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CALENDRIER du 26 mars au 08 avril 2018

(Susceptible de modifications en cours de semaine)Déplacements et visites Calendrier du 26 mars au 01 avril 2018Lundi 26 mars 2018EU-Turkey leaders' meeting in Varna, BulgariaPresident Jean-Claude Juncker in Varna, Bulgaria: participates in the EU...
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Agenda – Tuesday, 6 February 2018 – Strasbourg

49item on the agendapointSetting up a special committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides, its responsibilities, numerical strength and term of office  -AmendmentsFriday, 2 February 2018, 12:00  -Requests for "separate", "split" and "roll-call" votesMonday, 5 February 2018, 19:0017item on the agendapointGeo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers' nationality, place of residence or place of establishment
Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (A8-0172/2017  -Amendments; rejectionWednesday, 31 January 2018, 13:0016item on the agendapointCost-effective emission reductions and low-carbon investments
Julie Girling (A8-0003/2017  -Amendments; rejectionWednesday, 31 January 2018, 13:0029item on the agendapointEuropean Central Bank Annual Report for 2016
Jonás Fernández (A8-0383/2017  -AmendmentsWednesday, 31 January 2018, 13:0040item on the agendapointAccelerating clean energy innovation
Jerzy Buzek (A8-0005/2018  -Amendments by the rapporteur, 76 MEPs at least; Alternative motions for resolutionsWednesday, 31 January 2018, 13:0014item on the agendapointZero tolerance for female genital mutilation
(O-000003/2018 - B8-0005/2018)   -Motion for a resolutionFriday, 2 February 2018, 12:00  -Amendments to the motion for a resolutionMonday, 5 February 2018, 19:00  -Requests for "separate", "split" and "roll-call" votesTuesday, 6 February 2018, 16:0043item on the agendapointCurrent human rights situation in Turkey   -Motions for resolutionsMonday, 5 February 2018, 19:00  -Amendments to motions for resolutions; joint motions for resolutionsWednesday, 7 February 2018, 12:00  -Amendments to joint motions for resolutionsWednesday, 7 February 2018, 13:00  -Requests for "separate", "split" and "roll-call" votesWednesday, 7 February 2018, 19:0060item on the agendapointSituation in Venezuela  -Motions for resolutionsMonday, 5 February 2018, 19:00  -Amendments to motions for resolutions; joint motions for resolutionsWednesday, 7 February 2018, 13:00  -Amendments to joint motions for resolutionsWednesday, 7 February 2018, 14:00  -Requests for "separate", "split" and "roll-call" votesWednesday, 7 February 2018, 19:0055item on the agendapointSituation of UNRWA  -Motions for resolutionsMonday, 5 February 2018, 19:00  -Amendments to motions for resolutions; joint motions for resolutionsWednesday, 7 February 2018, 13:00  -Amendments to joint motions for resolutionsWednesday, 7 February 2018, 14:00  -Requests for "separate", "split" and "roll-call" votesWednesday, 7 February 2018, 19:00Separate votes - Split votes - Roll-call votesTexts put to the vote on TuesdayFriday, 2 February 2018, 12:00Texts put to the vote on WednesdayMonday, 5 February 2018, 19:00Texts put to the vote on ThursdayTuesday, 6 February 2018, 19:00Motions for resolutions concerning debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (Rule 135)Wednesday, 7 February 2018, 19:00
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Africa’s all too preventable cholera crisis

Southern and East African countries are facing a severe cholera outbreak that is exposing the failure in public sanitation and the impact of government neglect.

Last year, there were more than 109,442 cholera cases resulting in 1,708 deaths in 12 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

Since the beginning of 2018, there have been more than 2,009 cases and a further 22 deaths in seven countries – Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Somalia, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Zambia has been among the hardest hit, with the waterborne disease killing more than 74 people since October last year.

Cases have been centred on the capital, Lusaka. To contain the outbreak, the government banned street food vending and public gatherings, which triggered violent protests by traders.

The World Health Organization says that while sporadic cases of cholera are regular occurrences in Zambia during the five-month rainy season, 2017 exceeded the average annual caseload.

The government and the WHO blame poor waste management and inadequate personal hygiene for the contamination of water and food in the townships, which has driven the epidemic.

