Building on the momentum of the recent United Nations Ocean Conference, speakers today warned that, with the well-being of the world’s oceans at risk, humankind must turn the tide on its relationship with water bodies across the planet, as the Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development continued.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s inclusion of an oceans Goal was indicative of the reality that their health was in jeopardy, said Peter Thomson (Fiji), President, United Nations General Assembly. Recalling that the General Assembly had mandated the conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on oceans, he said the summit � held in June � had proved to be a major success. Above all, the conference showed that we are all in this together, he stressed, expressing hope that it would prove to be an event that enhanced humanity’s relationship with the ocean.
Describing the Ocean Conference as a historic event drawing together a wide range of stakeholders, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the Conference, said its Call for Action outcome document was rooted in 22 forward-looking actions. Pointing out that the meeting had raised global consciousness of the importance of the oceans and the challenges facing them � including plastic and other pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification and others � he added: It should be seen as the start of our mission to save the ocean.
For small island developing States such as his and across the Pacific, the conference had come at a critical time as the world’s oceans were deteriorating at an alarming rate, said Luke Daunivalu of Fiji and Co-President of the Conference. That challenge was compounded by the effects of climate change, leading to sea level rise, increases in ocean acidity and warmer waters affecting reefs, marine ecosystems and fish stocks. Noting that small island developing States and least developed countries were some of the most vulnerable nations, he said the conference had helped show the world that their very survival was linked to the health of the oceans.
The rate of ocean acidification was faster than at any time since the last ice age, having increased by about 26 per cent since the start of the industrial revolution, Yongi Min of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistical Division, told the Forum. Of 63 large marine ecosystems studied, 16 per cent were at high risk of coastal eutrophication, she said, adding that all those figures pointed to a need for accelerated action to address the challenges facing the oceans.
Recalling that the oceans had historically been seen by many as an unlimited source of raw materials, as well as a place to deposit waste with no repercussions, the representative of Italy emphasized. We could not have been more wrong. As the majority of marine litter in the Mediterranean was composed of plastic, the region’s countries were seriously committed to a ban on plastic bags, with Italy leading the way in that regard.
We will succeed or fail together when it comes to meeting the [Sustainable Development Goals], declared John Danilovich, Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce, during the Forum’s second panel discussion on the implementation of Goal 9 on infrastructure, industrialization and innovation. In that context, he told participants he had consistently advocated for the Sustainable Development Goals to be regarded as the business development goals, as they contained a clear economic imperative that could increase productivity and employment and lead to stronger economic growth which could pull the global economy out of its current malaise and stagnation, he emphasized. He went on to cite three key priorities going forward: trade facilitation reforms to ensure that businesses of all sizes could reach global markets; the promotion of trade policies that harnessed the potential of the Internet to unleash a new area of trade; and concerted efforts to ensure that small businesses could access the finance they needed to grow internationally.
Getting enough food for the increasing population would be a huge challenge as the world reached the outer limits of productivity through processes, such as gene manipulation, and as fertile, arable land became increasingly scarce, stressed Magnus Arildsson, Head of the Internet of Things Product Management at Ericsson in Sweden. Noting that communications technologies could help train farmers in agronomic practices, he pointed to the implantation of wireless devices in cows to detect changes in their health in a more scientific manner, which had helped prevent the overuse of hormones and antibiotics. Technology was ready for a major rollout in support of agriculture; it was simply a matter of moving forward in an inclusive way, he said, noting that many devices that could be used were very small, relatively inexpensive and become cheaper over time.
The Forum also held panels focused on investing in and financing for the Sustainable Development Goals and advancing science, technology and innovation for the Goals.
The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 9 a.m. on Friday, 14 June, to continue its work.
Moderated by Miguel Ruiz CabaAas, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Mexico, the first panel was titled review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 9 (build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. The keynote address was delivered by John Danilovich, Secretary-General, International Chamber of Commerce, and a statistical snapshot was provided by Yongyi Min, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Panellists included Maria Kiwanuka, Special Adviser to the President, Uganda and Magnus Arildsson, Head, Internet of Things Product Management, Ericsson, Sweden. The lead discussants were Patrick Ho, Deputy Chairman, China Energy Fund Committee and former Secretary for Home Affairs, Hong Kong, China, as well as Arnt Holte, former President, World Blind Union, Norway.
