Second Committee Debates Priorities for 70th Session
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The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) held its General Debate for the 70th Session, focusing on the Committee's contribution to the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA).

There was also general consensus that the Committee should reinforce the need for a strong and meaningful outcome at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place in Paris, France, in December 2015.

unga709 October 2015: The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) held its General Debate for the 70th Session, focusing on the Committee’s contribution to the implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). There was also general consensus that the Committee should reinforce the need for a strong and meaningful outcome at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place in Paris, France, in December 2015.

The General Debate took place from 7-9 October 2015, in New York, US, beginning with a keynote address and statements from large country groupings, followed by individual country statements.

On means of implementation (MOI), developing countries: highlighted the importance of official development assistance (ODA) and called for developed countries to fulfill their ODA commitments; highlighted the importance of respecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR); called for additional financial support and technology transfer on preferential terms for developing countries; underscored the need to strengthen South-South cooperation; and called for fighting corruption and for sovereign debt restructuring; and requested the reform of the international financial system to ensure fair representation. The Russian Federation called for a focus on liberalizing trade and easing debt burdens, including by re-regulating the restructuring of sovereign indebtedness. Turkey prioritized scaling-up assistance to the least developed countries (LDCs) and other groups in special situations. Brazil highlighted the Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM), saying the next step is to nominate the ten-member advisory group to the Mechanism.

Some countries, including Bhutan, Guinea and India, emphasized the importance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 on economic growth and SDG 9 on industrialization. Referring to money laundering through secret accounts, Libya called on all Member States to implement the UN Convention against Corruption.

Guyana, which had served as a co-facilitator for negotiations for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3), identified “core critical” priorities to be pursued together: taking immediate steps with regard to the MOI of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; prompt action on the FfD3 deliverables; enhancing tax cooperation; ensuring debt sustainability; establishing the forum for FfD3 follow-up; and refining institutional support structures, both at national and international levels. Norway said moving “from billions to trillions” in development finance will require leadership from the private sector.

Many developed countries, including Israel and Japan, stressed the need for the UN to become “fit for purpose” in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Australia called to look at financing from all sources for implementing the 2030 Agenda, while New Zealand called for identifying key priorities.

Norway said the UN Development System cannot and should not do everything, but should focus on: continued support to LDCs and low-income countries; stronger efforts in politically fragile countries; high-quality normative and technical assistance to middle-income countries (MICs); and results, effectiveness and partnerships.

India said the 2030 Agenda will lead to the “retuning” of implementation and to a review of the UN’s progress. He said that Goal 17 (MOI), Goal 8 (economic growth) and Goal 9 (industrialization) contain “the seeds of the success of the Agenda.” He also flagged risks in the implementation process, such as “cherry picking” issues, subjective interpretations of the Agenda’s mandate, and perpetuating the “silo” mindset.

The Republic of Korea, which holds the presidency of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said the Second Committee should have four priorities: establishing a robust follow-up and review mechanism through the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF); supporting a strong climate agreement in Paris; addressing rural development and education, especially for girls; and, supported in this view by Afghanistan, paying special attention to Goal 16 on peaceful and inclusive societies.

Singapore said the Committee should discuss operationalizing the specific outcomes contained in the new agenda: the mandate of the HLPF; the dedicated follow-up and review for the AAAA and the MOI of the SDGs, which is integrated with the follow-up and review framework of the 2030 Agenda; and the review of global progress in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for 2015-2030.

Brazil added that the UNGA should work toward a “transition to an enhanced institutional framework for sustainable development cooperation” for SDG implementation, and looked forward to the Secretariat’s report on critical milestones towards follow-up and review, as did many other delegations.

Fiji said some SDGs have better support systems than others, underlining that Goal 14 (oceans) lacks one. He announced that five triennial conferences will take place before 2030, to assess the gaps and successes in implementing Goal 14. He said the conferences will be inclusive of all stakeholders, and the first one will take place in Fiji in June 2017, co-organized with Sweden.

Brazil, Turkey and other countries flagged the importance of the SDG indicators currently being developed by the Inter-agency and Expert Group on the SDG indicators (IAEG-SDGs), under the aegis of the UN Statistical Commission.

Other issues emphasized by Member States included gender equality and women’s empowerment, ensuring the human rights of migrants, and supporting youth, especially through youth employment. Some delegates, including Singapore and Sudan, mentioned that the Committee should contribute to preparations for the Habitat III Conference in October 2016, and ensure that Habitat III will support the 2030 Agenda.

At the conclusion of the General Debate, the Committee held a discussion of its working methods for the session. [Second Committee Webpage] [General Debate Statements] [IISD RS Story on Opening of General Debate] [IISD RS Story on Working Methods Meeting]


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