The government’s response has been to call in the army to help enforce control measures, clean markets, and unblock drains. It also launched an oral vaccine programme with a target of immunising one million people, and the number of cases is now beginning to fall.

Failing record

Zambia, as a lower middle-income economy, lies in the middle of a range of countries caught in the surge of cases in the region, from struggling Mozambique to relatively prosperous Kenya.

“In the last four weeks of 2017 alone, Zambia reported 217 new cases of cholera including 11 deaths, Tanzania 216 new cases including eight deaths, Mozambique 155 new cases, and Kenya 44 new cases,” UNICEF’s regional WASH (Water, sanitation and hygiene) advisor for Eastern and Southern Africa, Suzanne Coates, told IRIN.

But by far the worst-affected countries have been war-debilitated Somalia and South Sudan, with 72 percent and 16 percent respectively of the total cholera caseload.

Coates noted that while progress has been made on access to improved WASH services over the years, no country in the region managed to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goal on water and sanitation – to halve the proportion of the population without access to sustainable water services and basic sanitation.

Latest WHO and UNICEF estimates indicate that only 53 percent of ESAR citizens have access to basic water services; 30 percent to basic sanitation; just 20 percent to basic hygiene; and that 21 percent of people still practice open defecation.

“So, in the region, we still have more than 148 million people using unimproved drinking water sources, over 108 million still practising open defecation, and over 300 million with no handwashing facility,” said Coates.

“Strategies to prevent and respond to cholera outbreaks are known and are effective and have helped [other] countries effectively control cholera outbreaks,” she added.

Spending needed

Tackling the risk factors requires a developmental response and long-term investment. “Cholera outbreaks will unfortunately recur as long as these factors are not addressed,” said Coates.

Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has struggled to make those investments in sewerage infrastructure and water management systems, with cholera outbreaks becoming more frequent since the early 1990s when the economy first stalled.

Large outbreaks occurred in 1999 and 2002, with the deadliest between August 2008 and July 2009 – a cumulative total of 98,592 cases and 4,288 deaths.

Oxfam Zimbabwe WASH coordinator Abigail Tevera said poor inter-ministerial coordination and a lack of commitment to enforce existing regulations also derails efforts to prevent outbreaks.

Four people have so far died from cholera in Zimbabwe, with over 200 cases of typhoid – a similar waterborne disease – confirmed by 16 January.

Portia Manangazira, the director of Epidemiology and Disease Control in Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care, acknowledged that the public health and sanitation situation in the country was “appalling”, and the nation could do much better to stop “creating” avoidable health crises.

“There have also been no resources to identify high-risk groups and protect them with vaccination, the second layer of population protection when primary prevention has failed,” Manangazira told IRIN. “For this reason, the threat of both cholera and typhoid forever looms.”

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TOP PHOTO: Inside a cholera treatment centre in Somalia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background

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

Statements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right of Reply

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

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

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

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Concluding Session, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Adopts Ministerial Declaration Aimed at Expediting Fulfilment of 2030 Agenda

Language on Multilateral Trading System, Obstacles to Self-Determination of People Living Under Foreign Occupation Retained Following Recorded Votes

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development today adopted a Ministerial Declaration aimed at accelerating the pace of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to lift millions out of poverty, as it closed its 2017 session.

Closing its session on the theme of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges, the Forum, by the Declaration (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2), recognized that achieving the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals required bolstered partnerships and urgent action.

However, some speakers representing blocs of countries expressed regret at the omission of key issues in the Declaration.  Ecuador’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was unfortunate that despite a number of proposals some States had made, there was no mention of harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  Echoing a concern shared by other groups of countries, Estonia’s delegate, speaking for the European Union, said that while the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development, many issues that the bloc had been promoted were absent, among them the root causes of migration and issues such as sexual and reproductive health rights.

High-level officials, by adopting the declaration, recognized that eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity required collective and transformative efforts, putting the furthest behind first.  They also acknowledged that while extreme poverty had fallen globally, progress had been uneven and 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty.

Prior to adopting the Declaration, the Forum decided, by separate recorded vote, to retain two paragraphs.  By a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 4, which called for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continued to adversely affect their economic and social development and their environment.

With 112 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 46 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 21.  That paragraph stated that efforts would continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

The Declaration as a whole, adopted without a vote, addressed a number of 2030 Agenda-related issues, touching upon the 17 Goals.  Stressing that climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, it also recognized pressing challenges to achieve Goals related to gender equality, food insecurity and the role infrastructure, industry and innovation could play in transforming and improving the quality of life for millions.

In terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Declaration stated “there can be no effective implementation, or accountability to our citizens, where no awareness exists.”  It also emphasized the need to take appropriate action towards localizing and communicating all the Goals from grassroots to national levels.

That notion was addressed during the ministerial segment, when ministers and other high-level officials shared experiences and fresh ideas for turning the 2030 Agenda into reality in their countries.  Maria Luisa Navarro, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, summed up a common thread of the day’s discussion, saying “you can govern in a way that reduces poverty” as she pointed to a range of national initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.

Many speakers from developing countries underlined the importance of partnerships in advancing progress on achieving the Goals.  Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized.  To change that, the international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.

Some speakers underlined the need to foster change and progress in other areas of concern, including gender equality and climate change.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” said Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland.  That translated into implementing the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance and as a road map for domestic action.

Likewise, William Amos of Canada said domestic action had been aligned with the Goals.  Abroad, Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and was executing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address gender inequality.

Throughout the day, the Council heard voluntary national reviews from representatives of Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Maldives, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Belize, Denmark, Togo, Iran, Cyprus, Botswana, Qatar, Slovenia, Tajikistan and El Salvador.

Participating in the general debate of the ministerial segment were ministers and other senior officials for Cyprus, Sweden, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Estonia, Brazil, Argentina, Sudan, Morocco, Croatia, Hungary, United States, Kenya, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Georgia, Latvia, Algeria, France, Colombia and China.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, 20 July to continue its high-level segment.

General debate

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that empirical evidence had shown that countries and regions that had successfully developed their manufacturing sector had made spectacular progress in poverty reduction.  In developing countries, sustainable industrialization had enabled lasting and inclusive economic growth.  It had also significantly helped to reduce poverty, end hunger, create decent jobs and income, and reduce inequalities.  Unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized. 

To get on the path to economic transformation, least developed countries must overcome challenges such as low industrial capacity, lack of access to appropriate technology and knowledge, inadequate capacity to ensure high-quality environmental standards in industry, and the difficulty of attracting investment in nascent industry, he continued.  The international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.  He highlighted the role of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in assisting developing countries in designing and implementing industrial policies and enhancing local productive capacities.  However, despite its unique role, the organization had witnessed a decreasing membership over the past years, he added, calling for a reversal of that trend.

NICOS KOUYIALIS, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, said the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals were not binding did not relieve the international community from the responsibility to work towards their implementation.  Action must be taken through national development strategies and the appropriate resource mobilization.  That must include the involvement of civil society and the private sector.  He outlined several national programmes aimed at development of the social, tourism, and rural sectors.  Further to the national policies, Cyprus recognized its role in regional cooperation for achieving a number of targets, primarily Goal 14 on seas and oceans.  Cyprus had taken the initiative with Greece and Israel to draft an action plan that aimed to address marine pollution from oil spills.

ARDALAN SHEKARABI, Minister for Public Administration of Sweden, said that delivering on the agenda required leadership.  He added that Sweden’s foreign policy on gender equality was based on four Rs:  rights, representation, resources, and reality. It advocated reproduction rights and gender equality as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.  Sweden remained the largest donor per capita to the Green Climate Fund.  “We cannot afford to leave our people and our planet behind,” he continued, adding that leadership was about sharing the burden.  The Ocean Conference in June had stimulated cooperation and partnerships, which were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.  Decent work contributed to reducing inequality, he added.  Solutions to challenges could be found in many places, including within the United Nations and other international organizations as well as regional platforms.

ÁLVARO GARCÍA, Minister of Budget and Planning of Uruguay, said that no matter how small a country was, it could still implement change that could affect humanity for the better.  The Sustainable Development Goals had become national objectives that required State cooperation.  Uruguay was working in a cross-cutting fashion across its ministries, which had all committed to implementing the targets.  “We must work as a collective, hand-in-hand if we are to achieve the goals established,” he added, emphasising the need to work with civil society.  Additionally, the academic sphere had a critical role to play in identifying the root causes of poverty.  The private sector and official development assistance (ODA) were both imperative in filling national capacity gaps.  Development was multifaceted, he added.

