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High-Level Political Forum,
1st & 2nd Meetings (AM & PM)

Speakers Focus on Ways to End Poverty, Gender Inequality, Structural Barriers, as High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Opens

The Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum tasked with reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development opened its second annual session today, with participants welcoming its focus on particular goals and targets, as well as its central theme of poverty eradication and the promotion of prosperity “in our changing world”.

“There are high expectations from this global institution and it is our duty to ensure that the [Forum] lives up to them,” stressed Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe), President of the Council, as he opened the meeting.  Pointing out that it was the first time the Forum would discuss in-depth a particular set of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, he said the session would also include national presentations from 44 countries and discussions about poverty eradication through the lens of addressing its multiple dimensions, especially in countries in special situations.  In addition, there would be keynote presentations from a range of speakers focusing on “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.

Delivering one such keynote address this morning, Vivania Ditukana Tatawaqa of Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (Fiji), and representing the major group for women, urged the Forum to pursue robust, transparent and real transformation and change.  Noting that the international community had the ability to reverse today’s profound climate, ecological and political crises, she said the Forum should be a space to hear about challenges and structural barriers that could not be easily solved at the national level.  Stressing that the world was still far from achieving the 2030 Agenda because Governments were unwilling to address those barriers, she called for efforts to tackle the prevalence of financial, trade and wealth concentration, land and resource grabbing and other unsustainable practices, and for countries to meet their various human rights and environmental obligations.

Keynote speaker Robert Johnson, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Pointing to the emergence of “dangerous discontents” resulting from the global economic system’s lack of sensitivity to people’s needs — especially in less-advanced economies — he said such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.  He also spotlighted several priority issues to be addressed going forward, including those related to gender inequality, the health of the world’s oceans and the production and pricing of new forms of energy.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of International Affairs at The New School, stressed in her keynote address that a holistic approach would be critical to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  While that agenda had created a new paradigm of development and a new theory of change, its current set of indicators — laid out in a framework adopted last week by the General Assembly — was still a work in progress.  Cautioning that many of the present indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, she also drew attention to several similar criticisms from non‑governmental organizations and other members of civil society.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced a report of the Secretary-General detailing progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We remain accountable to all people and to each other,” he told the Forum, noting that while nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million had still lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.  Among other challenges, gender inequality persisted worldwide and while maternal mortality had declined, that progress must be doubled to achieve the relevant global targets by 2030.  He also outlined some of the critical opportunities identified in the report, including building new and resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation.

Participants also held two panel discussions today, addressing the themes, “implementation at the regional and subregional levels” and “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, respectively.

The High-Level Political Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 11 July, to continue its work.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of Economic and Social Council, noted that the current session was the second since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the first since the adoption of General Assembly resolution 70/299, which had finalized the guidance on that Agenda’s follow-up and review.  It was also the first session of the High-Level Political Forum that would discuss in-depth a set of Sustainable Development Goals — namely, Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 — alongside Goal 17 on partnerships, which would be discussed every year.  In addition, the session’s theme, “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, was particularly pertinent as poverty remained “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

“There are high expectations from this global institution and it is our duty to ensure that the [Forum] lives up to them,” he said, underlining the importance of linking the planned presentations of 44 countries with the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature.  Each session on the Sustainable Development Goals would begin with a short statistical presentation leading to presentations by panellists on identifying challenges and progress and suggesting recommendations and possible solutions.  Keynote speakers would then discuss “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  The 2017 theme would be discussed through the lens of ways in which the multiple dimensions of poverty and inequality were being addressed in countries in special situations.  Spotlighting the importance of the regional dimension, he said this morning’s panel discussion would enable the Forum to take that aspect into account in the rest of its deliberations.

Introduction of Report

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, then introduced a report of the Secretary-General entitled, “progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” (document E/2017/66).  Noting that the 2030 Agenda recognized the international community’s common responsibility to address deprivations and ensure sustainable development for all, he stressed that “our aspirations touch all lives” and “we remain accountable to all people and to each other.”  The Forum provided the global platform to make that happen, he said, noting that an unprecedented number of stakeholders — some 2,400 — had registered to participate in the session and 44 countries planned to present their voluntary national reviews.

