Mr. Wu Hongbo
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Secretary-General for the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14

2017 UN Public Service Forum and Awards Ceremony Briefing to Member States

Ambassador Mr. Karel Jan Gustaaf van Oosterom,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this briefing on the 2017 United Nations Public Service Forum and Awards ceremony.

I thank the Government of the Netherlands for hosting this year’s event. I also want to express my appreciation for the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations for their great collaboration with my team on the preparations for the Forum.

The theme of this year’s Forum – “The Future is Now: Accelerating Public Service Innovation for Agenda 2030”- is timely and important.

We are now in the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Countries around the world have undertaken impressive efforts to implement the Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda is as transformative as it is ambitious. Governments have the lead role in its implementation. Realizing the SDGs requires a well-functioning and innovative government. It also requires highly qualified, well-equipped and committed civil servants.

I believe that not enough attention has been given to the key role public service plays in promoting sustainable development. This emerged as an important theme at the symposium on implementing the 2030 Agenda in SIDS, held in February in the Bahamas. It is my hope that the 2017 UN Public Service Forum and Awards will help to raise awareness of the importance of public service to sustainable development.

The United Nations Public Service Forum will also provide a platform for policy-makers and other actors to share innovative strategies and approaches that have worked for realizing the SDGs. They will learn from each others’ experiences, achievements and challenges in mobilizing public service innovation.

Many of the fundamental challenges the Agenda addresses, such as hunger, poverty and inequality, have been a global scourge for too long. In addition, major challenges have come forward such as climate change. Clearly, continuing with business as usual will not bring us far in solving the tremendous and interconnected challenges we face.

Public institutions need to explore new paths and not be afraid to innovate and take calculated risks. The SDGs call for bold and innovative efforts. The ideas and creativity of civil servants have never been more important. We have to stop working in silos and to join forces and innovate.

It is my hope that some of the findings and conclusions from the 2017 UN Public Service Forum on the critical role of public service and innovation will be made available at the 2017 High-level political forum in July.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 2003, the United Nations has recognized with the Public Service Award those public institutions and public servants that have innovated to provide better services for all. This year marks the first time the Awards are given after the programme was aligned with the SDGs. This year’s awards will be a great opportunity to acknowledge the different innovations that governments around the world are undertaking to realize the 2030 Agenda.

My Department is currently finalizing the review of the submissions for the 2017 Awards, which will be handed out during the Forum in The Hague. A total of 552 nominations were received from all five regional groups. I am pleased to report that as many as 63 countries submitted nominations in the three categories of “Reaching the poorest and most vulnerable through inclusive services and participation”, “Promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in public service” and “Innovation and excellence in delivering health services”.

A sub-committee of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration will conduct a final round of evaluations in two weeks’ time. The sub-committee will recommend possible winners for the consideration of the Secretary-General.

The winners of this year’s public service awards will be awarded at the closing ceremony of the Public Service Forum in The Hague.

In 2015, the Forum and Awards ceremony were hosted by the government of Colombia in Medellin. 14 first place winners and 8 second place winners were recognized for their excellence in delivering public services to their citizens. The awards have helped to prove that innovation and leadership contribute to better and more accountable services to local communities, including marginalized groups, making sure that no one is left behind. This too will be a key message of the Hague Forum.

I look forward to a successful Forum and Awards ceremony in The Hague, the Netherlands, in June.

We very much need your help to ensure that your ministers in charge of public administration and other ministers having championed innovation are aware of this Forum. You should have received already Save the Dates and an invitation letter. Please contact us if you would like any further assistance or information.

Thank you.

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