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Seventy-seventh Session,
20th Meeting (AM)
GA/EF/3575

Conflicts, Global Food Shortages, Energy Crises Sliding Millions Worldwide into Extreme Poverty, Chairs Says, as Second Committee Takes Up Regional Commissions

In the face of ongoing multidimensional crises, the five Regional Commissions of the United Nations system are more critical than ever in halting lost gains and urgently putting developing States back on the right track, the heads of those bodies told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today.

Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria), Chair of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) and President of the Economic and Social Council, opened the dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions under the theme “From risk to resilience:  Accelerating actions to achieve a more sustainable and equitable future through regional cooperation”.  Noting that the challenges faced by the international community have been exacerbated by conflicts around the world, including in Ukraine, as well as global food and energy shortages, she stressed that millions of people worldwide have slid back into extreme poverty, and more will do so if urgent action is not taken.

Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), stated that the multipronged crisis has affected both “East” and “West” in the region through significant human suffering and displacement, energy and food insecurity, disrupted trade and transport links and inflationary pressures.  The increased cost of living, even in advanced parts of the region, will test the capacity of existing social protection systems.  “We have wasted opportunities and been myopic in our choices, paying excessive attention to short-term costs” rather than distant, catastrophic implications of inaction, she emphasized.  However, ECE has continued its regional cooperation for accelerated achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), stressed that her region is “at the tipping point” — especially small island developing States.  The region is not on track to achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  Over half the regional population is not covered by any social protection scheme, and the Commission is supporting Member States such as Cambodia, the Maldives and Mongolia to that end.  ESCAP is also helping countries to develop holistic risk-reduction systems, which will cost $270 billion annually, a third of current annual losses.

Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), stressed that the continent’s debt-to-gross-domestic-product (GDP) ratio had risen by almost 70 per cent between 2014 and 2021 — with 23 countries either at high risk of becoming debt-distressed or being in debt distress.  The COVID‑19 pandemic has made 58 million people, especially women, extremely vulnerable to falling into poverty.  The Commission facilitated the response to the pandemic, including providing 400 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines and a debt service suspension initiative deferring up to $10.9 billion in debt service.  ECA has also promoted the African Continental Free Trade Area, with 44 countries ratifying the agreement.

Further on the economic front, Raúl García Buchaca, Deputy Executive Secretary for Management and Programme Analysis of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), noted the region is unfortunately returning to the low-growth path observed between 2014 and 2019.  Projections estimate a 3.2 per cent growth of regional GDP for 2022 and a slowdown to 1.4 per cent for 2023.  Labour force participation rate stands at 62 per cent — well below the 2019 level.  In 2021, poverty levels stood at 32 per cent, representing a setback of 27 years, and progress in eradicating hunger in recent decades is being eroded.

Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), noted that as a result of the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine, Arab oil-importing economies are likely to lose $28 billion in 2022.  Middle-income countries face an increase in external debt service of about $1 billion, with food security a cause for concern — particularly in war-torn countries such as Yemen and Somalia.  At least seven States are experiencing conflict, with 28 million people considered either refugees or internally displaced persons, while close to 65 million need humanitarian assistance.  Throughout 2022, ESCWA has helped Member States with 94 advisory services and 74 capacity-building initiatives, helping them through interactive policy-modelling-and-simulation tools and platforms.

During the ensuing interactive discussion, Member States stressed that the key role of regional commissions must be preserved and strengthened — especially in light of the developmental backslide.

Mongolia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, called for existing commission functions to be enhanced along with their role as crucial platforms for intergovernmental cooperation and regional integration.  He further recognized the need for enhancing collaboration between United Nations country teams, resident coordinators and regional bodies.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, recalling that ECE had been created to help his continent recover from the war, stressed that the Russian Federation’s aggression today is grossly violating international law as well as the core principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  This in turn has had a big impact on ECE’s work, he added, rendering it difficult to make progress on topics deemed non-controversial in the past.

South Africa’s delegate asked Mr. Pedro what ECA will do to assist Member States in preparing for the next Sustainable Development Goals Summit.  He also asked for clarification of comments on concrete steps to mobilize climate finance.

