Meeting 2030 Agenda Hinges on Creating Stable Societies, Empowered Populations, Delegates Stress, as High-Level Political Forum Concludes

ECOSOC/7007
18 July 2019
2019 Session, 33rd Meeting (PM)

Meeting 2030 Agenda Hinges on Creating Stable Societies, Empowered Populations, Delegates Stress, as High-Level Political Forum Concludes

Deputy Secretary-General Calls for ‘Kick-Starting’ New Phase of Transformative Action to End Human Suffering, Protect Planet

The successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will hinge first and foremost on safe, stable societies, empowered populations and the active engagement of young people, delegates stressed today, as the Economic and Social Council’s 2019 High‑Level Political Forum drew to a close.

Youth delegates, speaking on behalf of their Governments during the Forum’s general debate, were among those who drew attention to such critical challenges.  Participants also heard the last of 47 voluntary national reviews, through which Member States reported on progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and approved a draft procedural report outlining the organizational aspects of its session.

In closing remarks, Anima Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Forum remains a critical element of the 2030 Agenda’s follow‑up process.  Recalling that discussions throughout the session centred around the importance of inclusion, she said “much, much more” must be done to reach the world’s most vulnerable people, including migrants, women and children.  Another central theme was the importance of State institutions and good governance, as well as the crucial issue of political commitment.  Underlining the need for transparency and accountability, she said world leaders will have the chance at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit — to be held in September — to accelerate their commitments.  In addition, she said, the international community must listen closely to the voices of the world’s young people, who are very clearly expressing their expectations.

Inga Rhonda King (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that, in order to achieve the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda, “we need to move out of our comfort zones in pursuing new ways of collective action”.  While the picture emerging from the 2019 High-Level Political Forum was mixed, countries outlined innovative plans and delivered uplifting messages against the backdrop of intense domestic pressures and significant challenges to multilateralism.  Looking ahead, she urged States to systematically incorporate the 2030 Agenda into their plans and policies, to focus on interventions that have potential multiplier effects and to “kick‑start a new phase of implementation with concerted, transformative action to end human suffering and protect our planet”.

As the Forum concluded its general debate, several speakers emphasized that wars, civil conflict and security challenges wrought by extremist groups have seriously hindered their Governments’ ability to implement the 2030 Agenda and the Goals.  Mali’s representative, for one, noted that his country still suffers from a multidimensional crisis brought on by poverty, youth unemployment and a lack of basic services.  Indeed, he said, the main development challenges facing Mali and the wider region stem from threats to peace and security, combating the effects of climate change and the need to expand State authority.

The representative of Yemen echoed those concerns, stressing that progress in his country has not been satisfactory.  “We cannot realize [the 2030 Agenda] if we continue on the same path,” he cautioned.  Against the backdrop of an expanding deadly conflict, economic conditions have fully deteriorated, and people lack access to basic services.  Diseases such as cholera have spread and access to education has been stifled.  Emphasizing that implementing the Goals must be part of Yemen’s reconstruction, he spotlighted efforts already under way despite its constrained resources.

The representative of the United States meanwhile underlined the critical importance of democratic governance, the rule of law, human rights and strong institutions as the foundation that enables countries to advance the 2030 Agenda.  Every country has the sovereign responsibility to ensure those elements are in place, she stressed, outlining her country’s global efforts to fight corruption, combat kleptocracy, support human rights activists and enable justice systems to address drug and human trafficking.

Tunisia’s representative was among those speakers who emphasized that social inclusion is one of the most crucial elements of the 2030 Agenda.  The Government is working to implement structural reforms to support economic growth — responding to the aspirations of young people, in particular — with an eye towards achieving sustainable, environmentally responsible and inclusive growth through the 2030 Agenda’s human‑rights-based approach.

Several youth delegates spoke on behalf of their Governments, underscoring, among other concerns, broad demands for immediate climate action.  The representative of Denmark, for one, stressed that youth activists such as herself are determined to take action to implement the 2030 Agenda.  Calling on the United Nations and its Member States to engage closely with young people, she pointed out that, in Denmark, a Youth Climate Council advises the Government on sound and progressive climate policies.  Warning that the multilateral system is still not geared to the kind of change needed for a sustainable future, she said young people around the globe lack the support they need and could lose faith in the United Nations system.

