New York, NY (MMD Newswire) October 5, 2011 - - Although the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) region had enjoyed a "golden decade" of growth and development in the late 1990s and up to 2008, it had been hit harder by the "great recession" than any other, Executive Secretary Ján Kubiš told the Second Committee today.
Employment remained below and poverty above pre-crisis levels in most ECE countries, he said, as the Committee held a panel discussion with the heads of the United Nations regional commissions, under the theme "Integrating the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development: Perspectives from the regions".
Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), moderated the dialogue, which also featured Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); and Roula Majdalani, Director of the Sustainable Development Division in the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
Mr. Kubiš said that the ECE region's transition to an inclusive and sustainable society would have to be achieved under difficult conditions. During the last two decades, inequality had been increasing throughout the region and the underlying factors were changes in technology, globalization and Government policy. However, although inequality had increased in a social sense, the poorest populations in most ECE countries had been protected. Most ECE economies faced an ageing population which they were unprepared to handle, he said, adding that, while the provision of pensions was well developed, their financing had not been adequately addressed.
He said inequality in the emerging European economies varied considerably, with only the Nordic countries having been successful in achieving equity with growth. Regarding environmental sustainability, he said that over the last two decades, carbon emissions had increased in the industrialized ECE economies while they had decreased in emerging Europe and Central Asia. That decline had contributed to the industrial restructuring and improving energy efficiencies in transition economies following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Kubiš went on to outline three different environmental models that were relevant to the ECE region. The first was found in the high-income countries, which tended to have high levels of human development and a heavy ecological footprint. The second, mostly evident in the low- and lower middle-income economies, had a lower level of human development and a light ecological footprint. Lastly, the upper middle-income economies had intermediate levels of human development and a heavy ecological footprint. Mr. Kubiš said a new growth model was needed, one that would have high human development and a light ecological footprint. To their credit, most emerging ECE economies had made significant progress in developing effective markets and legal institutions, he said. Some examples of good practices showed that evidence-based policies could improve environmental sustainability, economic performance, and the sustainability of social security systems. On the other hand, policy failures had contributed to unsustainable trends in the ECE region.
Ms. Majdalani described ESCWA'S work on sustainable development to the Arab Spring, saying the latter was rooted in a demand for better living conditions, job opportunities, access to resources and more inclusive development processes. She suggested that the experiences of 2011 made a case for adding a fourth -- political -- pillar to sustainable development, reflecting the will to ensure a strong political life.
Compared to global trends, the ESCAP region had performed well, but performance had been poorer in the social and environmental spheres. Unemployment remained a serious problem that had evolved into a political one, particularly among the youth. Energy security was a big issue for both oil-rich countries and energy importers, she said, adding that water also presented a dire problem. Linked to that was food security, which exemplified the existing disconnection between the various sustainable-development pillars.
The ESCWA region faced a problem of financing development, which called for repairing the foundations of sustainable development, she said, adding that the three pillars also needed reinforcement and integration. There had been mixed and skewed results in terms of the development dividend, indicating a need for reconsideration. Noting that there had been polarized development patterns between different areas and groups she issued a call for greater coherence among the three pillars but also, at its base, stronger institutions and clearer investment patterns that emphasized the complementarity.
ESCWA promoted an integrated approach to sustainable development, engaging in preparatory strategic frameworks and helping to build programmes and work plans for members, she said. Its strongest priorities were inclusive, sustainable growth, social justice, equity and good governance, regional integration, knowledge and innovation, and resistance to conflict and crisis. The Commission's unique position and abilities in regional coordination had allowed it to undertake work on macroeconomic modelling, on climate change, and on trade, transport and sustainable development.
Ms. Heyzer said poverty reduction depended on high growth and the attendant creation of savings, assets and wealth, which would help to build social justice. Although increases in gross domestic product reduced poverty, high growth rates in the region had not been translated into poverty reduction as fully as they might have been. Higher per capita household consumption would have reduced poverty faster had household consumption been 1 percentage point higher, she stressed. Policies aimed at increasing per capita consumption were deemed essential to preventing the continued increases in inequality that accompanied rising overall incomes. Some countries had seen reversals of gains that had been made in reducing the poverty gap until the mid-2000s, implying that social injustice had risen alongside growth.
