General Market

Security Council Extends Mandate of United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2404 (2018)

The Security Council today decided to extend until 28 February 2019 the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea‑Bissau (UNIOGBIS), also deciding to review the sanctions imposed on that country and pledging…

General Market

Vital Marine Habitats Being Destroyed by Illegal Fishing Practices, Harmful Subsidies, Speakers Warn at United Nations Ocean Conference

Speakers in the United Nations Ocean Conference today tackled ways to combat illegal fishing practices that were destroying vital marine habitats, as well as eliminate the $35 billion in harmful subsidies that had led to overfishing, distorted markets and chronic mismanagement of the world’s fisheries.

In a morning partnership dialogue on “Making fisheries sustainable”, panellist Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said trade negotiations in the area of harmful fisheries subsidies were referenced in Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.  The World Trade Organization was in intense negotiations to come up with agreed language on the prohibition of subsidies at its December Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

He said questions hinged on how to identify such behaviour without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization, citing other challenges around providing “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers without undercutting those disciplines.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.

Panellist Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), agreed that harmful subsides could be stopped through WTO.  Multi-stakeholder and targeted support to help coastal communities get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that FAO was prepared to help develop a plan to rebuild fisheries.

On the issue of illegal fishing, Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, who co-chaired the meeting, said the problem should be addressed by a global coalition.  For its part, Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million and seizing repeat offenders.  It also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas and ratified the Port State Measures Agreement.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of Government, industry and civil society exchanged ideas for addressing those problems, with Norway’s representative stressing that illegal fishing amounted to “stealing from dinner tables”.  Vanuatu’s delegate cited a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters, while the representative of the Republic of Korea, meanwhile, was one of several who pointed to the Port State Measures Agreement as a way to deter those practices.

A speaker from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial fishing operations that used bottom-trolling and dredging techniques.  She recommended designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers and banning harmful fisheries subsidies.

In the afternoon, the Conference held a partnership dialogue on “Increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Co-Chair Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, opened the discussion with a call for more investment in marine technology and an embrace of broad-based wealth creation.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared, pointing out that in Grenada, mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.

Along similar lines, Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment of Estonia, who also co-chaired the meeting, said empowering local communities was essential.  Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  Cooperative associations had helped to improve market access.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power.

The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 June.

Partnership Dialogue I

In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “making fisheries sustainable”.  Moderated by Anthony Long, Director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard of Canada, and Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, it featured a panel discussion by Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States; Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); and Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat.

Mr. LEBLANC said Canada was a proud maritime nation, with fisheries and aquaculture contributing $9 billion to its economy each year, generating countless jobs in rural, coastal and indigenous communities.  The fisheries sector provided the backbone for many national and small-scale economies.  Noting that sustainable fisheries were key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said “we need to make a more concerted effort to tackle such things as illegal fishing, underreporting and harmful subsidies that result in over-capacity.”  With international action as the common goal, WTO provided the venue and means to achieve enforceable fisheries subsidies rules.  Fisheries management played an important role in conservation and had led to positive biodiversity outcomes, with a range of measures that protected to single stocks and the ecosystems upon which they relied.  Those conservation objectives must be incorporated into fisheries management plans.  Marine protected areas were an essential component of sustainable fisheries management.  Canada had adopted a milestone to conserve 5 per cent of its waters by the end of 2017, as a sign of its commitment to conserving 10 per cent by 2020.  Describing Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change as “unwavering”, he also underscored the importance of its partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, environmental groups and industry in advancing the marine conservation agenda.

Mr. GUÈYE said Senegal was a country of fisheries, with 6,000 actors working in that sector and 75 per cent of people’s animal protein needs coming from fish and marine life.  “Senegal is very interested in sustainable fisheries,” he said, pointing to a law that reserved space for artisanal fisheries, within which large industrial fisheries were prohibited.  In the south, all vessels were banned from approaching the coast.  Senegal also had revised its fisheries code, which now allowed for trout to be fished at 40 centimetres, rather than 20 centimetres, with the greater depths allowing more time for the fish to multiply.  Underscoring the need to combat large-scale fishing, he said another aspect was to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, which should be addressed in the most appropriate manner by a global coalition.  Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million, and seizing repeat offenders.  The Government also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas, acceded to a forum that ensured transparency in the fisheries industry, and ratified the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  “We have high hopes for this meeting,” he said, and for strong measures to be taken.

Mr. MATHIESEN said fisheries today faced many different problems.  Three, however, stood out, and if they were tackled and solved, other problems would be easier to resolve.  Those three problems included illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the difficulty of managing migrating fish stocks on the high seas and in sovereign coastal waters; and improving the status of coastal fishing communities in developing countries, including small island developing States.  Several factors drove those problems, including an estimated $35 billion in harmful subsidies, population growth, poverty, economic and forced migration, climate change and unprecedented levels of climate events.  Solutions would include improved science-based local, national and regional fisheries management, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could be addressed through existing instruments.  Strong regional management models were in place, but they required political, scientific and financial support.  Harmful subsidies could be stopped through WTO.  A multi-stakeholder and targeted approach to support coastal communities and get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that the FAO was prepared to help develop a blueprint to rebuild fisheries.

Ms. KEMMERLY said that, about 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations launched a movement that sought to create market demand for sustainable seafood which involved, among other things, encouraging businesses to use their market leverage to improve policy, traceability and social responsibility.  For the non-governmental organization community, sustainability was not just an environmental matter, but also a question of social responsibility.  While mainly focused so far in the United States and the European Union, the sustainable seafood movement was growing in other places, such as Brazil, Japan and South-East Asia.  She went on to describe efforts being made with regard to tuna, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation engaged in reporting, conservation and traceability measures, and with shrimp, a sector that would require making sustainability profitable for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in South-East Asia.

Mr. BRAUNER said trade negotiations in the area of harmful subsidies were referenced in target 14.6.  It was natural that WTO, the only organization with binding rules and subsidies, and a conceptual approach, was the venue for subsidies negotiations.  WTO fisheries subsidies work had been reenergized by target 14.6, with proposals coming in to fulfil WTO’s part of that target.  WTO was in a period of intense negotiations with proposals from least developed countries, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, European Union, a group of Latin American countries, New Zealand and Indonesia, all pushing hard for a binding decision to be made at the December ministerial conference.  There was emerging convergence on the prohibition of subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, referred to in target 14.6, and on the prohibition of subsidies for overfished stocks.  Questions hinged on how to identify such behavior, without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization.  Some developing countries did not want fisheries-management references in the treaty, whereas others said that without such points, subsidies discipline would be impossible.

Another challenge, he continued, was how to provide “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers and develop their own fisheries, without undercutting those disciplines.  WTO’s business was about trade flows and products produced on land.  Those taking place under water involved internationally shared resources or those outside national jurisdiction.  For such reasons, the effect of subsidies was not on trade in fish products, but rather on access to resources, with an indirect effect on trade.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.  Target 14.6 represented a commitment by all Governments — individually — to eliminate harmful fishery subsidies.  In parallel, there was a WTO process under way to achieve a multilateral agreement prohibiting illegal fishing.  There was a possibility for that outcome this year, representing WTO’s contribution to meeting the 2020 date for eliminating the most harmful fishing subsidies.  Such an agreement could undergird individual Government fisheries subsidies reform, which in turn, should facilitate multilateral agreement.

