Statement at ECOSOC: Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?

Delivered at The Economic and Social Council 2017 Integration Segment: “Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?” - Session 1: An integrated agenda.

Over the past 15 years, there has been considerable global progress to reduce poverty and uplift the living conditions of people. Smooth and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda calls for managing the undercurrents and risks associated with globalization. This includes, among other things promoting multilateralism as an anchor of global governance to regain the momentum of growth and trade, while offering the required international and public finance and directing private finance - both critical to shoulder the bill of the SDGs.

Irrespective of progress, Asia and the Pacific remains home to 400 million poor with the highest poverty concentration in South Asia and in rural areas, while 330 million poor reside in Africa. Exclusive reliance on income to assess poverty has resulted in an underestimation of the challenges we face in eradicating poverty. Capturing the interlinked complexities and dimensions of poverty, the Multidimensional Poverty Index or MPI offers a comprehensive perspective of the magnitude and intensity of poverty. For instance, using MPI as a basis, the number of poor in the Asia-Pacific more than doubles to 900 million. It is in this context that I believe the debates on integration are quite pertinent and timely.

To lay the foundation for national transformation across all regions, we observe progress in the development of national development strategies, plans and budgets in line with the SDGs, and the establishment of institutional mechanisms of coordination. More substantive investments are however needed to develop the analytical frames that will promote sustainable development more effectively. This can be done by exploiting and managing the Regional Commissions, which given their longstanding affiliation and proximity with economy and planning ministries have been assessing and supporting their Member States in the implementation of the SDGs. Within their areas of expertise, the Regional Commissions, with support of their Regional Sustainable Development Forums, are focusing on promoting Integration, Inclusivity and Policy Consistency and Coherence in implementation across their respective regions. Leadership and coordination among ministries and implementers will be critical to strategize and operationalize the sustainable development agenda and the multi-tiered levels of integration.

Core to sustainability is how the three constituent dimensions and their multisectoral interconnections and interlinkages are managed to balance nature, economy, society and human well-being. A systems approach to analyzing and synergizing the sector policy and regulatory frameworks will be useful to properly exploit embedded interdependencies. Given the binding natural and financial resource constraints, it is inevitable that the SDGs have to be prioritized. However, the impact of sustainability can be enhanced by nurturing the sectoral nexus to maximize the development impact and by promoting efficiency in the allocation and use of resources by changing incentives to alter consumption and production behavior.

In broadening the scope of integration, regional commissions in particular in Asia-Pacific, have been promoting cross-border connectivity, market integration and harmonized policy and regulatory frameworks across different sectors. Regional cooperation and integration has a dual advantage as it facilitate implementation of transboundary SDGs, while fostering regional connectivity integration in a sustainable manner.

Multi-dimensional poverty captures exclusion and marginalization of vulnerable groups across different groups and areas. Besides its proper measurement, it is critical to promote institutionalization, consistency and coherence in strategies to reduce multidimensional poverty by utilizing participatory approaches to promote integrated design, integrated implementation and integrated evaluation. To tap the potential of integration, there is a need to:

  • Promote inter-sectoral policy and investment cooperation.
  • Formulate frameworks that integrate ecosystem services, environmental footprints, human-nature nexus and planetary boundaries.
  • Harness integration through “nexus approaches that integrate management and governance across sectors and scales” to deal with cross-sector implications of resources and their efficient use by balancing tradeoffs and responses. Efforts have been made to promote the integrated ecosystem-livelihoods nexus and the water– energy–food nexus.
  • Promote transdisciplinary knowledge and supportive tools and deployment of cooperative approaches. For instance managers of natural resources need to cooperate with health policy makers and practitioners so they can identify practices for use of resources such as water, energy and land that affect people’s health. Economists and social scientists need to come together to assess the social impacts of investments to determine how they can worsen or improve social structures.
  • Strengthen data and statistics, including disaggregated data to frame the theoretical nexus applications and facilitate subnational applications for it.
  • Finally, there is need to recognize and quantify spillover effects and externalities emerging from system-wide integration with spatial and temporal implications.

To conclude I would like to reinforce three points:

First, integration must be promoted to enhance inclusivity, policy coherence and consistency, while managing the sectoral and policy mix effectively to maximize development impact.

Second, Regional Commissions are playing and should play a significant role in promoting integration through the development of common methodologies and tools to promote synergies in factor production use. The knowledge generated should be cross-fertilized through coherent platforms such as the holistic and well-institutionalized intergovernmental sustainable development forums.

Third, integration debates need to extend to transboundary goals, which promote different types of regional connectivity and have the potential to promote the development of sustainable corridors.

I thank you.