Briefing with UN Delegates on Post 2015 Development Agenda

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

Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to this briefing on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.
As you know, the Secretary-General established a UN System Task Team to support his efforts to advance the post 2015 UN development agenda.

The Secretary-General has tasked Miss Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP and myself to lead the Task Team, which is co-chaired by Assistant-Secretaries-General Mr. Jomo and Mr. Kjørven.

The UN Task Team began its work in early January. Its mandate is to lend system-wide support to the consultation process, including analytical inputs, expertise and outreach.

During the past two days, the Task Team had their first expert group meeting.  Later in my remarks, I will briefly summarize their main findings.

We also have two experts with us today to share their perspectives – Mr. Deepak Nayyar and Mr. Jan Vandermoortele. I want to thank them for their contributions. UNDP and DESA colleagues will co-moderate this briefing.

First, let me share some general thoughts on the Post 2015 development agenda.

Dear Colleagues,

The work on the post-2015 development agenda must build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDG agenda has served us well. It has brought global attention to some of the most pressing development challenges of our time. It rallied the donor community around these goals.

In many countries, MDGs have helped guide national development strategies.

But the world has seen new challenges in recent years, as well as a worsening of the old ones.

From climate change to the loss of biodiversity; from rising land degradation to increasing scarcity of freshwater; from growing social inequity and insecurity to rising unemployment, especially among the youth; from high population growth to unsustainable urbanization and marine degradation.
These are among the many complex challenges that are planetary in scope, and interconnected.

They must be tackled together, with a renewed global partnership.

The post-2015 development agenda cannot follow the trodden path. It must rise to new challenges. In doing so, it should build on the strengths of the MDG agenda. But at the same time, it must go beyond and meet the broad challenges of today.

MDGs may be simple, but they encapsulate the vision for human development – from the Millennium Declaration.

But other issues can be better incorporated. For example, is there a way to give more prominence to reducing inequalities? Address the dynamics of demographic change? And what about sustainable development?

And, should the post -2015 agenda keep a one-size-fits-all goals and targets approach?  Or should it consider greater flexibility, to tailor the goals & targets to national realities?  Ownership is critical, and for this we must stress the importance of consultations.

These questions are very relevant to the ongoing preparations for the Rio+20 Conference.

Dear Colleagues,

As Secretary-General of Rio + 20, I think the post-2015 development agenda is highly relevant to Rio+20. As the Conference is now less than four months away, interest is increasing, among a wide range of stakeholders, in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As a reflection of this interest, the zero draft before member States calls for the launching of a process to devise a set of global SDGs. These goals need to reflect an integrated treatment of the three dimensions of sustainable development, to be implemented by all countries.

As of yet, there is no clearly defined set of goals to be adopted as part of the Rio+20 process.  In-depth discussions are still going on, with much focus on priority areas. These include green jobs, decent work and social inclusion; food security and sustainable agriculture; sustainable energy for all; water access and efficiency; sustainable cities; oceans; and disaster risk reduction and resilience.

Ultimately, whatever is decided at Rio will have a profound effect on the post 2015 development agenda.

This issue and others were raised at the Expert Group Meeting. Let me now summarize some of their main findings:

  1. A strong message emerged on the need for an open and inclusive consultation process, engaging all stakeholders. The post 2015 development agenda should reflect the voices of people.
  2. Many participants stressed human rights, with particular attention to economic, social and cultural rights, and rights of participation.
  3. A key question raised was how to maintain the global vision of the MDG framework, presenting its simplicity.
  4. In this regard, a related question raised was how to maintain this global vision, while remembering that “no one size fits all” and reflecting the new and emerging challenges.
  5. Participants also asked how the post-2015 development agenda will include issues that are not easily measurable, while at the same time maintaining effective monitoring, evaluation and mechanisms for accountability.
  6. Finally, the meeting considered prospects for convergence between the Rio+20 and post-2015 processes, stressing that sustainable development must be at the core of the post 2015 development agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While other points were also raised at the Expert Group Meeting, those I just mentioned can get us started.

The Secretary-General expects a unified framework proposal that can serve further discussions among Member States, with civil society and the business sector.

The outcome of Rio +20 will be a key component to the discussions on a post-2015 development agenda. Indeed – and let me reiterate this firmly – sustainable development will need to figure at the centre of any post-2015 UN development agenda.

I want to thank you for being here today.

I now give the floor to Assistant Secretary General Kjørven.

Thank you.