Addressing Ruinous Effects of COVID-19, Climate Change, Speakers Urge Speeding Up Development Goals Implementation, as Second Committee Continues Debate
Delegates also Take Up Poverty Eradication, Agricultural Development, Food Security
Stressing that developed countries must ramp up global cooperation to close the world’s glaring economic gap, speakers focused on the need to tackle vaccine inequity, the ruinous effects of COVID‑19, climate change and implementation of development goals, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) continued its general debate today.
Iceland’s delegate noted that 3 per cent of people in low‑income countries have received one vaccine dose, compared to over 60 per cent in high‑income nations. Moreover, high‑income and economically resilient countries have invested nearly 28 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) into economic recovery from the pandemic, while least developed States have been able to contribute less than 2 per cent, he said.
Similarly, Bangladesh’s delegate observed that the vaccination rate is below 1 per cent in many low‑income countries, stressing that equitable and affordable access to vaccines must be addressed urgently. Also, millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger due to the pandemic, with least developed and graduating countries at a high risk of sliding back.
Adding that climate-vulnerable countries are especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s impact as well as increased natural calamities, she said a bold, ambitious global road map is needed to put the world back on track towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Calling for efforts to limit the rise in temperature and increase climate financing, she said enhanced investments in agriculture and renewable energy are also needed.
The representative of Nepal said access to COVID‑19 vaccines for everyone, everywhere, is the only pathway to fight the virus, “plain and simple”. The pandemic is a reminder to speed up efforts towards achieving development targets, he said, while emphasizing that official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment (FDI) and aid‑for‑trade must be scaled up, alongside debt suspension and cancellation.
Underscoring the need for climate justice, he said Nepal, among the world’s most climate‑vulnerable countries, needs $28 billion to implement its plan to reach net‑zero emissions by 2050. “If ever there was a moment to turn things around, to reset our economy, to reimagine and create a more equitable, just and sustainable world for our people and our planet, that moment is now,” he said.
Cuba’s delegate said the pandemic has exacerbated vast gaps between the developed and developing worlds, illustrating a sad and unfair economic reality for millions of people worldwide. The situation can only change through multilateralism and the pooling of humanity’s vast knowledge and resources, he said, but lack of will and international cooperation among developed countries puts development goals at risk of becoming “mere political statements”.
Japan’s delegate highlighted developed country efforts to step up to the plate, noting that his country has pledged $1 billion to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment to provide over 1.8 billion doses of vaccine to developing economies. Moreover, it is working to provide cold chain equipment and transportation to ensure delivery of vaccines in each country and region.
In an afternoon session, the Committee focused on poverty eradication as well as agricultural development, food security and nutrition. Several speakers pointed to the pandemic’s severe effect on efforts to rid the world of poverty, while others lamented its hindrance in meeting food security goals.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, Kazakhstan’s delegate said his bloc is off track to achieve nutrition indicators by 2030, with about 780 to 811 million people facing hunger. The proportion of people in landlocked developing countries living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day declined from 27.3 per cent in 2015, to 23.9 per cent in 2019, but the pandemic has reversed this trend.
Likewise, the representative of Morocco, observing that almost 1 in 5 Africans experienced hunger in 2020 due to the pandemic, said her bloc believes sustainable agriculture has a crucial role in overcoming the virus’ effects. Speaking for the African Group, she said the effects of climate change are also affecting food security on the continent, pointing to the urgent need for rigorous action.
More positively, Fiji’s delegate, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, said that 50‑70 per cent of people in his bloc depend on agriculture and fishing activities for their livelihoods, with the region contributing up to 50 per cent of the global tuna catch. While extreme poverty remains relatively low in the Pacific, an estimated 1 in 4 islanders are likely to be living below their respective national basic need’s poverty lines, causing hardship, lack of economic opportunity and social exclusion.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Saudi Arabia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Eritrea, Mexico, Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, Russian Federation, Iraq, Sudan, Israel, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Côte d’Ivoire, Paraguay, Philippines, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Algeria, South Africa, China, Nicaragua, Guinea (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Cambodia (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Thailand, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Malaysia, El Salvador, Indonesia, Mongolia, Morocco and Iran.
Statements were also made by the representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The Committee will meet again on Thursday, 7 October, to continue its discussion on poverty eradication as well as agriculture development, food security and nutrition. It will then take up groups of countries and towards global partnerships.
Continuation of General Debate
SUPARK PRONGTHURA (Thailand) noted the large global discrepancy in COVID-19 vaccines, with over 50 developing countries in need of them. He also pointed to the lack of quick action on the part of developing nations to tackle the disastrous effects of climate change. Adding that Thailand is one of the top 10 countries affected the most by climate change, he said the only logical policy in tackling this challenge is to meet targets outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Also, the international community must take a risk-informed approach in planning recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Having strong institutions is key to long term recovery as is universal health coverage. Adding that the agenda on the road to recovery is larger than one country can accomplish alone, he said action must be ramped up at the international, regional and local levels.
ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said the pandemic has resulted in huge human losses and significant economic damage, posing serious challenges to implementation of the 2030 Agenda. As part of his country’s vision, Saudi Arabia has implemented a long-term strategy for sustainable development. This has made it possible to reach significant progress in improving the standard of life, creating a conducive environment for economic growth, promoting local industries, and reducing unemployment, among other achievements. He said Saudi Arabia is now opening a new chapter, empowering young people, so that they become the driving force in the country’s development. Tourism is another area of focus as the sector promotes a prosperous economy and a healthy environment. As well, focus on the digital sector has made it possible to accelerate digital transformation. To promote a circular economy, he said Saudi Arabia has launched green initiatives to help achieve global targets in reducing climate change.
SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said the international community’s main aim should be to end the pandemic as soon as possible, stressing that any effort should be depoliticized. Efforts should also be made to share any scientific and technological developments with others in guaranteeing economic development in developing countries. Adding that peace and security is also vital in achieving economic development, he stressed the need to remove sanctions from such countries as Syria and Cuba.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the African Group, said sustainable development is at the top of his nation’s priorities. Its adoption of a sustainable development strategy, inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals, has improved social protection networks. The strategy’s special focus on rural areas will benefit about 60 million citizens. He said Egypt also managed to attract investments to improve quality of life and reduce poverty levels. Further, Egypt was subject to three voluntary national reviews, most recently in 2021, and will continue its negotiation efforts with the United Nations development system. Noting that obtaining financing is one of the major obstacles to implementation of the 2030 development programmes, he said Saudi Arabia managed to diversify financing for development and engage in partnerships for strategic projects in Egypt. As the pandemic has had a severe impact on budgets, he appealed to development partners to continue to help the most vulnerable economies.
KIMURA TETSUYA (Japan) noted that his country has pledged $1 billion to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment to provide over 1.8 billion doses of vaccine to developing economies. Moreover, Japan will make steady efforts to provide cold chain equipment and transportation to ensure the delivery of vaccines in each country and region. Through these initiatives, Japan provides some $3.9 billion of assistance, he said, adding that his Government is committed to realizing universal health coverage by 2030. He went on to note that Japan aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 46 per cent in fiscal year 2030 from its levels in 2013, and it will provide approximately $60 billion in climate financing to developing countries over the next five years. He further stressed the importance of financing for the agenda of sustainable and inclusive growth. In that regard, the Japan International Cooperation Agency recently raised approximately $180 million, through the issuance of gender bonds, aiming to promote women empowerment and gender equality. He also underscored that human-centred digital cooperation and innovation are the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), aligning himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that 90 per cent of the population on his continent has yet to receive its first dose of the vaccine while the developed world is speaking of a third round of vaccines for its citizens. “How can this be morally justifiable when the virus knows no boundaries?” he said. Climate change is another crisis that is spiralling out of control and the countries contributing the least to greenhouse gas emissions are bearing the brunt of the consequences. Nearly 600 million people in Africa don’t have dependable access to electricity, which leads to despair in other areas of life. Finding sustainable approaches that will not cripple nations that are trying to advance in order to improve the lives of their citizens has to be a cause for cooperation. The pandemic has uncovered the blatant inequalities that exist between nations. The global community should advocate for a global economic order that strives for equality and improves the life of people at the lowest level of the development ladder.
Mr. VELEZ (Mexico) said the provision of vaccines to all people is a moral imperative. The Committee has to take action to help the most marginalized people adapt to the circumstances of the changing world. This global health crisis is a singular opportunity to do that and bring about desirable results. The texts adopted by the Committee should reflect sound decisions and use the 2030 Agenda as a comprehensive road map. Mexico is focusing on several important issues: global health, financing for development, climate change and digital technology. Providing people with timely access to health care to promote social and economic development is essential. Mexico is moving forward to meet the global goals. Financing for development is key to recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. The international community must be sure the most vulnerable are not left behind. Mexico is committed to multilateralism.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) noted that the development of vaccines and expanded screening are now allowing the global community a way out of the pandemic. Adding that the world can begin to reorient towards a more sustainable model of development and tackle climate change through the Paris Agreement, he stressed the need to speed up implementation of these two road maps. Switzerland is prepared to dynamically engage with the international community on climate change, preservation of biodiversity, food security and other vital issues. He also observed that quality data and statistics are vital in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals if the international community does not wish to navigate blind in implementing them.
FAHMID FARHAN (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that millions of people have been pushed into poverty and hunger due to the pandemic. The least developed countries and graduating countries are at a high risk of sliding back. Climate-vulnerable countries especially are faced with the impact of the pandemic and increased natural calamities. A bold, ambitious global road map is needed to put the world back on track towards the Sustainable Development Goals. As the Secretary-General has said, this is a breakdown or breakthrough moment, he recalled. As such, the Committee has a special responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind. Further, equitable and affordable access to vaccines is needed. Noting that in many low-income countries the vaccination rate is below 1 per cent, he stressed that this inequality must be addressed urgently. On the environment, he reiterated Bangladesh’s Prime Minister’s call for efforts to limit the rise in temperature and to increase climate financing. Enhanced investments in agriculture, research and development, and renewable energy are also needed. The strength of digital technology must be leveraged to close the gaps in the areas of education, health and climate action.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the pandemic has served as an X-ray on the growing economic and social inequality between rich and poor countries. Recalling the Prime Minister of Pakistan’s Plan of Action to ensure implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said vaccine equity must be ensured to defeat the pandemic globally and comprehensively. On the debt burden carried by developing countries, he called for the further extension of the G-20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative, participation of the private sector in debt restructuring, and debt cancellation and suspension, especially for vulnerable least developed and African countries and small island developing States. Noting the flight of an estimated $1 trillion in resources from developing countries annually in the form of illicit financial flows, he said tax havens, tax abuse, especially by multinational corporations, and other illicit financial flows must be addressed.
