MIL-OSI United Nations: Conserve Resources, Build Resilience by Closing Wide Inequities between Countries, Delegates Stress, as Second Committee Concludes Its General Debate

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Source: United Nations 4

In recovering from economic downturns sparked by COVID‑19, warding off future calamities and meeting development targets, speakers urged nations to conserve resources and build resilience by closing wide inequities between countries, especially through debt forgiveness, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its general debate today.

Norway’s delegate said the pandemic clearly highlights the need for better global pandemic preparedness and response, including sustainable financing for poorer nations to recover and reach development targets.  Emphasizing that countries in debt distress should receive relief from public and private creditors, she said the drain on public resources must also be stopped by preventing corruption, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan noted that COVID-19 has greatly hampered efforts to meet development goals in her country, with needed financing diverted to fighting the pandemic and repaying external debt.  Calling for support to ease its debt burden, she said Kyrgyzstan could use such funds to help preserve the country’s unique mountain ecosystem as well as its biodiversity and glaciers, which are rapidly degrading due to climate change.

Mountain forests must be protected and enhanced, she stressed, as they absorb carbon dioxide and play a crucial role in conserving water resources.  Under the auspices of the United Nations, Kyrgyzstan is adopting a scheme to develop a special target programme on mountain forests, their conservation, rehabilitation and reforestation.

Also addressing conservation, the representative of Costa Rica said nature‑based solutions allow the international community to address planetary crises together, as they strengthen ecosystems and provide long‑term social and economic benefits.  The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, led by Costa Rica, France and the United Kingdom, seeks to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems, she said.

Highlighting the importance of resilience in tackling the pandemic’s impact, the Dominican Republic’s delegate underscored wide‑ranging preparedness gaps in springing back to pre‑pandemic economic levels.  Multiple challenges threaten future development goals and progress already made, she said, stressing that resilience in facing catastrophes would allow vulnerable nations to resist shocks.

On a dire note, the representative of Cambodia said pandemic impacts on development will take years to overcome, with some States facing daunting challenges in keeping up with the Sustainable Development Goals.  She similarly urged the international community and international financial institutions to address debt relief, including full cancellation of all debt, promoting private and foreign investment, as they will allow countries to move forward with development plans.

Addressing vaccine inequity, the delegate of the United States said his country will continue to press for rapid distribution of safe and effective COVID‑19 vaccines globally.  To date, it has provided $4 billion to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization in support of the COVAX Facility.  As for post‑pandemic economic recovery, through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, debt payments are being deferred for the world’s least developed countries so they can direct available resources to combat COVID‑19.

In achieving sustainable recovery, several delegates also underscored the need for responses tailored to country specific circumstances, a combination of targeted measures ensuring long‑term fiscal sustainability as well as price and financial stability.  Others emphasized the need to preserve food systems by restoring degraded land as well as by opening up markets through removal of trade barriers and distortions, including unilateral economic measures.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Mexico, Cameroon, Republic of Korea, Maldives, Malaysia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Jordan, Armenia, Botswana, Lebanon, Syria, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Georgia, Mongolia, Singapore, Timor-Leste, El Salvador, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Albania, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Peru, Bahrain, Bhutan, Indonesia, Brazil, Namibia, Viet Nam, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Yemen, Slovakia, Senegal, Honduras, Bolivia, Chile, Tonga, Venezuela, Argentina, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Uruguay, Andorra, Madagascar, Libya, Serbia, India, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Oman, Tanzania, Zambia, Somalia, Tunisia and Guyana.  The Permanent Observer for the Holy See also made a statement.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 11 October, to take up sustainable development.

Statements

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), speaking on behalf of a group of countries, noted how the pandemic had changed the global community, stressing the need for solidarity and a stronger multilateral system in overcoming it.  Adding that equitable access to affordable vaccines is a key element in putting the world’s economy back on track, he encouraged cooperation between scientific research, Governments and civil society.  Recovery requires a scaling up, he said, urging Member States to contribute to fulfil pledges made to assist developing nations and expressing regret that access to vaccines continues to be highly uneven, particularly in lower income countries.  Emphasizing that solidarity and cooperation are vital in expanding production globally, he encouraged all stakeholders to also look beyond vaccines in ensuring resilient systems and pandemic preparedness.

SERGE PAMPHILE MEZANG AKAMBA (Cameroon), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the African Group, said the international community cannot continue to shy away from the multiple and instrumental commitments made in the context of the conferences on the environment and climate change.  In particular, that includes the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for sustainable development.  He called on developed countries to fully respect their commitments on technology transfer, financing for development, and on climate change action and building resilience.  Stressing the need to challenge efficiently and globally the developing countries’ debt crisis, he said the Debt Service Suspension Initiative should be made more flexible, inclusive and ambitious.  The global economic system should ensure equitable and fair trade, solve the digital divide and combat illegal financial flows and tax evasion.  In that regard, his country welcomes the initiative to establish a global minimum tax rate on multinational corporations, with the hope that it will be effective in assisting countries that are left behind.

OH HYUNJOO (Republic of Korea) noted that the world is just returning to a sense of normalcy following the COVID‑19 outbreak, although myriad challenges remain.  The international community must renew its pledge to leave no one behind, ensuring equitable access to vaccines for all.  It must also focus on equality in planning to rebuild an inclusive economy and continue to strengthen cooperation with partners.  Her country is planning to scale up official development assistance (ODA) in needed areas, such as green industry, digital economy and health care.  Adding that the climate change message is sobering and clear, she said the world cannot afford to delay in transitioning to a climate‑friendly future.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said the COVID‑19 pandemic has been one of the reasons that the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be fully implemented in her country, with finances needing to be reallocated to fight the pandemic and repay the external debt.  In that regard, she called for support to the initiative to alleviate her country’s external debt, which will enable implementation of sustainable development projects.  Those projects will help preserve the integrity of Kyrgyzstan’s unique mountain ecosystem, its biodiversity and glaciers, which are rapidly degrading due to climate change.  During this session of the Committee, her country will propose a resolution to declare 2022 the International Year of Mountains.  Adaptation to climate change is a priority and an urgent issue for her country.  Mountain forests must be protected and enhanced, she said.  Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide, but they also play a crucial role in the conservation of water resources.  Under the auspices of the United Nations, Kyrgyzstan is taking the initiative to develop and adopt a special target programme on mountain forests, their conservation, rehabilitation and reforestation.  At the same time, it will strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives), associating herself with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Group of 77, said the prolonged shutdown of global travel due to the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, with the travel ban crippling her country’s economy by destroying its largest industry, tourism.  In 2020 alone, the Maldives experienced a contraction of a third of economic activity.  In addressing the pandemic, however, 85 per cent of residents and 95 per cent of schoolchildren older than 12 have been vaccinated, with businesses and borders also reopened, along with resorts.  Turning to climate change, she noted the world will need to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, as failure to do so “will seal the fate of the Maldives”, she said.  As both a small island developing State and large ocean State, the country is protecting waters from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and also designating one island, one coral reef and one mangrove in each atoll as protected areas, thereby establishing more than 70 protected areas in national waters.

SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia) noted that currently, the vaccination rate in his country is more than 500,000 doses daily, with 87 per cent of its adult population fully vaccinated.  Pointing out that Malaysia continues to incorporate the concept of a circular economy, and has recently renewed its nationally determined contributions towards the goals of the Paris Agreement, he noted that it will continue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 45 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.  It also plans to introduce carbon pricing and a carbon tax and increase its share of renewable energy to a target of 31 per cent of the total energy mix by 2025.  He further noted that Malaysia is providing soft loans as incentives to foster digitalization and technology adoption to support local companies, aiming to achieve a 25.5 per cent digital economy contribution to GDP in 2025, and to bridge the digital divide.  He also stressed the importance of a free and fair multilateral trading system for a trading country like Malaysia, underscoring the role of international cooperation in strengthening global supply chain resilience.

CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) expressed concern that certain targets of the Sustainable Development Goals scheduled to be met by 2020 have not been fully achieved, calling on further efforts to do so.  The global community should be determined to build back better from the pandemic, which has been going on for more than 18 months, negatively affecting country efforts to develop.  Highlighting gaps in development progress over the past few years, he stressed the need for equitable access to vaccines.  Adding that Ecuador has developed a national plan aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he commended the Second Committee for moving forward on all issues in achieving the global goals.

YOSEPH KASSAYE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, echoed concerns about the pandemic’s impacts on efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda targets.  Underscoring its severe effect on small economies, he called for more collective recovery efforts, noting that the impacts of climate change also continue to exacerbate socioeconomic challenges in the developing world.  More ambition on climate financing is needed to mobilize the promised $100 billion per year, and least developed countries should be able to benefit from debt relief and the $650 billion in special drawing rights recently allocated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Meanwhile, those countries must not be subjected to additional burdens such as the use of special trade regimes for political goals.  Outlining national efforts in all those areas, he emphasized the importance of respecting the mandates of the Second Committee and warned that the tabling and discussion of non‑pertinent items would only drag down the Committee’s work.

BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan) said the Government has used its 2017‑2021 development plan to modernize all areas of society and move towards the global goals.  The Uzbekistan delegation is dedicated to working closely with the Second Committee to advance the 2030 Agenda priorities.  Coping with the devasting pandemic has created challenges for all countries trying to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Equal and fair access to all vaccines is necessary and requires multilateral cooperation.  Uzbekistan is giving special attention to climate change and achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.  It is also committed to doubling its use of renewable energy sources by 2030 and moving towards clean transportation.  For example, it is building a new solar and wind power plant that will be online by 2025.  The Government is hosting a high‑level international forum on green energy, in cooperation with the United Nations, in the Aral Sea region in the city of Nukus in 2022.  Uzbekistan remains strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda, which can be achieved through a collaborative approach.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said COVID‑19 clearly demonstrated the need for better global pandemic preparedness and response, including sustainable financing.  There is no alternative but to take decisive action now and increase joint efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  National ownership and resource mobilization are crucial, as is sustainable funding, which is more critical than ever.  Emphasizing that countries in debt distress should seek and receive debt relief from both public and private creditors, she said the drain on public resources must be stopped by preventing corruption, tax evasion and other financial crimes.  Many Member States are facing climate‑related disasters that are more frequent and more dangerous than ever before.  For many countries in conflict, post‑conflict settings and recurring humanitarian crises, those factors can also compound existing vulnerabilities and exacerbate intercommunal grievances.  The United Nations development system has a crucial role in assisting countries in building back better, she said, adding that Norway remains a committed, consistent partner to safeguard the international community’s common future.

JOAN MARGARITA CEDANO (Dominican Republic) stressed the importance of resilience and recovery in tackling the pandemic, highlighting gaps and inequalities in the international system.  Multidimensional challenges are threatening future development goals as well as progress already made, she said, stressing that resilience in the face of potential catastrophic events would allow vulnerable nations to resist shocks.  Efforts to recover must allow nations to build back in a more sustainable way, helping them to prepare for future crises.  Adding that the developing world has been curbed or even paralysed by the pandemic, she emphasized the need to support them through multiple institutions and financing mechanisms.  This is particularly vital for small island developing States, which are more vulnerable to climate change and must be considered as priorities in mitigating it.

JONIBEK HIKMAT (Tajikistan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, underscored a serious threat climate change poses to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in his country and elsewhere.  With 93 per cent of its territory covered by mountains, Tajikistan is concerned about changes in the hydrological cycle leading to severe floods and droughts, which negatively impact water, energy and food security.  Water‑related disasters annually cost the national budget almost $500 million.  Over the past 30 to 40 years, the country lost 30 per cent of its glaciers, a main source of fresh water for its population and for the region.  To this end, President Emomali Rahmon proposed an initiative to declare 2025 as the International Year for the Preservation of Glaciers and establish an international fund aimed at preserving glaciers under the auspices of the United Nations.  In 2022, Tajikistan will present a resolution on this topic during the seventy‑seventh General Assembly session.  The International Decade for Action 2018‑2028, “Water for Sustainable Development”, initiated by Tajikistan, paved the way for the first United Nations Conference on Water to be held in New York from 22 to 24 March 2023.  Tajikistan and the Netherlands will co‑host this historical and ambitious conference.

MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH HMOUD (Jordan) said the pandemic has exacerbated already existing global issues, such as climate change and ongoing conflict, broadening further the gap between the rich and the poor.  Those challenges require the international community’s concerted and synchronized efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and to positively impact humanity.  To assist middle-income countries, greater transformation for shifts in international current debt structures and reform are needed.  Further, initiatives to draw foreign investments, and investments in the digital economy and renewable energy, should be strengthened.  Noting the impact of climate change on food and water security, he called on Member States to comply with their commitments to protect the planet.  In that regard, he said his Government has launched a national plan for climate change adaptation and looks forward to the meaningful participation at the twenty‑sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said efficient cooperation between landlocked and transit countries — as well as the unblocking of all regional transport communications — is key to removing political barriers for the free movement of people, goods and services, and to addressing the disruption of supply chains, travel restrictions and border closures.  Threats by some countries to use force to create so‑called “corridors”, and the continuation of land blockade policies and unilateral coercive measures, run counter to international law and relevant arrangements and are detrimental to peace and sustainable development.  Stressing that Armenia’s ongoing reforms aim to create a conducive environment for unlocking the economic potential of young people, he pointed out that economic empowerment of women and youth is an important national priority.  Women’s participation in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has reached 40 per cent, compared to the international average of 20 per cent, he said.

