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2030 Agenda’s Integrated Nature Represents Opportunity to Increase Efficiency, Scale of Future Development, Speakers Tell High-Level Political Forum

The interlinking nature of the Sustainable Development Goals represented an important opportunity to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and scale of future development efforts, speakers said today, as the Economic and Social Council wrapped up the first segment of its High-Level Political Forum.

The balance and details of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were contained in its targets, which were the “social contract” that had been negotiated between Governments and other stakeholders, said Charles Arden‑Clarke, Head of the African 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production Secretariat at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Achieving some 49 targets contained within 13 of the 17 Goals depended on a shift to sustainable consumption, said Mr. Arden‑Clarke, speaking in a panel discussion aimed at exploring opportunities for leveraging interlinkages for the implementation of the Goals.  A range of targets across the 2030 Agenda highlighted the integrated and synergetic challenges of sustainable development, although designing polices that could adequately address those challenges would require more coherence and coordination among Government departments.

From the world’s experience in attempting to address HIV and AIDS, it was clear that interlinked issues, such as those related to equality, poverty, gender, hunger, governance, education and human rights must be addressed, said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).  For example, in Botswana, it was determined that even one year of additional education could reduce one’s risk of HIV infection rate by almost 11 per cent, he told the Forum.  Such experiences pointed to the fact that leveraging interlinkages for implementation was a critical issue for all, although it was important to recognize that those issues were often deeply rooted in politics.

Intellectual clarity was needed for implementing the agenda, as well as for establishing conceptual and analytical frameworks for doing so, said Debapriya Bhattacharya, Chair of Southern Voice and a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue.  All models of implementation suffered from a major problem in that they focused on the aggregate level — which was the global level — and did not look deeper into national experiences, he continued.

Highlighting that as an intergovernmental organization which promoted the rule of law for the purposes of development, Irene Khan, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization, noted that 14 out of the 17 Goals addressed the need for access to justice or inclusive societies.  For example, women’s equal rights to land and natural resources were related to many aspects of food security; yet, in many of those countries, law and policies did not give women equal access to land and resources.

Pointing to a “fantastic amount of data” emerging from a variety of different producers, Roberto Olino, Chief Statistician of Brazil, underlined the need to harmonize those sources in a way that would create more coherence.  Speaking in a second panel discussion focused on data and statistics, Mr. Olino said the national challenge of leaving no one behind implied a need for data disaggregation in order to identify “the no-ones”, adding that this spotlighted the need to gather data in order to better understand trends and movements.  Noting that talking about data had recently become “trendy”, he said there was nevertheless a real need to consider it more seriously and coherently.

Underscoring the importance of avoiding getting “stuck in the weeds” in discussions on data, Judith Randel, Co-founder and Executive Director of Development Initiatives, said one major challenge was to develop a more sophisticated understanding about how people’s identities made it harder or easier to take advantage of opportunities.  “We have to make it really easy” for politicians to understand the 2030 Agenda, she stressed.

Also today, the Forum held a panel discussion on the science-policy interface and other emerging issues.

In closing remarks, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of the Economic and Social Council, and Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, gave a broad overview of the sessions throughout the week.

The Forum will meet again at 9 a.m. on Monday, 17 July, to begin its ministerial segment.

Panel I

The first panel on the day titled “leveraging interlinkages for effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”, was moderated by Minh-Thu Pham, Executive Director for Global Policy, United Nations Foundation.  The panellists included Debapriya Bhattacharya, Chair, Southern Voice and Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue; Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS); and Charles Arden‑Clarke, Head of the African 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production Secretariat, Economy Division, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  The lead discussants were Michael Gerber, Special Envoy for Sustainable Development, Switzerland; and Irene Khan, Director-General, International Development Law Organization.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development not only linked the three pillars of sustainable development, its own goals and indicators were also interconnected.  Those connections should also be looked at as means of implementation.  Intellectual clarity was needed for implementing the agenda, as well as for establishing conceptual and analytical frameworks for doing so.  All models of implementation suffered from a major problem in that they focused on the aggregate level — which was the global level — and did not look deeper into national experiences.  Most countries had finished their policy planning and mapping for the future development agenda and the lead institutions for implementation had also been identified, while resource assessments had been completed.  The integration approach was too abstract and unmanageable at the national level and actually worked best at the ministerial level.  Sequencing and prioritizing were also needed for the implementation phase.

Mr. SIDIBÉ said leveraging interlinkages for implementation was a critical issue for all, as it dealt with efficiency, effectiveness and scale.  However, it was important to recognize that those issues were often deeply rooted in politics; better leverage political leadership was needed.  Given the recent seismic political shifts, it was imperative that people were not left behind.  From the world’s experience in attempting to address HIV and AIDS, it was clear that interlinked issues, such as those related to equality, poverty, gender, hunger, governance, education and human rights must be addressed.  For example, in Botswana, it was determined that even one year of additional education could reduce one’s risk of HIV infection rate by almost 11 per cent.  What was learned was that HIV and AIDS could not be dealt with in isolation, and in that context, a new fabric within the United Nations system was established, based on new partnerships.  The price of medicines was reduced from about $15,000 per year to about $80 at present, which would not have happened without civil society activism.  HIV was taken out of isolation and investments were made across different areas of the system that ultimately benefitted the fight against HIV.

Mr. ARDEN-CLARKE said the balance and details of the 2030 Agenda were contained in its targets, which were the “social contract” that had been negotiated between Governments and other stakeholders.  For example, he noted that 49 targets contained within 13 of the 17 Goals were dependent on a shift to sustainable consumption, which highlighted the interlinked nature of the Goals.  He noted that target 8.4 on sustainable economic growth aimed at increasing resource efficiency and decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation.  The positioning of that Goal had broad implications for development and was clearly liked to target 1.5 in Goal 1 on ending poverty as the more efficiency use of resources would result in greater resilience for all, particularly the poor.  A range of targets across the Goals highlighted the integrated and synergetic challenges of sustainable development, although designing polices that could adequately address those challenges would require more coherence and coordination and among Government departments.  Achieving the world’s future development efforts would not be achieved by policymaking alone, but would require the collective definition of the linkages and the policies and actions and investments that put them to most effective use.

Mr. GERBER recalled that it had often been said that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals were interlinked and indivisible, which was a fundamental concept for the implementation of the whole of the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must pay attention to the interlinkages by maximizing synergies and alleviating trade-offs.  The key methods for addressing development challenges were the mechanisms and processes determining the interactions between the targets that produced synergies and trade-offs, which, in turn, pointed the way to success or failure.  There needed to be more intersectoral research and approaches, greater efforts on leverage points between goals and targets and more multi‑stakeholder cooperation to foster synergies and produce concrete results and, in turn, coherence.  There were many different levels of coherence, all of which were important, including international and domestic collaboration and actions.

Ms. KHAN said that as an intergovernmental organization that promoted the rule of law for the purposes of development, she had a slightly different perspective on the discussion.  She agreed that the real strength of the development agenda was contained within the targets, and in that context, it was important to dig deeper than the individual Goals.  In her view, it was important to view Goal 16 not as a standalone Goal, but as a framework and enabling environment for other Goals through the concepts of laws and processes.  She noted that 14 out of the 17 Goals addressed the need for access to justice or inclusive societies.  For example, women’s equal rights to land and natural resources were related to many aspects of food security.  Women’s work in agriculture not only ensured their own foods security, but that of their families, and also contributed to economic growth.  Yet, in many of those countries, law and policies did not give women equal access to land and resources.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Sri Lanka stressed that measuring prosperity would require far greater non-quantitative indicators and dynamic influences, which had tangible outcomes rather than mere “mechanical” results.  Highlighting the importance of actions on the regional level, the representative of Romania noted that regional strategies, initiatives and actions were useful instruments for advancing global decisions at the national and subnational levels.