Mr. Pedro, in response, noted that support of regional commissions is invaluable, affirming that the Sustainable Development Goals Summit is a unique moment.  Cooperation with the African Union will be transformative.  In many transitional aspects, Africa is a solution.  However, he noted that the Democratic Republic of the Congo supplies 70 per cent of the world’s cobalt for renewable energy transition, but has a GDP of only $50 billion.  Citing Mongolia’s delegate, he noted the majority of landlocked countries are in Africa.

Also speaking were the representatives of Thailand, Lebanon, China, Russian Federation, Colombia, Iraq, Poland, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Costa Rica, Argentina, Belarus, Chile, United States, Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil and Kazakhstan.  The observer for the State of Palestine also spoke.

Before taking up the Regional Commissions, the Committee heard a statement by Israel’s representative on the “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”, stressing that the ESCWA report is biased and incorrect, with a one-sided view of last year’s hostilities initiated by armed groups in Gaza.

The representative of Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply, as did the observer for the State of Palestine.

The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 10 November, to introduce and take action on draft resolutions.

Item 56

EMIL BEN NAFTALY (Israel), speaking on the “Permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan over their natural resources”, said the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report is biased and incorrect, with a one-sided view of last year’s hostilities initiated by armed groups in Gaza.  Those groups launched some 4,300 mortars and rockets killing and injuring Israelis — yet the word “rocket” does not appear in the report.  He cited many areas of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian authorities, including the free flow of workers and close coordination to facilitate this cooperation, with sick days and pensions provided that are the same as for Israeli workers.  Israel has proposed massive joint water and energy infrastructure projects and is working in health care, including to establish an advanced cancer centre, as well as joint sewage projects in Gaza — projects financed at tens of millions of dollars each.  These are not mentioned in the report, as they do not fit into the predetermined ESCWA narrative.  “We want stability,” he said, expressing hope that Member States will demand more from the Commission.

Right of Reply

The observer for the State of Palestine, taking the floor in exercise of the right of reply, stressed that the occupying Power continues to abuse the rights of the entire Palestinian population struggling for freedom and realization of their fundamental and inalienable rights.  The report of the Secretary-General simply reflects horrific realities on the ground backed by concrete facts and figures, she added.  With Israel continuing its grave breach of international law and complete disrespect towards the United Nations, she underscored that it is high time that Israel realized that the international community will never accept this injustice.

The representative of Syria said Israel is pillaging the natural resources of the Syrian Golan.  He thanked ESCWA for the report reflecting the realities on the ground.

Regional Commissions

ROSA MALANGO, Director of the Regional Commissions New York Office and moderator, noted the world is grappling with a complex combination of crises related to food, finance, energy, climate change and the unequal recovery from the COVID‑19 pandemic, in addition to conflict and geopolitical divides.  The most vulnerable people are suffering the most in every region.  As the Secretary-General stated during his address to the General Assembly, “we are in rough seas”, and “we need action across the board”.  Against this background, the Regional Commissions continue to support Member States in addressing this complex configuration of threats with the development of national and regional solutions and innovative policy approaches, providing spaces for cross-sectoral peer learning, operational support and advisory services.

She cited the initiative on regional mobilization and climate finance.  Ahead of the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Egypt, the Regional Commissions, in collaboration with the Egyptian presidency of the twenty-seventh Conference and the High-Level Climate Champions, organized a series of round tables on climate finance and investment flows towards climate resilience and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals in each region.  The round tables brought together Governments, international financial institutions, multilateral development banks and the private sector around pipelines of priority projects and initiatives with the potential to address bottlenecks and enable finance flows into the regions.

ROLA DASHTI, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, noted that as a result of the Russian Federation-Ukraine war, Arab oil-importing economies are likely to lose $28 billion in 2022.  Middle-income countries are facing an increase in external debt service of about $1 billion in 2022 due to a hike in interest rates, with food security a cause for real concern, particularly in war-torn countries such as Yemen and Somalia.  At least seven countries in the region are experiencing conflict, with 28 million people considered either refugees or internally displaced persons, while close to 65 million need humanitarian assistance.