Mr. DANILOVICH said that he had consistently advocated for the Sustainable Development Goals to be regarded as the business development goals, since they contained a clear economic imperative that could increase productivity and employment and lead to stronger economic growth which could pull the global economy out of its current malaise and stagnation. That was particularly true with regard to Goal 9. Policy coherence between local, national and global policies was critically important, and meeting the objectives set forth in Goal 9 would require sound domestic policies combined with a steadfast commitment to international cooperation. The debate around trade was strained in many countries and it was clear that the benefits of trade did not always meet everyone’s needs. To achieve the development goals, entrepreneurship was essential, as it would allow businesses to create new jobs. The scale of the new jobs challenge was daunting. He cited three key priorities going forward: trade facilitation reforms to ensure that businesses of all sizes could reach global markets; the promotion of trade policies that harnessed the potential of the Internet to unleash a new area of trade; and concerted efforts to ensure that small businesses could access the finance they needed to grow internationally. We will succeed or fail together when it comes to meeting the [Sustainable Development Goals], he said.
Mr. CABAA�AS said the discussion was aimed at reviewing progress at the individual country level as the world sought to fulfil Goal 9. Leaders must address cross-cutting issues such as the demand for infrastructure, innovation and science and technology to understand how they could be harnessed for sustainable development needs. No goal stands alone, he said. It was essential to find ways to leverage infrastructure to bring high-quality education and health care to all, including the most vulnerable, to ensure their access to basic services. It was estimated that, by 2018, the demand for scientists specializing in data would increase by about half, demonstrating the clear need for skilled workers. Policy consistency must be ensured at all levels � state, municipal and national � while it was also important to gain a better understanding of the impact of technology across the board and in all areas of life.
Ms. KIWANUKA stressed that infrastructure was a support industry although, all too often, it was seen as a means to an end. Emphasizing the need for cross-benefit analyses for projects to ensure the benefits were fully understood and realized, she said more must be done to have optimal implementation of Government projects. Different ministries must pull together on the national level for projects, which brought to the forefront the need for greater investment in social sectors. There should be a balanced mix of capital-intensive projects with job demand. Innovation and science and technology helped increase productivity, but were not as strong regarding job creation. Cutting down middle men would allow for workers to receive more returns, particularly in the agricultural sector. There was a great need for Governments to implement projects in a timely fashion, as that would have ripple effects down to the individual level. Sustainability and inclusiveness depended on giving adequate attention to education and health sectors, which was, again, a task for Governments. The private sector needed to have more access to affordable financing for viable projects.
Mr. ARILDSSON said his organization monitored areas that ranged from utilities to water to agricultural production. Getting enough food for the increasing population would be a huge challenge as the world reached the outer limits of productivity through processes, such as gene manipulation, and as fertile, arable land became increasingly scarce. Communications technologies could help train farmers in agronomic practices. For example, wireless devices had been implanted in cows to detect changes in their health in a more scientific fashion rather than farmers making educated guesses about their animal’s health, which risked the overuse of hormones and antibiotics. Technology was ready for a major rollout in support of agriculture; it was simply a matter of moving forward in an inclusive fashion, he said, noting that many devices that could be used were very small and relatively inexpensive, and becoming increasingly cheaper over time.
Ms. MIN said that manufacturing was the principle driver of economic growth, which had increased in most of the regions of the world, with Central and South East Asia enjoying the most growth. Global investment in infrastructure and research and development continued to grow and official development assistance (ODA) for economic infrastructure had reached $57 billion in 2015, with transport and energy receiving the most funding. Mobile cellular service had spread much faster than anticipated.
Mr. HO emphasized that, to achieve Goal 9, infrastructure, technology and investment would all be required. Infrastructure should provide jobs and a foundation for growth, as well as equity and environmental sustainability. Industrialization should never lose sight of equity and the profits of such advancements should be shared by all. Innovation was important for future growth and profits should be redirected to further research and development. Energy for all underpinned all development and efforts should be made to ensure all people worldwide had electricity. Small-scale enterprises should have access to financing in the form of small loans to individuals, so they could lift themselves out of poverty. The most significant impacts of emerging technology on industrialization were automation technology and artificial intelligence.
Mr. HOLTE said that Goal 9 could serve as one of the best ways to avoid leaving people behind, although to do so, there must be a shift in thinking patterns. If vulnerable groups were included from the very beginning, there would be less risk of leaving anyone behind. On infrastructure, he emphasized that transportation systems must not only be functional, but they must also be accessible for all people. Stressing that new industry would be the key for the future, he expressed concern that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was unacceptably high. Technologies would give new opportunities and possibilities, while also giving disabled persons access to more information. Giving access to everyone, including those with disabilities, from the very beginning was not only socially and political correct, it was also smart.