MEALEA HENG (Cambodia) said the impacts of the pandemic on development will take years to overcome, with some States facing daunting challenges in keeping up with the Sustainable Development Goals.  She cited affordable, equitable access to COVID‑19 vaccines as a public good, the most significant means to economic recovery.  She noted that Cambodia has the second‑highest vaccination rate in Southeast Asia, with more than 90 per cent of the target 10 million people vaccinated.  Open global trade must be expanded, easing back on unilateralism and protectionist behaviour, with improved quota‑free and duty‑free trade being fundamental for developing States.  She urged the international community and international financial institutions to address debt relief, including full cancellation of all types of debt and promoting private and foreign investment, as those initiatives will allow countries to move forward with their development plans.  She further cited digitalization as crucial to diversifying economies, ensuring high standards and competitive outcomes.

LORATO L. MOTSUMI (Botswana), associating herself with the Group of 77, the African Group and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the pandemic exposed many developmental challenges, structural weaknesses and fragile systems around the globe.  Expressing concern about the ability of States with small economies, such as Botswana, to achieve the 2030 Agenda, she echoed the frustration voiced by other speakers over the unfair and inequitable distribution of COVID‑19 vaccines and called for fairer, broader and quicker access.  Countries also need more access to financing, trade and technology transfer, as well as debt sustainability.  For Botswana, a landlocked middle‑income country, partnerships and solidarity are critical.  The Government has rolled out a range of health and digitalization initiatives in response to the pandemic, while its value chain development efforts are unlocking the potential of such diverse sectors as mining, tourism, agriculture and education.  The country is also committed to transforming its food system, eradicating poverty and creating jobs, she said, spotlighting the importance of South‑South cooperation alongside — but not as a substitute for — North‑South cooperation.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said it is clear that the global community cannot meet the Sustainable Development Goals if equitable and universal access to affordable, safe and effective COVID‑19 vaccines is still a privilege enjoyed by the few.  That reality led Lebanon, jointly with other countries, to launch a “Political Declaration on Equitable Global Access to COVID‑19 Vaccines”, which was conveyed to the General Assembly in March 2021, with the support of 183 delegations.  In it, they pledged to treat COVID‑19 vaccines as a global public good, fight vaccine inequity and increase the production and distribution of vaccines to cover the needs of all countries, especially low and middle‑income countries.  Vaccinating the rest of the world requires more technology transfer and the waiver of certain intellectual property provisions, she said, adding that Lebanon, with the support of the COVID‑19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility and international partners, has vaccinated more than 20 per cent of its population, including migrant workers and refugees.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) said aggressive and hostile acts against his country have restrained its ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  It remains committed to doing so, however, through the implementation of its national programme “Syria 2030”, which lays out a development strategy incorporating changes at the governmental and societal levels.  He stressed that unilateral coercive measures imposed by Western countries against Syria continue to hinder those efforts, impeding it from meeting the basic needs of the population, including medicine, food and fuel.  Syria expects an immediate and unconditional lifting of these illegal measures, which run counter to the United Nations Charter and international law.  Moreover, international organizations in the country should take steps to rebuild services and improve living standards, as well as to ensure the dignified and safe return of refugees, in line with their mandates and free from external pressure.

MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said today that everyone celebrates the adoption of the resolution proposed by her country, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland, which finally recognizes access to a healthy environment as a fundamental right.  She said nature‑based solutions are tools that allow the international community to address planetary crises together, as they seek not only to strengthen ecosystems, but also to provide long‑term social and economic benefits to the countries and communities that adopt them.  Likewise, the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People — led by Costa Rica, France and the United Kingdom as co‑leader for oceans — seeks to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and will also require significant climate action, with the ambitious and active participation of all, especially towards fulfilment of the pledge to contribute $100 billion by 2020.  To support developing countries, especially low and middle‑income countries, Costa Rica launched the COVID‑19 Economic Relief Fund, or CFE:  an extraordinary support fund of half a trillion dollars, financed with 0.7 per cent of the GDP of the world’s largest and strongest economies, intermediated by one or more multilateral development banks, as concessional, long‑term fixed‑rate loans to developing countries.

LINOUSE VILMENAY JOSEPH (Haiti), associating herself with the Group of 77, AOSIS and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said there is a vital need to adopt bold measures to guarantee the socioeconomic prosperity of every individual.  The socioeconomic crisis in Haiti was exacerbated by the 14 August earthquake, which was followed by a hurricane that devastated the southern part of the country.  Stressing that the commitment to leave no one behind needs to move from words to deeds, she called for universal social protection for low and middle‑income countries to reduce poverty globally.  Further, a new strategy is needed to backstop Government efforts to reduce poverty in her country.  The international community’s commitment to share COVID‑19 vaccines with poorer countries provides hope that the pandemic can be vanquished, she added.

NICHOLAS HILL (United States) said his country will continue to press for the rapid distribution of safe and effective COVID‑19 vaccines globally.  To date, the United States has provided $4 billion in contributions to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization in support of the COVAX Facility.  As for efforts to promote post‑pandemic economic recovery, through the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, debt payments are being deferred for the world’s least developed countries so they can direct available resources to combat COVID‑19.  Furthermore, the United States International Development Finance Corporation is seeking to increase investments in developing economies by partnering with the private sector to catalyze investments in transformative sectors.  Turning to climate change, he reported that the United States will double its public international climate finance by 2024, and triple the amount dedicated to adaptation, effectively making the country a leader in public climate finance.

DENNIS FRANCIS (Trinidad and Tobago), associating himself with the Group of 77, AOSIS and CARICOM, said the COVID‑19 pandemic, climate change and the global recession have placed unprecedented strain on economies and communities.  As the crisis continues, it will further jeopardize the hard‑earned yet tentative development gains of the most vulnerable, including small island developing States, such as Trinidad and Tobago.  On climate change, he said that his country and many other small island developing States are experiencing more frequent extreme weather events.  The global response to contain the spread of the pandemic undoubtedly demonstrates how Government action, when informed by science, can have a real, decisive and transformative impact.  Noting that the digital divide between and within countries must be addressed, he said the pandemic resulted in a shift toward digitalization in order to maintain business continuity, online education and telemedicine.  However, developing countries continue to face significant obstacles, including inadequate digital infrastructure, insufficient capacity and a lack of data and policy knowledge.

