Statement at MDG Summit Roundtable 3: Sustainable Development

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Thank you, Co-Chairs,
Distinguished Representatives,

The sustainable development paradigm, launched some 20 years ago, was an innovative and groundbreaking idea. Like many great ideas in history, it is simple in its conception and adaptable to different circumstances. Its foundation of three pillars – economic and social development and environmental protection – and its emphasis on integration and linkages provide an overarching framework for policy formulation and implementation.

Two decades on, the world has seen remarkable progress, building on the outcomes of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and the Johannesburg Summit in 2002.

And yet significant gaps remain in implementation. Take MDG 7, for example. While the rate of deforestation shows signs of decreasing, it remains alarmingly high. Although the world is on track to meet the drinking water target, much remains to be done in rural areas. With half the population of developing regions without sanitation, the 2015 target appears to be out of reach. Our response to climate change so far falls short of expectations.

We can do better. There is one important lesson – MDGs are interconnected. Progress in one area often leads to results in others. Safe drinking water and improved sanitation creates the basic conditions for women’s and children’s health. Enhanced food security improves prospects for girl child to attend school. Increased participation by women in decision-making helps eliminate gender disparities in education and job, leading to better child care and increased family income.

Such action can achieve even better results when supported by international cooperation, through partnerships.

Achieving MDGs is all a question of how. Sustainable development is the answer. As the world continues to tackle the multiple crises, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20, offers a historical opportunity for renewing political commitment, identifying gaps in implementation and addressing new and emerging challenges.

Let us tap the political momentum generated by this Summit and advance MDGs through sustainable development.

Thank you.