|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Accountability, Strong Leadership Vital in Ending Extreme Poverty, Ensuring
Equitable Future, Deputy Secretary-General Tells ‘MDG Success’ Event
Following are Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks at the Millennium Development Goals Success Lunch, hosted by the United Nations Foundation in New York on 23 September:
Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is about making a difference in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. We are all here today for the same purpose, and we all have an important role to play. It is all about shared responsibility and mobilization of all actors and all driving forces like you in this room. “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.”
On the MDGs, we have made significant progress in reducing extreme poverty, providing access to improved water sources and improving the lives of millions of slum dwellers. More children than ever are attending primary school, child mortality has dropped dramatically, and investments in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have saved millions of lives. But extreme poverty remains pervasive in practically all regions. Millions and millions of people are excluded from the benefits of development.
In his report “A Life of Dignity for All”, the Secretary-General calls for an end to extreme poverty, through a universal agenda that leaves no one behind. We need a new vision backed by a responsive and effective framework, placing the human being in the centre.
One area where we have utterly failed to make progress is sanitation, the most lagging of the MDGs. That is why I have launched in March a “Call to Action on Sanitation” on behalf of the Secretary-General. Two and one half billion people do not have access to toilets and 1.1 billion people practice open defecation. A drastic reduction of these numbers would mean a quantum leap for health, productivity and dignity.
There are still 829 days until the end of 2015. We must forge ahead to fulfil the promises made in the year 2000. This will be the foundation for a bold yet practical post-2015 development agenda with poverty eradication and sustainability jointly in the centre.
Two other areas where we must show leadership, creativity and determination are sustainability and inequalities. Growth alone is not enough. It must be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. And it must be inclusive, with a focus on the poorest and the most vulnerable. Inequalities are alarming both within nations and between nations. They are not only unfair; they are dangerous.
Ours is the first generation with the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty and to put our planet on a sustainable path. Extreme poverty deserves a place only in the history books. And we have no planet B.
We now have a unique opportunity to build on the momentum and lessons of the MDGs and chart a road together towards a sustainable and equitable future. With strong leadership, strong institutions and with accountability from all actors, we can scale up what works and accelerate progress to achieve a life of dignity for all.
* *** *