11 January 2008


11 January 2008
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York




Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the “Group of 77” developing countries and China chairmanship handover ceremony in New York, today, 11 January:

I am very pleased to join you today for this handover ceremony.

I would like to commend Pakistan for its capable stewardship of the Group of 77 and China during the past year -- a year of change for the United Nations and my first as Secretary-General.  I especially wish to thank Ambassador [Munir] Akram for his leadership and hard work.  I admire his fervent dedication to advancing the goals of the Group of 77.

And I would like to congratulate Antigua and Barbuda on assuming the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China.  I know we can expect great deeds from Antigua and Barbuda as it ably fills this important role.  I am confident that under the leadership of Prime Minister Winston Baldwin Spencer and Ambassador John William Ashe, I shall find in the Group a strong and constructive partner.

The Group of 77 and China represent the vast majority of humankind.  It is your agenda, your concerns, which largely drive the work of the United Nations.  Your composition covers a wide spectrum of nations.  You speak on behalf of the world’s poorest, who count most on the help of the international community.  You also speak on behalf of important middle-income countries of influence.  And you speak on behalf of the large range of economies that cover the middle ground between them.  I therefore consider it essential to stay in close touch with you and to listen carefully to your views.

The Group of 77 has been particularly instrumental in emphasizing the importance of the United Nations development work.  As I have stressed on many occasions, the United Nations development agenda is as important as the Organization’s work in peace and human rights.  In fact, these three areas of the United Nations work are closely interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  That is why I have always insisted that a stronger United Nations needs a stronger development pillar.

Development should not be a privilege of the few, but a right for all.  That right has been made clear over the past two decades, as the world agreed on a set of ambitious, but achievable, development goals.  These objectives have been captured in the United Nations Development Agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Strong economic growth in recent years has put many developing countries in a better position to achieve the MDGs by the target date of 2015.  But it is clear that growth alone is far from sufficient to meet the Goals.  Much more needs to be done in the next seven years if we are to win our race to the Goals on time.

Although extreme poverty is declining at the global level, millions of people are still trapped in structural poverty and go hungry every day.  In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living on less than $1 a day continues to increase.  The fifteenth International Development Association replenishment of $41.6 billion, though substantially larger than the previous one, represents just one step in the implementation of the “scaling up agenda” on meeting the financing requirements of the MDGs.  We need to move from rhetoric to reality and to expand this level of commitment if the goal of poverty elimination is to get anywhere near realization.  Social exclusion is also closely linked with persistent poverty.  Countries must work hard to ensure that their most vulnerable citizens attain a stronger voice and better quality of life.

At the global level, the international system must become more responsive to the needs of developing countries, particularly in the areas of trade, finance, technology transfer and migration.  We need to work together, within the appropriate institutions and forums, to ensure a greater voice and participation of developing countries in global decision-making.  And we all need to step up our efforts to live up to our commitments in support of the internationally agreed development goals.

We must continue efforts to improve and strengthen the Economic and Social Council -- a Charter body on which your Group rightly places great value.  I am pleased that the Annual Ministerial Review is helping to address the gap between development commitments and results.  I also have great hope that the biennial Development Cooperation Forum will become a principal mechanism for global dialogue and policy review on key cooperation issues.  And it should strengthen the Economic and Social Council’s coordination role to the benefit of both recipients and donors.

I have personally been working to strengthen the development dimension of the United Nations work.  For example, I have established the MDG Africa Steering Group to address the special challenges facing Africa, where the needs are greatest.  I have also created the MDG Gap Task Force, led by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  It will monitor compliance -- by developed and developing countries alike -- to the commitments made in establishing effective global partnerships.  Together with the President of the General Assembly, I will convene a high-level meeting on the MDGs in September to find ways to bridge the implementation gap.

While important, these endeavours represent just part of what I believe the United Nations can do to support your efforts.  We must undertake a fundamental review of our development machinery and programming across the system.  We need a more coherent, focused and reinvigorated approach.  As requested by the General Assembly, I will soon present proposals to its resumed session.  The General Assembly will soon begin work on system-wide coherence, including on the question of gender architecture, where urgent action is required.

We must be bold if we are to better serve Member States and meet the needs of humanity.  Delivering as one at country, regional and global levels in virtually every area of our work is not only possible; it is essential.  I count on your guidance and support in this area.  Already, I am working to make better use of existing tools to bolster cooperation within the Secretariat, as well as with the broader United Nations system -- such as the Chief Executives Board for Coordination, the Executive Committee for Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Group.

In the field of gender equality, we need to create a more supportive environment for Member States to meet their commitments under the Beijing Platform for Action, the Millennium Development Goals and the 2005 World Summit Outcome, with a special focus on implementation at the country level.

Much of the progress we have achieved on the development front is at risk of being lost due to the negative effects of climate change.  We all need to work together with a shared sense of urgency to address this global problem.  Over the course of the next two years, we must strive to deliver on the promise of Bali.  I count on your support as we move forward in tackling what I consider to be the defining issue of our time.

It bodes well that climate change is understood -- and increasingly being addressed -- as a sustainable development challenge.  I am determined to ensure that the United Nations system delivers effectively on its mandates in the area of climate change.  At the request of the General Assembly, I will be reporting on United Nations system activities in this field.

Just as climate change threatens to undo important social and economic achievements, a number of current trends, such as rising oil prices and the credit crunch, pose fresh challenges to our development efforts.  Uncertainties are pointing to a slower growth of the world economy in 2008.  This would adversely affect the growth of developing economies and hamper progress towards our development goals.  We must act collectively to avert such a slowdown.

In my first year as Secretary-General, I have done my utmost to strengthen your confidence in the United Nations.  I have done so knowing that this great institution remains our only truly global mechanism for working together to solve the world’s complex problems.

In 2008, I will continue my efforts to put the United Nations on a new track so that it can better meet the daunting challenges ahead -- by moving forward with reform, by delivering more effectively on development, by taking action on climate change and on the other issues on the United Nations agenda.

The Group of 77 and China play an indispensable role in achieving our shared goals.  That is why I will do everything in my power to consolidate our good collaborative relationship as we work together to create a better world for all.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.