Mr. HAUGHTON said the benefits of creating sustainable fisheries depended on how States implemented governance and management reforms to conserve and protect the marine environment.  “This is undoubtedly the single most important challenge for fisheries in this generation,” he said, noting that the Caribbean Sea was semi-enclosed, representing one interconnected marine ecosystem.  Stocks were shared between two or more States, and in some cases, extended into the high seas.  Cooperation was fundamental for fisheries management.  Caribbean Governments in 2002 had established a regional fisheries body to facilitate cooperation and conservation of fisheries resources.  It was comprised of a ministerial council, a fisheries forum, a permanent secretariat and a number of technical and scientific working groups.  There were three other fisheries bodies that were in the region.

He said small island developing States had multispecies fisheries served by small, open vessels, noting that most commercially important stocks in the region had been over-exploited, while others had not significantly contributed to economic development.  Despite that catches over the last decade were 30 per cent lower than the 30-year average, the overall production trend had been positive.  The regional fisheries management bodies were investing more of their own resources to harmonize their practices.  Partnerships had grown among small-scale operators.  Partnership between and among the three main fisheries bodies had taken the form of formal cooperation agreements to strengthen fisheries management.  More broadly, such partnerships had helped “enormously” in transitioning the region towards sustainable fisheries management.

In the ensuing discussion, Heads of Government, ministers, other senior officials and representatives of Member States, international organizations and civil society covered a wide range of fisheries-related issues, from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries to zone-based fisheries management and the little-mentioned place of Caribbean sport fishing.

SEREMAIAH MATAI NAWALU, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-security of Vanuatu, said managing Pacific fisheries through monitoring, control and surveillance efforts, particularly against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, remained a big battle for the Pacific region.  There was also a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters.  Tackling those problems and others required a multilateral and integrated approach.

ENELE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, underscored an urgent need for capacity-building, legislation and enforcement measures.  Expressing concern over the weak management of high-seas fisheries, he called on partner nations to adhere to zone-based fisheries management approaches.  He added that an ongoing process under United Nations auspices was required to ensure a commitment to healthy oceans.

TONE SKOGEN, State Secretary of Norway, said illegal fishing amounted to stealing from dinner tables.  The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which recently came into force, would make illegal fishing less attractive.  Due to continuous research, annually revised regulations and enforcement, Norway’s commercial fish stocks were in good condition.

The representative of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency recommended zone-based management as a way to empower States to better manage their marine resources while promoting sustainable development.  Noting that Pacific Island countries had a long history of cooperation and investment, he said data-sharing, collaborative asset deployment and other forms of partnership had made a difference in the level of illegal tuna fishing in the region.

The representative of the British Virgin Islands said not much was said about sport fishing, but that activity involved valuable species that were important to marine ecological systems.  He outlined a number of measures being taken in that regard by the territory, including a strengthened licensing regime, assessing the impact of the number of vessels on the water, and controlling the number and duration of fishing tournaments.  He went on to reiterate the British Virgin Island’s commitment to protect reefs and sharks.

Mr. BRAUER, on that point, replied that it was a matter of choosing the most appropriate format for the region.

The representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that the Port State Measures Agreement would help deter illegal fishing.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said his country comprised some 50,000 people, living on 104 square miles of land surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.  He described a strategic plan for the Government, working with various stakeholders, to chart the course for making fisheries sustainable, by underscoring the need for greater participation among all stakeholders, and more attention to disaster risk management.

The representative of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said 90 per cent of fishers were in the small-scale sector, which provided half of the world’s catches and more than 60 per cent of fish for human consumption.  Marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial-scale fishing operations.  Underscoring the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, she said large-scale, non-selective fishing was the greatest negative impact on the marine habitat, much of it conducted through bottom-trolling and dredging, which destroyed fish habitats.  Those practices must be tackled by designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers, and banning harmful fisheries subsidies, including for fuel.

The representative of Iceland said the Government was marking the ocean floor in its exclusive economic zone using multibeam techniques, efforts that were vital to the sustainable use of marine life.  She highlighted Iceland’s commitment on the adoption of formal fisheries management plans, stressing that in the international context, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was the main framework for sustainable management, as long as States met their obligations and worked together.

The representative of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) said its cooperation with law enforcement in the Caribbean had led to the arrest in July 2016 of a vessel carrying out illegal fishing.  Through “Project Scale”, INTERPOL agents in Lyon, with experience in fisheries crime, carried out criminal analysis of illegal fishing activities, which were often linked to human trafficking.  INTERPOL offered a holistic approach, providing and reading notices, and sharing information on the modalities of fisheries crime.  There was also a secure network that linked States and provided investigative support to certain cases.

The representative of Spain underscored the need to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which he called a “blight” on the seas that destroyed the profitability of companies that complied with rules and regulations.

The representative of Friends of Marine Life said coastal communities in India had been pursuing sustainable fishing practices for centuries, employing traditional knowledge.  However, mega-projects were threatening their livelihoods, he said, identifying — among other challenges — the problems posed by bottom trawling, breakwater construction and overfishing by large vessels supported by large business lobbies.

The representative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the elimination of harmful subsidies was central to the multilateral trade agenda.  Fish subsidies contributed to distorting market prices, encouraged unfair competition and expanded inequality between developed and developing countries.  With attention to the issue gaining momentum, he said Member States should work towards a common text for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

The representative of Indonesia said there should be a designated body to ensure that the right of oceans to be protected was not bothered by political change or agendas.  The high seas meanwhile needed to be better managed so that distant-country fishing did not harm resource sustainability, she said, adding that the General Assembly should, in its resolutions, acknowledge transnational fisheries crimes.

MARCELO MENA, Minister for Environment of Chile, said his country was specifically combatting illegal fishing and working actively to eliminate harmful subsidies.  In its opinion, stronger international cooperation and regulation — within the framework of existing multilateral agreements and regional fisheries management associations — was needed.  It was vital, he added, to know more about the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture and to set out plans accordingly.

The representative of the Marine Stewardship Council said its certification and labelling programmes for seafood caught in the wild provided an incentive for other fisheries to improve their performance.  Putting the size of the market for certified and traceable seafood products at $5 billion, he said credible certification had an important contribution to make to address the problem of overfishing.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of Thailand, Gabon, Marshall Islands and Sweden.

Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Bank, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Vulcan, Inc., International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Comunidad y Biodiversidad and World Economic Forum also spoke.

Partnership Dialogue II

The afternoon featured a dialogue partnership titled “increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries, and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Moderated by Meg Taylor, Pacific Ocean Commissioner, it featured presentations by Mohamed Shainee, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Maldives; Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, United Nations; Laura Tuck, Vice-President for Sustainable Development, World Bank Group; and Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of Caribbean Network Fisherfolk Organization.  The dialogue was co-chaired by Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment, Estonia.

