States Identify Priorities for Second Committee, QCPR Review

10 October 2012: The UN General Assembly's Second Committee conducted its General Debate from 8-10 October 2012, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Member States stressed the centrality of poverty eradication, the ongoing effects of the global economic crisis, and various processes around sustainable development. Most speakers reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the 2015 target date.

While some urged the extension of the MDGs' priorities into the future, and an unwavering focus on them while developing the post-2015 agenda, many called for integrating sustainable development targets into a post-2015 framework. Another common theme was the importance of the upcoming UN Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR). Some expressed the hope that it would allow for greater ownership of global economic governance by developing countries.

The Group of 77 and China (G77/China) highlighted poverty eradication as the world's most important challenge, and expressed concern over a lack of commitment to development assistance. He said the post-2015 development framework must be intergovernmental, and that discussions should begin by evaluating the successes and failures of the MDGs. The UNGA's follow-up to the outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) must have balanced representation of developing countries, and ensure adequate means of implementation to developing countries, he noted.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) noted the unique concerns of middle-income countries (MICs) that have been overlooked, and said the region places a high priority on new mechanisms for analyzing development alongside gross domestic product (GDP) and on the preparations for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2014. He also called for keeping to the deadlines set in the Rio+20 outcome document, and highlighted the Quito Declaration as a significant step to advance sustainable development in the region.

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) focused on the need to urgently implement commitments made at Rio+20, including the strengthening of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the organization of a new High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, and the creation of new financing strategies and facilitation mechanisms. CELAC also stressed care and respect for the "rights of nature" in the promotion of sustainable development.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) identified three urgent matters following Rio+20: ensuring that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which should be build upon the achievements of MDGs - are integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, and the need for poverty eradication to remain at the center; the finance mobilization strategy to ensure developing countries reap benefits; and establishment of the High-level Political Forum.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) focused on the 2014 SIDS Conference in Samoa, which will stress that the vulnerability, small size, and narrow resource base of these countries make them a "special case for sustainable development." AOSIS also seeks to designate 2014 as the International Year of SIDS to further the UNGA's commitment and action to these States. The Arab Group focused on creating one "inclusive, fair, sustainable" post-2015 development agenda, and avoiding “separate tracks.” The EU reasserted its "commitment to multilateralism,” and, stressing the success of the MDGs and domestic resources for development, called for an integrated approach in the post-2015 development agenda.

The African Group highlighted the QCPR and urged States to “remain faithful and respectful” to existing principles of developing cooperation, which it said developed countries are seeking to alter. Also speaking on the QCPR, the Least Developed Countries (LDC) called for a separate discussion on options for effective sustainable development financing. He also said the Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs should reserve a quota for LDCs, and that the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) must be given a decisive mandate to secure coherence and equity in the treatment of financing and related issues.

Closing the general debate, Second Committee Chair George W. Talbot of Guyana reflected on the discussion's common themes. He notes: the urgency of establishing the OWG and other areas for implementation of Rio+20 outcomes; the need to “not forget the present as we are defining for the future” with regard to the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda; the special needs of LDC, MICs, and SIDS; the importance of the QPCR discussion; and migration issues. He said the current moment is the “cusp of convergence” of the poverty and sustainability agendas, and that the two issues must be addressed together from now on as, they are increasingly interlinked. Finally, Talbot stressed the need for delegates to break down barriers to communication in the coming weeks, and to “look for common solutions sooner rather than later.” [Webcast of Meeting] [IISD RS Sources]