been identified as a clear priority in efforts to empower individuals, families and enterprises to be productive and adaptable to changing trends, he said, adding that recent adverse weather patterns underscored the importance of building resilient societies.

Social exclusion of any kind denied those affected full participation in social and political life, he continued.  Inequality, including that between countries remained a major challenge to prosperity.  Noting that the gap between rich and poor was widening even in advanced economies, he said that in order to bridge those gaps human beings must be the “primary resource” determining the development process.  CARICOM recognized the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships and of investing in the human and institutional resources that would manage those partnerships, he said, emphasizing that every citizen should have the opportunity to contribute to prosperity and realize their full potential.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that eliminating poverty and providing decent work remained pivotal, adding that large-scale flows of migrants and increasing inequality demanded coordinated measures.  Kyrgyzstan was creating a long-term development programme for 2040 intended, among other goals, to reduce poverty, and ensure quality education, health care and environmental protection.  Outlining several initiatives, she said a nationwide project was targeting corruption, while child mortality levels had dropped and, in 2016, more than 98 per cent of children had attended school.  With strong legal and political frameworks to strengthen the role of women, Kyrgyzstan’s law on legal documents ensured that all draft laws were reviewed to consider gender, and it had changed the criminal code to better protect them against violence, she said.

NORA IMANE BELLOUT (Algeria), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, emphasized the need for special attention to social development, citing several national initiatives.  Algeria had launched a national plan to pay for care within poor communities and had created institutions to address the needs of disadvantaged groups.  Monthly subsidies were provided to persons with disabilities, the elderly or those unable to work, she said.  Algeria had also enforced social integration and was working to provide opportunities for young people, women and persons with disabilities.  Going forward, Algeria would continue to work with partners, using cutting-edge technology in pursuit of social justice.

WU HAITAO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said social development needed greater attention and inputs, calling for proper operational mechanisms to be put in place for eradicating poverty and ensuring greater access to health services and education.  Social development could be more easily realized with a universal and sustainable social protection system and international as well as North-South cooperation whereby developed countries lent a helping hand to developing States through official development assistance (ODA).  China had put in place a social protection system entailing a unified basic pension insurance plan for urban and rural residents, he said.  By the end of 2016, the insured population under that system had reached 888 million while those covered by basic medical insurance had exceeded 1.3 billion, which meant that more than 95 per cent of the population was covered.  China was also committed to a path of green and innovative development and remained committed to eradicating global poverty, he said, adding that his country would be providing 60 billion RMB in assistance to developing countries over the next three years and would work with African countries to support development efforts in that region.

LAURIE SHESTACK PHIPPS (United States), highlighting the issue of cyberbullying among young people, said it was on the rise due to the spread of social media.  Online bullies had been emboldened because they could act in anonymity, but the negative effects of cyberbullying were tremendous, she said, noting that they ranged from mental stress to suicidal tendencies.  Putting a stop to bullying among young people could be achieved by ensuring that they grew up in healthy families that inculcated empathy and kindness.  However, too many children and youths were being left behind because of poverty and conflict, she noted, adding that young people should be encouraged to use technology in positive ways that would result in solutions to challenges and in building stronger communities and families.

LAUREN FLANAGAN, youth delegate from Ireland, called upon the international community to be brave, not in rallying to war but in committing to peace, pointing out that conflict and persecution had forcibly displaced 22.5 million refugees, more than half of them under the age of 18.  In direct contravention of customary international law, States had turned refugees away from their borders, an indication of the broader international backlash against human rights, she said, declaring: “We cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous rhetoric of populism”.  Describing international human rights treaties as the tools for realizing a brighter future, she called upon Governments to recognize the inherent potential of all young people, saying States should ensure that each one received quality higher-level education.

PAUL DOCKERY, youth delegate from Ireland, emphasized the importance of engaging young people in the implementation, review and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda, adding that engagement should go beyond ticking a box.  “It means giving young people the right to sit at decision-making tables,” he said, adding that it was essential to encourage and empower young women and girls to enter politics and hold public office.  Noting that 176 of the 196 speakers during the recent general debate had been men, she called upon States to engage with youth, women and girls, and those from marginalized backgrounds stressing that young people did not wish to inherit a world in chaos or one beyond the point of repair.

