Secretary-General Stresses Vital Importance of Access to Information, Knowledge, Innovation, as Economic and Social Council Begins Integration Segment

Prime Minister Hails Estonia as Model of Development through Digital Technology

Access to information and knowledge, digital innovation and basic services would remain vital in forming a coherent and inclusive approach to eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Economic and Social Council as it began its 2016 integration segment today.

Delivering opening remarks, the Secretary-General called on countries to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals with interlinkages in mind, and with the aim of breaking down silos and avoiding "one-size-fits-all" solutions. Implementing the targets would require enormous amounts in financing, particularly in a time of continuing economic uncertainty.

The international community must strive to continually assess the challenges of integration, whether in the areas of policy and technological gaps, or in terms of programming and financing questions, he said. For its part, the United Nations would do its utmost to help Member States in planning, implementing and assessing progress as they made the transition to a sustainable development path. "Let us learn from each other's experiences and innovations," he added.

Prime Minister Taavi RAivas of Estonia, one of two keynote speakers, said his country was an example of how innovation, digital technology and public-private partnerships could deliver development. Estonia had been in transition just 16 years ago, but today, it was among the most digitally advanced countries. E-Government solutions saved time and money while lowering the barriers for participating in Government services. For example, people starting a company could so online in 20 minutes, with all reporting and tax declarations fully and only handled digitally, he said, noting that the time saved could then be invested in growing the business.

Estonia was the first and only country to offer online elections, giving people the practical possibility of participating, which, in turn, meant more democracy, he said. "You cannot bribe a computer," he added, noting that Estonia was also was among the least corrupt countries in the European Union. In 2001, it had granted digital signatures equal legality with original ones and they were now widely used, he said, adding that about 95 per cent of his own official signatures were digital. Going forward, giving people a secure digital identity would be a first step towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

He said more innovation should be based on sharing what worked in terms of policy design and delivery, an area in which multilateral institutions should support capacity-building or the transfer of technology, he said, emphasizing that Governments must start operating more like start-ups. Planning cycles must be faster or risk "not delivering enough", with policies based on feedback and changing conditions making them more agile. He called for unleashing the potential of innovation so that it could become a daily practice for all organizations in the work ahead.

Presenting a private sector perspective was the second keynote speaker, Abze Djigma, Founder and CEO of AbzeSolar, who said the informal sector was underestimated and under-recognized in local economic growth. Empowering it would be among the most effective ways to stimulate sustainable development. Limited knowledge and access to information remained the biggest obstacles, she said, emphasizing that the focus must be on education and translating information, policies and measures into respective national languages.

Vocational training would help match the needs of industries, improve the quality of entrepreneurship and secure inclusive green-growth business, she continued, adding that it was also critical to respect local values. "If you don't respect and understand what is driving locals, solutions will never work." Local businesses must have access to financing, and unsustainable interest rates ranging from 20 to 100 per cent for microfinance would kill local initiatives, she said, stressing that the international community would unlock solutions at the moment it was able to mobilize the power and value of the largest economic force in society - the millions of small and medium-sized companies.

In the ensuing panel discussion, participants discussed the BBC programme My Perfect Country, during which speakers highlighted how they were effecting change in their respective countries. A second panel discussion was held in afternoon on the topic "towards a paradigm shift in development". The Council then began its general discussion on "implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through policy innovation and integration".

Participating in this afternoon's general debate were representatives of Thailand (speaking for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Viet Nam (speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Iraq, Czech Republic, China, Lebanon, Mexico and South Africa, as well as the Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 3 May, to continue its integration segment.

Opening Remarks

SVEN JARGENSON, (Estonia), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that, in 2030, people would judge the organ by what it had achieved. "Implementation is the process that allows us to move from a promise made to a promise kept," he stressed.

In a year when the Economic and Social Council was driving momentum for those efforts, under the theme "Implementing the post-2015 development agenda: Moving from commitments to results", he said the Integration Segment must accomplish three goals. First, it had to offer a platform for all stakeholders to discuss opportunities and challenges around innovative, integrated policymaking; second, it must offer policy recommendations to guide implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and third, it had to underline the Council's role as a platform for dialogue on lessons learned.