Mr. MITCHELL said the issue of jobs and livelihoods that allowed economies to capture more economic value was a common thread for today’s discussion.  “I feel strongly that we need more investment in marine technology,” he said, applicable to small island developing States and least developed countries alike.  On one hand, States must ensure that artisanal fishers were custodians of their marine resources and sustainably reaping the economic benefits.  On the other hand, they must reduce pressures on the resources by providing alternatives and more rewarding livelihoods for coastal communities.  In Africa, for example, mobile phones allowed fishers to check market prices while at sea, leading to better prices for fish, less wastage and more environmental conservation.

Similarly in Grenada, he said mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.  “To lift our people, we must embrace broad-based wealth creation through innovation and technology,” he said, underscoring Grenada’s commitment to the Blue Innovation Institute, which would be a hub for innovation in coastal planning, natural capital enhancement, aquaculture and biotechnology.  Indeed, the size of small islands should be seen as a distinct advantage.  Those countries should be viewed as large ocean States.  He urged embracing the optimism around blue growth, and the idea that, by 2030, such economies had the potential to outpace global economic growth.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology-transfer handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared.

Mr. POMERANTS said Estonia, a small eastern European country, was roughly the size of the Dominican Republic, with 1.3 million people.  It boasted a maritime area almost as large as its mainland, with one of the world’s longest coastlines per capita and some 1,200 islands.  Small-scale coastal fisheries were an important part of its cultural heritage, and as a sea-faring people, “you can find an Estonian in every port in the world”.  Estonia was sharing its best practices through technology transfer and capacity-building.  The key to sustainability lay in a holistic and integrated framework.

Given the transboundary nature of ecosystems, he said the best results had been achieved by regional marine governance frameworks that facilitated cooperation.  His region’s organization — HELCOM — facilitated marine research, with policies based on the best scientific data.  To improve access for small-scale artisanal fisheries, empowering local communities was essential, he said, stressing that Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  To improve market access, his country had achieved success through cooperative associations.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power in terms of price setting.  Community involvement was instrumental to achieving Goal 14, he said, noting that Estonia’s reputation as a digital pioneer could help other countries redefine governance through its e-governance platform.  To ensure sustainable fisheries management, an online fishing permit system had been set up, which today issued 90 per cent of recreational licenses.

Ms. TAYLOR said that, as a Pacific Islander, she hailed from a region dominated — depending on one’s point of view — by small island developing States or big ocean-stewardship States, where the importance of coastal fisheries could not be overstated.  Fishing was a primary source of protein, fish consumption was among the highest in the world and inshore fisheries provided income for 50 per cent of all households.  The interactive discussion could be informed not only by Goal 14, but by other Goals, such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, gender equality and combating climate change.

Mr. SHAINEE said “we don’t talk about issues facing oceans nearly enough”, yet few places depended on oceans more than small island developing States.  Today’s partnership dialogue theme thus addressed what those States could do in their own backyards.  Discussing the situation in Maldives, he attributed the success of its tourism industry — which accounted for 28 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) — to the recognition of its natural heritage as its biggest asset.  Resort development was regulated with a view to protecting the environment, with architecture blending into the natural surroundings.  Upon determining that shark tourism produced more revenue than shark fishing, Maldives declared its entire exclusive economic zone as a shark sanctuary.  Turning to tuna, he said that by catching them on a one-by-one basis, Maldives had created one of the world’s leanest and greenest fisheries which recognized that consumers would pay more for sustainably harvested products.  More tuna meant more sharks and healthier reefs, which attracted tourism, with the benefits multiplying accordingly, he said.

Ms. ‘UTOIKAMANU said Goal 14 was important for nations in special situations such as least developed countries and small island developing States where millions of people depended on marine resources for nutrition and livelihood.  Noting that the national fishing capacity of small island developing States was limited, she emphasized the importance of ongoing cooperation with distant water fishing nations and the international community at large.  Countries in special situations were meanwhile vulnerable to external shocks, as well as rapid population growth, urban congestion, climate change and imported food and energy.  Long-term efforts could be undone in a matter of hours, she said.  Turning to the tourism sector, she said it was critical for small island developing States and least developed countries, having lifted some of the latter into middle-income status.  Tourism could help States meet several Sustainable Development Goals, but if not properly managed, it could degrade the environment.  Water scarcity was another concern, as peak tourist seasons often coincided with dry seasons.  Managing water resources would require a package of relevant measures, but with the right set of incentives and regulations, water management could be improved for all.

Ms. TUCK discussed the Bank’s “Sunken Billions” report which found that, because of overfishing, global fisheries forego more than $80 billion a year, compared to an optimal scenario.  It examined what would happen if fishing was reduced by 44 per cent over an unspecific period of time.  It found that the biomass of fish would almost triple.  Fish would be larger and have a higher value.  If fishing was reduced by 5 per cent annually for 10 years from its 2012 level, the optimal level would be achieved by 2030.  “Sunken billions” referred to the mismatch between increasing fishing efforts and the declining catch.  Giving the oceans a break would lead to increased catch and increased income at the local level.  “We need good governance and capable institutions to ensure that changes are sustainable,” she said.  For example, after decades of being prices takers, the parties to Nauru Agreement gathered in 2008 to use their huge tuna resources as leverage in the Vessel Day Scheme to reduce the fishing effort.  Through a $40 million Pacific region ocean project, the Bank was working to strengthen their capacity and ensure those gains were sustained.  In Kiribati, the financial institution’s technical assistance was helping the Government collect revenue from access fees paid by vessels into an $800 million sovereign wealth fund.  In all such cases, the Bank was supporting measures to enforce tenure rights, and ensure that fishing communities and operators were involved in decisions on fisheries management.

Mr. LAY recommended that States recognize and enhance the contributions of small-scale fisheries to their economies, as well as promote and ensure the security of tenure, in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.  To enhance productivity, he recommended looking at how to sustainably use the significant — but either un- or under-utilized — ocean resources of many small island developing States, which could supply local populations with adequate food.  Addressing marketing and value-added aspects, he said the entire fish often was not used, which translated to suboptimal food and economic benefit.  Energy production and related activities should be carefully considered so as not to negatively impact small-scale fisheries.  Further, Governments should consider expanding local market access, as small island developing States often produced less than they consumed and lacked effective local marketing mechanisms.  Access and governance issues must be grounded in local realities, especially when considering marine protected areas, which limited small-scale fisheries access.  Similarly, tourism should not negatively impact small-scale fisheries, and conversely, the linkages between fisheries and tourism should be deepened in the context of food and recreational activities, while promoting local livelihoods.  He also advocated support for the development of small-scale fisheries organizations.  “This is the precondition for meaningful participation in the decision making process,” he said.  “If we create spaces for participation, States should carve out support for small-scale fisheries to fill those spaces.”

