Info Service on UN Sustainable Development (Mar13/01)
20 March 2013
Third World Network
friends and colleagues,
are pleased to begin a new TWN Information Service that will cover
the work of the UN in two important ongoing processes: the follow-up
to the June 2012 Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and
the post-2015 development process.
first mailing is a report of the first meeting of the UN Open Working
Group on Sustainable Development Goals.
Third World Network
Nations: SDG group starts work, G77 stresses means of implementation
Published in SUNS #7547 dated 18 March 2013
New York, 15 Mar (Bhumika Muchhala) -- The open working group on the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held its inaugural meeting in
the United Nations General Assembly hall on 14 March, after many months
spent on the formation and establishment of the group.
The June 2012 Rio+20 summit outcome document mandated the group's
establishment and restricted its membership to 30 countries. However,
many more than 30 countries vied to be members.
Arrangements were then made that some seats be represented by two
or even three countries (with these countries coming from the same
region). There are thus, in fact, 70 members altogether, although
there are 30 seats, with some countries taking turns being in the
official 30 seats.
In the opening of the meeting on 14 March, all UN member states were
invited to attend. This was welcomed by the member states that are
not part of the 30 or 70 members of the open working group (OWG),
and that have been requesting that they also be allowed to be present
at the meetings of the OWG. Rules of participation by various categories
of countries that are members or non-members are expected to be clarified
The Chairman of the Group of 77 and China (G77), Ambassador Peter
Thomson from Fiji, made a statement at the morning session.
He stressed that the SDGs should be based on a genuine global partnership
that requires a new thinking on international cooperation. This should
move away from the traditional ‘donor-recipient' paradigm to one that
gives responsibility and sufficient policy space to developing countries,
taking into account their different national circumstances, priorities
Thomson said that there should be a focus on eradicating the problem
of inequality between and within countries. In practice, this means
that the development and implementation of SDGs must be based on the
principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibility.' It means
that SDGs should not place additional restrictions or burdens on developing
Importantly, it requires the donor community to honour its international
commitments especially those related to financial resources, technology
transfer and capacity-building. "SDGs should not place additional
restrictions or burdens on developing countries. Importantly, it requires
the donor community to honour its international commitments especially
those related to financial resources, technology transfer and capacity,"
said the G77 Chairman.
He stressed on technology transfer and technological cooperation,
saying, "Elaborating on these commitments, they must be matched
by the effective transfer of financial and technical resources, which
improve conditions in the developing countries and assist in eradicating
poverty. Transfer of technology must encompass technological cooperation
and the necessary technical and commercial information to understand,
use and develop cutting-edge technology with a view to promoting endogenous
capacity to use and further develop such technologies. Moreover, the
dissemination of related technological knowledge as well as technical
and commercial cooperation is also important. Only through this effective
transfer and sharing will it be possible to promote the use and subsequent
development of technology by developing countries themselves."
"Promoting mechanisms that strengthen capacity-building, the
allocation of adequate, predictable and additional financial resources
and the transfer of cutting edge technologies on concessionary terms
from the developed to the developing countries must be a top priority,"
The G77 Chairman also reiterated that for SDGs to be successful, it
is important that these goals be based on the outcomes of Agenda 21
(1992) and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002), as well
as outcomes of all UN major summits in the economic, social and environmental
fields, including the Istanbul Program of Action (for Least Developed
Countries), the Barbados Program of Action and Mauritius Strategy
(for Small Island Developing States).
He further alluded to unsustainable patterns of consumption and production,
saying that, "Any vision of sustainable development ideal for
the 21st century must recognise that eradicating poverty, removing
inequalities and achieving social justice is inextricably linked to
ensuring ecological stability and renewal so as not to jeopardize
the needs of future generations. We must therefore increase our efforts
towards changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production,
with developed countries taking the lead."