Salome Supatashvili (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, said the devastating COVID‑19 crisis has halted progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and called for collective efforts and reinvigorated and inclusive multilateralism.  Vaccine inequity threatens resilient recovery, she said, adding that the pandemic will only end when equitable and affordable vaccines are made accessible to all.  Outlining national measures to tackle the economic impact of the pandemic — including a range of targeted fiscal and monetary policies to support business‑sector competitiveness and strengthen social safety nets — she described a two‑stage crisis plan covering a large part of the population with targeted assistance.  The economy is gradually making a recovery and is now expected to grow by 8.5 per cent.  Georgia also aims to take concrete action on climate, including through its recent adoption of ambitious new targets, the “Nationally Determined Contributions”.  It is also working on a long‑term, low emission development strategy.  Turning to the situation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, she said the ongoing occupation by the Russian Federation obstructs her Government from helping those in the region, who live in dire humanitarian conditions.

ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his country’s economy shrank by 4.5 per cent in 2020 against the backdrop of the pandemic.  Thanks to Government relief measures and stimulus packages, however, Mongolia is now expected to recover and grow by an average of 4.8 per cent in 2021‑2022.  Outlining efforts to enshrine the Sustainable Development Goals in national goals, objectives and indicators, he said the national “Vision 2050” plan is closely aligned with the 2030 Agenda.  Mongolia’s economy is dominated by agriculture and mining and remains vulnerable to any risk or hazard.  “In the aftermath of the pandemic, we are planning to focus on structural reforms, economic diversification, investment promotion and maintenance of fiscal and financial stability to create environmentally friendly, sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” he said.  He went on to outline other efforts to create a favourable business and investment environment, as well as to expand its already considerable Internet penetration.

EMILY LEK (Singapore), associating herself with AOSIS, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Group of 77, noted the importance of strengthening the rules‑based multilateral system, which includes reinvigorating multilateral institutions.  She voiced her country’s support for the Secretary‑General’s call for a “fairer and more resilient multilateral trading system”, including an invigorated World Trade Organization (WTO), and went on to call for keeping markets and global supply chains open.  This is particularly true for small island States, which do not have the option of fully onshoring production capacities, she said, noting that as a trans‑shipment hub, Singapore has partnered with other countries to strengthen supply chains by making them more diverse and integrated.  She further pointed out that the world should seize opportunities, such as the digital revolution, to emerge stronger from COVID‑19, noting that her country has concluded Digital Economy Agreements with several partners.

KARLITO NUNES (Timor‑Leste), associating himself with the Group of 77, AOSIS and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said his country’s climate change adaptation plan makes biodiversity and ecosystem support top priorities, along with reforestation and sustainable land management.  He outlined the programme “One Citizen, One Tree”, which contributes to making the planet greener, as well as “Tara Bando”, which has strengthened community bonds for social and economic benefit while conserving the environment.  Since its inception, the Government has embraced a peaceful, just and inclusive society.  All the country’s citizens feel they can contribute to the political process, he said, noting that youth, men, women and girls all have equal rights and access to services and opportunities, while national laws promote and empower women and girls in the development process.  Women now make up 38 per cent of the country’s Parliament and 16 per cent of its Government, he noted.

CARLOS EFRAIN SEGURA ARAGON (El Salvador), aligning himself with the Group of 77, stressed the importance of prioritizing resilience in ensuring lasting recovery from the pandemic.  Expressing concern about the global delay in eradicating poverty in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, he said measures must be established to guarantee debt sustainability.  He also urged United Nations systems and multilateral institutions to recognize the multidimensional aspects of poverty and to provide universal and affordable access to ICT in closing the digital divide.  Underscoring scientific evidence supporting climate change, he said financing to combat the phenomenon is insufficient.  The international community must reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen financial and technical support to mitigate climate change in fulfilling obligations in the Paris Agreement.

BADER AZIZ R. M. KH. ALDEHANI (Kuwait) said his country has been a leader in development assistance and hopes they will see a broader revitalization of developing and developed countries.  Although international trade and economy saw a significant recession in 2020 due to the pandemic, the situation appears to have improved, he said, expressing hope that developed and developing countries will “gain steam” post‑pandemic.  He emphasized the role of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in supporting the development processes of many countries throughout the world, reiterating that the Fund, which has contributed $22 million and is a source of pride for his country, will continue to support all developing States.

THOMAS RATHMELL WOODROFFE (United Kingdom) said the world faces a narrowing opportunity to tackle the existential challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, and COP26 must be a turning point in efforts to “keep 1.5 alive”, ensure climate finance flows to the most vulnerable, consign coal to history and halt and reverse biodiversity loss.  In addition to efforts on conserving forests and land, he noted that more than 100 countries have endorsed a global “30 by 30” target to extend protected areas of global oceans.  In the midst of the “greatest health and economic crisis of our lifetime”, he emphasized the United Kingdom has used its Group of Seven presidency to mobilize 1 billion vaccine doses and over $10 billion in financing for the Access to COVID‑19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and COVAX Facility.  The Committee should prioritize equitable vaccine access and drive a sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery from the pandemic.  He also emphasized addressing the needs of the most vulnerable countries among the least developed, landlocked developing and small island developing States, alongside the specific situations of conflict and post‑conflict countries and middle‑income countries.

ARB KAPISYZI (Albania), associating himself with the European Union, said the way the global community responds to the deep health crisis created by the pandemic is crucial.  The global community needs to improve the global health system and provide safe and effective vaccines for all.  Albania will work in partnership to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.  Its national strategy for development includes judicial reform to create a more transparent judicial system.  The elimination of corruption is a priority and Albania thanks its European partners for their help in this area.  The Government’s economic reforms aim to accelerate competitiveness.  Gender equality is another priority.  Partnerships with the academic community, business and civil society are key to achieving the global goals and correcting the underlying causes of poverty.  Long‑term investment, including foreign investment, will help the country develop.  Albania remains committed to partnerships to build back stronger from the pandemic.

MOHAMMAD YOUSUF ABDULLA MOHAMMAD BASTAKI (United Arab Emirates) said that amid the pandemic, his nation has been a pioneer among the international community in providing assistance to countries in need.  With digitalization and digital cooperation as one of the best ways to ensure development for all, the United Arab Emirates has worked with Germany under the aegis of the Roadmap for Digital Cooperation.  From the beginning, his Government has provided medical assistance to more than 136 states on the basis of the principles of humanitarian solidarity.  Turning to climate change and its consequences, he noted the launch of a green development strategy, including reduction of emissions in line with Paris Agreement provisions, strengthened research and scientific innovation, job creation and investment.  The country also supports renewable energy projects in more than 70 States amounting to $16.8 million, also contributing to the empowerment of women, as he noted that economic recovery must be based on a sustainable framework.

MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, described COVID‑19 as a “wake‑up call for the whole world”, reminding humanity that the development, welfare and prosperity of all people are interdependent.  The pandemic also sounded the alarm over unjust, illegal self‑serving and unilateral approaches adopted by some countries that are undermining multilateralism when it is most needed, he added.  In particular, the illegitimate unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States on developing countries — to which other nations have turned a blind eye — turn claims of leaving no one behind into “purely decorative, absurd and meaningless” gestures.  Emphasizing that such measures are designed and executed to deny nations their inherent human rights, especially the right to development, he said sanctions are paralysing health care systems in the middle of a pandemic.  Despite such challenges, Iran continues to rank high among nations in such areas as education, women’s participation in public life and biotechnology, he said, adding that it has also become one of the world’s manufacturers of COVID‑19 vaccines.  Iran is taking strong steps on climate change mitigation and adaptation, having made significant strides in moving towards a low-carbon economy, he noted.

DIEGO BELEVÁN (Peru) said the global community must work towards economic, climate and health resilience in protecting itself from future crises.  Noting that people are living in a world with increasingly complex risks, including climate change, he said they must understand the best ways of tackling such reversal that will best support the Sustainable Development Goals.  Innovation will be critical in converting challenges into opportunities, he said, expressing concern over reduced resilience and increased vulnerability to food insecurity, particularly in rural areas.

Ms. ALMUHARRAQI (Bahrain) said her country implemented programmes to advance national policies for sustainable development.  Her Government is also cooperating with the United Nations and its agencies and programmes, as evidenced by its agreement with the Resident Coordinator Office for the promotion of sustainable development for 2021‑2022.  On COVID response and recovery, she said Bahrain offered free vaccines and treatment to all citizens, residents and visitors, noting that 67 per cent of its population has received two doses of the vaccine.  Further, it endeavoured to create a World Health Organization (WHO) office in the country, fostering public health collaboration.  Her Government has adopted resolutions to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic on businesses and individuals and provided significant funds towards this cause.  Expressing concern over climate change, she said Bahrain is coping with the consequences of global warming, including rising sea levels that are adversely impacting residents and economies.  In that regard, her Government has plans and strategies in place to promote renewable energy and looks forward to the upcoming COP26.

DOMA TSHERING (Bhutan), emphasizing that the looming climate crisis and current threats to biodiversity cannot be overlooked amid the coronavirus, called upon States to deliver on the unmet promise of $100 billion in annual financing for climate action.  Pointing out that gross national happiness has long been her country’s compass towards a balance between material well‑being and spiritual, emotional and cultural needs, she said Bhutan is preparing to graduate from the category of least developed countries in 2023.  Looking forward to the fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Doha, she expressed hope that it will forge a new global partnership to deliver a quick recovery.  Calling for more targeted interventions to keep the least developed and landlocked developing countries on track to realize the Sustainable Development Goals, she said renewed partnerships and solidarity remain key in moving forward.

MOHAMMAD K. KOBA (Indonesia) said the uptick in economic growth, while positive, threatened to be short-lived due to global disparities in the rate of COVID‑19 vaccination, and in discrepancies between countries’ capacity to provide fiscal stimulus.  He outlined several goals that will help support a sustainable economic recovery, including macroeconomic responses tailored to country‑specific circumstances, a combination of targeted measures that also ensured long‑term fiscal sustainability, price and financial stability, and developing and expanding the digital economy.  Further, he pointed out that it is important to build resilience against future crises, by tackling inequalities, strengthening health systems, reducing vulnerability to climate change and ensuring the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction.  He said Indonesia will focus on recovery and inclusivity during its Presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) in 2022.  It is committed to working with other countries, in particular developing States, to ensure its efforts are relevant to the world at large.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said a resilient and sustainable recovery from the pandemic is only possible if the international community faces historic systemic challenges, including those related to open trade in agricultural products.  Noting that Brazil uses only 8 per cent of its territory for agriculture, yet provides food for more than 1 billion people worldwide, he called for the adoption of a global food system that balances national capacities, food safety standards, nutritional diversity and quality, and sustainable development.  Turning to climate change, he said that Brazil is committed to achieving carbon neutrality.  However, developed countries must step up to the plate as well, by ensuring, among other things, financing for climate mitigation and adaptation.  Current shortages in goods due to global supply change issues might be an opportunity to diversify the world’s production base and expand the capacity of developing countries’ capacity to produce vaccines, medical supplies, agricultural and products, and services, he said.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia) emphasized the need for the preservation of food systems that includes restoring degraded land and combatting desertification to produce more food for the benefit of current and future generations.  Food security is critical to addressing the triple challenge of hunger, poverty and sustaining livelihoods.  In this vein, access to markets is essential, he stressed, calling for the removal of all trade barriers and distortions including unilateral economic measures.  Namibia will continue to leverage its renewable energy sources towards incubating green hydrogen and ammonia through green industrialization.  The pandemic has impacted developing countries more acutely and unevenly.  The limitations of countries like his own that do not have access to favourable concessional loans are debilitating, especially against the backdrop of reduced commodity prices and diminished sources of revenue.  Requests for funds to support economic recovery should thus be simplified, facilitated and expeditiously attended to by all development partners.

TRA PHUONG NGUYEN (Viet Nam), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and ASEAN, noted that COVID‑19 has taken 4.8 million lives and the global community’s top priority is to control it.  Before the pandemic, there had been some progress towards realizing the global goals, though not as much as expected by the timeline, he said, adding that now it is likely the Asia‑Pacific region will achieve less than 10 per cent of the targets by 2030.  The second priority, therefore, is to ensure a reliable social security net in every Member State and prevent social disruption or political instability, he emphasized, calling for the design and implementation of social protection systems that can sustain risks and economic shocks to protect vulnerable populations.  He went on to say that Viet Nam has been mainstreaming the global goals into national policy priorities and operates a multi-criteria statistical system to monitor and assess its progress.  According to its first National Voluntary Report, which reviewed progress in the last five years, Viet Nam is set to achieve 5 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, he added, noting, however, that it needs accelerated efforts to achieve the remaining 12.

