Statement delivered by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Briefing in preparation for the Third High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) and the High-Level Meeting on Tuberculosis —
Thank you for inviting us, the two co-facilitators of the NCDs process to this important meetingAmbassador Rosselli has underlined the next steps very clearly toward the High-Level Meeting we are going to have in September, and we hope the States will participate at highest possible political level, which is our whish but I think also the Secretary General’s wish, because these are very important issues that we are discussing
And I think we all agree also that the Secretary-General’s message, that was conveyed in his report two months ago, is clear: we cannot tackle health issues with a silos approach if we want to meet the targets of the Sustainable Development Agenda. We know that all goals are interconnected, and the ultimate objective is a prosperous life that is equitably shared and sustainable. This is the overarching principle: that global health and sustainable well-being for all cannot forego addressing access to safe water, the protection of the environment, and sustainable production. What I get as the main message of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres in this report is that we should redouble our efforts.
The NCD process we are advancing is linked to key factors of nutrition and health behavior: a balanced diet, an active life and mental health are key elements in our approach to controlling and reducing NCDs. These principles guide us on how to respond to global health issues, to ensure everyone gets the healthcare he or she needs, and how to put the well-being of people at the center of the development approach, as other speakers today have said
Of course, life has improved a great deal since the early days of the UN itself: vaccines, better nutrition, the adoption of a more scientific approach to issues, the advancement of technology, and education have made a difference in people’s lives. But we cannot give up or take anything for granted – as we have said, the statistics are still very dark, especially in relation to TB, but also in relation to NCD -, until we are all on the same path: this is why in this process that we are conducting together with ambassador Rosselli, we also need reinvigorated political action, engaging all stakeholders in partnership towards effectively reducing the risk of dying prematurely from non-communicable diseases. We need to work together and address the well-being of all, leaving no one behind.
And with the science and technology we are developing, we can do this.
As co-facilitators, we are currently working on the draft. We are going to propose the first draft, hopefully on the first meeting of the negotiation process on June 7. My view in this capacity of co-facilitator is that this must be an important appointment, requiring engagement from all stakeholders. We can only make great strides when we are all together, that is the UN purpose: a meaningful declaration must be first of all a shared declaration.
This is how I see this process: it should lead to a strong call, a short incisive political declaration. We should work towards a text of impact. We must admit that, sometimes, we seem to forget the essential role of the General Assembly, and resort to texts that often bear little meaning for the person on the street. We have to be clear, we have to make ourselves understandable to the public and I think, it would be a lost opportunity producing a document that is not clear.
I have been Chair of the Second Committee, and I have worked with our experts on technical details and important specifics on resolutions. I value their work and the support from technical bodies and UN agencies very much. We are very proud to work in Geneva with WHO, in Rome with FAO (and so many others) on these issues. But the General Assembly alone is uniquely positioned to make a worldwide appeal to address SDG 3, to meet the targets we have set to achieve with the 2030 agenda. We cannot limit its role to duplicative action; we must heighten our expectations to the political level.
And I think that the value of a strong political statement from the General Assembly can be lost if we focus too much on technical issues, that must be dealt within the appropriate forum, in Geneva. And I very much agree with Ms. Etienne’s statement, let’s send in September, here in New York, a strong political message.
To conclude, there are topics on which we share different views, but at the end of the day we are working to improve everyone’s lives and the planet’s. We have undertaken a difficult task, but we are honored and ready to do our part, and I count on all the membership to participate constructively in this process.
Thank you, once again, for your action and commitment and attention.