Briefing on the Report hosted by the President of the General Assembly on advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015

Opening Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development

Accelerating Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015 (A/66/126).

President of the General Assembly,
Distinguished Delegates,

It is a special pleasure to address you today, on this important topic.

Last year, world leaders took a decisive step towards the inclusive vision set out in the Millennium Declaration.  At the High-level meeting on the MDGs, they agreed on an agenda that would guide our priorities and actions through 2015.

Throughout this process, the UN system, Member States and other stakeholders have been working towards an effective and sustainable implementation.

As the President of the General Assembly stated, Member States have asked the Secretary-General now to make recommendations for further steps to advance the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.

Please now allow me to provide you a brief overview of the Report, Accelerating Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals: options for sustained and inclusive growth and issues for advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015.

The report covers three major areas:

First, there is a brief summary of global MDG progress, which is consistent with the Global MDG Report launched by DESA in September.

Let me share some key messages with you:

i)    Important progress has been made in most MDG targets. However, the most vulnerable populations are still missing out in many dimensions;
ii)    The global economic crisis has slowed progress; and
iii)    MDG achievement requires stable and inclusive growth.

Second, there is an argument that MDG achievement requires inclusive growth, with employment creation and equal opportunities for all.

There are many paths to stimulate growth and development, depending on country context and initial conditions. However, key elements for sustainable and inclusive growth include the following:

  • a development oriented macro-economic framework;
  • sustainable use of natural resources;
  • inclusive social policies; and
  • protection of human rights and good governance.

The third area of the report is on the post-2015 development agenda. On this topic, the Report conveys four main messages:

i)    The discussion of the post-2015 development agenda should start with a thorough evaluation of the MDGs. This will assess what has worked and what needs improvement;
ii)    Sustainable development must be at the centre of any post-2015 UN development agenda.
iii)    There are new development challenges that need further reflection: issues such as inequality, climate change, food and energy security, environmental degradation, demographic trends, peace and security, respect for human rights and good governance.
iv)    The new challenges could be addressed by more fully by operationalizing the values and principles contained in the Millennium Declaration, which remain as relevant as ever.

The Report makes a recommendation to initiate an inclusive, open and transparent process of deliberation regarding the post 2015 development framework.

It further argues that active participation from multiple stakeholders would help generate a global consensus leading to the best development results.

In the coming months, we will have the opportunity to think about the post-2015 development agenda.

Indeed, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+ 20 – offers needed space to start building the global consensus towards 2015.

Also, Member States have already called for a special event to be held in 2013 – during the 68th session of the General Assembly – to follow-up efforts towards achieving the MDGs. This event will provide a good opportunity to reach an initial consensus on the post-2015 development framework.  It will also allow enough time to continue refinement of the content and structure of the future development agenda.

I had a very productive meeting recently with members of the Executive Committee for Economic and Social Affairs (ECESA), on this important subject.  Among other things, we heard about some of their own initiatives being planned for the post 2015 agenda.

I also briefed them on the initiative of the Secretary General to appoint a Task Team to be led by DESA and UNDP, as convener of ECESA and UNDG, respectively, to coordinate system-wide preparations and propose — and here I QUOTE — “a unified vision and road map for the definition of a UN development agenda post-2015, in consultation with all stakeholders”. UNQUOTE.

I can assure you, as I did to ECESA, that the UN system preparations on this critical issue will be inclusive, strategic, and effective.


You may also wish to consider ways in which regional and national processes can contribute to the deliberations about the post 2015 development agenda.

The Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies may provide important forums for intergovernmental discussions.

Additionally, the biennial Development Cooperation Forum can be a platform for multi-stakeholder discussions.

For the upcoming annual ministerial reviews, Member States may also want to have a more structured debate on cross-cutting and emerging development issues, as well as national experience sharing.

In closing, allow me to emphasize the unique opportunity we have, to forge, together, an inclusive and people-centred development, a development agenda in which the values and principles embodied in the Millennium Declaration remain central to our collective conscience, and backed by commitment and action.

I look forward to your views.