6 October 2015
UNGA Speakers Continue Reviewing SDG Priorities, Challenges
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The UN General Assembly (UNGA) continued its 70th annual General Debate on 1 October 2015, with speakers focusing on the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as peace, security, human rights and other global challenges.

Speakers also addressed countries in special situations and outlined national priorities, including on gender equality and oceans.

unga701 October 2015: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) continued its 70th annual General Debate on 1 October 2015, with speakers focusing on the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as peace, security, human rights and other global challenges. Speakers also addressed countries in special situations and outlined national priorities, including on gender equality and oceans.

Several speakers welcomed the Agenda, including Ose Maria Pereira Neves, Prime Minister, Cape Verde. Dragan Čović, Chiarman of the Presidency, Bosnia and Herzegovina, called for making the 2030 Agenda a reality. Slovakia said the 2030 Agenda “is about changing our mindsets” and setting up a philosophy for a sustainable future based on full inclusivity and zero disparity.

Angola welcomed the Agenda’s reassertion of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development’s (UNCSD, or Rio+20) precept that it is possible to promote sustainable development and establish universal goals that highlight a common path for humanity.

On means of implementation (MOI) and follow up, Nepal said guaranteed means of implementation (MOI) encompassing finance, technology transfer, capacity and partnership are critical to ensure a transformative Agenda.

Cambodia stressed the importance of learning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when implementing the SDGs. He said the UNGA should be more empowered to enhance global governance in the UN system, and the UN Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) must follow up on the Agenda’s implementation. Papua New Guinea (PNG) said the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) must support national, regional and global efforts on the SDGs. Filip Vujanović, President, Montenegro, supported the participation of all stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, in monitoring implementation.

India said both political resolve and “an inclination to share” financial and technology resources will be critical to the SDGs’ successful implementation.

On financing, Montenegro stressed the mobilization of all available resources and the inclusion of the Agenda in national development plans as a prerequisite for implementation. Manasseh Sogavare, Prime Minister, Solomon Islands, emphasized the importance of resources to implement the SDGs, saying implementation should be driven by a “new form of partnership, anchored on a new spirit of solidarity, fostered by new political relationships and a paradigm shift in international cooperation that guarantees prosperity for all.” Bahamas welcomed the SIDS DOCK initiative.

Several speakers described their national plans and strategies to implement the SDGs, including Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President, Madagascar; Bahamas; Cambodia; and PNG. Akalitha Mosisili, Prime Minister, Lesotho, observed that many SDGs resonate with his government’s objectives, including its efforts on nutrition and renewable energy.

PNG said the Agenda must be nationally owned and driven, with countries leading their national development plans and strategies and integrating the Agenda. Saudi Arabia underscored the importance of taking into account countries’ specific aims and levels of development. Kyrgyzstan said the SDGs should recognize States’ equal right to development.

Omar Sharmarke, Prime Minister, Somalia, proposed a “Grand Development Plan” for his country, aligned with the SDGs, that would establish social and physical infrastructure and create jobs and opportunities for young Somalis, as an alternative to extremism.

Several speakers highlighted the importance of addressing poverty, including Chad; Michel Joseph Martelly, President, Haiti; and Madagascar. Botswana identified poverty eradication as a priority issue for his country. Cambodia described poverty and food insecurity as stumbling blocks to his country’s development. To tackle them, he recommended good governance, policy reform and increased investments in food production. Nepal identified poverty as a threat to peace, security and human rights, calling for immediate attention to growing inequality.

Rui Maria De Araújo, Prime Minister, Timor-Leste, commended the inclusion of SDG 16, which he described as the basis for an inclusive agenda and, with SDG 5 and SDG 17, as “the cornerstone” for the achievement of the other SDGs. Nicaragua, Madagascar and PNG also addressed the importance of peace and security in the Agenda’s achievement.

Lexis Tsipras, Prime Minister, Greece, described how people in his country struggled with pride and dignity to overcome crises yet also assisted people who fled conflict zones, stressing this situation as a daily example that should guide the world towards taking steps to achieve a safer, just and more prosperous world.

Many speakers supported SDG 5 on gender, including Ireland, Botswana, India and Montenegro. Others emphasized national progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment, including Algeria and Burundi. Noting that UN Women is under-resourced, Solomon Islands called on Member States to support work on gender equality and empowerment, and achievement of SDG 5.

On oceans and water, Cape Verde described their importance for his country’s history, identity and subsistence. He welcomed the UNGA’s decision to establish a Preparatory Committee for the development of a legally binding Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

John Key, Prime Minister, New Zealand, highlighted his country’s commitment to healthy oceans, noting that New Zealand recently announced the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary in its waters, which will cover an area twice its land mass, and has committed US$1 billion in development assistance to support sustainable fisheries management in the Pacific. Solomon Islands noted threats to its oceans, including climate change and ocean acidification.

Kyrgyzstan said his country will focus on hydropower as a basis of sustainable development and water resources.

On biodiversity, Madagascar highlighted his country’s high levels of biodiversity and its support for the UN resolution on trafficking wild flora and fauna. Nepal called for enhanced international collaboration to conserve and promote mountain ecosystems for common benefits.

On chemicals, Peter Christian, President, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), described his country’s proposal to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as a complementary climate change action. Noting that over 100 countries have now called for phasing down HFC production, he said FSM will continue to work with all parties for action on this issue.

Countries also addressed special situations. Nepal called for enhancing collaboration and partnership, as agreed in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), to address least developed country (LDC) graduation. He also recommended reviewing the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA) and implementing the Vienna Programme of Action (VPOA) for landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), including actions to ensure free movement of people and goods by all transit countries. Botswana urged capacity building for LLDCs and middle-income countries (MICs) to implement the Agenda.

Highlighting challenges faced by small island developing States (SIDS), Cape Verde called for special attention to SIDS in the context of the SDGs, noting that the Agenda is a source of hope for billions who aspire for a more equitable, inclusive and just world. PNG said it has contributed US$100 million to support Pacific SIDS in critical development areas for the period 2014-2018.

Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda, said it is difficult, if not impossible, for his small country to finance its development without external assistance and access to foreign capital yet stressed his people did not want to beg. He welcomed China’s efforts to establish a fund for South-South cooperation in support of the post-2015 development agenda.

Noting the distance and diverse and peculiar characteristics of the Pacific region, Solomon Islands welcomed a UNGA resolution calling for enhanced UN presence in the Pacific, especially at the country level, and establishment of subregional offices within the Pacific.

On tax, Antigua and Barbuda, said his country is not a tax haven, and has been found compliant by the Financial Action Task Force and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) global tax forum. He stressed that “wrongful tarnishing” of his country is contrary to the aims of the 2030 Agenda.

Speakers also addressed, among other topics, climate change, renewable energy, implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030, education and human capital, health and HIV/AIDS, job creation, trade and migration.

The General Debate runs until 3 October. [General Debate Statements, 1 October] [UN Press Release on SIDS’ Statements] [UN Press Release on Cambodia] [UN Press Release on Madagascar] [UN Press Release on Nepal] [UN Press Release on Timor-Leste]

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