European Union External Action

EU Statement – UN High Level Political Forum: Adoption of the High-Level Segment ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration

New York, 15/07/2021 - 23:36, UNIQUE ID: 210727_8
Statements on behalf of the EU

15 July 2021, New York - Statement by the European Union and its Member States at the Adoption of the HLPF/High-Level Segment ECOSOC Ministerial Declaration

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro* 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, Mister President, let me express the Group's gratitude to the two co-facilitators of the process of negotiations on the Ministerial Declaration of the HLPF/High-Level Segment of the ECOSOC, Ambassadors Jukka Salovaara of Finland and Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom of Iraq, as well as their teams and the Secretariat colleagues engaged in this difficult exercise.

We would also like to thank you, Mister President, and your team for your support to the process.

The EU and its Member States very much regret that after all our efforts to reach compromise, we had to vote on paragraph 29 and on amendments to paragraphs 20 on SDG 13, as well as on 25, and 36 that deal with cross-cutting issues fundamental for the realization of the 2030 Agenda.

Moreover, regarding para 8, we regret that the latest change, upon the request of one delegation, has edited the language so that it deviates from the exact language used in target 6.5 of the 2030 Agenda on the same issue. We reiterate that the language of the 2030 Agenda remains for us the primary source.

Let us start by reiterating here that the full respect of human rights and gender equality are pillars of the concept of sustainable development, underpinning all actions related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We therefore cannot envisage any Ministerial Declaration without strong language on human rights and gender equality.

The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), in this context. Having that in mind, the EU reaffirms its commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. The EU further stresses the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and health-care services.

Let me now, Mister President, raise several further concerns of our Group. The COVID-19 pandemic, its economic and social fallout, as well as intertwined global challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and growing inequalities, remind us that the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda is crucial to build back better and greener after the crisis, to strengthen resilience and prepare the world for future shocks. In this context, we would have wished to see a more action-oriented and ambitious text with a clear focus on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as a whole in an integrated and balanced manner, taking into account all three dimensions of sustainable development and highlighting to a larger extent interlinkages between all the Sustainable Development Goals and targets.

We could not help but notice that a number of issues raised by the EU and Member States during negotiations did not make their way into the final text or, first included in a revised draft, disappeared form the final text. This despite, in our assessment, their unproblematic nature and the flexibility shown by our Group regarding specific formulations or placement.

As regards the section of the Declaration that deals with specific goals under review this year, we find that in many instances the language used in the text does not reflect the whole balance and ambition of the Goals and targets agreed in 2015.

In a year of a global zoonotic pandemic where we need to focus on preventing future similar catastrophes from happening, we welcome that the Declaration highlights the interconnected nature of human, animal, plant and environmental health and the need for close cooperation of relevant parts of the UN system. However, for reasons that are very hard to understand, it was not able to agree to mention explicitly the importance of the One Health approach despite this being a concept recognized in a multitude of intergovernmentally agreed documents, from UNEA and CBD to, very recently, the World Health Assembly.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are both existential threats that require ambitious global actions, not the least in view of their disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable. This Declaration, shortly before the two CoPs, was the place to send this signal of ambition. Unfortunately, from our perspective, neither of both paragraphs lives fully up to this expectations with important points missing, e.g. on the need for a global phase-out of environmentally harmful fossil-fuel subsidies along a clear timeline on the promotion of an entirely sustainable production and consumption system or on climate neutrality by mid-century; A bold commitment for an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework under the Convention on Biological Diversity is needed, instead of referring to the expired Aichi Targets.

On climate, we note that on a sensitive issue like finance, language has been included which seeks to reflect but slightly tweaks the Paris Agreement. The language regarding “mitigation and adaptation finance” is not reflecting correctly the wording in Article 9.4. Joining consensus today does not imply that we subscribe to the notion of climate finance sub-categories which disregards the holistic and cross-cutting nature of much climate support provided.

 

On biodiversity, with regard to nature-based solutions, we would like to underline that nature-based solutions with strong social and environmental safeguards are an essential component of successful climate mitigation and adaptation. We note that the language used deviates from the agreed Second Committee language in the biodiversity resolution and seems to imply, wrongly, that nature-based solutions and eco-system based approaches are two separate categories. We would like to underline that joining consensus today does not imply that we would accept this language as precedent in any forthcoming UNFCCC or UNCBD negotiations.

Paragraph 22 was initially based in its entirety on the outcome of the Financing for Development Forum. Even is this approach was supported during the informal consultations, several delegations asked to reopen paragraphs and requested that Financing for Development issues are integrated throughout the text. Even though we can go along with the final formulation, we are concerned by the fact that the HLPF becomes a place for re-negotiation of earlier and quite recent agreements reached by the same delegations. Moreover, the current version of the paragraph places a disproportionate emphasis on external cooperation rather than domestic action. The EU and its Member States would like to recall the primacy of domestic responsibility in this regard as well as the need to make use of all Means of Implementation, not just external cooperation.

Despite the reservations we have on the text of the Ministerial Declaration, Mister President, the EU and its Member States would like to underline the importance we attach to the High-Level Political Forum as an important venue for stock-taking in terms of progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as well as for dialogue, mutual learning and reinforcing the science-policy interface. We also highly value its Declaration as a means to show momentum and our collective willingness to support progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  We are confident that, in spite of nuances among the delegations, it will be possible to move on together from this point.

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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