PATRICK A. CHINAMASA, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe, said the Sustainable Development Goals represented a way to address core challenges, including infrastructure and economic growth.  As such, the Goals had been integrated into national plans.  Recognizing the need for partnerships was a key to achieving progress and national efforts were benefiting from collaboration with partners in the areas of health, gender equality and sustainable development.  National priorities were also informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and other relevant strategies.

ADO LOHMUS, Deputy Minister for Environment of Estonia, emphasized the importance of science, technology and innovation.  In that vein, the Government was operating programmes to ensure progress in those areas, including by working towards creating a digital society and supporting e-Government initiatives.  Smart e-solutions were not limited by borders and cooperation and coordination was needed on a global scale.  Pointing at the textile industry as an example, he said efforts should be made to reduce pollution levels and foster solutions.

MARIA LUISA NAVARRO, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, said national efforts had been presented in the voluntary review process.  “You can govern in a way that reduces poverty,” she said, pointing to initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.  Panama had worked to ensure the better mobilization of finances and strengthened institutions to maintain competitiveness.  It had also made progress in complying with international fiscal standards, bringing in domestic legislation in that regard.  Panama was moving from being a recipient to being a donor and could not afford to see any gains reversed.  A major goal now was to ensure that more women and girls participated in the process.

JOSE ANTONIO MARCONDES DE CARVALHO, Vice-Minister for Environment, Energy, Service and Technology of Brazil, said establishing a national framework for implementing the Goals was essential.  Relevant public policies and action would guide the way to ensure that no one was left behind.  Going forward, inclusive approaches were needed.  Brazil, emerging from a recession, was now working to restore order in public finance in a way that would have a positive impact on employment levels.  The Forum had provided an opportunity for Brazil to focus on finding solutions, with the 2030 Agenda being a road map.  All stakeholders must now adjust actions with a view to achieving the Goals set the 2030 Agenda.

GABRIELA AGOSTO, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies of Argentina, said Latin America was the most unequal region in the world.  The 2030 Agenda enshrined a commitment applicable to all nations.  Argentina would continue to work toward achieving the 2030 Agenda and share its national experience.  The 2030 Agenda required the participation of national Governments, the business sector, civil society and the academic world.  Developing nations needed support in technology and in enhancing capabilities.  She noted the formation of a national cabinet whose ultimate goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the need for public institutions which were democratic and inclusive.  Achieving gender equality and empowering women was a top goal for Argentina, she said, outlining several initiatives including one that made it easier for women to enter the labour market.  She added that the most vulnerable people must be empowered.

IBRAHIM ADAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED, State Minister of Welfare and Social Security of the Sudan, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and the African Group, said that his Government had implemented a comprehensive framework for development, peace and prosperity.  Sudan had not been able to implement all of its goals but had set up a national mechanism to follow up on the progress.  It also established a five-year economic reform plan and economic policies in favour of disadvantaged people.  A fund had been set up to protect women and children.  Food security remained a focus both at the national and regional levels, he continued, adding that his country had been focused on development for many years.  However, unilateral sanctions, the burden of debt, illegal migration, desertification and internal displacement hampered Sudan’s capacity.  “We need external assistance,” he added.

NEZHA EL OUAFI, Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development of Morocco, said that while efforts had been made to implement the 2030 Agenda, many challenges persisted.  They required the international community’s attention and action.  “By 2030, we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals but everyone needs to get on board,” she added.  Morocco was working in the legislative and legal spheres to protect the environment.  Setting up a green economy by 2030 required increasing the use renewable electricity.  She also stressed the need to combat all forms of discrimination against women.  All stakeholders must be involved, including the private sector and representatives of civil society.

AMIR MUHAREMI, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said that as a Mediterranean country, Croatia was keen on protecting ocean, sea and marine resources.  There were several challenges, including growing urbanization of coastal areas, overfishing and global climate change.  It was critical to keep increasing the level of knowledge and introduction of new marine technologies.  Peace was a prerequisite to eliminating poverty, he added, also pledging his country’s continued fight against chronic non-communicable diseases.  Croatia also aimed to promote healthy lifestyles.  Ending hunger required tackling the great amount of food waste, he said, adding that Croatia was actively helping develop European Union guidelines in facilitating food donations.