FRANCISCO ANTONIO CORTORREAL (Dominican Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and with the Group of Friends of Older Persons, said people could only develop insofar as their Governments invested in them.  The Dominican Republic was spearheading initiatives to end poverty and inequality by investing in education and health care, he said, citing one programme, “Surprise Visit”, which was creating thousands of jobs and improving the quality of life for farmers.  The national development strategy was in keeping with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the country was ready and willing to work with the new Envoy on Youth, he affirmed.  The Dominican Republic intended to include young people in all decision-making processes, not only those immediately affecting them.  The Government was also working to design programmes intended to meet the needs of disabled persons in schools.  Families and communities must share responsibilities, he emphasized, while also stressing the need to combat a rising tide of violence against older persons.  It was crucial to establish a legally binding international instrument to promote and protect their human rights, he added.

HANNA BERGMAN, youth delegate from Sweden, said that, in ensuring a world at peace and without violent xenophobia, structural racism, homophobia, gun violence and other causes of human suffering, Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security must be implemented seriously, and young people must have a seat at the table.  Emphasizing the role of every nation in creating an inclusive and enabling environment for all youth, he said accessible welfare systems, free access to education and hard work against prejudice were particularly important.  Describing inequity in the world as “an ancient monster refusing to die”, he stressed that it included not only gender-based violence, but all kinds of discrimination and injustice, including unequal vulnerability to climate change.

RUSLAN BULTRIKOV (Kazakhstan), recalling the proposal by his country’s President that each State consider allocating 1 per cent of its annual defence budget to the Organization’s Special Fund for Sustainable Development, said that democratic policymaking called for supportive, transparent and accountable public institutions.  He said that his country’s national strategy, “Kazakhstan 2050”, focused on higher-quality education and health care, affordable social housing, and enhanced social security.  It also enabled young people to enjoy free formal education at all levels, while the Council on Youth Policy ensured youth participation in national policy and decision-making processes.  Furthermore, Kazakhstan was implementing the National Action Plan 2012-2018 with a view to opening new horizons for persons with disabilities, he said.

The representative of Germany introduced his delegation’s two youth delegates — Anaïck Geißel and Mio Kuschick.

Ms. GEIßEL (Germany) said she had travelled through Germany for months, talking to young people who said they were scared the future would bring war and who also feared rising right-wing populism, growing militarization, and diplomacy losing ground to military might.  Germany believed in diplomacy and that young people could find new ways to solve conflicts peacefully, she said, emphasizing that nuclear weapons must be banned and arms control supported for the safety of future generations.

Mr. KUSCHICK (Germany) said that during their tour of Germany, the youth delegates had not spoken exclusively with young Germans, but also with young refugees who had fled conflict and terrorism.  Their hopes of a peaceful future were the same as those of European youth, he noted.  Societies gained when they included diverse groups of people, but they must all – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning persons – enjoy the same rights, he emphasized, adding that solidarity among different groups would make the world a better place.

Ms. PANSA, youth delegate from Suriname, emphasized the importance of access to quality education, saying that by investing in early learning initiatives, States could ensure a greater degree of success for citizens.  Suriname’s youth were advocating strongly in favour of draft legislation that would increase the age of compulsory education from 12 to 16 years, she said.  Turning to sexual violence against girls and boys, she said that it was an increasing problem in Suriname, due partly due to the difference in upbringing between girls and boys.  Parents and caregivers must be educated to address issues of sexual and reproductive health, she stressed.

Ms. MATAR (United Arab Emirates) said the direct participation of young people in decision-making processes was crucial.  Youth should be seen as partners and not wait for ready-made solutions.  The United Arab Emirates had developed policies that would cater to the needs of young people while involving them in political processes through national youth councils.  In addition, seminars had been conducted for young people, giving them forums in which to exchange ideas, she said, adding that her country was ready to share its experience of engaging young people in decision-making with other countries.

TEODORA PAVKOVIĆ, youth delegate from Serbia, said her country had devised a national strategy on young people focused on addressing their real needs.  It had also adopted a law on youth that put both legal and administrative measures in place to protect their rights.  The national focus on youth extended to young migrants who passed through Serbia on the way to Western Europe, she said, noting that migrant children were given access to social services such as schools.  Young people were also committed to achieving a path of inclusive growth and should be included in national working groups where they could contribute to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and with the Group of Friends on Older Persons, said his country had made sustained efforts to ensure that each individual could fulfil his or her potential.  Groups on the fringes of society, such as migrants, must be reached, and the international community must work to reduce inequality by developing solutions, he emphasized.  Vulnerability and exclusion could lead to poverty, he explained, noting that Costa Rica used a multidimensional poverty index to develop an analysis of that condition.  Each indicator was linked to an existing social policy, he explained, saying the index made measuring poverty easier.  Costa Rica was also bringing information and communications technology to the most vulnerable members of society and improving education for children, he said.  Describing both formal and informal education as drivers of social development that enabled young people to enter the labour market, he expressed concern that increasing numbers of young people were neither in the labour market nor in education.