BILLUR AHMADOVA (Azerbaijan), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said her nation has taken decisive measures to protect its citizens and minimize the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic.  That includes an immunization campaign and a nearly $2.7 billion stimulus package in support of affected people and businesses.  She went on to highlight her country’s progress in areas such as poverty reduction, health care, nutrition, women’s labour force participation, clean water and sanitation, access to energy and Internet connectivity.  Regarding the end of the Armenia‑Azerbaijan conflict, she pointed to large‑scale rehabilitation and reconstruction work that is carried out in the liberated territories of her country.  Azerbaijan is building new cities and towns there from scratch by applying modern urban planning and utilizing the concepts of “smart city” and “smart village” and restoring all essential services, she said, underscoring the importance of the safe return of those displaced and a high standard of living.  To this end, she mentioned the emerging transport hub in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan that will strengthen the position of the entire region within the scope of Trans‑Eurasian transport projects.

KYAW MOE TUN (Myanmar) said that even amid the pandemic in 2020, his country’s elected Government, with its correct mix of policies, managed to maintain 3.3 per cent economic growth while protecting human lives.  Myanmar was well along the right track towards graduating from the list of least developed countries.  However, the illegal military coup in February 2021 upended the political, economic and social life of the nation and triggered a humanitarian catastrophe.  “The people of Myanmar are in peril,” he stressed, citing data from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) stating that the combined impact of the coup and COVID‑19 could result in about 25 million people — or nearly half the population — living in poverty by early 2022.  “However, with the people’s power and strong desire, we are determined to end the current catastrophe and rebuild our country into a peaceful, just and inclusive society as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda,” he said.

ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that for the seventh consecutive year, his country has suffered catastrophic human and economic challenges amid the coup launched by the Houthi militia against the legitimate Government.  The country’s economic growth has declined from 7.7 per cent in 2010 -0.8 per cent in 2020, and it experiencing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.  He called on the international community for support to build resiliency, recover economically and reduce Yemen’s dependence on humanitarian assistance.  He added that an imminent environmental threat exists as the Houthis continue to prevent access for critical repairs to the aging SAFER oil tanker, anchored off the port of Hudaydah and holding about 1.1 million barrels of crude oil.  Warning of catastrophic impacts for the coastal States of the Red Sea, he went on to describe the COVID‑19 pandemic as a “crisis within a crisis”, noting that there has been a migration of medical professionals and while the pandemic risks collapsing Yemen’s health sector.

RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said climate change is by far the most serious challenge humanity has faced since the founding of the United Nations, a triple threat along with pollution and biodiversity loss.  Calling for an urgent, coordinated and inclusive approach to those challenges, he stressed:  “Bold actions are needed now.”  The COVID‑19 pandemic has pointed out the digital gap and the need to invest in digitalization, science and new technologies, requiring the Committee to accord due significance to resolutions on ICTs and innovation.  He noted that today’s youth is more educated and empowered, but also more terrified, than ever before, as they know the decisions made today will directly affect their chances of survival.  “It is our duty to listen to their voice and provide a safe space for their self-realization,” he said.

DIAMANE DIOME (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that in response to the COVID‑19 pandemic his country has established an economic and social resilience programme amounting to $2 billion to raise health care standards, acquire vaccines and support households, businesses and workers. Further, the Pasteur Institute in Dakar will soon begin producing the COVID‑19 vaccine.  Noting the inequality in access to vaccines, he said only 60 million individuals — or about 4 per cent of the African population — are vaccinated, while some developed countries have vaccinated more than 60 per cent of their populations.  Similarly, more than $400 billion of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights are intended for rich countries, compared to $230 billion for developing countries, of which Africa received $33 billion.  The international community must change its methods and adopt holistic approaches, he stressed, calling for reinvigorated international solidarity and cooperation.

Mr. ROSALES RAMIREZ (Honduras) said COVID‑19 has led his country into a recession with horrific consequences, devastating loss of human life and collapse of the health‑care system.  Priority has been given to people dependent on small informal markets and women, tackling economic structural challenges and poverty eradication.  Noting that developing countries are facing climate change and increasing inequalities, he said they are now also facing food insecurity and poverty.  Adding that the current model of classifying nations by income is ineffective with respect to the provision of international assistance, he stressed the need to move to multidimensional indicators.  The global community must also mitigate the effects of climate change, which his visible in access to health care, food and water security.

DIEGO PARY RODRÍGUEZ (Bolivia) said the coup d’etat in his country threatened development progress achieved over more than 14 years.  Fortunately, it was able to restore democracy and the rule of law.  His Government presented for the first time its voluntary national review at the high-level political forum reflecting on the progress it has made towards the 2030 Agenda.  Noting that the current global situation has widened inequalities, he said selfishness between human beings and States will not allow the international community to overcome the challenges it is facing.  In that regard, it is necessary to have immediate mechanisms in place to relieve the debt of developing countries.

The representative of Chile emphasized that the global community must tackle climate change with a sense of urgency, adding that her country has entered into a commitment to close all coal‑powered plants by 2040.  The 2030 Agenda is a global commitment to work in partnerships to achieve society’s well‑being, she said, emphasizing that working in alliances as multiple stakeholders is vital in science, research and innovation.  Chile recognizes the global and open nature of the Internet and the importance of achieving universal access.  Adding that the global community must move towards renewed cooperation, she said it must determine how to allocate development resources and close gender digital gap.

VILIAMI VA’INGA TŌNĒ (Tonga), associating himself with the Alliance of Small Island States, called climate change “the greatest threat facing the Pacific”.  Recalling that the World Risk Report 2020 ranked Tonga the world’s second most at‑risk country to natural hazards, he said the impact of climate change is rapidly intensifying the country’s vulnerabilities and swiftly eroding its capacities for resilience.  Tonga is working to ensure accelerated implementation of Goal 13 (climate action) and welcomed finalization of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index in this regard.  He went on to stress that Tonga’s food security, livelihoods and ecosystems are impacted by overfishing, acidification and pollution, pledging to ensure that all targets pertaining to oceans and “life below water” are successfully pursued.  While his country contributes less than 1 per cent to global emissions, it nonetheless will work to reduce fuel imports and promote renewable energy use.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77, reaffirmed his country’s firm moral and political commitment to leave no one behind.  However, that endeavour is a “double challenge”, he said, as in addition to the pandemic, Venezuela faces the “systematic aggression of the United States, through its commercial, economic and financial blockade that “flagrantly violates” the Charter of the United Nations.  His country demands once again a total and immediate end to the blockade, especially in the context of the current pandemic, given its indiscriminate and even deliberate impact on the human rights of our people and many others around the world.  Unilateral coercive measures not only hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and widen the gap between our peoples, but they also end up being a driving force for inequality, social exclusion and systemic racism, he said.

MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina), aligning herself with the Group of 77, said the international community now has the opportunity to rethink society and make it more equalitarian.  First, COVID‑19 vaccines must be considered global public goods and patents must be released for increased production of doses.  It must also move forward with the development of multidimensional poverty scales in determining eligibility for concessional financing, especially for middle‑income countries.  Other reforms include a multilateral legal framework for restructuring processes and sustainable food systems process that are science-based.

VILAYLUCK SENEDUANGDETH (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), associating herself with ASEAN, the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the pandemic’s far‑reaching effects threaten realization of the 2030 Agenda.  Moreover, climate change, natural disasters and rising income inequality have had a particularly negative impact on least developed countries and developing nations that rely on global trade to drive inclusive economic growth.  Working towards a smooth graduation from the category of least developed country, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic has taken steps to cushion the pandemic’s impact and maintain development progress, she said.  However, it is more critical than ever before that the international community ensure a coordinated global response based on unity, solidarity and a renewed commitment to multilateralism to contain the pandemic and address its negative consequences, she emphasized.  That requires a comprehensive socioeconomic impact assessment of COVID‑19 alongside continued assistance from development partners, the United Nations system, global financial institutions and other stakeholders, she said.

CARLOS AMORÍN (Uruguay), aligning himself with Group of 77 and China, said his Government is committed to development issues and is working on sustainable development in many different spheres.  The country demonstrated its commitment to the global goals in its third voluntary national review.  It will create its fourth voluntary national review in 2022.  At the national level, Uruguay shows a respect for the rule of law and the protection of human rights.  It supports the international community and global trade matters and is a staunch advocate of multilateralism.  The United Nations has a crucial role to play in a world that has never been more threatened or divided.  The climate crisis is ringing at a fever pitch.  The upcoming COP26 in Glasgow should work to produce a substantial reduction in emissions.  The international community must increase its pace to preserve environmental resources.

GUILLEM KALLIS BALDRICH (Andorra), noting that fighting climate change is a priority, said his country aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and in the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.  In support of biodiversity, it has also presented its candidacy to the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to become the first country to be considered a biosphere reserve through a balanced model through ecologically sustainable activities.  Those activities include traditional farming and ranching practices, together with environmental education, ecotourism and other actions that strengthen scientific research, monitoring, training and education.  The Circular Economy Bill, which is currently before the Andorran Parliament, will allow the country to move from a linear economy to a more efficient economic model that will optimize the use of natural resources and reduce environmental impact, facilitating progress in the Sustainable Development Goals.

ALFREDO JERRY DOMINIQUE RATSIMANDRESY (Madagascar), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said the pandemic has devastated many countries.  Much achievement has been made towards the targets set by the 2030 Agenda.  Yet the international community’s pace needs to be accelerated.  The strengthening of crisis resiliency is urgent.  The work of the Second Committee needs to be revitalized so as to eliminate poverty in a coordinated way.  Madagascar is creating its second voluntary national review and has reached encouraging targets and indicators.  The pandemic did not curtail the country’s achievements.  It helped the country focus on its goals.  It built hospitals and health‑care centres.  It built a new sport stadium.  The crisis is an opportunity to give up on isolated initiatives.  This is a decade of action.

AHMED M. A. ABRAHEEM (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and has integrated related targets at the national level.  However, it faces a variety of challenges, including political instability and a precarious security situation.  Due to its dependence on oil revenue, any fragility in the markets makes his country’s economy more fragile.  Noting that his country is also suffering loss of wealth because of wealth trafficking and illicit financial flows, he called for the cooperation of countries to which funds are being trafficked, so that those resources can be returned to the countries of origin.  Noting also that Libya is a transit country, he emphasized the need to tackle organized crime so migrants can return to their countries of origin and called on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to focus on “drying up” sources of financing for organized crime.

EMILIJA MARINKOV (Serbia), associating herself with the European Union, highlighted national efforts to promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the eradication of poverty, decent work and economic growth, greater inclusiveness and better education and health protection.  In that context, the United Nations development system must critically review its internal capacities to support countries to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, she said.  Turning to efforts to combat the pandemic, Serbia has donated or allocated over a million doses of vaccines and has taken steps to acquire the technology to produce at least two types of COVID‑19 vaccines to help improve global access.  The coronavirus should be seen as an opportunity to combat climate change and to move towards a green resilient recovery, she continued, pointing out that the Balkans is one of the world’s richest areas in biodiversity.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) reported that his country’s digital vaccine delivery platform has supported its vaccine drive and will be offered to the world as a global public good.  Emphasizing the importance of vaccine equity, he said India has provided medical related assistance and vaccines to numerous countries all over the world.  On climate change, India is the only country among the G20 on course to meet the Paris targets, he pointed out.  However, the global net‑zero commitment should be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and of equity, where developing countries peak later given their respective sustainable development paths.  “Consequently, in order to vacate the carbon space in 2050 for developing countries to grow, the developed countries should, in fact, do a net‑minus.”  Furthermore, there still exists a large gap to achieve the commitment by developed countries to provide $100 billion for climate action, a figure that is less than the amount earned by the National Football League on media rights, he observed.

ALLA VOLSKA (Ukraine), aligning herself with the European Union, said the United Nations Summit on Food Systems is just the beginning of shaping an international agenda in this crucial area.  Ukraine is a proactive participant in this work and will develop its food system with international bridges to local food systems around the world.  That is why the Government volunteered to join the Food Coalitions of Action programmes.  With its strong food exports, Ukraine contributes to food security around the world.  For the 2019‑2020 marketing year, Ukraine ranked first in the world in exports of sunflower oil, second in the export of barley and was among the top four largest exporters of corn, and among the top five exporters of wheat.  Ukraine did not impose restrictions on exports of basic products during the pandemic and stressed the need to simplify international trade procedures and prevent the creation of new trade barriers.  Digitalization is one of the main vectors of the country’s economic development.  Ongoing reforms create services that provide no queues, no corruption, less wasting of time and less bureaucracy.  These new services include the Government application, Diia (Action), for mobile electronic services and the Single State Web Portal of Electronic Services.  The Diia portal provides more than 70 online public services for business activity, social protection, real estate and other purposes.  One of the Government’s main goals is to digitize 100 per cent of its services by 2024.