In the ensuing discussion, participants explored ways to support small island developing countries and, more specifically, access of their small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

BARON WAQA, President of Nauru, said countries that benefited from the exploitation of his nation’s tuna stocks must do more to share the burden that such fishing entailed.  Artisanal fishers could be supported through enhanced access to resources and markets, he said, adding that Nauru sought to establish long-term and productive partnerships that would unlock the full potential of sustainable ocean development.

The representative of Seychelles said his country had pioneered a financial instrument to raise $15 million in capital from private investors interested in putting money into sustainable development, including marine conservation, fisheries governance and the diversification of value chains.

The representative of Australia discussed her country’s official development assistance (ODA) in the Indo-Pacific region, including a programme that would support Pacific Island countries to delineate their maritime boundaries.  Another initiative would provide support to prevent and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The representative of Rare said the next 10 years must focus on community-led solutions and small-scale fishers, many of whom were women.  His non-governmental organization was committed to mobilizing $100 million to support the sustainability of small-scale fisheries.

GALE RIGOBERT, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, said international quota management mechanisms must act in a way that did not disadvantage small island developing States.  Noting that only so much could be achieved without appropriate assistance, she said genuine, mutually beneficial and durable partnerships were needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of the International Renewable Energy Agency described the “SIDS [small island developing States] Lighthouse” initiative to transform energy systems and help those States integrate renewables into their energy mix.  The agency saw big opportunities in ocean energy technology and had recently updated its patent study.

The representative of New Zealand said 60 per cent of the global tuna catch was harvested in the Pacific region.  Yet, Pacific nations received only a small proportion of the market value of that resource.  New Zealand had invested $54 million to improve sustainable fish management and address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, notably working with the Cook Islands to set up a catch quota system.  She urged countries to cooperate in the establishment of effective WTO disciplines on harmful subsidies.

The representative of Denmark said there were 406 islands in her country, and its marine resources were an integral part of the economy.  Since 2007, Denmark had allocated more fish stocks to coastal fishermen.  More broadly, small island developing States’ dependence on fossil fuels was unsustainable.  As such, Denmark had helped create the SIDS DOCK Support Program, establishing stations to connect small islands’ energy centres — notably in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sao Tome and Principe — with global markets.

The representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat said 45 of its 52 members were island States, where fish constituted more than 50 per cent of exports.  She called for addressing harmful subsidies that distorted markets, stressing that national maritime resources had been extracted by third parties without sufficient financial capture on behalf of the State and its citizens.  She proposed the creation of a Blue Commonwealth Charter, which would apply to sustainable oceans economic development, stressing that truly blue economic development must be done in a way that preserved ocean health.

The representative of Conservation International announced a voluntary commitment on social responsibility in global fisheries and aquaculture, as well as a financing commitment for community-managed conservation mosaics along Colombia’s Pacific coast.  Called La Minga — or “Everyone Together” — it would combine community, national and regional budget allocations and a $5 million endowment.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said the ocean and its resources offered food security and jobs for 15,000 people in his country, 80 per cent of whom were women.  Papua New Guinea was engaged domestically, regionally and globally, particularly as a party to the Nauru Agreement.

The representative of FAO drew attention to the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, adopted in 2014.

The representative of India said his country’s assistance to small island developing States and littoral least-developed countries included capacity-building, such as the provision of satellite-based information that promoted more efficient fishing.  He added that, to ensure better market access for artisanal fishers, sanitary trade barriers should be addressed under the aegis of WTO.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said her country had adopted globally recognized approaches and tools to alleviate conflicts between artisanal fishers and offshore oil and gas activities.  She also discussed efforts to exploit lion fish for economic benefit by training and incentivizing fishers to target that invasive species and to encourage its consumption by the general public.

The representative of the International Whaling Commission said her organization was studying the impact of whale-watching on individual whales, their population and habitats.  It had also developed a web-based whale-watching handbook to provide relevant information to operators, regulators and the public that included maps, information on species and case studies to assist decision-making.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of the Solomon Islands, Madagascar and Kiribati.

Representatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas Consortium, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CORDIO East Africa, The Nature Conservancy, French Polynesia, Pacific Island Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and the International Seabed Authority also spoke.

General Information

Better Policies, Investment in Infrastructure, Industrialization Key for Creating Thriving, Sustainable Societies, Speakers Tell Economic and Social Council

Unlocking developing countries’ potential for green growth depended on using the right keys, learning from past mistakes and shaping new ideas based on bolstered, more coordinated action, speakers told the Economic and Social Council today at a special meeting on innovations for infrastructure development and promoting sustainable industrialization.

Despite a plethora of obstacles, working together to foster equitable, inclusive growth — in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development — could produce concrete, lasting and environmentally friendly results on the ground, speakers stressed.

Structural transformation through industrialization was indeed a route to poverty eradication, said Li Yong, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).  Countries and regions with burgeoning manufacturing sectors had achieved spectacular progress, he said, noting that between 1990 and 2013, the number of people living in poverty in East Asia and the Pacific had declined from 1 billion to 71 million.  In sub-Saharan Africa, although poverty numbers had increased, there were signs of progress.

While such success stories demonstrated that industrialization could be an engine of growth, the road ahead was long for the least developed countries, he said.  Most lacked the capacity to meet international social and environmental standards, with infrastructure remaining a critical missing piece of the puzzle.  “The only thing we need now is action, action, action, and we need to deliver now,” he said, announcing that the General Assembly would hold a high-level meeting in September on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (2016-2025).   The international community, including the United Nations system, could play a critical role in helping countries to overcome challenges, he stressed.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that with sufficient investment and effective planning and execution, infrastructure and industrialization could be key drivers of sustainable development.  That would require new ways of thinking and working, moving beyond “business as usual” in technology, policymaking and how poverty was addressed and the Sustainable Development Goals achieved.  There was ample space for collective action to fill the infrastructure financing gap, estimated to be about $1.5 trillion annually in developing countries.

Speakers suggested a number of ways to close that gap.  Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoilamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said public-private partnerships had an important role in tackling challenges facing many of the 92 States her office represented.  Multilateral development banks must provide technical support to vulnerable countries to attract foreign direct investment and there was great potential for regional cooperation, which could help boost countries’ economic development.  Transport, with regard to the industrialization-infrastructure nexus, and financing were critical areas that needed to be addressed.

New approaches were necessary, said Liberia’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the African Group.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s declaration that 2016 to 2025 was the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa, he said the previous two decades had never been translated into concrete projects.  “If we are to expect different results, we need to avoid repeating the same mistakes,” he said, emphasizing that predictable financing and resource mobilization were key to realizing industrial development.  Efforts should focus on bankable projects and on helping Member States mobilize donors for specific programmes while harnessing regional integration for industrial development.

Obstacles included financing and technology transfers, speakers said, with some pointing at the current dearth of industrialization and sustainable infrastructure.  “Without a breakthrough in international cooperation in the field of technology, shifting to a more sustainable path would be very difficult and burdensome for developing countries,” said Ecuador’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.