SALIM SALIM (Kenya), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the pandemic’s devastating impact on global travel, tourism, supply chains and investment has caused the deepest economic recession in nearly a century. While Kenya undertook swift measures to cushion different sectors of its economy, the disruption of socioeconomic activities has been severe and aggravated poverty and income inequalities. To rebuild, global vaccine access must be placed at the core of recovery efforts. Kenya has sharpened its economic policy by implementing a comprehensive economic stimulus programme and focusing on sectors with the greatest economic multiplier effect: manufacturing, agriculture and food security, affordable housing, education, health, infrastructure, development and business liquidity. Turning to action on climate change, he said Kenya is seeking green and blue solutions that will deliver jobs and share prosperity for younger generations. Kenya has begun a strong climate change response and updated its national determined contribution plan to lower greenhouse gases emissions by 32 per cent by 2030.
DMITRY S. CHUMAKOV (Russian Federation) said his country supports the mutual recognition of internationally approved vaccines in controlling the pandemic and doing away with travel restrictions. On climate change, the Russian Federation is actively implementing the Paris Agreement at the national level, working to achieve a low level of greenhouse gas emissions. It is also in favour of reforming the global financial system as well as financial and technological cooperation. In this respect, it would like to develop a Eurasian partnership, which could become an economic union. Adding that coercive measures against developing countries are unacceptable, he stressed the need for a “green corridor” for trade as well as scientific exchanges and a digitized labour market.
HASAN BADRI MHALHAL AL-KHALIDI (Iraq), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said international solidarity is especially important to combat the pandemic. Recognizing the efforts of health-care workers, humanitarian workers, medical researchers and others, he pointed out that the crisis has threatened human health, safety and well-being and has overwhelmed societies and economies. It has destroyed lives and undermined efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, resulting in negative repercussions far beyond 2021. Noting that development is impossible without peace, he said Iraq is fully committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda as reflected in its 2021 voluntary national review. However, Iraq faces undeniable challenges, including the fight against terrorism and burdening fluctuating oil prices. It has reduced its share of global output, leading to a budget deficit. On the resident coordinator system, he called for improved geographical representation, especially for developing countries.
HIBA JAFAAR ABUBAKR ABUHAJ (Sudan), aligning herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that six years ago world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda. Now the Second Committee is meeting again in the general debate to adopt a smarter and more flexible approach to development. Sudan has what it takes to secure food security and contribute to it at the local and regional levels. She called on the international community to support its approach to food security. Sudan believes the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals is very important. It drafted its first national development plan that focuses on many global goals and has created a mechanism to follow up on them. She noted the country’s removal in December 2020 from the United States State sponsors of terrorism list. This will pave the way for Sudan to benefit from the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.
EMIL BEN NAFTALY (Israel) said his country’s Minister for Environment has pledged his nation’s support for several ambitious initiatives at the upcoming Biodiversity Convention, including on areas of marine protection. Israel will also work to promote nature-based solutions at the Climate Convention in Glasgow. Many of the economies, and people, of the developing world are very reliant on agriculture, which is why Israel sponsors a biennial resolution on Agricultural Technology for Sustainable Development. Using new technologies in agriculture can have profound results: more efficient production and increased income for farmers; increased food security and nutrition for consumers; and lower inputs of land, water, fertilizers and pesticides, which can reduce pressure on the environment. Through its Agency for International Development Cooperation, known as MASHAV, Israel shares its expertise in agriculture, education, health care and many other areas. Israel also works with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation to help implement projects around the world.
AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal) said that access to COVID-19 vaccines for everyone, everywhere, is the only pathway to fight the virus, “plain and simple”. The pandemic is a reminder to speed up efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. With fiscal resources drying up for least-developed countries, official development assistance (ODA), foreign direct investment (FDI) and aid-for-trade must be scaled up, alongside debt suspension and cancellation. Emphasizing the need for climate justice, he said that Nepal, one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, needs $28 billion to implement its plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Closing the digital divide means ensuring a safe, equitable and open digital future for those at the bottom rung of development. “If ever there was a moment to turn things around, to reset our economy, to reimagine and create a more equitable, just and sustainable world for our people and our planet, that moment is now,” he said.
