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

Closing remarks
“Building Capacities of Public Institutions for Implementing the SDGs: Concrete Challenges and Potential Solutions”
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for joining you late. I was speaking at the closing session of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF).

It is befitting that this side-event takes place immediately after we concluded this successful HLPF session. We will see the true impact of the HLPF in its contribution to the implementation of the SDGs, and this event is precisely about how to accelerate implementation by Building Capacities of Public Institutions for Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Over the last eight days, we have witnessed Member States’ unwavering determination to implement the 17 SDGs. We have had a full agenda and vibrant discussions. We exchanged experiences and advice and we learned from each other’s experiences.

This evening’s side-event has allowed us to deepen further our reflection on the specific challenges countries are experiencing as they grapple with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.   Your discussions bring home the fact that the Agenda is a challenge for every country and every institution. But they also showed that our understanding of the specific challenges we are facing is improving; a wealth of responses are being launched; and new approaches are being tried. There is much we can learn from each other – including about where to seek advice and support.

Let me say just a few words about what my Colleagues and I take from your discussions.

Building the capacities of public institutions will be at the core of the implementation of the SDGs, but they face many challenges as they endeavour to realize the vision of the 2030 Agenda. From your discussions, we can infer at least six:

First, moving from inspiration to action requires breaking institutional silos. In order to succeed, we need to integrate the SDGs in all institutions and in all approaches and policies from the national and to the sub-national level. National and local governments also need to work together towards realizing the goals.

Second, spurring implementation warrants holistic public institutions that can link development with the pursuit of peaceful and inclusive societies, focus on responding to people’s needs, as well as understand and act on the interlinkages between various sectoral policies.

Third, institutions need to mobilize and engage in partnerships. Implementing the 2030 Agenda means engaging multiple stakeholders – including civil society, the private sector, philanthropy, academia and all other major groups and sectors of society. They need to be mobilized in a meaningful way, so that their contributions  truly enrich policies and actions.  Institutions need certain tools and certain safeguards to guide partnerships in a direction that contributes to progress towards the SDGs.

Fourth, there is no standard approach for implementing the SDGs. It is for each country to decide on its own path. But there is much we can learn from each other. For example, we are improving our understanding of the situation and unique challenges faced by countries emerging from conflict. While their road towards the SDGs will be arduous, there are signs of hope and we are learning lessons about what kind of approaches may work. The SDGs should not be seen as out of reach for those countries.  They should serve as a beacon of hope to inspire and guide actions.

Fifth, everywhere, turning shared principles into tangible results demands a capable public sector and a competent civil service. National policy frameworks, subnational development planning, action plans, new institutional approaches all require effective, efficient, inclusive, transparent and accountable public administration. Intelligent and effective implementation requires mobilizing civil servants and ensuring that they are well equipped to support the implementation of the kind of transformative integrated policies we need, analyse the situation, consult and react to new developments in a pragmatic and ethical way.

Sixth, capacities need to be built across the board, in all countries and in multiple areas.  We need to muster the knowledge and the tools necessary to tackle old and new challenges and to adopt innovative approaches. We need capacities to collect statistics and data and analyse them.

From this session, it is clear that for each challenge and gap there are various possible solutions.  Multiple approaches are being tried which can benefit the entire international community. Sources of support exist which can be better tapped.

We also need renewed energy and efforts to mobilize the global partnership for development—and North-South, South-South and Triangular models of cooperation.

We need to learn from our past experiences and from what other countries are trying.  We need to embark on new paths, continuously innovate and relentlessly assess our progress and adjust our approaches.

We will prepare a summary of your discussions.  Along with the President’s summary of the HLPF, it will help enrich our knowledge of the challenges and potential solutions for implementing the SDGs.

On behalf of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNDP and the UN system more generally, I would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment to support Member States in realizing the 2030 Agenda.

Thank you.

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