Resolute action key to retaining development gains, meeting 2030 Agenda by target date
Turning promises into progress in achieving a sustainable future depended on harnessing a collective will and taking resolute action to meet the deadline set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers said on Thursday as the High-level Political Forum concluded its general debate.
With more than 100 ministers, high-level officials and representatives sharing experiences and suggestions over the course of the 2017 session, many speakers had stressed the importance of working together to foster balanced progress in achieving the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They also called for more targeted efforts to prevent the reversal of hard-won gains and to promote long-term sustainable development.
Sharing lessons learned in aligning the Goals with national plans, several speakers recommended new ways to do so, while others highlighted concerns about uneven progress. Hugo Martinez, Minister for Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, spoke on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasizing a need to recognize that each country – including the least developed countries, landlocked countries, small island developing States, countries in conflict and post-conflict countries, as well as various middle-income countries – faced specific challenges in seeking sustainable development.
Echoing that notion, representatives of developed and developing countries in special situations underlined a need to shift strategies. In the face of persistent climate change risks, Vanuatu’s representative said a business-as-usual approach no longer worked, demonstrating a clear need to shift the Millennium Development Goals mindset into a Sustainable Development Goals approach. In that vein, Namibia’s representative cautioned about the challenges posed by climate change, calling for international support by way of transferring technology related to climate action and access to climate financing.
Some delegates elaborated on how Goals-based aid targeting was helping developing States achieve results. Hamish Cooper, Principal Adviser of Multilateral and Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand, said his Government had focused attention particularly on Pacific small island developing States, which faced economic and environmental vulnerabilities. In recognition of the risk posed by natural disasters, New Zealand was pursuing development cooperation by investing in the design and construction of climate- and disaster-resilient infrastructure.
But, some speakers said, resilience must straddle other sectors. Indeed, social gains must also be accompanied by economic achievements, said the representative of Bhutan. Given the similarities between Bhutan’s development philosophy of the Gross National Happiness concept and the Sustainable Development Goals, integrating those Goals into national plans had been easy. Having made progress in social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, Bhutan now needed economic transformation, which would be a game changer to bolster economies and develop resilient and sustainable infrastructure.
After the general debate, the Economic and Social Council adopted a Ministerial Declaration aimed at accelerating the pace of implementing the 2030 Agenda and recognizing that fulfilling the Goals required bolstered partnerships and urgent action.
Prior to the text’s adoption, the Council decided, by separate recorded vote, to retain two paragraphs. Operative paragraph 4 – retained by a recorded vote of 30 in favour to two against (Australia, United States), with 18 abstentions – called for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to the 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.
Operative paragraph 21 – retained by a recorded vote of 32 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 16 abstentions – 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.
At the end of the meeting, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General of Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of Economic and Social Council, made closing remarks.
Mr. Wu recalled that the Forum’s high-level segment had featured several key messages on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including that eradicating poverty remained the greatest global challenge and was an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda – together with the Addis Ababa Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction – provided a comprehensive structure for eradicating poverty. Integrating policy across the three dimensions of sustainable development had become the standard and an inclusive follow-up and review would be fundamental. The Forum had featured far-reaching discussions that had pointed to tremendous capacity gaps, but also new opportunities.
Mr. Shava noted that the Council system had worked to provide integrated policy recommendations, address gaps and contribute to the overall review of progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The high-level segment represented the culmination of that work. An international enabling environment in the form of institutional frameworks and actions could be decisive for the effectiveness of poverty eradication and strategies, although globalization had created pressing challenges.
The challenges faced by the global institutional system required a new assessment of how the promise of sustainable and equitable growth could be turned into a reality for all people around the world, he said. There was growing consensus that the interconnectedness and global nature of challenges in all areas of sustainable development could not be solved by one nation alone. The 2030 Agenda provided a comprehensive framework for addressing economic, social and environmental tasks by providing global norms for sustainable and inclusive development. Discussions over the past two weeks had emphasized the importance of keeping the momentum going forward, and in that context, efforts must continue to be intensified.
Also delivering statements were ministers and high-level representatives of Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, Oman, Australia, Andorra, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jamaica, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Albania, Armenia, Cabo Verde, United Republic of Tanzania, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Timor-Leste, Côte d’Ivoire, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Chad, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Tunisia, Ukraine, Myanmar, Israel, Greece, Azerbaijan, Syria, Malta, Russian Federation, Turkey, United States, Venezuela, Nigeria, Japan, Ecuador (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Mexico, Viet Nam and Iran, as well as the State of Palestine and the Holy See.
Also participating were representatives of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), World Tourism Organization, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The following organizations also made statements: Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, OGT International, IUS PRIMI VIRI International Association, International Committee for Peace and Reconciliation Inc., International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, Le manif pour tous, Legiao da Boa Vontade, Financing for Development CSO Group and Together 2030.
Speakers from the major groups for women, indigenous peoples, children and youth, non-governmental organizations, workers and trade unions, business and industry, as well as from the education and academic entities stakeholder group and the volunteer stakeholder group.
The Council took note of the documentation that had been before it during the high-level segment of the 2017 session, including the Report of the Secretary-General on eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges; Report of the Secretary-General on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals; Report of the Secretary-General entitled “Beyond gross domestic product: multidimensional poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals”; Note by the Secretary-General – Progress report on the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns; The World Economic and Social Survey 2017 – Reflecting on seventy years of development policy analysis (document E/2017/50); and the World economic situation and prospects as of mid-2017 (document E/2017/65).