In addition, he said that it had to make a real impact at the national level, noting that the coming three days would feature two related themes: policy innovation and policy integration. The discussion on the first theme would include guests featured on the BBC World Service radio show My Perfect Country, in which people shared their vision for how countries could get on the path towards sustainable development.

Translating the Agenda into national policies and strategies in an integrated, inclusive manner would not be easy, he said. Every country faced special challenges, requiring contextualized policy solutions. Policy integration offered a "rich tool-box" for creating links among the different goals and breaking down silos that had hindered progress.

Through policy integration, he said, countries could achieve balanced, and ideally, "win-win-win" outcomes across the three dimensions of sustainable development. In those efforts, the Council served as a unifying platform for the Agenda, convening the high-level political forum, among various others. The Council system was the main vehicle for promoting policy integration. Discussions over the next three days would be an important step forward in providing innovative policy solutions.

BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the world had recently set goals that formed the basis for a coherent and indivisible approach to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development. Countries now had to pursue those goals with interlinkages in mind, and with the aim of breaking down silos and avoiding one-size-fits-all solutions. It was time for implementation, he urged, emphasizing that financing requirements to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals would be "enormous". Mobilizing those resources would be a significant challenge, particularly at a time of continued economic uncertainty and financial constraints. The full realization of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda remained a matter of urgency.

Today's Integration Segment focused on the importance of implementation through policy innovation and integration, he said. It was a reminder that the world would have to be creative in linking the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social and environmental. The international community had to strive to continually assess challenges of integration - whether it be policy and institutional questions, capacity or technological gaps, or questions in programming and financing. To that end, the United Nations would do its utmost to support Member States in transitioning to a sustainable development path - in planning, implementing and assessing progress.

He called upon Member States to ensure that actions at every level were concerted and coherent. In doing so, the world would be working with all partners towards common country support objectives. The "delivering as one" approach was finding broader translation in the way "we work", and it was also crucial to reposition the United Nations system in the new development setting. Emphasizing the importance of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, he said that sustainable development could only be reached through national ownership and local initiative. "Let us learn from each other's experiences and innovations," he added.

Keynote Speakers

TAAVI RA�IVAS, Prime Minister of Estonia, said reaching the 2030 Agenda would leave the world a better place, with the environment preserved, economies stronger and human rights better protected. As 2016 was the first year to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, the first step must be to create ownership of the 2030 Agenda and each country and organization should consider what it could do to implement it. For its part, Estonia was mapping its existing strategies and plans against the Goals, aiming to identify inconsistencies and areas for improvement. It would be among the first countries to present its findings in the high-level political forum in July.

Indeed, planning must be comprehensive, he said, requiring an integrated policy framework that should consider all contributions and possible trade-offs. Innovation would be essential, as potentially the most important trigger for making the Agenda a reality. The challenges and objectives were complex and ambitious, and if "business-as-usual" had worked, the new Agenda would not be needed. Estonia was an example of how innovation, digital technology and public-private partnerships could deliver development, he said. Estonia was a country in transition just 16 years ago, but, today, was now among the most digitally advanced.

Indeed, he said, building an advanced digital Government and serving as the birthplace of Skype had given Estonia an active start-up scene. Digitation had made both the public and private sectors efficient. E-Government solutions had saved time and money and lowered the barriers for participating in Government services. For example, when people started a company, they did it online in 20 minutes, with all reporting and tax declarations fully and only handled digitally. The time saved could then be invested in growing a business.

Estonia also was the first and only country to offer online elections, he said, giving people the practical possibility to participate, which in turn, meant more democracy. In addition, "you cannot bribe a computer", he said, noting that Estonia also was among the least corrupt countries in the European Union. The journey of digital innovation had taught valuable lessons. The Government's role was to create the right environment for innovations to emerge and spread. In 2001, Estonia had made digital signatures equally legal to original ones and they were now widely used. About 95 per cent of his official signatures were digital.

