Deputy Secretary-General: Statements
New York, 14 January 2013 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to the Inception Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)/Economic and Social Council for Asia(ESCAP)/United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) Millenium Development Goals (MDG) Report [as prepared for delivery]
I am pleased to join you this morning, and I wish to thank ADB, ESCAP and UNDP colleagues for your kind invitation.
The regional MDG partnership of ADB/ESCAP/UNDP is setting an example of how partnerships can serve as a platform for sharing knowledge and building synergies.
This regional MDG report is a unique undertaking.
It aims to collect the region's perspectives on the priorities and architecture of the post-2015 development agenda. It will help identify strategies to respond to regional and national development needs.
This initiative is particularly timely. We are intensifying our efforts to achieve the MDGs while embarking on the post-2015 development process. In this context, regional cooperation and regional perspectives are crucial.
Let me elaborate on these two aspects.
To date, the MDG global record is mixed: there have been many important gains, but much remains to be done.
Despite the recent crises, the developing world remains on track to bring to half extreme poverty from its 1990 level.
A number of countries have registered major successes in combating hunger, improving school enrolment and child health, expanding access to clean water and HIV treatment, and controlling tuberculosis, malaria and tropical diseases.
These improvements have occurred in some of the poorest countries, demonstrating that the MDGs are indeed achievable.
Nevertheless, the gains have been uneven across the goals, and from country to country. Recent political and economic crises have made this work harder still.
Progress has been slow in improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality. There has been insufficient progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women. And almost half of the people in the developing world continue to live without access to basic sanitation. Thousands of children are dying everyday of diarrhea, dysentery or cholera caused by lack of toilets. An acceleration to achieve the MDGs is urgently needed.
The Asia and Pacific region has made significant gains, thereby contributing to global progress.
But the region is far from homogenous.
Home to several dynamic emerging economies, the Asia and Pacific region also has fourteen least developed countries, and twenty Small Island Developing States and territories.
Southern Asia continues to be the region with the greatest percentage of children under five who are malnourished. It is also the region with the lowest proportion of women attended by skilled staff at delivery, and among the ones with the highest number of maternal deaths.
Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face common challenges resulting from their small size, geographic location and natural disaster vulnerability. The sub-region is experiencing high levels of poverty and slow economic growth, and is in danger of missing critical MDG targets.
This MDG regional report offers an opportunity to highlight which strategies have worked well in the Asia and Pacific region, and how success stories can be replicated elsewhere.
Indeed, I hope the report will showcase what works, what has failed and what are the lessons learned for the post-2015 development process.
Let me say a few more words on the post-2015 development agenda.
As you all know, in response to the General Assembly’s mandate, the Secretary-General has launched a number of initiatives.
In August 2011, the first Secretary-General’s report on accelerating progress towards the MDGs was issued. This report outlines options for advancing the UN development agenda beyond 2015.
In September 2011, the Secretary-General established a UN System Task Team to coordinate preparations for the post-2015 agenda, in consultation with all stakeholders.
The Task Team is co-chaired by DESA and UNDP, and brings together the full UN system. In June 2012, the Task Team delivered its first report on a vision and roadmap to support the post-2015 deliberations.
In July 2012, the Secretary-General announced the members of a High-level Panel to advise him on the global development agenda beyond 2015.
He asked the Panel to prepare a bold yet practical development vision, to present to Member States by the end of May this year. He looks forward to the Panel’s recommendations on, I quote, “a global post-2015 agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries and with the fight against poverty and sustainable development at its core.”
I quoted the Secretary-General’s words because I think they capture three critical elements – shared responsibilities for all countries; fight against poverty; and sustainable development.
In announcing the Panel, the Secretary-General also made it clear that the UN will initiate open, inclusive consultations. These will involve civil society, the private sector, academia and research institutions from all regions, in addition to the UN system,
Our colleagues in the UN Development Group have launched national consultations to engage stakeholders, in as many as 100 countries.
These will be complemented by eleven thematic consultations, which are currently underway. Jointly organized by various UN entities, and with support from civil society and other international organizations, the thematic consultations will help guide thinking on how to include emerging and pressing issues in the post-2015 development agenda.
This agenda will need to reflect new development challenges. It will also draw on experience in implementing the MDGs, both in terms of results achieved, and areas for improvement.
For example, many argue that the MDGs did not address critical emerging issues, such as unemployment, inequalities, biodiversity loss, lack of access to energy, demographic dynamics, migration and issues related to governance and the rule of law. Neither did the MDG framework account for increased vulnerability to natural disasters, rapid urbanization, and climate change. These are areas of great importance for the post-2015 process to take into account.
It is widely agreed that sustainable development must be at the centre of any post-2015 UN development agenda.
In response to these emerging challenges, at last June’s Rio Conference Member States agreed to formulate a set of sustainable development goals -- SDGs -- , that would address, and incorporate in a balanced way, all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – and their interlinkages.
SDGs should be coherent with, and integrated into the UN development agenda beyond 2015, serving as a driver for implementation and mainstreaming of sustainable development.
Member States decided to constitute an Open Working Group on SDGs, comprising 30 representatives, nominated by Member States from the five UN regional groups. The Working Group is expected to start its work by the end of the month.
So the momentum is building.
These processes are important to the work that ADB/ESCAP/UNDP are undertaking.
I would like to encourage your continued engagement and contributions to the discussions.
We are in the United Nations facing a great challenge in accelerating the MDGs and setting the course for a bold, yet practical, development agenda post-2015. This will require hard work, a sense of vision as well as realism and realization of common values and objectives.
Succeeding in this endeavour would make a difference for millions and millions of people around the world and prove that global solidarity and multilateralism can point the direction to the future.
I count on your creative thinking during the course of these discussions and wish you a productive meeting.