SULAY‑MANAH KPUKUMU (Sierra Leone) highlighted his country’s implementation of its Medium‑Term National Development Plan (2019‑2023) despite the negative impacts of COVID‑19.  Noting that his Government has maintained a budget allocation to education above 20 per cent since 2018, he also expressed concern over the declining levels of ODA to the least developed countries, and called on States to scale up the percentage.  He further called for an extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative launched by multilateral financial institutions and consideration of debt cancellation for vulnerable and fragile countries.  Additional resources are needed to recover from the pandemic, including budget support, extended credit facilities and debt relief, he noted.  He also reaffirmed the need for adequate access to climate financing and technology transfer, and called for increased and coordinated support to developing countries, especially those least developed, to address the digital divide.

AHMED HAMOOD FAISAL AL BUSAIDI (Oman) said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a source of hope for all nations of the world.  All stakeholders must work to enhance international cooperation.  This entails providing the necessary support and developing innovative approaches to build the capacities of developing and least‑developed countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  In this context, the international community must agree on a plan and develop a strategy that includes building a sustainable future.  Turning to Palestine, he said he shared the international community’s concern over Israel’s exploitation of natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the harm it has caused to orchards and water facilities.  He called upon Israel, the occupying Power, from refraining from taking any action that is inconsistent with international law, including looting from Palestinian land.

SONGELAEL W. SHILLA (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, highlighted the effects of COVID‑19 on development and their uneven impacts among countries and populations.  Noting that those in the developing world are the most affected, he underlined the need to build resilience and ensure equity in access to vaccines.  Spotlighting the role of the United Nations system, he called for a resident coordinators system that is independent, apolitical and focused primarily on development in the host country.  The principles of sovereignty and national ownership must be respected, with ending poverty being the highest priority, he said, emphasizing that financial independence is also crucial.  To that end, a reinvigorated resident coordinator system should consider arrangements leading to a sustainable funding mechanism that does not depend heavily on voluntary contributions.  Outlining efforts to mainstream the 2030 Agenda into national development plans, he said the United Republic of Tanzania continues to register robust economic growth, with annual GDP growth of 6 to 7 per cent on average, except in 2020, when it recorded 4.9 per cent growth.

MUHABI LUNGU (Zambia), associating himself with the Group of 77, the African Group, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said COVID‑19 compounded pre‑existing vulnerabilities and inequalities in his country’s economy.  To stimulate global recovery, accelerated efforts are needed to make safe and effective vaccines available to the most vulnerable countries.  He noted that Zambia aims to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by the third quarter of 2022 while scaling up efforts to counter myths, misconceptions and misinformation.  Turning to food security, he said Zambia plans to improve varieties of crops and livestock, expand and improve extension services, and provide small‑scale farmers with affordable and tailored financial products.

MOHAMED ABDIRAHMAN OMAR (Somalia), highlighting the Government’s efforts in tackling a range of challenges across sectors, said that in terms of digital services, efforts are under way to improve connectivity and broaden access.  In light of the importance of youth, Somalia is work to address their needs, he added.  Agriculture is a critical sector, so the Government has launched initiatives to make in agricultural development more sustainable.  Citing other gains, he said a national social protection programme and comprehensive reform efforts, including economic and financial initiatives, are in place.  Those and other efforts are centred on increasing efficiencies and building a more diverse and competitive economy, which is the best route to promoting long‑term growth, he noted.  Turning to the environment, he said the national development plan considers climate change to be a driver of poverty and, as such, many related programmes are based in sustainable development principles.

ALI CHERIF (Tunisia), associating with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the aggravating impact of COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated that existing cooperation mechanisms are too fragile to confront such challenges at the regional and international levels.  As the repercussions from the pandemic persist, the economic and digital gap between countries has widened even further, he said, calling for joint efforts based on solidarity.  Reiterating his country’s commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda despite the difficulties resulting from COVID‑19, he said Tunisia will continue to pursue institutional and economic reforms and to improve human development.  He noted that fighting poverty and assuring food security are important priorities, especially as the pandemic continues to impact the socioeconomic and environmental sustainability of agriculture food systems around the world.  He went on to emphasize the need for a transparent global architecture to fight corruption and money‑laundering as well as reduce the effects of climate change.

CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana), associating herself with the Group of 77, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that resilience and recovery from the pandemic must begin with a global vaccination policy.  COVID‑19 vaccines must be treated as a global public good, with equitable distribution and an end to vaccine discrimination.  The millions of people who received the vaccines that were available at a time of uncertainty must not now be the subject of restrictions based on those vaccines.  Guyana hopes that the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow will address concerns that developed countries are failing to meet their climate finance commitment of $100 billion a year for developing States.  She went on to add Guyana’s voice to calls for a prompt adoption of a multidimensional vulnerability index that would help small island developing States gain access to finance.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, expressed a range of concerns about the pandemic’s negative impact on the pursuit of the 2030 Agenda, noting that progress has been halted or reversed.  COVID‑19 also exposed weaknesses in health‑care systems and had severe repercussions on the global economy, affecting education, employment, livelihoods and food security, he said.  The international community must now demonstrate a renewed sense of solidarity and multilateralism to build back better and prevent future crises, he emphasized.  Resilience hinges on universal access to vaccines and examining and improving health‑care and economic systems, he said, adding that strengthening resilience requires advancing human‑centred economic models that integrate environmental considerations, ensure social protection and recognize the important role of families.  Expressing concern about an attempt by some to break down the helpful division of labour among various processes, he said considerations of human rights and freedoms are best left to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural).  Any changes to working methods must be made after inclusive, transparent consultations, he said, emphasizing that any temporary pandemic‑related adjustment of modalities should never be used to change the Committee’s mandate.

Right of Reply

The representative of Armenia, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the representative of Azerbaijan, saying the trilateral statements of 9 November 2020 and 11 January 2021 on unblocking of all economic and transport connections in the region do not contain any reference to the Zangezur Corridor.  Regrettably the incendiary rhetoric and threats to use of force to create the so‑called Zangezur Corridor contradict the letter and spirit of the statements and further undermine the security and stability of the region.  By attempting to divert the Committee with fabrications about transport connectivity, Azerbaijan in reality is conducting a policy of land blockade and coercive measures in an attempt to isolate Armenia and Nagorno‑Karabakh from the outside world.

The representative of Azerbaijan said the conflict between Yerevan and Baku began in the late 1980s with Armenia’s unlawful territorial and groundless claim against Azerbaijanis.  In the early 1990s, Armenia unleashed a full‑scale war against Azerbaijan — a violation of international law.  Detailing other “acts of aggression”, she said Azerbaijan used counterforce for self‑defence in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.  Armenia illegally exploited Azerbaijan’s natural resources and exported it to international markets.  Her Government has identified companies involved and has started taking legal action, so that those firms can be held accountable, she said.

For information media. Not an official record.

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