United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Group of 77 & China

New York, 24 February 2009
Madam Chair,
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on
the theme of ?Rural Development?. Let me first express our appreciation to
the Secretary-General for the report on this particular theme, which provides
useful policy perspectives on rural development.
2. We would also like to express our appreciations to the panellists for
their rich and insightful presentations.
3. The majority of the over one billion people who live in rural areas are
poor and most of them in developing countries. Hence, to achieve the
millennium development goals, in particular poverty eradication, special and
concerted efforts need to be directed towards rural development. It is
therefore imperative that this Preparatory Meeting and the forthcoming
seventeenth session of the Commission comes up with viable, realistic and
implementable policy options that can effectively address the situation of the
rural populations.
Madam Chair,
4. The current global crises have serious implications for rural
development. The rural poor are among the first to suffer the consequences of
the economic and financial crisis as they depend mainly on subsistence
farming and small agricultural-based industries.
Madam Chair,
5. In most developing countries agriculture is the main source of
livelihood and subsistence for the rural poor, who are mostly the landless,
smallholders, pastoralists and rural women. That is why improved agricultural
productivity and growth are central to any strategy for reducing rural poverty.
6. Availability and access to efficient, reliable and affordable energy is an
important impediment to rural development. Whereas some progress has
been made towards the goal in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation on
(JPOI), improving access to reliable and affordable energy services, some 1.6
billion people, mostly in rural areas, still lack access to electricity. Efforts have
also been made in reducing the use of traditional biomass, especially in Latin
America and parts of Asia. Lack of modern energy services still impedes
poverty eradication and sustainable development in many developing
countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and some small
island developing States.
7. Water is becoming a scarce commodity while its availability and quality
cannot be underestimated in strategies and policies for rural development.
Investment priorities for rural development must ensure the integrity of water
infrastructure such as repairing leaks in irrigation canals; addressing adverse
environmental impacts; providing demand-driven irrigation to improve the
livelihoods of poor people; and improving its management and costeffectiveness.
Increasing the efficiency and sustainability of water use in
agriculture and improving irrigation system performance should be key
strategic conservation goals.
Madam Chair,
8. Despite the enormous merits of information and communication
technologies for coherent and coordinated development in rural areas, most
of the rural areas in developing countries have no access to these
technologies, and hence are unable to take advantage of the benefits of
globalisation and related developments. Integration of rural communities into
global information and communication networks would go a long way to
enhance rural development and the integration of rural populations into the
global economy. Rural development strategies and policies should endeavour
to bridge the digital divide at the local, national regional and international
levels. This can be done through developing relevant ICT infrastructure
9. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis have been
threatening the progress made in rural development, particularly in developing
countries where 95 percent of the infected population live. Combating these
diseases must therefore be a core element of global development support and
assistance to developing countries. Global efforts must also give high priority
to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and helping communities cope with its
impacts. Further, to improve social well-being and minimize the vulnerability of
the rural poor, there is need to improve access to nutrition and health
services, in order to help mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

10. Education and health facilities and services are important components
of human capital development. But most rural areas lack education and health
infrastructure, which in turn contribute to high illiteracy rates and poor health
among the populations. Addressing this will require promoting literacy and
training opportunities for unschooled rural youth and adults and ensuring that
investments in vocational training programmes are comprehensive and
implemented in an integrated manner to meet the priority needs of the people.
Madam Chair,
11. Many rural areas in the developing countries have poor levels of
infrastructure development in roads, railways, waterways and air transport,
which open up areas for prospective investors; provide access to markets and
raw materials. The underdevelopment of these forms of infrastructures in rural
areas is symptomatic of underdevelopment, and rural development policies
must seriously address challenges in a broader sense.
12. In most of the developing world, women do most of the agricultural
work. Women constitute a large share of rural populations and are usually in
charge of household food security, yet in many areas they are constrained in
their access to, and ownership and control of productive resources such as
land and finances. Rural development strategies and policies should therefore
include women empowerment and gender equity.
Madam Chair,
13. Policies for rural development must aim at helping countries accelerate
economic growth and respond to the plight of the rural populations. Such
policies must ensure the enhancement of the productive, social and
environmental assets that are important for the improvements of their wellbeing.
It is in this view that the Group of 77 and China will enumerate and
submit a set of policy options and means of implementation that we believe
can spur development in rural areas, particularly in developing countries.
I thank you.