MURAT UĞURLUOĞLU (Turkey) affirmed his country’s strong commitment to the transformative 2030 Agenda, adding that the national development strategy encompassed social protection and inclusion as well as rapid economic growth and macroeconomic stability.  Sustainable development would be impossible without the integration of all human potential into global efforts, including that of women, persons with disabilities and of all ages.  Turkey’s current development plan was oriented towards that goal and was yielding positive results, he said, citing improved access to education and health services in particular.  The country would keep gender equality and youth employment high on its agenda.  He called for greater international cooperation in assisting displaced persons, pointing out that his country hosted the world’s largest refugee population, including 3.1 million Syrians.

JUANA SANDOVAL (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of eradicating poverty, saying that could only be achieved through peace, solidarity and sufficient political will and commitment.  Nicaragua had made progress in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development through policies that focused on gender equality, increasing access to infrastructure and creating jobs.  The Government also ensured that the rights of the elderly and of people with disabilities were safeguarded, she said, expressing the Government’s continuing commitment to protecting the human, social, political and human rights of all citizens.

IOANA COVEI, youth representative of Romania, said young people wanted opportunities to express themselves and to be taken seriously by those in power, noting that when people felt ignored they may choose to remain silent.  Romanian youth placed access to education and the creation of skills as their policy priority, she said, adding that developing problem-solving skills was also central to success on the job market.  Without critical thinking, young people would repeat past mistakes, she cautioned, urging greater investment in non-formal education to foster the creation of skills.

VLAD MACELARU, youth representative of Romania, said discrimination remained a barrier to development, noting that such barriers were preventing the largest young generation the world had ever seen from achieving their full potential.  Awareness of diversity provided a path to empowerment and the decision-making autonomy of young people, he said.  Given the right tools and opportunities today, young people would be better decision-makers tomorrow, he stated.

DARYNA HORBACHOVA (Ukraine), associating himself with the statement delivered by the European Union delegation, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, despite ongoing Russian aggression.  Priorities in that context included ensuring adequate sustainable energy, an effective public health system, affordable education and decent work, as well as promoting innovation and developing infrastructure.  With such efforts and following recent agreements, Ukraine was becoming an integral part of the European continental economy, he said, adding that it was also implementing economic reforms and finally making progress against corruption.  Further efforts included extending universal health care and strengthening gender equity.  Describing legal and humanitarian steps to address the massive displacement caused by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, he said that ending military aggression and restoring full Ukrainian sovereignty was the best way to restore economic and social development for those affected.

PWINT PHYU THINN (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said social development was the core of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.  Myanmar recognized that promoting the all-round well-being of young people would secure a prosperous future for them, and to that end, youth were having a say in the national peace process, she said.  Turning to the question of older persons in Myanmar, she said their care was traditionally handled by families and local communities while the Government provided social services and cash disbursements.  Greater integration of people with disabilities was enshrined in national legislation, and particular efforts were made to assist the deaf, she said, adding that programmes were being implemented to increase employment among persons with disabilities.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and with the African Group, said Governments must remain focused on meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Nigeria remained committed to fulfilling the social contract through people-centred social policies.  A conditional cash-transfer scheme disbursed money to the poorest and most vulnerable in society, and a housing scheme provided loans that enabled Nigerians to build or buy their own houses.  A financial inclusion scheme provided interest-free loans to entrepreneurs, without collateral, and a “Prosperity Scheme” took aim at young people, as did a bursary scheme providing support to engineering, mathematics, science and technology students.  Regarding persons with disabilities, he said Nigeria recognized the importance of their economic empowerment, and had embarked on developing a national policy on ageing.  For Nigeria, family values were an integral aspect of social development, he said, emphasizing that the family was the natural, organic and fundamental unit of society.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said his Government’s policies were framed to ensure the progress and well-being of all individuals, adding that inclusivity was the foundation of all its social development programmes.  Recognizing the role of young people in development, he said access to primary and secondary education and to health care was guaranteed for all youth.  The Government was implementing entrepreneurship programmes to help launch small and medium enterprises, he said, adding that such initiatives would reduce unemployment and encourage all young people to seek a decent living.  Employment initiatives were also in place to help persons with disabilities.  As for the empowerment of women, he said laws enshrining the principles of equal opportunity and equal outcomes had been passed.  He added that promoting the development of vulnerable groups would help them reach their aspirational goals.