GUILLERMO ROQUE FERNANDEZ DE SOTO VALDERRAMA (Colombia), aligning himself with the Group of 77, said his country is committed to the 2030 Agenda, while stressing that it needs a cross-cutting and integrated approach. With a collective road map, sustainable recovery from the devastating effects of the pandemic is possible, he said, given the opportunities available. The notion of creative industries should be part of this, using all modalities available, including South-South and triangular cooperation. Incentives must be offered for hiring youth and a basic income established for the most vulnerable groups, but such actions must be accompanied by an enabling international financial system as well as a mechanism for emergency borrowing. Further, the scope and urgency of climate change requires decisive action, especially for those in vulnerable positions. Adding that it is essential to reverse biodiversity loss, he said a global framework in this respect should be approved for the period after 2020.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) said that the pandemic has inflicted “devastating financial strain” on his country. In response, it is focusing on rights-based funding for free education and health care, alongside social assistance and business support programmes. He outlined various programmes that the Government has put into place to promote people-centred economic development, a technology-based society and sustainable environmental management. At the global level, he called for solidarity, with developed nations upholding their ODA commitments and international financial institutions demonstrating flexibility and transparency. Equitable and readily available access to financing tools is not a helpful step towards recovery, but a necessary one, he emphasized.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said the country had taken many precautionary measures to stop the spread of the pandemic. Its investment in science, technology and innovation has helped the country ease its citizen’s passage through the pandemic, for example by providing online education. Qatar Airways contributed during the pandemic by helping to transfer food to dozens of countries around the world. Doha continues its work in the humanitarian area by financially supporting the United Nations and more than a dozen of its agencies. Qatar is a pioneering country and supports laboratories and investors in technology and science. It is supporting the world’s least developed countries by hosting the Fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries, which will take place in Doha from 23 January to 27 January 2022. The international community needs to conceive a bold path for the post-pandemic recovery of these countries and help them meet the challenges of climate change. The United Nations House in Doha also offers a platform for all countries involved in common international action.
JÖRUNDUR VALTÝSSON (Iceland) stressed that 3 per cent of people in low-income countries have received one vaccine dose, compared to over 60 per cent in high-income ones. High-income and macroeconomically resilient States have invested nearly 28 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) into economic recovery, while less than 2 per cent of least developed countries have been able to do so, he said. Highlighting the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable, especially women and children, he stressed the need to keep gender equality at the centre of global efforts to build back better. He went on to note that Iceland aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 and it has also more than doubled its international climate finance contribution since 2018. Pointing out that 760 million people still lack access to electricity globally, he said that Iceland was proud to be a Global Champion for Just and Inclusive Energy Transition in the lead-up to the high-level dialogue on energy. Turning to food security, he reiterated Iceland’s emphasis on the implementation of comprehensive school feeding programmes, the role of blue and aquatic food in sustainable development, and the need to restore degraded land.
GBOLIÉ DÉSIRÉ WULFRAN IPO (Cote d’Ivoire), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that progress achieved in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals has been wiped out by the pandemic, impacting health and socioeconomic systems. Thus, it is necessary to raise ambitions in order to find solutions to lasting challenges. Urgent action is needed to put an end to the pandemic and slow the virus and the appearance of other variants. On debt, he called for solutions to illiquidity and illicit financial flows. On the environment, he said urgent action is needed to preserve nature and supported the Secretary-General’s call to mobilize climate finance. Since 2011, Côte d’Ivoire has promoted women in the economic, political and social spheres, also to help guarantee their participation in elected assemblies. Noting the significant challenges to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he invited all Member States and stakeholders to reaffirm their attachment to multilateralism to be able to grapple with planetary issues.
JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) stressed the need for equitable access to safe, effective vaccines in efforts to eradicate the pandemic globally. His country is of the conviction that nations must contribute to multilateralism based on shared, differentiated responsibilities to build back better. In this respect, the international community must consider countries in special situations, like landlocked, small island and middle-income States. He also stressed the need to eradicate poverty for rural development and food security as well as the importance of honouring international agreements under the Paris Agreement, especially regarding financing.
ENRIQUE AUSTRIA MANALO (Philippines) said that vaccine inequality is an injustice that must be redressed. The Philippines supports, and will contribute to, global initiatives to ensure access to safe and effective vaccines and to diversify global vaccine manufacturing capacity. The United Nations system and wider international community should provide middle-income countries with improved support to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to recover from the pandemic. Bold action and solutions which came out of the recent Food Systems Summit should be sustained and supported. He also called for urgent and ambitious global climate action, stressed his country’s commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity and stressed the need to ensure quality education for children and youth, including through cooperation to develop online learning platforms.
CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), speaking on behalf of the African Group and aligning herself with the Group of 77, said a sustainable and resilient recovery from the pandemic requires a greater focus on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Noting how the pandemic has exacerbated poverty, deepened hunger, widened inequalities and overstretched public health systems, especially in her continent, she voiced concern that livelihoods have been affected at all levels. Stressing the need for the removal of export barriers to provide African countries with therapeutics and diagnostics and to ensure full access to COVID-19 vaccines, he said: “We can’t emphasize enough the need to make vaccines global public goods.”
