unga702 October 2015: Participants in the general debate for the UN’s 70th General Assembly (UNGA) welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in the second-to-last day of the debate, on 2 October 2015. Speakers highlighted progress and national priorities for sustainable development and poverty eradication. They also addressed the refugee and migrant crisis and security and peacekeeping operations around the world.

Many speakers welcomed the Agenda’s adoption, including Iceland, Niger, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Sao Tome and Principe expressed hope that the 2030 Agenda will be more inclusive, qualitative and sustainable for all. Kiribati said the Goals are not new but they do reflect a new, global call for the international community to do things differently to affect transformational change. Trinidad and Tobago described the Agenda’s adoption as a “testament to the triumph and…power and possibilities of multilateralism.”

On means of implementation (MOI), Bhutan highlighted the importance of predictable resources, sincere global partnerships, longer-term planning perspectives, systematic approaches, new thinking and the collaboration and commitment of people in achieving the Agenda. Jamaica emphasized political will, genuine and durable partnerships, determined efforts and international, regional and national resources. Myanmar identified political commitment, enhanced partnership, strengthening of capacity and provision of adequate MOI as critical. Peru highlighted the importance of strengthening and renewing the global partnership for sustainable development. Viet Nam also supported a strong global partnership for sustainable development, and called on developed countries to take the lead in assisting developing countries in implementation through financing, human resources development and technology transfer.

On monitoring and review, Saint Kitts and Nevis underscored the importance of a robust, systematic and effective monitoring and review process. Tuvalu said the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) should play a critical role in monitoring and review. “Every child, every women, every citizen, every community should know these SDGs and own the rights under these goals,” he added, advocating for wide communication on the SDGs to all global citizens to ensure the Goals “can be understood, owned and adhered to by one and all,” and that leaders and others are held accountable.

Other speakers addressed the interlinkages between the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), including Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister, Barbados. Guinea-Bissau said the fulfillment of commitments on development aid and other development funds is critical for least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS). Tuvalu called for ensuring MOI as outlined in the AAAA, including the transfer of technology and technical skills. He stressed, however, that MOI must be matched by leadership integrity.

In support of strengthened South-South cooperation, Indonesia said it will establish the Asian African Center to revitalize partnerships between Asia and African countries to promote peace and prosperity.

Belize, Grenada, and Saint Kitts and Nevis welcomed the establishment of the SIDS DOCK.

Several SIDS highlighted their unique vulnerabilities, including Tuvalu and Jamaica, who said continued international support for SIDS is critical for achieving the SDGs. Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister, Mauritius, reminded participants that the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda recognize SIDS’ specific and unique vulnerabilities, and called for transforming the AAAA’s commitments to support SIDS and LDCs through domestic resource mobilization, catalytic use of official development assistance (ODA) and strong trade commitments into reality. Saint Lucia expressed concern that SIDS and other small states lack access to arrangements that allow them to receive external support, underscoring the importance of such support in addressing the Agenda. Grenada urged the UN Security Council to give greater consideration to SIDS’ special circumstances in relation to both traditional and non-traditional security concerns.

Several countries addressed graduation from the LDC category, including Bhutan and Saint Lucia. Noting the graduation criteria for LDCs is “biased towards statistical calculations rather than…SIDS vulnerable realities,” Tuvalu called for reviewing the criteria. Barbados similarly urged the UN and international financial institutions (IFIs) to address the issue of graduation of middle-income countries (MICs) from access to concessionary and grant-based financing. He and Grenada recommended developing and utilizing measures for development beyond countries’ GDP per capita. Mauritius also supported new methods of measurement, explaining that his country’s relatively high Gross Domestic Product (GDP) obscures the cost Mauritius must pay for its development and precludes it from accessing vital development finance and support.

Myanmar said his country aims to graduate from the LDCs through sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

Countries also highlighted national progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and outlined national implementation plans, including Sudan and Congo. Bhutan shared his country’s development philosophy of gross national happiness, which he described as “development with values.” Tuvalu said his country will host a National Summit to formulate its next development plan, which will be aligned with the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda. Guinea-Bissau said his country has agreed on a new development strategy that is consistent with the SDGs.

Others stressed national ownership and leadership on implementation, with Tuvalu calling for such leadership to be in line with country circumstances and capabilities. Indonesia recommended aligning global development strategies with national conditions and priorities.

Many speakers addressed peace and security concerns, with some addressing the relationship between peace and sustainable development, including Barbados, Bhutan, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Viet Nam. Mauritius supported maintaining a balance among peace, human rights and development. The Holy See recognized the importance of peace between peoples and nations in implementing the Agenda. Sao Tome and Principe affirmed global security as vital to achieving sustainable development, saying it should begin at regional and local levels.

Several speakers welcomed SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s development, stressing its importance for sustainable development and highlighting national progress, including Jamaica, Mauritius, Peru and the Philippines. Iceland supported UN Women’s ‘He for She’ campaign and stated his country’s intention to host Barbershop conferences on the topic. Liechtenstein supported the inclusion of women and their perspectives.

Peru and Trinidad and Tobago called for placing the most vulnerable members of society, including women, children, the disabled, indigenous peoples and migrants, at the center of the 2030 Agenda, with Peru also recommending budgets for social inclusion programmes. Edi Rama, Prime Minister, Albania, called for putting youth at the heart of the Agenda.

Bhutan welcomed SDG 4 on education, urging a continued focus on education in planning and implementing national strategies. He said Bhutan will prioritize the education sector when mainstreaming the Agenda with its national strategies and plans.

On health, Saint Kitts and Nevis expressed hope that the inclusion of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the SDGs will help to reverse high incidences of NCDs at global, regional and national levels.

Several speakers supported SDG 14 on oceans, including Jamaica. Tuvalu stressed the importance of healthy oceans for SIDS to achieve the SDGs. Grenada supported convening the Triennial Oceans and Seas Global conferences for the duration of the 2030 Agenda, beginning in June 2017 in Fiji.

Trinidad and Tobago looked forward to the active participation of all States in the Preparatory Committee on the development of an international, legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). Iceland discussed the relationship between sustainable natural resources management, achieving food security and eliminating hunger. He recommended sustainable management of lands and oceans to address these challenges. Bhutan highlighted its country’s Constitutional mandate to maintain a minimum of 60% of its land under forest cover, noting that 72% of his country is forested.

Turkmenistan described ecological challenges faced by her country, and said Turkmenistan hopes to host a UN Regional Centre focused on technologies for combating climate change. The Philippines called for increased emphasis on the pillar of resilience in the 2030 Agenda.

On migration, the Philippines said his country will continue to highlight the positive contributions of migrants to sustainable development in countries of origin, transit and destination. He underlined the importance of recognizing migrants’ human rights.

Barbados welcomed the UNGA’s adoption of an International Decade for People of African Descent and, in this context, recommended addressing reparatory justice in the 2030 Agenda.

On tax, Mauritius said his country has promoted standards of transparency and exchange of information with the aim of combating tax evasion and money laundering.

Speakers also addressed climate change, energy, maritime disputes, the rule of law, trade and the Doha Development Agenda, urbanization, and access to decent work and youth unemployment. Many also proposed elements of UN reform, including expanding the membership of the UN Security Council.

The 70th General Debate runs until 3 October. [General Debate Statements, 2 October] [UN Press Release on Africa Statements] [UN Press Release on Latin America] [UN Press Release on Bahrain] [UN Press Release on Bhutan] [UN Press Release on Indonesia] [UN Press Release on Viet Nam] [UN Press Release on UAE]