Second Committee Begins Debate on Priorities for “Pivotal” Year
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The UN General Assembly's Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its substantive work on 7 October 2014, with a statement from Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo, a keynote address from Janet Gornick, and the start of the Committee's general debate.

The debate continues on 8-9 October.

unga697 October 2014: The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its substantive work, on 7 October 2014, with a statement from Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo, a keynote address from Janet Gornick, and the start of the Committee’s general debate. The debate continues on 8-9 October.

Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy and Chair of the Second Committee, said the 69th session will be “pivotal” since the UN is about to embark on a new phase for development, and this year is the last chance for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and contributing to formulating the new agenda.

Thomas Gass, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), conveyed a statement from Wu, who also noted the “critical juncture” as the UN gears up for a new, ambitious development agenda. Observing that the global economy continues to expand, he cautioned about environmental consequences of this growth. Wu called for a focus on job creation, inequality, quality of services, investment in agriculture, and scaling up social protection. He said the Third Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) had shown that SIDS issues are global issues, and DESA is working to ensure commitments made during the Conference are fulfilled. As Secretary-General of the Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) taking place in 2015, Wu said he expects an ambitious outcome. He also called for incentivizing long-term investment for sustainable development, and strengthening developing countries’ policy space.

In the keynote address, Janet Gornick, City University of New York (CUNY) and LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg, spoke on the causes and consequences of high and rising inequality, focusing on its increases in the past 25-30 years. Among the dominant causes, Gornick noted economic globalization, changing pay norms for high earners, weakening protections for low-earners, and reductions in redistributive policies. A countervailing factor, however, has been women’s increasing levels of economic activity, which “pulls up the bottom more than the top,” and therefore mitigates income inequality. Consequences of income inequality include: depressed economic mobility between generations; suppression of growth; social cohesion issues such as mental and physical health, infant mortality, and incarceration; and imperiling the democratic process. For example, she cited findings that the bottom one-third of the population has “no impact at all” on senator voting patterns. Finally, she said there is a need to define and compare inequality across countries, for more and better data on socio-economic well-being, and for enhancing existing data resources.

Beginning the Committee’s General Debate, statements were made on behalf of the Group of 77 (G77) and China, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Group, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the EU and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Numerous speakers noted that the present session will serve to set the stage for a new global agenda, calling it a “critical juncture” and a “tipping point” for the international community. The groupings identified their top priorities for the session, including preparations for the FfD conference and 20th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), follow-up to the SIDS conference, sovereign debt and debt sustainability, setting up a post-2015 development agenda to eradicate poverty by 2030, resolving the discussion on technology facilitation, and other issues. [Meeting Webcast] [Statements] [IISD RS Sources] [Second Committee Documents] [DESA Press Release] [Wu Statement]


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