Also speaking were today were representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mauritius, Lesotho, Germany, Algeria, Canada, Belarus, Australia, Argentina, Georgia, Niger, France, Uganda, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Ecuador, Montenegro, Greece, New Zealand, Liberia, Brazil, Belgium, Latvia, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uzbekistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Austria, Portugal and Bolivia.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 19 July, to conclude its work.

Statements

PHILIP MPANGO, Minister for Finance and Planning of the United Republic of Tanzania, associating himself “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the African Group, said his country is one of 47 presenting their voluntary national reviews this year.  By investing in such critical sectors as oil and gas, transport, energy, water, education, health and infrastructure, the country has improved macroeconomic stability and registered a high growth rate between 2016 and 2018.  Inflation declined from 5.2 per cent in 2016 to 2.5 per cent in 2018.  While progress has been significant, it has not been at the pace required to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Describing uneven growth across countries, he said “the rural poor still have little access to social and financial services, infrastructure, markets or innovative technologies and practices”.  Many forms of the digital divide also still affect the United Republic of Tanzania, he added.

NANDCOOMAR BODHA, Order of the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean of Mauritius, said investing in education is the highest priority for his country.  “Since this year, we have made undergraduate degrees free for our citizens,” he said, noting that technical and vocational training is a strong component of the education system.  Mauritius faces several challenges, including an ageing population and a skills-mismatched labour force.  Since 2016, a main priority has been to improve income inequalities and increase individual purchasing power.  As one of the countries most exposed to natural disasters, Mauritius continues to face significant risks from climate change.  “Only one single calamity can wipe out decades of progress,” he cautioned, underlining the need to translate ideas into meaningful action.  “Every gap we have identified should be addressed urgently.”

TLOHELANG AUMANE, Minister for Development Planning of Lesotho, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Group of least developed countries and the African Group, said his country had reduced absolute poverty, thereby narrowing the wealth gap.  However, growth over the past two years has been sluggish, and while per capita income has remained above the graduation threshold, Lesotho lags in meeting other graduation criteria.  For its part, the Government is committed to the “Big Fast Results” approach to investment — focusing on agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and creative industries, technology and innovation — while Lesotho’s private sector committed to creating 30,000 jobs by investing $1.5 billion.  Inclusive education and training, together with health, are critical to achieving sustainable development, he said, noting that Lesotho is also carrying out reforms to its Constitution, Parliament, the security and justice sectors, as well as related to the economy and the media.

MARIA FLACGSBARTH (Germany) outlined her country’s expansion of renewable energy, undertaken in line with its goal of becoming climate neutral by 2050.  In Germany, companies are responsible to take voluntary climate commitments, which will be evaluated by the Government.  Should they be found insufficient, a national law will be drafted to drive the private sector’s climate response.  Noting that the Group of 20 (G20) countries are doing their part to implement the 2030 Agenda, she said more still must be done.  Germany, for its part, will double its contribution to the Green Climate Fund.  The country’s development cooperation also helps millions each year to access education, health care and clean water.

RACHID BLADEHANE, Secretary-General of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Algeria, associating himself with the “Group of 77” and China, and the African Group, said his country submitted its voluntary national review this session.  Algeria’s national policies focus on promoting a responsible, peaceful, gender balanced and plural society.  It fully intends to mobilize domestic resources and harness its full potential to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  However, that framework cannot afford to ignore global solidarity, he said, noting that Algeria will continue to place international, South-South and Triangular cooperation at the centre of its foreign policy.

CATHERINE ADAM, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister of the Strategic and Service Policy Branch of Canada, stressing that “our shared challenge is to harness the momentum that is building around the globe”, underscored the importance of empowering all people, and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.  Marginalized communities, least developed countries and landlocked developing countries require particular attention.  For its part, Canada is looking beyond its own gross domestic product (GDP) to measure growth, placing inclusiveness and equality at the centre of development plans — especially in advancing the rights of indigenous peoples, women and youth.  “Everyone has an important role to play,” she said, adding:  “The 2030 Agenda requires that we all work differently.”

