Speakers Stress Importance of South-South Cooperation, Improved Resident Coordinator System, as Second Committee Takes Up Operational Activities for Development

Government

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending economic gains and hampering efforts to push forward with country-level goals, speakers highlighted the need to harness South-South cooperation and ramp up funding for the United Nations development and resident coordinator systems, as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) took up operational activities for development today.

Speaking for the Group of the Landlocked Developing Countries, Kazakhstan’s delegate said the global community must ensure sustainable funding for United Nations country teams, while deepening efficiency as well as accountability. Pointing to increasing financing gaps, she called on the international community to increase official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI), so that operational activities can be carried out.

A repositioned United Nations development system should focus on the priorities of vulnerable nations, she stressed, including landlocked developing, least developed and small island developing States. Adding that her bloc is seeking transit opportunities, economic interlinkages and technological spill-overs, she said these possibilities gain life under South-South cooperation.

Similarly, Nigeria’s delegate underscored the need for a reinvigorated resident coordinator system, spotlighting the importance of increased funding as well as South-South and triangular cooperation to address COVID-19’s devastating impact. “The United Nations must therefore continue to illustrate its diverse modalities to integrate South-South and triangular cooperation as an area of engagement into organizational work plans …,” she said, stressing the need to challenge the commonly held perception that Africa is only a recipient of aid.

The representative of Malaysia, also emphasizing the importance of South-South cooperation, said her country has provided capacity-building and technical assistance programmes to 144 partners in health, education, agriculture, sustainable development, poverty eradication, diplomacy and economy. Noting that South-South trade increased from $0.6 trillion in 1995 to $4 trillion in 2016, she said the rise is a powerful reminder of opportunities existing in the South, which could be extended to partners in the North.

Adel Abdellatif, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, noted that an upswing in South-South and triangular cooperation allowed many developing countries to obtain urgently needed medications, vaccines and medical supplies from partners during the pandemic. Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on South-South cooperation for development, he said assisting nations to recover means striking partnerships, especially to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and other medical supplies, in Africa and other regions of the global South.

On a more upbeat note, Marion Barthélemy, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination, said COVID-19 unveiled what the United Nations development system can achieve amidst a major crisis. Immediate response plans rolled out, covering 139 countries and territories, while over $3 billion was repurposed and an additional $2 billion mobilized to prioritize effective, immediate support, she said, presenting the Secretary-General’s report on “Implementation of General Assembly resolution 75/233 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system”.

While noting progress in meeting targets for overall core resources and inter-agency pooled funds, she joined others in lamenting that the share of voluntary funding, the undercapitalization of the joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund and overreliance on a small number of contributors remain concerning, as does the shortfall in funding for the resident coordinator system. To maximize impact, stronger cooperation is needed with international financial institutions and regional development banks, she said.

Other speakers underscored the uncertain situation now facing the global community, with Cameroon’s delegate stating that humanity must “break down or break through” the multifaceted crises threatening its very existence. The United Nations must be reformed for the security and prosperity of all, he said, stressing the need for an effective, visible and audible development system with adequate and sustainable funding.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Guinea (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Thailand (for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)), Fiji (for the Pacific Islands Forum), Trinidad and Tobago (for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)), Antigua and Barbuda (for the Alliance of Small Island States), China, India, Mexico, Morocco, Cuba, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Indonesia, El Salvador, Russian Federation and Belarus.

The Committee will meet again on Monday, 18 October, for a dialogue with regional commissions and to take up the issue of permanent sovereignty of the Palestinian people over their natural resources.

Introduction of Reports

MARION BARTHÉLEMY, Director, Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination, presented the Secretary-General’s report on “Implementation of General Assembly resolution 75/233 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system” (document A/76/75–E/2021/57). She noted that COVID-19 unveiled what the United Nations development system can achieve when it genuinely comes together to support developing countries amid a major crisis. Immediate socioeconomic response plans were rolled out, covering 139 countries and territories, while over $3 billion were repurposed and an additional $2 billion mobilized to prioritize effective, immediate support. Some 91 per cent of programme countries’ Governments agreed that resident coordinators ensured a coherent United Nations response to the pandemic.

