The African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers began a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday with a call on the 79-member grouping to meet their financial obligations so as to allow their group to better survive a changing global environment.
The Guyana-born ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick I. Gomes, addressing the 105th Council Session said that a prerequisite to the continued wellbeing of the ACP Group in general, and the Secretariat in particular is to better serve all our stakeholders.
“I would therefore like to appeal to member states to continue your efforts towards the timely payment of statutory obligations in order to improve our self-reliance and the smooth functioning of the Secretariat.
“This is all the more important as the Committee of Ambassadors and the Secretariat intensify outreach activities in the second half of the year, subject to the guidance of Council, in preparation for the negotiations on a post-2020 ACP-EU Agreement. “
Gomes told the Council that voluntary contributions outside of statutory obligations would also be very welcome as the ACP Group work towards an Endowment & Trust Fund!
“Beyond all those necessary elements of finance, strategic planning and improved working relations, today more than ever, has to be steadfast commitment of our political leadership. By your presence and the great effort you have made to attend this important session of Council, your resolve to make of the ACP a great institution is truly admirable,” he added.
Gomes recalled that at the last ACP Council meeting last November important decisions were taken pertaining to the future of the Group on the one hand and the future of ACP-European Union relations on the other.
He said the Secretariat in collaboration with the Committee of Ambassadors, is seeking to implement these decisions, while “at the same time, conscious of evolving global dynamics, the Secretariat has been engaged in the review of its programmes and systems to enhance the capacity of our member states to be more resilient and innovative”.
In his feature address to the Council, the President of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Ambassador Peter Thomson said the unique composition of the ACP Group, with its 79 developing country member states, positions it to play a crucial role in building the necessary partnerships to achieve the global solutions needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“ACP’s role can only become more significant as we work to progress our sustainable development objectives in a complex and rapidly-changing world,” he said, noting “we live in a world characterized by political turbulence, economic uncertainty, intractable peace and security challenges, rising terrorism and violent extremism, and large-scale movement of refugees and migrants”.
Thomson said that this era of exponential population growth, rapid urbanization, rising inequality, environmental degradation, and increasingly destructive impacts of climate change, is one in which the building blocks of sustainable peace and sustainable development are all the more difficult to put in place.
He said that while humanitarian crises such as the African famine require an urgent response, “they also call on us to take action to make the longer-term changes needed to create resiliency and shift humanity’s trajectory away from the precipice of unsustainability towards which our current habits are taking us.
“It is a central responsibility of our generation of legislators and bureaucrats to create the conditions that lead to a future on this planet that is safe, secure and prosperous for all our children and grandchildren.
Driving this global transformation requires all nations to begin by scaling-up their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
“And it requires that we take a number of other key steps to drive a smart and integrated approach to implementing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”
The diplomat called for the establishment of a new innovative strategic partnerships that bring together governments, the UN, multilateral organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia, and others, saying “these partnerships must drive collaborative coordinated implementation efforts that leverage partners’ comparative advantages.
“Secondly, we have to mobilize the unprecedented volume of resources needed to achieve the SDGs,” he said, noting that the key findings of a high level meeting at the UN that brought together key partners to discuss ways to release the resources needed were that the financing needed to fund the SDGs already exists, but global financial systems need to be aligned to sustainable development; and that while the SDG make economic sense for business, more needs to be done to connect global financing with bankable and sustainable projects.
He said both ACP and the United Nations can help to provide platforms for productive conversation.
Thirdly, and finally, in order to effectively drive the catalytic action needed to achieve sustainable peace and development, we must apply the exponential advances of innovation and technology.
“To this end, on 17 May, I will be convening a ‘High-Level SDG Action Event on Innovation and Connectivity’ at UN Headquarters in New York, to bring leading innovators together with Member States and other key stakeholders, to explore ways to harness the power of technology in support of SDG implementation.”
In his address, Thomson warned that if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved in the next 14 years, the ongoing leadership of African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, and of the ACP Group itself, will be vital.