Growth with equity should remain the goal, she emphasized, cautioning that under "business as usual" policies, Asia-Pacific countries would miss the Millennium Development Goals poverty target unless household consumption increased. A 1 per cent rise in consumption would allow five out of eight countries to meet their poverty-reduction target, she said. Kazakhstan had shown that consumption could rise alongside "green economy" principles and investment, and the green economy could provide a new engine for growth by creating new green jobs and programmes to stimulate investment in cleaner resource-preserving technologies and processes.
While the Asia-Pacific region's emissions remained comparatively low, especially compared to those of the United States and the European Union, growth also caused increases in energy consumption and gas emissions. The latter could be reduced through greater efficiency, she said, adding that there were opportunities to lower the energy intensity of future growth. Greater use of renewable energy would bolster efforts to achieve greater efficiency.
She said a large number of deprived people lived in the geographically large Asia-Pacific region, which needed sustained growth alongside policies for spreading the benefits more equitably and driving further progress in integrating and balancing the economic and social pillars of development. The region also faced serious challenges in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, she said, pointing out that rising food and energy prices were of particular concern.
Mr. Janneh said it was essential to adopt an approach by which the gains made on one pillar would be beneficial for the others. It was unusual for one pillar to benefit while another linked to it remained stagnant, he said, citing two examples from the African experience. Despite having achieved positive growth rates since 2000, unemployment and poverty in Africa had remained serious. A second example was the increase in foreign direct investment in the natural-resources sector, he said. However, that had not stopped environmental degradation and erosion.
Describing regional efforts to integrate the three pillars, he recalled that the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, had attempted to promote balanced economic and social development on the continent. Its subregional and national institutions had all worked together to create a common vision and shared commitment to tackling key issues, he said. In partnership with the African Union, the African Development Bank (ADB) and regional economic communities, progress had been made in consensus-building and technical advisory services, he said. Institutions had been established to oversee and balance that progress, but implementation of integrated work and strategies had been weak due to a lack of access to technology and funds. Other challenges included a lack of common understanding, the need to rethink existing growth paradigms, and the need to shift from old resources to new ones.
Stressing that policy harmonization and regional cooperation were vital to the integration process, he said Governments must align their visions, national development plans and national poverty-reduction strategies. However, Africa faced a number of challenges in doing so, he cautioned. They included inadequate institutions and a lack of technological capacity, which in effect resulted in weak implementation of integrated frameworks. Another national-level challenge was the limited involvement of planning and finance ministries.
Environmental protection was often the responsibility of environment ministries, he noted, and must be integrated throughout all national Government bodies, Mr. Janneh said. On a global level, the United Nations must play a larger role in promoting the balanced integration of the three pillars. "What are our expectations from Rio+20?" he asked. The global conference would provide Africa with a unique opportunity to articulate its priorities and concerns, he said, warning, however, that there would be many challenges, one of which was how to adopt a green economy while continuing to develop Africa.
Ms. Bárcena said the financial, food and energy crises required urgent attention because comparisons were being made between the region's situation in 1992 and today. There was an urgent need to deal with the crises because of the enormous damage each was doing. They had led to a questioning of the existing development paradigm owing to a growing citizen movement calling for a redefinition of the pact between the market and society.
She recalled that since 1992, the ECLAC region had strengthened macroeconomic controls and institutions but it had remained vulnerable to the financial crisis. Different areas of Latin America had shown different growth profiles, while Central America and Mexico had experienced slower growth than the rest of the region, becoming more dependent on the United States. South America had grown much faster, but the Caribbean had remained enormously vulnerable, she said. Across the board, increases in food and commodity prices had exerted major inflationary pressures on the region, negatively affecting the poorest families. However, poverty in the region had declined from 50 per cent at the end of the 1980s to 32 per cent today, she pointed out. Counter-cyclical measures aimed at protecting jobs above all else had been key to the decline, and income protection had been considered essential to fighting poverty.
