Thank you, Minister McClean.
I am pleased to join you in the interactive discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda.
To facilitate the discussion here, I would like to make three points.
First, the ongoing work on SDGs is grounded in the guidance by Rio+20.
At Rio, Member States recognized the importance and utility of a set of SDGs.
They stressed that SDGs must be based on Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation; that they must fully respect all the Rio Principles; and must also build upon the Commitments made at Rio+ 20.
They further emphasized that SDGs should address and incorporate all three dimensions of sustainable development and their inter-linkages in a balanced way.
Member States also provided specific guidance on the formulation of SDGs. They want SDGs to be action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate.
They stressed that SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries, while taking into account different national realities.
They entrusted the General Assembly Open Working Group (OWG) on SDGs with the specific task of proposing a set of SDGs to be agreed by the General Assembly.
So, how will SDGs be relevant to the SIDS?
This is the second point I wish to raise.
As you know, the Open Working Group will hold a total of 8 sessions before February 2014.
The Group has identified 16 clusters of issues for consideration.
It is not a coincidence that the SIDS preparatory processes so far have come up with priorities that are very much similar – or even identical – to the cluster of issues being addressed by the Open Working Group.
- poverty eradication;
- employment, youth, education and culture;
- health and population dynamics;
- economic growth;
- external debt sustainability;
- climate change;
- disaster risk reduction;
- oceans and seas.
So, how can SIDS tap into these shared priorities to address their special case?
This leads to the third point I wish to raise today.
The Open Working Group is scheduled to address needs of countries in special situations, including SIDS, at its sixth session in December this year.
The same session will address global partnership for sustainable development – another major subject that has also been the focus of the SIDS preparatory processes so far.
The three SIDS regions are all represented at the Open Working Group. It will be critical for the SIDS representatives to shine a spotlight on SIDS priorities at the December session of the Open Working Group.
The Working Group must address the unique and special challenges facing SIDS, focusing on SIDS vulnerabilities and the need for enhanced resilience.
Concurrently, the post-2015 development process is proceeding along the track of the MDG acceleration.
The Secretary-General has called for redoubling our efforts to expedite progress toward MDGs.
At the same time, at the request of Member States, he has initiated work on the post-2015 development agenda, an integral part of which was his High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda.
The report of the Panel identified a similar list of issues that is being addressed by the Open Working Group.
The SDG process launched at Rio, and the post-2015 development process are expected to converge during the next General Assembly session. There will be one post-2015 development agenda, with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its center.
The convening of the Third International Conference on SIDS is indeed timely.
The Conference in Samoa next year is mandated to identify SIDS priorities for consideration in the elaboration of the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.
DESA and UNDP are co-chairing the UN system Task Team in support of the Open Working Group and the post-2015 development agenda.
In this and other related processes, please rest assured that we will continue supporting the efforts of SIDS to highlight and address the special case of SIDS for sustainable development.