UNGA High-level Debate Opens with Discussions on Accelerating MDGs, Post-2015 Priorities
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The 68th UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Debate opened on 24 September 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, with speakers recognizing the urgency of formulating the post-2015 development agenda.

They called for accelerating action on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and highlighted their priorities for the post-2015 agenda.

UNGA24 September 2013: The 68th UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Debate opened on 24 September 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, with speakers recognizing the urgency of formulating the post-2015 development agenda. They called for accelerating action on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and highlighted their priorities for the post-2015 agenda.

Several speakers, including Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, Viktor Yanukovych, President of Ukraine, and Michael Sata, President of Zambia, reported mixed progress on the MDGs. Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, said strong political will and transformational partnerships have accelerated the country’s MDG attainment. Yoweri Museveni, President of Uganda, described bottlenecks to MDG achievement, including lack of education, poor health and inadequate infrastructure. Andris Bērziņš, President of Latvia, said conflict-affected, fragile and least developed countries (LDCs) face the biggest difficulties in MDG achievement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a final push on the MDGs, which many supported. Rossen Plevneliev, President of Bulgaria, called for mobilizing all available means to tackle the unfinished MDGs. Zeljko Komšić, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported increased financing for Africa to meet the MDGs.

John Ashe, UNGA President, said defining the post-2015 agenda is crucial to the UN’s overall work and long-term efficacy. Several leaders praised the inclusiveness of the post-2015 consultation process, with Goodluck Jonathan, President of Nigeria, and Yanukovych appreciating the innovative national consultations.

Ban said the new agenda “must be universal, with ending poverty as its top priority, sustainable development at its core and governance as its glue.” Leaders widely supported the emphasis on poverty eradication, including Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, and Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique.

Several supported a single set of universally agreed goals while others supported consideration of regional and national circumstances. Rajapaksa and Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, said the post-2015 agenda should recognize common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). Guebuza said the agenda should be based on national ownership and shared implementation responsibility. Ali Ondimba, President of Gabon, supported monitoring national progress.

Sata supported consideration of different development and economic levels of Member States. Laura Chinchilla, President of Costa Rica, called attention to middle-income country needs and contributions. Banda proposed tracking progress by levels of income.

Speakers also suggested inclusion of particular issues. Prince Albert II of Monaco proposed an oceans goal, recognizing oceans’ role in climate regulation, energy, food security, international trade, tourism and transport. Yanukovych stressed sustainable energy, including safe nuclear energy. Ondimba and Gašparovič emphasized energy, water and sustainable agriculture. Heinz Fischer, President of Austria, proposed “upgrading” hunger eradication from an indicator to a goal in the post-2015 agenda.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Zuma described African priorities, including job creation. Bērziņš and Yanukovych prioritized peace and security, with Bērziņš recommending a set of peace-building goals. Miranda and Plevneliev supported including culture and education.

Miranda and Rajapaksa supported integrating youth in the post-2015 agenda. Rajapaksa also proposed an “International Skills Day” to support youth skills development. Sata emphasized mainstreaming children’s issues, including access to quality education and healthcare. Ivan Gašparovič, President of Slovakia, supported including persons with disabilities. Fredrik Reinfeldt, Prime Minister of Sweden, supported focusing on ensuring gender quality, ensuring accountable, transparent governing systems, and promoting trade and competition in the post-2015 agenda.

Jonathan and Gašparovič stressed the importance of financing, welcoming establishment of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing. Ondimba and Rajapaksa said development financing needs to be predictable. François Hollande, President of France, supported innovative financing, such as taxes on airline tickets and financial transactions. Johnson-Sirleaf called on the UNGA to commit to a new global partnership that promotes economic and social transformations for an inclusive and shared prosperity for all. [UNGA General Debate Statements]


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