Extreme poverty was expected to increase due to food-price increases, curtailing Government abilities to invest in social services, she said. While not the poorest region, Latin America remained the most unequal, with the worst distribution of income and low investment levels, she said, adding that the region remained vulnerable to crises. Nonetheless, basing regional growth on prudent macroeconomic policies and appropriate taxation had helped to keep the debt-to-GDP (gross domestic product) ratio low and helped in reducing unemployment, she said, describing that as a major regional asset. The region also boasted a large share of the world's water and arable land, as well as a high percentage of its biofuels.
In the ensuing discussion, a key concern expressed by participants was the possibility of being left behind if developed countries moved on to adapt to a green economy. Several delegates emphasized the importance of being connected to ordinary people, stressing also that the regional commissions could not work in isolation from events on the ground. Saint Lucia's representative said the Caribbean tourist economies had suffered in recent years because of the financial crisis, while small and medium-size businesses had been ignored, shut out and underrepresented on a global scale.
Many speakers called for a paradigm shift, with Nepal's representative saying that the current one did not seem to provide any hope to poor people and least developed countries. Chile's delegate expressed concern over the way in which wealth was measured, especially in Latin America, which had the largest inequality gap.
Expanding on that point, Bolivia's representative said the challenge for the twenty-first century would be to develop an economic model that was in harmony with nature and not based solely on profit. Bolivia had made major efforts in recent years, she recalled, pointing out that its poverty levels had fallen by 16 per cent.
Ms. Bárcena responded by emphasizing the importance of measuring wealth by means other than income and GDP. However, she expressed concern that 30 per cent of Latin America had no income or revenue whatsoever, adding that 20 per cent of the region's youth were neither studying nor working. That was most pertinent in the Caribbean, especially among men.
Morocco's representative said multilateralism was in a crisis that must be recognized and addressed. He warned that the economic crisis had promoted a return to unilateralism and urged States not to fall into that "trap". They must continue working within multilateral frameworks, he said, stressing that, despite national insecurity over financial, trade and environmental issues, Member States must take an integrated approach at the Rio+20 Conference, placing sustainable development as a primary political priority for all. Rio offered a great chance to return sustainable development to the top of the hierarchy of international, multilateral activity and to achieve success.
Delegates stressed the role of the United Nations regional commissions due to their unique position, which was based on their knowledge of each region. They stressed that there were many different forms of poverty, as the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania called for a template to provide developing countries with a way to monitor, record and classify different forms. That would make it easier to address specific challenges without repeating past mistakes.
Abdulkalam Abdul Momem ( Bangladesh), Committee Chairperson, introduced the afternoon's proceedings, welcoming the chance to discuss the regional dimensions and perspectives on a wide range of development issues. He said it was "timely and relevant" and that the theme of integrating the pillars of sustainable development was central to ongoing debates and discussions leading up to the Rio+20 Conference. The regional commissions, he said, were uniquely placed in the United Nations system to address the issues comprehensively and provide valuable inputs to the Second Committee's deliberations under the agenda item on sustainable development, and in the lead-up to Rio+20.
Other speakers participating in the dialogue were the representatives of Bangladesh, Argentina, Russian Federation, Thailand and Belarus.
Earlier today, the Committee continued its general debate, hearing from the representatives of Chile (one behalf of the Rio Group), Republic of Korea, Maldives, Cuba, Philippines, Uzbekistan, India, Libya, Tajikistan, Nigeria, Mongolia, China, Namibia, Qatar, Venezuela and Bangladesh.
The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 5 October, to continue its general debate.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to conclude its general debate. In the afternoon, it was expected to hold a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the United Nations regional commissions on "Integrating the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development: Perspectives from the regions".
OCTAVIO ERRAZURIZ (Chile), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said the bloc was, first and foremost, a mechanism for dialogue, consultation and concerted political action. It was important that Member States not use the Rio Group as a negotiating platform to leverage their own political aims. Its main goal was to promote democratic values and development, with an emphasis on multilateralism and international law. Regarding the Rio Group meetings held during the opening sessions of the General Assembly last month, he said the goal had been to exchange views on the new process of convergence between the Rio Group and the Latin American and Caribbean Unity Summit, which hopefully would create the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Reaffirming the Rio Group's commitment to the fulfilment of the Millennium Development Goals, he said the Latin American and Caribbean region had felt the consequences of the economic and financial crisis and was struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The Rio Group proposed that developed countries help their developing counterparts, especially Caribbean island nations in need and middle-income countries, through a holistic approach to their development needs and challenges. The Rio Group reiterated the need for all developed countries to urgently fulfil their ODA commitments, by devoting 0.7 per cent of their gross national product to international assistance by 2015, he said.