NERISSA COOK (United States) underlined the critical importance of democratic governance, the rule of law, human rights and strong institutions as the foundation that enables countries to advance implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  Every country has the sovereign responsibility to ensure those elements are in place, she stressed, outlining her country’s international efforts to fight corruption, combat kleptocracy, support human rights activists and enable justice systems to address such phenomena as drug and human trafficking.  Creating family-sustaining jobs is also crucial to building prosperous societies, she said, underlining the importance of non-discrimination in employment and freedom from forced labour and child labour.  For those reasons, the United States has included labour obligations in its trade agreements, she said, noting that it also promotes quality education, with programmes reaching tens of millions annually around the globe.  In 2018, the Government released the United States Strategy on International Basic Education.  In the area of energy and climate, the United States supports a balanced approach and is a world leader in protecting the environment.  For example, she said, its free market approach has spurred innovation that helped reduce its carbon emissions by 14 per cent between 2015 and 2017, even while the economy continued to expand.

LARYSA BELSKAYA (Belarus), outlining national and regional efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, said her country is working to develop its national sustainable development policy.  Belarus has established a national forum for statistical analysis, which not only monitors implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also assists various national ministries in undertaking decisions.  Drawing attention to efforts to build a green economy and smart cities, she said the country’s use of nuclear power will help substantially reduce greenhouse‑gas emissions.  Also noting that, by 2020, more than 20 per cent of the population of Belarus will be older persons, she outlined the Government’s strong focus on providing health care and other support to that population.

NIGEL BRUCE (Australia) welcomed the many Asia-Pacific countries, including small island developing States, that have presented national voluntary reviews.  Also praising strides made in the region to implement the Goals themselves, he underlined the unique and significant challenges faced by Pacific countries including the effects of climate change.  Noting that Pacific advocacy has been instrumental in raising global ambition to address extreme weather, sea-level rise and environmental degradation, he underlined Australia’s commitment in those areas and outlined national progress in fighting both climate change and inequality.  For example, Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme provides support to some 460,000 people with a disability under the age of 65.  The Government also works to reduce gender gaps by increasing female participation in the workplace and addressing the drivers of pay inequity.

GABIRELA AGOSTO, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies of Argentina, said the Government has linked the Goals to its national agenda and budget, allowing it to examine how the Goals are being implemented and monitor the degree to which public policy is being guided by the 2030 Agenda.  In March, Buenos Aires hosted the second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation, during which world leaders generated a new consensus on how to better achieve the 2030 Agenda.  Responsible, inclusive institutions are essential in that regard, as are democratic and free societies and empowered women.  “The aspiration of the 2030 Agenda to not leave anyone behind must ensure the promotion of polices that are inclusive of groups of people whose rights have been undermined,” she stressed.

ELENA BERADZE, Deputy Head of Administration of the Government of Georgia, said that her Government has aligned the 2030 Agenda with its own national plans, as well, and in recent years, has undertaken significant reforms to build effective, accountable and corruption-free institutions.  “Empowering people is possible only by providing quality education to all,” she stressed, adding that the Government has committed to double its financing of education programmes.  Georgia is also developing the private sector which continues to drive its economic growth.

ASSOUMAN MAINASSARA, Director General du Plan et de la Prospective of Niger, associating himself with the Group of least developed countries and the small island developing States, said serious inequalities remain in access to basic social services.  As part of its social development plan, Niger has taken significant measures to promote young people through training and vocational programmes, as well as through employment projects that gear young people for public service.  Women are being empowered, he added, noting a minimum quota law that ensures women’s participation in public office.  Niger has also established a law to protect migrants and refugees.  “All of these efforts are likely to come to naught because of the security challenges that Niger faces,” he cautioned.

GWENAEL ROUDAUT (France) recalled that his country was among the first to submit its voluntary national review in 2016.  Welcoming the many more reports submitted since that time, he said “this goes beyond our expectation”, and expressed his hope that the process will breathe new life into the national process of implementing the 2030 Agenda.  The international community must step up its multilateral efforts, including to decrease inequalities among nations.  That is the priority of France’s presidency of the G20, he said, spotlighting particular initiatives to reduce gender gaps, increase ODA commitments and redouble pledges to the Paris Agreement.

MODIBO TRAORÉ (Mali), recalling that, for several years, his country has been experiencing a multidimensional crisis brought on by poverty, youth unemployment and a lack of basic services, said it nevertheless submitted its voluntary national review in 2018.  The main challenges facing Mali and the wider region continue to be threats to peace and security, combating the effects of climate change, strengthening macroeconomic stability and problems related to expanding State services, he said.  In response, Mali has developed a strong national sustainable development plan, as well as a social network programme aimed at transferring cash to the most vulnerable households.