The Arab region is extremely vulnerable to the ravages of climate change, she stressed — even though it contributes less than 5 per cent to global greenhouse gas emissions.  Droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, sand and dust storms, sea level rise and flash-floods have wreaked havoc in urban, rural and coastal communities alike.  Throughout 2022, ESCWA has helped Member States in addressing the crises by undertaking 94 advisory services and 74 capacity-building initiatives for 1,790 policymakers and practitioners, helping them through  interactive policy-modelling-and-simulation tools and platforms; building institutional capacities; and providing strategic policy recommendations.

These services were delivered to, among other initiatives, strengthen national development planning capacities, processes and budgets to enhance national and regional responses to external shocks and pandemics; integrate transboundary risk and disaster response measures; and include social protection frameworks for the elderly and migrants along with support in formulating poverty-reduction strategies.  Going forward, ESCWA will take the lead on tackling tax evasion and helping the Secretary-General prepare an annual meeting with the regional organizations.  The Commission will also provide support in other areas, such as social protection, food security, green and digital jobs, gender equality, youth engagement and climate warming.  In 2022, ESCWA continued to ramp up direct support to regional coordinator offices and country teams and is strengthening partnerships with key United Nations agencies.

ANTONIO PEDRO, Acting Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), noting that while the impact of the pandemic, along with the war in Ukraine and the climate challenges, have pushed an additional 55 million people in Africa into extreme poverty, stressed that the continent has pioneered innovative solutions to strengthen its resilience.  “Africa’s success or failure impacts on the achievement of major global development goals,” he emphasized.  The continent’s debt-to-gross-domestic-product (GDP) ratio had risen by almost 70 per cent between 2014 and 2021, he pointed out, with 23 countries either at high risk of becoming debt-distressed or being in debt distress.  In stressing that the pandemic has further exacerbated the continent’s socioeconomic challenges, he highlighted that 58 million people, especially women, are extremely vulnerable to falling into poverty.  On climate action, he reported that the continent’s adaptation costs are estimated at $30-50 billion each year up to 2030.

Turning to ECA’s work, he underlined that the Commission has facilitated the continent’s response to the pandemic, including the provision of 400 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well as the debt service suspension initiative deferring up to $10.9 billion in debt service.  ECA has also promoted the African Continental Free Trade Area, which he dubbed as “Africa’s Marshall Plan”, sharing that 44 countries have already ratified the agreement.  In this regard, the Commission has provided support for pooled procurement of medicines as well as increased investment in pharmaceutical production and exports.  The Commission has also supported its members in their green transition, he added, issuing a 3-billion-rand green bond to refinance South Africa’s electricity sector as well as creating a common registry for carbon credits of the Congo Basin.

ARMIDA SALSIAH ALISJAHBANA, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), noted the Asia-Pacific region is facing the cascading and converging risks of disease, disasters and climate change, which has led to increased poverty and widened inequalities.  “We are at the tipping point,” she stressed, especially for small island developing States.  The region is not on track to achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  In Asia and the Pacific, over half the population is not covered by any social protection scheme, and the Commission is supporting member States such as Cambodia, the Maldives and Mongolia in enhancing social protection systems.  ESCAP is also helping countries to develop holistic risk-reduction systems, which will cost $270 billion annually, a third of current annual losses.

Further, to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy, ESCAP is helping countries to fast-track and sustain inclusive energy transition, while also helping them to realize the potential of resilient and climate-smart trade and investment.  The Commission is working with countries to implement the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-Border Paperless Trade.  Similarly, the new Asia-Pacific Green Deal for Business by the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network signals momentum of change in the business sector.  To help bridge the digital divide across and within countries, she noted, ESCAP supports countries, through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative, to turn the digital divide into a digital dividend, such as through the promotion of subregional Internet exchange points.

She noted ESCAP’s macroeconomic modelling tool has been developed and used to help policymakers in Indonesia and Mongolia to simulate socioeconomic and environmental effects, including on public debt sustainability.  In addition, ESCAP is working with the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat to develop debt-for-climate swaps — working with national stakeholders in Cambodia on issuing Sustainable Development Goal bonds in that country.  In this context, the seventy-eighth session of the Commission deliberated on a common agenda to advance sustainable development through regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific.  Member States in the region have provided a clear blueprint that centres on protecting people and the planet, leveraging digital opportunities, trading and investing more together, aligning financial resources with the Sustainable Development Goals and managing debt.

