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

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL STARTS HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT GENERAL DEBATE

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL STARTS HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT GENERAL DEBATE
Hears National Voluntary Presentation of France
2 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this afternoon heard the national voluntary presentation of France, followed by an interactive dialogue.  It heard the introduction of the reports of the Secretary-General on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals” and on “The contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda as a principal body for policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on issues of economic and social development and for the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals”, and then began the general debate of the High-level Segment. 

Nicolas Niemtchinow, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva, presenting the report of France, said that it was necessary to sketch out a new international development agenda that was international and inclusive.  Cooperation to advance development, the promotion of sustainable and fair growth, countering inequality, conserving global public goods, and the stabilization of the rule of law around the world were all high on France’s agenda.  France saw culture as the fourth pillar of development and would like to see culture play a cross-cutting role in promoting sustainable development.  Official aid provided by donors was crucial when it came to sustaining development around the world, although France also attached much importance to various methods of innovative funding.

Burkina Faso, France and New Zealand spoke in the ensuing interactive and posed questions to Mr. Niemtchinow, as did Meera Tiwari, Head of Global Studies, University of East London, and Moderator of the discussion.
 
Nestor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that overcoming challenges required drawing on a range of innovations from science, technology and culture in the public and private sectors.  An adequate system of incentives for the promotion and dissemination of new technologies was needed in order to make them widely available. 

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports for this year’s Annual Ministerial Review and for the Thematic Discussion.  The Annual Ministerial Review report highlighted the need to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security, sustainable energy, access to fresh water and climate change adaptation, and outlined the potential of culture for pursuing sustainable development.  The Thematic Report of the Secretary-General emphasized the contributions that the Council could make to the post-2015 framework through six key roles.

Jose Antonio Ocampo, Chairperson of the Committee for Development Policy, introducing the report of the Committee for Development Policy on its fifteenth session by video conference, said that science and technology were central to economic development.  As measures which developed countries had used to support their own industrialization were no longer available, there was a need for a global dialogue on reform in the international property rights regime.  The Committee had examined the vulnerabilities and development needs of small-island developing States and possible policy responses, and recommended that the United Nations should incorporate the reduction of inequality as a specific goal with measureable targets.
In the ensuing general debate, all speakers underlined the enormous importance of science, technology, innovation and culture for sustainable development, economic growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and praised the work of the Council in that respect.  Countries outlined some of the efforts they were undertaking to boost innovation, science and technology.  Issues raised by the speakers included the need for developed countries to assist developing countries in meeting their objectives through the transfer of appropriate technology and knowledge, and the importance of basing the post-2015 development agenda on international cooperation.  Special attention should be given to the least developed countries and to middle-income countries.  

Speaking in the general debate were high-level representatives, including Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Permanent Representatives of the following countries: Fiji on behalf of Group of 77 and China, Lithuania on behalf of the European Union, Benin, Cuba on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Sri Lanka on behalf of the Group of Fifteen, Turkmenistan, San Marino, Nepal, Kuwait, Angola, and Croatia.

The next meeting of the Council will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 July 2013, when it will hold the Implementation Forum with the announcement of initiatives in support of the theme of the Annual Ministerial Review on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”  This will be followed by an address by the President of Colombia and a panel discussion on international cooperation in the development, transfer and diffusion of technologies in Africa and least developed countries.

National Voluntary Presentation of France

NICOLAS NIEMTCHINOW, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Millennium Development Goals had contributed to an unprecedented decrease of poverty in the world, but a great deal still needed to be done between now and 2015.  It was necessary to sketch out a new international development agenda that was international and inclusive, and the Council had a real role to play when it came to reaching those objectives.  Cooperation to advance development continued to be central to France’s multilateral and bilateral relations, and the promotion of sustainable and fair growth, countering inequality, conserving global public goods, and the stabilization of the rule of law around the world were all high on France’s agenda.  Approaching those issues through the right to development, France had adopted its own development strategy. Mr. Niemtchinow underlined that transition to real sustainable development should show respect to global common goods, and said that France was focusing on fairer growth initiatives which cared for the environment, while also being sensitive to issues relating to climate change.  Those challenges could only be taken up in an environment of political stability which respected fully human rights.  France saw culture as the fourth pillar of development and would like to see culture play a cross-cutting role in promoting sustainable development.  Official aid provided by donors was crucial when it came to sustaining development around the world, although France also attached much importance to various methods of innovative funding.         

The report of France can be found in (E/2013/53).