BELGACEM AYED (Tunisia) said social inclusion and regional cooperation are crucial elements of the 2030 Agenda and should be integrated into all countries’ development strategies.  For States to successfully implement the Agenda, sufficient resources must be mobilized both domestically and internationally.  In Tunisia, the Government is working to implement structural reforms to support economic growth — responding to the aspirations of young people, in particular — and a dialogue process is under way to draft a national strategy for 2030.  Tunisia aims to achieve sustainable, environmentally responsible and inclusive growth, while also respecting the transformative nature of the 2030 Agenda and its human‑rights-based approach, he said.

TOM OKIA OKURUT, Executive Director of the National Environment Management Authority of Uganda, associating himself with the “Group of 77” and China, the African Group, the Group of Least Developed Countries and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, noted the progress his country has made in achieving all the Sustainable Development Goals.  Uganda is carrying out development-oriented policies to support productive activities and decent work.  It is also empowering young people and women and addressing climate change by restoring wetlands and preserving forests.  Uganda continues to strengthen the capacity of its justice systems, including the special courts for human rights and anti-corruption, he said, more broadly describing obstacles related to financing, access to technology, limited capacity and data.

Ms. SKERRAT (United Kingdom), associating herself with the European Union, said the climate emergency risks pushing 100 million people into poverty by 2030.  Championing resilience and adaptation with Egypt and partner countries, the United Kingdom is aligning its ODA with the Paris accord and is the first G20 economy to legislate for a domestic net-zero emissions target by 2050.  More broadly, while the United Kingdom spends the targeted 0.7 per cent of its gross national income on ODA, it recognizes that ODA is insufficient to address the annual $2.4 trillion financing gap in developing countries.  Partnerships are critical.  She described the Government’s focus on private investment and impact investing, calling for a common framework for measuring impact, and underscoring the United Kingdom priority focus on equality, especially as related to gender.

LISE GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (The Netherlands), turning first to climate change, said that while mitigation efforts are crucial, building resilient societies requires adaptation.  Her country will host the Global Commission on Adaptation, which will launch its flagship report during the Climate Action Summit in September.  She went on to stress that the global justice gap negatively effects health, weakens societies and fuels conflict.  The Netherlands has committed to doubling the number of people who attain access to justice through its development aid in the coming year, half of those reached will be women.  She then handed the floor to HAJAR YAGKOUBI, youth representative, who proposed the creation of youth sustainability councils in all countries, so that elected youth advocates can engage with ministers on decisions affecting their futures.

Ms. BJERRE (Denmark), noting that youth activists such as herself are determined to take action to implement the 2030 Agenda, called on the United Nations and its Member States to engage closely with young people.  In Denmark, for example, a Youth Climate Council makes recommendations to the Government on sound and progressive climate policies, and Danish young people work in solidarity with their peers across the world to reduce inequalities.  “We do this because we want to take the best possible care of our global community,” she stressed, warning that the multilateral system is still not geared towards the change needed for a sustainable future.  Young people around the globe lack support, and could lose faith in the United Nations.  “What will the generation of the future do with a system that fails them?”, she asked, urging Member States to accelerate their inclusion of young people.  “We are all working for the same goal,” she said.

LUIS GALLEGOS (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the regional commissions — including the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) — complement the scope of the High-Level Political Forum.  The ambition of the 2030 Agenda requires the mobilization of more resources, he stressed, underscoring the important principle of common but differentiated responsibly among States.  In Ecuador, the 2030 Agenda’s implementation is a State policy and fully integrated into national plans.  The Government works to foster decent jobs, partnerships and economic investments, while also tackling corruption and illicit financial flows.  Noting that reducing inequalities and improving inclusion requires the empowerment of all people — including migrants and people with disabilities — he advocated for a human‑rights-based approach to climate action.