The representative of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighted that his organization had a team specifically dedicated to policy coherence that had identified a framework that could help policy makers navigate and identify synergies and trade-offs.  The framework involved a checklist and self-assessment tool that would be helpful for countries as they moved forward in their policy planning.  The representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stressed that to reinforce joint action across all sectors and achieve coherence among wide-ranging polices, identifying interlinkages across the 17 Goals would require broad knowledge and collaboration.

The representative of the Philippines said that her country’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda was led by clusters of different Government agencies that had been organized around specific themes.  The clusters were chaired by cabinet secretaries, who reported directly to the country’s President.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA said it was important that, during the discussion, there was a common understanding of the terms that were used.  In that regard, he called for the United Nations to take the initiative to help bring about more clarity and understanding to promote a consistent use of language and concepts.

Emphasizing the need for impact, Mr. SIDIBÉ said that the fact that the 2030 Agenda laid out a clear vision would be extremely helpful for countries as they sought to devise comprehensive approaches.  The key issue would be the need to maximize policy coherence and to bring the data revolution into the debate to ensure that there would be proper, strategic information available. 

Mr. ARDEN-CLARKE reiterated the importance of interministerial coordination, and highlighted the need to provide a sense of authority to the coordination and policy integration process, which was best achieved by making it a function within the Head of State’s office.

In a second round of comments from the floor, the representative of Kenya described her country’s establishment of an interministerial coordinating committee — aimed at improving coherence, efficiency and breaking down silos within the Government — which provided a voice for coordination “from the top”.

The representative of Malaysia, striking a similar tone, described his country’s Sustainable Development Goal Council, as well as a related steering committee.  Those structures brought together civil society, academia and a wide range of other stakeholders to ensure coherence, he said, drawing attention to the successful example of Malaysia’s “Blue Ocean Strategy”, which worked to streamline Government action on oceans with a focus on rapid implementation and low cost.

The representative of the Netherlands, noting that he had been appointed as his country’s Coordinator for the Sustainable Development Goals, called on Member States to take an inclusive approach to mobilizing “power, people and pennies”, rather than employing traditional negotiation methods such as threats, “bargaining down” or withholding information.

The representative of the business and industry major group, agreeing with other speakers on the need for a “systemic vision” to guide the 2030 Agenda’s implementation, urged Governments to coordinate systemic thinking as a signal to all actors — including private sector investors.

The representative of the group Together 2030 — an initiative of over 500 civil society organizations working across all the 17 Goals — underscored the group’s commitment to preserving the interlinked nature of the 2030 Agenda.  In that regard, she said, countries should commit to review all the Sustainable Development Goals annually, focus on the means of implementation and respect the links between the 2030 Agenda and other agenda critical global frameworks.

The representative of the group Partners in Population in Development, an intergovernmental organization consisting of 26 Governments, pointed to the wide existence of confusion about the various terminologies being used today, including “coordination” and “interlinkages”.  Regardless of which term one chose to use, he said the issue “should not be taken as something new”.  Such discussions had existed for a long time, and now a greater emphasis should be placed on outcomes.

The representative of the indigenous peoples major group, noting that the vast majority of the 2030 Agenda’s targets were related to human rights, underscored the importance of integrating the work of human-rights-monitoring bodies into the agenda’s review and follow-up processes.  Noting that indigenous communities had long advocated for a wide array of rights — including the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determined development, to their land and the conservation of the environment — she also made several concrete recommendations including the inclusion of a Sustainable Development Goal indicator on indigenous people’s right to secure, collective land tenure.

The representative of the stakeholder group for women echoed the need to connect solutions to the world’s ecological, economic and social crises.  Recalling a number of important discussions over the course of the week — including wide support for the equitable sharing of benefits, efforts to improve the planet’s environmental sustainability and calls for ensuring the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls — she underscored the particular importance of the latter, stressing:  “We will not accept women’s rights to be traded away”.

Also speaking were the representatives of Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and Thailand.

Representatives of the children and youth major group and the persons with disabilities stakeholder group also participated.

Panel II

The day’s second panel discussion, which focused on data and statistics, was moderated by Mr. Bhattacharya.  It featured three panellists:  Roberto Olino, Chief Statistician, Brazil; Judith Randel, Co-founder and Executive Director, Development Initiatives; and Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, Statistics Canada.

Mr. BHATTACHARYA, noting that the adoption of the 2030 Agenda had brought with it the new term “data revolution” and that countries around the world were paying increased attention to better quality, more granular and disaggregated data, as well as “big data”.  There was also a more recent backlash led by people who felt there was an overfocus on, and fetishizing of, data, he said.

Mr. OLINO, pointing to a “fantastic amount of data” emerging from a variety of different producers, underlined the need to harmonize those sources in a way that would create more coherence.  The national challenge of leaving no one behind implied a need for data disaggregation in order to identify “the no-ones”, he stressed, also spotlighting the need to gather data in order to better understand trends and movements.  Among the most important tools in that regard were household surveys and the improved use of modern data sources.  Noting that talking about data had recently become “trendy”, he said there was nevertheless a real need to consider it more seriously and coherently.

Ms. RANDEL, underscoring the importance of avoiding getting “stuck in the weeds” in discussing data, said one major challenge was to develop a more sophisticated understanding about how people’s identities made it harder or easier to take advantage of opportunities.  “We have to make it really easy” for politicians to understand the 2030 Agenda, she said, citing the work of the Development Initiatives’ P20 Initiative — aimed at tracking the progress of the poorest 20 per cent of the global population — in that regard.  Urging stakeholders to consider three simple questions — namely whether people were better off, better nourished and known by their Governments — she called for both political and technical progress in those regards, and said national statistical offices should engage much more with the “wider ecosystems of data”.

Mr. ARORA, describing Canada’s deep engagement in exploring the interlinkages between the various Sustainable Development Goals and indicators, said data on those issues were growing rapidly.  However, stronger statistical rigour was needed, because more and more data did not always lead to successful outcomes and could even be used to justify the desires of narrow interests.  In order to broaden the world’s understanding of data — especially among policymakers — national statistical offices needed to “sharpen their elbows” in such areas as accessibility, statistical literacy and communication, he said.

In the ensuing discussion, a number of delegates representing their countries’ statistical offices shared national experiences, best practices and challenges in the collection and use of quality data.

The representative of Belarus was among several speakers who described disaggregation as one of today’s most complicated data issues.  Noting that Belarus was improving its efforts in that area by designing new studies on people with disabilities, women and children and other areas in conjunction with United Nations agencies, she also pointed to a broader need for increased accountability, and cooperation and the enhanced sharing of best practices on data collection.

The representative of Ghana, also voicing concern about the challenge posed by disaggregation, warned that many countries around the world were still struggling with basic data collection.

Other speakers addressed the issue of statistics through a more systemic lens, with the representative of Chile emphasizing that decentralized national statistical systems — such as the one in her country — would be critical to the neutral, impartial monitoring of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation in light of the fact that administrations would change over the course of its implementation.  Statistics were one tool Chile was using to better identify, and continuously improve its response to, the needs of its citizens, she said.

