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UNGA Debate Addresses “Second Generation” of MDGs, Blue Economy

28 September 2012: World leaders addressing the 67th UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Debate on 28 September expressed concern about achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with some stressing the need for continued financing to meet targets. Speakers also gave statements on defining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development framework, and addressed outcomes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20).

Several leaders supported the SDGs, including José Badia, Minister for External Relations of Monaco; Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden; Alfredo Moreno Charme, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile; and Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, recommended higher SDG thresholds to stimulate greater efforts and clear, measurable, targeted and time-bound benchmarks. Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Nepal, prioritized SDGs on combating climate change and desertification, conserving mountain ecosystems, ensuring energy and food security, and poverty eradication.

Several said the SDGs and post-2015 process should be complementary and not detract from accelerated MDG efforts, including Bernard Kamillius Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tanzania; Shrestha; and Michael Spindelegger, Vice-Chancellor and Minister for European and International Affairs of Austria. Stressing that most African nations are unlikely to achieve the MDGs by 2015, Membe proposed a second generation of the MDGs, with focused efforts to ensure that countries that do not achieve the MDGs by 2015 are facilitated to achieve them post-2015.

Zoran Milanovic, Prime Minister of Croatia, viewed education as critical in the post-2015 development framework, commending the “Education First” Initiative. Uri Rosenthal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, supported including the private sector. Lyonchoen Jigmi Yoezer Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan, described the King's establishment of an international expert working group to elaborate the details of a new development paradigm along themes of well-being and happiness; ecological sustainability; fair distribution; and the efficient use of resources. He said the group will present its findings for consideration by the 68th and 69th sessions of the UNGA.

Kim, Milanovic, and Antonella Mularoni, Minister of Foreign and Political Affairs of San Marino, welcomed the Rio+20 outcome document and encouraged its implementation. Others noted higher expectations for Rio+20, but expressed hope for the follow-up process, including Bildt; Hailemarim Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Membe; Malielegaoi; and Thinley.

Malielegaoi and Lord Tu'ivakano, Prime Minister of Tonga, welcomed the reaffirmation that small island developing States (SIDS) represent a special case for sustainable development. Malielegaoi cautioned that such recognition, however, without corresponding resources, can result in “a hollow victory.” Tu'ivakano drew attention to the "blue economy" and sustainable fisheries. Badia also welcomed the blue economy, noting the need to improve coordination and effectiveness of the work of the UN on oceans. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Malielegaoi and Tu'ivakano welcomed the decision to convene the Third UN Conference on Sustainable Development for SIDS in 2014. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Fiji, said preparations for the Conference should support achieving specific goals. [Statements from UNGA 67 High-level Debate, 28 September]