KIM SOOK (Republic of Korea) said that despite progress, "we still lag behind" in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and called for a further widening and strengthening of global partnerships to that end. Speaking in his capacity as Co-Chair of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, he said " Rio+20" provided an historic opportunity "to further strengthen our work on sustainable development". The world must agree on one clear vision: a sustainable green economy that protected the environment while, at the same time, supporting attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
He said his country would continue to work with other Member States, as it had done during the 2010 Sixteenth Conference of Parties held in Cancun, Mexico, which had "contributed to restoring confidence in the UN Climate Change negotiations". The country looked forward to being an active participant in the upcoming Seventeenth Conference of Parties in Durban, South Africa. The Republic of Korea also looked forward to hosting the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan later this year, where it hoped to build broader, more inclusive partnerships engaging all actors in development cooperation.
The G-20 development agenda, adopted during its 2010 Summit in Seoul, would supplement efforts to realize the Millennium Development Goals by effectively addressing issues preventing sustainable economic growth, he continued, adding that his country would also host the Tenth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Changwon this month. As the host country, the Republic of Korea looked forward to sharing the experience of turning lands degraded by war and exploitation, green.
ASLAM SHAKIR (Maldives) expressed hope that the "Rio+20" conference would result in concrete ways for States to translate the principle of sustainable development into real policy improvements, allowing the world to awaken from its "carbon-induced paralysis" and redefine the rules of economic growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development. He emphasized the natural environment's importance to sustainable development and the need for countries to work with nature.
Underscoring the significance of climate change to his country as a small, low-lying island State, he said reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a matter of national security to Maldives, adding that the country aimed to become carbon-neutral by 2020. To aid that goal, it was to be hoped that "Rio+20" would result in a common political declaration and strategy to boost green technology, he said, pointing out that the institutional support systems of small island developing States were underequipped to deal with their unique challenges.
He called on the international community to follow through on its pledges to support the sustainable development of small island developing States, and reiterated Maldives' call for the creation of a formal category for them within the United Nations system. He noted that Maldives no longer belonged to the least-developed-country category, and international assistance was vital to its graduation. In conclusion, he expressed support for Palestinian statehood, while welcoming South Sudan as the newest United Nations Member State, as well as Libya's National Transitional Council.
OSCAR LEON GONZALEZ ( Cuba), pointing out that the world was ever farther from a solution to the global financial crisis, despite "premature optimism", asked how protest movements around the world could be explained without a radical rethinking of the international economic situation. The crisis lay in the "unjust and anti-democratic" bedrock of the global economic and financial system, he said, expressing hope that the texts approved by the Second Committee would reflect "daring and creative" solutions to international economic problems instead of "hackneyed and many-times-meaningless formulations".
He expressed hope for agreement on climate change, calling on developed countries to take on a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, including more quantifiable and ambitious emission targets. Noting the need to maintain the South's development and for voluntary emission-reduction targets, he said his country was committed to the "Rio+20" conference and hoped developed countries would fulfil their obligations under Agenda 21, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. He went on to praise his country's continued development despite "unique circumstances", including the "criminal" blockade imposed by the United States.
EDUARDO JOSE A. DE VEGA (Philippines), associating himself with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), underlined the serious weather disturbances that faced his island nation, pointing out that a tropical typhoon was expected to hit the Philippines soon. "With these calamities, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property and agricultural produce are lost, hundreds of persons perish, and millions of Filipinos are adversely affected by flooding and landslides." Looking ahead to " Rio+20", he emphasized that the way to resolve the current global problems was through relations anchored firmly in a rules-based international system.