Echoing that view, China’s delegate, also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and South Africa, encouraged creation of a favourable policy environment for innovation and enabling conditions for entrepreneurship, and a focus on building infrastructure, including roads, information and communications technology and electricity.  Similarly, the representative of Bangladesh, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said a blend of efforts could produce tangible results.  “Modern infrastructure development, seamless access to energy, market access for products and increased foreign direct investment can play a catalytic role in fostering industrialization,” he said.

The special meeting included three interactive discussions on “The industrialization-infrastructure nexus in developing countries”, “The potential of agro-industry and agricultural systems for sustainable development” and “Building capacities and mobilizing resources for infrastructure, industrialization and innovation”.

The first discussion featured speakers from Africa, who pointed out that the continent’s miniscule contribution to global growth was due to a lack of industrialization.  Ibrahim Mayki, Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), said that opportunities existed for Africa to leap-frog forward using the right technological and institutional innovations.  The continent could finance its industrialization through remittances, mineral revenues, stock-market capitalization and other means.

Economic and Social Council President Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe) delivered a statement during the opening segment.  José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) spoke in a video message for the occasion.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, in opening remarks on the theme “An Integrated Approach to Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 9” said that in his travels across Africa, he had seen how limited access to reliable transportation, energy and communication could restrict people’s opportunities.  At the same time, he said, he was amazed by the region’s desire to create and innovate.  Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized the importance of industrialization and innovation for eradicating poverty and expanding opportunities, especially for the world’s poorest, he said progress on Goal 9 would have a ripple effect on other Goals regarding poverty, hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and sustainable cities and communities.

Today’s meeting would engage high-level representatives from key sectors and stakeholder groups with respect to Goal 9 in order to forge recommendations and propose practical steps for the Council to support and move forward, he said.  Recalling the preparatory meetings that took place in Dakar, Senegal, and Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, on “Innovations for infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization” and “Agriculture and agro-industries development towards sustainable and resilient food systems” respectively, he said the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had identified two important initiatives that they would announce in their respective interventions.  Their proposals — the Programme for Country Partnership and the Accelerated Agriculture and Agro-industry Development Initiative PLUS known as 3ADI+ — best reflected what the United Nations and its partners could do when working in tandem.

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization, captured by Sustainable Development Goal 9, served a catalytic and cross-cutting role across the 2030 Agenda and the other 16 Goals.  With sufficient investment, when innovatively and effectively planned and implemented, infrastructure and industrialization could have enormous multidimensional benefits, being key tools for achieving poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Access to those tools and the promotion of sustainable industrialization was essential for inclusiveness.

Achieving it, he said, would require new ways of thinking and working, moving beyond “business as usual” in technology, policymaking and how poverty was addressed and the Goals achieved.  Challenges included the current global infrastructure gap, which was being addressed by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda’s Global Infrastructure Forum.  There was ample space for collective action to fill the infrastructure financing gap, estimated to be about $1.5 trillion annually in developing countries.  National projects needed to be financed by domestic resource mobilization, focused official development assistance (ODA), private investment and other sources and channels.  Leadership, policy integration and coordination were needed at all levels.  Additional challenges were urbanization and the importance of building and applying effective technology for resilient infrastructure and industrialization in rural areas.

“Now is the time to take action,” he said, pointing to elements such as integrated policy advice, capacity-building, partnerships, information and data on infrastructure for follow-up and review, and engagement of relevant stakeholders.  Multi-stakeholder engagement should be supported, with a focus on development banks and the private sector.  An evidence-based approach was instrumental to support policy evaluation.  The United Nations supported the institutionalization of resilient, sustainable, inclusive and equitable infrastructure and industrialization across the three dimensions of sustainable development — economic, social and environmental.  The Economic and Social Council, including its forums and segments, served to identify trends, analyse and affirm policy options and forge policy integration, thus supporting an effective follow-up and review of progress towards resilient infrastructure and industrialization.

Keynote Addresses

LI YONG, Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, said that at the Dakar and Victoria Falls preparatory meetings, there was a consensus that structural transformation through industrialization was a pathway towards poverty eradication.  Empirical evidence demonstrated that that consensus was warranted.  Countries and regions which had successfully developed their manufacturing sectors had made spectacular progress in reducing poverty, including among women and young people.  Between 1990 and 2013, the number of people living in poverty in East Asia and the Pacific had declined from 1 billion to 71 million.  In sub-Saharan Africa, although poverty numbers had increased, there were signs of progress, he said, citing the creation of 50,000 decent permanent formal jobs in the textile and garment sector in Ethiopia and an influx of $300 million of foreign direct investment into landlocked Rwanda.

Such success stories demonstrated that industrialization could be an engine of growth, but for the least-developed countries, the road ahead was long, he said.  Most of those countries lacked the capacity to meet social and environmental standards, while infrastructure remained a critical missing piece of the puzzle, with 1.1 billion people — many of them in sub-Saharan Africa and developing countries in Asia — lacking electricity.  The international community, including the United Nations system, could play a critical role in helping those countries to overcome such challenges, he said, citing UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership and FAO’s African Agribusiness and Agro-industry Development Initiative known as 3ADI.

He described the UNIDO Programme as an innovative model for accelerating inclusive industrial development, with Ethiopia, Senegal and Peru participating as pilot countries.  UNIDO was assisting them in setting up integrated industrial parks where small producers could add value to their export-oriented products.  For example, UNIDO had provided a master plan for an industrial park in the south of Ethiopia that would create 134,000 new jobs, particularly among women and young people.  For its part, 3ADI sought to speed up the development of the agro-industrial sector by supporting investment programmes.  As a result of the Victoria Falls meeting, it was proposed that the 3ADI initiative be scaled up, to be known going forward as 3ADI+, underpinned by a value-added approach.  “The only thing we need now is action, action, action, and we need to deliver now,” he said, announcing that the General Assembly would hold a high-level meeting in September on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa and that UNIDO would expand the Programme for Country Partnership by seeking a few more countries to participate in it.

JOSÉ GRAZIANO DA SILVA, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said, in a video message, that agro-industry was fundamental to achieving Goal 9 and other global goals on poverty eradication and ending hunger.  The recent Zimbabwe meeting had identified critical constraints, including limited access to finance and a lack of coordination of activities.  FAO would continue to support the Economic and Social Council to advance the outcome of the Victoria Falls meeting and enhance cooperation with key partners.

General Discussion

JONATHAN VIERA (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said developing countries were the most affected by the lack of sustainable and resilient infrastructure.  At the same time, they faced serious financing challenges.  The result was a wider global infrastructure gap, he said.  Technical assistance and capacity-building needed to be channelled urgently to developing countries, which also required increased access to technology transfer on favourable terms.  He went on to emphasize the need for urgent action to bridge the technological divide, including a strengthening of the international intellectual property regime and full operationalization of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.

“Without a breakthrough in international cooperation in the field of technology, shifting to a more sustainable path would be very difficult and burdensome for developing countries,” he said.  Those countries needed adequate policy space for their industrialization and development efforts, he said, appealing to industrialized partners not to kick away the ladder upon which they had climbed to their current level of industrialization.  Developing countries needed an enabling global environment to complement their national efforts in achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development, he added.

