Whole-of-Government, Society Approach Essential to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Regional Coordination Leaders Forum

21 February 2018

Whole-of-Government, Society Approach Essential to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Regional Coordination Leaders Forum

Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks at the Regional Sustainable Development Goals’ Coordination Leaders Forum:  Building a Partnership to Underpin National Sustainable Development Solutions, in Minsk today:

It is a pleasure to be here in Belarus.  I thank the Government of Belarus for the very warm welcome.  I would like to recognize the important step taken by the Government to organize this timely meeting to consider how best to translate our collective global vision set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into concrete action for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 2030 Agenda, we believe, is the most ambitious, universal, people‑centred and planet‑sensitive set of goals and targets ever conceived by United Nations.  It is the global community’s roadmap to transform our world.  This meeting provides an excellent opportunity to discuss implementation challenges, exchange best practices and explore new partnership modalities to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.  It also recognizes that some challenges, such as climate change, migration and economic growth, cannot be addressed by any single nation — underlining the interdependence of our global community.

Our efforts to leave no one behind will be a test of our common vision, resolve and ingenuity.  A whole‑of‑government and whole‑of‑society approach must become our new norm.  Meaningful multi‑stakeholder partnership will be fundamental in the design, implementation, financing and evaluation of development solutions.

More than two years since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, we are truly seeing some positive trends and successful initiatives.  The Sustainable Development Goals are being implemented by stakeholders at the global, regional, national, city and community levels, in developed and developing countries alike, reflecting its universality in ownership and its scope.

However, the full aspirations of this new paradigm of partnerships have yet to fully take root.  More concrete efforts are needed to leverage the capacities, networks, skills and resources of civil society, the private sector, academia, statistical bodies, local community associations and most specially — youth groups.  These must be based on shared value to maximize efficiencies, share responsibilities and, ultimately, increase impact where it matters most.

With that broad introduction, let me now highlight three key points:  first, the Sustainable Development Goals require Governments to go beyond traditional development programmes to tackle the complexity of the 2030 Agenda through integrated approaches, attuned to specific contexts.

I commend the Heads of State and Governments that are personally leading the charge in many countries, of all levels of development.  And we have seen it here in the Republic of Belarus.  The establishment of National Coordination Offices for the 2030 Agenda across this region is highly commendable as a mechanism to ensure a whole‑of‑government approach.  I am pleased to note that many of those Offices are present here today.  Since 2016, 23 European countries have participated in the voluntary national reviews, and another 14 are scheduled to do so during the high‑level political forum in July this year.  The forum is an invaluable opportunity to exchange experiences and to really learn from each other, across all levels of development.

Governments are incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals into national plans and visions, and integrating them into legislative frameworks.  But many Governments are still grappling with the complexities of the interlinkages across goals, and related trade‑offs and synergies and setting their priorities.  Achieving these goals will require defining new national pathways and priorities, and mobilizing the necessary financing, technology and expertise.  Parliamentary debates are also taking place on how Government plans and budgets will ensure that truly no one is left behind by addressing inequality, especially as it relates to women and young people.  Parliamentarians have a key role to play in monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals, in close coordination with ministries and Government departments and with the communities at large.

Importantly, in many countries, strong leadership is also coming from state and city levels.  At the recent Ninth Session of the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, mayors and representatives of local governments actively engaged on localizing the 2030 Agenda.  The need to balance urban growth and the construction of new local infrastructure requires actions that go beyond traditional administrative boundaries.  At the national level, state and municipal governments are conducting multi‑stakeholder dialogues to adapt the goals to the specific contexts and development needs of communities and to adjust budgets accordingly.  For their part, United Nations development entities are putting in place a new and more integrated approach to capacity‑building of national institutions, especially for Sustainable Development Goal planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The Secretary‑General is undertaking a comprehensive reform of the United Nations development system, and this is to ensure that we at the United Nations are fit for the task of supporting countries and their priorities in achieving the 2030 Agenda, which includes the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris commitments on climate change.  Sixteen countries in this region have either received support from the United Nations in 2017 or will do so in 2018 in developing national Sustainable Development Goals road maps, strengthening institutional mechanisms, and identifying accelerators and building what is essential — data capacities.  So that people know that no one is lying when we say leave no one behind.

The second key dimension is the importance of partnerships for the 2030 Agenda.  We are seeing growing investments in sustainability, and the beginning of efforts by businesses to align their approaches with the 2030 Agenda.  Small and medium enterprises are slowly coming on board and need to be supported as they play a major role to boost economies.  Fiscal incentives and enabling environments will be game changers for Governments as they look at new innovative financing mechanisms to supplement approaches to public‑private partnerships.  Investments in sustainable development require long‑term investing that price longer‑term risks, such as those associated with climate change, into decision‑making.  Ministers of finance will need to be at the helm in building a more responsive international finance system that incentivizes sustainable investments.

We welcome the growing participation of civil society in policy dialogues and government decision‑making.  New partnerships also must extend to universities and schools to enhance curricula to reflect the Sustainable Development Goals.  Civil society organizations bring with them an independent voice of accountability that the 2030 Agenda envisions.  They also possess the networks, skills, knowledge and other capacities that need to be fully leveraged by Governments to accelerate progress at all levels.

The third dimension is the need for a data revolution.  Without high quality data, providing the right information on the right things at the right time, designing, financing, monitoring and evaluating effective policies would be almost impossible.  The data revolution will be the linchpin to ensure that programmes and interventions are targeting the poor and the most vulnerable and marginalized communities and regions.

The 2030 Agenda will necessitate strengthening national statistical institutions and forging data partnerships at all levels of society.  And this I can say is one area regarding people [that] is extremely valuable to the whole process of collecting data and applying it to many challenges that we have.  Governments need to begin integrating different but comparable data sources; explore citizen‑generated data to supplement national statistics; linking evidence‑based policy planning to financing the Sustainable Development Goals; and, of course, looking at the private sector and civil society, particularly where indicators are not available from existing systems.

I was fortunate to have spent yesterday evening visiting the Republican Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children.  This is an excellent initiative of the Government.  It provides a robust standard of care that can be scaled up across the country and region.  While some will question institution‑based care for the vulnerable, we must always be sensitive to complex contexts and work with Governments and national stakeholders towards the ideal.

Guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we need to end discrimination, remove barriers and ensure equal participation for all persons with disabilities, who are still commonly denied fundamental rights, and are more likely to live in poverty and at risk.  To ensure we truly leave no one behind, we need to end stigma, discrimination and ensure full attainment of rights for everyone.

The empowerment of youth and gender equality are also game changers.  We must fully address the issues of rights, voice and participation of women and the youth in the design and implementation of policy choices.  As we break through glass ceilings for women, we must also break through the barriers that youth face.  And I would say those are concrete ceilings right now.

In closing, I look forward to a successful conference, resulting in adoption of recommendations that will be presented at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development being convened by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe next week in Geneva.  I am pleased to note that the Regional Forum’s outcomes will feed input into the high‑level political forum in New York in July.

And this is how it should be.  Bringing from grassroot where we are implementing our programmes and sharing that success and those challenges at the global level.  I am surely confident that by working together, we can strengthen partnerships to achieve our shared ambition:  an inclusive, equitable, prosperous and sustainable world, for everyone.

Thank you for your attention.

For information media. Not an official record.