STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY H.E. AMBASSADOR BOUBACAR DIALLO, G-77 COORDINATOR OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF GUINEA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, IN EXPLANATION OF POSITION ON THE DRAFT MINISTERIAL DECLARATION OF THE 2021 HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (New York, 15 July 2021)
1. I have the esteemed honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
2. At the outset, allow me to thank the President and Secretariat of the Economic and Social Council for the preparation of this year's High-Level Political Forum. Also, the Group would like to express its deep and sincere appreciation to the Permanent Representatives of Finland and Iraq, and their respective teams, for their experience, leadership and tireless efforts in facilitating the consultation process on the Ministerial Declaration for the 2021 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
3. The international community is facing an unprecedented global crisis, and therefore it is of utmost importance for the United Nations, in particular the High-Level Political Forum, which a crucial cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda, to send a strong signal of our commitment to the sustainable development goals in this decade of action. Certainly, despite the G77 and China's tremendous flexibilities and willingness to engage, last year's disappointment to reach consensus and achieve an outcome document did not serve our collective efforts to ensure that no one is left behind.
4. In the last two months, the Group has engaged constructively and in good faith throughout the negotiations of ministerial declaration, with a view to reaching a balanced, substantive and consensus-based outcome document, which concisely encompasses the integrated and indivisible nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its three dimensions in a balanced manner.
5. On that note, while the Group would like to commend all delegations for their constructive engagement, we also take the opportunity to register our disappointment that some delegations broke silence and were later accommodated over minor issues, including editorial concerns, in a manner that contradicts the principles of mutual respect and good faith that we adhere to in these processes. Although we fully respect the decisions made by those delegations, ultimately, we believe that this practice delivers the message that breaking silence is a viable tool for imposing national interests that were not acquired through the course of negotiations, and therefore defeating the multilateral spirit of the process.
6. The Group of 77 and China has joined consensus on the Ministerial Declaration, recognizing the importance to adopt a robust Ministerial Declaration that takes account of the current realities of the international community, in particular for developing countries, where the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has landed heavily. In this regard, the Group presented comprehensive and concrete proposals during the informal consultations centered on poverty eradication in all its forms and dimensions as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Moreover, we sought to reaffirm that the scale and level of ambition of the 2030 Agenda requires strengthening the means of implementation, as well as creating the enabling global environment for development.
7. Notwithstanding this, the Group of 77 and China wishes to make the following statement in explanation of its position on several elements of the HLPF Ministerial Declaration.
8. First, the Group reaffirms that the international community must address the challenges and needs faced by developing countries, especially countries in special situations, in particular, African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States as well as specific challenges faced by many middle-income countries, conflict and post-conflict countries and countries and peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation. In paragraph 3, the Group recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges, created new vulnerabilities, and severally impacts all countries, especially developing countries, including countries in special situations and countries facing specific challenges.
9. We appreciate the reference on paragraph 29, which was taken from paragraph 35 of the 2030 Agenda. Nevertheless, the Group is disappointed that paragraph 26 did not include a similar reference to "countries peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation" as proposed by the G77 and China. At this juncture, when we are witnessing a grave existential threat against one of our Members, it is critical for us to reaffirm our commitment to leave no one behind. We are, therefore, disappointed that this reference was not accommodated.
10. The Group also reaffirms the firm rejection of the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures including unilateral sanctions, against developing countries and reiterates the urgent need to eliminate them immediately. In this regard, we are also deeply disappointed that our proposal for the inclusion of language taken verbatim from paragraph 30 of the 2030 Agenda on unilateral coercive measures was not included. It is indisputable that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the hardships faced by all developing countries, and that unilateral coercive measures have further compounded these challenges, and severely constrains the ability of countries to combat and recover from the pandemic. Countries that are bearing the weight of these measures need the international community's solidarity and support, and therefore, it is highly regrettable that our proposed paragraph was not taken into consideration, despite putting forward the agreed language contained in the 2030 Agenda itself.
11. In addition, the Group is also disappointed that the Group's proposal on LDC graduation, which was based on the agreed language of para 64 of 2020 QCPR resolution was not reflected. The Group wishes to reiterate its call to the UN to look closely at the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the graduation from LDC status, including considering the temporary suspension of the graduation process in particularly acute cases, and continue to provide LDC-specific support after graduation for a fixed period of time and in a predictable manner to ensure smooth graduation processes.
12. The Group also believes that greater focus is required on funding, technology and capacity building to developing countries. We are disappointed that the final text omits some important elements including a stronger push to address the multidimensional challenges facing SIDS and their lack of access to development and climate finance, and the need to scale-up support in LLDCs in infrastructure, economic diversification and productive capacities.