LIU JIEYI (China), also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Russian Federation, India and South Africa, said the international community must support industrialization and mass entrepreneurship while assisting the growth of small-, micro- and medium-sized businesses to improve progress in developing countries.  With a view that industrialization could improve people’s lives and encourage economic growth, the Group encouraged assistance to create a favourable policy environment for innovation and enabling conditions for entrepreneurship.

He said attention must focus on building infrastructure, including roads, information and communications technology and electricity, and developing countries must be supported to be able to seize the opportunity to transform industry in ways that would achieve sustainable development.  Mobility of professionals and workers also needed to be facilitated.  For its part, the Group had already achieved positive results, including the establishment of a development bank to promote progress among least developed countries and to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

TAREQ MD. ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said one of the major challenges to unlocking the potential of vulnerable States was a lack of adequate resilient infrastructure, which hampered economic diversification and social development.  Industrial development was critically important for structural transformation, employment generation and sustained economic growth.  Raising several concerns, he said the value-added share of manufacturing among the Group’s members had remained stagnant for the last decade.  While the Istanbul Programme of Action and the 2030 Agenda had addressed existing financing gaps, he said the state of science, technology and innovation remained poor, with disparities between least developed countries and the rest of the world.

Public-private partnerships, he said, were an effective method to address that divide, with regional infrastructure projects, including in transport, energy and tourism, providing additional benefits.  While the global market’s various venture capital and pension funds could be a significant financing source for Sustainable Development Goal-related infrastructure projects, the main challenge was the long-term nature of returns.  Therefore, packaging infrastructure projects to make them attractive from a profitability perspective was an important first step, coupled with increased engagement between States with bankable projects and the managers, owners and shareholders of those financial resources.  Relevant United Nations agencies and other stakeholders could help least developed countries to address that aspect and continue to support financing-related projects.

Least developed countries must take appropriate steps to significantly increase inclusive and environmentally friendly industrialization with a view to enhancing the share of manufacturing in their total economic basket and diversifying local productive and export capability, he said.  “Modern infrastructure development, seamless access to energy, market access for products and increased foreign direct investment can play a catalytic role in fostering industrialization,” he said.  Innovation and access to modern technology were also vitally important for rapid industrialization.

Special Address

FEKITAMOELOA KATOA ‘UTOILAMANU, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the link between industrialization and poverty reduction was crucial to vulnerable countries.  Many of the specific challenges in the 92 States her office represented were highlighted in the 2030 Agenda, with industrialization also highlighted in the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020, Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024 and Samoa Pathway for Small Island Developing States.  Outlining obstacles, she said many vulnerable countries had limited productive capacities and declining value added in manufacturing and agriculture.

Elaborating on that point, she said the 48 least developed countries, with a population of 900 million, had seen slower structural transformation, with a general consensus that building infrastructure was a precondition for structural transformation and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.  Poor energy access remained a key impediment.  The 32 landlocked developing countries suffered from geographical disadvantages, with infrastructure deficiencies and poor trade facilitation.  Similarly, small island developing States shared geographic remoteness, narrow economic bases and isolation from major global markets.

Highlighting common challenges among the three country groupings, she said transport played a key role in the industrialization-infrastructure nexus and achieving growth would require financial and technical support and strong partnerships with various stakeholders.  Access to financing was another challenge, with major constraints including a lack of scale and substantial local investment, poor credit ratings and low project preparation capacities and skills to deploy financing models that encouraged blended finance to attract more funds.  Public-private partnerships would have an important role to play, being specifically tailored to meet each country’s aspirations.  To attract foreign direct investment, multilateral development banks must provide technical support to vulnerable countries.  There was great potential for regional cooperation, which could help boost countries’ economic development.

Session I

The Council then held its first session of the day on “The industrialization-infrastructure nexus in developing countries”.  Moderated by Macharia Kamau (Kenya), it featured presentations by Ibrahim Mayki, Chief Executive Officer, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); Abdou Mamane, Minister of Industry of Niger; Brian Mushimba, Minister of Transport and Communication of Zambia; and Maria Kiwanuka, Special Presidential Adviser, Uganda.

Mr. KAMAU said the world was in the throes of a new industrial revolution that was expected to be global, to leave no one behind and to transform the lives of all, with the 2030 Agenda guiding the way forward.  He also noted that the panel was made up entirely of Africans — a rare event which he suspected had never happened in the Council before.

Mr. MAYKI said that Africa’s 0.1 per cent contribution to global growth was due fundamentally to the fact that it did not significantly add value to its products because of a lack of industrialization.  By comparison, China accounted for 15 per cent of the global economy, having made significant investments in its industries under a policy going back to the 1970s.  However, opportunities existed for Africa to leap-frog forward, using the right technological and institutional innovations.  It could finance its industrialization through remittances, mineral revenues, stock-market capitalization and other means.  It only needed to focus on what its key priorities were in terms of policies and projects.  Identifying African pension funds as a financing source, he said infrastructure projects should be reclassified as an asset class so as to attract investment.

Mr. MAMANE said that one of the benefits of infrastructure development and industrialization was that it promoted investment and helped build human capacity.  International cooperation and private-sector support were indispensable for meeting challenges.  In Niger, the Government had undertaken a number of reforms to promote investment and industrialization, including the creation of a dry port at Dosso to serve as a logistical platform between the port of Cotonou in Benin and the interior of the country.  A railroad between Cotonou and Ouagadougou via Niamey was meanwhile under construction, as well as a trans-Saharan road network.  With regard to agriculture, he said the Government had put into place a development programme for agro-business and agro-industry that included the 3ADI initiative.

Mr. MUSHIMBA noted the challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, including their geographical location and the feeling that they were isolated and marginalized.  Market access for those countries was difficult, their economies were under-diversified and Internet and mobile-phone saturation was limited.  Significant resources would be required to close existing gaps, he said, noting Zambia’s vulnerability to price fluctuations in copper, its main source of foreign earnings.  Describing the Vienna Programme of Action as a good guide, he said Zambia wanted to ensure that it could improve infrastructure and industrialize its economy, adding value to its raw materials by exporting semi-finished and finished products, thus creating more jobs and reducing poverty.

Ms. KIWANUKA, noting that all the countries represented on the panel were landlocked, said the nexus between infrastructure and industrialization must be considered on a country-specific basis.  Uganda was 1,000 kilometres from the sea, but it considered itself “land-linked” through its neighbours, which imported Ugandan food.  Each country needed to assume a holistic approach and recognize its advantages.  She added that infrastructure, while accounting for more than 50 per cent of Government expenditures, was a support structure for agriculture, industry and mining that must pay its way.  In Uganda, the Government needed to concentrate its limited resources and capacities in those areas where it alone could act, including the creation of a stable macroeconomic framework and a regulatory system that ensured a level playing field for all investors.  She emphasized the need for Government to work in concert with the private sector to develop human resources and create skills that the market — rather than academicians in ivory towers — wanted.  Describing the private sector as very agile, she said it could run rings around any Government any day before lunch, and then eat the Government for lunch.  She added that Governments needed to ensure that whatever was foregone in tax exemptions was less than the benefits accrued for the country as a whole.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of the United Arab Emirates discussed the outcomes of the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit, hosted by the Department of Economic Development in Abu Dhabi, which sought to promote a road map for future industrial development to echo the evolution in international trade and global best practices.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan, noting the structural challenges faced by landlocked developing countries, described her country’s nationwide digital transformation programme, which would provide a unique opportunity for making a rapid breakthrough in its economic development.