Going forward, he said giving people a secure digital identity would be a first step towards achieving the Goals. Second, risk should be managed, not made an excuse for not doing enough. Trust was created by effectively and transparently managing risk and most - if not all - could be mitigated. Third, there should be more innovation based on sharing what worked in terms of policy design and delivery, an area where multilateral institutions should support capacity-building or technology transfer.

Finally, he said, Governments must start operating more like start-ups. Planning cycles had to be faster or risk "not delivering enough", with policies based on feedback and changing conditions to make them more agile. He urged unleashing the potential of innovation so it became a daily practice for all organizations in the work ahead.

ABZE DJIGMA, Founder and CEO of AbzeSolar, highlighted her work with "MAMA-LIGHT Initiative for Sustainable Energy", which was a worldwide programme that provided access to affordable energy for women, children and small business. The informal sector was underestimated and under-recognized in local economic growth, and empowering it would among the most effective ways to stimulate sustainable development and inclusive growth in developing countries and small island developing States. Based on the recommendations of the Addis Ababa Agenda and the Vienna Programme of Action, the Initiative had started an expertise hub as a means of implementing the 2030 Agenda. The objective was to turn challenges into opportunities, she said, adding that many challenges still remained.

Those included limited knowledge and access to information, she said, emphasizing the importance of education, translating information, policies and measures into respective languages. The focus must be on local vocational training as it would help match the needs of industries, improve the quality of entrepreneurship and secure inclusive green growth business. Respecting local values was critical, as well. "If you don't respect and understand what is driving locals, solutions will never work," she said. Stressing the importance of local business having access to financing, she added that interest rates from 20 up to 100 per cent for microfinance were not sustainable and would kill local initiatives.

In the area of access to international budgets, she made several recommendations including the need to accelerate the process of decentralization and strengthen local companies. It was also important to take advantage of the low price of oil and transfer at least 10 per cent of subsidies from fossil to solar energy and renewables. A proper balance between top-down measures and policies and bottom-up empowerment was critical. The international community would unlock solutions at the moment it was able to mobilize the power and value of the largest economic force in society: the millions of small and medium-sized companies.

Panel I

The Council then held a panel discussion on the BBC programme, My Perfect Country, moderated by Fi Glover, journalist with BBC World Service; and Henrietta Moore, Professor and Director, Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London. It featured presentations by Hannes Astok, Director for Development and Strategy, Member of the Management Board, and Head of the Local e-Government Domain of the e-Governance Academy of Estonia; Monica Araya, Founder and Executive Director of Nivela in Costa Rica; Gerald Abila, Founder and Director of Barefoot Law in Uganda; and K.C. Mishra, Co-founder of the Svadha Sanitation Social Business in India.

Ms. GLOVER and Ms. MOORE, opening the discussion, said the programme looked at public policies around the world to understand whether they worked in reality. Today's discussion was being recorded and they welcomed contributions. Ms. MOORE said purely economic indicators were not true indicators of prosperity, which required thinking about ways to genuinely sustain societies. She looked for policies and innovations that questioned old models, changed minds, found new paths to the future and accelerated learning and knowledge-sharing.

Mr. ABILA said that, as a law student, he had realized that people faced problems accessing justice and the law, primarily due to cost and a lack of knowledge of the process. Barefoot Law provided access, realizing that by fusing technologies with legal aid dispensation, it was possible to achieve universal access. It handled around 50 to 100 questions daily and hoped to expand its reach to 5 million citizens. The team had 14 full-time staff and volunteers, relying on 20 to 25 external counsels who volunteered their time and 60 to 70 legal aid organizations that referred cases. "At the beginning, no one believed there was room for innovation in the law," he said, recounting the story of Winnie, a 26-year-old widow, whose home had been taken and divided among her husband's relatives. Winnie, like millions of Ugandans, had no idea there was a procedure for safe legal redress. A legal counsellor had contacted his office on her behalf, and a year later, she had custody of her children and property and had started a small business. "If you want to create change, there is no way to avoid working with the Government," he said, noting that the Ugandan Government was open to innovation.

