Press Conference by Secretary-General, UNDP Administrator to Launch United Nations Development Group Report ‘One Million Voices: The World We Want’

10 September 2013

Press Conference by Secretary-General, UNDP Administrator to Launch United Nations Development Group Report ‘One Million Voices: The World We Want’

10 September 2013
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Secretary-General, UNDP Administrator to Launch United Nations

Development Group Report ‘One Million Voices:  The World We Want’


The time has come to reflect on achievements, gaps and new challenges as the world approaches the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at Headquarters today.

And the work to define a post-2015 development agenda will help recalibrate efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and chart a course to a world of prosperity, peace, sustainability, equity and dignity for all, he said at a press conference to launch the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) report One Million Voices: The World We Want.

Accompanying the Secretary-General were Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Programme’s Bureau for Development Policy; and John Hendra, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Programme of UN-Women.

Mr. Ban said the Millennium Development Goals had generated tremendous progress over the last 13 years, and the report was the result of wide-ranging grassroots consultations that highlighted the priorities that people wished to see addressed in the post-2015 development agenda.  Many countries had transformed access to education and water, reduced disease and poverty, and moved towards gender equality, with many actors involved in that effort.  “But the voices we need to hear from most are those of the people of the world, especially those that are usually unheard, particularly the excluded or marginalized — disabled persons, the poor and jobless, the hungry, those living without adequate sanitation or health care,” he emphasized.

Mr. Ban continued:  “People want to be involved in setting the new development agenda.”  They wanted to be engaged in holding Member States to their promises.  “Above all, these million voices tell us that we have a big and urgent job ahead:  to agree on a new development agenda that carries the same simplicity and strength as the MDG framework — an agenda that serves both people and the planet,” the Secretary-General said.  “A new era demands a new vision,” he declared.

Administrator Clark, who is also Chair of UNDG, said that during the global conversation the Group had enabled the voices of grass-roots communities, non-governmental organizations and the broader civil society around the world to be heard in respect of shaping the post-2015 development agenda.  The report contained important messages for Member States as they worked towards agreement on a new global development agenda, she added.

Access to education, better health, water and sanitation, as well as gender equality was of universal relevance and significance, constituting the very basic needs of people the world over, she said.  A strong message that had emerged from the global consultations was the vital importance of tackling the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals, she said.  The people participating in the global conversation had conveyed the sense that the world was not fair to many, and they wanted the post-2015 agenda to change that.

To that end, it was important that Member States and Governments heard the feedback from the consultations as they contemplated what the new development agenda should look like, she continued.  “In effect, they are being asked to show again the foresight world leaders showed in 2000 when they agreed to the Millennium Declaration.  Another message that had come through very strongly was that people everywhere wanted their Governments to do a better job, to be honest and responsive in delivering services, creating the conditions for decent work and citizen security, and to take responsibility for the state of the planet and its ecosystems.  And people definitely wanted more input into the decisions that their Governments took, both at home and in international forums, she said.

In response to a question, Ms. Clark said that because the United Nations development system worked in every developing country, often with a varying quality of governance, it related its programmes to a wide range of Governments.  UNDP was always encouraging more democratic governance, citizen participation and inclusion, while also enabling people’s voices to be head.  To establish effective governance, in fact, it was no longer enough just to have institutions that looked strong, she cautioned, stressing that there was also a need to receive feedback from citizens so that you would be able to meet their expectations.

Asked the difference between what the Millennium Development Goals had set out to achieve and what the study sought to highlight, Ms. Clark said what had come through the consultations was the need to be more ambitious than the Millennium Goals because meeting their target on poverty, for example, would still leave roughly a billion people in extreme poverty.  Thus, the challenge was go for the eradication of poverty and to leave no one behind.  Also, experience with the Millennium Goals suggested that “local buy-in” was very important, she said, adding that UNDP viewed the role of sub-national governments as vital to taking the challenges down to the municipal, regional and provincial government levels and regionalizing them.

To another question, the UNDP Administrator replied that the goals, objectives and aspirations expressed through the consultations were “very consistent” with the objectives of human development.  It was undeniable that the poorest were the most marginalized and had the hardest time getting their views expressed and heard.  It was for that reason that an enormous effort had been made in the just-concluded consultations to reach beyond formal structures to those not normally heard.

Mr. Kjørven, agreeing with Ms. Clark on the inclusive nature of the consultations, said they had been “able to really go that extra mile” and reach out to communities that were normally not heard.  In some countries, such groups would be sexual minorities, indigenous peoples, women smallholder farmers, people with disabilities or unemployed youth in the big cities.

Reinforcing the point, Mr. Hendra said there had been a “very deliberate attempt” during the survey to ensure that the online version, for instance, was not only for those with access to computers.  Also, United Nations resident coordinators and country teams had made many attempts to reach the most vulnerable.

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