ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DISCUSSION ON FOLLOW-UP TO MAJOR UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL HOLDS GENERAL DISCUSSION ON FOLLOW-UP TO MAJOR UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS
Hears Statement by Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board and Holds Question and Answer Session
9 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council this morning held a general discussion on implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits, and on follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development. It also heard an introductory statement by the Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination and held a question and answer period about the reports of the coordination bodies.

In the general discussion, speakers said that achieving sustainable development required inclusive action promoting growth and poverty reduction, creating decent jobs and strengthening the protection of the environment.  While each country was responsible for its own development, it was important to stress that developing countries required the support of the international community and of developed partners through supportive global programmes, development-oriented measures and policies to complement national efforts.  Sole reliance on development aid did not bring about long-term sustainable development.  It was increasingly necessary to move away from a traditional economic system and to move to a new development concept.  The role of partnerships should also be broadened. 

Speaking in the discussion were Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Lithuania on behalf of the European Union, Turkey, Honduras, United States, Nepal, Belarus, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Sudan, China, Venezuela, Barbados, Norway and Kuwait.

Simona Petrova, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, introducing the Annual Overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2012, said that the report highlighted key activities of the Board and its subsidiary bodies in enhancing coherence and coordination on policy, operational and management issues of system-wide concern, and also provided information on the coordination activities between the Board and other jointly funded bodies.  It also reaffirmed the continued commitment of Executive Heads of the organizations of the United Nations system to work together in a coordinated manner to ensure integrated and synchronized follow-up to the Member States’ decisions.

In the question and answer period, speakers enquired about what the Board was doing in terms of harmonization of business practices and savings made and for details on cooperation with the World Bank and international financial institutions was going.  More information was also requested on action taken concerning the benefits of the plan offered through the United Nations system.  It was noted that there were significant remaining challenges, including how to reconcile development with the eradication of poverty. 

Speaking in the question and answer period were Russia, Mexico and the United States. 

The Economic and Social Council will resume its work this afternoon at 3 p.m. to hold a panel discussion on financing for sustainable development. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the Summary by the President of the Economic and Social Council of the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (New York, 22 April 2013) (A/68/78–E/2013/66)

General Discussion on the Implementation of and Follow-up to Major United Nations Conferences and Summits; Follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development

Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that, while each country was responsible for its own development, it was important to stress that developing countries required the support of the international community and of developed partners through supportive global programmes, development-oriented measures and policies to complement national efforts.  A true global partnership for development should draw on the lessons of recent development experience and should be relevant to existing and emerging issues, including the economic and financial crisis.    

Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the European Union was undertaking targeted and coordinated actions, especially in support of the poorest and most vulnerable, including by promoting policy coherence for development in support of developing countries.  Concerning financing issues, the Financing for Development framework should be consistent with the post-2015 plan.  Domestic resources, trade, the international financial system, innovative financing sources, and external debt issues should be seen as part of the Financing for Development agenda.

Turkey said that the international community should re-address its efforts in the field of development, particularly regarding the financing aspect of the issue.  Development aid, debt relief and free trade were essential components of development.  However, sole reliance on development aid did not bring about long-term sustainable development.  Concrete contributions to capacity-building were needed and attention should be paid to mutual accountability and transparency.   

Honduras said that achieving sustainable development required inclusive action promoting growth, poverty reduction, the creation of decent jobs and strengthening the protection of the environment.  If developing countries did not have sufficient resources from official development assistance and international cooperation, it would be more difficult to attain the Millennium Development Goals.  It was increasingly necessary to move away from a traditional economic system and to move to a new development concept. 

United States noted that the context in which the debate was taking place had evolved.  Making progress would require more than a focus on official development assistance from developed countries; it would require unlocking of domestic resources, creation of avenues for trade and use of all economic tools in their inventories.  The role of partnerships should be broadened.  The United States would not participate in a system that effectively imposed a global tax.

Nepal said that the impacts of triple crises, financial, food and fuel, together with the adverse and disproportionate impacts of climate change, had further increased Nepal’s vulnerabilities and pushed millions of its people to the brink of extreme poverty and deprivation.  The importance of trade for development and poverty reduction could not be overemphasized.  Nepal needed targeted and scaled-up cooperation and prompt delivery on all pillars of development financing from its development partners.

Belarus said that it regretted the reduction in the volume of the official development aid and called on the Economic and Social Council to play a more active role in ensuring a balanced mobilization of resources and in coordinating their fair distribution.  

South Africa said that a global partnership for development should continue to help developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which had not been attained because of a lack of financing.  Therefore, resources should be mobilized and further efforts were needed to ensure delivery of the commitments made in that context.  A lot could be done in the remaining time to 2015.  

Saudi Arabia said that the protection of the environment within a sustainable development framework constituted one of its main socio-economic development goals.  Development aid extended by Saudi Arabia to more than 95 developing countries to help them achieve the Millennium Development Goals had exceeded the target of 0.7 per cent of Gross National Product, which the United Nations had proposed for donor States.   

Mexico said that through a proposed resolution that it was tabling at this session and which Member States were currently discussing, Mexico sought to include elements whose main objectives were to underscore the holistic agenda of Monterrey and Doha and its follow up process in the definition of a single post-2015 development agenda.  Mexico had reiterated the importance of establishing a single development agenda on various occasions

Sudan said that the world was facing a real challenge today in the context of financing for development, particularly in developing countries that faced very special circumstances.  The achievement of sustainable development required a collective international endeavour and work.  The United Nations had to play a more vital role in order to enhance and consolidate cooperation among Member States, with all stakeholders.

