unga703 October 2015: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) completed its 70th annual General Debate. At the high-level debate, which was attended by a record number of Heads of State and Government, many speakers welcomed the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and highlighted their commitment to the Agenda’s implementation, as well as their countries’ particular priorities.

The UNGA General Debate was a “historic” event crowned by the “truly seminal commitment” to achieving ambitious new development goals by 2030, UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft said in his closing address, on 3 October 2015. He welcomed leaders’ affirmation of their faith in the central role of the UN in international cooperation, observing that the plight of refugees and migrants was one of the matters most consistently raised over the six-day debate.

Several speakers welcomed the SDGs. The Maldives welcomed the SDGs’ holistic approach to multi-dimensional problems, such as poverty, and its recognition of the importance of protecting and promoting humanity. He recommended looking at every problem from every angle to ensure sustainable responses to crises. Eritrea expressed his country’s determination to achieve the SDGs before 2030, saying the SDGs accord with its development vision and priorities. Suriname said her country has adopted an integrated strategy for sustainable development.

Several speakers focused on implementation. Canada expressed his country’s commitment to implementing the Agenda, observing that the SDGs will require innovative approaches and new partnerships as well as the rule of law and accountable governance. Stressing the importance of implementation, San Marino called for a comprehensive and effective accountability and review mechanism. He welcomed the role of the UNGA and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in assessing implementation.

On financing, Palau reflected that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) “failed to bridge the gap between grand speech-making and down-to-earth expanded financial commitments.” He urged revitalizing an ambitious global partnership for sustainable development, stressing the need to enhance means of implementation (MOI) on a greater scale than those recommended in the AAAA. Canada called for finding new ways to blend finance from donors, the private sector and other sources to finance the SDGs, highlighting the Global Financing Facility in support of the Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC) initiative as a model of how the private sector can collaborate with national governments to finance initiatives.

Guinea said mobilizing resources is critical to realizing the Agenda. Oman observed that the deficiency of the global economy crippled many countries’ ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and urged addressing issues related to economy, commerce and environment, particularly international commerce on energy.

Highlighting the special challenges faced by small island developing States (SIDS), Maldives recommended changing the international architecture to accommodate the unique features of small States. He suggested partnerships as an important way forward. Palau highlighted affordable and equitable access to technology as critical in achieving the SDGs, including goals on food security, health and climate change.

Other speakers emphasized the specific SDGs on gender and health. Maldives said his country’s national development programme is based on “empowerment of people,” including women, children and youth. Canada welcomed the inclusion of maternal, newborn and child health in the agenda. He said Canada will prioritize maternal, newborn and child health, adding that it has committed over US$3.5 billion for 2015-2020.

On oceans, Palau thanked global partners for supporting SDG 14 on oceans and for commitments to preserve oceans through marine protected areas (MPAs) and to help his country improve its marine surveillance and enforcement efforts. Dominica announced her country had launched ‘Blue Guardians,’ a partnership between SIDS and public and private organizations to support marine conservation and clean energy.

The General Debate ran from 28 September to 3 October. [General Debate Statements, 3 October] [UN Press Release on UNGA President Statement] [UN Press Release on SIDS Statements] [UN Press Release on Canada] [UN Press Release on Oman]