Despite being the least contributor to climate change, he noted, his continent remains disproportionately affected by its devastating impacts, especially in the Sahel region. Reiterating the call for a transformative action to implement the Paris Agreement and to focus on the needs of developing and least developed countries in Africa, he highlighted the interlinkages among adaptation to climate change, building resilience and ensuring food security and reliable food systems. Investing in human capital, reinforcing social protections and providing inclusive new skills training are essential for recovering and building forward better. Also underscoring the need for financing for development, he called for an effective economic stimulus package for African countries that incorporates debt relief and deferred payments.
ALBERT RANGANAI CHIMBINDI (Zimbabwe) said that equitable access to vaccines remains critical to redefine a post-pandemic global economy and create a sustainable future for everyone on a healthy planet. Vaccines should be made public goods if no one is safe until everyone is safe. This will help close the growing divide between the rich and the poor and address inequalities between and within nations. The eradication of poverty remains the overarching goal of the 2030 Agenda and financing for development is key to achieving the transformative blueprint to sustainable development. Zimbabwe, a landlocked developing country, has experienced numerous, unprecedented economic and environmental shocks that have negatively impacted its development goals. The Government has put in place measures to address poverty, low productivity, recurrent weather shocks, economic instability and lack of liquidity. Agriculture remains the backbone of the country’s economy, making up 15 to 20 per cent of its GDP. Eighty per cent of its population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods, yet recurring climatic shocks have negatively impacted food production and food security. Efforts are under way to climate proof the agriculture sector to reduce its reliance on rain-fed agriculture. A National Enhanced Agriculture Productivity Scheme, commonly known as Command Agriculture, was started in 2016 to ensure national food security, accelerate import substitution, create employment and improve incomes and livelihoods.
AHMED SAHRAOUI (Algeria) stressed the need for equitable distribution of pandemic vaccines so that shots are available for much of the global population. Noting that least developed countries have only vaccinated about 2 per cent of their populations, he said the international community must work together to provide 11 billion doses to vaccinate the rest of the world. His country has begun national development of the vaccine, hoping to make more doses available to developing nations in need of them. The developing world also should benefit more from progress in the digital sphere if efforts to achieve sustainable development are to succeed. On climate change, he said the future of the planet depends on decisions the international community takes today to tackle it.
MERIEM EL HILALI (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said that since adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, her country has undertaken an ambitious structural reform for sustainable development. It has adopted several initiatives, including a national solar energy programme and an industrial development plan for the creation of jobs. Morocco has improved means of subsistence to help especially its most vulnerable areas. To raise awareness among the public of the importance of sustainable development, she said Morocco has conducted consultations on relevant topics with stakeholders, including youth, to provide a forum for the exchange of views on challenges and opportunities. From the start of the pandemic, she said her country prioritized its national economy and efforts to mitigate social impact on households and businesses, helping Moroccan businesses to stay resilient.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) noted that the pandemic is taking an appalling toll on global health and wreaking havoc with development gains, exposing the true fragility of humanity. New strains of the virus have appeared, underscoring the urgency of allowing more countries to produce vaccines. The pandemic’s effect on economic activity is further compounded in Africa due to debt crises and inadequate financial resources. Noting that the 2030 Agenda will only be attained with implementation support, she called on the international community to form public private partnerships, stimulate foreign investment and deliver on development commitments. Stressing the need to assist developing countries more, she said efforts must be made to address the digital divide and empower these nations to assume ownership of technology. Multilateralism is vital, she emphasized, for resolving global challenges, including climate change and access to clean energy.
DAI BING (China) said the international community must make poverty reduction a top priority. Countries should use the post-pandemic recovery as an opportunity to accelerate a green and low-carbon transformation. Noting developing countries’ need for support and capacity, he said genuine multilateralism must be practiced to deepen partnerships and foster consultation and sharing. Recalling China’s own development experience, he encouraged all countries to “dovetail” each other’s development strategy and jointly promote global development for the shared future of humankind and accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba) said the pandemic has exacerbated differences between the developed and developing worlds, illustrating the sad and unfair reality for millions of people. The virus shows this situation can only change through multilateralism, international solidarity and the principles of international law. Humanity has the knowledge and resources to end poverty and protect the environment, he said, but lack of will among developed countries puts development goals at risk of becoming mere political statements. The global community cannot put off fulfilling the right to development and must safeguard the Paris Agreement if it wishes to save the planet, he emphasized. Developed nations must cut emissions and provide the necessary means for developing countries to tackle climate change through needed resources to mitigate the phenomenon as well as compensate loses. Adding that Cuba has suffered under unilateral coercive sanctions in the form of an illegal embargo imposed by the United States, he said his country has nonetheless proceeded with its sustainable development plans.
Poverty Eradication, Agricultural Development and Food Security
A representative of the Division for Inclusive Social Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs presented the Secretary‑General’s report on the “Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018‑2027)” (document A/76/234). She said progress on eradication of poverty during the decade of action, which ends in 2027, has been derailed. Extreme poverty has increased for the first time in 20 years. The latest estimates from the World Bank indicate that the pandemic has pushed an additional 97 million people into extreme poverty in 2020 — over half of these are women and girls. The COVID‑19 crisis has exacerbated economic, health, gender, age, educational and other socioeconomic inequalities. While the richest are least affected, the poorer and most vulnerable, including indigenous peoples and those with disabilities, are hit hardest. With strong Government action to reduce inequalities, it is possible to return to precrisis poverty levels much faster, she stressed. The report highlights that the United Nations system has mobilized to save lives, protect societies, build back better and accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda in this decade of action and delivery. System‑wide synergies must be leveraged through coherent and coordinated strategies at all levels.