In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Switzerland stressed the need for financing for infrastructure that was low-carbon, resilient, economically and climate smart, as well as socially acceptable. Underscoring the importance of the target contained within Goal 9 related to the access of small and medium-sized enterprises to financial markets, the representative of Argentina recalled that such businesses made up about 95 per cent of companies worldwide and were a huge provider of employment opportunities. The representative of Lebanon said that her country had already launched a national committee on the Sustainable Development Goals and had begun a gap analysis with the help of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The representative of the European Union recalled that the European Commission had made investment in green infrastructure a key priority and believed that addressing climate change would provide countless opportunities to invent better ways to produce, consume, invest and trade. The representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) highlighted that the commonly held belief was that poverty could not be reduced without achieving economic growth, adding that inclusive industrialization and structural transformation were some of the most effective ways to eradicate poverty.
Describing his country’s recently adopted development plan called The Future We Want, the representative of Chad said that strengthening international support, good governance, a stronger economy and improving the well-being of ordinary citizens were the primary objectives of that plan. The representative of Nigeria called on developed countries to support innovation-driven development and on the international community to support infrastructure development and the integration of developing countries into the global economy.
Also speaking were the representatives of Chile, China, Benin, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico and Ethiopia.
The representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also delivered a statement.
Statements were also made by representatives of the business and industry and the children and youth major groups.
The Forum then held a panel discussion on the theme review of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), which was moderated by Kate Brown, Executive Director, Global Island Partnership, New Zealand. It featured four keynote speakers: Peter Thomson (Fiji), President, United Nations General Assembly; Olof Skoog (Sweden), Co-President, United Nations Ocean Conference; Luke Daunivalu (Fiji), Co-President, United Nations Ocean Conference; Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General, United Nations Ocean Conference; and Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel. It also featured two panellists: Jake Rice, Chief Scientist-Emeritus, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; and Marjo Vierros, Director, Coastal Policy and Humanities Research and Senior Associate, Global Ocean Forum, and two lead discussants: Ronald Jumeau, Permanent Representative of Seychelles to the United Nations; and Tui Shortland, Director, Pacific Indigenous and Local Knowledge Centre of Distinction at Te Kapehu Whetu, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Yongi Min of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistical Division presented a brief statistical snapshot related to Goal 14.
Mr. THOMSON, delivering the first keynote address, said the 2030 Agenda’s inclusion of an oceans Goal was recognition both of humanity’s existential relationship with the oceans and that their health was in trouble. That fact was reflected in declining fish stocks, coastal degradation, marine pollution and such phenomena was ocean acidification and ocean warming. Recalling that the General Assembly had mandated the United Nations Oceans Conference to support the implementation of Goal 14 on oceans, he said the summit � held in June � had proved to be a major success. Above all, the conference showed that we are all in this together, he stressed, expressing hope that it would prove to be an event that turned the tide on humanity’s relationship with the ocean. In practical terms, the meeting had produced a strong Call for Action outcome document, a comprehensive range of solutions and nearly 1,400 voluntary contributions from the public and private sectors. Urging participants not to forget the immense scale of the challenges facing the oceans, nor of the world’s collective responsibility to face them, he underlined the importance of holding of a second ocean conference in 2020.
Mr. SKOOG, also delivering a keynote address, spotlighted the forceful and tremendous energy generated by the Ocean Conference in the span of just one week. The Ocean Conference has sparked a movement, he said, noting that it had been the first time the oceans had been addressed in such a way at the United Nations. The resounded response of the thousands of conference participants had been overwhelming, he said, adding that it had provided a voice to small island developing States, least developed countries and others in special circumstances. The Call for Action outcome, adopted by consensus after three rounds of negotiations, had sent a clear message of commitment to addressing the challenges facing the oceans and represented a firm call for appropriate follow-up to the nearly 1,400 voluntary commitments made during and following the conference. Pointing out that the summit could serve as a model for how to galvanize action around other Sustainable Development Goals, he added that the Call for Action had emphasized the need for stronger oceans governance and called on the Secretary-General to increase inter-agency cooperation in that regard.