Ms. ALZOUMAN (Kuwait), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said young people had an important role to play in the pursuit of sustainable development.  Youth in Kuwait were involved in voluntary work that allowed them to gain a better understanding of how to contribute to society.  Kuwait was also committed to protecting the rights of the vulnerable, including people with disabilities and the elderly, she said, adding that the Government provided them with the means to work and with access to medical, social and psychological services.  In addition, it provided the elderly with monthly subsidies and special housing, and they were exempted from paying taxes.  The Government also provided divorced women with support services and had established centres for settling family disputes and preventing violence within families, she said.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that social development was at the heart of his country’s social policies.  A vast portion of the national budget was devoted to social programmes, including poverty eradication and protection of the rights of the vulnerable, he said, adding that progress had been made in reducing inequality while housing had been provided for the poor.  He stressed the need for greater cooperation among countries of the global South as they worked towards a shared and sustainable future.

AMIR HAMZAH MOHD NASIR (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said young people played a crucial role in shaping the 2030 Agenda as the international community worked toward sustained development.  Malaysia’s national youth development policy encompassed leadership and volunteering.  On the former, the Government had developed an initiative allowing Malaysian youth to engage in the policymaking process.  Issues affecting youth included the cost of living and unemployment; another pertinent challenge was social exclusion caused by growing inequality.  Malaysia championed South-South and triangular cooperation to strengthen the transfer of knowledge and skills, as recommended by a related Secretary-General’s report on social development.  Nations could only develop their real potential through inclusive development programmes, he said, noting that Malaysia would continue to work for progress on those issues.

WORAWIT DUMKLANG and JARIDA CHITTRAWAT, youth delegates from Thailand, offered insight into their experiences.  Mr. DUMKLANG said achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals called for the recognition of young people as agents of change.  The ability to absorb information without bias made young people central to bridging the inequality gap.  People-centred, inclusive development also called for greater involvement of older persons in decision-making, he said, noting that Thailand had developed initiatives to foster cultural exchanges between young and older generations.  Ms. CHITTRAWAT said young (people) played a key role in helping migrants of all kinds integrate into society.  Migrants were positive contributors to economic and cultural development, she stressed, adding that they helped to cement prosperity in Thai society (and) must be seen as agents of development.  Multiculturalism could be fostered from an early age in schools, she said, noting that achieving inclusion called for use of the Internet to shape public sentiment and achieve social harmony.

ANNELIES VERSTICHEL (Belgium) said education was a vast topic with both academic and social aspects.  Youth should be involved in school decision-making processes, which would have a positive impact on the schools and students.  MARIAME KEITA and MATHIAS ROMBOUTS, youth delegates, also spoke, with Mr. ROMBOUTS saying that Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) had acknowledged the potential of youth in peacebuilding, which legitimized youth taking action in a whole range of related fields.  Ms. KEITA said quality education was inclusive, but diversity was not always visible, giving as an example her law school classes.  Of more than 400 students, there were only a few with African and Asian origins.  Young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds were strong determinants of educational success, but children should be able to succeed despite any disadvantages affecting them.  While not everyone needed a university degree, all young people should have equal access to a quality education.  Likewise, Member States should invest in support for learners and promote inclusive education.

NAWAL AHMED MUKHTAR (Sudan), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said inclusion must drive the fight against poverty.  Given that education was the main driver of social change, Sudan was implementing programmes to combat poverty with a focus on youth employment and gender equality through a plan to expand access to schooling and to eradicate illiteracy.  Political stability and social development were closely linked, she said, adding that Sudan was pursuing a peace process to consolidate stability and empower the most vulnerable sectors of society.  People with disabilities were also benefiting through Government projects such as microfinancing and housing assistance.  In closing, she called for stronger international cooperation to push for comprehensive social development efforts.

MAHMOOD NAJEM (Bahrain) said youth in the Middle East accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the population and had to be viewed as a “source of social strength”.  With United Nations guidance, Bahrain was developing youth empowerment strategies to ensure their participation towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda objectives.  Those efforts were incorporating all sectors of society, he said, identifying inclusion as central to working towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  Bahrain had recently hosted youth from around the world to discuss strategies around achieving sustainable development, he said, adding that the economic empowerment of young people would help them to meet labour demands.  Bahrain was also working with the private sector to promote growth, with young people as a guiding force.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77 and China, said sustainable development was at the core of the country’s economic development plan.  The plan was based on national priorities which covered areas such as food security, social services and poverty eradication.  The Government had introduced several measures to eradicate poverty such as a maize import substitution programme to address food security challenges.  The program allowed the country to achieve a bumper harvest in the 2016-2017 agricultural season and had been expanded to the production of other crops such as soya beans and wheat.  Partnerships with United Nations agencies had also brought progress in the areas of gender equality, HIV and AIDS programs and public administration and governance.  He noted that 1 million Zimbabweans had access to anti-retroviral treatment (ART) this year and the country was moving closer towards achieving universal access for the 1.3 million HIV positive populations.

MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said much progress has been made in youth employment and protection (of) the rights of the vulnerable.  Developing inclusive societies was at the heart of Burkina Faso’s policies, with the Government taking a number of steps in that regard.  It had ratified the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and national economic and social development plans protected the needs of the youths, persons with disabilities and the elderly.  In addition, legal and regulatory frameworks had been strengthened to allow persons with disabilities to have greater access to employment and basic social services while other programmes had been launched to care for orphans and street children.

DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world was witnessing immense strides forward in social development.  However, inequality and exclusion continued to be a harsh reality at a time when security and climate challenges were most directly affecting least developed and landlocked countries.  Inclusion had been identified as the glue to social cohesion and national strength, he said, emphasizing that achieving a pluralistic society was the goal of all Government policies.  Providing some examples, he said Nepal had affirmed its commitment to the economic and political empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups, established constitutional commissions to protect the rights of minorities and provided assistance through social protection schemes for older people and persons with disabilities.

SAMAR SUKKAR (Jordan) said the influx of Syrian refugees and protracted regional crises had pushed her country’s absorptive capacity to its limits.  Jordan 2025: A National Vision and Strategy, however, aimed at achieving a prosperous, resilient and inclusive economy.  The empowerment of women and youth were crucial prerequisites of sustainable development in Jordan and represented the most critical crosscutting themes related to achieving goal set out in the 2030 Agenda.  Together with Norway, Jordan had launched Champions of Youth, a group of countries aimed at continued political commitment to youth agendas of peace and security.  The two countries had also launched the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism.  As the social development agenda was focused on shared prosperity, burden sharing could not continue to be disproportionate and Jordan remained committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for the benefit of its citizens and the world.

HAILESELASSIE SUBBA GEBRU (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said the world had made progress towards achieving the eradication of poverty, full employment and social integration.  But, conflict and natural disasters had affected gains.  For the good of future implementation of international agreements such as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, policymakers needed to pay attention to women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees.  Ethiopia, for its part, was working to mitigate climate change consequences, which had been affecting social development.  Other efforts included working to promote equal opportunity for persons with disabilities, enacting a national plan on older persons and taking action on the health needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS.  Poverty would not be solved by growth alone; social protection programmes were critical to reducing poverty over the long term.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that despite remarkable progress in combating poverty, the phenomenon continued to affect millions of people across the globe.  For its part, Azerbaijan was experiencing consistent economic growth that was enhancing the development of social services, with a projected 1 per cent reduction in poverty by 2020.  Efforts included expanded education programmes, assistance to internally displaced persons and initiatives that allowed children with special needs to receive education at home.  The national youth policy focused on awareness raising and empowerment, both nationally and internationally.  Turning to the issues of older persons, he said caring for them was deeply rooted in Azerbaijani culture and, with that in mind, the Government was implementing programmes to strengthen their social protection and promote active ageing.

LILIT GRIGORYAN (Armenia), associating herself with the European Union, said caring for the needs of displaced people posed serious risks and challenges.  Armenia had received over 22,000 displaced persons in recent years and had prioritized their integration and settlement.  In other areas, gains were also being made.  The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was working with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement a project aimed at enhancing access to services for persons with disabilities.  Youth development was also another priority, with targeted education programmes launched to help them reach their full potential.  However, Armenia continued to grapple with challenges that stood in the way of its development agenda, including unilateral coercive measures and closed borders.

MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said social development was a priority to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Multi-sectoral policies were being implemented to ensure inclusion of all citizens in development strategies.  Building the resilience of its citizens would actively promote their well-being.  With increased focus on young people, those strategies sought to ease the transition into adulthood.  Djibouti was working to ensure the socioeconomic integration of young people through, among other things, vocational programmes to provide skills for young people to pursue positive opportunities.  Focus on education was necessary to build a brighter future.  Inequality posed serious challenges to development.  State policy since 2015 directly supported increasing the purchasing power of marginalized groups.  The Government was targeting development efforts at the most vulnerable households.

