23 September 2016
UNGA Debate Speakers Cite Actions to Implement SDGs, Paris Agreement
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UN Member States highlighted national actions to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, as the 71st session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) entered the third day of its general debate at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 22 September 2016.

The debate is focusing on the theme 'The SDGs: a universal push to transform our world.'

ga-71-logo22 September 2016: UN Member States highlighted national actions to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, as the 71st session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) entered the third day of its general debate at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 22 September 2016. The debate is focusing on the theme ‘The SDGs: a universal push to transform our world.’

On SDG implementation, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Bulgaria, El Salvador, Angola, Guatemala, Libya, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Republic of Korea and others described national processes to integrate the SDGs into national planning processes and programmes.

The Netherlands said action and execution of the SDGs are priority actions, and suggested “a moratorium on new and lofty outcome documents until we have delivered on the commitments and promises in the ones we already have.” Cameroon said constant political will is necessary to ensure implementation. The Holy See reiterated Pope Francis’s statement that the best indicator of SDG implementation will be access for all to housing, adequate food and drinking water, properly remunerated employment, religious freedom and spiritual freedom and education, emphasizing specific, lasting and equitable distribution of outcomes. Turkmenistan urged complementary implementation of the SDGs and other instruments, including the Paris Agreement.

On financing for the SDGs, countries recommended: ensuring a targeted, results-oriented approach of development cooperation (Cyprus); promoting effective, certain and adequate contributions (Cameroon); directing implementation assistance, including additional resources, capacity building and technology transfer, to the national level (Kiribati); fulfilling commitments under the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) and SDG 17 (Côte d’Ivoire); promoting solutions for islands-tailored innovative finance (the Marshall Islands); aligning assistance with national priorities (PNG); strengthening the private sector (Libya); and maintaining aid to developing countries (Algeria). PNG added that it has reformed its tax system to strengthen domestic resource mobilization (DRM) in support of its national development agenda.

On follow-up and review, countries shared efforts to: formulate a National Integrated Results Framework that aligns the SDGs with a monitoring and evaluation mechanism, and establish a system to promote reliable statistical data to report on progress (Sierra Leone); and develop and adopt appropriate SDG indicators for national programmes (Turkmenistan).

On gender equality, countries called for: combating gender-based violence (Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Marshall Islands); empowering women, including by appointing women to top-level decision-making positions (Sierra Leone); supporting UN Women’s ‘Planet 50-50′ campaign (Bulgaria); and joining UN Women’s HeForShe campaign (Rwanda). Bulgaria also highlighted women in high-level positions in his country and, with PNG, called on the UN to also ensure equal access to senior decision-making positions. Lithuania stressed the full participation of women as essential to resolve challenges from climate change and the SDGs to terrorism, describing the importance of special attention to women to achieve SDGs on poverty, hunger and food security, and education.

Several countries stressed the importance of achieving education-related SDGs, including Lithuania and Guatemala. Cyprus called for promoting girls’ education and investing in human capital through capacity development and education. The Marshall Islands supported a curriculum that emphasizes local languages. Bulgaria identified education as crucial in preventing radicalization and achieving sustainable progress and long-lasting results. Bulgaria also said it has introduced special programmes in schools to teach children about the SDGs.

On energy, Kazakhstan said it is working with relevant UN agencies to establish an International Centre for the Development of Green Technologies and Investment Projects as part of efforts towards SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy.

On biodiversity-related SDGs, Liberia stressed its commitment to sustainable land and forest governance and management, including through a legal verification mechanism and enforcement, and to protecting the environment from climate change effects. The Marshall Islands is addressing water quality and security. Turkmenistan highlighted the importance of water preservation issues in Central Asia, and supported efforts to fight desertification and land degradation.

On oceans, the Marshall Islands and PNG committed to the protection and sustainable use of fisheries and ocean resources. PNG also highlighted: threats from illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing, land-based pollutants, marine debris and ocean warming and acidification; the UN Conference on SDG 14 and the promotion of partnerships at the Third Annual Our Ocean Conference; and the need for a timely conclusion to the Preparatory Committee process on the elements of a draft text of an international legal binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

Several countries supported action on SDG 16 (peaceful and inclusive societies), including to: fight conflict and terrorism (Cameroon); enhance good governance, promote the rule of law (Cyprus) and combat corruption (Cyprus, Guatemala); achieve global transformation (Kiribati); and address the relationship between peace, security and sustainable development as well as to ensure the rule of law and good governance (PNG). Rwanda informed that it hosts the new Sustainable Development Government Centre for Africa. Sierra Leone stressed the importance of incorporating SDG 16 into the work of the g7+ Group of Fragile States, and outlined the country’s work to strengthen its democratic institutions and access to justice.

Several countries stressed the importance of peace and security to achieve the SDGs, including Sierra Leone, El Salvador, and the Holy See. The Netherlands underscored the role of respect for human rights and justice in durable peace. Kiribati said “our hearts, our love” has been a missing ingredient in our recipe for global peace and security.

Also on countries in special situations, Cuba demanded fair, special and differentiated treatment for small island developing States (SIDS), observing that such States are most affected by climate change. Paraguay urged addressing challenges faced by landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), including by trade facilitation.

Also on the SDGs, countries prioritized: youth empowerment and employment (Sierra Leone); health, education and food security (Madagascar); poverty eradication (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire); poverty eradication and fighting inequality (Burkina Faso); poverty eradication, economic growth, reducing inequality and improving delivery on health, food security and the environment (the Marshall Islands); education, high-tech and innovation to build green and energy efficient economies (Bulgaria); access to technology, including high speed internet (Rwanda); policies for youth by youth (Macedonia); education, health, among others (Guatemala); water, food and energy security (Kazakhstan); and social programmes to prevent people from falling back into poverty and curb intergenerational poverty (Paraguay).

On ratification of the Paris Agreement, Kiribati and PNG underlined they have ratified the Agreement. Kiribati, Bulgaria and the Marshall Islands urged its early entry into force. Benin and Bulgaria indicated they are in the process of ratification. Cyprus, Côte d’Ivoire, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Angola and Parguay expressed their intention to ratify by the end of 2016. The Netherlands informed it will ratify shortly. Angola said it will ratify “in the shortest time possible,” while Paraguay indicated it will “ratify soon.”

Describing climate impacts experienced by his country, including water scarcity, Kiribati urged UN assistance to ensure the survival of its people, saying the issue “cannot wait for the Paris Agreement ratification process to happen.” The Marshall Islands called for increasing ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance.

On climate financing, countries called for: an equitable distribution of resources and capital from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as well as technology transfer (Madagascar); fulfilling commitments to the GCF (Côte d’Ivoire); and financing and technology transfer (Cuba).

Countries shared domestic climate actions, including: implementing adaption projects on climate information and early warning systems (Sierra Leone); implementing a disaster risk reduction (DRR) plan and measures, and moving towards more efficient and renewable energy (the Marshall Islands); and proposing to host a UN Regional Hub on sustainable development, humanitarian assistance, DRR and resilience building (Kazakhstan). Kiribati called for major changes in global mindsets, development pathways and “the ways we do business” to tackle climate change. Angola pointed to the impact of climate change on migration, food security, natural resources, epidemics and social and economic instability.

Rwanda urged countries to pass an amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer to phase-out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), noting HFCs are a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

On the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), Angola welcomed the opportunity to adopt a new urban agenda to promote synergies among urbanization, sustainable development and climate change. Many speakers addressed global challenges related to migration, refugees, conflicts and terrorism as well as the need to reform the UN system, including the UN Security Council.

The 71st UNGA General Debate runs until 26 September. [UNGA General Debate Website]

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