Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Remarks
Annual Meeting of the Focal Points of the UN Alliance of Civilizations
Peace for Prosperity and Sustainable Development

Your excellency, Mr.Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser,
Your excellency, Dr.Hassan Ibrahim Al-Mohannadi,
MR.Olav Kjorven,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor and a great pleasure for me to take part in the annual meeting of the Focal Points of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, which addresses a topical theme on the international agenda, namely peace for prosperity and sustainable development. 

The United Nations in general and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in particular follow with great interest the discussions of the Alliance of Civilizations from several perspectives.

First, my Department assists the UN General Assembly in its consideration of the dialogue among cultures, religions and civilizations and in promoting a culture of peace.  We are encouraged by the increase in initiatives at the regional and international level to ensure that diversity is not used to artificially divide peoples, but on the contrary, for the benefit and enrichment of all.  The launching of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), as decided by UNESCO and endorsed by the UN General Assembly, also contributes to this objective, and your proceedings provide a most valuable contribution to these global efforts. 

Secondly, the nexus between peace and development has gained significant importance in the global debate, including in the context of the elaboration of the post 2015 development agenda. Our assessment of the Millennium Development Goals has shown that progress on the development front cannot be achieved if peace and stability are not ensured and sustained, and vice versa.  As the Secretary-General said in his report entitled “A life of dignity for all”, peace is an enabler of development, in as much as it is a key outcome of our global development efforts.

If the post-2015 sustainable development agenda is to be truly transformative, it needs to be inclusive, people-centred and connected to the realities of societies, including their cultural dimensions. To this end, the United Nations has carried out a wide consultation process to connect global efforts to the voice of the people and to learn from their experiences. This is also the spirit in which the Open Working Group established by the General Assembly to craft a set of Sustainable Development Goals has been working.

Notably, one of the sixteen focus areas outlined by the Open Working Group, centres on peaceful and non-violent societies, rule of law and capable institutions.  Building national and local capacities are critical for addressing drivers of conflict.  Home grown local institutions can create space for dialogue within and amongst communities, build social cohesion and address tensions and grievances.

They can also promote equality, which is increasingly recognized as a key component of peaceful societies.  The voices of the youth, women, migrants, indigenous communities and other disadvantaged or marginalized groups should be sought and heard.  In that context, I commend the UN Alliance of Civilizations for its proactive efforts to involve these groups in its work and provide space for promoting dialogue with and among them, and I encourage you to deepen these efforts.   

The issues that we seek to address through the post-2015  development agenda encompass challenges faced by communities across the globe. It will be an agenda for nations and peoples across cultures and religions, but it will need to find a resonance in local cultural contexts to be effective and to bring results. 

It also requires a global partnership for development that embodies this search for equality and harmony among nations and peoples, through increased and more efficient development assistance.  The spirit of dialogue, cooperation and shared responsibility, embodied by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, provides an inspiring example in that context.

Given the complementarity of our programmes of work, I trust that we can act together towards an effective development agenda that promotes peace and prosperity. Through common values, such as respect, equity, harmony, and concrete manifestations of solidarity, the future of civilizations is bright.  It depends on us all to ensure that it delivers the promises that we have made.

I wish you full success in your endeavors. 

Thank you.