|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Deputy Secretary-General Spells out ‘Strategic Opportunities’ for 2011
in Remarks to Organizational Session of Economic and Social Council
Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks to the organizational session of the Economic and Social Council, in New York, today, 19 January:
I am pleased to attend this ceremony marking the handover of the presidency of the Economic and Social Council. On behalf of the Secretariat, I thank His Excellency Ambassador Hamidon Ali for ably leading the Council over the past year. Congratulations to the outgoing Bureau as well. I am confident the new President and incoming Bureau will steer this Council just as effectively in the year ahead.
[The year] 2011 will be an important year for our Organization and our work around the world. The Secretary-General has identified eight strategic opportunities where we can reap outsized gains. The Economic and Social Council is an important actor in this effort.
The first is advancing action on inclusive and sustainable development.
The Action Agenda adopted at last year’s Millennium Development Goals Summit provides a road map towards 2015. In order to meet our targets, we must closely monitor progress. This work, which falls largely on the Economic and Social Council, is arduous. But it is essential if we are to redress social and economic inequalities and help countries meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
We also need to look past this agreed target date. Indeed, world leaders concurred that we will need a reinvigorated global partnership for development even after 2015. Forging this partnership will be a key task for the Economic and Social Council.
Indeed, despite the hope and progress the Millennium Development Goals have generated, our world sorely needs greater global solidarity. Spectacular progress and growth has taken place over these past years, yet 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty and 5 million infants still die every year of preventable diseases.
In order to create a more stable and prosperous world for future generations, we need durable solutions based on a sustainable approach that links social, economic and environmental challenges. We already have the plans and pledges. Now the challenge is to hold each other accountable.
The Economic and Social Council is critical to this process. Your Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum can bring many partners to the table and promote wider engagement at all levels, in different ministries, across sectors, and with businesses, foundations and non-governmental organizations.
This year, the Economic and Social Council will focus part of its energies on education. Since the World Education Forum in Dakar one decade ago, more children are getting a formal basic education than ever before. We have seen greater progress on the education Millennium Development Goals than on any other.
But greater progress is not enough progress. There are still some 72 million children missing out on primary school. One in six adults cannot read, two thirds of them women. These are not just our mothers and sisters and friends; these are the drivers of our economy — our best assets in the fight for development. That is why the empowerment of women is another area where the Secretary-General sees great strategic opportunities, especially as UN Women starts to function.
The Secretary-General has also called for stepped up actions to build on the climate change progress that was achieved in Cancun; to promote human rights and to improve our response to major humanitarian crises; and to seize the opportunity offered by this conference on the world’s least developed countries to do more to protect the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family.
The Economic and Social Council has vast experience and great expertise in all of these areas. You can help us make the most of this year’s strategic opportunities.
All of our efforts must be underpinned by a strong United Nations. That is why this year is also a time to continue strengthening the United Nations from within. This Council can provide effectiveness where it counts — in the field, on the ground where we operate, in areas blighted by poverty, war and natural disasters.
You may be meeting in New York, but your reach extends around the globe. So does your responsibilty — to hold countries and partners to their promises, and to pave the way for the United Nations to do its part in making our ambitious development agenda a resounding success.
In that spirit, I wish you a most productive session. And beyond offering wishes, I give you my strong pledge that the Secretariat will be engaged with this Council every step of the way.
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