Mr. ASTOK said that 30 per cent of Estonia's citizens voted online in the last elections. The entire country was covered in 4G networks. One could register a business online and did not need to "run around the country" with paperwork. Prescriptions could be filled and refilled online, as well. Estonia's e-government accomplishments were possible through the joint effort of academia, Government and the private sector. That expanded into the global level, as well, he said, highlighting how he had just signed some documents in Estonia from New York using his country's e-government services. In the early 1990s, Estonia started Internet connectivity in its schools and now those same children who had access to technology were driving society. There must be a clear will from the very top of Government to drive the change to online governance. Technology was available in every country, where very talented technological companies existed, but there wasn't Government backing in all countries. Digital workflows eliminated corruption, he added. On digital privacy, he pointed out it was much easier to access paper files rather than a digital file. Building up a secure digital data system was critical, as was the need to protect the integrity of data. Efficient e-tax services, e-banking and e-health services were all available in Estonia. His country was also working with States to share its knowledge and experience with e-government. Technical architecture must be open to other sectors, including the private sector and academia, but also political will, which was of utmost importance to implementing services.

Ms. ARAYA said "we're not going to get very far telling people technocratic stories". That Costa Rica did not have an army and had protected its forests since the 1970s was part of the national narrative. Governments were not going to win hearts and minds telling people that they had agreed to a set of Goals. There must be far stronger translation into "citizen language". A key task was to identify translators. Growing up, she had regularly heard that, because Costa Rica did not have an army, it had invested in education, social services and forests. This year, it would be important to work with parliaments, where issues were tackled, because global messages thus far had been delivered through Heads of State. For 255 days, Costa Rica had not used fossil fuel, allowing it to then question its use of oil, which created climate change. The vision for citizens was one similar to that put forward in 1949, when the country abolished its army. "This is the time we get rid of fossil fuels," she said, because her country's energy was already clean. There were 400,000 orders for Teslas. Electric busses were widely used, including in China. Norway, an oil-based economy, was moving towards the widespread use of electric buses. Costa Rica had an oil moratorium, making it impossible to explore for and exploit that resource, a decision that had lasted five administrations. Governments had to be more sophisticated in building such cases from numbers and managing transitions, including by offering credit lines for people to transition to more efficient transport systems.

Mr. MISHRA said his organization Svadha believed in a business approach and encouraged micro-entrepreneurship in the area of providing toilets and other sanitation tools to communities in India. It was critical to collaborate with different sectors of society to address sustainability and lack of resources. There was enormous space and demand in India to create businesses that not only addressed the problem of sanitation, but also the challenges of implementation. Engaging with those in communities must be "completely revised". Citizens must be heard. Any problem of society was usually addressed by at least 10 to 12 organizations which unfortunately did not lead to the convergence of resources. In the age of connectivity, services must be integrated. In the development space, "we are not transparent", he pointed out, urging that any problem in society was a problem of the entire ecosystem and not just a problem of one Government or country. Svadha brought together different collaborators across the globe to help address sanitation. In India, there was an opportunity to reach millions of people at the local level. The challenge was not just to build the toilet, but also to motivate people to use it. "Being poor does not mean that I do not have any choice in life," he said, highlighting that many people were engaged in the process of actually installing the toilet and encouraging others in the community to use them. Every person got to choose the type they wanted - the style, the colour - and that encouraged a sense of ownership. Even after installation, the challenge continued. Those who had access to a toilet, often times did not maintain and clean it. Therefore, it was extremely important to encourage a sense of ownership.

Mr. ABILA, taking questions from delegates, said that 95 per cent of lawyers in Uganda, a country of 35 million, resided in Kampala, a city of 1.5 to 2 million. That limited access to justice. To take the law to communities, Barefoot Law had launched a "women and property rights" initiative, providing legal help by fusing traditional methods, such as seminars with hybrid means, including short message service. Simple steps, such as translating the Constitution into brail or offering language interpretation for the deaf, could go a long way to bring the law to communities.

