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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement

Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations

at the General Debate of the Second Committee of the

UN General Assembly

07 October 2008

Madam Chair,

Like others before me, allow me to extend to you the warmest felicitations and congratulations of the Philippines on your election as the Chair of the Second Committee. The Philippines assures you and your Bureau of its support and cooperation to ensure the smooth and successful conclusion of work agenda of the Second Committee.

The Philippines also wishes to put on record its commendation and gratitude to H.E. Ambassador Kirsti Lintonen of Finland for her excellent stewardship of the Second Committee during the 62 nd Session of the General Assembly. Further, the Philippines acknowledges with praise the relevant opening statements of H.E. Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Asha Rose Migiro and Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang, and the the comprehensive and insightful keynote presentation given by Professor Haussman.

Madam Chair,

When H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke before the Ministerial Meeting of the Group of 77 and China a few days ago, he described the confluence of crises – “the weakening world economy, steep rises in food and energy prices, and climate change …” – as a ‘complex development emergency’ that requires urgent action.

The weakening world economy

If one year ago, the Philippines noted the rumblings of financial distress brought about by the sub-prime crisis, who would have imagined today the extent of damage and uncertainty that has surfaced within this relatively short period? We are witnessing what might be the gravest global financial crisis in recent memory and its full consequences have yet to be played out. The only thing that is perhaps certain at this point is that all our economies are in serious danger of undergoing economic upheaval, thereby reversing any progress countries may have made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals, and especially making it more difficult for the most disadvantaged developing countries in this room.

We must also consider the uncertain future of the Doha Development Round. After over seven years of difficult negotiations, some consider that we have passed the crossroads and are drifting in uncharted territory. The danger we face with the proliferation of bilateral and regional trade agreements, even though Doha compliant, is that we run the risk of creating distortions that may defeat the stated purpose of fair and free trade. The Philippines remains hopeful that talks on the Doha round can be resumed in the near future, and encourages all parties to consider negotiations in a new light.

Speaking of Doha, but this time in the context of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development in a few months, the Philippines recognizes that this conference takes on added importance in view of the financial turmoil that we all face. Let us hope that the Monterrey Consensus remains on track and that commitments to financing for development will be renewed and revitalized.

The food crisis

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must be commended by UN Member States for his quick and decisive action on the issue of the global food crisis. The process leading up to the formulation of the Comprehensive Framework for Action (CFA) stands as a model of how the United Nations can identify a problem, organize the relevant agencies, and galvanize Member States to take quick and coordinated action on a global issue.

The immediate and longer-term measures described in the CFA provide a template for countries to pattern their responses to the crisis. The Philippines has taken this to heart and it has programmed thirty billion pesos to spend on research and development, agricultural infrastructure, sustainable integrated farming systems, rice biotechnology, and education.

It must be said, however, that hunger in developing countries is only one side to this food crisis. When we consider that there is an estimated 850 million people worldwide who suffer from undernourishment compared to a projected 1.2 billion people who are considered overweight, it makes one consider that there are other ways to take global action on this problem.

Underinvestment in agriculture is cited as one of the contributing factors to the rise in food prices. The prescient World Development Report 2008 of the World Bank has recommended ‘Agriculture for Development’ as the means for developing countries to achieve economic growth and thereby reduce poverty and hunger. Renewed emphasis on agriculture would also help address the gender gap and environmental sustainability that are part of the systemic problem faced by all countries.

On the biofuel issue that has been cited as having a positive impact on agri-industry but a negative impact on food prices, the Philippines is pursuing a policy of using non-food biofuel sources planted on land not used for food production purposes. It is submitted that this policy is a way forward for countries intending to seek a sustainable balance between food and energy needs.

Energy and Climate Change

The global effects of climate change continue to be felt by all, and just as the food crisis resulted in concerted efforts to act on the problem, it is hoped that a growing consensus will also soon allow countries to take quick and united action on greenhouse gases.

Recently the G-8 expressly recognized the need to act on this matter, and the Philippines as an active negotiator in the UNFCCC process calls on all parties to look at the greater good for generations yet to come, and negotiate in earnest at Poznan later this year leading to a successful conclusion in Copenhagen next year.

The Philippines has enshrined in her Constitution the duty of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature, and the Supreme Court has enunciated the doctrine of intergenerational justice and responsibility in respect of the environment. It is hoped that these principles will be observed by all nations.

The rise in energy prices provides a strong impetus for a more carbon-friendly approach to energy policy, as it should also affect consumption patterns in general. The Philippines is well on its way to pursuing a greener energy path not only through exploring renewable and alternative energy sources such as geothermal and wind power, but also through changing consumer behaviour such as through the phase-out of incandescent bulbs.

The Migration Dimension of Globalization

Finally, let me take a moment to focus on what the Philippines considers as a ninth so-called MDG. I refer to what we may call the Migration Dimension of Globalization. We believe than no discussion on development would be complete without considering this important factor. As a major country of origin, the Philippines is keenly aware of the various issues involved and recognizes that this is another issue that needs international attention.

The movement of people from one country to another for whatever purpose they deem necessary will surely increase as globalization continues to erase borders. This is a phenomenon that should be recognized as having profound implications on the growth and development of both sending and receiving countries.

The Philippines realizes that the implications of migration are currently seen from a variety of viewpoints. A broader understanding of this issue must be propagated and pursued and should involve all stakeholders. The Philippines invites all UN Member States to actively participate in the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) that is to take place in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, from 27 – 30 October, or just three weeks from today. We expect that the outcome of discussions of this important forum will be of use as the Second Committee tackles the biennial resolution on Migration and Development.

Madam Chair,

It is for all these reasons that the work in the Second Committee is so vital to developing countries such as the Philippines. All these crises fall squarely under the discussions within this Committee, and the Resolutions we will be negotiating this 63 rd Session will be of particular relevance and resonance.

We realize that oftentimes, the negotiations on many of these Resolutions are hotly debated and that sometimes it seems that there are divergent viewpoints on the same subject matter. However, it is hoped that the gravity of the crises which currently confront and challenge the development pillar of the United Nations, will shift our perceptions from arguments of whether the glass is half-empty or half-full to the realization that we all have to drink from the same glass in order to survive.

Thank you.

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