The report also shows that the United Nations system is evolving towards supporting integrated policies for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, she said. It is reinforcing efforts to assist countries, enhancing collaboration among humanitarian, development and peacebuilding actions, and strengthening cooperation and partnerships. Progress is being made on meeting targets for overall core resources for development and for inter-agency pooled funds. But the share of voluntary funding, the undercapitalization of the joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund and overreliance on a small number of contributors remain concerning, as does the shortfall in funding for the resident coordinator system. To maximize impact, there must also be stronger cooperation with international financial institutions and regional development banks.

ADEL ABDELLATIF, Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, presented the Secretary-General’s report on South-South cooperation for development (documents A/76/39 and A/76/403). The report focuses on efforts of United Nations entities to promote South-South and triangular cooperation initiatives at the global, regional and national levels from January 2020 to August 2021. It also provides recommendations on ways to further use South-South cooperation to accelerate progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development during the current decade of action.

Highlighting new developments in South-South and triangular cooperation, the report notes that it enabled many developing countries to obtain urgently needed medications, vaccines and medical supplies from Southern partners during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact of reversing progress in eradicating extreme poverty, as well as the glaring disparity in access to COVID-19 vaccines, along with extreme weather events, have highlighted the enhanced value and heightened need for strengthened multilateralism and more effective South-South cooperation. To help countries recover after the pandemic, the report stresses the need for partnerships, especially those to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines and other medical supplies in Africa and other regions of the global South.

Statements

The representative of Guinea, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the United Nations development system must act in a flexible manner, adjusting its work to national needs and enhancing its capabilities to support local capacities, while respecting national sovereignty and ownership. He stressed that more sustainable funding is needed for the development system to step up poverty eradication.

His bloc emphasizes that non-core contributions should be increased in improving the quality and substance of assistance, he said. Expressing concern about the sustainability of financing for the United Nations development system, he called on traditional donors to renew their commitments. On South-South cooperation, he said this must complement North-South cooperation, rather than replace it. South South cooperation has never been as vital as it is now, he said, in reducing poverty in all its dimensions and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of Kazakhstan, speaking on behalf of the Group of the Landlocked Developing Countries, said her bloc is particularly focused on transit opportunities, economic interlinkages and technological spillovers, which are possible under South-South cooperation. She expressed appreciation for the activities and initiatives of the United Nations bodies aimed at promoting the interests and problems of least developed, landlocked developing and small island developing States, as well as other developing countries of the South. Similarly, she said the repositioned United Nations development system should be updated to focus on the priorities and needs of the most vulnerable developing countries, including landlocked developing, least developed and small island developing States.

Continued efforts are also needed to deepen efficiency and accountability, and ensure sustainable funding of the United Nations country teams. Noting increasing financing gaps, she called on the international community to provide more support in terms of official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI), so that operational activities for development can be carried out efficiently and by 2030. The Funding Compact will be key in the process. Noting the importance of robust and sustainable health-care systems and economies in light of the pandemic, she said her bloc is concerned that the Funding Compact’s commitments for 2021 still need to be doubled to meet this year’s threshold.

The representative of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and aligning himself with the Group of 77, said the pandemic has underscored the need for a collective global response in combating it. The reinvigorated resident coordinator system and new generation of United Nations country teams have been leveraging resources from across the Organization to provide effective and immediate support to countries. It is crucial that the United Nations regional architecture continue their work towards a more demand-driven and coordinated response to enhance ownership of countries in furthering key priority areas of the region. The international community must secure the sustainability of the resident coordinator system and generate adequate and predictable levels of resources, to ensure the level of support needed by countries to achieve their national development targets.

The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities both within and among countries, he said. To get back on track towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, the global community must enhance action at the local, national, regional and international level, making full use of all tools available, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation. Mutual beneficial cooperation has been the backbone of the Association since its inception and laid the foundation for its advancing regional integration, and development of an ASEAN Community with three pillars of cooperation — political and security; economic; and sociocultural. In moving forward, ASEAN will continue to promote best practices, and technical cooperation through South-South and triangular cooperation.

The representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, welcomed the progress made thus far in the implementation of the recommendations on the multi-country office review. Noting the establishment of the new multi-country office in the North Pacific, she looked forward to the operationalization of that office to further enhance the delivery of services on the ground in her region. Also noting discussions on the funding modalities of the resident coordinator system, she reiterated the importance of predictable and sustainable financing. Stressing the importance of enabling developing countries to improve their productive capacities in strategic sectors, such as agriculture and industry, she underscored the value of South-South and triangular cooperation.

Outlining areas that required capacity-building, she highlighted digitalization, climate resilience, social protection and participation in global value chains. Sustainable development must reflect and consider the specific context, and prioritize the use of specific expertise, she said, calling for sharing of good development practices and experiences across the Pacific. Drawing attention to the Samoa Pathway, the Addis Ababa Accord, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation and regional Pacific frameworks, she said that her group will take the lessons learned through voluntary national review processes and promote best practices.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), welcomed the efforts to ensure more focused and tailored programmatic support to countries and territories by multi-country offices, drawing on the leadership and capacities of the resident coordinator offices, and the full assets and expertise of the entire United Nations development system. In that regard, he commended the swift response of the United Nations following the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the earthquake that struck Haiti in August. Noting the importance of strengthening expertise on the ground, he said staffing profiles in the multi-country offices should include the relevant skill sets, experience and knowledge that would better assist national governments in addressing their development challenges. Also important is strengthening data and statistical capacities in countries covered by multi-country offices, including strengthening of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional office for the Caribbean.

He said his bloc is currently engaging with the United Nations system on the development of a new multi-country sustainable development cooperation framework that is based on the multi-country common country analysis. As the new regional framework will also guide the country implementation plans for each State and territory, he stressed that those plans must be tailored and guided by national ownership and leadership. Expressing appreciation for the steps taken to implement the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the multi-country offices, as well as the wider offer of support to small island developing States, he said those steps will contribute to their regional and national efforts to achieve sustainable development, particularly in addressing the impacts of the pandemic.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said ongoing efforts to reform the United Nations development system need monitoring and reporting to ensure needed services are provided by the system. She emphasized that delivery on the ground is essential, as nations struggle to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 and fully implement the 2030 Agenda. The development system is needed now more than ever she noted, to assist vulnerable countries in navigating these unprecedented times.

Small island developing States have been the hardest hit by climate change, she said, even though they have contributed the least to it. Calling on developed countries to honour their climate promises to adopt mitigation for climate action, she stressed that the world must respond more appropriately to this phenomenon. The pandemic has reinforced the assertion that the current development system remains inadequate and outdated, she added, underscoring its importance in ensuring that all have the wherewithal to combat the pandemic and achieve development.

The representative of China, noting the severe challenges confronting the international community, called for more international cooperation in ensuring accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. Attention should also be given to the special needs of those countries, with development at the centre and poverty eradication as the priority. Stressing the need for practical actions and synergies for development, he said that North-South cooperation should be the main channel, with South-South cooperation as a complement, not a substitute. Developed countries should fulfill their due international obligations and honour their ODA commitments, he underscored, adding that United Nations entities should work in accordance with their mandates. Resident coordinators and country teams should stick to their development mandates and maintain close communication and cooperation with the Governments of programme countries, he added.

The representative of India said it is important that the United Nations development activities revolve around national ownership and leadership and give due consideration to national development priorities. The United Nations must focus on those tasks that it is uniquely qualified to deliver and those should be supported with an adequate and predictable volume of flexible resources. Further, the United Nations development system needs to amplify its impact, while working to enhance support for South-South cooperation. If Member States are to be on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda, she said, it must be ensured that resources meant for core development programmes are not repurposed and, if so, then they need to be brought back on track. Noting that the pandemic has tested the resilience of multilateral institutions, she said the global South has been largely fending for themselves and, in that regard, South-South cooperation has become even more crucial. Referring to her Prime Minister’s call for a “one Earth, one health” approach, she affirmed her country’s continued commitment to the global South, adding that it has provided medical assistance to over 150 countries, and vaccines to many nations in the developing world.