13. Lastly, the G77 and China had formulated a paragraph, using agreed language from the latest QCPR that focused on the significant challenges faced by middle-income countries and called on the UN Development system to develop their support towards these countries. While we appreciate the efforts of the co-facilitators to include a stand-alone paragraph on MICs, we are disappointed that they did not include the Group's proposals in paragraph 26, as well as paragraph 4, which was neither contested nor opposed by any delegation during the consultations, and would have strengthened the overall text of the Declaration.
14. Regarding paragraph 4, the G77 and China recognizes the synergies between the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, with not only the Paris Agreement adopted under the UNFCCC, but also with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework, the New Urban Agenda, and other major U.N. outcome documents in the economic, social and environmental fields. As these references were not contested, it should had been included in the Ministerial Declaration.
15. There is an urgent call for global solidarity and the unhindered global sharing of technology and know-how in order to ensure rapid responses for the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we welcome the reference to this issue in paragraph 7, the Group of 77 and China supports the ongoing negotiations on a temporary waiver from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement, where effective, in relation to COVID-19 health products and technologies, including vaccines that should be in place for the duration agreed to by WTO Members. This limited waiver should ensure global vaccine equity and help in the rapid deployment of COVID-19 vaccines across developing countries at affordable prices.
16. The Group would like to reiterate its position on paragraph 18 on SDG10 regarding the reference to "respect for diversity", which should have included the amendment proposed by the Group of 77 and China during the informal consultations to make it in line with the 2030 Agenda. As such, our understanding of this reference is "the respect for cultural diversity".
17. With regard to paragraph 19 on SDG12, we note that the reference to "innovative pathways" is ambiguous, not part of the 2030 Agenda, and should not be considered as agreed language, as further discussions and common understanding is needed on this term. Also, we note that in this paragraph a reference to "harmony with nature" was omitted, and we restate that the agreed language in the 2030 Agenda target 12.8 is that by 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
18. The G77 and China welcomes that the Declaration recognizes and highlights that the Paris Agreement, adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, and in the context of sustainable developments and efforts to eradicate poverty. We however express our concern that the Declaration does not stress the importance of the need towards enhanced financial, technology and capacity-building support for developing countries which will allow for higher ambition in their climate actions. We also encourage developed countries to further enhance the mobilization of climate finance and should represent a progression beyond previous efforts. We stress in this regard that climate finance must not be double counted as official development assistance and must therefore be considered as new and additional to such assistance. The G77 and China are concerned that the commitment by developed countries to jointly mobilize US$ 100 billion per year by 2020 has not been met and therefore call on developed countries to honor their commitment and jointly mobilize financial resources of at least USD 100 billion per year to assist developing countries in their climate change actions with respect to both mitigation and adaptation, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
19. The Group would like to underscore the principle of national ownership for our common pursuit of sustainable development, and in this regard the gender definition should be based on national legislation and the social values of each country. The 2030 Agenda is a comprehensive document that should guide our discussions regarding gender issues at the HLPF. The Group of G77 and China strongly believes that the High-Level Political Forum's mandate is to review the process of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and as such, our understanding is that we should discuss its implementation, rather than other approaches.
20. The Group also recognizes the need to provide children and youth with a nurturing environment for the full realization of their rights and capabilities, including through safe schools and cohesive communities and families, while protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation in digital contexts. In this regard, the Group of 77 and China regrets that silence was broken on paragraph 34 and subsequently amended, after a delicate balance was reached by the co-facilitators. The Group stands firmly against any form of violence and discrimination towards them, and is in agreement with ensuring that they grow up in a safe and healthy environment.
21. The Group firmly rejects the inclusion of the reference that technology transfer should be voluntary, in addition to mutually agreed terms. We believe this sort of language is unnecessary in the Declaration and only undermines the availability of resources to developing countries. The G77 and China will not consider this phrase to be agreed language and will not be utilized as the basis for future negotiations.
22. On paragraph 40, the G77 and China would have preferred more action-oriented language with respect to concrete progress that can be made through the UN system on developing a comprehensive knowledge base of open technologies that would be especially useful for developing countries. It is our view that the UN is well placed to take a lead in the establishment of a centralized open-source database given its well-established role in advocating open-source technology through various intergovernmental forums and publications, including the 2030 Connect platform.
23. The G77 and China reiterates the call for greater involvement of the private sector in the DSSI. We believe that in order for this initiative to have the most positive impact, constructive engagement from all concerned parties needs to be achieved, and therefore will continue to pursue this outcome in future negotiations.
24. In closing, the Group decided to accept the last version of the ministerial declaration, tabled before us today, in line with our overall constructive approach and the need to ensure consensus in support of the 2030 Agenda and to convey the United Nations' collective commitment to achieving the sustainable development goals and targets, and responding to the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. We reaffirm that the language and commitments established in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our main reference for our common efforts to achieve sustainable development and for current and future related UN negotiations and processes.
25. The Group of 77 and China requests that this Explanation of Position be made part of the official record of the proceedings.