The representative of Iran underscored the importance of identifying what could be done to implement the Sustainable Development Goals within the framework of a Government’s various ministries and sectors.  Capacity-building — including at the regional level — would be essential in that regard, he said.

The representative of the Russian Federation echoed the panellists’ calls for more harmonized data collection, also drawing distinctions between the 2030 Agenda’s three tiers of indicators.  “Tier 3” indicators would require detailed methodological standards, he said, adding that they would require strong monitoring at the national level.

Several speakers, including the representative of the stakeholder group on ageing, drew attention to particular populations in the context of data disaggregation.  Noting that, by 2030, almost one fifth of the world’s population would be over the age of 60, she stressed that data must be used to help Governments better understand and pay more attention to the needs of older adults.

As the panellists responded briefly to those comments, Mr. ARORA agreed that, despite the recent explosion of demand for disaggregated data, many countries were still struggling with the basics.  Efforts to leave no one behind must also ensure that no national statistical office was left behind, he said in that regard.

Ms. RANDEL called for a standards-based “minimum set” of disaggregation criteria, adding that civil registration and census data would be critical tools in that regard.

Mr. OLINO described the 2030 Agenda as a “huge” endeavour that would require significant data, time, reflection and coherence.

Also speaking were the representatives of Madagascar, Switzerland, Senegal and Kenya.

Panel III

A panel on “science-policy interface and emerging issues” was moderated by Bill Colglazier, Editor-in-Chief, Science & Diplomacy and Senior Scholar, Center for Science Diplomacy, American Academy for the Advancement of Science and former science adviser to the Secretary of State, United States.  The panel featured Endah Murniningtyas, former Deputy Minister for National Resources and Environment, Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia; Peter Messerli, Director, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern; and Wang Ruijun, Director-General, National Center for Science and Technology Evaluation, Ministry of Science and Technology, China and Chair, United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development.  Tolu Oni, Associate-Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa, and Stuart Taberner, Director of International and Interdisciplinary Research, Research Councils of the United Kingdom were lead discussants.

Ms. MURNININGTYAS said an inclusive process was being created with a view to reaching the goal of poverty eradication.  Working groups were focusing on, among other things, examining how research could be used for policymaking in that regard.  Turning to the issue of the science-policy interface, she said a set of evaluation guidelines existed to bring science advances into the policymaking arena.

Mr. MESSERLI reflected on implications on the science-policy interface and other issues of concern.  When analysing land use change, functions were often reshuffled to create winners and losers.  Sustainable development was not about harmony between stakeholders, but instead was a challenge of how to maximize progress.  Interlinkages must be understood, he said, emphasizing that real evidence existed that more foreign direct investment led to poverty eradication.  Working within and with the system, a new realm of development pathways could be identified.  However, knowledge gaps were a challenge and no single scientific assessment could provide solutions.  To face the huge task ahead, science, policy and the interface between them must be changed.  Available knowledge must be used, he said, emphasizing that the uneven distribution of knowledge and science was a great concern.

Mr. RUIJUN said it was necessary to identify science, technology and innovation gaps in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Issues to be addressed included inadequate and mismatched research and development funding.  New, innovative approaches must address current and future challenges.  Providing examples, he said innovations in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia were helping communities.  Offering several recommendations, he said awareness of scientists should be continuously raised so they could devote themselves to addressing the Sustainable Development Goals.  The science-policy synergy should be strengthened and building the capacity of science, technology and innovation should be mainstreamed into official development assistance (ODA) initiatives.

Ms. ONI said engaging with policy-making could be considered to be a trade‑off for scientists.  To overcome such trade-offs, efforts should be supported to equip mid-career scientists with the relevant skills to help bridge existing gaps and identify solutions.  Providing examples from Africa and Asia, she said efforts had been made to engage scientists with communities.  In addition, education programmes should target science, technology, engineering and mathematics programmes to bolster knowledge among younger generations.  Turning to the issue of rapid urbanization, she said urban health research was an area to examine.  Good health did not “accidentally happen”; it should be directly addressed, bringing uneasy bedfellows together.  For instance, health scientists must work with non-health policy makers.  Voluntary national reviews could be harnessed as a tool to ensure that evidence generated from various studies supported those linkages.

Mr. TABERNER said bringing together a diverse group of experts to solve problems was important.  Challenges of research and policy forced stakeholders to think about identifying or creating pathways to make significant impacts.  Fundamental research and outcomes must be considered more closely.  For instance, he said, the challenge of different cultures and expectations among stakeholders existed and solutions must be found.  Another challenge was that research had a long timescale, whereas policy required answers immediately.  Such challenges must recognize the need for equal partnerships and broader dialogue.  In addition, efforts must focus on capacity-building and partnerships.

In the ensuing dialogue, participants provided examples of how they were making inroads, with GABRIEL LIVIU ISPAS, Secretary of State of the Ministry of National Education of Romania, saying that the role of education was critical in empowering people to take action and play an active part in their communities.  Romania provided appropriate teacher training and believed educational research was essential for progress and should be intensified.  Cooperation must be bolstered between scientists and policy makers to find suitable solutions to development issues.

Participants also raised pressing issues and shared challenges in science‑policy interfacing.  The representative of Japan said domestic science and technology policies must be directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals while the representative of Uganda stressed the importance of investments in research and development.

Some representatives of major groups raised their concerns.  The representative of the women’s major group said a holistic approach must ensure that equality was achieved in a range of fields, including by providing youth with universal access to education to allow them to build their futures.  People‑centred and gender-responsive initiatives were also essential, she said.  The representative of the scientific and technological community major group called for an inclusive definition of science that could be rationally applied and interfaced with traditional knowledge systems.  In addition, she underlined the importance of engaging young scientists in the science-policy interface practice.

Also participating was the representative of Finland.  The representative of the United Nations Environment Programme spoke, as did the representative of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Also speaking were representatives of the persons with disabilities stakeholder group, indigenous peoples major group, non-governmental organizations major group and the children and youth major group.

Closing Remarks

During a wrap-up session of the first week of meetings of the high-level political forum, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of Economic and Social Council, and Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, provided observations and an overview of panels that had been held.

Mr. SHAVA, noting an unprecedented level of engagement by all stakeholders, said the indivisible, integrated and interlinked nature of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals had been clearly recognized by discussions that had taken place over the past week.  There were positive signs of progress in efforts to leave no one behind and many participants had made commitments to forge new partnerships and increase cooperation.

Empowering vulnerable groups must become a priority to end poverty and promote prosperity, he said, stressing the need to focus efforts on making real progress on the ground.  Several recurring themes had included a lack of statistics and data, which remained a great challenge, and the importance of taking a “whole society” approach.

Mr. HONGBO, calling the Forum the right platform on the right track with regard to the 2030 Agenda, said progress had already been made during the current session.  A total of 44 national reviews would be presented, partnerships had been forged, 147 side events had been confirmed and special events had focused on business and learning.  A measure of success should be how much value the Forum had added to the follow-up review by, among other things, identifying gaps.  Its mission had indeed been accomplished.

The Forum, he continued, provided space for various communities that sought to go beyond sectoral boundaries.  Linkages and transformative actions had been discussed.  While growth bolstered poverty alleviation, it alone was not enough and the various dimensions of poverty must also be addressed.  A clearer focus on what was needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals had also been discussed in areas such as science and technology.  In addition, the importance of data had been recognized as a tool to implement the Goals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panel I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panel II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panel III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening Remarks

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

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

Introduction of Report

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

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

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

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

Remarks by Major Groups and Stakeholders

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

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

Keynote Speakers

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

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

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

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

Panel I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A speaker representing the major group for women also spoke.