He said that many ideas started at the grass-roots level. In Uganda, that required an intervention from the Government, sometimes through a policy or another form of support, to reach the population. To a question on funding, he said his team could only work pro bono for so long. The goal in the coming years was to build partnerships.

Mr. MISHRA said that he strongly believed in market solutions, tapping markets to offer products and services to communities.

Mr. ASTOK said Estonia was working with Namibia to update its pension system in order to verify whether people were alive. If the Government could do so through a digital database, it could save money. It was not a philanthropic approach, but rather a business approach. Visiting more Government offices was a useless approach.

Ms. ARAYA said that, to determine what citizens wanted, her organization held the first "citizen consultation" on climate change. It used Danish methodology to give credibility to the results. It also held one on clean energy and would run one on public transportation. More broadly, she said one organization had ranked the country's 81 counties in terms of quality of life and found that the top 10 counties were not the wealthiest ones, which created a friendly competition among mayors. It was important to create data sets that showed decision makers that they were being observed.

Panel II

Moderating the panel discussion titled "towards a paradigm shift in development" was Michael Shank, Head of Communications for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Center for Global Affairs, New York University School of Professional Studies. It featured presentations by Ruben Ignacio Zamora Riva, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations; David Nabarro, Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Uwe Deichmann, Chief Economist and Co-Director, World Development Report 2016, World Bank; Minh-Thu Pham, Executive Director for Policy, United Nations Foundation; and Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and Chief Executive Officer of Women's World Banking, United States.

Mr. SHANK opening the panel, pressed delegates to understand how they were shifting paradigms to allow civil society to participate in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In such efforts, the guiding questions were about breaking silos, he said, asking how comfortable Governments were with shattering silos and shifting them around integrated decision-making and technological change, while questioning what the effects of all such efforts on decision-making would be.

Mr. ZAMORA called attention to four things that had changed in recent years, stressing first that "factionalism" had been overcome, with specialists from several fields discussing ideas and developing solutions. There had also been a change in the methods used to achieve those objectives. The usual method had been to form a group of experts with co-chairs from developed and developing countries to formulate a document that was then adopted by the General Assembly. The Goals marked the first time that the United Nations had "started at the bottom" to consider people first, he noted. Governments had called on society to define overall policies, and declaratory concepts - great speeches, for example - were giving way to documents that were more connected to people's lives.

Mr. NABARRO said the 2030 Agenda represented a political manifesto for the future of people and planet, offering directions on policies that would lead to equitable prosperity, peace and partnerships. Describing 10 ways in which he saw innovation taking place, he said the first was interconnected thinking. Others included connecting, notably through mobile technology use; transforming people into experts in working across sectors; coordination, so that people invested in achieving synergy among stakeholders; organizing, so that people worked in multistakeholder arrangements; accounting, so that people were enabled to invite representatives to account for what was being done; reporting, so that progress was disaggregated by gender and social groups; financing, to ensure that resources were attached to the various parts of the 2030 Agenda; governing, so that societies moved from control to empowering governance that healed social wounds; and changing how people viewed themselves, to ensure they understood that their roles were to renew, refine and restore.

Ms. PHAM said it was important to break the silos as it was no longer possible to separate climate and sustainable development. A shift was also needed in the universal approach to eradicating poverty. Civil society, the private sector and Governments must come together and collaborate on how to solve many challenges in a major paradigm shift. "Leave no one behind" tackled questions of inequality, and "making it happen" was now the challenge of implementing the paradigm shift. The focus must be on ownership, and the United Nations must be able to understand what did and did not work. The bottom-up approach was critical to implementation, she said, emphasizing the need for Member States to understand how to translate the conceptual into the practical. Governments were also struggling to understand where to start, since 169 targets and 17 Goals could seem overwhelming. Engaging all actors must be a top priority, she said, noting that the divide was evident in the area of citizen engagement. There were also gaps in reaching the poorest and most disenfranchised populations. Multistakeholder partnerships would help draw the best out of all sectors. There was a huge gap in understanding what actually worked, she said, stressing the need for quality research and analytical work.

