Mr. Thomas Gass Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

A Global Health Impact Forum, organized by
the Global Partnerships Forum, the New York Academy of Sciences and Cavendish Global

Distinguished Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a distinct pleasure to be with you this morning.  Forums like this are very important.  I believe we can all agree that Governments cannot achieve everything on their own. 

To address the challenges of development effectively, broad and effective partnerships are essential between Governments and various forms of non-governmental organizations — including those that are philanthropic in nature — to assist in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development objectives and activities. 

The work of Forums such as this one – that actively seek to accelerate technological innovation and health access through sustainable philanthropy and impact investing – are particularly relevant today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we know, Member States, the UN system and stakeholders worldwide are now fully engaged in consultations to define a post-2015 development agenda, with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core. The post-2015 development agenda is expected to be ambitious and transformative. We have a real opportunity to integrate the concerns for people and our planet. We have before us an opportunity to set in motion a rethink of development that is centred around inequality and poverty, concern for our planetary boundaries, social inclusion, and inter-generational equity. The post-2015 agenda can – and should – capture these shared problems within an integrated framework, one of achieving shared prosperity on a fragile and vulnerable planet.

The Open Working Group that is elaborating the sustainable development goals, has sought to tackle the root causes of environmental degradation. This includes issues such as unsustainable consumption and production patterns and use of natural resources. A fundamental change in lifestyles, beginning with the developed countries, is at the root of the change that is needed.

The Open Working Group is set on finding a path towards a more sustainable future in harmony with nature, even though framing these new issues into global and universal targets still remains a challenge.


Effective partnerships in the post-2015 era, between different kinds of development partners, will be key.

The UN itself has been actively promoting partnerships, including with the private sector. The Economic and Social Council has, since 2008, convened an annual partnerships forum, which has brought together senior private sector and foundation representatives to discuss, with governments, ways in which partnerships could be strengthened in support of the MDGs.  Its 2009 annual event engaged the private sector and considered ways in which partnerships could help promote Global Public Health.

Other UN system efforts include the Secretary-General’s partnerships initiatives in the area of sustainable energy, education, and others critical to sustainable development. His Every Woman Every Child, and Zero Hunger Initiatives have particular relevance to the issue of promoting the health and wellbeing of people worldwide.

Indeed, the concept of leaving no one behind has been strongly articulated in the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals. It is clear that the new sustainable development goals will aim to bring development to each and every citizen from all walks of life, and especially from marginalized groups.

Taking a lesson from the MDG experience, it is also clear that it will not be enough to meet targets in the aggregate; rather, the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable must also be met. Thus, universal goals will aim to help the youth and the older people, women and children, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and migrant workers.

Distinguished Guests,

While there has been enormous progress in health during the era of the MDGs, we know that many targets have not yet been reached. There is a strong, international consensus that the MDGs explicitly related to health, namely 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (improve maternal health) and 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases), should be integral to the post-2015 agenda.

Moreover, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), mental health and injuries have become the dominant causes of morbidity and mortality globally. NCDs are responsible for rising burden of disease, even as these countries are still battling the diseases of poverty.

It is worth noting that the current working document of the Open Working Group endorses the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, with particular attention to the most marginalized. It also calls for universal access to affordable essential medicines, and vaccines for all.

Importantly, the proposed goals and targets reflect a concern for equality and inclusiveness. Further examples from the working document include extending social protection to the most vulnerable, and providing decent jobs and employment, especially to youth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In closing, we have before us an opportunity to inject ambition and a transformative vision to bring about a bold post-2015 development agenda.  In other words, we have before us the opportunity, and potential, to powerfully transform our common humanity. 

Thank you.