Mr. DAUNIVALU, in his keynote address, underlined Fiji’s commitment to take a multisectoral approach in its efforts to implement the 17 voluntary commitments it had undertaken during the recent conference. For small island developing States such as his and across the Pacific, the Ocean Conference had come at a critical time as the world’s oceans were deteriorating at an alarming rate. That challenge was compounded by the effects of climate change, leading to sea-level rise, increases in ocean acidity and warmer waters affecting reefs, marine ecosystems and fish stocks. Noting that small island developing States and least developed countries were some of the most vulnerable nations in that context, he said the conference had helped show the world that their very survival was linked to the health of the oceans. Citing awareness of the special circumstances of small island developing States as a main takeaway from the meeting, he said partnerships remained a vital tool to support their efforts to adequately address the threats they were facing.
Mr. WU, describing the Ocean Conference as a historic event drawing together a wide range of stakeholders, said its Call for Action outcome document was rooted in 22 forward-looking actions. Pointing out that the meeting had raised global consciousness of the importance of the oceans and the challenges facing them � including plastic and other pollution, overfishing, ocean acidification and others � he added: It should be seen as the start of our mission to save the ocean. Urging Member States to seize the momentum and implement their nearly 1,400 voluntary commitments, he said the United Nations had undertaken a preliminary analysis of those commitments, which was now available on the Conference website. It was also in the process of building a database of actors who had made commitments in order to facilitate the timely exchange of information on those actions. Through such partnerships, the Ocean Conference had broken new ground and proved to be a game changer in enhancing collaboration to ensure a healthy ocean for current and future generations.
Mr. SOARES, delivering his keynote address, said UN-OCEANS � the United Nations system inter-agency network to coordinate action on the oceans � could assist partners in implementing the voluntary commitments they had made during the Ocean Conference. An integrated and cross-sectoral approach was already reflected in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which laid out the global legal framework for the world’s oceans, as well as in the General Assembly’s annual consideration of the issue. However, regional efforts had been largely sectoral to date, he said, noting that the Ocean Conference had sought to broaden those approaches. For its part, the UN-OCEANS network and its 24 members were working to identify further areas for collaboration and synergies, and had registered its own voluntary commitment related to awareness-raising. He also pointing out that the network was well-placed to take up an enhanced role in facilitating collaboration on oceans-related issues.
Ms. MIN said the ocean covered almost three quarters of the world’s surface while nearly 40 per cent of its population lived in coastal communities. However, only about 13 per cent of it was covered by marine protected areas, and in 2013, nearly 90 per cent of global fish stocks were overfished or fully depleted. The rate of ocean acidification was faster than at any time since the last ice age, having increased by about 26 per cent since the start of the industrial revolution. Of 63 large marine ecosystems studied, 16 per cent were at high risk of coastal eutrophication, she said, adding that all those figures pointed to a need for accelerated action to address the challenges facing the oceans.
Mr. RICE, noting that the dialogues at the Ocean Conference had brought diverse stakeholders closer together, said achieving sustainable development would require greater use of the ocean � which was already under great stress. That required using the ocean smarter, not harder, he said. Indeed, achieving the Goal on global food security would require getting more protein from the ocean, while increasing the earth’s use of renewable energy sources would require tapping into the largely untapped potential of energy from the ocean, he added. Despite much talk about marine protected areas, no rational person would think all the other Goals could be met while further limiting the areas of the ocean that could be used. In that context, efforts were required to protect critical ocean areas, fill knowledge gaps, enhance the necessary technologies and immediately take forward the voluntary commitments made at the Conference.
Ms. VIERROS, echoing the concerns voiced by the other speakers, said there was also cause for optimism. Many tools existed to address the challenges facing the oceans. Societal context was also critical, she said, drawing particular attention to participation, inclusion and benefit-sharing. The most innovative solutions were those found at the local level, especially those emerging from the traditional knowledge of indigenous communities and other peoples who relied on the oceans, she said, describing several elements of traditional marine management. Emphasizing that communities needed support in implementing those systems, she underscored the importance of respecting their ownership and their ability to manage their own resources, and introduced several examples of ridge-to-reef and ecosystem-based management systems. She called for true interdisciplinary collaboration in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals drawing together those who worked on ocean, poverty, health and other targets. Further, she called on Member States to undertake efforts to make oceans more sustainable at the national level.
