69th General Debate Continues Discussion of Post-2015 Agenda, Highlights Biodiversity, SIDS Issues
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The 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA) convened for the second day of its general debate.

Speakers focused on the post-2015 development agenda and climate change, as well as issues related to international security and UN reform.

Several speakers identified development enablers, with many emphasizing that sustainable development cannot be achieved without peace and security.

unga6925 September 2015: During the second day of the general debate for the 69th UN General Assembly (UNGA), speakers focused on the post-2015 development agenda and climate change, as well as issues related to international security and UN reform. Several speakers identified development enablers, with many emphasizing that sustainable development cannot be achieved without peace and security.

Speakers reflected on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and called for accelerated action to achieve them before the 2015 deadline. Ollanta Humala Tasso, President, Peru, shared its experience in achieving the MDGs, saying “it is possible to achieve substantial progress in just a few years.” Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister, Timor-Leste, observed that fragile, conflict-affected countries are the furthest away from achieving the MDGs. Qohir Rasulzoda, Prime Minister, Tajikistan, said it will review and incorporate lessons learned from MDG implementation into its new program for sustainable development to 2030.

Several speakers said the unfinished business of the MDGs should be incorporated into the post-2015 development agenda, including Rossen Plevneliev, President, Bulgaria, Ivo Josipović, President, Croatia, Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister, Ethiopia, Yahya Jammeh Babila Mansa, President, the Gambia, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President, Tanzania, and Robert Mugabe, President, Zimbabwe. Andris Bērziņš, President, Latvia, said the new agenda should go further than the MDGs and address global and emerging challenges, including climate change and natural disasters, conflicts, inequalities, lack of rule of law and terrorism.

Many speakers welcomed progress and emerging consensus on the post-2015 agenda, including Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan, Brunei Darussalam, Ali Bongo Ondimba, President, Gabon, Tasso, Bronisław Komorowski, President, Poland, and Rasulzoda. Speakers also looked forward to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s synthesis report, with many, including Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez, President, Panama, and Natalia Gherman, Deputy Prime Minister, Moldova, expressing commitment to work toward continued consensus. Mark Rutte, Prime Minister, Netherlands, described the SDGs as a solid foundation for the future, and recommended linking short-term goals with long-term goals.

Several emphasized common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). Dessalegn said means of implementation (MOI) must be based on CBDR. Sheikh Jaber Al-mubarak Al-hamad Al Sabah, Prime Minister, Kuwait, supported action based on shared but differentiated responsibility, with special assistance for developing countries. Arthur Peter Mutharika, President, Malawi, said the post-2015 agenda should be common but differentiated enough so developing countries have flexibility in implementing programs. Robert Mugabe, President, Zimbabwe, said the SDGs must be informed by national development priorities with targets that reflect local conditions. Abdelilah Benkirane, Prime Minister, Morocco, appealed for developing countries, especially in Africa, to be treated fairly, emphasizing there is no one model for sustainable development and that each country must follow its own path.

Tony Abbott, Prime Minister, Australia, said the post-2015 development agenda should focus on economic growth, explaining that “growth makes every other social goal, even tackling climate change, easier to accomplish.”

A few speakers cautioned against including too many priorities in the SDGs. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister, Norway, said the SDGs must be, inter alia, few in number, concrete and measurable. Noting there are many causes, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Canada, recommended focusing on limited priorities and long-term opportunities that can truly transform the world. Emphasizing Palau’s support for a stand-alone oceans goal, Tommy Esang Remengesau, President, also expressed concern that the post-2015 dialogue is too broad. He recommended focusing on vulnerable countries and those most in need.

On MOI, Bērziņš, Tasso and others emphasized a strengthened global partnership and accountability mechanisms. Remengesau described the importance of committed partnerships. Divavesi Waqa, President, Nauru, called for moving beyond capacity building to institution building. Bujar Nishani, President, Albania, supported the UN system ‘Delivering as One’ to ensure efficiency, focus on results and performance-based allocations.

Dessalegn welcomed the report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF) and called for progress on development financing at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD), saying the effectiveness of the post-2015 agenda depends on this Conference’s success. Rasulzoda viewed the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) as a platform for dialogue and review of SDG implementation. Kikwete called for stable, predictable and reliable financing for implementation.

Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda, and Waqa noted failure to achieve the MDG target on official development assistance (ODA). Browne also said the international financial institutions (IFIs) per capita income criterion is “flawed,” emphasizing many middle income countries (MICs) are among the most highly indebted countries in the world on a per capita basis. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan, said it is establishing new guiding principles for its ODA, which will emphasize objectives such as ensuring the rule of law, realizing a peaceful and stable society and high-quality economic growth.

Several speakers underscored peace and security as enablers for sustainable development, including Plevneliev, Bērziņš, Solberg, Gusmão, Andrej Kiska, President, Slovakia, and Joseph Kabila Kabange, President, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Josipović, Plevneliev and Kiska also emphasized good governance and the rule of law as development enablers. Benkirane highlighted the relationship between stability and development, saying neither can be achieved without the other.

Noting fragile states “had no chance of achieving” the MDGs, Rutte applauded the inclusion of peace and the rule of law in the SDGs. Waddaulah said efforts to realize the MDGs will be in vain if the world does not pursue peaceful means of settling disputes. Nishani said it will test a proposed development goal on governance and rule of law, as a means to achieve sustainable development, with the aim of informing the post-2015 agenda.

Abe, Josipović, Bērziņš and John Dramani Mahama, President, Ghana, prioritized gender equality and women’s empowerment. Mahama and Abe shared their countries’ efforts to achieve women’s empowerment. Abe said Japan intends to make the 21st century a world with no human rights violations against women, and stated its intention to become a leading contributor to UN Women.

Josipović supported Ban’s Global Education First Initiative, stressing knowledge and education as among the most important preconditions for success and sustainable development. Solberg described education as the “superhighway” to ending poverty. Plevneliev said the post-2015 agenda should include youth targets on education, health and employment.

Harper said maternal, newborn and children health should be a priority in the post-2015 agenda. He praised Ban’s ‘Every Women, Every Child’ initiative as a mechanism to prevent child deaths.

Rasulzoda discussed the importance of access to drinking water and sanitation, integrated management of water resources (IWRM) and water cooperation. He proposed a comprehensive review of the International Decade of Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015 with the aim of developing recommendations to strengthen and renew the UN water agenda.

Waqa and Remengesau also highlighted issues relevant to small island developing States (SIDS), particularly oceans, which they described as critical to SIDS’ culture and economy. Waqa said the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) have taken the lead in successfully managing their tuna stocks through sustainable harvesting or stocks and curbing illegal fishing. Remengesau highlighted Pacific countries efforts to declare and establish marine protected areas (MPAs) of different sizes and requirements to reverse trends of overuse, ensure a health ocean and conserve underwater heritage, including the creation of a national marine sanctuary in Palau. Remengesau also said the Pacific is committed to ensuring the launch of negotiations for an international agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Ondimba and Kikwete recommended efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife and poaching, with Ondimba noting the ecological, economic and security threats from such activities. Hery Martial Rajaonarimampianina Rakotoarimanana, President, Madagascar, underscored the importance of good forest governance to address illegal trade in protected species, including rosewood. [General Debate, 25 September] [UN Press Release on Australia Statement] [UN Press Release on Canada Statement] [UN Press Release on Morocco Statement] [UN Press Release on Peru Statement] [UN Press Release on Tajikistan Statement] [UN Press Release on Timor-Leste Statement]


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