UN General Assembly endorses the Addis Ababa Action Agenda

New York: The General Assembly [Monday] adopted a resolution endorsing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, a “new global framework” that many said would strengthen cooperation in technology, infrastructure and social protections that were key to realizing inclusive sustainable development.

With the Assembly’s endorsement, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “we launch a new era of cooperation and global partnership”. The Action Agenda would provide the foundation for success at the Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda, in New York in September, and at the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Paris in December.

Further, he said, the text offered incentives for investment in areas of global need. It also aligned financing flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities and provided a guide for actions by all stakeholders, and included a strong accountability mechanism. Other initiatives had been launched as well, notably the Addis Tax Initiative, increased commitments from development banks and a new financing partnership for women’s and children’s health.

“Only by staying engaged will we ensure that the commitments we endorse today will lead to tangible progress on the ground, in all countries and for all people”, he said. The world was now on a path to a more prosperous, just and sustainable future.

Along similar lines, Assembly President Sam Kutesa said the Action Agenda was a comprehensive financing framework that contained concrete deliverables, policies and actions that would support implementation of the post-2015 agenda. Its endorsement today showed the collective commitment towards eradicating poverty, achieving sustainable development and building a better future for all.

Through the text, countries agreed that domestic resource mobilization was central to the agenda, notably through measures that widened the revenue base, improved tax collection and combatted both tax evasion and illicit financial flows. At the same time, they reaffirmed their commitment to official development assistance (ODA), particularly for least developed countries, pledging to increase South-South cooperation.

Other commitments were made in matters crucial for sustainable development. In the area of technology, for example, countries agreed to establish a Technology Facilitation Mechanism to enhance collaboration among Governments, civil society, the private sector and others. A new Global Infrastructure Forum would identify and address infrastructure gaps and highlight opportunities for investment. Through a new “social compact”, Governments agreed to provide social protection systems for all, including social protection floors.

In the area of assistance, developed countries, through the text, committed to reversing declines in aid to the poorest countries, with the European Union committing to increase aid to least developed countries to 0.2 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2030. In the widely debated area of taxation, the agenda called for strengthening support to the United Nations Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to improve its effectiveness.

Following the adoption, many delegations welcomed the accord, with some explaining their reservations to parts of the text, especially on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, which they said should have been more clearly reaffirmed in the context of a global partnership for development. A few speakers noted that the financing for development process was separate from that of the post-2015 agenda, and as such, the integrity of both processes must be maintained. In that context, some argued, the Action Agenda must not be a substitute or replacement for the means of implementation, but rather should support them.

“We call for this global partnership for development to be revitalized and re-invigorated,” said the representative of South Africa on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, “particularly as we advance towards the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda”. Other areas to address were the need for development partners to meet their commitments and scale up ODA. The Agenda also should have considered the diverse needs of middle-income countries and the need to fully upgrade the Tax Committee into an intergovernmental body.

Going forward, said Saint Lucia’s representative on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), full consideration must be given to the unique needs of small island developing States, which stemmed from trade liberalization, global environmental degradation and global security issues. She also urged a focus on the unsustainable debt that was hindering many countries’ path towards sustainable development.

Also today, the Assembly paid tribute to Roble Olhaye of Djibouti, the longest-serving Permanent Representative of the United Nations, whose passing last week deeply saddened the United Nations community. In his 27 years of service, Mr. Olhaye had built an enduring legacy in New York and Washington, D.C., where he had served as ambassador of his country to the United States. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon remembered him as a “passionate champion of Africa”, who was admired for his energy, dedication and sincerity.

Several delegations praised Mr. Olhaye’s “outstanding” diplomatic career, marked by his vibrant intellect and dedication to United Nations ideals. As the “voice of Africa”, he articulately expressed the continent’s aspirations, several said.

Also expressing their condolences were the representatives of South Africa (speaking for the African States), Bangladesh (speaking for the Asia-Pacific States), Romania (speaking for the Eastern European States), Paraguay (speaking for Latin American and Caribbean States), Spain (speaking for Western European and Other States), and the United States.