Session II

In the afternoon, the Council held a session on “The potential of agro-industry and agricultural systems for sustainable development”.  Moderated by Gerardo Patacconi, Acting Director, Department of Agri-business Development, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, it featured presentations by Lisa Dreier, Head of Food Security and Agriculture Initiatives, World Economic Forum LLC; Magnus Arildsson, Head of Internet of Things, Product Management, Ericsson; Bill Polidoro, President and CEO, ACDI/VOCA; and Andrew Ndaamunhu Bvumbe, Executive Director, Africa Group I, World Bank Group.

Mr. PATACCONI said the discussion would look at the connection between innovation, industrialization and the agro-business sector, and how by adding value agriculture could lead to new jobs, new technology and new markets.  A bigger issue would be urbanization and its impact on food and other agricultural products, he said, adding that solutions would be found through partnerships, innovation and the avoidance of fragmentation.

Ms. DREIER said that part of the work of the World Economic Forum involved catalysing public-private collaboration in order to achieve food security and agricultural development.  Currently, the food system was not serving the planet in the way that it should.  Many issues and obstacles needed to be overcome and that would require systemic change, she said, proposing a concept called “system leadership” that would bring together all stakeholders behind a shared goal and facilitate their efforts towards achieving that goal.  Mobilizing decentralized action was the spirit behind system leadership, she said, referring to such initiatives as the Grow Africa Partnership and Grow Asia Partnership.  Multi-stakeholder partnerships were not the solution to every problem — they could be complicated and slow, with high transaction costs — but in the long run, she said, the results could have a big impact.

Mr. ARILDSSON described the “internet of things” as a network of sensors that would send data to a central system that would process the information and send back commands, such as opening doors and turning on lights.  With sensors poised to outnumber mobile phones, he said his company was moving away from communications and into the internet of things.  He presented several examples of how sensors could be used in agriculture, including planting one in the stomach of a cow, making it possible to more accurately monitor its health over its lifetime and immediately alert farmers to problems.  Sensors could also be used for soil monitoring, thus helping to determine when fields needed fertilizer, pesticide and irrigation.  “We can do a whole lot more than we are doing,” he said, adding that the benefits would affect many people.

Mr. POLIDORO, recalling his organization’s roots in the cooperative sector in United States agriculture, described produce storage as a binding link between the various Sustainable Development Goals.  With a warehouse receipt system, he said, farmers would take their commodity to a licenced warehouse, get it graded and stored, then obtain a receipt that could then be used as collateral for loans.  Local context and scale mattered, he added, saying that in places that lacked infrastructure, it could be hard to get the basics in place.  Having a regulatory infrastructure in place was incredibly important.  Benefits would include reduced post-harvest losses, better quality, market price stability, improved food security and more formal agro-business practices.

Mr. BVUMBE, focusing his remarks on challenges faced by agriculture in Africa, said subsistence farmers could not be expected to connect with agro-business when they were still using hoes in the twenty-first century.  Most land tenure systems in Africa did not support financial inclusion; without security of tenure, problems would continue.  He went on to emphasize the need for skills development and support to farmers, as well as the effects of droughts and climate change.  Turning to financing, he said it was critical to look into de-risking lending to smallholder farmers in Africa.

In the ensuing discussion, a representative of the FAO emphasized the need to shift to more sustainable, inclusive and resilient agricultural and food systems in order to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals’ promise of leaving no one behind.  She added that smallholders required better infrastructure in order to access markets.

Thailand’s representative described measures being taken in her country, such as the creation of water retention areas that stored rain-season water for use in dry seasons, thus mitigating the effects of drought.  She added that infrastructure development needed to go hand in hand with capacity-building so as to provide farmers with the knowledge, expertise and skills they needed.

The representative of Ethiopia asked what policy measures could be taken to encourage the private sector to invest in long-term projects.

The representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) asked about the challenges involved when a single large buyer of agricultural produce had to buy with many smallholders.

The representative of Mexico asked to hear more about productivity chains.

Responding, Ms. DRIER said policy measures to incentivize long-term investment depended on the type of investment.  One that involved a new seed variety might be different from another required for a processing plant.  Given the broad variety of incentives that could be employed, she suggested that Governments maintain a dialogue with the private sector to discuss policy barriers and how they might be addressed.

To the question posed by the IFAD representative, she said that, from the experience of the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture, it appeared that private-sector companies were not accustomed to including smallholders in their value chains.  They considered doing so to be risky and expensive.  Others, however, were finding ways to engage smallholders to be part of a larger value chain while providing technical expertise to meet quality standards.

Mr. BVUMBE said that, whatever the policy, clarity and consistency were important for the private sector, especially with regard to land tenure.  Dialogue was also critical.  He also described how, in India, smallholders had come together at the village and community level, thus reducing transaction costs when dealing with buyers.

Mr. ARILDSSON said it was a matter of building ecosystems — something that businesses did all the time.  For farmers, such ecosystems would be different in each country, but it was important to ensure a win-win situation at all levels.

Mr. POLIDORO said that not all smallholders were created equal.  Sometimes, warehouse receiving systems could be brought down by incorporating too many smallholders too fast.

General Discussion

REMONGAR T. DENNIS (Liberia), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said industry was an important driver of economic transformation and growth, job creation and human development.  The Action Plan for Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa, included in the African Union Agenda 2063, emphasized that prosperity depended on the development of a robust industrial sector.  The continuing gap in productive industrial capacities on the continent stemmed from many linked factors, including a lack of related finance and investments and technological capacities, inadequate entrepreneurship, energy and infrastructure bottlenecks, small and fragmented markets, low purchasing power and limited demand.  Financing remained the main challenge.

Welcoming the General Assembly’s declaration that 2016 to 2025 was the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa, he said the previous two decades had never been translated into concrete projects.  “If we are to expect different results, we need to avoid repeating the same mistakes,” he said, emphasizing that predictable financing and resource mobilization were key to realizing industrial development.  The new Decade and its promoters must establish inter-agency mechanisms for coordination and for the strategy’s implementation.  Efforts should also focus on bankable projects and helping Member States mobilize donors for specific programmes while harnessing regional integration for industrial development.

Underlining the importance of increasing investment and improving the quality and productivity of existing and new investments, he said more public funding should catalyse private investment.  Africa’s contribution to the global value chain must be raised because almost 70 per cent of it occurred in developing countries.  Since developed countries’ investments in Africa included high value-added activities such as research, innovation, design, sales and marketing in their headquarter countries, priorities must include promoting domestic manufacturing capabilities in high value-added sectors or technology-intensive sectors.  In that regard, the role of Governments and adequate policy space were essential.