Burkina Faso said that France’s policy of development cooperation focused on four main objectives: promoting durable and equitable growth, combating poverty and inequality, preserving global public goods, and guaranteeing stability and the rule of law.  Concerning the instruments of the development cooperation policy, France underscored the mobilisation of domestic resources through fiscal reform, increasing transparency and accountability, combating fiscal evasion, finance partnerships and innovative finance.  Concerning direct assistance, France was committed to the 2005 European consensus and pursued efforts to increase the percentage of the GDP for assistance, and considered multilateral assistance as an important element of development.  Concerning the contribution to science, technology and innovation, in particular concerning the Millennium Development Goals, France delivered technical assistance and capacity building for the implementation of their own public policies.  France was leading the way concerning bilateral cooperation and providing funds to Burkina Faso. 

Finland said that both France and Finland remained committed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and were actively involved in ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.  Finland commended France on its efforts to promote development research as an intrinsic part of its development policy, and on the considerable resources which France had committed to it.  Finland asked whether France took into account the fact that inclusive innovation and bottom-up approaches were often generated at grassroots level.  Cooperation in the areas of culture and science could be a great asset from the perspective of promoting human rights, especially the rights of women, girls and other vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities.  Could France provide further details on how that aspect was reflected in French development policy?  Finland also welcomed France’s active involvement with emerging economies, which were increasingly important partners and contributors in international development.   

MEERA TIWARI, Head of Global Studies, University of East London, and Moderator, asked France about its expectations to engage with other States to apply the tax on aerial traffic in support of development.

New Zealand acknowledged the collaboration with France in the common interest of Pacific Island States and developing a global research alliance on greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.  France led one of the five working groups within the alliance.  New Zealand asked about the coordination of the global research agenda for sustainable development, in particular concerning initiatives such as the global research alliance which led to greater coordination.

NICOLAS NIEMTCHINOW, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the reviewers for their questions and the opportunity to elaborate on strategic lines of action.  Concerning the bottom-up dissemination of innovation, there were two main levers, training for young entrepreneurs and support for local small and medium enterprises.  There were several positive externalities to this approach; it was made possible by the contributions from industries, creating a virtuous cycle such as in the creation of the first solar station in Burkina Faso.  Access to education was a priority and a significant part of France’s assistance was earmarked for education.  Concerning Finland’s questions about the promotion of parity, the Ministry in charge of development had recently aimed at updating the development strategy to make gender a cross-cutting issue in all areas of activity.  It was also crucial to involve civil society and in 2012 France had set aside 45 million euro to be disbursed through non-governmental organizations. 

Concerning the channelling of direct assistance through international organizations and the United Nations system, France was committed to multilateralism and intended to continue to use their leverage and expertise.  France sought to find a balance between multilateralism and bilateralism.  Concerning the role of culture in direct assistance and the need for local populations to take ownership, France wished to promote local ownership and inclusion.   France was thoroughly committed in terms of promoting innovative funding, such as the proposed taxes on air travel and financial transactions.  In relation to the question posed by New Zealand, Mr. Niemtchinow stressed that coordination was desirable and this was why France had made sure to channel funding through multilateral means and was also interested in co-funding opportunities.

Annual Ministerial Review; Thematic Discussion; General Debate

Documentation

ECOSOC has before it the report of the Committee for Development Policy on its fifteenth session (18-22 March 2013) (E/2013/33).

ECOSOC has before it a Note by the Secretariat on science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (E/2013/47)

ECOSOC has before it the Report of the Secretary-General on science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (E/2013/54)

ECOSOC has before it the Report on the meeting of the 2012-2013 Inter-sessional Panel of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development: Note by the Secretariat (E/2013/74)

ECOSOC has before it a Letter dated 14 May 2013 from the Chair of the sixty-fifth session of the Economic Commission for Europe addressed to the President of the Economic and Social Council (E/2013/78).

ECOSOC has before it the report of the Secretary-General on Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields (E/2013/15).

ECOSOC has before it the report of the Secretary-General on the contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda as a principal body for policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on issues of economic and social development and for the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (E/2013/72).

Opening Remarks

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, said the Secretary-General’s reports for this year’s Annual Ministerial Review and Thematic Discussion and the report of the Committee for Development Policy informed their dialogue on two very important topics.  The first was on science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The second was on the contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda as a principal body for policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on issues of economic and social development and for the follow-up to the MDGs.  The economic context the world was facing was complex and could potentially undermine efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Overcoming remaining challenges required drawing on a range of innovations from science, technology and culture in the public and private sectors.  Mr. Osorio pointed out that the Committee for Development Policy had noted in its report that advancing a nation’s capacity in scientific and technological innovation and its effective application in economic activities were indispensable to sustainable and inclusive development.  An adequate system of incentives for the promotion and dissemination of new technologies was needed to make them widely available.  