The G77 Chairman called for augmenting developing country voice in
global economic and financial decision-making, stressing, "There
is a need for an ample international dialogue with a view to building
a new financial architecture that guarantees the democratisation and
transparency of financial management and institutions and in this
sense, it is indispensable to guarantee the full participation of
developing countries in the reform of the international economic and
financial architecture, favourable to sustainable development. We
must advance towards a far-reaching democratisation of the international
financial institutions, significantly increasing the voice, representation
and voting power of developing countries."
The Group emphasised that a genuine global partnership must be founded
on strong political will and shared responsibility. "It requires
strengthened commitment from our developed partners to provide international
cooperation and sufficient policy space to developing countries, taking
into account their different national circumstances, priorities and
capabilities. In this regard, particular attention must be given to
developing countries with a focus on eradicating the problem of inequality
between and within countries."
Thomson said that the Group is happy to see the OWG commencing its
work. "The Group has held the view that it is imperative for
the success of this multilateral endeavour that the wishes of all
members are accommodated. The convening of today's meeting exhibits
The G77 Chairman then alluded to the importance that all UN member
states as well as other stakeholders should be allowed to take part
in the OWG, in order to ensure that the process is inclusive and open.
He said: "The Group of 77 expresses its congratulation to the
30 members of the OWG on their nomination. The Group reassures them
of its support and trust that in the conduct of their affairs, they
will consider and provide ample opportunities for all other members
of the United Nations, relevant stakeholders from civil societies,
the scientific community and the United Nations systems to contribute
to their deliberation in line with the mandate of the Rio+20 Outcome
Document. It is vital for the success of this OWG that it is inclusive,
open and transparent."
"The Group notes that the main task of the OWG is to submit a
report containing a proposal for sustainable developments goals to
the Assembly at its sixty-eight session in September 2013 for consideration
and appropriate action. In view of the time constraint, the Group
is ready to engage constructively in substantive discussions in the
identification and formulations of these goals."
The Chairman said that Paragraph 246 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document
states that the SDGs be a driver for implementation and mainstreaming
of sustainable development in the United Nations system as a whole.
"While the development of the SDGs must not divert focus or effort
from the achievement of the MDGs, the Group stresses the need for
serious concerted effort in this OWG towards developing a concise
set of aspirational, concise, action-oriented, universally applicable
sets of sustainable development goals," said the G77 Chairman.
He emphasised that the SDGs should be guided by a set of key principles
with an overarching objective of achieving poverty eradication.
"These SDGs should be balanced, coherent with and integrated
into the United Nations' post-2015 development agenda in a way that
incorporates the social, economic and environmental dimensions of
sustainable development and their inter-linkages," said the G77
Chairman, adding that "the human rights underpinning the MDGs
have highlighted how poverty is multidimensional and that development
must be achieved in a holistic sense, emphasising our desire to be
freed from misery and suffering, hunger, illiteracy, disease, poor
housing, insecurity and so on."
The relationship between SDGs and MDGs was clarified by the G77 Chairman:
"The Group underscores the fundamental importance for the SDGs
to build upon and complement the MDGs. As we focus our attention on
the SDGs, it is imperative that we learn from the lessons of the MDGs.
One of the key shortcomings of the MDGs is the lack of accountability
in the global partnership under MDG8. For example, MDG8 explicitly
recognised the special needs of vulnerable countries and called for
strengthening of commitments to increase Overseas Development Assistance
(ODA) to LDC, LLDCs and SIDS. However, the targets and indicators
were not backed up by any quantitative nor time-bound targets."
He added, "In addition, developing countries need a favourable
international economic climate if their national development policies
and programmes are to succeed. In this connection, the Monterrey Consensus
provides the United Nations with a framework for promoting an economic
climate favourable to development financing in its national, international
and systemic aspects. We should continue working on these issues."
And finally, reference to the key outcomes of past conferences was
made by the Chairman: "The Group further reiterates that the
means of implementation identified in Agenda 21, the Johannesburg
Plan of Implementation, the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration
on Financing for Development are indispensable for translating the
SDGs into tangible sustainable development outcomes. The Group of
77 is of the view that each SDG must be linked to an effective means
of implementation." +