Outlining some of the main findings of the Secretary-General’s report — which reflected the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature by addressing, and then bridging, all the Goals under review — he drew attention to its basis in the new indicator framework adopted by the Statistical Commission in March, the Economic and Social Council in June and the General Assembly last week.  “I am struck by how far we have come and also how far we have left to go,” he said.  While nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million still had lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013, with many of the extreme poor were concentrated in regions where fragility, conflict and other challenges made interventions harder.  Many also lived in pockets of poverty in otherwise robust economies.

While maternal mortality had declined dramatically in recent years, he continued, achieving the relevant global targets by 2030 would require more than double the current rate of progress.  Gender inequality persisted worldwide, depriving women and girls of their basic rights and opportunities, and close to one fifth of women between 15 and 49 reporting having experienced some form of violence from a partner in the preceding 12 months.  Challenges still remained in protecting the world’s oceans, with a recent drop in global sea ice to the second‑lowest level in recorded history.  Noting that the impacts of those challenges were faced disproportionately by the poor — who often relied directly on the world’s natural resources — he went on to underscore the urgency of ending hunger and malnutrition, and ensuring universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene.  Indeed, around 155 million children under the age of 5 were growth‑stunted and 11 per cent of the world’s population still suffered from hunger.

Identifying a number of critical opportunities, he highlighted the importance of building new and resilient infrastructure and fostering innovation, pointing to a number of positive signals in global investment levels and the share of official development assistance (ODA) devoted to infrastructure.  Nevertheless, there were also signs that a stronger commitment to partnerships was needed, with ODA levels falling by more than 3 per cent from 2015 to 2016 in real terms.  “The evidence is clear and it shows us the direction we need to take,” he said, emphasizing that local, national, regional and global efforts must be better connected and stakeholders must avoid working in silos.  A stronger role was also needed for science, technologies and innovations that could help to accelerate progress.

Remarks by Major Groups and Stakeholders

VIVANIA DITUKANA TATAWAQA, Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (Fiji), and major group for women, said that, as a young woman from the global South, she was speaking to the Forum at a time when the world faced profound climate, ecological and political crises, which the international community possessed the ability to address and end.  The Forum must pursue robust, transparent and real transformation and change.  Numerous public-private partnerships among Governments, organizations and societies were already building long-term solutions to those challenges.  Real strategies must be put in place and inadequate responses must be rejected.  The roles of multiple actors, including civil society, must be clearly and substantively reflected in the Ministerial Declaration, as well as in its implementation.  The Forum should be the space to hear about challenges and structural barriers that could not be easily solved at the national level so that global solutions could be identified.  However, she feared that the Forum was failing in its mandate to provide space for accountability.  The major groups and other stakeholders’ consortium had worked for a higher standard for participation and accountability at every step of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The world was far from achieving the 2030 Agenda because Governments were still not willing to address existing structural barriers, she continued, calling for efforts to address the prevalence of financial, trade and wealth concentration, land and resource grabbing and other unsustainable practices.  Policy coherence should also be pursued to move away from systems that prioritized corporate power above the well-being of people and the planet.  Developed countries must fulfil their financing for development commitments, and efforts must be made to ensure coherence between the 2030 Agenda and binding instruments, including on trade and human rights, to ensure that public interests were no co‑opted for corporate gain.  Governments must meet their human rights obligations in areas including health, housing, education, decent work and living wages, among others.  Stressing the importance of gender equality, she called for mainstreaming of gender issues across all policy plans.  Expressing concern that by 2030, it was estimated that there would be more plastic than fish in the oceans, she said the further exploitation of the ocean must end.  Leaders should not be speaking about sustainable development while rolling back progress on climate change.

Keynote Speakers

ROBERT JOHNSON, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, delivered a keynote address, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Capital markets were not “magical carriers of goodness”, but tools that reflected the desires of those with purchasing power — while Governments were not “magical entities”, but structures that needed to be informed by the desires of those they governed, he said, warning that today local governance was overwhelmed by global forces and lacked sensitivity to people’s needs.  Those “dangerous discontents” — in which the global system had not been designed to serve less-advanced economies — were now bringing dysfunction to those systems.  However, such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.