MILICA PEJANOVIĆ-DJURIŠIĆ (Montenegro) said her country was among the first to nationalize the Sustainable Development Goals and is now preparing its first implementation report.  Initial findings reveal significant progress in improving governance over natural resources.  The country has also defined a model for reducing the domestic consumption of materials by 20 per cent by 2020, while also increasing productivity.  Such achievements involve the continuous monitoring of water and forest resources to reduce developmental pressures — including a moratorium on the exploitation of sand and gravel from river basins, the protection of forests from unplanned use, illegal logging and fire, and the restorations of forests.  Noting Montenegro’s strategic goal of reducing emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels, she said the use of renewable energy is already accelerating, thanks to investments in energy efficiency and the transfer of technological solutions, which improve quality of life in urban areas.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) described the high political priority her country placed on leaving no one behind, noting that its first sustainable development strategy dates to 2002.  In 2018, Greece adopted a new strategic approach — owned at the highest political level — involving a “whole‑of‑Government”, “whole‑of‑society” method, which provides for an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Network and strong stakeholder engagement to ensure transparency and partnership.  On education, programmes focus on improving outcomes, reducing inequalities, assimilating new knowledge and transitioning skilled graduates into the labour market.  Social policies meanwhile address unemployment, notably for young people and women, and respond to the humanitarian needs of refugees, among other priorities.  As for the environment, Greece is firmly committed to the Paris Agreement and is well placed to meet its emissions reduction targets earlier than 2030.

CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand) urged the international community to incentivize the change it wishes to see.  As a Pacific country, New Zealand strongly supports the sustainable development efforts of the small island developing States.  It is strengthening partnerships for mutually beneficial development cooperation and supporting the substantive midterm review of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway, known as the Samoa Pathway.  The international community has yet to fully grapple with the enduring the vulnerability of small island developing States.  “We are not waiting for a changing climate to happen,” he said, adding:  “We are taking climate action.”  New Zealand is tackling its biggest emissions — those from its agriculture sector — and sharing lessons learned with the world through various initiatives and programmes.

DEE-MAXWELL SAAH KEMAYAH (Liberia) called on the global community to act now and scale up support for those furthest behind.  “As we transition to the next cycle, it has become more compelling to strengthen international cooperation and engender partnerships at all levels to accelerate progress towards implementation,” he said, adding that implementation of the Goals will not only require a huge surge in financial resources, but also leveraging and improving capacity, skills, knowledge and technology.  Liberia continues to make strides in addressing inequality, gender imbalances and youth unemployment, while expanding access to health care, education, social protection and other services.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said the economy is showing signs of improvement, as the Government works to boost public investment and economic activity.  The High‑Level Political Forum serves an opportunity for Member States to take note of progress made in implementing the 2030 Agenda.  This year’s theme highlights the centrality of people.  “Let us never forget that the 2030 Agenda is an agenda of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said.  Achieving peaceful and inclusive societies is one of Brazil’s priorities, he continued, adding that security, the rule of law and justice are all essential to fostering trust and building a more sustainable future.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), citing slow progress, underscored the need for more ambition to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  All authorities in Belgium — from the local to the federal level — have committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and pledged to work with various stakeholders to that end.  The very concept of sustainable development is based on rights, such as gender equality and access to quality education.  “Leaving no one behind is linked to human rights and preventive diplomacy,” he added, underscoring the numerous remaining challenges related to climate change, environmental degradation and insecurity.  Addressing them will only be possible if all stakeholders work together to advance both national and international interests.

ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia), associating himself with the European Union, said his country’s national development plan — which will be in place until 2027 — focuses on reducing economic and social inequalities, strengthening social security, promoting decent work and sustainable growth, and improving judicial efficiency and effectiveness.  Another priority is to transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, he said, adding that income inequality is closely linked to inequality of opportunity.  Noting that jobs naturally gravitate to urban areas, he underlined Latvia’s commitment to creating sustainable consumption and production patterns, including through a circular economy.  He underscored the country’s strong commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and said it is finalizing its own mitigation strategies.  Having submitted its national voluntary review to the Forum in 2018, Latvia supports other nations in doing the same and has joined the Group of Friends of the Voluntary National Reviews, he said.

MA ZHAOXU (China) described the 2030 Agenda as a “bright beacon” which will allow the international community to focus on people-centred development.  He called for a new multilateral relationship built on mutual respect among nations.  Developed countries should fully honour their ODA commitments, while developing nations should deepen their South-South cooperation.  Expressing support for the World Trade Organization (WTO), he called for increased “aid for trade” and renewed efforts to integrate developing countries into world markets.  China is working to bolster development through its Belt and Road Initiative, which integrates the purposes and principles of the 2030 Agenda.  Expressing hope that all countries will embrace the initiative as a way to drive sustainable development, he said China — as the world’s largest developing country — also provides support to its partners in the African, Arab and Latin American regions.