He went on to outline five issues that would be essential to that process, stressing, firstly, that the world must provide and strengthen the conditions that would encourage progress and prosperity for all peoples and countries. No nation must be left behind, he added. Secondly, the Millennium Development Goals must be seen as a collective objective that would benefit all nations, and that could only be achieved by cooperation through the United Nations and other international institutions. Thirdly, disaster-risk reduction must be a priority, as stated by ASEAN nations. Fourthly, with billions of people living in the countryside, more attention should be paid to figuring out how family farming could play a larger role in providing food security. Lastly, it was vital to ensure the protection of global diversity and reverse the effects of climate change, he said, adding that the Philippines had a great stake in promoting those issues at " Rio+20".
MURAD ASKAROV ( Uzbekistan) said the United Nations must take the leading role in promoting sustainable development. Addressing the emergence of the global economic and financial crisis, he said his country had taken pre-emptive steps, and despite the downturn's negative effects, Uzbekistan's gross domestic product had grown at an average rate of 8.5 per cent in 2010. The country hoped to maintain the same growth this year, he added, noting that Uzbekistan continued to develop a multisector economy. It had created and expanded its car-manufacturing sector, its gas and oil industry, as well the technological sector, he said.
He went on to underscore the importance of providing financing to the national technology, reconstruction and development sectors, which helped drive the growth of Uzbekistan. The establishment of a "decent civil society" was also important, as was regional participation with other Central Asian republics, which was another top priority. For example, Uzbekistan provided electricity to towns bordering Afghanistan and had even built a railway line to that country, he said, citing that corridor as an example of regional participation and cooperation in Central Asia. However, climate change, specifically drought, was of major concern in Uzbekistan and Central Asia as a whole, as the Aral Sea had dried up in recent years.
P.J. KURIEN ( India) associated his country with the Group of 77 and China, stressing that despite the global economic situation, ambitions to realize the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed targets must not be lowered. Poverty eradication and sustainable development must remain at the forefront of the global development agenda, and a "singular focus" on implementation of the Millennium Goals was essential. That would require accelerated action, particularly on official development assistance (ODA) levels, access to technology and capacity-building, he said, underscoring his country's own commitment to sharing its experience with other developing countries, while also stressing the importance of North-South cooperation.
Turning to the "green economy", he said its salient features were sustainable solutions on food security, energy access, water stress, natural-resource regeneration and rapid urbanization. India would support a technology-transfer template that balanced fair returns for innovators with the larger public good. At the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa, later this year, India would also push for a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and for early implementation of the Cancun Agreements to ensure credible action on all four pillars of the Climate Change Convention process.
MOHAMED ELKREKSHY (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, noted the timeliness of recent discussions on the impact of desertification and drought on sustainable development and poverty reduction, calling on donors to extend assistance to the millions of people dwelling in arid and semi-arid regions. While admitting that modernizing international financial institutions would not be easy, he said political will was needed to see the process through, prevent the recurrence of the current crisis and mitigate its negative consequences. The emphasis should be on extending support to developing countries, he said, urging the United Nations to take a leading role in combating poverty and enhancing socio-economic development.
He went on to note that his country was adversely affected by climate change, owing to its location in a semi-arid region. Libya's agricultural sector was dependent on non-renewable underground water, a problem that must be seriously addressed, he said, expressing hope that international and regional partners would cooperate with his country in addressing those problems. Looking ahead to the Republic of Korea later this month and the Durban Conference at the end of the year, he expressed Libya's desire to support international consensus at " Rio+20". Calling for solutions to the problems facing least developed countries, and for a conclusion of the stalled Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks, he expressed hope that the Libyan assets frozen under the previous regime would be returned, to help advance the country's development.
KHUSRAV NOZIRI (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the current state of development was specifically characterized by the fact that the world had reached "ultimate quantitative growth". Now the international community must begin a new age of development that was focused on quality, he said, adding that such a transformation required an entirely new conceptual approach that would take into account the interests of both the present and future generations. International trade and direct investments would be instrumental in achieving development goals, he said.
