Statement by Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, to the General Debate of High Level Political Forum, under the Auspices of ECOSOC

New York
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mr President,

It is my honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Fiji and its fraternal Melanesian neighbours Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu , to the High Level Political Forum on the selected theme of  “Achieving the MDGs and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, including the SDGs”.

In our island countries we have been diligently examining this theme at national, regional and international forums, inclusively as governments with civil society and the private sector, in view of the central importanceof this theme to the future of the only planet in the universe known to sustain life.

We have formed the view that what the Small Island Developing States have been articulating, in particular in relation to Climate Change and the health of the oceans, is a global call for a development agenda that will be for the good of humanity as a whole. It is true that the Small Island Developing States are at the existential front-line of the effects of Climate Change.  We now know for sure that the effects are anthropogenically created.  We have to accept that the future is one of rising sea levels, ocean acidification and increasing severity of storms, droughts and other natural hazards. But what has probably not been said clearly enough is that no one on this planet will be spared the deleterious effects of Climate Change. 

With the Open Working Group on Sustainable Goals entering its closing stages this month, it is heartening to see that both Climate Change and Oceans issues have made their way onto the draft global development agenda. Our thanks go to the Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group and to fellow Member States for having the good sense to realise that there can be no sustainability in this world if we do not adequately address the challenges of Climate Change, and the prospect of barren oceans. In the time that remains to finalise the SDGs, we call on Member States to protect these universal goals and strengthen the targets pertaining to Climate Change and Oceans, such as management of ocean resources and reduction of marine pollution.

Arising from the MDG experience, we have at our disposal much data and analysis of the development tasks at hand; and resting on the three pillars of sustainable development, the Rio+20 Summit gave us clear guidance on action required.Taking these as our lead, this year Fiji instituted a Green Growth framework to guide national development, putting people at the centre of development and building environmental resilience, building social improvement and reducing poverty through economic growth, while implementing measures to improve resilience to the anticipated adverse effects of Climate Change. This, Mr President, is a concrete example of how Small Island Developing States are acting to achieve “The Future We Want”.

All of our Melanesian countries were present last month at the Pacific Islands Development Forum, opened by His Excellency Sisilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indonesia, in Nadi, Fiji. This regional forum is a unique platform that brings together Pacific leaders from the public and private sectors and civil society to address regional development challenges, through mutually beneficial innovative partnerships. It has been formed in the belief that no one sector in society can deliver the complexities of sustainable development alone. Following on from the outcomes of Rio+20, the Pacific Islands Development Forum is working to secure sustainable development commitments for our region and to mobilize action in support of the Green Economy.

Mr. President,

We are pleased to see a strong stand-alone SDG for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, supported by focused targets. Violence against women and girls, and their trafficking and sexual exploitation,have no proper place in civilized society. The elimination of these ills is a challenge in our countries, where violence against women is unacceptably high. We are rising to the challenge, and look forward to the support of partners in meeting what we are pleased to see is a strong target in this regard. We also look forward to the development of realistic and well-supported indicators for the same. 

On a global scale, we believe further emphasis should be given in the SDGs to the education of the girls as an enabler for economic empowerment and participation of women in leadership positions in the public and private spheres. We believe that through application of dovetailed targets, meaningful and sustainable transformation can be achieved.

Mr. President,

The ICPD Beyond 2014 review report, concluded earlier this year, identified a number of gaps in the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action. These included areas fundamental to the Programme of Action, such as the need to achieve universal access to reproductive health, universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and the need to further reduce maternal and child mortality, as well as the adoption of a rights-based approach in implementing policies and programmes on adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health and child health. It is imperative that these gaps in implementation be addressed by incorporating action in this regard into the post-2015 development agenda.

It is imperative that the gaps in implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action, as identified in the global operational review, be the focus of work of the lead agencies involved in partnership with governments and other relevant stakeholders. The motto of UNFPA, namely “To deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled” has never been more pertinent.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the point has been made numerous times during this High Level Political Forum that at the time of developing the MDGs, there was skepticism about the scope and utility of the goals. Many said they were too ambitious and not realistic. Yet, despite some remaining gaps,we can now say that humanity took great development strides under the MDGs, covering more ground than many skeptics thought possible. We must build on the lessons of the MDG achievements and take the same level of ambition into the post-2015 development agenda and the pursuit of the SDGs. To do any less would be a disservice to future generations.

I thank you Mr. President.

 

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