TAYE ATSKE SELASSIE AMDE (Ethiopia), associating himself with the “Group of 77” and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said “the clock is ticking” on meeting the 2030 Agenda.  He called for renewed collective commitment to ending all forms of poverty and protecting the planet.  Noting that Ethiopia aspires to become a middle–income country by 2025, he said the country is implementing inclusive, pro‑growth strategies that have made it one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies.  Despite such progress, however, more must be done to combat poverty and corruption, address sluggish export levels and reduce debt.  Efforts to reach the Goals must be complemented by renewed multilateralism, in particular, the provision of financial support to developing and least developed countries.

MACHARIA KAMAU, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, said that, to reach Goal 4 (quality education), his country provides free primary and secondary education, with a focus on improving quality through competency‑based curricula.  To accelerate implementation of all the Goals, Kenya has prioritized the “Big Four Agenda” focused on manufacturing and decent jobs, affordable housing, universal health coverage and food and nutrition security.  On Goal 10 (reduced inequalities), the transfer of financial resources to countries is now based on population, geographic area and poverty rates, in line with the principles of equity, subsidiarity and efficiency.  Having ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016, Kenya now has a national climate change action plan to carry out its response strategy, with a view to transitioning to a circular green economy.  The Government is also monitoring 131 Goal indicators, with immediate activities geared towards strengthening data, notably through a housing census in August.

BAKHTIYOR IBRAGIMOV (Uzbekistan) said his country continues to advance its social reforms, which are designed to improve well‑being and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Its national development strategy focuses on priority areas and on mobilizing every resource available to the Government.  Noting that 2019 is designated the Year of Active Investments and Social Development, he said Uzbekistan is focused on bolstering the economy, and improving the business and investment climate.  Last year, it proposed designating the Aral Sea region as a zone of ecological innovations and technologies, as a way to create favourable conditions for foreign investment.  This initiative will offer opportunities for wide-scale regional and international cooperation, he said.

PENNELOPE ALTHEA BECKLES (Trinidad and Tobago) said her country is fully committed to ensuring access to quality early childhood education and care, as well as universal primary and secondary education.  It has implemented a number of policies and programmes to ensure access to quality lifelong education and training for all citizens, she said, noting more broadly that the Government has maintained support for the social sector and the protection of its most vulnerable citizens through its national social mitigation plan 2017‑2022.  However, crime and violence continue to threaten the economic, social and developmental fabric of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.  Hence, the Government is devising solutions to its peace and security challenges by strengthening public policy, the rule of law and civil society.

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria) said Goal 4 (quality education) is essential to allowing generations to thrive, fulfil their potential and respond to social, economic and environmental challenges.  Describing Austria’s focus on vocational training, he said its “dual system” in which vocational training is integrated into secondary education is considered exemplary among European Union countries.  Austria invests 5.8 per cent of its GDP in education and specific national funding programmes which support equal access to vocational training for young women and men.  He also outlined the Government’s support to small and medium-sized enterprises and its development of labour policies aimed at improving market access for young people, the elderly, women, migrants, people with health impairments and those with low levels of education.

ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) said progress in his country is not satisfactory.  “We cannot realize [the 2030 Agenda] if we continue on the same path,” he cautioned, noting that the expanding war is a major obstacle to development.  The needs of least developed countries, and specifically, those that are also in conflict, are difficult to address.  The economic conditions in Yemen have fully deteriorated, with people suffering from lack of access to basic services.  Cholera and other diseases have spread and access to education has been stifled.  Implementation of the Goals must be part of rebuilding the country, he said, stressing that education and gender equity are essential.  With its limited resources, Yemen continues to do its utmost to provide youth and women with opportunities and to fight climate change.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said implementation of the 2030 Agenda requires effective multilateralism.  Portugal recently hosted the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth 2019 and the Youth Forum to promote young people’s role in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda.  Education plays a central role in building inclusive and resilient societies.  Likewise, the promotion of economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work are vital.  Addressing the effects of climate change is a priority for Portugal, he said, reiterating more broadly that justice and accountable institutions are at the core of sustainable development.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), associating with the “Group of 77” and China and the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said his country aims to reduce poverty and end inequality.  Economic growth has gone hand in hand with redistributive policies, he said, noting that most Bolivians are middle-income.  In 2005, unemployment hit 8.1 per cent, and by 2018, fell to 4.2 per cent.  Bolivia has also created jobs for teachers, significantly reducing the student drop-out rate, and recovered control of its national resources by nationalizing key sectors.  “The only way to promote sustainable development is to ensure a fair balance between the environmental and economic needs,” he said.

For information media. Not an official record.