4 October 2016
UNGA Second Committee Begins New Session Focused on Role in Supporting Sustainable Development
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The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee, on economic and financial issues, has begun its substantive work for the 71st session.

The opening session included a keynote address from economist Dambisa Moyo.

The Committee's general debate is taking place from 3-5 October 2016.

unga3 October 2016: The UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Second Committee, on economic and financial issues, has begun its substantive work for the 71st session. The opening session included a keynote address from economist Dambisa Moyo. The Committee’s general debate is taking place from 3-5 October 2016.

In his opening statement, Committee Chair Dian Triansyah Djani (Indonesia) said governments are “still grappling with the momentous change” brought about by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework on disaster risk reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development, and the Paris Agreement on climate change. He called the SDGs a “welcome adjustment” to past development models that are not adequate for the current “hyper-globalized” context.

He said that in order to support governments’ efforts to align national development plans and policies with the SDGs, the UN Development System (UNDS) must make its operational work more effective and coordinated. He stressed that the resources for achieving the SDGs exist, as identified in the AAAA, and that the Second Committee has a role to play in ensuring that all resources come together in support of sustainable development. Djani also highlighted the discussions to be held in the Committee on the 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR), which he said have already benefited from extensive preparations convened by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the Committee should give concrete guidance to the UNDS through a “strategic and outcome-based” QCPR resolution. The resolution can also lay the foundation for further changes that can be steered by the UN Secretary-General next year, he said. Wu also noted the two-year process to elaborate a global compact on migration, saying the UNGA must decide on modalities for the 2018 intergovernmental conference on migration by the end of 2016.

In the keynote address for the 71st session, Moyo said economic growth is expected to remain low. In order to double per capita incomes in one generation, she said, the economy needs to grow at 7% per year, and this is “not happening.” She also noted the unprecedented level of geopolitical risk, even in the “most developed, democratic societies,” due to factors such as refugee flows, drug resistance and climate change. Among the “headwinds” making it difficult to create economic growth and reduce poverty, she highlighted the growing youth population, concerns that technology is creating a “jobless underclass,” and income inequality within countries – despite economic growth, and no matter their political system.

Moyo drew attention to public policy trends that are reversing the “tenets of globalization,” noting that: trade and cross-border capital flows are slowing; the conversation about immigration is “unsophisticated;” and there is a need for smaller, more efficient government with greater private sector involvement. She called to reconsider engagement with philanthropists who are “underwriting public goods,” in order to ensure people can hold their governments responsible for education, health care, infrastructure, and national security. She also indicated that in a construction like the EU, economic functioning must be the primary concern, or else it cannot function well politically.

Responding to a delegate’s suggestion that neo-liberal policies are the reason for current difficulties, Moyo indicated that those policies, especially on trade, were not implemented fully, leading to inequality. She added that an overly stringent and onerous regulatory environment for the capital system could undermine investment.

On a question about small states’ participation on globalization, she highlighted the benefits of regional integration for small countries that cannot compete by themselves. “Superficial integration,” however, such as that seen the EU, has negative consequences, she warned; only deeper fiscal, monetary and political integration will bring the needed growth.

Following Moyo’s address, the Second Committee began its general debate, which will continue until 5 October. [IISD RS Sources] [USG Wu Statement] [Webcast of Opening Session] [Statements during General Debate] [UN Meeting Summary]

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