Explanation of Position at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Jason R. Mack
Acting Representative to the Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
July 15, 2021


The United States thanks the Governments of Finland and Iraq as co-facilitators for their diligence and creativity in shepherding the negotiation of today’s Ministerial Declaration.

The United States strongly supports the 2030 Agenda and we are committed to its implementation. We value the declaration’s reaffirmation of the crucial cross-cutting values that drive progress in the achievement of the SDGs, including transparency, good governance and the rule of law, combatting inequality, respect for human rights, inclusive economic growth, environmental protection, gender equality, the empowerment of women and girls, preventing and responding to gender-based violence, poverty eradication, and the use of science and data to support policymakers.

The United States is the largest single provider of international development and humanitarian assistance for food security and nutrition. We are working to end hunger and malnutrition, and to building more sustainable food systems. We are fully committed to international cooperation to address pressing global challenges, including to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. We have pledged to donate half-a-billion Pfizer vaccines to 92 low-and lower-middle income countries around the world and the African Union. These vaccines are in addition to the 80 million doses we have committed to supply by the end of this month, and the $2 billion we’ve already contributed to COVAX, the multilateral COVID-vaccination effort.

We are thus pleased to join consensus on the adoption of this declaration. However, the United States has a number of concerns with the declaration as adopted. To adhere to time limits, I will outline some of those concerns here, and will submit the complete U.S. statement to the Secretariat in writing and post it online.

This declaration reaffirms many of our shared values, but the United States regrets that many crucial issues have been omitted, such as the One Health approach to pandemic preparedness and the elimination of the worst forms of child labor, and others have been presented in an unbalanced or inaccurate fashion, including language on sustainable infrastructure, global supply chains, and sustainable water management. While we strongly support the 2030 Agenda’s incorporation of human rights into sustainable development, we also note that the declaration fails to recognize the source of those rights in some cases, including with respect to the right to food and the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

The United States stresses its concern that numerous paragraphs in this declaration inappropriately attempt to characterize or influence processes in independent fora, particularly on trade and finance matters. The UN must respect the independent mandates of other processes and institutions, including trade negotiations, and must not attempt to characterize or interfere with decisions and actions in those fora. The United States reaffirms that it does not accept such attempts and will not treat them as agreed language in future negotiations. These include language on TRIPS flexibilities under the World Trade Organization, language on emergency trade measures, trade finance, and trade facilitation measures, language concerning intellectual property and the transfer of technology, and language on debt treatment under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

The inclusion of paragraph 35 from the 2030 Agenda does not contribute to this declaration, and represents an attempt to politicize the important work that Member States undertake in the HLPF. We have consequently voted against its inclusion as paragraph 29 in the declaration, and we also dissociate from it.

Finally, the United States reaffirms its position on the 2030 Agenda as detailed in its Explanation of Position delivered on September 1, 2015.

The United States appreciates the efforts by delegations to negotiate an impactful statement that reflects our shared commitment to sustainable development, as well as the innovative and thoughtful contributions presented in this year’s HLPF. We look forward to continuing to work with Member States and stakeholders to meet the ambition and promise of the 2030 Agenda.