In Second Committee Debate, Countries Call for Moving Beyond Income to Achieve SDGs
Photo by IISD/Mike Muzurakis
story highlights

The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee has conducted its general debate, highlighting issues related to: the need for access to concessional financing and sequenced graduation policies for the LDCs; the fight against climate change; and promotion of gender equality.

CELAC said access to concessional finance from international financial institutions is reduced as a country’s per capita income grows, and called for the use of multi-dimensional indicators to measure complex and diverse development realities.

CANZ underlined the need to overhaul global financial practices and mobilize partnerships through the international community.

10 October 2018: The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) conducted its general debate for the 73rd session. Governments highlighted issues related to: the need for access to concessional financing and sequenced graduation policies for the least developed countries (LDCs); the fight against climate change; and promotion of gender equality.

The general debate took place on 8, 9 and 10 October 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Opening the debate, Egypt for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) underscored the importance of leaving no one behind, and in that context reaffirmed the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). He emphasized the full sovereignty of every state over its territory and economic activity, and called for avoiding unilateral sanctions. He stressed that macroeconomic policies should focus on job creation and social inclusion, with a focus on the employment of youth and the economic empowerment of women. Noting the importance of official development assistance (ODA) and international trade for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, G-77/China also emphasized the need for a rules‑based and inclusive trading system and accelerated technology transfer. He added that, in order to meet the challenges of climate change, the balance achieved in the Paris Agreement on adaption, mitigation and means of implementation must be maintained.

Philippines for the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) said ASEAN remains competitive and prosperous by managing and harnessing digital technologies and equipping its citizens with the right skills and capabilities. Maldives for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) noted that 2018 is an important year for small island developing States (SIDS) as the midway review of Samoa Pathway is approaching. She emphasized the need to step up international support for SIDS in sustainable development, including access to finance, and said the UN should assume a greater leadership role in that respect.

Costa Rica, for the Like‑minded Group of Supporters of Middle‑Income Countries (MICs), said MICs still face significant challenges in achieving the SDGs, requiring a country‑context approach. He pointed to debt as one of the major issues faced by MICs. Noting MICs’ need to access more development and climate change financial sources, he underscored that international cooperation remains a powerful tool for MICs to mobilize domestically.

Malawi for the LDCs said 33 LDCs, with a combined population of about 81.8 million, need urgent food assistance in addition to long‑term investment in the agricultural sector to ensure food and nutrition security. He mentioned that five LDCs are in debt distress, while 12 others at high risk of it. Noting that the share of LDC exports in global trade declined from 1.09% in 2014 to 0.89% in 2016, he underlined that duty‑free and quota‑free market access, simplified rules of origin and an increased share of aid for trade going to LDCs are necessary to build the required manufacturing and trade capacity.

Antigua and Barbuda for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said UN reform efforts underway comprise the backdrop to the Second Committee’s work this year. He stressed the importance of system‑wide strategic planning for implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Noting that CARICOM is facing the withdrawal by global banks of corresponding banking relations with regional financial institutions, he emphasized that correspondent banking is a global public good that must be available to all countries.

Morocco for the Arab Group underscored that Member States “particularly from the global North” must implement their commitments to achieve long‑term sustainable development, adding that it is regrettable that “reactionary tendencies” are causing a global decline in ODA. Noting that several African countries are already fiscally constrained in generating the necessary resources to implement the 2030 Agenda, he called on the international community to explore balancing debt sustainability with financing, and work to curb illicit financial flows from Africa. He emphasized that a transparent, open and inclusive multilateral trading system remains a priority.

The EU identified as its priorities: gender equality, empowerment and ending discrimination and violence against women and girls in all forms; and action against climate change. Australia also for Canada and New Zealand (CANZ) underlined the need to overhaul global financial practices and mobilize partnerships through the international community. She said CANZ is committed to a progressive trade agenda that promotes meaningful trade liberalization and ensures the benefits of trade are shared broadly across societies.

El Salvador for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) noted that access to concessional finance from international financial institutions falls as a country’s per capita income grows, and called for the use of multi-dimensional indicators to accurately measure complex and diverse development realities. He further urged shareholders in multilateral development banks and donor countries to develop graduation policies that are sequenced, phased and gradual.

Nauru for the Pacific small island developing States (P-SIDS) called for re‑examining the eligibility criteria for access to financing for development and technical assistance, in order to improve access for SIDS. She lamented that classification according to income often excludes SIDS from preferential treatment, despite remaining vulnerabilities.

Oman for the Arab Group said humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced persons is not the same as development assistance. Noting that most refugees are hosted by developing countries, and thus those countries require help to become more stable, he called for developed countries to provide 0.7% of GDP, especially to LDCs, adding that illicit financial flows from developing to developed nations must also be returned to the countries of origin.

The Second Committee began its work for the 73rd session with an organizational meeting on 4 October and a keynote address on 8 October. Following the general debate it held a joint meeting with ECOSOC on the topic of a circular economy. The Committee’s agenda and programme of work are available on its website. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [Meeting summary, 8 October] [Meeting summary, 9 October] [Meeting summary, 10 October] [Meeting webcast, 8 October morning] [Meeting webcast, 8 October afternoon] [Meeting webcast, 9 October morning] [Meeting webcast, 9 October afternoon] [Meeting webcast, 10 October morning]

related posts