A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) presented the Secretary‑General’s report titled “Eradicating rural poverty to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” (document A/76/239). The report outlines the state of rural poverty in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the Decade of Action to eradicate poverty. It notes that urgent action is needed in the areas of health, food security and nutrition, gender equality, financial inclusion, climate mitigation and rural institutions. The report states that 2.7 billion people worldwide depend on small‑scale food production for their livelihoods. Rural areas hold 38 per cent of the world’s population, who continue to have less access to basic services and infrastructure. Due to the pandemic, the report stresses that affirmative action is needed to reduce structural constraints rural populations face, recommending investments in various areas, including mitigation of the effects of climate change.
A representative of the Integrated Policy and Analysis Branch, Division for Sustainable Development Goals in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs presented the report of the Secretary‑General on “Agriculture development, food security and nutrition” (document A/76/216). He said new projections confirm that world hunger will not be eliminated by 2030 without bold action. The number of people affected by hunger has been showing an upward trend since 2014, with an additional 161 million people affected during 2020. Urgent action is needed at all levels to ensure that no one is left behind. The integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for coordinated action and highlight the vital role that systems play in sustaining human well‑being and the natural environment. Although the challenges presented in the report are sobering, he said it also highlights priorities of action where solutions exist and action is possible. In each of those areas, partnerships and adequate financing must be mobilized for deliberate action that better aligns with the needs of people and planet.
MARCELA VILLARREAL, Director, Partnerships and United Nations, Collaboration Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, introduced the first report on the implementation of the first biennium of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019‑2028, on behalf of the FAO‑Joint Secretariat (document A/76/233). The report was developed under the guidance of the decade’s International Steering Committee and received 190 inputs from United Nations entities, Member States, Family Farmers’ Organizations, National Committees for Family Farming and other relevant stakeholders representing about 70 countries.
The report provides information on the decade’s Global Action Plan. It focuses on the key, family‑farming‑related policy processes at international, regional and country levels; describes the decade’s overall contribution to the achievement of the global goals and the 2030 Agenda; and provides recommendations to guide the implementation process over the next biennium. During 2019‑2020, national action plans for family farming were approved in 8 countries and 37 countries have kick‑started processes to develop their plans. The action plans are serving as a valid framework to tackle the pandemic’s immediate effects on family farmers, and for designing medium‑term interventions to revamp rural economies and societies and strengthen sustainable agrifood systems that help achieve the global goals. In the last two years, 85 family‑farming‑related laws, policies and regulations were approved, mostly focused on mitigating the pandemic’s impacts and promoting family‑farming‑centred approaches to address agrifood system issues.
A representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization gave an oral presentation on natural plant fibres and the Sustainable Development Goals. He noted that such fibres are among the oldest in the world and lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda by contributing to poverty eradication. Their production and export provide a living for millions of people, providing needed foreign exchange, creating jobs and generating income. Adding that the sector faces challenges, he stressed the need to scale up international efforts for the sustainable production and use of natural plant fibres. Recent data on the world natural fibre market indicates it makes about $55 billion yearly, with 40 million households earning through fibre production. The medium‑term outlook for the sector indicates a change in consumer preferences and the possibility of robust sales.
Returning to the report presented by FAO, Costa Rica’s representative asked about the challenges and successes the Agency encountered, as well as additional support needed to help it succeed in its objectives, especially in supporting women and youth.
The FAO representative said there is a clear action plan for women and youth, especially since it is known that those groups are left out from decision‑making or access to resources, such as credit, loans and information technology. The decade has shown concrete results for women and youth, including increased access to those resources. However, as there are not enough resources, especially with the reallocation of resources due to the pandemic, she called on Member States for support in necessary investments.
The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said that, despite significant progress in reducing poverty during the last few decades, progress has been much slower in recent years, even before the pandemic. Noting that trade is a powerful engine for economic and technological development, he said there is a need to facilitate fair market access for products originating in the developing world, eliminate subsidies in developed countries, especially trade‑distorting cultural subsidies, and avoid the creation of new trade barriers under the pretence of social or environmental considerations.
The COVID-19 crisis has given a strong push for innovation and digital transformation, he said. Accordingly, industrial development cooperation should include technology transfer for the developing countries, on concessional and preferential terms, to help developing countries better integrate into the global industrial, value and supply chains. He emphasized that the road to recovery should be based on inclusiveness and solidarity. Recognizing that the pandemic has created tremendous fiscal challenges, even in the developed world, he urged development partners to live up to their commitments to spend 0.7 per cent of their gross national income on ODA — a promise that is several decades old.
The representative of Kazakhstan, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the world is not on track to achieve any of the nutrition indicators by 2030 for his bloc and about 780 to 811 million people are facing hunger. The proportion of people in landlocked developing countries living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day declined from 27.3 per cent in 2015, to 23.9 per cent in 2019. Yet the pandemic reversed this trend. The pandemic further exacerbated the food insecurity situation in these countries, as most are net food importers. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), an increase in new export prohibitions and restrictions, especially on foodstuffs, adds to food insecurity.
