1 October 2014
On Final Day, UNGA General Debate Addresses Post-2015 Agenda, SIDS and Oceans
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On the final day of the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) 69th General Debate, speakers again addressed their countries priorities for the post-2015 development agenda as well as topics such as climate change, health and security.

Closing the Debate on 30 September, UNGA President Sam Kutesa urged Member States to “make real and meaningful change in the livelihoods of humanity and the health of our planet.”

unga6930 September 2014: On the final day of the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) 69th General Debate, speakers again addressed their countries priorities for the post-2015 development agenda as well as topics such as climate change, health and security. Closing the Debate on 30 September, UNGA President Sam Kutesa urged Member States to “make real and meaningful change in the livelihoods of humanity and the health of our planet.”

Several speakers shared their countries’ progress towards realizing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including Yousef Bin Al-Alawi Bin Abdulla, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Oman, Collin Beck, Permanent Representative, Solomon Islands, and Jorge Alberto Silva Borges, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cape Verde. Wilfred Elrington, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Belize, said its MDG experience “makes us less than sanguine that we will be more successful in achieving the post-2015 development agenda.” Alva Romanus Baptiste, Minister for External Affairs, International Trade and Civil Aviation, Saint Lucia, welcomed the development bank established by Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS), which he said would assist countries to achieve the MDGs. Rimbink Pato, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, Papua New Guinea (PNG), said it tailored the MDGs to its national priorities with 88 indicators connected to its national development plan.

Several highlighted the formulation of the post-2015 agenda as an unique opportunity, with Samuel Santos López, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nicaragua, describing it as “ a new opportunity to strive for a just world order” and Lyonpo Rinzin Dorje, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bhutan, calling it “an opportune moment to define a new era in international development and cooperation.”

Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Barbados, said the Open Working Group OWG) on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must form the basis for the post-2015 agenda. Nicaragua said the post-2015 agenda should be developed on the basis of the OWG and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) process. Solomon Islands said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s post-2015 synthesis report should structure the negotiations. Milan Jaya Nyamrajsingh Meettarbhan, Permanent Representative, Mauritius, said the OWG, Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing (ICESDF) and options for a technology facilitation mechanism should contribute to post-2015 preparations and be included in Ban’s report. PNG recommended including the ICESDF’s recommendations.

On means of implementation (MOI), several urged adequate financing. José Antonio dos Santos, Permanent Representative, Paraguay, appealed for a better distribution of international financial resources in the post-2015 agenda to help poorer countries. Leonardo Arizaga, Deputy Foreign Minister, Ecuador, said richer countries should help poorer countries achieve the post-2015 agenda and tackle climate change, emphasizing that developing countries’ abilities to achieve the SDGs will depend on the provision of resources by developed countries. Barbados said MOI must encompass more than financing, and should include durable partnerships to facilitate provision of adequate financial and other resources, fair trade and market access, and technology transfer and capacity building, particularly on data collection and statistical analysis. Mauritius recommended a flexible, universal accountability framework that considers different capacities and responsibilities. Vladimir Makei, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Belarus, and Osman Mohammed Saleh, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eritrea, emphasized partnerships.

Frederick A. Mitchell, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Bahamas, welcomed the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) as a forum to address international tax cooperation and discuss the need to go beyond gross domestic product (GDP) as the sole indicator for sustainable development. Cape Verde hoped the Conference will agree on clear commitments and redefinition of criteria for allocating financial resources for development.

Small island developing States (SIDS) highlighted their unique and special vulnerabilities, with several calling for the integration of the Samoa Pathway document into the post-2015 agenda, including in its design, delivery and implementation. Noting the Samoa Pathway calls for a comprehensive review of UN support for SIDS, Solomon Islands requested upgrading its UN Development Programme (UNDP) sub-office to country office status. Saint Lucia recommended MOI to support SIDS’ regional and national development efforts. PNG recommended genuine and durable partnerships with SIDS, and Mauritius supported SIDS-SIDS partnerships.

Barbados highlighted the special situation of countries that are both SIDS and highly-indebted Middle Income Countries (MICs), saying MICs are overlooked on the presumption that they do not require international assistance because of their GDP per capita. She opposed GDP per capita as the criterion for accessing concessionary financing and urged taking into account country’s economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities. She further urged addressing MICs’ needs in the post-2015 agenda and outcome of the FfD Conference.

Winston Lackin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Suriname, said its MIC classification has prevented it from accessing concessional financing, calling the experience “a punishment for doing well.” He recommended adapting classification approaches to support sustainable development. Cape Verde said development financing must be based on criteria underlying real needs and vulnerabilities. Bhutan shared lessons from his country’s development, suggesting some principles may be relevant for the post-2015 agenda. He recommended, inter alia: development guided by a clear, “homegrown” vision; good governance to pursue development and peace; prioritizing poverty eradication; strong partnerships based on trust and mutual respect; and environmental protection.

PNG appreciated the inclusion of stand-alone SDGs on oceans and seas, sustainable energy and climate change. Mauritius described the importance of oceans for SIDS, and called for adopting a global oceans strategy as an operational counterpart to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to provide a framework for sustainable development of ocean-related economic activities. Suriname, PNG and Mauritius supported addressing gender equality and women’s empowerment, describing it as a cornerstone of sustainable development. Mohamed Waheed, Former President and Special Envoy of the President, Maldives, described its zero-tolerance policy towards violence against women. Solomon Islands highlighted its efforts on gender equality, including a review on its implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPOA).

Barbados described peace and security as enablers and indicators of sustainable development. Oman said one way to avoid extremism and violence is to consolidate good governance and sustainable development, especially for youth. Noting the connections among climate change, energy consumption, food security and water resources, Belarus recommended reflecting climate change in the post-2015 agenda. Cape Verde expressed appreciation for the proposed SDG on climate change. Barbados, Maldives, PNG, Mauritius, the Bahamas and Cape Verde underscored SIDS’ particular vulnerability, with several describing climate change as an issue of survival. Mauritius recommended including disaster risk reduction (DRR) in the post-2015 agenda.

Speakers also prioritized addressing several other issues in the post-2015 agenda. Solomon Islands said health is a precondition for sustainable development. Mauritius emphasized sustainable agriculture and the need to address growing energy, food and water demands, both for sustainable development and for peace and security. PNG said it is developing a National Statistics Development Strategy as a road map for PNG to improve and update its statistical information collection for decision-making.

In his closing speech, Sam Kutesa, President of UNGA 69, highlighted the General Debate as an opportunity for Member States to explore the current state of affairs and share accomplishments and ambitions with a worldwide audience. He noted many speakers supported placing eradicating poverty and hunger at the core of the post-2015 agenda. He said speakers recommended promoting the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights as prerequisites for achieving sustainable development, with several also supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment. On MOI, Kutesa said speakers stressed financial resources, capacity building and technology development and transfer, with several calling for fulfilling ODA commitments and an enhanced global partnership for development.

The 69th General Debate, which took place from to 24-30 September 2014, included 117 Heads of State and Government, three Vice-Presidents, eight Deputy Prime Ministers, 56 Ministers and other representatives who spoke on behalf of 193 Member States and two Observer delegations. [General Debate, 30 September] [UN Press Release on General Debate] [UN Press Release on SIDS Statements] [UN Press Release on Belarus Statement] [UN Press Release on Bhutan Statement] [UN Press Release on Eritrea Statement] [UN Press Release on Latin America and Caribbean Statements] [UN Press Release on Oman Statement]

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