OLGA ALGAYEROVA, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), stated that the multipronged crisis on her continent has affected both “East” and “West” in the region through significant human suffering and displacement, energy and food insecurity, disrupted trade and transport links, inflationary pressures, and increased climate-induced disasters and greenhouse gas emissions.  Noting that a cost-of-living crisis has emerged in many countries, including the more advanced parts in the region, she underscored that the crisis will test the capacity of existing social protection systems to deal with it.  “We have wasted opportunities and been myopic in our choices, paying excessive attention to short-term costs and not enough to the more distant but catastrophic implications of inaction,” she emphasized.

Against this backdrop, she stressed that ECE has continued its regional cooperation for accelerated achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through facilitating energy transitions and helping Member States realize a circular economy.  Stating that a digital transformation will not serve to advance sustainable development on its own, she stressed the need to accompany it with a green transformation that ensures that the negative potential effects of digital technologies, including on energy consumption and e-waste, are addressed.  Setting Ukraine’s recovery after the war as ECE’s first priority, she also laid out other priorities, such as establishing a new platform for resilient energy systems.

RAÚL GARCÍA-BUCHACA, Deputy Executive Secretary for Management and Programme Analysis of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), noted the region is unfortunately returning to the low-growth path observed between 2014 and 2019.  Projections estimate a 3.2 per cent growth of regional GDP for 2022 and a slowdown to 1.4 per cent for 2023.  The recovery of jobs has been primarily in the informal sector, while the labour force participation rate stands at 62 per cent — well below the 2019 level.  There is a widening gender gap in labour market participation affecting women, whose participation is 25 per cent lower than that of men.  In 2021, poverty levels stood at 32 per cent, representing a setback of 27 years.  The progress made to eradicate hunger in recent decades is being eroded:  in 2021, almost 41 per cent of the region’s population faced moderate or severe food insecurity, as compared to the global average of 29 per cent.  He further stressed that in six Caribbean countries public debt exceeds 90 per cent of GDP.  He cited a clear need for innovative solutions and renewed forms of regional and international cooperation.

Latin America and the Caribbean’s participation in global exports of pharmaceutical products was 0.7 per cent in 2020, while 87 per cent of its medicine imports come from outside the region.  The Commission developed the Plan for Self-sufficiency in Health Matters to strengthen the research, development and production capacities for vaccines and medicines regionwide.  The Commission also finalized, jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), a policy brief to reinforce and update the Regional Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and the Eradication of Hunger by 2025.  He further noted the region imports almost 85 per cent of fertilizers used — the most import-dependent region of the world.  ECLAC stands ready to work to improve access and promote efficiency in the use of fertilizers and biofertilizers.

The Commission is collaborating with the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries on the establishment of a multidimensional vulnerability index.  On climate, although the region contributes only 10 per cent of global CO2 emissions, it is extremely vulnerable to extreme weather and climate change.  ECLAC is working on the proposal of a climate action and the debt swap for the Caribbean Resilience Fund, which features a window on debt restructuring and liquidity enhancement, seeking to buy out high-interest, short-term debt and replace it with lower-interest, longer-term green bonds.

Interactive Discussion

The representative of Mongolia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, and stressing that the key role of the Regional Commissions needs to be preserved and strengthened, stated that their existing functions should be enhanced along with their role as crucial platforms for intergovernmental cooperation and regional integration.  Further recognizing the need for enhancing collaboration between the United Nations country teams, the resident coordinators and the regional bodies, he pointed to the need to leverage the revamping of United Nations regional assets to enhance their regional support to the landlocked developing countries.

With only two years before the end of the Vienna Programme of Action, he highlighted that the role of the Regional Commissions in implementing its priority areas will remain fundamental.  In this regard, he stressed that involving the Commissions in the preparatory process for the Third United Nations Conference on the Landlocked Developing Countries, to be held in 2024, will be instrumental in giving shape to a successor programme of action that looks beyond the existing programme and brings on board other emerging issues that compound his group’s development prospects.