He said additional efforts must focus on enhancing domestic resource mobilization to create fiscal space to boost public investment in infrastructure.  At national, regional and international levels, attention must be paid to curb capital flight, including through preventing tax evasion and illicit cross-border capital transfers.  As such, rules must be introduced to ensure that multinational companies did not shift profits across borders to avoid taxes.  He encouraged the United Nations development system, bilateral and multilateral partners and private-sector operations to join hands in translating the Decade from a statement of intentions into concrete actions.

Session III

The Council’s final session for the day on “Building capacities and mobilizing resources for infrastructure, industrialization and innovation” was moderated by Ms. Dreier.  It featured presentations by Tadeo Garcia Zalazar, Mayor of Godoy Cruz, Argentina; Marcos Bonturi, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Special Representative to the United Nations; and Paul Winters, associate vice-president, a.i., Strategy and Knowledge Department, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Ms. DREIER said the dialogue would focus on Sustainable Development Goal 9, to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation, and how to bridge the financing gap with a view to achieving that objective.

Mr. ZALAZAR said Godoy Cruz, a municipality facing vulnerabilities, including climate change consequences and seismic activity, had aimed at building its resilience.  Sustainable development activities included building resilient infrastructure and joining an innovative network of 200 municipalities geared towards taking climate action such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The city had also promoted sustainable industrialization, established a high-tech park and using renewable energy.  Solar panel tax breaks were available for homes and businesses and a social housing project had mixed public-private investments, acting as a model for future sustainable development programmes.  Streamlining public policies had also worked to ensure a budget balance with local participation.  Moving forward, it was important to move from theory to practice, he said, emphasizing that Godoy Cruz had already taken steps to do that.

Mr. BONTURI asked why, if investment in infrastructure was so beneficial, it was not more common.  Donors had provided $60 billion a year for infrastructure projects in developing countries, but there was still an infrastructure deficit.  In OECD countries alone, $80 trillion in assets were held, with a small percentage used for infrastructure, primarily for member States.  Collaborating with the Group of 20, OECD had worked to help all Governments learn how to mobilize public finance and leverage private finance.  Attracting private investment must take into account the business climate, he said, noting that a study examining 60 countries had found barriers, including that energy and transport were the most restrictive sectors.  In other cases, public procurement was not transparent and green technology was highly regulated, posing additional barriers for the private sector.  But, money did not always guarantee success.  What was critical was good governance, which must work to involve the right stakeholders and ensure smooth operations while fighting corruption.

Mr. WINTERS said farmers were business people who invested.  That could be seen in results of recent FAO and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports on projects that had provided cash transfers to farmers, who had spent funds investing in their communities.  Unleashing their potential could be helped by providing them with innovative opportunities.  Such initiatives included helping farmers organize to build sustainable irrigation systems.  Another project saw the construction of 2,000 kilometres of roads to bolster economic growth dairy farmers.  Urban bias in some countries had tended to ignore rural areas.  In resource mobilization, efforts had been made to ensure a balance in that regard with a view to promoting development in both urban and rural areas.

During the ensuing discussion, speakers raised concerns and examples of how they had addressed national or regional challenges.  A speaker from the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said the private sector had said investment was too risky on the continent and regulations were not ideal.  In response, a continental model law governing areas such as procurement and project ownership had been drafted and was now ready to be adopted domestically.  If the private sector said there was a problem, ECA wanted to address it, he said.

Providing a national perspective, Zimbabwe’s representative said resource mobilization challenges had led to efforts to release resources to targeted projects.  Special economic zones had been created to attract the private sector.  To eradicate the perception that African projects were white elephants, Zimbabwe had created one-stop investment shops to attract investment.

Mr. ZALAZAR, responding to a question posed by the representative of Chile, said networks of municipalities had focused on concerns by pooling responses and approaches.  Networks focused on different themes.  His network addressed climate change and took action by crafting tailored plans because a one-size-fits-all approach did not work.  Answering a question posed by Argentina’s delegate, he said public-private partnerships had been addressed in a local law.  A smart fiscal approach had been taken to respond fully to the Sustainable Development Goals by local municipalities for issues including roads and green spaces.

Mr. BONTURI, responding to a question by the representative of the Republic of Korea, said blended finance included complex projects that had taken years to establish.  OECD was not designed to provide technical cooperation, but it worked with the United Nations and other partners in that regard, including with regard to domestic resource mobilization.

Mr. WINTERS, answering a query made by Chile’s representative, said money was available for microfinancing and then for projects with $1 million price tags, with little in between.  The African Development Bank was working around the $1 million level, but there was a gap in the middle-level and efforts should be made to address that.

Closing Remarks

Mr. WU, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said it was clear from today’s speakers that economic growth and job creation largely depended on enhanced productivity and upgraded industrial sectors.  However, those two factors were being held up by persistent infrastructure gaps which curtailed opportunities for progress on poverty eradication and sustainable development, especially in developing countries.  Both hard infrastructure, such as energy, transport and industrial networks, and soft infrastructure, such as institutions and capacities, were mutually supporting and reinforcing, underlining the need for integrated action in pursuing the 2030 Agenda, he said.

Citing the recent report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development, he said investment in productive sectors and sustainable infrastructure, among other areas, could spur growth, support climate-smart economies and energy, and move the world closer to the Goals.  Much was known about what worked in each area.  The challenge was the sheer scale and breadth of resources and technological know-how needed to deliver.  One finding from that report was the need to better align investment incentives with long-term funding, he said.  That would require bringing together all relevant actors.  The two initiatives announced today by UNIDO and FAO indicated how incentives could be better aligned with the new demands of 2030 Agenda.  Their potential at the national level was exciting, he said, adding that he looked forward to hearing more about their implementation and result.

Mr. SHAVA (Zimbabwe), Council President, said a key message that had been reinforced during the day had been the importance of keeping people at the centre of discussions on Goal 9.  “Ultimately, our objective should be to build societies where everyone can thrive, aided by infrastructure, industrialization and innovation,” he said.  In many developing countries where the potential for industrialization loomed large, advances in science, technology and innovation in sectors had the potential to promote employment and income growth.  Developing key infrastructure would also foster achievement of the entire 2030 Agenda and help to bolster people’s ability to meet their basic needs and fully participate in society.

Although there was broad agreement that infrastructure, industrialization and innovation were essential for poverty eradication and sustainable development, he said, gaps existed in investment, capacities and policy frameworks.  “We know the scale of the challenge,” he said, noting that the 2030 Agenda provided a road map for addressing those challenges and complemented the Addis Agenda as a framework for overcoming obstacles for investments.  Progress would also be made through the various partnerships and frameworks that had been formed as a response to those challenges, he said, expressing hope that all participants would commit to proposals that had been announced today with a view to maintaining the impressive momentum in support of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation.