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

Opening Remarks
High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the High Level Political Forum. 

As we gather today, we are realizing the vision of Rio+20. The Conference established this high level forum to:

  • provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on sustainable development;
  • To respond to new challenges;
  • To review progress in implementation of sustainable development. 
  • And to provide a platform where country experiences and scientific evidence can be shared to support policy making;

The inaugural Summit meeting of the Forum in September 2013 marked a new beginning for the sustainable development agenda. Heads of State and Government shared their high expectations for this new platform. 

Today’s meeting of the Forum under the auspices of ECOSOC is another milestone.

While we celebrate the achievements on implementation of MDGs, and craft a post 2015 development agenda, we cannot overlook the urgency of sustainable development.

We feel it in our daily lives.  The challenge of Poverty and inequality persist.  Unemployment looms large in many countries.  Our economies and societies are impacted by food and fuel crises; climate-related stresses and natural disasters.  Poor people suffer the most. We are not yet fully on track to achieving some of the MDGs and putting the world on a sustainable development path.

We must think differently about the way we pursue and sustain development progress.  We need to reconsider old development models.   

A new narrative on development is being elaborated at the UN.  We are meeting as Member States are deepening the elaboration of sustainable development goals and formulating options to finance sustainable development. The General Assembly is also considering possible arrangements for a technology facilitation mechanism. The preparations for the Third International Conference on SIDS are well advanced.  Further negotiations on the post 2015 development agenda will begin later this year. A truly transformative agenda is progressively taking shape. If we preserve this level of ambition, the UN summit which will adopt the new agenda in September 2015 will mark a turning point for the future of people and our planet. 

The programme of the forum will allow us to have strategic discussions on key aspects of the post 2015 development agenda.  We will hear the views of Governments and Major Groups of civil society and multiple stakeholders.  We will come out of this meeting better equipped to complete the important negotiations ahead of us.  Your deliberations will also be a backdrop to the synthesis report the Secretary-General will prepare as a contribution to the negotiations on the agenda. 

During these few days, we will also reflect on how to implement sustainable development at the national, regional and global levels. The broad commitment is clearly there.  We know what to do.  But there continues to be a major “implementation gap” at all levels. 

Cooperation between developed and developing countries, among developing countries and among the wealth of development actors can shape a better future.  We need to mobilize more resources for sustainable development and we must use them better.  We need to facilitate clean technology and enhance capacity development. 

At national level, planning and implementation must take into account the inter-linkages among sectors and interdependencies across national borders. Many countries are adopting innovative policies building on the inter-linkages among climate change, land, energy, and water for example.  This can help achieve important synergies and extend the range of options available to policy makers.  We will learn from these experiences during the coming days.

Meaningful reviews of sustainable development progress can accelerate and improve implementation.  The General Assembly has laid the ground for the forum to serve as a platform for the review of implementation.  We must now equip the forum to deliver on this mandate.  A meaningful accountability framework for the post 2015 development agenda will need to be considered.  It must engage the regional and national levels, as well as the wealth of UN system and other bodies. 

The world has achieved enormous development progress. In the past 12 years alone, cities have been built for 770 million people, and an additional 1.1 billion people have found housing, enough food, and received an education. Today’s world GDP is more than ten times larger than in 1950. Paradoxically, we have not managed to leverage our greater wealth and technology to eliminate poverty and hunger. 850 million people go hungry today, a number which has hardly changed over decades. There are two hundred million more slum dwellers today than twenty years ago.  And the unabated rise in the scale of materials consumption has increased global environmental, social and economic pressures. The poor have suffered most. And future generations will most likely face much greater challenges to meet their own needs. These are vividly illustrated in the scenarios contained in the Prototype Global Sustainable Development Report that I will present tomorrow.

I encourage you to echo the determination of our leaders at Rio+20 to take action to put the world on a sustainable development path, and to fully use the forum to this end. 

Let us put the forum in the distinct position to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development.

Thank you.