ECOSOC High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development - 44th meeting

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SIX OFFICIAL 17-Jul-2017 02:54:59
Opening of the high-level segment of the 2017 session of the Economic and Social Council and the three-day ministerial meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the Council.
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Realizing 2030 Agenda Requires Teamwork to Rebuild Trust in Government, Ensure Fair Globalization, High-Level Political Forum Hears, as Ministerial Segment Begins

The loss of confidence and trust between people and Governments, multilateral institutions and international organizations highlighted the paradox that problems were increasingly global in nature and could not be solved by individual countries, participants heard today, as the ministerial segment of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development got under way.

Globalization and progress had dramatically increased global trade and wealth and the number of absolute poor had declined, but it was also true that inequality had increased, stressed António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his opening statement, as the Council began its annual three-day segment with a series of reports, presentations and a ministerial-level general debate.

Calling the large number of people who had been left behind and the severe challenges brought on by high unemployment serious obstacles to development, the Secretary-General said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aimed at a fair globalization and to create conditions for people to trust again; not only in political systems but also in multilateral forms of governance and international organizations like the United Nations.

Urging leaders to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change, he emphasized that the green economy was becoming the economy of the future, and that green business was good business. Those that did not embrace that trend stood to lose or would fail to gain economic leadership in the years to come, he warned.

Pointing to the eminent fourth industrial revolution, he called on leaders to anticipate trends and work together to move away from being reactive in order to foresee what was coming and tailor investment accordingly. In that context, reform must take place at all levels, including within the United Nations development system. Only by working together would leaders be able to rebuild the trust that was needed to ensure the fair globalization that the world so desperately needed, he added.

“We have arrived at a period of unprecedented and stunning inequality,” declared Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in a keynote address. Global output this year was estimated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at $127 trillion, an average of $17,000 per each man, woman and child. That sum was enough to end poverty, ensure universal access to health care and quality education, and provide the investments needed to transition to climate-responsible policies. Yet, startling challenges persisted, he said, emphasizing that money that went to finance war and conflict could easily fund sustainable development for every person on the planet.

Spotlighting the world’s powerful coal, oil, and gas lobby, he warned: “It will kill the planet if it survives in its current form.” In that context, he urged the super-rich who resisted taxation and managed the levers of power to accept their responsibilities. “There seems to be no limit to the greed,” he lamented, noting that despite the extraordinary wealth in the world, 1 billion people still struggled to survive every day.

Indeed, the world was facing challenging and turbulent times, said Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, who noted that although the prevalence of extreme poverty had steadily declined in recent decades, the total number of people living in extreme poverty — more than 767 million in 2013 — remained unacceptably high. Inequality among and within countries remained deep; conflicts, tensions and terrorism were threatening humanity; and global temperatures were rising. In the face of those rising challenges, solidarity and working together was more important than ever.

“We all know the basic steps ahead,” said Peter Thomson (Fiji), President of the United Nations General Assembly, who stressed that the necessary resources must be mobilized to meet the world’s sustainable development objectives. Awareness of the Goals must be global so that all citizens understood they had rights and responsibilities on the long road to international sustainability.

Following the opening session, the Council reviewed the main messages from the Forum’s first week of deliberations, as presented by Economic and Social Council Vice Presidents Marie Chatardova (Czech Republic), Cristián Barros Melet (Chile), Jürgen Schulz (Germany) and Nabeel Munir (Pakistan). It also received reports from the ministerial chairs of the Regional Forums on Sustainable Development: Lahcen Daoudi, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of General Affairs and Governance of Morocco; Francisco Guzman, Chief of Staff of the President of Mexico and Executive Secretary of the National Council for Sustainable Agenda of Mexico; Rosemarie Edillon, Undersecretary for Planning and Policy, National Economic and Development Authority of the Philippines; Gervais Meatchi, Director of Planning and Development of Togo; and Laurence Monnoyer-Smith, Commissioner-General for Sustainable Development and Inter-Ministerial Delegate for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Seas of France.

Also today, the Council heard voluntary national reviews from Brazil, Luxembourg, Nepal, Monaco, Japan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Kenya, Netherlands, Chile and Malaysia, during which countries detailed their progress and challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In the afternoon, the Council took up the Secretary-General’s reports on “Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges” and “Beyond gross domestic product: multidimensional poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals”, as presented by Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. A report from the Committee for Development Policy’s nineteenth session was also presented to the Council by Committee Chair José Antonio Ocampo.

A general debate also took place, which included statements from high-level officials and representatives of Ecuador (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Zambia (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development (on behalf of the European Union), Sri Lanka (on behalf of the “Group of 15” developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America), Grenada (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Luxembourg (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Sustainable Development Goals), Philippines (on behalf of the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries), Chad (on behalf of the African Group).

Also participating in the general debate were speakers for Romania, Monaco, Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Mexico, South Africa, Lithuania, Thailand, Guatemala, Slovenia, Indonesia, Denmark, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Republic of Moldova, Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Council will meet again at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 18 July, to continue its general debate.
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