In Zurich, Ban calls strongly on governments to ‘leave no one behind’ in new era of global sustainability

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivers his keynote address at the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Zurich, Switzerland. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

22 January 2016 – If the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a pact between donors and recipients, the 2030 Agenda must become must become the basis of a new social contract, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, urging governments to show strong ownership in the framework by aligning policies, legislation and resources so that people and the planet can benefit.

“Governments made a universal promise to all people – and citizens of the world can now demand that governments honour these promises,” the Secretary-General told delegations at the told delegations attending the Zurich Development Conference, where he made a strong call on governments to back the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“All States and all actors own this Agenda, which aims to finally end the tyranny of poverty,” continued the UN chief, adding that where the MDGs were carried out through the development system, the SDGs must become the object of a dialogue between the State and its people, “between duty-bearers and rights-holders, between those with resources and those in need.”

He said that in the course of discussions on the 2030 Agenda, particularly business community and civil society were urging the Governments and the UN to provide a far-reaching vision. “I think UN Member States have now delivered,” he said emphasizing that the Goals represent virtually all the aspects and spectrums of our lives, including the environmental conditions of our Planet Earth.

“Now I am urging business communities and civil society to respond to the visions of world leaders. The world leaders, of course, have political responsibility to make sure these are owned by each and every government through their national legislations and other administrative measure,” the Secretary-General said, adding however that without the strong support, contributions and engagement by civil society and the business community, this might not be implemented.

The 2030 Agenda, he continued, commits to leaving no one behind. The basic [premise] is that 7 billion people – maybe 8 billion by the end of 2030 – that everybody without any exception should be able to live sustainably and a healthier way.

“This is a pledge that resonates well here in Switzerland. The preamble of your Constitution perfectly expresses this spirit by affirming that ‘the strength of a people is measured by the wellbeing of its weakest member,’ he noted, adding that the Swiss Government has already presented that far-reaching vision.

This applies to cantons in Switzerland – and it also applies to the most vulnerable in the international community. This applies not only to the least developed, fragile and failed States – but also applies to struggling people in any society.

“The only challenge greater than achieving agreement on the SDGs is the one we face now, it has been very difficult, sometimes passionate, emotional in the process of negotiation every single world, every single paragraph was the subject of intense negotiation. Now this is over, the greater challenge is to implement these agreements,” said Mr. Ban.

As such, he stressed that each and every Government needs to show strong ownership by aligning policies, legislation and resources in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. “We need visionary political leadership that sees beyond the national borders. We need effective institutions that break silos. These 17 goals, they are universal, they are all integrated, all are indivisible, you cannot separate one from the other,” he said.

He explained that they had been negotiated globally in two threads. One thread was climate change: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had negotiated during the last 18 years on Goal 13. The rest of the 16 goals were negotiated at the last UN General Assembly. “They were negotiated differently but they are one. Nothing can, and should operate in separation. They are one part of our vision,” said the UN chief.

The recent Paris Agreement on climate change represents a first of many steps the international community will have to take to achieve the SDGs, he said, adding that there are many cross-cutting issues like food, water, energy, gender and climate. Those are cross cutting issues which affects us all. Particularly if Goal 13 is not properly addressed, “all the gains which we will make will be seriously undermined.”

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