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

Opening remarks
Special Meeting of ECOSOC
“Innovations for Infrastructure Development and Promoting Industrialization”

Mr. President, Ambassador Frederick Shava
Mr. Li Yong Director-General of UNIDO,
Distinguished Delegates and Speakers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to be with you this morning on the occasion of this ECOSOC Special Meeting. I wish to congratulate you, Mr. President, for this important initiative.

I am especially pleased to share the podium with my colleagues, Mr. Li of UNIDO, and – through a recorded message – with Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director General of FAO. I would like to thank UNIDO, FAO, UNDP and other organizations for the excellent collaboration in the preparation for this meeting.

Infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization, captured by Sustainable Development Goal 9, serve a catalytic and cross-cutting role across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the other 16 SDGs.

With sufficient investment, and when innovatively and effectively planned and implemented, infrastructure and industrialization can have enormous multi-dimensional benefits, including positive impacts on economic growth, reducing poverty and inequality, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Infrastructure and industrialization are key tools for achieving poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Access to infrastructure and the promotion of sustainable industrialization is essential for inclusiveness. It is essential so that no one is left behind and that there truly is sustainable development for all.

Achieving it will require new ways of thinking and new ways of working. The 2030 Agenda is based on moving beyond “business as usual”. We must be innovative. Not only in the area of technology, but also in technology and policy-making, how we address poverty, and how we will realize all the Sustainable Development Goals.


Allow me to give attention to three specific challenges that affect infrastructure and Industrialization.

The first is the global infrastructure gap. The infrastructure financing gap in developing countries is estimated to be between 1 and 1.5 trillion dollars annually. In response, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda established the Global Infrastructure Forum, with the aim of closing this gap in an inclusive and socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

There is ample space for collective action to fill this financing gap in order to realize SDG 9. The large investments required for national infrastructure need to be financed by: domestic resource mobilization; focused and catalytic Official Development Assistance; private sector investments; and a range of other sources and channels.

Given the number of actors involved, there is also a strong need for leadership, policy integration and coordination at all levels.

A second challenge is urbanisation. The number of people living in cities in emerging markets is expected to double by 2030, adding another 2 billion people will be added to urban areas. In this context, investments in relevant sustainable urban infrastructure will be crucial for sustainable urbanisation.

And a third challenge is the importance of building and applying effective technology for resilient infrastructure and industrialization in rural areas. This is essential for living up to our commitment to “leave no one behind”, as – globally – 75 per cent of those living in extreme poverty live in rural areas.

Distinguished Delegates and Speakers,

The international community has committed to supporting efforts to ensure infrastructure development and sustainable industrialization. Now is the time to take action.

Four particular elements stand out: integrated policy advice; capacity building; partnerships; and information and data on infrastructure for follow-up and review.

In addition, engagement with, and inclusion of, relevant stakeholders is important for resilient infrastructure and industrialization. A strong focus on multi-stakeholder engagement should be supported, with a particular emphasis on the engagement of development banks and the private sector.

An evidence-based approach is instrumental to support policy evaluation. Using the indicators for which data are readily available on SDG 9 will allow for a review of progress to begin. There also needs to be effective follow-up and review of the commitments and action items on infrastructure in the Addis Agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations supports the institutionalization of resilient, sustainable, inclusive and equitable infrastructure and industrialization across the three dimensions of sustainable development.

In this context, and to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Economic and Social Council, including its forums and segments, and the work of the ECOSOC system as a whole, serves to identify trends, analyse and affirm policy options and forge policy integration, thus supporting an effective follow-up and review of progress towards resilient infrastructure and industrialization.

My Department, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, stands ready to continue supporting this valuable work.

I look forward to hearing further ideas for advancing infrastructure and industrialization and I wish you a fruitful special meeting. Thank you.

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