Speaking in explanation of position after action was the representative of Venezuela.

Also making general statements after action were the representatives of Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Japan, Brazil, New Zealand, Colombia, Russian Federation, United States, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Canada and Turkey, as well as the representative of the European Union Delegation.

  • Selected statements from the debate:

JEREMIAH NYAMANE KINGSLEY MAMABOLO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77”, said the Addis Ababa Action Agenda was complementary to and supplemented the Means of Implementation for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. As recognized in paragraph 19 of the Action Agenda, the post-2015 agenda could be met within the framework of a revitalized global partnership supported by concrete policies and actions outlined in the Action Agenda. “We call for this global partnership for development to be revitalized and re-invigorated, particularly as we advance towards the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda,” he said, noting that the world must not lose sight of the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals in order to leave no one behind. That global partnership, with North-South cooperation in its centre, should aim at helping to bridge gaps in global economic disparities and equalities and included adequate financing, an area where developed countries should demonstrate leadership and unequivocal commitment complemented by the private sector and South-South cooperation efforts with the North playing a primary role in financing those endeavours, he said.

Even as compromises had been reached on some key areas of the Action Agenda, there remained issues of principles the Group fully endorsed that had not been adequately accommodated in the text. Areas that should have been addressed were the re-affirmation of the key principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in the context of a global partnership for development, the need to maintain the integrity of the Third International Conference for Financing for Development and the post-2015 development agenda as separate processes while acknowledging the need for stronger synergies between them, and the need for development partners to meet current commitments and to scale up official development assistance (ODA). The Agenda should also take into account the diverse needs of middle-income countries, the need to fully upgrade the Tax Committee into an intergovernmental body and the issues of countries and people living under foreign occupation and of lifting and terminating coercive measures.

The integrity of the post-2015 agenda and the financing for development processes must be respected, he said. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda must not be a substitute or replacement for the Means of Implementation, but should support it. The Means of Implementation contained in each sustainable development goal and in Goal 17 were a fundamental component of the post-2015 agenda. “The Group of 77 and China […] has not abandoned its principled position,” he said. “We shall continue to strive for a just world economic system in the spirit of multilateralism.”

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), aligning himself with the “Group of 77”, also welcomed the Agenda’s adoption, saying that the outcome constituted an important first step on the road to the implementation of the post-2015 agenda. Financing for development was a valuable independent process with a scope and challenge of its own. As such, the Addis outcome supported Goal 17 and other elements of the sustainable development goals and targets. The dedicated process of review of the Financing for Development Conference outcome was another important element to emerge from the conference, he said, noting that the financing for technology mechanism was an example of constructive North-South dialogue and adding that paragraph 123 of the Action Agenda would be inserted into the post-2015 agenda. Brazil supported the promotion of greater ambition in mobilizing financing for sustainable development. Finally, he expressed regret over the lack of agreement on upgrading the Tax Committee to an intergovernmental body, as proposed by the “Group of 77”.

CRISTIANE ENGELBRECHT SCHADTLER (Venezuela), aligning with the statement to be made by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, expressed several reservations on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which she felt did not fully reflect the diversity of opinions on the matter of sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development must go hand-in-hand with training and capacity-building, which would reduce inequality within and between countries. The reduction of subsidies to fossil fuels was interventionist, she said, adding that her country would not accept any review or monitoring of its national policies in that respect. Venezuela rejected references to “low-carbon economies”, or carbon price fixing, for the same reasons. Modern energy involved the use of new technologies, she said. Her delegation deplored the fact that paragraph 14 of the Action Agenda had deleted an offer of financing through the establishment of new development banks to complement existing international institutions. She also expressed a reservation over “coercive measures” that influenced the sovereignty and self-determination of peoples. In addition, Venezuela was not a party to 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, she said, noting that its joining of the consensus on the Action Agenda should not be interpreted as a change in that position.

  • The complete summary of the debate can be accessed here