Ms. KHALED (Bangladesh), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the key to eradicating poverty was empowering all citizens.  Combating inequality called for the provision of social safety nets, decent employment and financial inclusion.  Better employment opportunities were pivotal to youth development, she said, adding that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals required building social awareness and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.  Bangladesh recognized the need to embrace the demographic shift caused by its increasing older population and was promoting active ageing.  To reach all vulnerable groups, families were identified as the main building block for development.  Bangladesh affirmed its commitment to working with the international community to improve the livelihood of marginalized people, including migrants.

The representative of Morocco handed the floor to two youth delegates, the first, ANAS BEN MEJDOUB, who said he represented dynamic and thriving youth eager to do more for inclusion in society.  Morocco was among those who had called for the active involvement of youth in the General Assembly.  Morocco’s second youth delegate, NOUR MEHADJI, said that while the world changed continuously, so did the issues regarding youth.  Youth saw poverty and economic disparity persisting.  A lack of tolerance in the world led to more and more conflict, undermining the premise of a better future.  Youth in Morocco made up 26 per cent of the population, and the country had put the development of youth at the centre of initiatives.  The integrated national youth strategy targeted strategic goals; the creation in Rabat of the Union of Young African Parliamentarians allowed youth to build a strong African continent. 

CLEMENTINE RIXHON (Luxembourg) said she and her co-delegate were the first youth delegation from Luxembourg and that the rise of populism as well as Brexit had caused young people to revolt and engage to tackle their future.  Young people were rejecting extremism.  Young people who lacked prospects for the future could find responses in radical ideologies; that was also a quandary for the European Union.  Youth had concerns about the welfare of those fleeing violence and poverty, she said, saying that youth cared about human rights and principles of international human rights, such as non-refoulement.  Youth would continue to exert pressure to ensure people left behind were cared for.  Luxembourg’s second youth delegate, MATTHIEU LOHR, said youth acted as agents of peace, yet many young people were too frequently marginalized.  Inclusion mattered, not least because terrorist groups targeted not only young educated people but also marginalized people.

DAVID ULVR and PETRA SYKOROVA, youth delegates from Czech Republic, delivered a joint statement, noting that they were appearing before the Committee as members of the first generation of young people born into the free, democratic, liberal country of the Czech Republic.  While their presence meant that young people in that country were being given consideration, “this is only a start”, and more measures were needed to guarantee a better future.  Calling for the space to create and express their opinion in an atmosphere free of the bias of ageism, and which would provide inclusive, participatory education, they noted that Assembly resolution 70/133 had recognized the importance of youth participation for development and urged Member States and the United Nations to promote new avenues for their participation.  Such participation must be institutionalized in decision-making processes, and youth should be included in the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of development strategies.  Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) had also emphasized the importance of youth participation.

ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, welcomed the priority given to reducing poverty and combating exclusion of vulnerable groups.  Burundi had ratified laws protecting people with disabilities and further protections were up for consideration this year.  The Government had set up social protection programmes based on the principle of equality for all.  Turning to young people, he said investing in youth was central to the sustainable development of Burundi.  Plans were in place to establish a youth investment bank to encourage their economic integration.  Gaps in gender equality remained, with high dropout rates among female students.  To that end, schooling was being offered equally to boys and girls.  Burundi called attention to “hasty” unilateral sanctions imposed against it that were negatively affecting vulnerable people.

Mr. DOUTI (Togo), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said meeting the Togolese people’s expectations called for participatory national development plans.  Togo’s development strategies prioritized improving wellbeing of all citizens, infrastructure development, sustainable use of the environment and consolidating peace.  Community development was being undertaken with United Nations assistance with the recognition that social stability was critical to establishing peace and security.  Those efforts were reaching the most isolated populations.  Turning to youth empowerment, he said employment opportunities, including in the agricultural sector, were central to economic integration.  The construction of decent affordable housing remained a key priority, he said, adding that 5,000 social housing units were expected to be built by 2020.

IBRAHIM K. M. ALMABRUK (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, underscored the importance of the Secretary-General’s report on social development.  Disparities between rich and developing countries had had a negative impact on economic development.  Growth rates had remained relatively low because financing programmes were insufficient.  Developing countries needed both aid and assistance to build the necessary infrastructure and provide chances for employment.  Libya was going through a difficult transition period, the country was nevertheless doing its best to implement laws on issues such as social security.  Libya was working to ensure schooling for displaced children, and tried to protect children to allow them a better future.  Libya had significant challenges to meet, however, particularly in the area of health.  Young people were a pillar of development, he observed, adding that Libya with its large numbers of young people faced difficulties in meeting its objectives.  However, Libya tried to ensure the participation of youth.

