UN member states “are going beyond rhetoric and earnestly working to achieve real progress” towards the Sustainable Goals, the members of the Group of 77 and China said in a ministerial statement delivered at the UN on 18 July.
The statement was delivered by Ambassador Virachai Plasai, Chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China during the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York from 18 to 20 July.
During the forum, the 134 members of the G77 and China reaffirmed the importance of not only achieving the Sustainable Development Goals but also the driving principle of leaving no one behind.
“We must identify the “how” in reaching out to those furthest behind,” said Plasai who is also Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the UN.
“To make this real, we cannot simply reaffirm all the principles recognised in the (2030) Agenda, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, but must earnestly implement them in all our endeavours,” Plasai added.
The UN’s 193 member states unanimously adopted the 2030 Development Agenda, including the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, in September 2015. The goals reflect the importance of the three aspects of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental, and countries will work towards achieving them by the year 2030.
However more still needs to be done to ensure that developing countries have access to the resources they need to meet the goals, said Plasai.
“We reiterate that enhancing support to developing countries is fundamental, including through provision of development financial resources, transfer of technology, enhanced international support and targeted capacity-building, and promoting a rules-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system,” he said.
“We urge the international community and relevant stakeholders to make real progress in these issues, including through the G20 Summit in China which will focus on developing action plans to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.”
At a separate meeting during the High Level Political Forum the G77 and China noted some of the specific gaps that remain in financing for development.
During that meeting the G77 and China expressed concern that rich countries are failing to meet their commitments to deliver Official Development Assistance (ODA) – the official term for aid – to developing countries.
“We note with concern that efforts and genuine will to address these issues are still lagging behind as reflected in this year’s outcome document of the Financing for Development forum which failed to address (gaps in ODA),” said Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Thailand to the UN, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
Speaking during the forum on July 19, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored the importance of the High Level Political Forum, “as the global central platform for follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Ban presented the results of the first Sustainable Development Goals report released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs on July 20. The report used “data currently available to highlight the most significant gaps and challenges” in achieving the 2030 Agenda, said Ban.
“The latest data show that about one person in eight still lives in extreme poverty,” he said.
“Nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger.”
“The births of nearly a quarter of children under 5 have not been recorded.”
“1.1 billion people are living without electricity, and water scarcity affects more than 2 billion.”
Leaving No One Behind
Ban also noted that the importance of collecting data about the groups within countries that are more likely to be “left behind”, such as peoples with disabilities or indigenous peoples.
Collecting separate data about how these groups fare is considered one way for governments to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 10 which aims to decrease inequality within countries.
However SDG 10 also aims to address inequalities between countries, an important objective for the G77. As the main organisation bringing together developing countries at the UN the G77 wants to make sure that countries in special circumstances are not left behind.
Countries in special circumstances include “in particular African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, as well as countries in conflict and post-conflict situations,” said Chartsuwan.
However while the world’s poorest and most fragile countries have specific challenges, many middle income countries also have challenges too, the G77 statement noted.
Climate Change Agreement Needs Implementation
Developing countries, and particularly countries with special circumstances, are among those that are most adversely affected by climate change, and therefore wish to see speedy adoption and implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement alongside the 2030 Agenda.
Ban told the forum that he will host a special event during the UN General Assembly at 8am on September 21 for countries to deposit their instruments of ratification.
“We have 178 countries who have signed this Paris Agreement, and 19 countries have deposited their instrument of ratification.”
“As you are well aware, we need the 55 countries to ratify, and 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions accounted.”
“These 19 countries all accounted is less than 1 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”
“So we need to do much more,” he said.