Title: The General Debate of the Second Committee of the 68th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations – 22nd and 23rd Meeting

Date and Location: Monday, October 28, 2013; 10am-1pm, 3pm-6pm; Conference Room 2 (CB)

Key Speakers:

22nd Meeting: Dr. Joan Clos, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat; Representatives from Fiji (on behalf of Group of 77 and China), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the Caribbean Communities (CariCom)), Myanmar (on behalf of ASEAN), Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Senegal, Singapore, Equador, and Brazil.

23rd Meeting: Director of DESA; Representative from Fiji (on behalf of G77 and China), Ethiopia (on behalf of the African Group), Philippines (on behalf of ASEAN), Guyana (on behalf of CariCom), European Union, Egypt, Israel, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, China, New Zealand, Nepal, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Thailand, Congo, Cote D’Ivoire and Qatar.

Written By: Shan Cheema

On its 22nd meeting, the second committee discussed the Secretary-General’s report on the “Implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) and the strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme,” under its agenda item 20.

The report was introduced by Dr. Joan Clos, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat. Dr. Clos mentioned the seven focus areas of the UN Habitat’s new strategic plan for 2014-2016 which included urban legislation, land and governance; urban planning and design; urban economy and municipal finance; urban basic services; housing and slum upgrading; risk reduction and rehabilitation; and research and capacity development.

Gender, youth, climate change and human rights form the four cross-cutting issues of the plan, said Dr. Joan. Considering the fact that 50 per cent of the global population is now urban, the new plan puts an increased focus on the issues of adequate and sustainable urbanization.

The delegations noted the importance of urbanization as an important demographic phenomenon and recognized the ever-increasing need for sustainable cities. The representative of Bangladesh said that sustainable urban development is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century and can pose serious problems, especially in developing countries, if not addressed appropriately.

The Malaysian delegation made a similar statement. The representatives of Fiji and Antigua stressed on affordable housing and slum upgrading. The delegates also urged the international donors to support the national and regional preparations for the Habitat III conference.

The committee began its 23rd meeting with the introduction of a report of the Secretary General on agriculture development, food security and nutrition. The report noted that there has been progress in reducing the number of hungry people in the world. However, the report also highlighted that the current progress rate is insufficient to achieve international hunger reduction goals.

The delegations agreed with the report and stated that hunger elimination involves “investment in agriculture, rural development, social protection and equality of opportunity.” Developing countries, like Ethiopia which represented the African group, noted that agriculture remains crucial for the region to overcome issues of “poverty and sustainable development.” They called on the developed countries for public financing and transfer of technology to promote sustainable agriculture in LDCs and the developing countries.

Many delegations also noted that one third of all food that is produced is wasted globally. The representative of New Zealand called it a “disgrace in a world that must be fed.” The representative of Fiji highlighted that while approximately 8 million people suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition, more than 1.4 billion adults are overweight. He therefore, urged for a “people-centered” approach to food security and nutrition.

Edited by: Wayne Dean Doyle

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