Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

ECOSOC Special Meeting on Inequality

Statement by the Kingdom of the Netherlands New York, 30 March 2016

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and would like to align my remarks with the statement by the European Union.

Mr. President, I would like to thank you for taking the lead in convening this very important and timely event. This is an excellent initiative, highlighting a crucial issue. Tackling inequalities is at the core of our common global agenda and a key challenge in delivering the SDGs. As the EU highlighted, we all need to address inequalities: it is imperative, it is right and it is smart. That is why, this is also front and center in our national efforts to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.

In fact, the first response to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda last September by our Minister Ploumen, who combines the portfolios of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, was to send a White Paper to our Parliament outlining her vision for inclusive development. In this Paper she highlighted high inequality as a fundamental global challenge and subsequently presented a 20-point plan, worth 350 million Euro, with specific policy actions and programmes to tackle different forms of inequalities, both within and between countries.

This provides a concrete response to the pledge by our leaders that ‘no one will be left behind’, and that we will ‘endeavor to reach the furthest behind first’.

That commitment includes 3 important dimensions:

1.     Firstly, we need to ensure that the income of the bottom 40 %  grows more than the average, in accordance with target 10.1 of the SDGs. This is by no means a technical issue. Inequality is above all a result of political choices. That means tackling it is a political responsibility.

2.     Secondly, to make sure that no one is left behind, we need dedicated measures for specific disadvantaged groups, focusing for example on women, people in remote areas, ethnic minorities, disabled. Here, data disaggregation by income, gender, location and ethnicity is crucial. Again, a seemingly technical, but in fact a very political instrument to make the excluded visible.

3.     Thirdly, next to ensuring that no person is left behind, at the global level we need to make sure that no country is left behind. The vulnerabilities of the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States are clear and they deserve specific attention.

How will we contribute to these efforts? Allow me to share five concrete steps:

1.     We seek to generate more export from Least Developed Countries, through a programme with UNCTAD to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the use of rules of origin to allow LDCs to benefit more from trade preferences.

2.     Our minister Ploumen led the first trade mission to Ebola affected countries since the outbreak of the crisis, taking more than 30 companies with her. This has triggered over 50 initiatives in the area of agriculture, infrastructure and health care.

3.     As a longstanding donor, we will continue to contribute through Official Development Assistance.

4.     A well-functioning tax system is at the core. Last year we pledged to double our contribution to technical assistance to improve tax collection capacity. In addition, we have initiated the renegotiation of 23 tax treaties with developing country partners, proposing anti-abuse provisions to ensure we are not an attractive option for companies that want to avoid taxes.

5.     We look to the Green Climate Fund to enhance the resilience of the poorest countries. We have sought to ensure that the Green Climate Fund heeds the needs and desires of the poorest countries and that investments make the poorest population groups more resilient.

We stand ready to continue this important dialogue. To this end, together with partners, we will host a side event on concrete ways to deliver on the promise to Leave No One Behind during the High-level Political Forum this summer in New York.

I thank you, Mr. President.