China said that development was largely imbalanced and progress was still needed.  Funding was a necessary pre-condition for development.  China proposed strengthening of political will to honour development assistance commitment and called on developed countries to fulfill their commitments and actively explore new funding mechanisms.  Also proposed was the protection and improvement of the multilateral trade system to create a favourable trading system for developing countries.

Venezuela agreed that the Bretton Woods institutions should be reformed, and said that the structural components of the current economic crisis should be taken into account.  International financial reform should be put on the international agenda and restrictions should be placed on speculative financial transactions.  Venezuela was concerned about the way in which the private sector was being involved in efforts to ensure sustainable development.  

Barbados agreed that concerted action was needed in order to support efforts to ensure sustainable development.  Small economies had to deal with the high cost of infrastructure changes spread among small populations, and with the costs of defending against rising sea levels.  It was important that special consideration be given to the challenges facing smaller States in the area of financing for development.

Norway said that official development assistance continued to be important for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, especially for smaller and developing countries.  Norway, which had committed $5 billion to that purpose or 1 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product, welcomed middle-income countries joining in efforts made to ensure sustainable development.

Kuwait said that the international community had a responsibility to alleviate poverty and contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.  The world had seen many transformations during the past 20 years.  The new structure which had been created had been beneficial to developed and developing countries alike.  However, issues such as climate change and the scarcity of food proved that there remained significant challenges to tackle, including the question of how to reconcile development with the eradication of poverty.

Coordination, Programme and Other Questions; Reports of Coordination Bodies

Documentation

The Council has before it the Annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2012 (E/2013/60), which provides an overview of major developments in inter-agency cooperation within the framework of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination in 2012 and information on efforts to enhance coherence and coordination on system-wide preparation and follow-up to United Nations conferences and summits, operational activities and administrative and management issues of system-wide concern.

Introductory Statement by the Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination

SIMONA PETROVA, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, introducing the Annual Overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2012, said that this year’s report provided an overview of major developments in inter-agency cooperation within the framework of the Chief Executives Board in 2012.  The report highlighted key activities of the Board and its subsidiary bodies in enhancing coherence and coordination on policy, operational and management issues of system-wide concern, and also provided information on the coordination activities between the Board and other jointly funded bodies.  A key priority in 2012 was system-wide preparations for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in support of efforts of Member States to advance economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability in an integrated manner.  United Nations system organizations also continued their efforts to support Member States in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  To further accelerate ongoing work in this area the Board, under the joint leadership of the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, agreed to include a review of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals at the country level as a standing item on its meeting agenda.  In other efforts, the Board, supported Member States in their commitment to the rule of law and responded to their call for greater coordination in the work undertaken by the United Nations system in this area. 

The High Level Committee on Programmes deepened its efforts to enhance system-wide policy coherence and coordination on a number of key challenges facing the international community.  Climate change continued to be among the greatest challenges facing humanity.  Through its Working Group on Climate Change, the Committee intensified its efforts to ensure system-wide coordination and strategic, programmatic and operational coherence in support of Member States’ efforts to address climate change issues.  On management activities, the harmonization and simplification of business practices in the United Nations system continued to be a key priority for the High Level Committee and Management.  Through joint efforts, the Committee and the United Nations Development Group sought to generate opportunities to pool resources and reduce administration and procedural burdens.  On operational matters, over the last year the United Nations Development Group continued to provide targeted support to country preparation of United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the effective functioning of the Resident Coordinator System and improving system-wide knowledge.  The Board remained dedicated to cooperating with other international organizational bodies.  The Annual Overview Report before the Council today reaffirmed the continued commitment of Executive Heads of the organizations of the United Nations system to work together in a coordinated manner to ensure integrated and synchronized follow-up to the Member States’ decisions.  Enhancing dialogue and interaction with Member States continued to be a major priority for the Board.

Question and Answer Period

Russian Federation said that it had found the report useful but drew the attention of the Council to the fact that the order in which the report of the Committee was presented was not appropriate. 

SIMONA PETROVA, Director, Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board, said that the comments of the Russian Federation would be taken into consideration by those responsible for scheduling matters.

Mexico requested more information on action taken concerning the benefits of the plan offered through the United Nations system.

SIMONA PETROVA, Director, Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board, in response to the question posed by Mexico, said that there was a resolution which mandated the Committee to consider such matters.  Since last year, a working group had been set up to look at the different benefits of the plan offered throughout the United Nations system.

United States thanked the Board for its leading role.  Could more be said on what it was doing in terms of harmonization of business practices and savings made? On Millennium Development Goals implementation efforts, could more detail be given on how cooperation with the World Bank and international financial institutions was going?

SIMONA PETROVA, Director of the Secretariat of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, on harmonization of business practices, said that there were a number of activities in terms of trying to find better ways to deliver more efficiently and effectively.  Savings made were achieved through collectively bargained exchanged rates.  There were a number of other different processes, such as the status of investments project, a banking services project and a status of risk management project.  On the Millennium Development Goals acceleration and work being done with the World Bank, this was something launched last November under the joint leadership of the United Nations Development Programme and the President of the World Bank.  It looked at where gaps were in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals; between now and the end of 2015, at every session of the Board, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, there would be presentations of the gaps and loopholes, and additional push needed in order to achieve the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/015E


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