Mr. JUMEAU, agreeing that humans needed to use the ocean more and use it better, also echoed the call for true respect for indigenous and other coastal communities. There cannot be sustainable development on islands without addressing climate change and its effect on the oceans, he stressed, underscoring the need to quantify the financial and technical requirements emanating from the Ocean Conference’s voluntary commitments, as well as to develop a strong follow-up mechanism to track progress in implementing the Call for Action. Turning to innovative ways to mobilize the means of implementation, he recalled that Seychelles had just completed a debt swap to turn 30 per cent of its exclusive economic zone into marine protected areas, and noted that plans for other similar activities were also under way.
Ms. SHORTLAND, emphasizing the close and historic connection of the Pacific peoples with the ocean, said traditional knowledge must contribute to the sustainable management of the world’s oceans and seas. Indigenous peoples must be empowered to be primary actors in that regard, she stressed, calling in particular for the institutionalization of their participation. Our relationship with the ocean is our anchor in time and would be their legacy for future generations, she said, calling for purposeful action going forward. Also critical was monitoring the well-being of small island developing States’ communities, ensuring their dignity and rights, and avoiding their exploitation.
In the ensuing discussion, many speakers welcomed the voluntary commitments registered at the Ocean Conference and underscored the need to maintain momentum towards their implementation. Representatives from several coastal States drew attention to particular challenges facing their countries � ranging from illegal fishing to sea-level rise to piracy � while others outlined national or regional strategies for sustainable oceans management.
The representative of Papua New Guinea, speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, recalled that the inclusion of a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal on oceans had not been a foregone conclusion. Noting that such an omission would have left small island developing States around the world behind in the 2030 Agenda’s implementation, he went on to agree with panellists that the achievement of the other 16 Goals would be impossible without ensuring the health of the world’s oceans. As serious and mounting threats related to human activity continued to harm the oceans, with a critical tipping point approaching, the Call to Action outcome document was extremely timely, he said.
The representative of the Philippines described her country’s national development plan which aimed, among other things, to improve the quality of environmental data. As the current Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines had also worked to elevate the issue of marine pollution � especially from plastics and microplastics � as a critical regional issue. Voicing support for such funding instruments as the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund, she called for sustained financing to support oceans-related sustainable development policies.
We need to act urgently to address the increasing challenges facing the world’s oceans, stressed the representative of Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States. Voicing support for Goal 14 as a road map for such action, she recalled that, while small island developing States had registered many commitments at the Ocean Conference, they required support from their partners, including in the areas of financing and the transfer of technology.
The representative of Viet Nam, noting that hers was a coastal State confronting the impacts of climate change, expressed concern that those challenges could hinder its efforts to reduce poverty. In that regard, she voiced support for the sustainable management of fisheries and enhanced capacity-building and technology transfer, as well as the establishment of rights under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Also voicing support for bolstered international cooperation and capacity-building, the representative of Togo described national efforts to manage the country’s coastal environments. Those had included the establishment a Council on the Seas and a specific programme aimed at protecting the shoreline, he said, adding that Togo had also updated its strategic national plan on biodiversity. Noting that acts of piracy, pollution, illegal fishing and the impacts of climate change were compromising the security of both oceans and coastal areas, he urged stakeholders to accelerate efforts to address those challenges.
The representative of Italy recalled that the oceans had historically been seen by many as an unlimited source of raw materials, as well as a place to deposit waste with no repercussions, emphasizing: We could not have been more wrong. As the majority of marine litter in the Mediterranean was composed of plastic, the region’s countries were seriously committed to a ban on plastic bags, with Italy leading the way in that regard.
The representative of Honduras, emphasizing that concrete scientific data must be the basis for the follow-up and review of the implementation of Goal 14, also underlined the importance of ensuring equality in benefit-sharing related to ocean resources.
The representative of the women’s major group, underlining the importance of ensuring women’s participation and leadership in the achievement of Goal 14, called on stakeholders to urgently address such activities as experimental sea bed mining and the overconsumption of fish in developed countries.
The representative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said the agency’s Regional Seas Programme was best-placed to sustainably manage oceans at the sea basin level. He also drew attention to UNEP’s work in drafting a number of guidance documents for the follow-up and review of Goal 14 at the regional level.
Also speaking were the representatives of Madagascar, Croatia, Mexico, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guatemala, Indonesia, Finland, Tonga and Kenya.
A representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization also participated.
Also speaking was a representative of the persons with disabilities major group.