Outlining the benefits and drawbacks of various regional economic strategies, he described current efforts to set up a “Commission for Global Economic Transformation” aimed at addressing, among other things, challenges related to the production and pricing of new forms of energy.  Spotlighting the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality, he warned that the “dreadful dysfunction” of gender discrimination and inequality could not be reversed simply by acknowledging it.  True healing, and particularly uncovering the anxieties of the perpetrators, was critical, he said, encouraging the Forum to make that issue one of its top priorities going forward.  On another urgent issue, Goal 14 on “Life Below Water”, he underlined the connection between the current devastation in the world’s oceans and poverty among its many coastal communities.

SAKIKO FUKUDA-PARR, Vice-Chair of the Committee for Development Policy and Professor of International Affairs at The New School, cautioned that a holistic approach to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation would be more effective than evaluating the implementation of the individual Goals.  Such analysis must be based on both quantitative and qualitative data, she said, pointing out that the new 2030 Agenda had created a new paradigm in development and a new theory of change.  What was particularly new was that the various development policies were integrated into a single agenda and that civil society, national Governments and the private sector played a critical role.  While the demand for data was very high, the indicator framework was still a work in progress.

Drawing attention to the 2030 Agenda’s priority on strengthening the capacity of data collection, she said not enough was being done in that respect, especially in developing countries.  Calling for more attention to national statistical agencies, in particular with regard to Tier 3 of the framework’s indicators, she also underlined the need to add disaggregation by ethnic groups, minorities, sex and other important factors.  She also noted that many of the current indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, pointing to a number of sharp criticisms from non‑governmental organizations in that regard.  Among other things, several such groups had expressed concern that the 2030 Agenda’s official monitoring and reporting arrangements omitted measurements of progress on some of its most ambitious propositions, as many of those were included in Tier 3.  Citing much discussion about “new data from new sources using new methodologies”, she said their usefulness remained an open question and could pose challenges to the accessibility, accountability and priority setting of national statistical agencies.

Panel I

Moderated by Mr. SHAVA, the first panel was titled “implementation at the regional and subregional levels”.  Panellists included Shamshad Aktar, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Mohamed Ali Alhakim, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Europe (ECE); and Aida Opoku-Mensah, Special Adviser to the Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Opening the discussion, Mr. SHAVA noted that regionalism had been growing for decades and regional cooperation and integration had been increasingly playing critical roles in supporting sustainable development, including through South-South cooperation, peer learning and the sharing of experiences among countries in similar circumstances.  The regional commissions had been at the forefront of helping Member States, as well as regional and subregional organizations, articulate and align their efforts.  Their analytical work, capacity building and inclusive platforms were proving to be highly valuable.

Ms. AKTAR said that expectations for implementation of the 2030 Agenda must be realistic given that efforts towards implementation were on in their second year.  Nevertheless, work was already under way in the Asia and Pacific region as countries there pursued their sustainable development aims.  Available data varied considerably, with small island developing States and least developing countries struggling to collect representative data.  However, from the data that had been gathered, it was evident that there had been steady progress in implementing the Goals, although those efforts had fallen short in several critical areas.  Poverty rates had dropped in the region, yet 400 million people continued to suffer from income poverty.  In that context, she highlighted that more than half of the global poor were living in the Asia and Pacific region.  Trends towards gender equality were not as strong as desired due to low and declining women’s participation in the labour market, which she described as a lost opportunity.

Ms. BARCENA noted that there had been six pillars for action and cooperation agreed by the 33 countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Nineteen of those countries had made political commitments towards intersectional high-level institutions and 14 countries from the region had agreed to provide voluntary national reviews as part of the Forum.  An inventory of national statistical capacities on the 17 Goals had been gathered in 26 countries, which indicated the need for some refinement and collection of supplemental information.  The Forum of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean had taken place for the first time in April, which included some 800 participants and nearly 290 civil society and private sector participants.  Progress on poverty reduction and inequality trends was threatened, while there had been steady but uneven progress on ending hunger.  She expressed worries about the lack of progress on gender equality, while also emphasizing that the threats to coastal areas were a persistent area of concern.