Panel II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ECOSOC: High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Note:  A complete summary of today's Economic and Social Council meeting will be available after its conclusion.

Opening Remarks

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

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

Introduction of Report

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

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

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

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

Remarks by Major Groups and Stakeholders

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

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

Keynote Speakers

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

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

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

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

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Economic and Social Council Adopts Texts on Sustainable Development, HIV/AIDS, Population Concerns, ahead of High-Level Political Forum

Ahead of its High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development set to begin on Monday, the Economic and Social Council today adopted draft resolutions on sustainable development, HIV/AIDS and population and development, among other issues.

Acting without a vote on all items before it today, the Council adopted a resolution titled “Report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its sixteenth session”, which underlined the Committee’s contribution to the Political Forum on the subject of challenges for institutions in eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world, stressing that Governments had a central role in that process and in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Council stressed that ending poverty required a whole-of-government approach as well as building the skills and capacities of elected officials at the local level.  With the adoption of the draft decision also contained in that report, the Council approved the provisional agenda of the seventeenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration. 

Adopting a resolution titled “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS”, known as UNAIDS, the Council recognized that the AIDS epidemic was not yet over and stressed the urgency of fast-tracking the AIDS response to meet the 2020 milestones and targets, as a prerequisite for ending the pandemic by 2030.  It also urged UNAIDS to continue the full, effective and timely implementation of its 2016-2021 strategy.  By other terms, the Council stressed the need for the Joint Programme to continue to set a path for reform by revising and updating its operating model, particularly in the areas of financing and accountability.  Noting the need to close the HIV and AIDS resource gap, it stressed the importance of a fully funded unified budget, results and accountability framework for the Joint Programme’s effective functioning.

The Council also adopted three draft decisions contained in the report of the Commission on Population and Development, including one by which it decided that beginning with its fifty-third session in 2020, the Commission would adopt a four-year cycle for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, as part of a multi-year work programme aligned with the thematic focus of the Political Forum.

On organizational matters, the Council adopted a text approving a list of nine non-governmental organizations seeking to make statements during the Council’s high-level segment this year.

Throughout the day, the Council heard from the heads of several of its relevant subsidiary bodies, who underscored the progress and challenges in their respective fields.

Jose Castelazo (Mexico), Committee of Experts on Public Administration, joining via video link from Mexico, stressing that effective institutions were essential for achieving the development goals, said Governments must consider informing legislative bodies in relation to the Goals where parliaments had not yet taken a proactive role in implementation.  Sectoral ministries had a critical role in developing and implementing policies in their respective areas as well.  Because poverty was multidimensional, it must be pursued by all parts of Government and through integrated policies, he added, noting the continued weakness in governance, including corruption.  

Morten Ussing, UNAIDS Chief of Governance and Multilateral Affairs, told the Council that sustained and bold political commitment had promoted the implementation of sound policies that would make it possible to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.  However, reiterating what was stated in the resolution, he said the epidemic was far from over.  Particularly vulnerable groups — including women, drug users and men who have sex with men — continued to be marginalized and “forced into the shadows”.  The funding environment of UNAIDS remained extremely challenging, he added, calling for support from Member States. 

Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani (Qatar), Chair of the fiftieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, noted that participants in the session had pointed to the long-term changes taking place in the age distribution of the world population, with people living longer and having smaller families due to various social and economic factors.  Expressing concern that the Commission had — for the second time in the last three years — failed to achieve consensus on the draft resolution before it, she called on Member States to “open our hearts and minds” and strive harder to reach agreement in future sessions.

Other topics addressed today included follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, the United Nations Forum on Forests and human settlements.

Public Administration and Development

JOSE CASTELAZO (Mexico), Committee of Experts on Public Administration, joining via video link from Mexico, presented the report of the Committee’s sixteenth session from 24-28 April 2017 (document E/2017/44-E/C.16/2017/8).  He said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development continued to be at the centre of the Committee’s work, adding that effective institutions were essential for the achievement of the Development Goals.  Questions remained on how best to transform institutions so that Governments could play a central role in reaching their sustainable development aspirations.  Governments should consider informing legislative bodies in relation to the Goals where Parliaments had not yet taken a proactive role in implementation.  Sectoral ministries also had a critical role in developing and implementing policies in their respective areas.  Because poverty was multidimensional, it must be pursued by all parts of Government and through integrated policies, he added, noting the continued weakness in governance, including corruption.  Governments often needed to work with civil society and the private sector to offer opportunities for those most in need.  Local authorities and communities had a critical role to play as well. 

The Council then turned to chapter 1, section A of the report, which contained a draft resolution titled “Report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its 16th session”.  The Council adopted the text without a vote.

Turing to the draft decision contained in chapter 1, section B titled “Provisional agenda of the seventeenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration”, the Council adopted it without a vote.

United Nations Forum on Forests

PETER BESSEAU (Canada), Chair of the twelfth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, introduced the report of that session held on 26 April 2016 and 1‑5 May 2017 (document E/2017/42-E/CN.18/2017/8), noting that it had been the first such session since the adoption of the “landmark” United Nations Strategic Plan on Forests earlier this year.  In accordance with that document, participants at the session had held technical discussions focused on the exchange of experiences as well as a series of high-level panels related to the role of forests in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.  The discussions had focused in particular on poverty eradication, food security, the empowerment of women and girls and the means of implementation for sustainable forest management, he said.

Recalling that a wide range of stakeholders had participated in those discussions — including representatives of private sector entities and senior representatives of the organizations comprising the Collaborative Partnership on Forests — he said the outcomes would contribute to the Council’s 2017 High-Level Political Forum.  Information transmitted to that body would include practical policy recommendations on ways to accelerate poverty eradication through the sustainable management of forests.  The session had also considered ways to improve the delivery of voluntary national contributions and enhance cooperation and coordination on forest-related issues.  It had generated several solid outcomes to form the basis for discussions at its next session in May 2018 as well as during the intersessional period.

Acting without a vote, the Council then adopted a draft decision contained in chapter 1, section A, entitled “Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its twelfth session and provisional agenda for its thirteenth session”, by which it took note of the Forum’s report and approved the provisional agenda.

Follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development

The Council turned its attention to the report of its 2017 forum on financing for development follow-up (document E/FFDF/2017/3), taking note of a recommendation contained therein, by which the Council agreed to transmit to the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development a number of intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations.  Among those were an expression of concern about the significant impacts of the challenging global environment in 2016 on national efforts to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a reaffirmation of the cross-cutting nature of the global sustainable development agenda and statements of recommitment to ensuring that no country or person was left behind and to focusing on places where the challenges were greatest.

Following that action, the representative of the United States — while noting that her delegation had joined the consensus — nevertheless reaffirmed the various statements and dissociations stated by her delegation at the Forum itself.