The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, recalling that ECE had been created to help his continent recover from the war, stressed that the Russian Federation’s aggression today is grossly violating international law as well as the core principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  This in turn has had a big impact on ECE’s work, he added, rendering it difficult to make progress on topics deemed non-controversial in the past.  Turning to ECLAC, he shared that his group and the region have notably worked together on digitalization, supporting digital transformation in Latin America.  Regarding ESCAP, he expressed interest in expanding cooperation with it in the coming years.

The representative of South Africa asked Mr. Pedro what ECA will do to assist Member States in preparing for the next review summit on Sustainable Development Goals.  He also asked for clarification of comments on concrete steps to mobilize climate finance.

The representative of Thailand said it is critical that Regional Commissions support countries towards pandemic recovery.  Citing the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in 2023, she called for the Commissions to work together in a holistic manner.

The representative of Lebanon stressed that ESCWA has been its solid partner, providing his country with capacity-building as well as advice on transportation, energy transition, poverty eradication and more.  Noting that ESCWA and other Regional Commissions are well placed to participate in the consideration of a universal index going beyond GDP, he emphasized that it is high time that the international community tackled multidimensional vulnerabilities through such measures.

The representative of China stated that the Regional Commissions should work in light of the regional realities.  Commending ESCAP for leveraging its technical expertise and fostering interregional connectivity, he stated that his country will work with all parties in all regions through its initiatives, such as the Global Development Initiative.

The representative of Russian Federation, responding to the ESCWA report, said there is no war between his country and neighbouring Ukraine.  Citing illegal sanctions, he noted his Government remains committed to international cooperation, including at the regional level.  The Russian Federation was compelled to launch its “special military operation” to defend those subjected to genocide by the Kyiv regime.

The representative of Colombia said there is a need to move forward towards different criteria for measuring progress and providing financing, using more than GDP as a metric.  Citing the unique structural gaps affecting middle-income countries, she noted the importance of the transitional development framework, which should be scaled up to the global level.

The representative of Iraq stated that the complementary approach taken at regional levels must involve all stakeholders, including the private sector, to diversify economies with a view to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Iraq wants to cooperate with all countries to deal with its issues of private sector investment and debt management.

The representative of Poland said that the energy crisis across the ECE region points to the need to build resilient energy systems.  Energy security and the diversification of routes and sources of energy supply across the region, combined with the creation of sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure, she added, should be a high priority in the current geopolitical and economic environment.

The representative of Ethiopia noted his Government’s intention to enhance its partnership with ECA and to work with Mr. Pedro and his team.

The representative of Dominican Republic, noting deep debt in the wake of the pandemic, cited the need to address deficits in funding for middle-income countries and small island developing States.  She encouraged all countries to use the potential of regional cooperation.

The representative of Morocco stated that a transition to a more resilient economy cannot be achieved without considering the situation of each region.  She asked how Regional Commissions can contribute to discussions on developing measures that go beyond GDP for evaluating development and access to concessional financing.

The representative of Costa Rica shared that her country has worked with ECLAC and will continue to do so in areas including sustainable development and the multidimensional vulnerability index.  She also encouraged all Regional Commissions to work in line with the United Nations.

The representative of Argentina, citing climate change, the pandemic, the debt crisis and the great challenge of social inclusion, called for rethinking international links and greater cooperation between regional States and ECLAC.

The representative of Belarus, referring to the ECE report, condemned excessive politicization regarding technical and financing issues, which threatens the Commission’s mandate.  She called for greater cooperation and avoidance of unilateral coercive measures.

The representative of Chile, pointing to the need to enhance international cooperation to meet major challenges faced by middle-income countries, emphasized that sustainable development can only be attained when a certain level of GDP is achieved.  She asked ECLAC’s representative what kind of steps the region could take for its economic transition in the near future.

The representative of United States stressed that respect for human rights must be at the forefront of the work undertaken by Regional Commissions.  Noting that challenges faced by each region are daunting, with vulnerable countries hardest hit by the current crises, he shared that his Government has provided $10.5 billion in humanitarian and development aid since February.  He called out to Regional Commissions to reach out with ideas on how to expand their partnerships.

