Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Opening Remarks
Retreat on the preparation for the 2016 session of the
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Ambassador Oh,
Ambassador Braun,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to co-host this retreat, together with the Governments of Germany and the Republic of Korea.

We are grateful to the German Government for their contribution to the HLPF Trust Fund, which has allowed us to fund the travel of several participants from the Least Developed Countries.

We are also grateful to many other donors whose contributions to our extra-budgetary resources have helped to bring in participants from other developing countries. A number of them will be making voluntary national presentations at the HLPF this July.

Distinguished delegates,

2016 marks the start of the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The new Agenda, which the Secretary-General describes as a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people, and a to-do list for people and planet, calls on all countries, developing as well as developed, to implement 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next 15 years.

So the word of the day is implementation.

Let us not underestimate the difficulties in implementation. Government ministries and departments will need to learn to work together rather than in silos.

Leading by example, taking ownership of the Agenda by integrating SDGs into national policies, and engaging multi-stakeholders partnerships will be integral to achieving the SDGs.

And we all must learn how to work by fostering inter-linkages and integration.

Studies done by DESA and other UN entities have illustrated how SDGs are interlocked and indivisible and how review and implementation must address this fundamental feature of the 2030 Agenda.

The HLPF is mandated to help fulfill that function.

It will help identify problems and share lessons learned. The HLPF must therefore be empowered and given the space and resources necessary to effectively, synergistically conduct its business.

That is why this retreat is so timely.


The 2030 Agenda demands swift action and dedication of all of us.

We need to show that the high-level political forum on sustainable development is indeed up to the task to fulfil the mandates given to it in the 2030 Agenda.

First, the HLPF has to prove its worth as the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals (SDGs). And it needs to do it this year.

Second, we need to do our part to make the 2016 HLPF a powerful launching pad. We cannot afford to fail.

The HLPF needs to be empowered to play the central role as defined in the 2030 Agenda.

Third, it is incumbent upon us to craft an innovative, imaginative and effective HLPF programme in such a way that discussions are focused, well-prepared , pragmatic, based on scientific evidence, reliable data and information, and HLPF become a venue for integration of all relevant processes as underscored in the 2030 Agenda.

This year we need to see where our baselines are; we need to look at all SDGs through the theme of ‘ensuring that no one is left behind”.

I can assure you that DESA will do its utmost to prepare a good and solid basis for your discussions to arrive to best political guidance for all.

The 2016 HLPF will also, for the first time, hear voluntary national reviews.

The Secretariat is ready to do its utmost to support countries in the preparation of national reporting. Efforts are underway to prepare a package of briefing materials and this retreat promises to provide a rich source of materials for this package.

Indeed, the retreat itself is one stage of the preparatory process we are supporting in order to provide volunteering countries space to discuss what they need to do and how they need to prepare for the 2016 HLPF.

We already had a workshop earlier this month on the margins of the World Government Summit in Dubai with some volunteering countries and we are grateful to UAE Government for their support.

We have learned a lot from that workshop and I am sure we will learn further more with this retreat and the one that will be held in April.

We are also preparing regional expert group meetings in cooperation with regional commissions to give targeted support to the countries in the respective region.

We have 20 volunteering countries now and I commend them. I am sure we will have many more in the future HLPFs.


I hope that this retreat and all subsequent discussions and processes will help make HLPF a strong central platform for follow-up and review.

By being here today and contributing to the discussion, you are already helping to make it happen.

Thank you!

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