Human Settlements

FILIEP DECORTE, Acting Director of the New York Liaison Office, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), introduced the Secretary-General’s report titled “Coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda” (document E/2017/61) and the report of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT of its twenty-sixth session in Nairobi from 8‑12 May 2017 (document A/72/8).  The Secretary-General’s report, the final report of its kind, highlighted the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda, the legacy of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) in Istanbul in 1996, and preparations undertaken for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III).  At the regional level, UN-HABITAT continued to support the preparations for ministerial meetings in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.  ]

He said the Secretary-General’s report contained four recommendations for Member States:  work towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, support the work of UN-HABITAT as a focal point for sustainable urbanization, promote the leading role of national Governments, and strengthen subnational and local governments in local implementation.  The Governing Council’s report of its May session in Nairobi outlined various outcomes of that meeting, including the nine resolutions adopted, among them promoting safety in cities and enhancing the role of UN-HABITAT in urban crisis response.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced the draft resolution titled “Human settlements” (document E/2017/L.26).  By its terms, the Economic and Social would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the preparations for Habitat III and decide to transmit that report to the General Assembly for consideration at its seventy-second session.  The Council would also recall that the Secretary-General would report on the progress of implementing the New Urban Agenda every four years and look forward to the first report to be submitted to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council in 2018.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Following adoption, the representative of Kenya, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said he joined consensus on the adoption of the resolution and looked forward to the effective implementation of the report and the New Urban Agenda.

The Council also took note of the report of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT on its twenty-sixth session.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

MORTEN USSING, Chief of Governance and Multilateral Affairs, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), introduced the Secretary-General’s note (document E/2017/62) transmitting the report of UNAIDS Executive Director.  The 2030 Agenda was very important to the AIDS response as it committed to ending the epidemic by 2030, he said.  Sustained and bold political commitment had promoted the implementation of sound policies in countries where evidence was now informing the response.  Such substantial advances had reaffirmed that ending AIDS as a public health threat was actually achievable by 2030.  More people had been reached with HIV treatment and the number of AIDS-related deaths had significantly fallen.  However, prevention services must continue to be scaled up.  There was a clear relationship between progress and growing domestic investment, which in Africa was being propelled by the African Union.

Nonetheless, the epidemic was far from over, representing the second cause of death on that continent and the first cause of death of women of reproductive age worldwide, he said.  In addition, only 60 per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS were actually aware of their status, he added, spotlighting especially vulnerable groups, including drug users and men who have sex with men.  Those groups continued to be marginalized and “forced into the shadows”.  While domestic resources to address the pandemic had increased in the past decade, overall investment in low- and middle-income countries had recently flat-lined.  The funding environment of UNAIDS remained extremely challenging, he noted, calling for support from Member States.  

The representative of Germany said that ending the epidemic was an essential element of sustainable development.  He called the text well-balanced and said that it had highlighted the crucial role of UNAIDS in eradicating AIDS by 2030.  The draft also captured the unique and multisectoral nature of the Joint Programme.

The representative of Estonia said that despite immense progress in eradicating the disease, difficult challenges remained.  Discrimination against those affected had continued, she added, stressing the need to address the matter of infections among the most vulnerable populations.  Awareness-raising, testing and diagnosing the disease early on were essential for accessing prompt care.  “We need novel and innovative resources,” she said, reiterating the need to invest more in prevention and treatment. 

The representative of Zimbabwe said that sub-Saharan Africa had continued to bear the heaviest burden.  Noting progress made in combating the epidemic, particularly in advancing access to antiretroviral treatment, he said it remained a major challenge, particularly in his region.  He urged the international community to maintain political will and financial commitment in its response.  For Zimbabwe, young women and girls were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, he added, stressing the need to eliminate discrimination and violence against them.  He expressed concern about the major funding gap and spotlighted how support from the international community had played an essential role in providing treatment in his country.  The fight against AIDS could not be won in isolation.

The representative of Ghana, speaking in her capacity as Chair of the UNAIDS Coordinating Board and on behalf of the United Kingdom, which served as its Vice-Chair, said the Secretary-General’s report before the Council demonstrated the critical role of UNAIDS in positioning and coordinating the global HIV/AIDS response at the international level.  Remarkable progress had been achieved against the backdrop of uncertainty regarding the Joint Programme’s funding and future.  By mid-2016 some 18.2 million people had been receiving antiretroviral treatment and the rates of new infection had fallen.  The rate of new infections among children had been halved between 2010 and 2015.  The 2015 UNAIDS “fast-track” strategy to end HIV/AIDS had been the first in the system to be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nevertheless, she said, the epidemic was far from over, with 2.1 million new infections in 2015.  Young women and girls were at particular risk, 40 per cent of those living with HIV were still unaware of their status and regional disparities in treatment were still prevalent.  There was also a worrying decrease in the global funding response, with an annual investment gap of about $7 billion.  Encouraging donors to remain engaged in that respect, she said all those issues were captured in the text currently before the Council.  The document reflected consensus across regional groups and struck a balance between welcoming strides made in the HIV/AIDS response, expressing concern about the critical challenges that remained and recommitting to ending the epidemic by 2030.

The United Kingdom’s representative, also voicing his delegation’s strong support to UNAIDS and to the text before the Council, expressed concern about the significant funding gap which had left 28 per cent of the 2016 UNAIDS core budget unfunded.  Underscoring the need to reposition the Joint Programme in line with the 2030 Agenda and to equip it with the necessary resources to fulfil its mandate, he said the United Kingdom had recently approved a new five-year funding commitment to UNAIDS and called on other donors — both current and new — to do the same.

The representative of the United States agreed that it was critical for all partners to continue to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, stressing that a shared responsibility and increased investment was needed in that regard.  Pointing to insufficient progress in reducing new infections among young women and girls, as well as other remaining challenges, he encouraged UNAIDS to invite new donors from both the public and private sectors and urged Member States to scale up funding for the global response.

Turning to a draft resolution titled “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS” (document E/2017/L.27), the Council adopted the text without a vote.

Adoption of the Agenda and Other Organizational Matters

The Council then approved requests from nine non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to be heard by the Council at the high-level segment of its 2017 session, as contained in document E/2017/73.

Population and Development

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), Chair of the fiftieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, introduced the report of that session (document E/2017/25) held on 15 April 2016 and 3‑7 April 2017.  Recalling that the session’s theme had been “Changing population age structures and sustainable development”, she said it had provided an occasion for the Commission to focus on Chapter VI of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development on population growth and age structure.  Some participants had pointed to the long-term changes taking place in the age distribution of the world population, with broad consensus emerging on the importance of taking those shifts into account as Member States sought to implement the 2030 Agenda.  States had, for the first time, shared their experiences through a “national voluntary presentations” segment, she said.

Despite extensive informal consultations, she went on, Member States had not reached consensus on all the issues addressed in a draft resolution before them.  In the end, she had withdrawn her proposed text and received authorization from the Commission to prepare a summary of the deliberations, which was contained in the report being presented today.  Besides the three draft decisions contained in that report, she also drew attention to two decisions adopted by the Commission — namely, one determining that the themes for its fifty-first and fifty-second sessions would be “Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration” and “Review and appraisal of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and its contributions to the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development”, respectively, and a second taking note of several documents considered by the Commission. 

Briefly outlining some of the main themes emerging from the session’s discussions, she said participants had acknowledged that the transition towards longer lives and smaller families appeared to be universal and that those shifts were influenced by various social and economic factors.  Expressing concern that the Commission had — for the second time in the last three years — failed to achieve consensus on the draft resolution before it, she called on Member States to “open our hearts and minds” and strive harder to reach agreement in future sessions.

The Council then adopted, without a vote, three draft decisions contained in chapter 1, section A of the report.  By the terms of the first, entitled “Report of the Commission on Population and Development on its fiftieth session and provisional agenda for its fifty-first session”, the Council took note of the report and approved the provisional agenda.  By the terms of the second, entitled “Report on the flow of financial resources for assisting in the further implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”, it requested the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide a report on that topic — including technical recommendations and information on a potential revision of the methods, categories and data sources used as the basis for preparing the report — to be reviewed by the Commission at its fifty-first session.