Introduction of Reports

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the Secretary-General’s reports for this year’s Annual Ministerial Review and for the Thematic Discussion, said that in the past decade the world had seen the potential contribution that scientific and technological innovation and culture could make to development and to help people to realize their aspirations and goals.  Overcoming inequality, environmental degradation and extreme poverty would require innovations from science, technology and culture in the public and private sectors.  The Annual Ministerial Review report highlighted the need to ensure sustainable agriculture and food security, sustainable energy, access to fresh water and climate change adaptation, and outlined the potential of culture for pursuing sustainable development.  Particular importance should be attached to the role of culture in promoting poverty reduction, fostering gender equality, and protecting the environment.  The report offered recommendations to enable science, technology, innovation and culture to flourish. 

The Thematic Report of the Secretary-General was also before the Council and it emphasized the contributions that the Council could make to the post-2015 framework through six key roles.  The first was through the priorities identified by the Council.  The second key role was the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in the post-2015 development agenda.  The third was the potential of ECOSOC in monitoring implementation and providing accountability mechanisms.  The fourth was the mandate of the Council to promote coordination and coherence.  The fifth role was addressing global emergencies and humanitarian crises, and the sixth stressed that the Council’s critical role in engaging a wide range of development partners could be strengthened further. 

Introduction of the Report of the Committee for Development Policy

JOSE ANTONIO OCAMPO, Chairperson of the Committee for Development Policy, introducing the report of the Committee for Development Policy on its fifteenth session in a video address, said that science and technology were central for economic development and its centrality to sustainable development was reflected in the fact that technological choices had many implications, not only for economic progress.  The Committee’s report considered whether the current international trade and investment regimes provided developing countries with sufficient policy space to promote national science, technology and innovation capacities.  Measures that developed countries had used to support their own industrialization were no longer available.  There was a need for a global dialogue on the reform in the international property rights regime as the stringent protection of property rights could be a serious deterrent for the realization of global goals.  The Committee had also examined the vulnerabilities and development needs of small-island developing States and possible policy responses.  Without concrete global measures and support from the international community, these States could not properly confront the challenges faced.  The Committee had also progressed with its work on how the United Nations development agenda should proceed in the post-2015 era and highlighted that particular attention should be paid to rising domestic inequalities and the persistence of high levels of abject poverty; and it recommended that the United Nations should incorporate the reduction of inequality as a specific goal with measureable targets.

General Debate

PETER THOMSON, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations Office at New York and Chairman of the Group of 77, speaking on behalf of Group of 77 and China, said that science, technology, innovation and culture were essential drivers for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Remaining and emerging challenges, both at national and global levels, included climate change, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, loss of biodiversity, stagnated economic growth, and the increasing marginalization of the poor.  The Group of 77 and China urged the Secretary-General to take immediate action to establish a technology bank and a science, technology and innovation supporting mechanism dedicated to the least developed countries.  States needed to make culture intrinsic to economic, social and environmental policies, and developing countries needed assistance to promote their cultural industries, cultural tourism and culture-related micro-enterprises.  Traditional knowledge, in particular, should be seen as an enhancer of science and technology.    

ROLANDAS KRISCIUNAS, Vice Foreign Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said science, technology, innovation and culture were indeed essential enablers and drivers for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and in promoting all dimensions of sustainable development.  Innovative ideas must be turned into products and services that created growth and jobs and improved people’s lives in a sustainable fashion.  Building capacities on research and innovation was a very effective tool to achieve and capitalise on the Millennium Development Goals.  The European Union attached great importance to the contribution of culture to sustainable human, social and economic development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, as also emphasised in the resolution of November 2010 on culture and development.  The European Union provided support to the cultural and creative sectors in developing countries and assistance and vocational training for culture professionals.  

JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU, Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations Office in New York, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the least developed countries should bring out the value of local knowledge which those countries had.  Structural reforms on their own were not sufficient but should go hand in hand with other efforts, for example in order to combat youth unemployment and improve the quality of training.  Inability to invest domestically meant that the least developed countries remained largely dependent on external aid in order to set up excellence centres to encourage national companies to innovate and to produce new products.  Another challenge facing the least developed countries was that their technology was relatively obsolete.  Therefore, those countries should receive targeted help in order to attract the investment which they needed.  The young people in those countries should be given training opportunities, including online training. 

ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the financial and economic crisis and other global challenges continued to have huge negative economic and social impacts, particularly in developing countries.  There was a need for a strengthened multilateralism, which would contribute to a more transparent and democratic global governance.  The Community welcomed the main theme on which the Annual Ministerial Review was focused and reiterated the importance of creating mechanisms for the transfer of technology, new and additional resources and capacity building to developing countries, as well as the need to protect and promote the values of traditional knowledge and cultural diversity.  The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States reiterated concerns regarding the lack of attention the United Nations development system was giving to middle income countries.