Noting that his country was currently negotiating to join the World Trade Organization, he said the development of regional trade and economic cooperation was of high importance. Regarding climate change, Tajikistan had proposed to establish an international fund to save glaciers, given that water was essential to development and the preservation of life, he said, pointing out that Central Asia had suffered drought in recent years which had resulted in the drying up of the Aral Sea. As for energy, Tajikistan supported the initiative to provide universal access to modern energy services and to ensure a 40 per cent reduction in global energy intensity by 2030.
OKUBOTIN CHARLES COCODIA (Nigeria), calling for reform of the international financial system, said it was increasingly evident that most developing countries would not be able to achieve the Millennium Development Goals without sustainable support from developed countries. The global economic crisis was far worse than expected for the world's poorest countries, and Nigeria urged their developed counterparts to accept a universal economic plan based on growth, development and employment for all.
Emphasizing his country's full commitment to South-South cooperation, he said it should complement North-South cooperation. In addition to international assistance, developing countries should also undertake regional efforts to assist each other. African countries were capable of making strides if they built up beneficiary relations with their neighbours, he said, noting that on the community level, microfinance institutions and loans had a great impact in rural areas. He urged the international community to pay adequate attention to desertification, especially in Africa, saying his country was working to address its negative impact and that of land degradation on the Lake Chad basin, which provided water to about 20 million people in Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, pointed out that least developed and landlocked developing countries, as well as small island developing States, were seeing their hard-won development gains reversed. Realizing the Millennium Development Goals was turning into a serious challenge and could prove elusive. There was a need for "outside-the-box" thinking and a rejection of "business-as-usual" policies, she said, calling also for a rethinking of attitudes to material wealth, consumerism and speculative investments. That was the route to sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth, she said.
Calling for a speedy conclusion of the Doha Round, with the needs of least developed countries at the centre of any agreement, she said developing countries needed financial assistance and expertise if they were to build national economic capacity. There was a need to promote a governance system that held international consensus close to its heart, with an enhanced role for the Economic and Social Council and the Commission on Sustainable Development, which would be important to achieving that aim, she said.
Regarding her country's development strategy, she pointed to measures aimed at building employment, a favourable business environment, access to social services and agrarian reform. Mongolia's economy was the fastest-growing one in the region, and ensuring the equitable distribution of wealth was essential, she said, adding that resources were being channelled into social services through the national social development fund. To help attain the Millennium Development Goals, Mongolia had established a development bank to support critical sectors such as infrastructure, mining and energy, she said, noting that several affordable-housing programmes had been initiated.
WANG MIN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that, at a "critical juncture" in global development, the world faced formidable challenges, such as the urgent need for comprehensive and on-time attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite difficulties, the international financial crisis had served to catalyse international economic reform and promote innovative thinking on promoting development, he noted. The complex global crises would best be resolved through implementation of the development agenda, which lay at the core of efforts to improve global governance in the post-crisis era. He urged the United Nations to act as a leader in promoting recovery by promoting global economic recovery and laying solid foundations for development, as countries strengthened their macroeconomic policies to achieve growth.
Development needed improved quality and a changed model, he said, urging developed countries to take the lead on sustainable development by changing their unsustainable consumption patterns. Describing "Rio+20" as an historic opportunity to uphold the spirit and principles of the original Rio Conference, especially the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, he urged countries to honour their commitments and increase their development inputs, including a continued and solid commitment to ODA, with public finance remaining at the core of international development assistance. Financial assistance, technology transfer, market access and debt reduction and cancellation were all important elements of that, especially with regard to Africa.
Achieving those aims would require greater political will and an improved system for development, he said. Deepening reform of the international economic and financial systems and increasing the voice and representation of developing countries would help build a fair, just, inclusive and orderly international monetary and financial system. He called for an early conclusion of the Doha Round of development negotiations and for comprehensive results from the Durban Climate Change Conference, in accordance with the Bali Road Map. Further, he called for substantive results at " Rio+20", noting his country's commitment to development and pledging its continuing cooperation. Describing China's own progress, he pointed to a lack of coordination, saying there was a need to narrow the development gap among different regions, as well as between urban and rural areas.
