OPENING REMARKS BY H.E. DR. MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, MINISTER OF THE PALESTINIAN ECONOMIC COUNCIL FOR DEVELOPMENT AND RECONSTRUCTION (PECDAR) OF THE STATE OF PALESTINE, AT THE G-77 HIGH LEVEL INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON "INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT AND INEQUALITY WITHIN AND AMONG COUNTRIES" (New York, 12 February 2019)
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. First, let me welcome you all to this High-Level Interactive Dialogue. In December last year, the Group 77 and China committed to discuss the way forward in addressing the complex challenge of "Inclusive Development and Inequality within and among countries. Your presence is a testament to this commitment, and I trust that our deliberations today will make an important contribution to the President of the General Assembly 's forthcoming high-level debate on the same theme.
2. I would like to open this Dialogue by quoting HE Mr. Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, on the occasion of the Handover Ceremony of the Group of 77 in January this year. He said: "People are the real treasure for nations, and real and sustainable development can only be achieved when opportunities are enhanced to ensure for all people full and free participation in all relevant matters in life".
3. As you will all agree-, this 'right to development' is also the right of children, youth, women, informal workers, older persons, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and other people who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations. This also includes all men, women, youth and children living under colonial and foreign occupation, without exception. The fight against inequality should leave no country, no one behind.
4. Rising or persisting inequalities, be it within or among countries, are a denial of people's right to development. Four years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, the Secretary General's report of 2018 confronts us with dire realities and prospects: "by 2030...three quarters of children living in the poorest households in their country are expected to miss the [SDG] target for under-5 mortality rates, compared with only a quarter of children living in the richest households".
5. Income and wealth inequalities at large, as much as inequalities of opportunities between the poor and the rich, between rural and urban areas, between men and women, between youth and adults, remain pervasive and tend to intersect with and reinforce each other. Globalization, fast changing and new technologies, rapid urbanization, large scale migration and displacements, the widespread degradation of natural resources and climate change, are compounding these challenges in many ways.
6. At the Handover Ceremony, the Secretary-General urged the Group 77 and China to bring "solutions and commitments". This is a clear call for accelerated and transformative action at all levels.
7. As stressed in our Declaration last year, achieving inclusive development and reducing inequalities both within and between countries will remain a far cry without renewed partnerships and renewed commitments from the international community to sustain the provision of development finance, to ensure a fair access to technology, knowledge, trade and to put in place enabling economic and financial, including tax environments.
8. On the occasion of the Handover Ceremony, H.E. Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that sustainable development cannot be achieved without "ensuring benefit sharing and a just distribution of economic prosperity and growth, including for women and youth"
9. The message is clear: to make a significant dent into the reduction of poverty, economic growth needs not only to be high and sustained, it also needs to be inclusive. Our development policies must strive to empower all people to contribute to and benefit from growth. Securing access of poor and vulnerable people to critical economic and social assets, services and opportunities, advancing gender equality and the economic empowerment of women and youth is essential.
10. Therefore, the challenging issue that lies is not so much about what needs to be done, but how to do it. For sure, promoting inclusive development and reducing inequality is not an easy journey for policy-makers. Fortunately, there have been successes and promising approaches in many parts of the world and quite remarkably, the 2018 report of the Secretary-General shows that many of these can be found in OUR countries. These include sustained public investments in education and skills development, as much as in health, agriculture, infrastructure, housing, energy, and technology services. These include creating enabling environments for business and entrepreneurship. Obviously, labor policies that promote decent jobs, particularly for youth and women combined with effective and inclusive social protection systems can make the difference. All this requires mobilizing resources and the SG's Report clearly invites us to rethink our tax policies and to strike a careful balance between efficiency and social equity.
11. More than any others, our countries are deeply mindful of the devasting impacts of environmental degradation and climate change, which tends to exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities and overexpose the poorest and most vulnerable who possess fewer means to cope and adapt. Clearly, addressing environmental and climate challenges, building people's resilience, should feature as integral components of a policy agenda that is serious about promoting more inclusive and more sustainable economies and societies.
12. In his remarks at the Handover Ceremony, the Secretary-General mentioned that "Palestine and its citizens have first-hand experience of some of the most challenging and dramatic global issues we face". Well, the rise in inequality is clearly one of them, impacting all of us and threatening our future in multiple ways. Our Dialogue today is an unprecedented opportunity to further learn from each other, to debate and reach, as a Group, united in its diversity, a consensus on priorities for action at national, regional and global levels.