By the terms of the third draft decision, entitled “Multi-year work programme of the Commission on Population and Development, including the cycle for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”, the Council decided that, beginning with its fifty-third session in 2020, the Commission on Population and Development would adopt a four-year cycle for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action, as part of a multi-year work programme aligned with the Council’s main theme and with the thematic focus of the High-Level Political Forum.

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Economic and Social Council Adopts Texts on Narcotic Drug Control, Human Rights, Technology for Development, as Coordination, Management Session Continues

Continuing its annual coordination and management segment, the Economic and Social Council today adopted a range of texts on such issues as narcotic drug control, human rights, and science and technology for development as it reviewed the work of its relevant subsidiary bodies and heard from senior officials on those topics.

The Council — acting without a vote on all the items before it today — adopted several drafts contained in the recent reports of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, including a resolution supporting the provision of “alternative development” interventions aimed at preventing, eliminating or reducing the cultivation of crops used for illicit drug production.  It also adopted a decision to renew the mandate of the working group tasked with improving the governance and financial situation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and two texts endorsing the respective 2016-2017 resource projections for the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Fund and the Fund of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme.

By the terms of an oral decision adopted this morning, the Council also took note of a 2016 report of the International Narcotics Control Board on the precursors and chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.  By the terms of several other texts, the Council supported the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons; the provision of technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism; and the practical application of the United Nations Standard Minimum Roles for the Treatment of Prisoners, known as the “Nelson Mandela Rules”.

Adopting a draft decision in response to a request by the Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe, the Council also decided to enlarge the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 101 to 102 States.

In addition, the Council adopted a resolution highlighting the centrality of science, technology and innovation in development — especially the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals — as well as one providing an assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on Information.

Throughout the day, the Council also heard from the heads of several of its relevant subsidiary bodies, who outlined recent sessions and highlighted progress achieved.

Mitsuru Kitano (Japan), Chair of the twenty-sixth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Narcotic Drugs, described that body’s efforts to address issues ranging from terrorism to wildlife crime to violence against women.  Noting that the theme of the upcoming United Nations Crime Congress would be “Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law towards the Achievement of the 2030 Agenda”, he said the Commission’s work was closely related to Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, Goal 4 on health and Goal 5 on gender equality, among others.

Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway), Chair of the sixtieth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, detailed activities undertaken in line with its mandate — namely, to assist the Economic and Social Council in supervising the application of three global drug-related treaties.  The Commission was tackling a number of new issues, she said, citing the emergence of new psychoactive substances and “dark nets” and announcing its decision to add two precursors to the drug fentanyl to those substances banned under the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

On human rights, Craig Mokhiber, Chief of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights’ (OHCHR) Research and Right to Development Division described efforts to help States deliver on their commitments to comply with global human rights treaties.  Noting that a lack of available resources was no justification for non-compliance with such instruments, he went on to outline the recent work of several specialized human rights bodies, including the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Ruijin Wang (China), Chair of the twentieth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, briefed the Council on the highlights of that session, including a round table on the theme “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions” and discussions on ways to harness new and emerging technologies to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals.  Expressing concern about the widening digital divide — particularly for women, who were 31 per cent less likely to use the internet in least developed countries — participants had nevertheless cited rapid growth in broadband access and reaffirmed their commitment to increase access to science and technology for innovation, he said.

Other topics addressed today included review and coordination of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020, sustainable development, international cooperation in tax matters and assistance to third States affected by the application of sanctions.

The Council will reconvene on Friday, 7 July, at 10 a.m. to continue its work.

Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and Narcotic Drugs

MITSURU KITANO (Japan), Chair of the twenty-sixth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Narcotic Drugs, presented the highlights of that session, saying the Commission worked on a wide range of issues including terrorism, trafficking in persons, wildlife crime and violence against women, providing policy guidelines on those and other issues.  During its twenty-sixth session, it had approved nine resolutions and four decisions, including several texts recommended to the Economic and Social Council and others that would eventually be forwarded to the General Assembly. 

Among those, he said, the Commission had adopted texts on such items as the United Nations Standard Minimum Rule on the Treatment of Prisoners — sometimes called the “Nelson Mandela Rule” — and on the provision of technical assistance for counter-terrorism.  Among other things, it had also decided that the overall theme of the upcoming Crime Congress would be “Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law towards the Achievement of the 2030 Agenda”. Pointing out, in that respect, that most of the work under Sustainable Development Goal 16 fell under the Commission’s purview, he added that its work was also related to Goal 5 on gender equality, Goal 4 on health and a number of other topics.

BENTE ANGELL-HANSEN (Norway), Chair of the sixtieth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, then outlined that session, recalling that the Commission assisted the Council in supervising the application of three global drug-related treaties.  Describing several new issues being addressed by the Commission — including the emergence of new psychoactive substances and “dark nets” — she said that it had acted on 12 substances, including adding two precursors to the drug fentanyl to those prohibited under the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.  “This is about saving lives,” she said, underlining the grave dangers posed by that drug. 

Among other drafts adopted by the Commission was one aimed at improving the governance and financial situation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), another meant to enhance the capacity of law enforcement and border control to counter illicit drug trafficking, one calling for intensified coordination and cooperation between United Nations entities and relevant domestic actors, and another outlining preparations for the Commission’s next session.  Noting that a Joint Ministerial segment would be held at that session to discuss the follow-up to the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, she also outlined several of the Commission’s ongoing technological efforts, such as the creation of an online “knowledge hub” for best practices.

Narcotic Drugs

VIROJ SUMYAI, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, presented its annual report for 2016 and its 2016 report on precursors and chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.  Launched in March 2017, the reports gave recommendations to the international community.  Such reports and technical publications complemented the work of national authorities towards ensuring adequate availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes.  They also provided detailed data on estimates of annual legitimate requirements of each country, as well as on the illicit production, manufacture, trade and consumption of drugs worldwide. 

Highlighting findings in the annual report’s chapter on women and drugs, he said that while women were one third of global drug users, they made up only one fifth of drug treatment recipients.  Women were increasingly being arrested for drug-related offences, which had a heavy impact on families, particularly children.  He highlighted several other sections of the report, including on international controlled drugs for medical and scientific purposes, the functioning of the international drug control system, and international cooperation in precursor control.  The report’s regional analysis of the world drug situation focused in greater detail on Afghanistan.  The report also discussed the regulation of the use of cannabis for non-medical purposes and State responses to drug-related offences, including the need to respect human rights.  The report’s closing chapter contained recommendations. 

In the general discussion that followed, the representative of the Russian Federation welcomed the Commission’s resolution 60/1 on preparations of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  To ensure success at the Commission’s sixty-second ministerial meeting in 2019, it would be important to focus current work on evaluating progress thus far in achieving specific targets and goals of the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action on International Cooperation towards an Integrated and Balanced Strategy to Counter the World Drug Problem.

The representative of Mexico said it was crucial that the Council help build synergies with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, stressing the need for greater complementarity of global, regional and national efforts.  Gender elements must be taken into consideration, he added, highlighting the specific needs of men and women in preventing crime.  It was also crucial to exchange information on best practices and technical assistance.  He called for the implementation of the outcome document of the 2016 Special Session on the World Drug Problem and highlighted the importance of strengthening the health, criminal justice and education sectors.  The Commission must continue to evaluate implementation of recommendations from the Special Session.

The Council then took action on a number of recommendations contained in the reports of those bodies.  Acting without a vote, it first adopted a draft decision contained in chapter 1, section A of the report of the reconvened twenty-fifth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (document E/2016/30/Add.1), by which it took note of that report.  It also adopted a similar draft resolution contained in chapter 1, section A of the Commission’s report on its twenty-sixth session (document E/2017/30).

In the same document, the Council adopted without a vote draft resolution 1, entitled “Follow-up to the Thirteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and preparations for the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”; draft resolution 2, entitled “Promoting the practical application of the United Nations Standard Minimum Roles for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)”; and draft resolution 3, entitled “Technical assistance for implementing the international conventions and protocols related to counter-terrorism”, as orally corrected.

Turning to a number of texts contained in chapter 1, section B of the same document, it adopted without a vote draft resolution 1, entitled “Implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons”, and draft resolution 2, entitled “Promoting and encouraging the implementation of alternatives to imprisonment as part of comprehensive prevention and criminal justice procedures”.

In chapter 1, section C of the document, it adopted without a vote draft decision 1, entitled “Improving the governance and financial situation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: extension of the mandate of the standing open-ended intergovernmental working group on improving the governance and financial situation of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime”; draft decision 2, entitled “Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its twenty-sixth session and provisional agenda for its twenty-seventh session”; and draft decision 3, entitled “Appointment of two members of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute”.  It also adopted without a vote an oral decision by which it took note of the report of the Board of Trustees on that body’s major activities (document E/2017/74).

By the terms of a draft decision contained in chapter 1, section A of the report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its reconvened fifty-ninth session (document E/2016/28/Add.1) — also adopted without a vote — the Council took note of that report.

Turning to the Commission’s report on its sixtieth session (document E/2017/28), the Council adopted without a vote a draft resolution contained in chapter 1, section A, by which it recommended to the General Assembly the adoption of a draft resolution entitled “Promoting the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Alternative Development and related commitments on alternative development and regional, interregional and international cooperation on development-oriented, balanced drug control policy addressing socioeconomic issues”. 

Acting again without a vote, the Council adopted several draft decisions contained in chapter 1, section B of the same report, including draft decision 1, entitled “Preparations for the sixty-second session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019”; draft decision 3, entitled “Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its sixtieth session and provisional agenda for its sixty-first session”; and draft decision 4, by which it took note of the report of the International Narcotics Control Board for 2016 (document E/INCB/2017/1).

Also without a vote, it adopted an oral decision by which it took note of Board’s 2016 report on the precursors and chemicals frequently used in the illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (document E/INCB/2017/4).

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

GRAINNE O’HARA, Deputy Director of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in New York, presented an oral report on the coordination aspects of the Office’s activities.  Over the past year, the number of people displaced by conflict, war and persecution had reached 65.6 million, including 22.5 million refugees.  While the conflict in Syria remained the largest source of refugees, the current crisis in South Sudan was resulting in the outflow of some 1.9 million refugees.  Partnership with a broad range of actors was fundamental for addressing the challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced persons.  In 2016, UNHCR collaborated with more than 900 partners, to which it channelled some $1.44 billion.  In 2016, several key events influenced its work, including the World Humanitarian Summit and the adoption of the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants.  The latter marked a unique milestone for global solidarity and refugee protection. 

UNHCR had also strengthened its work with various development actors, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank, she said.  With the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), a new Coalition on Every Child’s Right to a Nationality had been launched.  She also spotlighted the fruitful partnership with non-governmental organizations and the need to strengthen coordination with the private sector.  Innovation and entrepreneurship could benefit refugees, she added. 

Acting without vote, the Council then adopted a draft decision titled “Enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees” (document E/2017/L.13), by which it took note of the request in a 7 February 2017 note verbale from the Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to the United Nations (document E/2017/47) to enlarge the Executive Committee’s membership and recommended that the General Assembly, at its seventy-second session, decide on the question of enlarging the membership from 101 to 102 States.

Human Rights

CRAIG MOKHIBER, Chief, Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch, Research and Right to Development Division, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), presented three human rights-focused reports: the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on economic, social and cultural rights (document E/2017/70); the report of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on its 2016 sessions (document E/2017/22); and the biennial report of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (document A/72/55).  He noted that implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and economic, social and cultural rights as well as other human rights had placed great demands on public budgets.  As a matter of law, States could not simply invoke a lack of available resources to justify non-compliance with the human rights treaties that they had ratified.  States must ensure that policy choices prioritize the implementation of all human rights, he stressed, adding that expansion of available resources could be advanced by combating corruption.

The report also highlighted key elements to ensure that States delivered on their commitments, namely with a transparent public decision-making process, full access to information and meaningful public participation, he continued.  To achieve that, it would be necessary to strengthen the capacity of public officials, civil society, and human rights institutions and monitor public budgets from a human rights perspective.  He also noted several recent highlights of the work of the Committee on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and introduced the biennial report of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2015-2016).  The latter report included the Committee’s events, its adopted guidelines on periodic reporting, and its push to promote accessibility across the organization.

The Council then took note of all three human-rights-focused reports.

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

MARIAM WALLET ABOUBAKRINE (Mali), Chair of the sixteenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said indigenous peoples were gaining visibility and importance across the United Nations system in light of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda, among other recent frameworks.  Outlining the Permanent Forum’s recent sixteenth session — which she said had been attended by a large number of Member States, over 1,000 indigenous representatives and many non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies, funds and programmes — she recalled that its main theme had been the “Tenth Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.  Participants had reviewed some of the achievements and remaining challenges in implementing the Declaration, which established a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the world’s indigenous peoples and elaborated on other relevant human rights standards and fundamental freedoms.

Spotlighting some achievements identified by the Permanent Forum, she cited the recognition of indigenous peoples by some constitutional and legal frameworks and the inclusion of targeted policies and programmes.  Nevertheless, the Permanent Forum was concerned about the gap between that formal recognition and implementation in practice.  Among other things, the body had also welcomed progress in the implementation of the United Nations system-wide action plan on the rights of indigenous peoples and discussed the situation of indigenous human rights defenders, the 2030 Agenda’s implications for indigenous peoples and the empowerment of indigenous women and youth.  As a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council, the Permanent Forum had also deepened its engagement with the Council’s other bodies — including the Commission on the Status of Women — and contributed a substantive input to the upcoming high-level political forum on sustainable development. 

As the Council began its general discussion of that item, the representative of the United States recalled that his Government had facilitated a visit of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues earlier this year, and would follow up on her recommendations.  Reiterating his delegation’s commitment to the principles enshrined in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he stressed that the United States would be reluctant to see the development of a system that undermined those principles.  While there was an ongoing discussion on how to define indigenous peoples, he emphasized that “indigenous identity is not exclusively defined by European colonization”.  Underlining the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals to indigenous peoples, he described the United States efforts to collect disaggregated data on American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Hawaiian/Pacific natives, and outlined its various policies on indigenous health, the empowerment of indigenous women and youth and the preservation of indigenous languages. 

The representative of Mexico, also speaking on behalf of Guatemala, cited a “notable improvement” in the spirit of dialogue on indigenous issues over the period under review.  Making a number of relevant proposals, he called for a special category to be established for representatives of indigenous peoples, as they were not non-governmental organizations; the creation of modalities of participation that did not fall below the threshold currently allowed for non-governmental organizations; and the establishment of a forum for the discussion on indigenous issues, with representation from all regions of the world.