The Group commends the continued efforts by FAO, World Programme (WFP), the Asian Development Bank and other important international agencies to help landlocked developing countries strengthen their structural transformation and resilience. These countries must seek ways to promote and support innovations in agriculture and food systems. Additional financing is vital for greater agricultural productivity and production, sustainable crop management and food production. Equally important are climate‑sensitive and climate‑smart agriculture and food systems, agricultural mechanization and support for small‑scale farmers. The Group welcomed the recent first United Nations Food Systems Summit convened by the Secretary‑General and its more than 300 commitments.
The representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed the urgent need to reallocate financial resources for the provision of social protection, health care and education. The region is currently suffering from climate change, drought, desertification and other calamities. As almost 1 in 5 Africans experienced hunger in 2020 due to the pandemic, her bloc believes sustainable agriculture has a crucial role in overcoming the virus’ effects.
The effects of climate change are also affecting food security on the continent, she said, pointing to the need for rigorous action. Considering the vital role women play in development, land access for them would create employment, improve food security and contribute to their empowerment. She also emphasized the importance of the integration of technology into African agricultural systems, as it would be a critical tool for combating climate change and food security.
The representative of Cambodia, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said poverty eradication is one of bloc’s key priorities. To sustain the momentum of recovery, it has implemented the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which serves as a consolidated exit strategy from the COVID‑19 crisis. The framework helps to support vulnerable groups, including informal workers, women and youth, to minimize the development gap, to build back better, and to develop and put into practice policies for inclusive and sustainable development. In that regard, she called upon the international community to redouble its efforts to ensure that vaccine productions are expanded, and that affordable and equitable vaccines are made available to developing countries, especially those least developed. Noting the important role of micro-, small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises in achieving long‑term sustainable economic growth, she said technology and digital trade must be leveraged, so that those enterprises can continue operations during the pandemic.
The representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said that 50‑70 per cent of Pacific people depend on agriculture and fishing activities for their livelihoods, with the region contributing up to 50 per cent of the global tuna catch. Pacific nations continue to sustainably manage this catch, making a significant contribution to the global food supply chain. While extreme poverty remains relatively low in the Pacific, an estimated 1 in 4 islanders are likely to be living below their respective national basic need’s poverty lines, causing hardship, lack of economic opportunity and social exclusion.
Poverty reduction through pro-growth measures and job creation is necessary but is not enough, he said. The promotion of “decent work” and social protection policies as well as well‑managed labour mobility schemes can help enhance resilience and safeguard workers. However, small population size, remoteness and the enduring impacts of disasters hinder the ability of our countries to generate and sustain economic growth. Despite ongoing challenges and limitations, there is significant potential and opportunity for accelerating development in the Pacific through regional resilience, significant biodiversity, oceanic resources, increasing access to and use of technologies, increasing connectivity and renewable energy.
The representative of Thailand, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, highlighted actions that her country has taken to address malnutrition, and promote resilience and transformational change towards a more sustainable agrifood system. On domestic policies and initiatives and to ensure equitable access to safe and healthy food for all, she said the “Agriculture for School Lunch” project has been supporting students in Thailand, especially in far‑off locations, so that they receive sufficient and nutritious food. To improve food security and transition towards sustainable food systems, Thailand’s agrifood policies are focused on food safety, food security, and sustainability of natural resources and agroecology. Noting the impacts of climate change, Thailand, one of the top 10 countries most affected by long‑term climate risks, has developed a national adaptation plan to enhance climate resilience in six priority sectors, including agriculture and food security.
The representative of Ethiopia, associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Landlocked Developing Countries and the African Group, said that malnutrition in Africa in 2020 was estimated to have affected 1 in 5 people. Although the impacts of the pandemic are still unfolding, he said they will continue to be a source of uncertainty with potentially severe implications for access to food. Agriculture has been the mainstay of Ethiopia’s economy with a significant contribution to the GDP. The country’s Ten‑year Strategic Agricultural Development Plan has identified priority crop and livestock products that can have significant impacts in terms of stabilizing inflation, raw material supply and increasing exportable products. Moreover, Ethiopia is conducting a holistic food systems transformation, with the view to transforming the country’s food systems from production to consumption. Noting that Ethiopia’s domestic efforts must be supplemented by support from its development partners, he called on the international community to enhance financial and technical assistance to enable Ethiopia to overcome the challenges it faces and augment the overall capacity of the agricultural sector.
The representative of China said the United Nations Food Systems Summit should be seen as an opportunity to create new impetus to transform global food systems. During an international conference it hosted in 2021, China advocated for the reduction of food loss and waste and offered wisdom to help transform global food systems. As the world focuses on post‑pandemic recovery and sustainable development, he said China welcomes participation by all to deepen alignment for implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the building of a world free from poverty and hunger.