The representative of Malaysia, associating herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, emphasized that South-South cooperation has become more important than ever in light of the ongoing global health crisis. Malaysia continues to provide capacity-building and technical assistance programmes to its partners in such areas as health, education, agriculture, sustainable development, poverty eradication diplomacy and economy. To date, 144 countries have benefitted from those programmes. Noting that South-South trade increased from $0.6 trillion in 1995 to $4 trillion in 2016, now making up almost 29 per cent of global trade, she described that rise as a powerful reminder of the opportunity that exists in the Global South, which could be extended to partners in the North. “The pandemic has served as a litmus test for the repositioning of the United Nations development system, including its new resident coordinator system,” she said, noting that system’s comprehensive response amid the COVID-19 crisis and pledging to continue to work closely with it.

The representative of Mexico, lauding the progress embodied in the 2020 quadrennial comprehensive policy review, said that beyond the technicalities of the United Nations, Member States should not forget that the issues they discuss impact the lives of millions. Noting that continued strengthening of the reforms, he said certain areas, however, deserve greater attention. In that regard, his country has pushed for the following priority areas: 1) the development system’s response to the pandemic; 2) reform of the system; 3) financing of the system; and 4) transparency and accountability. Noting that the new resident coordinator system is the cornerstone of the reform, he said Member States must ensure that country teams are better positioned to support Governments effectively. It will be important to properly follow up on this new leadership model, with the help of Governments, for added value. As well, special attention must be given to attracting and retaining talent. Looking ahead, he said the international community must seize opportunities for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding, so that the system can meet the growing demands of countries.

The representative of Morocco, speaking in her national capacity, said the relevant and important role of the United Nations development system will be demonstrated in the context of the pandemic. Expressing concern about the unsustainability of the regional coordinator system, she said the international community must ensure it remains viable over the coming year. Her country fully endorses South-South cooperation as a key development modality for achieving the 2030 Agenda and overcoming impacts of the pandemic. Adding that Morocco has used such cooperation for partnerships in technical cooperation and capacity-building, she said it has benefited from triangular cooperation in the area of sustainable energy.

The representative of Cuba, aligning herself with the Group of 77, stressed the importance of full respect for national sovereignty in implementing the 2030 Agenda. The leadership of national governments is crucial, she said, adding that the international community must respond to national priorities and needs. Predictable financing is the keystone for the system, she said, also stressing the importance of common but differentiated responsibility between developed and developing countries. Also drawing attention to the 70 year financial and economic blockade imposed by the United States on her country, she highlighted the obstacles posed by this in the context of the pandemic, including difficulties in the purchase of food products.

The representative of Bangladesh, associating himself with the Group of 77, said it is heartening that new forms of solidarity have emerged among developing countries, given the multidimensional challenges they face. Noting that those initiatives must be further strengthened, he said that over the years, his country has been part of global efforts to strengthen South-South cooperation through knowledge-sharing. It has also included South-South cooperation in its national policy for development cooperation and has planned to set up a South-South knowledge and innovation centre in Dhaka. He said the strengthened resident coordinator system’s maturity was evident in its swift mobilization of resources and leadership, in the response to the pandemic. To eradicate poverty, the sharing of development solutions must be strengthened, and investments ensured for productive capacity building, job creation and gender mainstreaming. The international community must create a system where Southern countries can share best practices among themselves, with financial and technical support from the countries of the North.