WILFRIED I. EMVULA ( Namibia) said most developing countries faced numerous common problems and great challenges, including extreme poverty, global food crisis, high unemployment, debt, lack of financial aid, and the negative effects of climate change. Namibia was concerned that the turbulence in the global markets, specifically in the United States and the euro zone, would trickle down and have a negative impact on vulnerable developing economies.
Noting that middle-income countries were among the most rapidly growing group in terms of population, he said his own country was classified as an upper middle-income country whose considerable successes rested on a strong multiparty parliamentary democracy that delivered economic management, governance, basic civic freedoms and respect for human rights. However, the social and economic imbalances inherited from the former apartheid system had left Namibia with a highly dualistic society, he said, describing job creation as "a major problem", and poverty and inequality as "very high".
Land degradation, due largely to climate change, cost the Government about $60 million in lost productivity each year, he continued. Farmers reaped meagre harvests and were even forced to abandon their lands, threatening food security throughout the country. In response, the Government was implementing an integrated, sustainable land-management programme, and had made a deliberate decision to work with both communal and commercial farmers in fighting land degradation. Climate change must be addressed as a key political issue, he emphasized, reiterating the importance of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol.
NASSER AL-JABER ( Qatar) said that, although the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals was only four years away, major gains in curbing hunger and poverty had been achieved. That evaluation should be the launching point of discussion in the Second Committee. However, Member States must honour their obligations to ensure the full realization of the Goals, which could only be done, in the current economic crisis, by "thinking outside the box" to achieve the developmental process.
In light of the economic downturn in Europe and the United States, as well as the debt crisis, it was of the utmost importance to meet the goals of the least developed countries, he said. Reiterating the need to restructure the international financial system, he said only that would give the world's people faith. Qatar attached importance to South-South cooperation, as well as the relationship between North and South, he said, adding that both forms of cooperation should complement each other.
JORGE VALERO ( Venezuela) pointed out that the risks emanating from the deepening of the systemic and structural crisis of the global capitalist system were harming international relations. With the practices of speculators exerting a negative influence on the rest of the world, there was a need to change and focus on the production of goods and services, combating hunger, poverty and climate change, and disseminating technology to developing countries, he said.
Foreign interventions by developed countries were aimed at recolonizing developing-world natural resources, he continued, describing that scenario as "dark and threatening". The world's peoples must come together urgently through the United Nations to "put the brakes" on such actions. The United Nations should regulate the Bretton Woods institutions, which needed transformation, especially on credit. He called for the establishment of an alternative capacity that would use credit instruments to create liquidity for the least developed countries, and for an end to speculation on food and commodity prices. The world needed justice for producers through fair trade, not commodity traders, he said, emphasizing that Venezuela would continue to promote regional solidarity in a multipolar world.
United Nations guidelines for 2015 remained unfulfilled, with more poverty, inequality and degradation the results, he said, adding that "Rio+20" offered a basis for the defence of humanity and the globe, despite attempts by developed countries to weaken its doctrine. With various treaties in danger of dilution, " Rio+20" could not end up as their "graveyard". The Conference should mark a "radical change of course", he continued, rejecting outright the concept of "green economy", which was based on a neoliberal globalization strategy. While Venezuela supported environmentally sustainable projects, the "green economy" amounted to "greenwashing" while companies continued to maximize profits, he stressed, noting that the best way to help developing countries respect the environment and reduce poverty was to transfer finance and technology to them.
MD. TAUHEDUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, blamed the current global crisis on regulatory failure, pointing out that the global rescue packages had not been directed at the developing world, while the Green Fund promised at Cancun was "not there". He also noted the lack of technology transfer to developing countries and the failure to fulfil promises with concrete action. Extreme poverty presented a "gloomy picture", and unless the problems of fragile, vulnerable countries were recognised, the bleakness would not disappear.
He urged countries to focus on restructuring to improve public-sector activities in managing financial aid, trade and money, emphasizing the importance of regulatory control of financial markets. Bangladesh also called for the restructuring of the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which were "the legs of development". Coordination among those institutions was essential, he said, adding that they should target fragile, vulnerable countries. Without measures targeting developing countries, it would be impossible to think of a happy and prosperous global community, he warned, adding that, looking at the differences in equality among and within countries, he shuddered at the prospects for global civilization.
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