Dear Presidents, Distinguished Co-Facilitators, Excellences, colleagues,
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The candidate countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.
Let me start by commending the President of the General Assembly on his leadership in this process to make the work of the General Assembly, ECOSOC and their subsidiary bodies more effective and more relevant in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
We would also like to thank the Permanent Representatives of Montenegro and Botswana for having accepted to serve as co-facilitators for this important process and pledge our full support towards a successful outcome.
We are ready to make 2020 the year of decisive action in finally moving towards full alignment of the GA agenda with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as already called for by the co-facilitators during the 73rd session. The stars could not be better aligned: The organization is celebrating its 75th Anniversary. We are entering the Decade of Action to implement the 2030 Agenda. And we are already in the fifth year of the alignment process. Taking concrete steps towards the alignment and making the GA fit for purpose is long overdue.
The mandate we have to deliver upon is crystal-clear - and I quote from Resolution 73/341: “make concrete proposals for the further biennialization, triennialization, clustering and elimination of items on the agenda of the Assembly, including through the introduction of a sunset clause”. At the same time, the resolution calls on the PGA to “identify proposals […]aimed at addressing gaps, overlaps and duplications where they are found to exist in the Agenda of the Assembly as they relate to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a whole”.
Despite the great effort of last year’s co-facilitators, we – collectively - have so far failed to deliver in full on this mandate. But we are determined to engage constructively with all partners to eventually reach this goal. All of us will have to make compromises.
Unfortunately, in some ways, last year represented a setback. For example, the last session of the 3rd Committee was packed with 62 resolutions - more than in 2018 - and included several that we had pushed to biennialize.
All of our leaders subscribed to the SDG Summit Declaration’s last September, saying "The 2030 Agenda is our promise to the children and youth of today so that they may achieve their full human potential and carry the torch of sustainable development to future generations."
As to the concrete and much-appreciated questions put forward by the co-facilitators:
As to the first set of questions, we believe it covers only a very limited part of our mandate, as it is focusing solely on SDGs, which might not yet be adequately covered in our work. However, the starting point of our conversation should be to look at overlaps and duplication across committees and agendas in a comprehensive manner.
Only if we succeed to streamline the already overloaded GA agenda and to reduce overlap between the GA and ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies, only then will we be able to free up the necessary space to focus on the priority challenges, which need our full attention to implement the 2030 Agenda in a timely manner.
The documents and analysis produced during last year’s process, i.e. the updated mapping as well identification of possible criteria for reducing overlaps and duplication, are a sound basis to take concrete steps.
We expect that on this basis the final outcome will be concrete proposals on how to address gaps, duplications and overlaps, through - inter alia - biennialization, triennialization, clustering and elimination of items on the GA agenda, as well as a timeline and a working plan on the implementation of these proposals, including on how decisions on further steps will be taken.
Both – the proposals and the work plan on implementation and further steps – must be part of the text to be decided upon as part of the Revitalization Resolution during this session, so that it can be implemented during the upcoming 75th session of the GA.
Secondly, there is in our view no need to further elaborate on the criteria for reducing overlaps. The examples of what constitutes an overlap as defined in the criteria from the 73rd session are comprehensive. To determine gaps, overlaps and duplications, we need to work on the basis of concrete proposals. We would thus invite delegations to come to our next meeting with a list of concrete proposals to address gaps, overlaps and duplication.
Thirdly, obvious cases of overlaps and duplications might be where both the GA and ECOSOC negotiate annual resolutions on the exact same subject. Many agenda items and resolutions cover a sub-issue of another item or resolution. When it comes to possible gaps, we are open to also discuss a new resolution by cross-regional groups. If we can find agreement on reducing overlaps; any new agenda item should be a one-off for specific issues or triennial for ongoing challenges as default.
As regards your last question, I can only reiterate that we have all the necessary information and instruments at hand to finally act. We are ready to bring our concrete proposals to the table, and look forward to the facilitators to steer this process towards a successful outcome. We have full trust in you to do this.