The representative of Nepal said that, despite reducing income poverty in the past, the world’s landlocked developing countries still have the largest concentration of poor people. The health, sanitation and other needs of vulnerable people must be improved, he stressed, adding that an important tool for reducing poverty is the creation of jobs in rural areas. Noting that 4 out of 5 of extremely poor in Nepal live in rural areas, he said many are suffering from malnutrition, especially children. Sustainable agricultural food systems that protect the environment must be adopted, he added, stressing that the challenge is to sustain recent progress as the pandemic has eroded the gains of the past.
The representative of Ecuador said it is necessary to reduce inequalities among people, especially focusing on people living in rural areas. He called on international financial institutions to meet the needs of poor people, noting that a multidimensional approach is necessary. Middle-income countries such as Ecuador have special vulnerabilities, he said, adding that Ecuador is committed to improving its agrifood industry. It promotes natural biodiversity and ensures access to affordable, nutritional food for everyone, and it counts on family‑owned farms to provide that food.
The representative of Malaysia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said that while his country, like many others, has been deeply affected by the pandemic, its resolve to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition as well as promote sustainable agriculture in line with Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals remains strong. In that regard, Malaysia is carrying out important initiatives, such as the COVID‑19 Economic Stimulus Package in Agriculture. Under this programme, a $240 million food security fund has been allocated by the Government to be channeled to farmers, fishermen and breeders, as well as micro-, small- and medium‑sized enterprises. This fund is a crucial lifeline for the financing of the agrifood sector and contributes towards domestic production and the sustainability of the food supply chain. Malaysia is currently finalizing the National Agrofood Policy (2021‑2030) which will drive the growth and development of the national agrifood sector over the next decade. A key consideration in the formulation of this policy was the emphasis on smallholder farmer and food producers as they account for roughly 75 per cent of the agrifood industry players. He said Malaysia recently concluded its review of the Third National Plan of Action for Nutrition which was launched in 2016. The plan has been further bolstered with the adoption of several policies for safe and sustainable food including through the establishment of the Digital Food Safety Data Management.
The representative of El Salvador, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country supports eradicating poverty and combating hunger and is committed to the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Both agendas are valuable road maps to eradicate poverty and food insecurity worldwide. El Salvador is undertaking activities to help people hurt by the COVID‑19 pandemic, especially families in society’s lowest economic levels. The country is also working to make sure that no one is left behind, he stressed, adding that it counts on resources from developed countries to adapt to climate change and reduce food insecurity.
The representative of Bangladesh said that over the last decade her country was able to reduce its poverty rate. Building on that momentum, it has set higher targets for the coming decade and aims to achieve zero hunger by 2030. She called for global action and the continued support of development partners to achieve those goals, noting that mobilization and revitalization of financing, including private financing, is essential to ensure high momentum. Further, she said, income‑based measurements of poverty are not enough; they should also consider other factors, such as access to basic services, education, food and water.
The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, said increased efforts are needed to implement the 2030 Agenda. As the pandemic has exposed already existing vulnerabilities, he called for concerted action to ensure solid social protection and health systems aimed especially at the most vulnerable populations. Noting that inclusive growth in the agrifood sector will help reduce poverty and hunger, he affirmed Indonesia’s commitment to creating a more sustainable agricultural system. More support and resources should be allocated for small‑scale farmers — an area of focus for the Indonesian Government. Discriminatory and selective trade barriers should be avoided, allowing for more inclusive stakeholder partnerships to solve the world’s complex challenges.
The representative of Mongolia, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that in spite of his country’s rapid modernization and industrialization, the traditional agriculture/livestock industry still plays an important role in the national economy. As of 2020, agriculture made up 12.8 per cent of GDP. Agricultural products make up 5.8 per cent of export income and 26.3 per cent of the workforce is employed in the agricultural sector. Agricultural land occupies 73.6 per cent of the country’s total land. For that reason, the country follows a policy of combining traditional and modern ways of life and has set the goal of “preserving traditional nomadic heritage, ecologically friendly, sustainable and organic animal husbandry, and promoting nomadic animal heritage to the world” in the “Vision 2050” long‑term development policy adopted in 2020.
The representative of Morocco, associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the need to invest in agriculture must be central to the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, as agriculture is the backbone for millions around the globe. In Morocco, agriculture has seen the use of new technologies, contributing to increased yield for farmers and production of food with less water and energy. While it aims to reach food self‑sufficiency and export agricultural products to the world, she stressed that increasing production is not enough. Farmers need greater access to markets, so that they can increase their incomes. She also highlighted the importance of artificial intelligence, adding that it is instrumental to agricultural business value chains. The year 2021 marks an opportunity to build on coalitions of action that were launched during the Food Summit, she said.
The representative of Iran said the catastrophe of the pandemic threatens to eradicate the gains made against poverty. Extreme poverty has increased for the first time in 20 years and millions more people have fallen into poverty. The promotion of international cooperation is essential. There are critical challenges faced by the agrifood industry. More collective action is necessary, as shown in the reports. Yet neither of the two reports address unilateral measures such as sanctions against countries which then increase hunger and poverty. This is a critical gap in much of the Secretary‑General’s reports. These types of measures should be included if the international community truly wants to eradicate poverty and achieve the global goals.