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UNGA Debate Addresses Post-2015 Priorities

United Nations25 September 2013: On the second day of the 68th UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Debate, leaders highlighted post-2015 agenda priorities, including recognizing the relationship between peace and development, tackling inequalities, ensuring human rights, and addressing climate change and water and sanitation.

On the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), speakers reflected on, inter alia: new challenges that have emerged since their formulation; mixed and uneven progress; and lessons learned that could inform the post-2015 agenda.

Several speakers highlighted the special circumstances of country groups and regions, noting challenges and vulnerabilities that hinder MDG achievement and should be considered in the post-2015 agenda. Taur Ruak, President of Timor-Leste, said fragile and conflict-affected states are not likely to achieve the MDGs. Sheikh Jaber Al Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, and Ali Zeidan, Prime Minister of Libya, called for special attention to countries recovering from conflicts.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), illustrated the special case of small island developing States (SIDS), noting they made significantly less development progress and, in some cases, experienced a reversal of gains. She urged consideration of Small Highly Indebted Middle Income Countries (SHIMICs). Winston Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Josaia Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji, Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, and Tommy Remengesau, President of Palau, also highlighted SIDS' special circumstances.

On the post-2015 agenda, many supported a single, universal agenda, including Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of the Democractic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ollanta Tasso, President of Peru, and Mariano Rajoy, President of Spain. Toomas Ilves, President of Estonia, said targets should be applicable and achievable in every country and leave no one behind. Ricardo Berrocal, President of Panama, supported a strong poverty focus with sustainable development at the core. Spencer said the agenda should be inclusive, pragmatic and recognize global interdependence.

Others observed different national circumstances. Bronislaw Komorowski, President of Poland, said there is no single formula or path for everyone. Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbia, recommended global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that also consider different capacities, levels of development, priorities and policies.

Remengesau called on countries to reinvigorate efforts to address sustainable development and, with Persad-Bissessar, urged avoiding a “business as usual scenario.” Enrico Letta, Prime Minister of Italy, called for an evolution in thinking. Bainimarama said the agenda should ensure transformations on institutional, normative and structural levels. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, on behalf of the African Union (AU), said structural transformation and industrialization are critical for Africa.

Numerous speakers identified climate change as a priority and supported UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's announcement on convening a High Level Summit on Climate Change. Emanuel Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) said the next climate change treaty must adopt legally-binding commitments reflecting a far higher ambition level. Tong reiterated his call for urgent action, saying the world is disastrously off course. Remengesau outlined several actions he said are critical to avoid a doomsday scenario, including strong mitigation commitments. Spencer expressed disappointment with the lack of tangible action to protect SIDS at the UNFCCC negotiations.

Many supported tackling inequalities and ensuring human rights. Tasso called for attention to women's empowerment and protecting vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples and migrants. Ilves emphasized persons with disabilities.

Many called for inclusion of youth. Desalegn said educating youth and upgrading their skills are African priorities. Macky Sall, President of Senegal, and King Mswati III, Swaziland, supported youth training. Letta recommended addressing unemployment, particularly among youth. Pierre Mbonjo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cameroon, supported creating decent jobs.

Many described peace and security as important for achieving sustainable development, including Alassane Ouattara, President of Cote d'Ivoire, Tong, Tasso, Nikolić and Ruak.

Several supported addressing water and sanitation. Rajoy described the human right to water and sanitation as essential for sustainable development, fighting poverty and preserving peace and security. Oqil Oqilov, Prime Minister of Tajikistan, outlined its global water vision, saying it could serve as a road map for water-related SDGs.

Several supported focusing on food security and nutrition, including Mswati and Ruak. Letta noted its relevance for energy efficiency and sustainable consumption and production (SCP).

Persad-Bissessar said consensus is emerging on addressing the relationship between water, energy and food. Sall, Nikolić and Oqilov discussed the importance of access to sustainable energy.

Leaders also highlighted: recognizing ocean initiatives; developing measures that go beyond gross domestic product (GDP); improving data collection; enhancing partnerships; supporting the green economy; using information communications technology (ICT); addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs); and supporting the Third International Conference on SIDS in 2014. [Debate Statements]