STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY AMBASSADOR PEDRO L. PEDROSO CUESTA, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF CUBA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE BRIEFING BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON HIS PRIORITIES FOR 2023 (New York, 6 February 2023)
I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary General for indicating his priorities for 2023.
The remarks delivered by the Secretary General demonstrate that the UN is today more important than ever. In the context of an unprecedented global and multisectoral crisis, the Group of 77 and China raise its voice as a constructive and indispensable actor in the pursue of urgent and meaningful action to correct the enormous imbalances existing in the world that push developing countries to the brink.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still here. While it appears to be signs of progressive recovery in the industrialized economies and a return to the normal life in these nations, the Global South remains heavily impacted. Without making an exhaustive list, our countries are still suffering from the shortage of medical supplies, including COVID-19 vaccines; the huge financial and debt distress unleashed by the pandemic; an increasingly unbalance international economic world order, the rise of food prices and the technological gap that impact the access to quality education and sustainable health systems.
It is not reasonable, and most importantly, it is not fair that the poorest countries are now spending four times more repaying debts to rich creditors than on healthcare, precisely when we are still living the effects of the COVID-19. Even the World Bank has indicated that, for the first time in 25 years, extreme poverty increased at the same time when extreme wealth dramatically raised with the pandemic.
The poorer cannot keep on assuming the cost for the benefit of the wealthiest. Some reports point that three-quarters of the world's governments are planning austerity-driven public sector spending cuts -including on healthcare and education- by $7.8 trillion over the next five years. It is crystal clear who will be the most affected.
To reverse these self-destructing prospects, the role of the United Nations is essential. We recognize the audacious call of the Secretary General for a more balanced world, in particular, through an urgent reform of the international financial architecture. In this regard, the Group of 77 and China will be actively working throughout the year to move from the demands to action.
The Group also agrees with the Secretary General that "the metrics must go beyond Gross Domestic Product to include vulnerability and different risks that relate to climate and many others". We support shifting away from relying on GDP alone as a criterion to determine access to concessional finance and other means of support and look forward to the discussions in this regard.
The year 2023 contains a number of crucial milestones and events for the sustainable development agenda. The Group is committed to engaging constructively and actively in all the upcoming processes such us the second part of the 5th LDC Conference, the United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, "Water for Sustainable Development" 2018-2028 and the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework.
We applaud the Secretary General's initiative of the SDG Stimulus. It is critical that additional financial resources from developed countries be mobilized to support the implementation of the SDGs, which is more urgent considering that all the projections estimate that we are in the road of not achieving the targets set in the 2030 Agenda. The Group will pay special attention to the SDG Summit, later this year, and we are ready to support all efforts to obtain concrete results.
In this connection, the Group also recognizes the submission of the report "Our Common Agenda" and looks forward for the related discussions during this year, without losing sight of the centrality and priority of the SDG Summit. We understand the report as an additional effort to boost the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and not reshaping previous paramount commitments. We also highlight that this must be an intergovernmental-led process, in full line with the nature of this Organization. The G77 and China also stresses the urgent need to tackle the ever growing impact of climate change through the full implementation of commitments and agreements under the UNFCCC, based on the principles and objectives of the Convention. In this context, we recall the important result achieved during COP27, under the auspices of Egypt, to establish the Lost and Damage Fund, which was also a great conquest of the Group, led outstandingly by Pakistan.
We also welcome the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework at COP15 and call on all developed countries and donors to provide resources commensurate to the financing target, and to support the rapid operationalization of the Special Trust-Fund for the implementation of the framework.
We are also aware of the importance of science and technology to bridge the widening gap existing between developed and developing countries, in the economic, social and environmental areas. In this regard, the Group also recognizes the interest that the President of the General Assembly has attached to this field. In order to contribute to these endeavors, the Cuban Chairmanship of the G77 and China will host a Summit of the Group on Science, Technology and Innovation, just before the start of the High-level week of the General Assembly this year.
We would like to conclude by reemphasizing the important role of the UN in avoiding irreversible consequences in the world. The United Nations must be more than ever a convening place, where frank and open discussions should happen in the pursue of appropriate actions to confront the many challenges that we face. That dialogue and processes should be undertaken not only among Member States, but also between Member States and the Secretariat.
Fortunately, the sanitary situation in New York now allows to be present at these premises and have a closer engagement. We all must take profit of this, including the staff of the Secretariat, which we as Member States require to have a physical presence in this building as part of the normal dynamics at the UN.
We also remember that in accordance with the concept of accountability approved by the General Assembly, the Secretariat and its staff should achieve high-quality results and the full implementation of all the mandates approved by the UN intergovernmental bodies.
Finally, the Group of 77 and China would like to reassure the Secretary General of our support and cooperation in reinforcing the role of the UN as it is mandated in the Charter.
I thank you.