ANDREW DOYLE, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland, said 2030 Agenda was being implemented domestically and with partners abroad.  Developing country partners’ efforts were being supported, using the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” he said, noting the detrimental effects on fragile States and vulnerable groups.  “As challenges for poor communities intensify, Ireland will continue to focus in particular on action to help such communities to adapt and, in the longer term, to end extreme poverty, hunger and undernutrition by 2030.”

FERENC DANCS, Deputy Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said national implementation steps included determining priorities and strategies to ensure a sustainable future.  Hungary held conferences on related issues, including trafficking and child labour, to examine ways to address challenges.  Several new policies had aimed at, among other things, strengthening child-care services and employment.  Gains had also been made in health-related areas.  Abroad, Hungary was helping developing countries in their effort to lift people out of poverty.

WILLIAM AMOS, Member of Parliament of Canada, said domestic priorities were aligned with the Goals and included investing in infrastructure, renewing a relationship with indigenous peoples and reaching gender balance targets.  Abroad, Canada was implementing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address inequality.  Priority areas included promoting respect for sexual and reproductive health rights and women’s economic rights.  Turning to climate change, he said Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Moving forward on all the Goals, innovative and new ways must address financing gaps to ensure the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

NERISSA COOK, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations of the United States, underlined the importance of identifying steps required for progress.  Efforts must ensure that the United Nations system remained effective, she said, calling on the Organization to better coordinate its work.  “We need a new way of doing business,” she said, one that would lead to cost-cutting and more results.  Reduction of overlap must occur and there must be a push to stop the tired, stale debates at United Nations Headquarters and focus on those in need.  Initial progress had been seen, but more should be done to make the United Nations even better than it was with regard to achieving development goals.

WILSON IRUNGU NYAKERA, Principal Secretary, State Department for Planning, Ministry of Devolution of Kenya, said Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s long-term development blueprint, mirrored the 2030 Agenda.  Underscoring the need for quality, reliable and timely data, he said that Kenya was building the capacity of its Bureau of Statistics to allow for effective reporting on the implementation of the Goals.  Kenya continued to put in place targeted economic empowerment programmes aimed at specific segments of the population, particularly the youth, women and persons living with disabilities.  To ensure universal access to comprehensive health care, the National Hospital Insurance Fund had been reformed to include the introduction of free maternal health in all public health facilities and to address disparities among regions.  In addition, the country had adopted a devolved system of Government that had decentralized both services and resources to the subnational levels.  Kenya recognized the critical role of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation in the achievement of its long-term development goals and had instituted programmes to empower youth to enable them to participate effectively in productive economic activities.

ALENA SABELOVA, Director-General, Office of the Government of Slovakia, said the world did not have the “luxury to even waste one day” in the fight against poverty.  It was clear that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would require open minds in the area of policymaking.  While progress had been made, there was still a long way to go.  Slovakia was ready to carry its sustainable development responsibilities in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.  The Government had already adopted a national strategy with help from the academic sector and it would convene next week to discuss a road map for achieving the 2030 Agenda.  Slovakia’s national framework aimed to engage all stakeholders, particularly civil society.  “No real progress can be achieved without paying attention to those most in need,” she added.  A complex review mechanism, soon to be introduced, would help ensure that resources were being used in the most effective manner.

JEONG JINKYU, Director-General of the Development Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, noted efforts to improve domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda as well as the country’s efforts to help developing nations achieve the Goals.  The Republic of Korea was deeply interested in providing assistance to the most vulnerable, although efforts to combat poverty, however laudable, would fall well short of achieving prosperity without fairness, justice and equal opportunities for all.  Government efforts alone would not be enough to realize the vision of poverty eradication, and in that context the private sector’s contribution to and participation in development cooperation was of great importance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT of the United Kingdom, associating himself with the European Union, said no task was more urgent than eradicating extreme poverty.  However, Governments alone would not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We need the private sector to be there with us,” he said.  Meeting the goals also depended highly on how the multilateral system responded to global challenges.  The United Kingdom would continue to aid those caught in crises and at risk of violence.  It would also strengthen its work on gender equality and boost its focus on helping persons with disabilities and combating child exploitation.  He stressed the need to deepen understanding of vulnerable populations and partner with civil society and the private sector.  Delivering a short statement on behalf of the Champions of Women’s Economic Empowerment, comprising 17 Member States, he said more must be done to address the gender opportunity gap worldwide. Governments must push structural change, he continued, encouraging Member States to consider the group’s recommendations in their national plans.