SARATH AMUNUGAMA, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, Sri Lanka, speaking on behalf of the Group of 15, said that the Group of 15 believed that the rapidly accelerating pace of science, technology and innovation and the development, transfer and diffusion of technologies to developing countries had the potential to make a significant contribution to development.  The Group of 15 emphasized the need for developed countries to fulfill commitments in terms of cooperation, technology transfer, technical assistance and capacity building in science, technology and innovation.  Stronger and innovative intergovernmental, academic and commercial collaborative mechanisms at regional and global levels could give a boost to the ongoing efforts to integrate the science, technology, innovation and culture ethos into development processes.  The Group of 15 called for greater support to creative industries in developing countries.   

RASHID MEREDOV, Vice Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan, said that this was a particularly important moment as Turkmenistan had become a member of the Council for the first time.  Achieving real progress and growth and a fundamental improvement in living conditions was unthinkable without an agreed comprehensive approach, which should reflect the need to incorporate intellectual and technological resources in practical actions.  A new culture of international communication that recognised the unquestionable right of all countries and peoples to participate in the process of development was needed.  A reliable energy supply in world markets was important for sustainable development and Turkmenistan had proposed that the United Nations look at mechanisms to ensure the development of infrastructure for the transit of energy.  Innovation and technology were needed to develop energy production and transport infrastructures that were environmentally friendly.  

PASQUALE VALENTINI, Minister for Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, said that the objective of sustainable development must be pursued at all levels, and stressed that science, technology, innovation and culture all played an important role in sustainable development and economic growth.  The Millennium Development Goals should be the starting point or the reference framework for the post-2015 development agenda.  Global partnership should take account of all stakeholders who could foster the development of technologies and infrastructure necessary to meet development goals.  The Council should continue to promote dialogue and cooperation with the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organization.  The dialogue should lead to a careful consideration of today’s global economy and favour greater consistency in the objectives of the different international organizations dealing with economic, social and development issues.  Reform should take place by making the best possible use of existing resources and projects.   

MADHAV PRASAD GHIMIRE, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal, said that as poverty and associated problems were still very pervasive in the least developed countries, there was a need to draw lessons from efforts in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals into the post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals.  The promotion and consolidation of endogenous knowledge and technology locally, and the rapid transfer and diffusion of newer as well as existing technologies, could greatly help poor countries to overcome existing challenges.  The promotion of information and communication technologies played a vital role in empowering people and innovation was central to reducing vulnerabilities in countries like Nepal from natural disasters, climate change, and suitable migration and adaptation measures.  Nepal hoped that this session would come up with result-oriented outcomes in support of building its productive capacity and ultimately enabling it to graduate from the least developed country category.

ROLA DASHTI, Minister of Planning and Development of Kuwait, said that Kuwait believed that science, technology and innovation were extremely important because they could enhance, among other things, access to knowledge and education, productivity and economic growth.  The focus of this session of the Council was in line with the conclusions of the Rio+20 Conference on sustainable development.  The world had witnessed many changes in economic, social and cultural concepts, and there was now improved international trade and enhanced foreign investment.  However, remaining challenges included extreme poverty, malnutrition and hunger, which took the lives of millions of people around the world.  A balanced approach to equality and development was needed.  Developed countries should fulfill their commitments in that regard without imposing new obligations on developing countries.    

MARIA TEIVEIRA, Minister of Science and Technology of Angola, said the Government had approved instruments to guide scientific and technological activities; investments in the development of telecommunications had contributed to the increase of the mobile network coverage by 73 per cent and the installation of optical fibre.  Science, technology and innovation had a key role to play in addressing current concerns and challenges and promoting sustainable development.  In terms of bilateral cooperation on the scientific and technological fields, Angola and South Africa were participating in a joint initiative for financing scientific research projects, and Angola was part of a regional initiative to create a Southern African centre for science and climate change adaptation.  Angola supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to create a new United Nations partnership for facilitating the development of science, technology and innovation for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. 

JOSKO KLISOVIC, Deputy Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said that he wished to share with the Council the feelings of joy and pride of the Croatian people after Croatia yesterday became the twenty-eighth member of the European Union.  It was impossible to imagine any kind of progress without giving due regard to human creativity and innovation.  The multi-dimensional nature of innovation had an impact not only on the economy but also on all aspects of governance.  Determined to boost more innovation-driven growth, Croatia was focused on improving its governance and regulatory framework, ensuring strong scientific and technological capacity in the private and public sectors, and strengthening the innovation potential of the economy.  In the past 15 months, Croatia had taken several concrete steps aimed at aligning Croatian scientific, technological and innovation systems with the best practices of the most developed countries.  The South East European Centre for entrepreneurial learning was an example of Croatia’s recognized good practices with an international impact.     


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/005E


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