Mr. Thomas Gass Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Opening remarks
Stakeholder Preparatory Forum for the Post-2015 Development Agenda Negotiations

Ambassador Kamau,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the organizing Steering Committee for inviting me to this important meeting to prepare the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda.

The importance of engaging civil society and non-governmental stakeholders in the elaboration of the post 2015 development agenda cannot be over-emphasized. The Secretary-General, in his synthesis report, stressed that the success of the post 2015 development agenda “will equally depend on the power of the agenda to inspire and mobilize essential actors, new partnerships, key constituencies and the broader global citizenry”. For this to happen, he said, “we will need an agenda that resonates with the experience and needs of people, that can be understood and embraced”. This very much echoes the guidance the Rio+20 conference gave on the SDGs.

You, the representatives of major groups and other stakeholders, have the critical role to keep all of us – the Member States and the international organizations- focused on the high ambitions of the post 2015 development agenda. We must keep our eyes fixed on our objective to transform societies and economies so as to eradicate poverty and realize sustainable development. You must bring to the intergovernmental negotiations the aspirations, experience and knowledge of civil society.

Member States have already made great strides in elaborating the post 2015 development agenda. There is some broad understanding on its structure and thrust. The Secretary-General said that the new agenda should include a compelling and principled narrative, based on human rights and human dignity. It will require serious commitments for financing and other means of implementation. And it should include strong, inclusive public mechanisms at all levels for reporting, monitoring progress, learning lessons, and ensuring shared responsibility. This is consistent with the guidance given by Member States in their recent draft resolution on the informal consultations.

It is, in no small part, thanks to civil society that the international community got this far in elaborating the agenda and the SDGs.
Civil society’s engagement in the elaboration of the post 2015 development agenda has been unprecedented. Never before have so broad and inclusive consultations been undertaken on development.

These have been driven in no small part by civil society groups themselves. Millions of people, including young people, took part, in national, thematic and online consultations and surveys supported by UNDG. The direct and active engagement of parliamentarians, local authorities, business and civil society has also been critical.

The open working group on SDGs demonstrated how an intergovernmental process could dialogue with civil society and draw from its contributions. As a result, I believe that the 17 SDGs and 169 targets it proposed resonate with many parts of civil society. They are also a clear expression of the vision of the Member States and of their commitment to an agenda that can end poverty, achieve shared prosperity and peace, protect the planet and leave no one behind. In illustrating our commitment to engaging with civil society through a generous grant from the European Commission, DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development has and will continue to actively outreach to Major Groups and other stakeholders through the SD2015 programme, bringing new voices to the table, providing tools for engagement with the Post-2015 agenda, conducting capacity building workshops and creating opportunities for active participation in the intergovernmental processes here at the UN. I am pleased that Member States decided to sustain this momentum and continue engaging the stakeholders, including civil society and major groups, in the negotiations. Ensuring that the agenda is owned by all is critical to guarantee its implementation.

We know that implementation is not done at the international level. The real change needs to happen on the ground: in every village, town and city. In every household and home. At people’s workplace. In education and health facilities.

At the international level, we can create a momentum and an enabling environment for implementation. The Millennium Development Goals demonstrated how international agreements can drive change. They have mobilized people around the world. They have helped lift millions out of poverty, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, empower many women, achieve primary education in many places, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, improve environmental sustainability and global partnership.

We must aim even higher with the development agenda for the next 15 years. This will be a somewhat different dynamic, as the post 2015 development agenda will be for both developed and developing countries. It will include the MDGs agenda, but also address economic issues and the concern for our planet.
We will need your continued engagement in this ambitious undertaking. You will need to advocate for the agenda and drive its implementation at national and local level. You will also need to continue engaging in the UN platforms that will promote and track implementation, notably the high-level political forum on sustainable development.

In developing your position for the coming negotiations, you should thus also help Member States to keep the compass on implementation. You can help to shape an agenda for implementation – an agenda able to mobilize civil society and improve people’s lives.

I very much look forward to your insights in this last leg in finalizing the post-2015 development agenda.

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