NINO TKHILAVA, Head of the Department of Environment Policy and International Relations, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, said his Government had recently established a council that brought together task forces committed to planning, monitoring and evaluating policy.  Georgia had also improved the environment for entrepreneurs and was promoting green growth.  It was also taking specific measures to alleviate extreme poverty, including with a social assistance programme which provided cash benefits for those living in extreme poverty.  Georgia had also taken steps to expand access to health care with a programme that covered the basic package of planned and emergency in-and-out-patient clinical care, including oncology and maternity services.  On the agriculture front, the Government was working to foster competitiveness and it was promoting the steady growth of high-quality food production.  Georgia was also focused on ways to ensure gender equality and empower women.

MARA SIMANE, Adviser, Cross-sectoral Coordination Centre, Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia, associating herself with the European Union, said that the time had come for pragmatic action.  That meant mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda into national budgets and plans.  Latvia had created its own development programme in 2010, under which it fully supported policy coherence, the effective use of resources and building synergies.  However, to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, strengthened United Nations action would be vitally important.  Latvia continued to support the targets on gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies as those Goals accelerated achievement of all the other ones.  Latvia also supported public sector reform and combating corruption.  She noted the 2030 Agenda’s universal nature and said that today’s global challenges transcended borders.  In the same vein, results would depend on attention to detail and leaders who could make critical choices, she added.  

BELHIMEUR MERZAK, Director-General of International Economic and Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said that it was up to the international community to gain consensus and overcome inertia and procrastination.  Eradicating poverty was a top priority in his country’s development policies, he continued, adding that Algeria had achieved almost all the Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 deadline.  In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, Algeria had set up a national strategy with human well-being at its centre.  Social programmes aimed to protect the most vulnerable by combating the negative impacts of natural disasters, building low-cost housing, and helping young people find jobs. Implementing the 2030 Agenda would require international commitment, particularly in Africa where 40 per cent of the population still lived in poverty.  The United Nations had a major role to play in raising-awareness and advocacy.

HATEM CHAKROUN (France) said national and international efforts included steps such as building a Sustainable Development Goals’ community and selecting indicators most relevant for domestic action.  The 2030 Agenda was a new social contract aimed at getting all stakeholders involved.  Succeeding in energy, environmental and territorial efforts were essential to protect the planet.  France had launched an appeal in June to call for a new global pact for the environment.  That pact would render ongoing efforts easier because all related principles would be enshrined in one text.  Climate partners must strengthen their collective efforts to ensure future success.

MARIA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said ambitious results must be achieved and greater action was needed to achieve genuine sustainable development.  Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would make a decisive contribution towards achieving the Goals, including respecting their sexual and reproductive rights.  If that happened, the global economy would be more dynamic.  Without an international environment that fostered the movement of financial flows, it would be impossible to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  In addition, all stakeholders must participate in what should be an inclusive effort.

LIU JIEYI (China) said development must be a priority and countries needed to align their strategies with the 2030 Agenda.  Major international cooperative initiatives should help countries in their efforts to move ahead and States must work towards a global partnership.  Developed countries must honour their aid commitments and provide more access to assistance for other countries.  All countries must work to create a new type of international relations concerning climate change issues.  For its part, China was taking steps to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Adoption of Ministerial Declaration

The Forum then turned to the ministerial declaration on the theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2).  A vote was requested on operative paragraph 4.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said he called for a vote due to the politicized language contained in the paragraph.  Such language aimed to single out Israel and shine a spotlight on a highly controversial issue that did not belong in the Economic and Social Council.  Israel had constructively engaged in the Forum’s informal negotiations and opposed making the Forum yet another political battleground against Israel.

By a recorded vote of 104 in favour, to eight against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, operative paragraph 4 was retained. 

Another recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 21, with the results as follows:  112 in favour to one against (United States), with 46 abstentions, which meant the paragraph was retained.  

