Experts Group Meeting to support the advancement of the Post-2015 UN 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 first expert group meeting on the post-2015 UN 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.

Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP and I are leading the Task Team, which is co-chaired by Assistant-Secretaries-General Mr. Jomo and Mr. Kjørven, on our behalf.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Jomo and Mr. Kjørven for your outstanding efforts.

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.

In welcoming you all to this Expert Group Meeting, I also want to extend to you our appreciation. All UN focal points have been working very hard to support the analytical consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. Your contributions will help provide guidance and enrich our analytical work.

Dear Colleagues,

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

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 among 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. It must be anchored on recent experience and lessons learned.

This is where I hope you will all contribute and help Member States, civil society, business and other stakeholders to work together in coming to grips with these challenges.

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware, the preparatory road to Rio+20 is well underway. In fact, the Conference is now less than four months away. And along this path there is increasing interest, 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.

We need to listen to these voices. We need to try to find ways in which sustainable development can guide our broader mission. 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 say this firmly – sustainable development will need to figure at the centre of any post-2015 UN development agenda.

I am sure your conversations over the next three days will shed light on how to balance and integrate the economic, social and environmental pillars of the future development agenda.

In conclusion, I want to thank you once again for taking the time to join us in this important event.

I wish you all a productive and successful meeting.

Thank you.