Statement by Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the General Assembly Informal Debate On “Partnerships Towards Achieving The MDGS : Taking Stock, Moving Forward”
New York, 27 November 2006

The United Nations Development Agenda, drawn from the Conferences and Summits held since the 1990s, provides shared principles and objectives to address the common economic, social, and environmental problems of our times. It also sets out agreed goals and targets to help advance and assess implementation. The Millennium Development Goals represents a distillation of the objectives set by the Conferences, which has become the agreed framework for international cooperation for development.

Let me underscore two elements permeating this Agenda that are relevant for the discussion today: the struggle for equity that underlies UN objectives and goals, and the commitment to implement this Agenda in a renewed spirit of partnership.

The equitable dimensions of the UN Development Agenda were best expressed in this bold statement made by world leaders in the UN Millennium Declaration: “We believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world’s people”. The MDGs express this objective by placing the eradication of poverty at the centre of development cooperation. And this fight should be understood in terms of the need not only to reduce income poverty but also to address the multiple dimensions of poverty so clearly expressed in the Copenhagen Social Summit—that is, in terms of access to nutrition, education, health, water and sanitation, all targeted in the MDGS, and indeed access to participation in decision making. The UN Agenda has also captured the struggle for equity in the strong and repeated calls for gender equality and social inclusion, including for groups that have been the subject of special attention in UN processes: children, youth, the elderly, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities.

Yet, a disturbing aspect of the current globalization process is the uneven and unbalanced distribution of its benefits. We see this in growing international inequality, but also in widening inequality within countries, a phenomenon that has affected all too many countries since the last decades of the twentieth century. The fight against poverty must thus be understood in broader terms as a fight against all dimensions of inequality and a struggle to develop inclusive societies within each of our countries. The three essential objectives agreed at Copenhagen stand at the centre: poverty eradication, employment, and social integration.

The Monterrey Consensus provided, in turn, the best formulation of the Global Partnership for Development. This partnership is firmly rooted in the recognition that the main responsibility for development lies with the developing countries themselves, including through improved governance. It is also expressed in the commitments made by industrial countries to provide more and better development assistance and debt relief, and to support the development of more equitable world trading and financial systems. The principle of development as a global partnership was also captured in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the 2005 World Summit Outcome, and is reflected in the eight MDGs.

Beyond this partnership among States, all conferences and summits have made a call to civil society and the private sector to contribute to realizing the aspirations and concrete goals of the UN Development Agenda. Civil society has been an essential ally of the UN, and indeed, the UN Agenda is, in many ways, the result of the struggle of international civil society. And the private sector has also become a major ally, through its commitment to the realization of these goals and through enshrining some principles of the UN Agenda in the Global Compact. In many ways, real progress in achieving the internationally agreed development goals hinges upon the full and effective involvement of all relevant stakeholders.

This is why we are constantly exploring new ways of promoting partnerships in our work, both in support of intergovernmental consensus, but also in the implementation of the UN Agenda. Let me offer two examples. The Financing for Development process promotes broad participation of experts from the public and private sectors, international organizations, academia, and civil society in various consultation processes, some of which are directly organized by private sector and civil society partners. Voluntary, multi-stakeholder initiatives in the area of sustainable development were a fundamental outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, where more than 200 partnerships were launched. In the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, Governments designated the UN Commission on Sustainable Development as the focal point for the further elaboration of partnerships that promote sustainable development, including the sharing of lessons learned, progress made, and best practices. But our promotion of partnerships goes well beyond these two cases. The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN Forum on Forests, the Global Alliance for ICT and Development and, in general, debates on economic and social issues here in the General Assembly and in the Economic and Social Council are all processes with the concept and practice of partnership at the centre of their work.

Progress in implementation of the UN Development Agenda, and achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, is thus contingent upon building an ever more strengthened, dynamic, and effective partnership among all Governments, institutional stakeholders and relevant actors from the private sector and civil society—including, I must underscore, people living in poverty themselves. The challenges are immense, yet essential, to put an end to poverty in our times and to build inclusive, equitable, and participatory societies—and a much more peaceful and united world.

This is why I congratulate you, Madam President, for this initiative to advance and elaborate the aspirations set out in the UN Development Agenda, and to welcome the many partners in this great struggle of our time.