Mr. ALHAKIM, highlighting that his Commission served 18 countries in the Western Asia region, said that, despite their varied development levels, member countries were committed to an Arab region and looked to ESCWA’s substantive support and convening power to bring everyone around the same table to ensure that women, men and children were all progressing together.  However, that work was more difficult than ever due to the existing political and humanitarian crises that had pushed countries in the region to the breaking point.  To move forward on the Sustainable Development Goals, the region needed peace, political solutions and inclusive democratic structures.  However, it also needed sustainable development and could not use conflict as an excuse to do less.  Eradicating poverty required a regional methodology to measure and analyse both poverty and inequality, which was at the heart of the Commission’s mandate.  The Commission also focused much of its work on the factors that contributed to the region’s migration trends, while also aiming to address the depletion of natural resources and the degradation of the environment due to climate change.

Ms. ALGAYEROVA said that, thus far, initial efforts in the European region had focused on revising, adapting and implementing new policy frameworks for the achievement of the Goals.  Policy coherence was critical for implementing the 2030 Agenda due to its multisectoral nature and required aligning domestic and international actions.  Still, further efforts were still required, even in the most advanced countries.  Progress was often mixed within and between countries.  One area that required significant improvement and in which ECE was heavily involved was road safety.  Progress in curbing air pollution had increased life expectancy, an important advancement given air pollution’s large human and economic cost.  The Sustainable Development Goals represented an important opportunity for increased international cooperation.  Many of the Goals had transboundary implications, which highlighted the need for cooperative solutions.

Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that ECA’s work took into account the shared interests of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 across the African continent.  In 2016, economic growth in Africa had declined to 1.7 per cent.  High population growth required good planning, and in that context, she highlighted that Africa’s population was estimated to continue increasing by 2.6 per cent annually and was projected to almost double by 2050.  Poverty reduction and eliminating extreme hunger were key policy challenges with implications for the realization of the other Goals.  African countries were being urged to increase spending on agriculture, infrastructure and public administration.  Discussions on tax evasion must remain at the forefront, she urged, noting that African countries suffered from weakening public institutions and the depletion of resources.  The lack of data was another critical challenge, as was the timeliness of the acquisition of any existing data.

Asked by the moderator about the key drivers to achieving the objectives laid out in the 2030 Agenda, Mr. ALHAKIM stressed the need for a fundamental shift with regard to gender equality to support the wholesale change that would be required to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Ms. ALGAYEROVA pointed out that the overall policy and regulatory frameworks should encourage behaviours that would support the achievement of the Goals, while also underscoring the roles of civil society and public-private partnerships.  Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that one of the key drivers for the successful implementation of the Goals would be evidence-based policy making and the management of resources, while Ms. BARCENA highlighted the need to end the “culture of privilege” in Latin America and the Caribbean, which included tax evasion and corruption.  Ms. AKTAR underlined the importance of the global economy, while also noting that Asia had become the principle collaborator of South-South collaboration and the need for importance of new funding revenues.

When asked by the moderator to assess the means of implementation for the development agenda, Ms. AKTAR noted the importance of statistics as a dimension of the 2030 Agenda and that tax, trade and investment all had a role to play.  Ms. BARCENA said that the Latin and Caribbean region was simply not growing fast enough and it continued to be plagued by tax evasion totalling some $340 million annually.  Mr. ALHAKIM said that technology and innovation were important elements of means for implementation in the Arab region, particularly in the absence of strong financing for development.  Ms. ALGAYEROVA pointed to the role of the private sector, as well as the need to strengthen international cooperation to mobilize investment through which effective change would take place.  Ms. OPOKU-MENSAH said that, in Africa, the lack of infrastructure was not only hurting development, but was also an impediment to the achievement of the Goals.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, Oleg Pankratov, Vice-Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, delivered a statement on behalf of the Eurasian Economic Union, recalling that the 2030 Agenda, which united 193 Member States, was key to the United Nations agenda.  The 2030 Agenda was unique in that each Goal was linked to human development, based on the realization that the planet’s true wealth was its people.  In pursuing the future development agenda, leaders had agreed to pursue a historic opportunity to put in place environmental and social changes that would ensure peace and security.  The Eurasian Economic Union, which included five countries, had been active in implementing the Goals as part of their long-term development policies for 2030.  Its most recent report contained a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of development priorities in achieving the Goals.  He noted that the unemployment rate across the Eurasian Economic Union was lower than that of many developing countries at 5.7 per cent, while the gender imbalance was also being flattened.

The representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that sustainable development was a key priority for countries in the region, which had sought to transform the vision of the 2030 Agenda into concrete projects.  In that regard, ASEAN member States appreciated partnerships with various parts of the United Nations system.  The representative of El Salvador, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said those nations were committed to achieving sustainable development through proposals that included common solutions for the benefit of all peoples and leaving no one behind.  Adequate financial and non-financial resources would be critical, in that regard.

The representative of Guyana, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed concern that the region suffered from persistent, low growth and the erosion of human development gains.  The countries of the region were being hindered by large amounts of debt and their classification as middle-income countries.  The representative of South Africa, speaking on behalf of South African Development Community (SADC), said that the African continent was unique in that it was pursing two development agendas simultaneously.  Continued and predictable funding was crucial for implementing those agendas.

The representative of the European Union said the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change was an essential, complementary step forward.  He went on to note the importance of the recent adoption of the European Consensus on Development.  The representative of the League of Arab States said that the bloc had established the Arab Institution for Sustainable Development, which would work toward implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Also speaking were the representatives of Bhutan, Belarus and Mexico.

A speaker representing the major group for women also spoke.

Panel II

Moderated by Vikas Swarup, High Commissioner of India to Canada, the second panel was titled “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world:  addressing multi-dimensions of poverty and inequalities”.  Panellists included Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, University of Oxford; Claudia Vasquez Marazzani, Director of Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia; and Anthony Lake, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Laura Stachel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of WeCareSolar, and Emem Omokaro, Executive Director of the Dave Omokaro Foundation and Secretary-General of the African Society for Ageing Research and Development, were lead discussants.

Ms. ALKIRE, emphasizing that numbers could motivate action and ignite policies, explained that multidimensional poverty indices took a set of poverty-related indicators and linked them together to provide one headline figure that could, in turn, be unpacked to inform policy.  Creating such indices involved first defining the indicators of poverty, going door to door to see which deprivations each household was experiencing, and creating a deprivation score for each person.  Several countries had developed multidimensional poverty indices, she said, adding that comparable measures could be created to compare across countries.  While such indices were not a silver-bullet solution for ending poverty, such numbers could move the world and Governments had found they could be useful tools for governance and accountability.

Ms. VASQUEZ MAAZZANI said her country was unusual in that it was transitioning from a “trap of violence” into a peace process that would hopefully create the conditions necessary to address poverty.  With support from the University of Oxford, it had introduced a multidimensional policy index with the aim of demonstrating which factors needed to be taken into consideration to improve decision-making at a public policy level.  One lesson drawn from the index was that poverty eradication required not just resources, but also education, health care, employment, housing and access to public services.  The index also made it possible to better focus on needs at the territorial level, reducing urban-rural disparities and enabling sectors and institutions to work in greater harmony.

Mr. LAKE said addressing poverty and inequalities required more than narrowing income disparities.  It was also necessary to tackle the drivers.  Poverty was disproportionately about children, which comprised one third of the world’s population, but half of all multidimensionally poor people.  Defeating poverty in the next generation depended on giving children a fair chance today.  Reaching them required a deeper understanding on who was being affected and how.  Better data and a renewed focus on equity were needed.  The wealth of data being generated had a real potential to change how programmes were designed and delivered at national and community levels.  On equity, he said investing in the most disadvantaged children yielded the greatest results, as demonstrated in a new UNICEF study of 51 countries who were using such an approach.  The study, “Narrowing the Gaps:  the power of investing in the poorest children”, found that more lives were saved than by equivalent investments that did not reach the most disadvantaged groups.  A commitment to equity and detailed, disaggregated data offered the surest route to making the promise of the 2030 Agenda a reality for succeeding generations.