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Mexico said it was absurd to reiterate the fact that the rights of women and children were human rights.  Some delegations felt uncomfortable speaking of gender equality and the empowerment of women.  “We cannot understand why people do not understand that without women and girls our societies could not grow or prosper,” he added.  It was skewed practice to analyse one group of goals rather than all of them together.  He expressed support for paragraph 21.  Noting that some delegations were trying to change the Addis Ababa Action Plan, he said it was not the right place nor time to reopen what had already been agreed.  The Paris Agreement on climate change must be upheld as well.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, reaffirmed support to the World Trade Organization.  Public policy and mobilizing the effective use of domestic resources was central to the common pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Plan, core objectives to meeting those goals were omitted from the Ministerial Declaration.  It was for that reason his country and others had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Japan, in explanation of vote, said his country had not broken the silence procedure as it accepted the draft as a whole, though some parts were not satisfactory.  Paragraph 21 was not balanced and had focused too much on economic models.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized the importance of self-determination and sovereignty.  Unfortunately, several issues of concern did not appear in the Ministerial Declaration, including issues such as harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  On the means of implementation, the text had not included fundamental issues such as acknowledgement of the need to have an economically enabling environment and the need for States to honour their ODA obligations.  However, the Group had supported the text to demonstrate its commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development.  Yet, many issues that the bloc had promoted were absent.  He regretted to say that there was no mention of the root causes of migration.  Even though references to gender equality appeared early in the text, he expressed dissatisfaction in the way the issue was handled.  For instance, paragraph 17 did not align with Goal 5.  The 2030 Agenda had already identified Goal 5.3, 5.6 and 5.8 as integral to progress.  Leaving out issues such as sexual and reproductive rights was not acceptable.

The representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China as well as the Alliance of Small Island States, said that while the outcome document was not perfect, it best reflected consensus after weeks of consultations.  Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it was important to be conscious of the fact that “time is not on our side”.  Small island developing States required particular support and assistance as they worked to achieve the 2030 Agenda as well as the Samoa Pathway.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Albania, Andorra Iceland, Monaco and New Zealand, said the language on Goal 5 on empowering women and girls departed from the 2030 Agenda.  The 2030 Agenda had recognized the link between achieving both gender equality and sustainable development, she continued, expressing concern that the elimination of harmful practices carried out against women and girls was omitted from the Declaration.  Such language was essential as women continued to be denied their basic human rights.  While she had joined today’s consensus, that “did not mean we accept a weakening of what we agreed to”.  It was imperative that Member States demonstrate the highest calibre of leadership.

The representative of Canada remained concerned that the Declaration’s language failed to reflect what was agreed in the 2030 Agenda.  When leaders gathered in New York in 2015 they committed to taking steps to give women equal rights.  Those commitments remained as critical as ever to “leaving no one behind”.  An estimated $28 trillion was missing from global gross domestic product (GDP) because no country had yet managed to achieve gender equity.  Women and girls deserved to have the same opportunity as men and boys.  Women and girls continued to be subjected to discrimination and violence and did not have access to information they needed to make healthy decisions.

The representative of the United States said she joined Israel in voting against operative paragraph 4 because some Member States had attempted to politicize sustainable development.  On operative paragraph 21 and its mention of the World Trade Organization, she said it was not appropriate for United Nations members to comment on the membership of another international organization, particularly one that was not part of the United Nations.  The United States disassociated itself from portions of paragraph 7 referring to climate change.  She noted President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and reiterated her Government’s openness to renegotiating a text that would be beneficial to the United States.  She also expressed disappointment that trafficking in persons was not mentioned in the Declaration and that women and girls had not been referenced earlier.

The representative of Switzerland said more must be done to avoid holding recorded votes on parts of such declarations.  Switzerland supported some passages of the text on which votes had been called, he said, emphasizing that gender equality and trade were important issues and calling on all delegates to spare no effort to ensure consensus in the future.

The representative of Morocco regretted the absence in the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda’s recognition of territorial integrity, yet in the interest of consensus his delegation had supported the Declaration.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the Declaration reflected interests in a balanced way, disagreed with attempts to interpret issues or to add new points to them.  He regretted to say that for two years, the Forum had been unable to avoid holding recorded votes on paragraphs, as it had today.  That trend would have a negative impact on the perception of the Forum as a platform to implement the Goals, he said, encouraging all States to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Venezuela emphasized the importance of the sovereign and permanent management of natural resources by States and rejected the pillaging of resources in cases of occupation.  Unfortunately, the Palestinian people and those living under foreign occupation could not benefit from their natural resources, he said, also calling for an end of unilateral and coercive economic policies.

The representative of France underscored a legal point, emphasizing that all rights must be enjoyed by all people and not just a few.

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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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