The HLPF 2022 was held on 5-15 July 2022. Mr. Ajay K Jha moderated the MGoS official event on 12th July 2022.
The theme for the 2022 HLPF is ” Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Transcription of intervention by Mr. Ajay K. Jha –
President of the ECOSOC, USG Mr. Liu, Excellencies and Colleagues
Greetings to all of you from the MGOS CM.
I will take few minutes to lay down the context on which this HLPF 2022 is being organised so that our speakers can relate to in their interventions.
It would not be an overstatement to say that we are in the throes od series of crises, or so to say we have been permanently in the crises, lunging from one to another. The global outlook at this moment looks very bleak as far as achieving the Agenda 2030 is concerned. I would like to underline our primary concerns in this context.
The biggest crisis that we are facing right now, which exposes the hollowness of calls of multilateralism, is the vaccine equity. Though we appreciate high priority accorded to the vaccine equity by the SG and also the President of the ECOSOC, with whom we worked on it over the past year culminating in a thoughtful event in the ECOSOC Partnership Forum. However, almost two and half years into the pandemic and almost two years after the vaccines started being manufactured, one third of the humanity in yet to have a single shot of the vaccine. Majority of the countries in Africa have less than 10% full vaccination and many countries including Burundi, DRC and Chad etc have less than 1% full vaccination rates. WHO have repeatedly failed in achieving their targets, and they are likely to fail in the next one, vaccinating half of the population by mid of 2022. This is completely unacceptable. There have been couple of good developments in the form of setting up an RNA hub in South Africa and Kenya having an understanding with Pfizer to accelerate vaccine production in Africa. However, we are awfully short of what is required. We are thankful the countries who have donated extra shots, but we need to understand that a model based on charity cannot help us achieve vaccine equity. We must expedite all efforts to achieve vaccine equity as soon as possible.
The sovereign debt crisis, especially among the LICs and LMICs have cropped their policy and fiscal space severely. Many LICs having public debt to the tune of 50-60% of their GDP. The crisis is not new and basically reflects the parasitic financial system, which favours the few rich countries and corporations. G20’s DSSI only provided a momentary relief by postponing the 48/73 LICs debt of approx. USD 13 B for five years, however, in the same year LICs ended up paying at least three times of that amount in debt service. Even last year, more than 60 LICs spent more on debt service than on health care. Much talked about Common Framework on Debt Treatment beyond DSSI also completely failed to address the rising debt crisis, as till today only three countries have signed up to the Common Framework. The HICXs have also made lots of noise about China becoming the largest debtor for developing countries since 2000. However, the reality is that China only owes 16% of the total debt owed; while only G-7 owes more than 50% of debt on LICs and LMICs when you put together all debt, including bilateral, multilateral and commercial lending. Its a shame that efforts on making debts sustainable have completely overlooked the critical element of debt cancellation and to bring private lenders within the arrangement to whom LICs owe 6 times more as compared to the bilateral donors. Any call of recovery from the pandemic will be a hollow cry without addressing the public debt situation of the LICs and LMICs, and we can’t wait till the debt crisis becomes a full blown one and sends entire world economy into a crazy tailspin like the one in 2008.
The global impact of ware on Ukraine has exacerbated the food, fuel, finance and fertiliser crisis all over the world. Many countries in Africa and Asia are completely dependent on Russia and Ukraine for food and fuel, (may be upto 70-80% of their supplies). One can easily understand their situation right now. The global geopolitics has hardly done anything beyond condemning Russia till today. The war has also constructed a favourable atmosphere of impunity on the acts of aggression on the part of the NATO and its leaders/masters. The impacts off war alone is likely to throw a quarter billion more people in extreme poverty. Besides, we are also concerned that war has sort of legitimised the race for increased military expenses and nuclear capability. It is also prompting the OECD to reduce the ODA and increase military expenditure, which cannot be justified on any ground.
Last but not the least, lets not forget the biggest elephant in the room, climate crisis. The recent reports by the IPCC (Report of impacts, adaptation and vulnerability in Feb, 2022 and one on Mitigation in April-May 2022) clearly shows how fast we are hurtling towards the crisis. It also reaffirms what we have been saying since long that Paris Agreement is not enough and 1.5 degree is not safe for everyone. The recent WMO report says that there is 50% probability that we will breach 1.5 degrees target at least for a year within 2025. This probability was 0% in 2015. The countries do not have fiscal room or technology to respond to the ever increasing crisis and it actually boils down to the millions of people who are at the frontline of a losing fight against ever increasing climate crisis. More than 20 million are displaced every year due to climate induced impacts since 2008.half of the humanity faces water scarcity at least for a month every year now. Since 1970s agricultural growth productivity in Africa has reduced by one-third. Many communities especially coastal communities are reaching “limits of adaptation” where no amount of finance, technology or policy interventions can prevent loss and damage so their fate accompli has become inevitable.
In these circumstances, people are losing faith in multilateralism, justice and equity, and in the promise of the Agenda 2030, which we must keep. However, recently, during the APFSD, UN ESCAP report showed that none of the countries in Asia Pacific will achieve the SDGs at current pace before 2065. And this statement is also based on only on data which measures half of the targets. The uncertainty and unavailability of the data and the crises may push achieving Agenda 2030 beyond our lifetimes. However, I hope that all of you agree that we must aspire to achieve the Agenda and its SDGs in our lifetime itself! Its the time to renew that aspiration, hope and commitment.