Ms. STACHEL, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, emphasizing the connection between maternal mortality and poverty, said reliable electricity supply was a largely overlooked aspect of health care.  In response to that problem, her organization promoted a compact and rugged solar electricity unit that could fit into a suitcase, enabling medical procedures after dark.  Such units had so far reached more than 2,000 health facilities in Africa, as well as Nepal and the Philippines.  However, she said, getting national data on health centres most in need of electricity was difficult.

Dr. OMOKARO, a gerontologist, said economic growth would be inconsistent with poverty reduction unless the poor participated in growth processes and shared in prosperity.  Policies that were not based on human rights or which did not recognize a citizen’s intrinsic worth could not enable the poor to be participants.  Aggravating the situation were restrictions on such bases as gender or age.  She hoped that every Member State would adopt multidimensional poverty indices in the knowledge that everyone was worthy of the outcomes of development.

In the ensuing interactive discussion, speakers raised a range of issues and concerns.  Some provided examples of national poverty-eradication programmes.

The representative of Kenya asked about ways to enable the poor to participate in their own development, as well as the importance of determining which of the Goals would have the greatest community impact.

The representative of China emphasized the need for a systematic approach to poverty reduction.  He said his country had, through many years of practice, come up with poverty-reduction approaches with Chinese characteristics.  Given current trends, he added, all of rural China would be out of poverty by 2020.

The representative of Finland, recalling how poor her country had been in the 1940s, emphasized the significance of a universal social policy in overcoming poverty.  As the world was changing, policy must change, she said, underscoring Finland’s introduction this year of a national universal income pilot scheme that including previously unrecognized forms of work, such as unpaid care work.  She added that poverty eradication could not be accomplished without changes that ensured equal outcomes for women.

ADRIAN MARIUS RÂNDUNICĂ, Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Social Justice of Romania, described a national multi-pronged approach that included a poverty-eradication strategy identifying and targeting 18 vulnerable groups and a gender equality plan aimed at ensuring women’s participation in decision-making in political, economic and public life.  In addition, an employment plan focused on leaving no one behind in efforts to reduce joblessness, while a strategy on caring for elderly persons included adopting specific policies and integrating all long-term services.

Responding to questions from the floor, Ms. VASQUEZ MARRAZANI said that by law, poverty-eradication programmes in Colombia were constantly measured over time.  Social programmes meanwhile featured various participation and consultation mechanisms that made tailor-made measures possible.

LAWRENCE CHANDY, Director, Data, Research and Policy at UNICEF, taking Mr. Lake’s place on the panel, underscored that under the Sustainable Development Goals, poverty measures were meant to be country-defined.  Such an approach recognized that poverty was different in different places, while, at the same time, creating an opening for the poor and youth to participate.  Leaving no one behind was not just about identifying those living in poverty, but also ensuring that their deprivations were identified and addressed in the first place, he said.

Ms. ALKIRE referred to experiences in several countries, including Chile, the first high-income country to release a multidimensional poverty index.  In highly developed countries such indices gave visibility to issues not necessarily seen through monetary-based yardsticks.  With regard to China, she said that country’s systematic approach included connecting every poor family with a civil servant.

The representative of Azerbaijan referred to his country’s active labour market programmes, which gave its poor an opportunity to earn money.  Those programmes reduced poverty and unemployment in a long-term and sustainable way while, in the process, lifting people out of the poverty trap.

The representative of Indonesia said the pace of progress against poverty in her country had flattened.  To break the cycle of multidimensional poverty, its Government was emphasizing such sectors as education, infrastructure development and creating new economic opportunities, including support for entrepreneurship.  She also underscored the important role of international cooperation.

The representative of Sierra Leone recalled the adage that “what gets measured, gets done”, adding that what got measured appropriately got done most efficiently.

The representative of the major group for working people and trade unions said poverty eradication could not be addressed without taking up the question of low wages.

Also taking the floor were representatives of Kenya, China, Finland, Chile, Argentina, Comoros, India, Sudan, Mali, Romania, Azerbaijan, Norway and Sierra Leone, as well as the European Union.

Representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) also spoke.

Speakers representing the major group for women, persons with disabilities, children and youth, and non-governmental organizations also spoke.

For information media. Not an official record.