Mr. DEICHMANN discussed the latest World Bank report on the impact of digital technology that analysed ways to do things differently in terms of achieving development objectives. In order to communicate to large audiences, a story must be compelling, and that was what the report had done. It had looked at how the Internet benefitted societies through the lens of three questions, including whether technology provided faster growth, more jobs and greater efficiency. Technology brought three benefits: inclusion, expediency and innovation. However, there was much evidence that those benefits had not reached as many people as they should have. Productivity had risen, but not to the level expected. Technologies had hollowed out labour markets and may be contributing to rising inequality. There were also fewer free elections and the Facebook revolutions had faltered. Technology could only solve some parts of the problem but not all of them, he said.

Ms. ISKENDERIAN said her organization had been focused on empowering women by providing financial services, describing financial inclusiveness as a cross-cutting issue that spoke to much broader-based innovation. Some 700 million more people had gained access to a more formal financial account than in the three preceding years, but the difference between a man's access to finance and that of a woman had not budged at all. That was driven by a number of structural gaps and would only break down with the innovative participation of the private sector and civil society. Women were less likely to be employed, own land, own a business or have access to loans, she said, adding that women were just harder to reach. Domestic responsibilities and cultural restrictions precluded them from travelling, and more than 1.7 billion women did not even own a mobile phone. Women shared phones, but were less likely to use a mobile device for banking. They were less likely to have a bank account and did not feel welcome in banks. "They are convinced that banks are not for them," she said. Tying the challenge of the Sustainable Development Goals to the "life that people are living" was critical, she said, noting that a soap opera depicting a finance-savvy woman in the Dominican Republic had led to a significant increase in the number of women opening bank accounts in that country.

Mr. DEICHMANN, responding to questions and comments raised by delegates, said it was important to focus on local, context-specific initiatives that might not have external validity, noting that those two aspects could be balanced. The World Bank had collected poverty data for years, with no comparable data collected by other institutions. It was now entering a new phase, with discussions about multidimensional poverty covering more welfare-based indicators, such as well-being.

Ms. PHAM called for attention to the reasons why data were collected, saying the context-specific focus was where the emphasis should be, if it was to drive progress.

Mr. ZAMORA said the way in which progress was measured was changing.

The representative of World Vision, responding to the Moderator's question on how to break funding silos, suggested that corporations with access to capital markets include two pages on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in their public documents.

Mr. ZAMORA said the United Nations was similar to a feudal society, with a lord fighting for his prerogative, which spoke to a more general problem that priests faced when making speeches about how to behave, but not applying those lessons to themselves. "We're telling the world it needs a paradigm shift, but internally we are very reluctant to change," he said. "We need to practise what we are preaching to the world."

Ms. PHAM focused on the importance of financing impacts and outcomes, rather than specific institutions.


NONTAWAT CHANDRTRI (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, agreed that policy integration should aim to deliver mutually reinforcing outcomes in the economic, environmental and social spheres, and could not be perceived as "business as usual". Implementation at the national level would face the test of striking a balance of interests among public and private actors. Silos in traditional policymaking must be broken down in order to create supportive institutional frameworks. The United Nations should help developing countries overcome such challenges, with capacity-building programmes that followed a sustained, demand-driven pattern, notably for technology transfer and guidance. Implementation of the Goals should take into account the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, with efforts also being made to improve global economic governance and support equal participation by developing countries. He urged an improved enabling environment for information and communications technologies, as well as more coordinated efforts between the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly in order to avoid duplication of efforts.

DANG HUY DONG, Vice-Minister for Planning and Investment of Viet Nam, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of both horizontal and vertical integration, which were critical in enhancing institutional capacity through improved work processes and coordination. Experience had shown that policy integration at the regional level involved effective goal-setting, policy design, implementation and review based on a shared vision. A number of cross-border education initiatives formulated with the goal of promoting equitable and inclusive development, were implemented with strong coordination among sectors and stakeholders, he said, touching on several regional plans aimed at strengthening partnerships and cooperation. Challenges and significant gaps in regional policy integration remained, mostly due to different national circumstances, including fragmentation, working in silos and a lack of innovation capacity, experience and resources. Such obstacles could also be found on the national level. "We are working individually and together to address these challenges," he said, noting that valuable ideas and experience would be extremely beneficial as everyone moved forward.

MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals had sent a clear message that the 2030 Agenda was for all, and that the 17 objectives could not be realized without the participation of everyone. The main objective was to draw up a programme that benefitted all people, as well as the planet, in order to give everyone a chance at prosperity. Resources that could be used to eradicate poverty could also have an impact on other objectives, such as the eradication of hunger. There were also other linkages in the area of clean energy, the environment, education and closing the inequality gap, he said, emphasizing that resources must be optimized and not wasted.

Ms. BAJGAROVA (Czech Republic) said the key to success lay in changing mindsets, since the Goals could not be seen exclusively through the prism of development cooperation or climate change. "New players will have to join the club of sustainable development," she said, emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda and reflecting the Goals "in all we do", as much as possible within existing structures. That was more relevant than creating new institutions. It was also important to maintain coherence among policies, which could prove challenging at the national and international levels. Nonetheless, long-term prosperity should outweigh short-term benefits, she said.

HUA YE (China), associating herself with the Group of 77, said the 2030 Agenda had set out a new blueprint for development cooperation. Countries had full sovereignty over their development and implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with funding in accordance with their own conditions. She urged a focus on eradicating poverty, with economic, social and environmental development guided by the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. It was also to optimize partnerships, and while North-North cooperation remained the main form, South-South and triangular cooperation should be strengthened. Since development should be incorporated into macroeconomic governance, China called for leveraging the role of the United Nations in that regard, she said, emphasizing that the high-level political forum should be fully involved in follow-up processes. China had released its position paper and had started incorporating the 2030 Agenda into its thirteenth five-year plan, she said, adding that it had also established an intersectoral coordination mechanism involving 43 institutions, and identified a proposal for eradicating poverty.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) described his country's efforts to align the national sustainable development plan with the 2030 Agenda, saying the draft plan covered public services, such as electricity, water, renewable energy and transport, as well as the major economic sectors of industry, agriculture and finance, among others. The plan would include draft laws and decrees that should be passed by the Cabinet and Parliament in order to put required reforms into effect. Once complete, it would be presented to public sector stakeholders for comment, and then to a national forum in which the private sector and civil society would be associated. The draft plan envisaged a financing structure involving public-private partnerships, privatization, domestic and international private investment, concessional financing and domestic public spending, he said, adding that the United Nations development system would be crucial in building national capacities and facilitating technology transfer.JUDITH MARCIA ARRIETA MUNGUIA (Mexico) said the theme on innovation and integration was relevant to the modern world and especially the 2030 Agenda. It was important to ensure that United Nations country and regional offices were coordinated in implementing the set Goals and targets while avoiding duplication. To that end, the Economic and Social Council could facilitate triangular cooperation where resources were used in an appropriate way to finance attainment of targets and objectives, she said.

AHMED FATHALLA, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said that eradicating poverty by 2030 required the mobilization of all resources at the international, regional and national levels to ensure "we leave no one behind". The Arab world faced great challenges, especially those under Israel's colonialization. Other challenges in the Arab world included conflicts in neighbouring countries and terrorism which continued to threaten sustainable development. Emphasizing the need to facilitate the transfer of technology, he said States must be helped to strengthen production capacity.

SIMON PONI MAROBE (South Africa), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said his country's national development plan was aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the African Union Agenda 2063. South Africa had adjusted its plans to focus more on outcomes and less on activities, and had revised development targets in order to improve national reporting. Emphasizing the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, he noted that "starting points were different". The Addis Ababa Action Agenda stressed the potential of science, technology and innovation to achieve the Goals, and developing countries needed data to ensure that no one was left behind, which was where a stronger science link was especially important. Multistakeholder partnerships were essential to achieving results that were in line with national and regional needs, he said, urging the United Nations to help identify policy actions that would accelerate implementation, while avoiding duplication of efforts.

SOURCE: United Nations