This afternoon, the Forum held two panel discussions on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 17 on partnerships. The first, on the specific theme, investing in and financing for the Sustainable Development Goals, was moderated by Manuel F. Montes, Senior Adviser on Finance and Development, South Centre, and featured two keynote speakers: Jerry Matthews Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations; and Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations. It also featured three panellists: Gebeyehu Ganga, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the United Nations; Peter Adriaens, CEO, Equarius Risk Analytics, LLC, co-founder and CEO, KeyStone Compact Group Ltd., Director and Head Judge, Global CleanTech Cluster Association, USA; and Kajsa OlofsgArd, Ambassador for the Post 2015 Development Agenda, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sweden. Chee Yoke Ling, Director of Programmes, Third World Network, Malaysia, served as the lead discussant. Stefan Schweinfest, Director of Statistics, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, also delivered a statement.
Mr. DE BUYTSWERVE presented the outcome document of the second Economic and Social Council Financing for Development Forum, recently concluded in New York, which would feed into the overall follow-up and review process at the High-Level Political Forum. Experts and Government officials at the Financing for Development Forum had spotlighted the need to develop long-term visions and frameworks for financing for development, maintain a dialogue and continue to exchange national experiences. The meeting’s outcome document had put the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals front and centre, he said, pointing out that the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda had been designed to support and complement it. The report also contained new commitments to ensure the timely implementation of the Addis Agenda, he said, noting that it had recognized that the current global trajectory would not achieve poverty eradication by 2030. As such, the document had called for corrective action in all seven areas of the Addis Agenda, as well as in a range of cross-cutting areas including gender equality and social protection.
Mr. MATJILA, continuing that presentation, outlined several of the new commitments enshrined in the outcome of the second Financing for Development Follow-up Forum, including ambitious new language on gender equality. Countries had agreed that measures to build growth must be accompanied by programmes to help the poor and boost social protection systems. The document had also recognized links between expenditures, good governance and anti-corruption measures, and called on States to coordinate on tax matters, make the recovery of stolen assets a priority, and improve the quantity and quality of international cooperation. Among other things, the document had also noted with concern a decrease in ODA to least developed countries, and called on donor States to allocate at least 0.2 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) to those countries. In addition, it had made recommendations concerning the provision of duty-free, quota-free market access for least developed countries and the restructuring of sovereign debt.
Mr. SCHWEINFEST presented a statistical appetizer of the progress made to date in implementing Goal 17 � which was the broadest of the 17 Goals � noting that, while ODA had risen to a new peak in 2016, bilateral assistance to the least developed countries had fallen by 3.9 per cent in real terms. Debt service as a percentage of total exports of goods and service had fallen, but was now rising again, which was cause for concern. The statistics also revealed that about $429 billion of global remittances had gone to the least developed countries in 2016, which represented a decline of 2.4 per cent from 2015. Only $338 million � or just 0.18 per cent of total ODA � had been allocated to support national statistical systems.
Mr. MONTES, noting that those findings showed that capital flows into developing countries had fallen while the debt servicing burden had gone up, agreed that corrective action was required. In that context, he asked the panellists to what extent they felt the global community could face up to those challenges, what types of policies and institutional solutions were feasible to fund the Sustainable Development Goals and to outline the top three recommendations for action by the United Nations, Governments and other stakeholders.
Mr. GANGA said a global commitment and political determination were required in order to accelerate the timely and effective implementation of the Addis Agenda. Reports such as that of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Financing for Development had demonstrated that the 2030 Agenda could not be achieved through the current trajectory, he said, calling on the international community to take this message very seriously and act with a sense of urgency to create a more favourable environment for inclusive and sustainable development. Underscoring the importance of national ownership and leadership in that process, he outlined Ethiopia’s efforts to eradicate poverty � including by allocating more than 70 per cent of that budget to pro-poor programmes and projects � as well as work to mobilize domestic resources through such strategies as the Tax Transformation for Sustainable Development. Despite the country’s efforts to sustain its inclusive growth, Ethiopia still faced funding gaps, he said, urging developed countries to respect their commitments in ODA, climate financing and technology.
Mr. ADRIAENS described his decades of work with policy makers, investors and others to structure investment funds in ways that would help unlock private capital in sustainability. That included work with the P-80 Group Foundation � representing the world largest pension funds � which had committed to allocating 3 per cent of their assets to development financing. Noting that the latter had often been viewed as being below market rate, he said more efforts were needed to de-risk those investments, and made a number of related recommendations. Those included focusing on systemic economic development rather than piecemeal development projects and aligning financing mechanisms under clusters in order to attract market-rate financing. In that regard, he pointed to the Global LeanTech Cluster Associations � which connected some 10,000 technology companies under one asset class umbrella � as a positive example.