The representative of Egypt, asking Mr. Pedro about the debt crisis in African countries and the issue of debt swaps, called for further efforts by ECA.  She further asked Ms. DASHTI about handling tax evasion.

The representative of Indonesia called for accelerated efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, cited ESCAP support for Indonesia’s G20 presidency and cited over 4,000 fatalities and $65 billion in regional loss due to disasters, warranting better early warning systems.

The representative of Brazil welcomed ECLAC’s work to help boost productive capacity in vaccines, medicines and fertilizers to strengthen the region’s health resilience and food security.  Stressing that sufficient and adequate multilateral financing for adaptation as well as loss and damage is key for the region, he commended the Commission’s work in bolstering funding for climate resilience.

The representative of Kazakhstan pointed to the need to address existing gaps in the United Nations development system and eliminate duplication of its work at the regional level.  He proposed to establish a United Nations regional centre for the Sustainable Development Goals in Almaty, coordinating the efforts of all United Nations teams towards achieving the Goals.

The observer for the State of Palestine cited Ms. Dashti and the ESCWA team for their vital role for the Arab region and addressing the situation of the Palestinian people living under Israeli foreign occupation for more than 55 years, gravely affecting their living conditions.

Ms. ALGAYEROVA responded to Mongolia’s delegate, stating that her Commission is open to holding a thematic event at the Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in 2024.  She told the European Union’s delegation that ECE is ready to play the role of implementing the “Marshall Plan” in the region again.  With regard to assessing the environmental damage done to Ukraine, she invited the Union to join its efforts already in place in coordination with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Responding to Poland’s representative, she shared that ECE is preparing several projects for Ukraine.  As a response to the Russian Federation’s delegation, she stressed that the development and climate agenda should not be a victim of the current geopolitical divide.  She welcomed the appeal by the United States for further cooperation.  She added that ECE has had effective cooperation with Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Ms. ALISJAHBANA cited the need to scale up country-level support and leverage United Nations support.  Citing preparation for various global conferences and regional reviews, she also noted Indonesia’s comment on the midterm review of the Sendai Framework.  She welcomed the opportunity for expanded cooperation with the European Union, China and the United States.

Mr. GARCÍA-BUCHACA touched on the strong alliance with the European Union, especially concerning development and transition.  He expressed support for Colombia’s leadership in assisting the middle-income countries in the region.  He thanked the Dominican Republic for emphasizing the work of the Latin American Institute of Economic and Social Planning in terms of planning and public administration.  He welcomed that the new Executive Secretary of ECLAC is from Costa Rica.  He also thanked Argentina, which currently holds its presidency.  Responding to Chile’s delegate, he stated that ECLAC will continue to work on policies to deal with structural problems of middle-income countries.  He thanked Brazil’s representative for mentioning the need to develop an instrument to increase climate resilience.

Mr. PEDRO noted that support of Regional Commissions is invaluable, and citing South Africa’s delegate, affirmed that the Sustainable Development Goals Summit is a unique moment.  Cooperation with the African Union will be transformative.  In many transitional aspects, Africa is a solution.  However, he noted that the Democratic Republic of the Congo supplies 70 per cent of the world’s cobalt for renewable energy transition, but has a GDP of only $50 billion — yet, without that chemical element, Tesla and its market valuation of $1.3 trillion would not be possible.  He cited the Commission’s portfolio of hundreds of projects, including the Blue Wall Initiative and blue bonds for innovative financing.  Many countries on the continent have assets, including solar and wind potential, which can drive massive deployment of renewable energy and assist in debt restructuring.  Citing Mongolia’s delegate, he noted the majority of landlocked countries are in Africa.

Ms. DASHTI stressed that tackling tax evasion is extremely important, because illicit financing in the Arab region is estimated to surpass the yearly official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) combined.  In this regard she stated that ESCWA will support Member States in implementing tax reforms and digitization of tax collection systems.  She acknowledged the importance of considering an index beyond GDP that focuses on multidimensional issues such as environmental impact, governance and vulnerability.  She highlighted that ESCWA will be providing member States with data so they can conduct simulations on macroeconomic policies and promote smart spending.

For information media. Not an official record.