CLARA HALVORSEN, youth representative of Denmark, called for the Sustainable Development Goals to become a reality in the next 13 years.  The Goals constituted a “contract between generations”.  Fulfilment of the contract required development strategies created with youth, rather than for youth.  Denmark had identified young people as a key priority for development cooperation.  Youth-related issues should not be viewed as isolated.   Rather, they had to be incorporated into existing development agendas.  Danish youth organizations were already afforded the opportunities to engage with young people across the world.  Those initiatives fostered inclusion and instilled trust in young people of international mechanisms, she concluded.

HANTASOA FIDA CYRILLE KLEIN (Madagascar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and with the African Group, said Madagascar had adopted a programme to improve the lives of people through social protection mechanisms.  Measures included access to basic social services for people in situations of social precariousness.  Young people were at the heart of Madagascar’s initiatives, and the country had adopted important measures allowing youth access to training on family planning, HIV/AIDS and education.  To address the heightened prevalence of early marriages and pregnancy, she said that a new law allowed universal access to family planning.  As for persons with disabilities, Madagascar had multiple initiatives including rights to education.  The conduct of a general census of Malagasy people was needed, as the last one had been held in 1993.  There could be no development without the knowledge of the needs of the people.

JUAN MARCELO ZAMBRANA TORRELIO (Bolivia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said realities in the world today were rather discouraging, with social conflict and migratory crises.  Those crises gave a feeling that the world was going backwards and not forward.  States had made commitments to raise the living standards of all, but social gaps seemed to be increasing fast, with wealth becoming concentrated among ever fewer hands.  Bolivia had been implementing new programmes allowing the country to balance the economic and social landscape, and aimed to universalize basic services.  The nationalization of hydrocarbons played a strategic role; from the oil income, Bolivia was building infrastructure.  It was crucial that basic services were recognized as human rights, he said, and that the rights of Mother Earth were recognized. 

KEVIN CASSIDY, the representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO), reiterated the Secretary-General’s message that decent work was the most sustainable path out of poverty.  Voices everywhere were expressing doubts that the global economy could meet people’s expectations.  A lack of employment opportunities was a root cause of many of the problems the international community faced, and there would need to be greater concerted efforts made to tackle stagnating wages and social exclusion.  As the international community attempted to tackle challenges in the field of employment, that field was changing to the degree that it could be called a new industrial revolution.  The ILO would study the future of work; with partners including the World Bank Group and the European Commission, a Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection had been launched, too.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, regretted the use of the United Nations by Georgia and Ukraine as a platform to disseminate trumped up and distorted information.  She urged both delegations to acknowledge the actions taken by their own Governments and denounced the politicization of social development issues.

The representative of Georgia said the Russian Federation had continued violating Georgian sovereignty and integrity and had been the perpetrator of military aggression, ethnic cleansing and continued occupation.  He then called on the Russian Federation to honour its international obligations.

The representative of Ukraine said the scale of atrocities that the Russian Federation had committed was a clear breach of its international obligations, adding that Russia had been recognized as an occupying Power.  She noted that, since the start of the Russian occupation of Crimea, mortality rates in the region had increased.

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Opening 2018 Session, Economic and Social Council Elects New President, Adopts Provisional Agenda, Working Arrangements

Declaring open its 2018 session, the Economic and Social Council elected by acclamation Marie Chatardova (Czech Republic) as its new President and adopted its provisional agenda and working arrangements for its upcoming session.

The 54-member Council — which serves as the principal organ for the socioeconomic and related work of the United Nations — also elected three Vice-Presidents:  Mahmadamin Mahmadaminov (Tajikistan) from the Asia-Pacific States, Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) from the Latin American and Caribbean States, and Marc Pecsteen De Buytswerve (Belgium) from the Western European and other States.

Delivering her first remarks as President, Ms. Chatardova (Czech Republic) welcomed the enormous interest among Member States to participate in the Voluntary National Reviews.  “It proves that we take our shared vision of a better world seriously,” she said.  Noting several positive developments, such as unprecedented technological advancement and innovation, she said that nevertheless the world continued to experience rising inequalities in most countries.

If multilateralism was to stay relevant, “we need to take these challenges seriously,” she said.  The Council must continue to provide leadership on important issues in the economic and social realm.  The 2018 theme “From global to local:  supporting sustainable and resilient societies in urban and rural communities” would be thematically aligned with the 2018 focus of the High-Level Political Forum, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”.  Inclusion and participation was crucial for governance and institutions, as well as achieving targets in the areas of economic empowerment, education, health and gender.

