12 March 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on ‘MY World’ Initiative for Post-2015 Development Agenda


People from around the world had an opportunity to join the global conversation to shape the future development agenda by participating in an innovative initiative known as MY World, Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary General and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said today at a Headquarters press conference.

“There’s been something really important missing in the way we at the United Nations and at the global level have been deliberating and deciding on issues over the last decade, and that something has been you — people all over the world,” he told correspondents, adding that the era of making decisions about global issues behind closed doors with little citizen involvement was coming to an end.

Designed by UNDP, the United Nations Millennium Campaign, the Overseas Development Institute and the World Wide Web Foundation, MY World, through online and offline access, gave citizens the opportunity to weigh in on the priorities for the post-2015 development agenda, said Mr. Kjørven.  Joining him today were Claire Melamed, Head of Growth at the Poverty and Inequality Programme at the Overseas Development Institute, and Corinne Woods, Director of the United Nations Millennium Campaign.

While millions of lives had already been improved by the momentum generated by the Millennium Development Goals — the proportion of people living in poverty had been halved and the world was in reach of seeing every child enrolled in school by 2015 — more could be done to confront the challenges that would persist after the 2015 target date, Mr. Kjørven said.  Urging the global community to stay the path, he noted that the United Nations was working closely with Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector on prioritizing that agenda.

Ms. Melamed said MY World allowed people’s voices to be heard as they chose, in an interactive way, those issues that would make the most difference in their lives.  Global citizens were being asked to vote on the six most important issues from a list of 16 options put together with the help of non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and a range of citizen opinion polls.

“We are collecting an incredibly rich source of information about what people want,” she said.  “We’re able to look at what men want, what women want, what people of different ages want, how the choices people are making vary in all kinds of different ways.  We can look at particularly what some of the poorest people think and compare that with richer people in their own countries.” 

According to MY World’s website, votes can be submitted online, and in some countries, by mobile phone or through offline ballots.  Ms. Melamed added that organizers of the survey were also going out in a traditional way, on bikes and on foot, in certain remote areas, gathering information from people who do not have access to the Internet or mobile phones.

Thousands were already participating online in thematic discussions on issues like equality, health, growth and employment, according to MY World, whose findings would be shared with the Secretary-General and world leaders.

Ms. Woods said that utilizing partnerships was absolutely key, including those built throughout the years of working on the Millennium Development Goals, as well as new ones developed among an array of actors, including from government, business, civil society, and the media.

As examples of civil society partnership, she noted that boy scouts had been mobilized in several countries to spread the message and get people to connect and vote.  In Nigeria, the Government was supporting many thousands in the national youth core as they visited villages to mobilize votes.  Mass media companies such as Viacom, MTV, Nickelodeon, and BET were involved in a major online mobilization.

She said it was important to ensure that “we hear from not only those who can click but also those whose information can be gathered by an android app and those whose information can be gathered by bits of paper the old fashioned way so that we do start to get a picture by 2015 of what are the important issues, what matters and what are the priorities.”

In the initial roll-out period, according to MY World, thousands of people from 189 countries had already voted.  Across all countries and all groups, education was prominent, as was an honest and responsive government.  Health, water, sanitation and food security were also considered major priorities, and job opportunity ranked high among people living in less developed countries.

Asked about the challenges of forging a global consensus, Mr. Kjørven acknowledged the myriad views, but said he was hopeful that leaders could achieve consensus, as they had with the Millennium Development Goals.  The process should be as inclusive as possible, and giving people a voice to share what mattered to them would help leaders broker a fair and balanced deal and inform policymakers about what people on the ground were saying about the issues that affected them.

“I think then the cost and the pain of walking away from a body of evidence would be higher, and that would help bring leaders to an agreement,” he said.

The MY World survey was one of the several tracks available for people to participate in framing the next development agenda.  In an effort to further promote an inclusive and open development process, the United Nations and partners were also engaged in almost 100 national and thematic consultations worldwide, and citizens continued to contribute their ideas and perspectives to the global consultations through the World We Want 2015 online platform.

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For information media • not an official record