Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Opening Statement
14th Session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration

Madame Chairperson,
Distinguished Members of CEPA,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here today and to welcome you to the fourteenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration.

I am delighted to be back among this esteemed group of scholars, practitioners and public officials.

A warm welcome also to the observers, including representatives of NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC who are with us for the first time, and to remote viewers who are following the discussion on UN Web TV.

You are meeting at a historic moment.

As you are aware, intergovernmental deliberations to define the post-2015 development agenda began in January, and will conclude in September culminating in the adoption of a visionary, transformative development agenda for the future we all want.

This week, the General Assembly is discussing the “means of implementation and global partnership for sustainable development” in a joint session between the Financing for Development process and the Post-2015 Development process.

While the outcome of the post-2015 negotiations will only be decided at the United Nations Summit this September, it is clear that the SDGs, as elaborated by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, will be at the core of the post-2015 development agenda.

Clearly, the broad range of 17 SDGs and 169 targets will represent a daunting challenge to public institutions and public services.

The main responsibilities for their implementation, especially from the perspective of service delivery, will remain in the public domain.

Indeed, from ending hunger and poverty, to ensuring quality education, healthy lives, gender equality, and access to water, energy, sanitation, employment, infrastructure, and to reducing inequality, emissions, unsustainable consumption, and to protecting oceans and our ecosystems – none of these goals and their related targets could be achieved without efficient, effective, inclusive, accountable and robust public institutions.

Will governments be ready to meet these challenges, given the magnitude and complexity of unprecedented demands on public services?

In answering this question, we must realise that the SDGs and their targets also present tremendous opportunities for public institutions.

Indeed, SDGs 16 and 17 set forth guidance on how governments can work together to build effective, inclusive and accountable institutions and to strengthen the global partnerships for sustainable development.

So I am optimistic.

Distinguished members,

Even as the negotiations are under way, Member States are already looking ahead to implementation at the global, national and local levels.

The theme of the 2015 ECOSOC cycle of “Managing the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs: what it will take” embodies this forward-looking perspective.

During this session, the Committee will tackle the question “What will it take?” to build trust in government in pursuit of the SDGs.

“What will it take?” is above all an institutional concern.

The vital role of institutions is built into the SDGs themselves – into Goal 16 in particular, which calls for building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, in tandem with promoting peaceful and inclusive societies and access to justice for all.

In your discussion, you will examine how to redefine relationships and responsibilities to support participatory governance and responsive public service delivery, including through e-solutions.

You will look into the question of how to strengthen innovation, informed decision-making and policy integration.

And you will discuss ways and means of promoting accountable institutions, ethical leadership and integrity to enhance confidence in efforts to deliver sustainable development.

These are critical areas of action for strengthening public institutions and I am convinced that your advice and recommendations will help inform the ongoing negotiations and future implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

In this connection, let me share with you a few ideas on your deliberations.

First, I would like to stress the importance of changing our mind-set. Many government institutions often work in silos and they do not necessarily talk to each other. With the adoption of the SDGs, which emphasise the three interlinked dimensions of sustainable economic growth, social justice and environmental protection, this traditional mind-set will no longer work. We must therefore get rid of silos, think out of the box, and try to bring the holistic approach into the mainstream of public institutions.

Second, I hope your recommendations to the ECOSOC will be action-oriented. This will help respond to a request of the General Assembly, contained in resolution 68/1, inviting the Council to focus attention on “issues that require a prioritized and coordinated substantive response from the United Nations system as a whole.”

Third, I hope your policy advice, while drawing from the MDG lessons, will be forward-looking, so as to help Member States address the need for integration and coordination in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

Fourth, I hope that in your deliberations, you will also keep in mind the need for considering national circumstances, and avoid “one-size-fits-all” solutions.

Public institutions, while sharing the noble mission of serving the public, are often grounded in different political, social, cultural and economic conditions. Your advice and recommendations should be adaptable to national and local situations.

This will not be easy – but that is also why Member States are counting on your professionalism, expertise and insights.

I understand that many members of the Committee were active during the inter-sessional period.

I would like to conclude by expressing my sincere thanks to all of you for your hard work, time and dedication.

I look forward to the outcome of this week’s deliberations, and wish you a productive session.

Thank you.