Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations 2nd Committee: General Debate

New York, 08/10/2019 - 16:24, UNIQUE ID: 191008_17
Statements on behalf of the EU

7 October 2019, New York - Statement on behalf of the EU and its Member States by H.E. Mr. Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee General Debate

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The candidate countries Montenegro, Serbia, the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

At the outset we would like to thank former Guatemalan Ambassador Skinner-Klée Arenales and all the other members of the bureau of the previous session for their commitment and efforts. I would like to congratulate you, Ambassador Niang, and the other members of the new bureau on your election and assure you of our full cooperation in the weeks ahead.

Mr Chair, in 2015, by reaching agreement on the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement, the international community adopted the most ambitious sustainable development agenda ever. This agenda provides us with our map and compass to make the transition to sustainability a reality, while leaving no one behind. As we have stated in the past, we firmly believe that this agenda should guide policy and action in countries at all stages of development and steer the Second Committee operations. The Second Committee, if it is to achieve its full potential, must embrace this ambitious agenda and advance in tandem with the Secretary General’s pursuit of an ambitious reform of the UN, including of its development system. The UN needs to be fit for purpose in order to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the SDG Summit held two weeks ago we took stock of the progress and challenges in achieving the SDGs. It is clear that delivering on the 2030 Agenda is no easy task. It is an immense collective responsibility. The second committee, placed at the centre of our common efforts to implement the SDGs, must play a positive role in this pursuit. Achieving sustainable development means facing formidable challenges. Leaving no one behind will remain elusive unless we fundamentally shift to a more inclusive and sustainable growth model. It is essential that this principle is firmly anchored at the centre of the work of this committee. This year's theme "Inclusive societies based on new economic models and sustainable use of natural resources" is timely. There is an urgent need for a just transition to a Green and Inclusive economy in which economic growth is decoupled from the resource use and planetary boundaries are respected. The circular economy is the model that can help us achieve this.

As we stated in our letters to the President of the General Assembly as well as in our letter to the former 2C Chair on March 6, 2019 and during last week's organisational meeting of our committee, the EU and its member States attach great value and importance to the second committee delivering on its full potential and are eager to move the revitalization process forward.

While we appreciate the steps already taken towards improving the committee’s work, we maintain that a lot remains to be done to capture this body’s full potential. We welcome the idea of having an informal working group that would look at issues related to improving working methods of 2C, and reflect on the elaboration of proposals for addressing gaps, overlaps, duplications. We are eager to seize the opportunity offered by the informal working group in order to discuss further and implement some of the existing ideas. The EU pledges its full support and constructive engagement in the working group which you intend to create.

In view of the large number of resolutions that are traditionally submitted to the committee, and pending agreement on the reform of the second committee’s agenda, the efficient conduct of business is of crucial importance. We welcome the progress achieved during the previous three sessions and we shall continue to support further efforts of the bureau in this regard. Mr Chair, we welcome your announcement on 2 October with regard to the conduct of work and organisation of work, specifically with regard to respecting working hours, mandatory deadlines of the introduction of resolutions, a concise, focused and action-oriented nature of resolutions and the timely conclusion of negotiations in the 2C.

We will support measures that streamline the official part of the work of the committee, and allow for more efficient substantive exchanges. Accordingly, as during previous sessions, we do not plan to intervene in the debates on specific agenda items beyond the present statement. In fact, we believe that the revitalization process should look closely into the possibility of eliminating these thematic discussions altogether; we believe that they have a limited, if any, added value and are highly repetitive of the general debate, discussions in side events and joint meetings held by the Committee and other bodies.  We shall also continue to seek the bureau’s support in ensuring respect of rule 153 of the RoPs of the General Assembly on budgetary implications.

