Minister Molewa concludes attendance of high-level political forum on sustainable development at United Nations in New York

19 July 2017, United Nations Head Quarters, New York, United States of America (USA)

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has concluded a three-day visit to New York where she led a South African delegation to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development at the United Nations (UN).

The Forum was hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) under the theme “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World”. 

During the three-day Forum, Parties took stock of the overall objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030, adopted at the UN in September 2015.

Minister Molewa had participated in discussions in which progress and trends related to the implementation of Agenda 2030 of the SDGs were assessed and issues were identified that contribute and affect successful implementation.

The meeting of Ministers marked the first in-depth review of the SDG Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 including Goal 17, which include the areas of ending poverty, ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture, building resilient infrastructure, conserving and sustainably using the oceans and marine resources for sustainable development in line with the Goal directed at strengthening the means of implementation and revitalisation of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

Minister Molewa said in delivering the South Africa country statement to the Forum that as a developmental state addressing the quadruple challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality and sustainability (social, economic and environmental), it is important to note that given the reality of countries being at different levels of development, “success of the SDGs will be largely uneven and progress hampered by such challenges”.

“We therefore make an appeal to the Secretary-General that the UN system as a whole work collaboratively to share information, tools and expertise necessary to assist respective countries,” said the Minister.

Dr Molewa pointed out that the highest poverty rates in the world exist in sub-Saharan Africa. The 2030 Agenda resonates well with Africa’s roadmap for development – the African Union Agenda 2063, said the Minister.   Agenda 2063 is being implemented concurrently with the SDGs and is strengthened by the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), and the Regional Economic Commissions (RECs).

“To eradicate poverty in Africa, Official Development Assistance (ODA) is a priority. Combating illegal movements of money or capital from the African Continent is also vitally important and the fight against illicit financial flows, particularly from Africa should be at the forefront of the international efforts related to development financing as expressed in the report by the High-level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows, led by Former South African President Mbeki. In this respect, the work of the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up is very important,” the Minister said.

Food security and nutrition are essential for sustainable development and are strongly linked to the presence of sustainable agriculture, healthy and productive oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. All these services, particularly food production, are threatened by the impacts of climate change.    

“In this regard our commitment to and the full implementation of all elements of the Paris Agreement, the NDC’s including loss and damage in its entirety and not merely disaster risk management and early warning, becomes absolutely vital,”  Dr Molewa said.

The Minister added that investment in research, development and infrastructure for Science, Technology, Innovation and Engineering, as well as securing access to new, additional and predictable sources of funding without unrealistic pre-conditions is of central importance to African and other developing countries.

“It is my sincere hope and wish that as we focus on the implementation of the SDGs, we need all the available developmental tools and means of implementation at our disposal.  Our historic mission for future generations should be that leaders of the world, in government, business and civil society, can join hands and do what is right for future generations through eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity, and achieving all the SDGs by 2030,” said the Minister.

Minister Molewa participated in the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) High-Level panel discussion on how the development of green and more inclusive economies and financial mechanisms are delivering on the SDGs.

At the informal session of the UN General Assembly to commemorate Nelson Mandela International Day on 18 July, Minister Molewa commended those who had taken the time to contribute to the improvement of the lives of their fellow citizens in honour of the elder statesman.

Minister Molewa said at the Mandela Day event that nothing speaks to the challenge of providing equal opportunity for all more than the   material reality that confronts beneficiaries of good deeds on Mandela Day. 

Nothing exemplifies this reaching out more than the South African work with “women and young girls at-risk, homeless people, women and men, children in need, people living with HIV/AIDS and chronic mental illness, as well as the homeless”.

The Minister added: “In this regard, it is perhaps worth restating that the South African government has spared no effort in ensuring that Nelson Mandela’s dream continues to be realised, especially by the poor.  This resonates well with the theme of this High Level Political Forum.”

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Zanele Mngadi
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