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UNGA 68 High-level Debate Continues Discussion of Post-2015 Agenda

United Nations26 September 2013: Leaders continued to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post-2015 development agenda priorities during the third day of the 68th UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Debate. Speakers again emphasized the relationship between peace and development, and proposed focusing on, inter alia, inequalities and climate change.

Leaders reported on and recognized MDG achievements alongside gaps and uneven progress among countries, regions and groups. John Mahama, President of Ghana, described using the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF). Manuel Nhamadjo, Interim President of Guinea-Bissau, said achieving the MDGs within the established timeframe is beyond their means, while James Wani Igga, Vice President of South Sudan, stated his country had the worst human development indicators (HDIs) in the world. Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, and Nassirou Bako Arifari, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Benin, called for integrating and prioritizing unachieved goals in the post-2015 agenda.

Mugabe identified implementation as the weakest link in the MDGs and called on the UN to track fulfillment of commitments. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of Namibia, underlined that sustainable development requires adequate, predictable financing at local and international levels. José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, called for international commitments on financing and mobilization of domestic resources.

On the post-2015 architecture, many supported a coherent process leading to a single, universal agenda focused on poverty eradication and sustainable development. Nicos Anastasiades, President of Cyprus, supported target-oriented goals. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, said goals should be inclusive, outcome-oriented and time-bound. Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cuba, on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), stressed that the agenda should include quantifiable, voluntary goals adaptable to national realities. Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sierra Leone, urged the agenda to recognize specific needs, while Pohamba called for considering middle-income country concerns, such as access to concessional funding and grants for development. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania, stressed the agenda should be based on free choice, and that development should be promoted, not imposed, emphasizing each country's right to choose a path that suits its experience, culture and needs.

Donald Ramotar, President of Guyana, and Ivo Josipović, President of Croatia, among others, emphasized peace and development. Muscat said peace “in our time” should be the overriding goal of the post-2015 agenda. Parrilla highlighted that peace requires combatting development challenges such as poverty, hunger and inequality. Kamara said the agenda should focus on the causes and consequences of conflict, disasters and violence, noting that preventing conflict, creating jobs, ensuring gender equality and promoting human rights and the rule of law are integral to sustainable development.

Otto Pérez Molina, President of Guatemala, prioritized reducing violence against women and children and universal access to justice. Pohamba stated that the agenda should embrace human rights, the rule of law, and peace and security. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, supported women's participation and protection in peace and security.

Many supported tackling inequalities. Kuribreña stressed the agenda should go beyond reducing inequality to achieving inclusion, including of persons with disabilities, migrants and indigenous peoples, and called for considering every dimension of poverty, including education, finances, health, housing and nutrition. Mahama recommended empowering girls and women.

Numerous speakers called for climate change action, with several highlighting threats to small island developing States (SIDS). Baron Waqa, President of Nauru, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), outlined priorities for the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 19), including jumpstarting near-term mitigation through energy efficiency and renewable energy. Christopher Loeak, President of the Marshall Islands, described Pacific efforts to cut emissions and transition to renewable energy, stressing to the world's largest emitters “if we can do it, so can you.” John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, said the world needs a single legal framework that commits all major emitters. Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, Prime Minister of Lesotho, highlighted the relationship between climate change and ecosystem destruction, land degradation and declines in agricultural productivity.

Josipović identified knowledge and the science-policy interface as key in a transformational shift towards sustainable development. Mongolia described its “Asian Super Network for Green Development” that will produce renewable energy. Japan called for the agenda to support universal health coverage, as well as for additional efforts on maternal, newborn and child health, noting MDG attainment had been slow in these areas. Arifari said the Istanbul Programme of Action should be an integral part of the agenda to ensure the transition of least developed countries (LDCs) out of poverty.

Leaders also supported addressing, inter alia: education access and quality, including through the UN Secretary-General's Education First Initiative; food security and nutrition; oceans; and sustainable mountain development. [Debate Statements]