The representative of Tajikistan, associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of the Landlocked Developing Countries, expressed support for the reform and strengthening of the United Nations development system. “Needs on the ground are immense and urgent as we embark on the new Decade of Action,” he said. Spotlighting the growing partnership between Tajikistan and the United Nations, he recalled that the country’s resident coordinator was appointed in 2020 just as the pandemic was spreading rapidly around the globe. “It is during a crisis when you actually understand how the system is working,” he said, noting the Organization’s successful response. He also outlined a range of strategic national development initiatives, which are closely aligned with the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Cameroon, aligning himself with the Group of 77, said humanity must “break down or break through” the multifaceted crises threatening its very existence. Emphasizing that the United Nations must be reformed for the security and prosperity of all, he stressed the need for an effective, visible and audible development system. Moreover, it must be provided with independent, adequate and sustainable funding to carry out vital activities it is entrusted with. Activities on the ground must be carried out in line with local realities and needs, he said, adding that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing humanity. Cameroon, he said, is fully committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda, especially in the area of education, as it will significantly contribute to poverty eradication.

The representative of Indonesia, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and ASEAN, called on States to elevate support for sustained and resilient recovery, emphasizing the importance of the United Nations development system to repurpose its programme and funds, and to synergize support in the wake of COVID-19 to help countries recover and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She called for continuing to sharpen the convening power of the development system through the resident coordinator to help mobilize partnerships between all ranges of relevant stakeholders, with a view to support development activities on the ground. She went on to point out that it is important to continue the advancement of South-South cooperation on both COVID-19 response and recovery, as well as in the broader context of achieving the 2030 Agenda. In that regard, she encouraged the continued mainstreaming of South-South cooperation efforts in United Nations strategies and programmes.

The representative of El Salvador, associating himself with the Group of 77, stressed the importance of global solidarity. Highlighting the importance of revitalizing the system of resident coordinators, he said it has a major impact on the field, especially in the context of the pandemic. Stressing the value of South-South cooperation, especially in promoting recovery from the pandemic, he noted its essential role in areas that are not traditionally prioritized by donors. However, South-South cooperation should not replace ODA or concessionary financing, he stressed, adding that North-South cooperation can also profit from lessons learned from South-South cooperation. Stressing the need for transparency, he called for solidarity without conditionality.

The representative of the Russian Federation, referring to the report on the comprehensive review and specifically the section on regional cooperation, and enhancing the activities for sustainable development and strengthening partnerships, said that, like in previous reports, there is not enough information on the resident coordinator system’s work for 2019. In that regard, her delegation is interested in finding out what has changed specifically, when the resident coordinators were moved to the United Nations Secretariat. Such information could be provided through the introduction of framework reporting parameters of resident coordinators, based on a results-based management system. Moreover, there needs to be a discussion on funding of the resident coordinators, including the basis for the $280 million needed for their funding, as well as the prospect of that figure being reduced. She noted that a reduction in that amount could serve potentially as extra funding for field activities. Also, it is important to have an open dialogue on the coordination of humanitarian and development activities, especially as they relate to countries in conflict or post-conflict situations, as well as those suffering from the negative consequences of sanctions.

The representative of Belarus, aligning herself with the Group of 77, noted that progress has been made over the past year in reforming United Nations operational activities. However, she expressed concern over the current trend away from the concept of national sovereignty, as development must be linked to a country’s basic development principles, adhering to its policies and priorities. Urging the international community to fully implement its financing for development obligations, she said this would guarantee full, unprejudicial assistance. She added that further improvement of relations between the development system and host country, as well as resident coordinator accountability, will greatly assist in carrying out local United Nations activities.

The representative of Nigeria, associating herself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said cooperation is imperative for the activities of the United Nations development system and to help developing countries achieve the 2030 Agenda. Reaffirming Nigeria’s unwavering support to the reinvigorated resident coordinator system and calling for adherence to the principles of national leadership, national ownership and non-politicization, she spotlighted the need for predictable and increased funding. There is also a greater need for South-South and triangular cooperation to address COVID-19’s devastating impact. “The United Nations must therefore continue to illustrate its diverse modalities to integrate South-South and triangular cooperation as an area of engagement into organizational work plans, as well as monitoring frameworks,” she said, stressing the need to challenge the commonly held perception that Africa is only a recipient of aid.

Source: UN General Assembly