The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada, recalled that participants at the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples had committed to enhance their participation in international meetings that affected them.  The General Assembly, in resolution 70/232, had initiated a process to draft a resolution on those issues, which had now been under discussion for 12 months.  Expressing regret that the Assembly’s discussions had moved away from their original purpose, he urged the United Nations to give consideration to the broader participation of indigenous peoples.

The Council then turned to chapter 1, section A of the report of the Permanent Forum of its sixteenth session (document E/2017/43), which contained three draft decisions, titled: “International expert group meeting on the theme ‘Sustainable development in the territories of indigenous people’”; “Venue and dates for the seventeenth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues”; and “Report of the Permanent Forum on the Indigenous Issues on its sixteenth session and provisional agenda for its seventeenth session”.  The Council adopted all three draft decisions without a vote.

Comprehensive Implementation of Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

The Council then took up that topic, for which there was no documentation or draft proposal.

Implementation of Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries 2011-2020

FEKITAMOELOA KATOA ‘UTOIKAMANU, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 (document E/2017/60), saying it provided an overview of recent progress made as a result of the efforts of least developed countries and their development partners.  Much remained to be done, however, as not all countries had fully shared in the development progress made in recent years.  While the average growth rate of the world’s least developed countries had risen, it remained far below the 7 per cent target laid out in the Istanbul Programme of Action.

Citing the disproportionate impact on those countries of natural disasters and economic shocks, she said the report highlighted the need for economic diversification and efforts to drive up industrial production and investment.  Recalling the General Assembly’s recent decision to set up the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries, she said the report also provided evidence of the need to build their scientific and technological base.  Agriculture remained the sector with the highest share of employment in those countries, she said, adding that the share of the world’s exports originating in them had fallen.  More efforts were also needed in the area of human resources capacity development as gender disparities at the secondary and tertiary education levels persisted.  Additionally, the data revealed a need to scale up climate financing for adaptation in the least developed countries and to address remaining challenges in the areas of governance, transparency and counter-corruption.

Sustainable Development

KEITH NURSE, Rapporteur of the Commission for Development Policy, introduced the report of the nineteenth session of the Committee for Development Policy (document E/2017/33), which examines several sustainable development issues relevant to the Council’s deliberations.  The Committee addressed several themes, including lessons learned from developing productive capabilities, issues relating to least developed countries, and total official support for sustainable development.  The Committee also reviewed the development progress of Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Vanuatu and Samoa, he said, underscoring the development opportunities and challenges faced by those nations.  He noted various recommendations and conclusions outlined in the report, relating mostly to least developed countries, their track to graduate from that status, and the challenges they faced. 

While benefits extended on a case-by-case basis were helpful for least developed countries, such ad-hoc policies would create difficulties and uncertainty to the graduating and graduated countries when they formulated medium and long-term transition strategy, he said.  Additional efforts were needed to reduce existing differences in the least developed countries category application and improve the overall application coherence.  He said the Committee was developing a web-based graduation toolkit, which would help countries map out and assess the type of specific support currently used and available.

The representative of Bangladesh said the report provided updates on many issues facing least developed countries and had clearly shown that more concrete and targeted support was required from the international community.  It showed that poverty was pervasive and that “business-as-usual” would keep most people in least developed countries poor.  “Our countries are still suffering from the world economic and financial crises of 2008,” she said.  Climate change, disease outbreaks and conflict had devastating impacts on least developed countries, she continued, expressing concern that official development assistance (ODA) had further decreased in recent years, as had the share of exports from least developed countries.  Technology and investment were key drivers of structural development in those countries, she said, calling on development partners to reverse declining ODA.

The Council then turned to draft resolution titled “Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2010” (document E/2017/L.25).

The representative of Ecuador, introducing that text on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that it contained some contemporary elements that were critical to the Group.  Among other things, it would have the Council express concern over the recent declines in ODA and foreign direct investment (FDI) and invite the Council President to convene a full session on those issues at its next financing for development follow-up meeting.  It would also have the Council call on donors to contribute to the full operationalization of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries, he said.

The Council then postponed its consideration of that draft until its 25-26 July coordination and management meeting.

Science and Technology for Development

RUIJIN WANG (China), Chair of the twentieth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, introduced a report on that session (document E/2017/31), describing the session’s contributions to the Council’s high-level segment and a round table on the theme “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions”.  At that event, he said, there had been universal agreement that science and technology for innovation played an integral role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Participants had highlighted the need to harness new and emerging technologies, as well as to support national innovation systems to deliver on the Goals.  In addition, they had welcomed the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) various reviews on the integration of science and technology for innovation in national policies.  Technology transfer on mutually-agreed terms and conditions had also been highlighted, as had the need to consolidate best practices, success stories and knowledge in order to support developing countries.

Participants had cited rapid growth in broadband access and reaffirmed their commitment to increase access to science and technology for innovation, especially the Internet, he continued.  They had noted with concern the widening of the digital divide, particularly for women, who were 31 per cent less likely to use the internet in least developed countries.  Participants had welcomed the new “e-trade for all” initiative and discussed the need for Governments to take into account the needs of poor and marginalized communities as well as grass-roots groups.  Noting with great concern that every ninth person around the world was undernourished, participants had discussed new and emerging technologies that could help reverse that trend, while States had shared their national experience with using science and technology for innovation to promote growth and development.

DONG WU, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), introduced the report of the Secretary-General on progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document A/72/64-E/2017/12).  She focused on three main issues, namely key trends on access and use, recent trends in technology and services, and developments in internet governance.  Half of the world’s people used the internet in 2016, a significant increase from 2005.  Some 60 per cent of the global population subscribed to mobile services.  Such findings varied greatly by geography, however, she said, noting also a widening gender divide.  Other barriers included difficult geographical environments, lack of complementary infrastructure, and weakness in legal and regulatory frameworks.

Social media was becoming the main source of news for a growing number of people, she said.  Substantial investments in developing robotics and artificial intelligence and advances in those fields would likely transform trade and jobs.  That would pose an immense challenge to Government institutions.  Some countries were better equipped than others to benefit from e-commerce.  The report concluded that information and communications technology had become increasingly critical to economic development.  International cooperation was essential to tackling digital divides, she added. 

The representative of China welcomed the progress made in coming up with various ways to incorporate science and technology into national development agendas.  China would continue to host seminars on science and technology for developing countries, as well as welcome their young scientists.  Training programmes in the field were essential for development.  Innovation must play a crucial role in delivering on the 2030 Agenda, he said.

The Council then turned to the report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on its twentieth session (document E/2017/31).  Chapter 1, section A of that report contained two draft resolutions, titled: “Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society” and “Science, technology and innovation for development”.  The Council adopted both the texts without a vote.

Turning to chapter 1, section B of the same report, the Council adopted, without a vote, a draft decision titled “Report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on its twentieth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the twenty-first session of the Commission”.

International Cooperation in Tax Matters

The Council took action on the recommendation contained in the report of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax matters on its fourteenth session (document E/2017/45).  Turning to chapter IV of the report, the Council adopted a draft decision titled “Venue and dates of and provisional agenda for the fifteenth session of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters”.  The Council also took note of the report of its fourteenth session.

Assistance to Third States Affected by the Application of Sanctions

The Council then took up that topic, for which there was no documentation or draft proposal.

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