Ms. OLOFSGARD, noting that multilateralism was needed � and also threatened � today more than ever before, said that was evidenced by the interconnectedness of the world’s current environmental and economic challenges. While Sweden was one of the few countries that had managed to keep its growth rate up while also reducing its carbon footprint, that footprint nevertheless remained relatively high. Warning against the temptation to resort to protectionism to address many of today’s challenges, she instead underlined the need for inclusion and partnership, both of which were spotlighted in the 2030 Agenda. This is a very important change in perspective, she stressed, noting that the Agenda was about rights and efficiency and called for the active engagement of women, civil society, the private sector, the scientific community and many other actors. In addition, she pointed to a shift away from the traditional Corporate Social Responsibility model to one where funding sustainable development was seen as an investment.
Ms. CHEE, pointing to systemic issues as a particular source of concern to civil society groups, said trade and investment were both part of the global economic and governance framework that really needs attention. It’s about what we need to do together, she stressed in that regard, noting that despite a recent focus on innovative sources of financing, public finance must also play a critical role. In that regard, she cautioned that such innovative sources as public-private partnerships remained largely unregulated and had, in some cases, raised the risk to be borne by the public. The real work that needs to be done is already in many commitments and action plans, and we need to implement them, she stressed, voicing concern that many of today’s international free trade agreements did not allow policy space, and that some aspects of Mr. Adriaens’s presentation � especially the notion of bundling together of risk without public accountability � gave her dejA� vu of the 2008 global financial crisis.
In the ensuing discussion, speakers outlined a variety of efforts to boost investment in development financing and mobilize their domestic resources, including through the expansion of national tax bases. They also voiced a range of opinions on the most effective sources of that financing, with some spotlighting the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation and others emphasizing that such arrangements could never supplant traditional ODA.
The representative of the Philippines was among those speakers who described efforts to reform national tax systems, outlining policies aimed at making its system simpler, fairer and more progressive. Among other things, the country planned to group its expenditures under various key strategies, thereby reducing costs and improving prioritization.
The representative of Ghana joined a number of speakers in emphasizing that the Addis Agenda was not an end in itself, but a means to an end, and must be viewed as such.
Many delegates spotlighted the importance of international cooperation, with the representative of China calling on the international community to adhere to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility while assisting all countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
We need to unleash the billions into trillions, said the representative of the business and industry major group. Pledging the business community’s support for the 2030 Agenda, he also warned against the unintended consequences of well meaning public policy.
The representative of workers and trade unions major group pointed to the paradox of the 2030 Agenda, whereby the strategy pushed for national implementation while the Financing for Development Financing process did not enable the necessary policy and fiscal space. In that regard, she called for important structural changes including reform of the corporate tax system and bringing an end to trade agreements that did not support local development, labour or environmental rights.
The representative of Sri Lanka, noting that Governments constantly sought to balance investments in current and future development, urged the Forum to recognize the need for a new global financial architecture courageous enough to enable a new and sincere transformation.
The representative of South Africa, meanwhile, pointed to a disconnect between what was said in meetings at the United Nations and what was being done on the ground, asking: Do we really have the political will and the conviction to address the [2030 Agenda’s] means of implementation?
Also speaking were the representatives of Denmark, Algeria, Argentina and the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the European Union.
Representatives of the children and youth major group, the non-governmental organization major group and the women’s major group also participated.
Moderated by Susil Premajayantha, Minister for Science, Technology and Research, Sri Lanka, the final panel of the day was titled advancing science, technology and innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals. It featured Macharia Kamau (Kenya), Co-Chair, Multistakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals; Vaughn Turekian, Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State, United States and Co-Chair of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals; and Heide Hackmann, Executive Director, International Council for Science and Co-Chair, 10-Member Group of high-level representatives in support of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism. Lead discussants were Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Director-General, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and Donovan Guttieres, focal point for the Science-Policy Interface Platform of the major group for children and youth.
Mr. PREMAJAYANTHA said science, technology and innovation were among the biggest challenges and solutions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As developing countries were ready to benefit from technological advances, today’s session would focus on how to harness that potential to trigger results on the ground.
