Secretary-General's remarks at press encounter after briefing the General Assembly on the Synthesis Report: "The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet"
New York, 4 December 2014
Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, I have just briefed the General Assembly on my synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda.
The report is called “The Road to Dignity” by 2030 because one of the fundamental missions of the United Nations is to protect, achieve and uphold human dignity for all.
I would like to reiterate three points that I made to the General Assembly.
First, I welcomed the efforts of the Open Working Group of the Member States of the General Assembly. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the Group has put forward are a clear expression of the vision of the Member States and their wish to have an agenda that can end poverty, achieve shared prosperity and peace, protect the planet and leave no one behind.
Second, I noted the possibility of maintaining the 17 goals while rearranging them in a focused and concise manner that enables us to communicate them to our partners and the global public. With that in mind, my Synthesis Report presents an integrated set of six “essential elements”: dignity, people, prosperity, our planet, justice and partnership. These are not intended to cluster or replace the SDGs. Rather, they are meant to offer some conceptual guidance for the work ahead.
Third, I stressed the need for a renewed global partnership for development. Resources, technology and political will are crucial not only for implementing the agenda once it is adopted, but even now, to build trust as Member States negotiate its final parameters.
One word encapsulates what we are striving for: transformation. That is what people across the world, from all walks of life, have told us they want.
Ladies and Gentlemen, next week, I will travel to Lima, Peru, for the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We are determined to sustain the momentum generated by the recent important announcements by the United States, China and the European Union, and yesterday Germany on emission reductions.
Looking further ahead, the financing conference in Addis Ababa in July next year, the Special Summit in New York in September, and the climate change conference in Paris in December, are major opportunities for world leaders to show that they are serious about safeguarding our planet and future well-being. I continue to urge Member States to keep ambition high.
Next year is an opportunity to take big steps – transformative steps -- in the right direction. We must do all it takes to provide hope for people and the planet.
Q: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General. In your speech, as you just said, you suggested six key elements, but you didn’t actually say anything about reducing the number of future development goals. Currently there are eight. How do you really expect to be able to go and sell the world on 17 new goals and over 160 targets? Don’t you think that there should be some streamlining? And also, don’t you think it would be a good idea to do some kind of a global competition to come up with a more punchy, catchy idea than Sustainable Development Goals, which I think a lot of the media is going to have a hard time selling to the world public?
SG: The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted through intense discussions, negotiations, during the last nine months among the Member States, are the results of a very thorough intergovernmental process, that for the first time resulted in a joint universal and human rights-based vision of humanity in 2030. This is a unique and very significant result.
That said, the goals must be communicable and targets measurable. In my report, I have quoted the decision and recommendation of the Rio+20 summit meeting which was adopted in summer, June 2012, which said that these Sustainable Development Goals should be action oriented, concise and concrete and easy to communicate; limited in number, and aspirational. There are some guidelines. That is why I am saying that, while I welcome these 17 goals and 169 targets and also I note in particular that the possibility of maintaining these 17 goals with some rearrangement - this is up to the Member States. I am encouraged that my synthesis report has received, initially, very positive and favourable responses from the Member States today. Today, 16 countries have spoken.
Q: And the name of the new goals? Are you really going to stick with Sustainable Development Goals, or are you open to possibly something punchier?
SG: I think Sustainable Development Goals, as successor vision of the MDGs, will continue, I think, as SDGs. But there are still nine months of negotiation process awaiting.
Q: Going to Lima next week, how optimistic are you in achieving the goals that the Member States have declared, and an agreement that you are seeking to achieve?
SG: Lima is a very important, crucial, venue, for Member States to reaffirm and make much, much more strengthened efforts before they come to the final stage of a Paris meeting.
I am encouraged that Member States have shown such a very committed political will after the September summit meeting which I have convened. I do not need to repeat all that you have been closely following. I think the European Union decision to cut 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions was a major breakthrough, and most dramatically, the U.S.-China joint statement and commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions - in the case of the United States, 26 to 28 percent, and China peaking their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Then, the German Chancellor has also joined this process of committing themselves to cut further emissions in accordance with the European Union decision, 78 million tonnes of gas emissions.
Now, I am also encouraged by the operationalization of the Green Climate Fund. Our target was 10 billion dollars. I think we are very close to 10 billion dollars. I am sure this will be operationalized soon. All these encouraging developments and demonstration of political will and commitment is very encouraging, and I do hope that we will be able to have a draft text of the agreement, which will be finally adopted in Paris. Of course, we have a one-year negotiation process on that.
Q: Secretary-General, we have seen the social and political and economic consequences of Ebola in West Africa, and I am wondering what is the UN planning in the Sustainable Development Plans to mitigate the consequences of Ebola in those particular countries?
SG: Ebola is an unprecedented disease, which has been caused because of the lack of functioning and robust health systems. That is why our ambitious target for the Sustainable Development Goals should make sure that every country has the means and tools and systems. When it comes to these diseases, we should help all the countries by 2030 [to ensure] that they have all very sound, robust health systems. On a short term basis, as you know, the United Nations has been exerting all efforts. We have been really trying to put massive responses with financial, logistical support and manpower. That is why we have established for the first time in the history of the United Nations a health-related mission. We have almost forty missions – peacekeeping and special political missions - all related to peace and security. But this is the first time. We have to have a short-term measure. First of all, we have to stop this virus, and we have to treat all the people. We have to ensure that all essential services are provided, and also we have to help them preserve their social and political stability, and keeping a further outbreak from happening. These are top priorities of the United Nations at this time.
Spokesman: Thank you very much. We have to go. The Secretary-General will have a press conference at the end of the year. He has decided to overrule me. He will have one in about ten days.