“No human being deserves to be excluded from society,” she said, stressing that next year the Council would need to focus specifically on how it could further support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Council must do more to ensure the participation of civil society and secure clear commitments from the private sector.  It was not possible to have development without peace and neither was peace possible without development, she continued, emphasizing the importance of improving and enhancing the capacities of national statistical offices.

Outgoing President Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe) said that over the course of the 2017 session, Member States and development partners expressed concern about the growing sense of retreat from global cooperation.  A palpable sense of weakening commitments to multilateralism pointed to a potential undermining of the pursuit of global peace and prosperity.

“This comes at a particularly critical juncture,” he said, noting the rapid changes in economies, labour markets and societies which continued to confound policymakers, institutions and communities.

The existential threat of climate change continued to loom large, particularly for countries in special situations, especially in Africa, he continued.  Spotlighting the work conducted during last week’s High-Level Political Forum, he said that the Council benefitted greatly from the knowledge and experience of civil society and welcomed the entity’s granting consultative status to some 460 organizations in 2017.  The Council was ripe for strengthening guidance it provided on sustainable development and for supporting a repositioned United Nations development system.

He also stressed the importance of collaborating with other United Nations bodies and said that it was essential to build on the contributions of the Development Cooperation Forum.  Such shared spaces were needed now more than ever to exchange knowledge and build trust.  He spotlighted the Council’s role as a multi-stakeholder platform for forging solutions to complex issues.

The Council had deepened its understanding of the nexus between peace and sustainable development, he continued, underscoring the interlinked challenges in the Sahel.  The Council’s Forum on Financing for Development follow-up was a success on all fronts.  “A critical piece of leaving no one behind is having good-quality data and statistics for reviewing progress,” he added.  The success of the Council must not be measured by the number of resolutions it adopted but rather by the impact it had on real people.  He also highlighted the critical role of young people, saying they continued to bear the burden of Government and market failures.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said inequalities among and within countries were deep and that addressing them was important for achieving sustainable development and peace.  International support for sustainable and resilient societies was based on the recognition that “we cannot overcome global challenges in isolation”.

Solidarity, shared responsibility and open dialogue were more important than ever, he continued.  The 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction together had formed an action plan for global prosperity and partnership.  The Council and its various forums had a key role in nurturing that vital opportunity by supporting implementation through the sharing of integrated and holistic approaches.

Supporting sustainable and resilient societies posed significant challenges for the United Nations development system, he said, underscoring that the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review had promoted coherence, efficiency and effectiveness to deliver results to improve people’s lives.  The 2018 cycle of the Council could promote that work, he said, calling on Member States to draw on their ingenuity, resources and political will.

In other matters, the Council also adopted its provisional agenda (document E/2018/1) and working arrangements (document E/2018/L.1).

Prior to adopting the agenda, the representative of the United States said that the 2018 agenda and calendar was very similar to last year’s and did not seem to reflect the recent review of the Council’s work.  It would be important to conduct a thorough review and update its working methods and agenda to reflect the needs of the twenty-first century.  “Too often some Council meetings mirror or duplicate [the meetings of their] subsidiary bodies,” he said.  Low turn-out at some meetings showed that many Member States questioned their effectiveness and efficiency.  Member States could not afford to engage in duplicative negotiations, he stressed, also expressing concern that documents were not being distributed with sufficient time for review.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern that within the framework of achieving the 2030 Agenda decisions were being made that affected the configuration of the United Nations.  The 2030 Agenda was critically important but it would not be logical if it was the only basis for which to change the main charter bodies.  The increased role for some participants during meetings must not encroach on the time allocated for others, he said, noting that during the High-Level Political Forum, the single minute allocated to Member States did not allow them to even pose questions to the panel while members of civil society were allowed to go over their time allotted.  Member States or civil society must “not compete for the microphone”, he stressed.

Speaking prior to the adoption of the working arrangements, the representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Development Cooperation Forum must take place before the Forum on Financing for Development follow-up or at the very least before the High-Level Political Forum.  The outcome and recommendations of the former were critical to the effectiveness of the latter.

The representative of China said the Council and the General Assembly had their respective focus, with different agendas.  While some of the same items were dealt with by both bodies, the final results varied.  The mandates of the Council and the Assembly must be respected.  He also said that the Development Cooperation Forum must be held prior to the High-Level Political Forum and contribute to it.

The representative of Norway called on the Council Bureau to look carefully at how meetings were being managed.  Short and focused meetings were likely to enhance member participation.

The representative of Chile said his delegation remained flexible in reviewing and deciding on whether the Development Cooperation Forum should be held before the High-Level Political Forum.

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