Mr. KAMAU provided a summary of the latest meeting of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals, which had included almost 400 scientists and a range of stakeholders, from youth to the private sector. Sharing some recommendations, he highlighted the need to support the creation of road maps to prioritize actions and cross-sectoral cooperation. Indeed, science could drive a transformative impact, he said, noting the equal importance of state-of-the-art low- and high-tech solutions. Efforts must also be scaled up to unlock the creative potential of young people and women. In addition, the Technology Facilitation Mechanism must also be operationalized. The Multi-stakeholder Forum would continue to consider those and related issues with a view to achieving further progress in the field. The High-Level Political Forum must, for its part, keep science and technology at the centre of its work in efforts to advance achievement of the Goals.
Mr. TUREKIAN said all the Goals could benefit from advances in science and technology. For instance, mobile-phone technology now allowed farmers to monitor weather and bring products to market. While 2030 seemed both distant and close, a cross-sectoral dialogue must continue to find effective solutions. At the latest Multi-stakeholder Forum, industry leaders and stakeholders shared best practices and experiences, with key themes emerging, including contextualizing technology for local communities. Such diverse inputs and their broad range of perspectives would help the Multi-stakeholder Forum to advance discussions on how technology could contribute to achieving the Goals.
Ms. HACKMANN said an environment must be created where science could flourish, as it was more important than ever before to society. Diverse voices from around the world must be included and the benefits of science must be equally shared. Solutions-oriented science could provide policy makers information on the synergies between the Goals. Significant changes in the practice of science must include bolstering integrated and interdisciplinary approaches. However, barriers existed that hampered collaboration. Science must also inform stakeholders, including in Governments and the private sector, and must reap the full benefits of big data.
Mr. NAKICENOVIC said science and technology were both renewable and cumulative. Even though science was on the edge of transformative change, recent budget cuts to research and development were a concern. Science, technology and innovation were both the key to development, but also to destruction. Science must be enhanced to effectively implement and achieve the Goals. The Goals could be the world’s new social contract, triggering the third revolution in human history. Today, everyone on the planet could have access to mobile phones, but there was a distribution problem. The direction was crucial, he said, emphasizing that the third revolution required investment for a sustainable future. A paradigm shift was needed alongside a science-based analysis of how the Goals could be met. He recommended several steps to do that, such as ensuring that all people were included.
Mr. GUTTIERES said a core challenge was the current economic paradigm of, for instance, developing technology for technology’s sake. Technology could, in fact, be an enabler to achieve the Goals, but approaches must change. He underlined the importance of recognizing diverse sources of knowledge, including informal or traditional sources. Further, the market-driven obsession for advancement was misguided. Instead, closing gender and digital divides must be addressed. To truly leave no one behind, efforts must be based on the notion that knowledge and technology, such as the Internet, were global goods. Technology justice should be acknowledged alongside development justice. The Technology Facilitation Mechanism must play its role to ensure progress in adopting environmentally sound developments.
In the ensuing discussion, delegates said advancing science and technology had a key role in helping States to bridge the development gap and achieve the Goals. The representative of Viet Nam said many Goals and targets had recognized that, but the current digital divide was wide. To help build bridge that divide, Viet Nam and several other States were hosting on 17 July at United Nations Headquarters a meeting to share experiences and best practices.
Several participants, including the representative of China, described recent approaches to sharing best practices with developing countries. The representative of Armenia said that among his country’s efforts was the launch of an innovation lab on 14 July that would focus on using technology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Many speakers agreed on benefits of harnessing innovative solutions, with the representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) saying technology was indeed a significant development driver. Japan’s delegate said innovation could help solve development challenges, including in the field of data collection.
However, some participants cautioned about the downside of some technological developments. The representative of Mexico said science and technology advances could upset labour markets. Raising another issue, the representative of the United Nations Environment Programmesaid climate change challenges were largely the result of technological advances and future gains must reinforce the principles behind the Sustainable Development Goals.
Participants highlighted other concerns, with the speaker from the workers and trade unions major group saying that to be a truly effective development tool, technology must be placed in the hands of workers and communities and not kept only for the monetary benefit of corporations. The speaker from the indigenous peoples major group stressed that traditional knowledge must be acknowledged.
Young delegates shared their perspectives, with the speaker from the children and youth major group underlining the importance of digital literacy and ensuring open access to knowledge and technology. In that vein, a youth delegate from Finland said technology education funding was crucial in order to realize of young people’s rights worldwide. Targeted programmes for girls were also critical, she said, highlighting Finland’s introduction of technology courses for all students.
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of the Netherlands, South Africa and Iran, as well as the European Union. Speakers from the persons with disabilities stakeholder group and the women’s major group also spoke.
Source: United Nations