Second Committee Discusses Development in General Debate

UNGA11 October 2013: The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) conducted its General Debate for the 68th Session, held from 9-11 October 2013, in New York, US. Speakers addressed development issues of concern to their countries including in the context of attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and agreeing on the post-2015 development agenda. They also addressed issues of financing for development, poverty eradication, countries in special situations, and technology transfer, while outlining important issues for a sustainable development agenda. 

Several statements placed strong emphasis on partnerships as a key issue in development efforts, some citing the UN Secretary-General's call for inclusive and multi-stakeholder partnerships in his annual report. Member States called to: build on MDG 8; ensure that global partnership for development continues as a centerpiece of cooperation for developing countries to achieve development goals; and look beyond traditional forms of development assistance and expand partnerships with the private sector and through South-South cooperation. Other countries emphasized the continuing decline in official development assistance (ODA), and the Group of 77 and China called on countries to fulfill their commitments.

Several countries stressed the centrality of the right to development and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). Some referred to the need for sustainable development to confront poverty, with India noting that “livelihood concerns of the developing world cannot be compromised for lifestyle interests of others.” Such statements also stressed technology transfer and means of implementation as crucial to the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

One representative framed sustainable development as having poverty eradication as its overarching goal. "People-centered" or "people-focused" policies were urged repeatedly. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) said the post-2015 agenda should eliminate gaps at the international and regional level and within societies. The African Group emphasized food security and poverty as key issues that require technical assistance for the agricultural sector.

On the nature of the post-2015 development agenda, speakers called for it to be "universal," "a single framework and unified set of goals," to balance universality with differentiation, "clear and measurable set of global goals with commitment by all states to implement on national level," and an "agenda with universal objectives and goals that take into account national realities." Member States looked to UN bodies to implement the agenda and sustainable development, with the EU calling on a reformed Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to coordinate efforts within the UN system.

Other issues highlighted for inclusion or mainstreaming in the post-2015 development agenda included: sustainable development of mountainous regions; water resources under threat due to climate change; renewable and sustainable energy; migration; disaster risk reduction; transformation from relief to development; concerns of countries in special situations, including Middle Income Countries (MICs); information and communications technology (ICT) for development; reform of the international financial system; and universal health coverage/care.

Some called for economic policy to be more closely linked with social issues, and said the development agenda must give preference to human development, maintaining social inclusion as a key goal. A keynote address by Harvard economist Raj Chetty demonstrated the importance of big data for policy and financial decisions. Cuba called for the Committee to focus more on macroeconomic issues, and several countries called for renewed efforts in the Doha Development Round of trade negotiations.

Others said achieving development goals is impossible without fulfilling the rights of women and girls, noting the particular importance of sexual and reproductive rights. The US said the Committee's issues require a specific focus on the empowerment of women, youth, and people with disabilities. A few countries expressed concern for future generations and called to preserve their opportunities.

Several speakers highlighted the upcoming Third International Conference on SIDS, convening in Samoa in 2014. Samoa said there will be no sustainable development without addressing climate change, while Nauru urged the creation of a new financing strategy for SIDS.

The Second Committee will take action on a number of draft proposals, addressing agenda items on sustainable development during the week of 4 November. [Second Committee Website] [Meeting Summary, 9 October] [Meeting Summary, 10 October] [Meeting Summary, 11 October] [IISD RS Story on Second Committee Organizational Matters] [IISD RS Sources]