While we acknowledge the right of each member to present a resolution for the consideration of the General Assembly, we believe that the Committee should focus on rationalizing its work and maintaining resolutions that are actually relevant to the 2030 Agenda’s implementation. We will, as during previous negotiations, decide on a case by case basis on our level of engagement in the negotiations. Consistent with our approach in previous years, we will ask for the referral of draft resolutions that were submitted late, to a future session, if in our judgment sufficient time to consult and negotiate to achieve consensus was not allowed for.

Mr Chairman, the EU and its member States see the SDGs as an extraordinary opportunity and a common reference point to prioritize further efforts to benefit people and the planet, and promote prosperity, peace and partnerships around the world. The 2030 Agenda sets out a transformative vision and a plan of action to achieve universal peace and sustainable development to leave no one behind. Development is not possible without human rights. Therefore, we must ensure that human rights remain at the core of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The agenda is people and planet-centred, gender transformative and strongly grounded in international human rights law.

In that vein, the EU and its member States underline the linkages between sustainable development, human rights, humanitarian action, conflict prevention, and peace building. We need to move away from silos towards a more integrated approach.

The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights. The international community can continue to count on the EU to eradicate gender discrimination and inequality through our prioritisation of women’s and girls’ human rights, gender equality and of women and girls’ empowerment in the work of the Second Committee and beyond.

We also believe that sustainable and inclusive growth and development will require involving and engaging all stakeholders and will more than ever rely on our commitment to multilateralism and a rules-based global order, with the United Nations at its core.

I would also like to focus here on the threat of the destruction and degradation of our environment, the loss of biodiversity and the climate emergency we are in. Climate change continues to constitute one of the greatest and most pressing challenges in our effort to achieve sustainable development and eradicate poverty and inequality. The Paris Agreement is the corner stone of the global effort to tackle climate change, achieve SDG 13 and implement the 2030 Agenda as a whole.

The recent Climate Action Summit demonstrated the need to aim for a green and inclusive economy where we continuously improve the living standards and well-being of all people in a way that does not deplete natural resources, poison our environment, nor spur on climate change.  It also demonstrated that a greater mobilization was possible and needed in order to achieve the objectives of the Paris agreements to enhance significantly our collective ambition by 2020. We need to focus our efforts equally on both mitigation and adaptation, stepping up our NDC’s as we agreed upon in Paris.

In the context of the second committee work it is important to aim to significantly step up our biodiversity protection and restoration efforts, to strive for having zero pollution in our continent, to protect our lands and oceans, to transform our entire food system from farm to fork, to reduce the risks faced from natural disasters, to move from a linear to a fully circular economy and to make our transport systems entirely clean and more intelligent, to use more clean energy and improve energy efficiency.

The FFD high level meeting made clear that it will take the full range of both financial and non-financial sources to implement the SDG agenda and address different partners' financing challenges. The EU and its member States work tirelessly to build our policy and financing mix, tailoring it to the specific contexts of different partner countries and aligning it with their development objectives and needs. We continue to be the world's largest provider of ODA, while also using development funding to leverage major private investment through the EU External Investment Plan.

We need to redouble our efforts, also in our second committee work, to improve different countries' capacity to operate in what is a very complex financial landscape. This includes reforms for domestic revenue mobilisation, strengthening of international tax cooperation and the fight against illicit financial flows and money laundering, improving management of public finances, supporting country systems with a "collect more, spend better" approach and fighting corruption as well as using digital technologies to prevent corruption

Within the EU, the European Consensus on Development remains a shared vision and a framework for action for our development cooperation. It is a blueprint which aligns the Union's development policy with the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, it also reaffirms our strong commitment to implement the Paris Agreement.

We are working towards ensuring that existing EU policies are in line with the SDGs and their targets in order to contribute to equality for all, human rights and dignity, a healthy and resilient planet; fair, inclusive peaceful and resilient societies, and sustainable economy.

Mr Chairman, to conclude, in line with the principle set out earlier the EU and its member states look forward to work together with all partners during this 2C session with the aim of achieving outcomes that will support the sustainable development agenda that all of us committed to in 2015.

Thank you.


* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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