Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

Canada, Australia and New Zealand Joint Statement to the UN General Assembly Second Committee General Debate


3 October 2022

Statement by H.E. The Hon. Mitch Fifield, Ambassador of Australia and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand

I am very pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of Canada, New Zealand and my own country, Australia.

And I join my colleagues in congratulating you, Madam Chair, on your election to the helm of the Second Committee. This will be a big year for the Committee, as we return to in-person negotiations. And I am confident that your most excellent leadership and particular style will guide us to discharge our collective duties efficiently and effectively.

Allow me also to express sincere thanks to Ambassador Frazier of Malta, and to the members of the historic all female Bureau, for their committed and effective steering of the Second Committee during the 76th Session.

We are very pleased to see a return to in-person negotiations for the Second Committee – a return to the ‘normal’ way of working together towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. But we must not consider the current international environment as normal, and we cannot allow ourselves to fall into a ‘business as usual’ approach.

We are gathering at a time when our shared goal of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has never been so important, and yet has never felt so out of reach.

We are alarmed that the UN Human Development Index has declined for two consecutive years, in 2020 and 2021. The impact of this decline has been most severe on women and girls, with nearly half a billion women and girls living in extreme poverty.

We were not on track to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals before COVID. But the road ahead is now even more difficult, given the wide ranging and deep impacts of the pandemic on all aspects of sustainable development.

And now, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has unleashed further suffering, undermining food and energy security, and making it even harder for countries and populations, across the world, to recover from the pandemic.

The growing scale of food insecurity not only undermines sustainable development, it threatens global stability. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every night. Let me repeat that – more than 800 million people go to bed hungry every night. 345 million people are facing acute food insecurity, and 50 million people across 45 countries are on the brink of famine.

Climate change continues to exacerbate development challenges, eroding the gains we have achieved over many decades. Over recent months, we have seen drought and potential famine in the Horn of Africa, major floods in Pakistan, and record-breaking heatwaves in Europe and Asia. Climate change remains the single greatest threat to livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific. We must respond urgently to the global challenge of climate change, as the world makes the transition to a net-zero global energy economy.

There has been no more important time for UN Member States and partners to share our experiences and double-down on collaboration.

As delegates of the Second Committee, we have a duty to protect and ensure the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Paris Agreement, and the Sendai Framework. These landmark documents represent the international community’s agreed priorities for international development. They followed lengthy and extensive consultations.

To seek to re-prosecute, redirect or roll back these agreements will undermine the purpose and the spirit of this Committee, at a time when the international community needs us the most.

The UN development system must be fit for purpose if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and guide our collective recovery from COVID.

We must be acutely aware of the special and differentiated needs of countries in special situations. Particularly Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries. We welcome the work underway to establish a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index to enable the UN system to respond better to their needs and unique circumstances, and look forward to preparations for the follow up to the SAMOA Pathway. 

Fundamental to a stable and prosperous global community is achieving gender equality. Our families, our communities and our economies benefit when women and girls are safe from violence, are economically secure and meaningfully represented in all levels of decision-making.

Gender-responsive COVID recovery and sustainable development efforts are critical in regaining lost ground, and in taking us further. We must ensure a gender-responsive approach is reflected across the breadth of the Committee’s work. CANZ will also look to build inclusivity into resolutions, particularly in relation to those in vulnerable situations, to ensure no-one is left behind.

After three years of limited negotiations, we have a rare opportunity to transform the work of the Second Committee to ensure our work makes a real contribution towards achieving sustainable development. As we return to in-person business, we must improve the working methods of the Second Committee and take practical steps to adapt our work to meet today’s realities and challenges.

At a meeting of the Second Committee on revitalisation in April, CANZ called on members to restructure the agenda of the Committee based on one criterion: relevance to the new agenda as articulated through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda – which combined – form the global development roadmap. These are and should remain the principal frameworks which guide the focus of our work.

It is imperative that the Second Committee implement effective and efficient working methods that support consensus outcomes, work-life balance, collegiality and the completion of sessions within set timeframes. We are committed, Madam Chair, to supporting you, to supporting Bureau members and facilitators to achieve these outcomes during this session.

In these challenging times, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are deeply committed to accelerating progress towards the 2030 Agenda, together with you, Chair, and with all colleagues.