Calling for inclusive, agile and coordinated action to usher in an era of sustainable development for all, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 4 December presented the UN General Assembly with an advance unedited version of his “synthesis report,” which will guide negotiations for a new global agenda centred on people and the planet, and underpinned by human rights. The report was formally issued in the six official UN languages on 31 December 2014.
“Next year, 2015, will herald an unprecedented opportunity to take far-reaching, long-overdue global action to secure our future well-being,” Mr. Ban said as he called on Member States to be “innovative, inclusive, agile, determined and coordinated” in negotiating the agenda that will succeed the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN-backed effort to reduce extreme poverty and hunger, promote education, especially for girls, fight disease and protect the environment, all by 2015.
In an informal briefing to the 193-Member Assembly, the UN chief presented his synthesis report, The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet, alongside the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa who also addressed delegates, describing the process of intergovernmental negotiations that fed into the report’s compilation to set the stage for agreement on the new framework at a September 2015 summit and stressing the “historical responsibility” States faced to deliver a transformative agenda.
The synthesis report aims to support States’ discussions going forward, taking stock of the negotiations on the post-2015 agenda and reviewing lessons from pursuit of the MDGs. It stresses the need to “finish the job” – both to help people now and as a launch pad for the new agenda.
In the report’s conclusion, the Secretary-General issues a powerful charge to Member States, saying: “We are on the threshold of the most important year of development since the founding of the United Nations itself. We must give meaning to this Organization’s promise to ‘reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of the human person’ and to take the world forward to a sustainable future…[We] have an historic opportunity and duty to act, boldly, vigorously and expeditiously, to turn reality into a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind.”
Never before has so broad and inclusive a consultation been undertaken on development, Mr. Ban told the Assembly today, referring to the consultations that followed Rio+20 [ the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development], adding that his synthesis report “looks ahead, and discusses the contours of a universal and transformative agenda that places people and planet at the centre, is underpinned by human rights, and is supported by a global partnership.”
The coming months would see agreement on the final parameters of the post-2015 agenda and he stressed the need for inclusion of a compelling and principled narrative, based on human rights and dignity. Financing and other means of implementation would also be essential and he called for strong, inclusive public mechanisms for reporting, monitoring progress, learning lessons, and ensuring shared responsibility.
He also welcomed the outcome produced by the Open Working Group, saying its 17 proposed sustainable development goals and 169 associated targets clearly expressed an agenda aiming at ending poverty, achieving shared prosperity, protecting the planet and leaving no one behind.
Discussions of the Working Group had been inclusive and productive and he the Group’s proposal should form the basis of the new goals, as agreed by the General Assembly. The goals should be “focused and concise” to boost global awareness and country-level implementation, communicating clearly Member States’ ambition and vision.
The synthesis report presented dignity, people, prosperity, the planet, justice and partnerships as an integrated set of “essential elements” aimed at providing conceptual guidance during discussions of the goals and Mr. Ban stressed that none could be considered in isolation from the others and that each was an integral part of the whole.
“Implementation will be the litmus test of this agenda. It must be placed on a sound financial footing,” he said welcoming the work of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and encouraging countries to scale up their efforts.
The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa next year would play a major role in outlining the means for implementation, and he stressed the “key role” national Governments would play in raising domestic revenue to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.
Official development assistance (ODA) and international public funds, particularly for vulnerable countries, would also be vital to unlocking “the transformative power of trillions of dollars of private resources”, while private investment would be particularly important on projects related to the transition to low-carbon economies, improving access to water, renewable energy, agriculture, industry, infrastructure and transport.
Implementation would also rely on bridging the technology gap, creating a new framework for shared accountability, and providing reliable data, which he called the “lifeblood of sound decision-making.”
Stressing his commitment to ensuring the best outcome from the post-2015 process, he underlined the need for States to be guided by universal human rights and international norms, while remaining responsive to different needs and contexts in different countries.
“We must embrace the possibilities and opportunities of the task at hand,” he said.
In an earlier interview with the UN News Centre Amina J. Mohammed, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning stressed that one of the report’s main “takeaways” is that “by 2030 we can end poverty, we can transform lives and we can find ways to protect the planet while doing that.”
“I think that’s important because we’re talking about a universal agenda where we’re going to leave no one behind. It’s not doing things by halves or by three-quarters, it’s about everyone mattering…To say you don’t want to leave anyone behind is to look to see who is the most vulnerable and smallest member of the family and what is it that we’re going to have to do to ensure that they’re not left behind, because that will be the litmus test and success of what we do.”