“It was the first time in human history that we as human beings reached consensus on the future of development,” UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo said, commenting on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in an interview with UN DESA Voice. Mr. Wu shared his views on the many positive results achieved and on the work that now lies ahead.

Only a few months have passed since Heads of State and Government representatives of the 193 UN Member States gathered in New York for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, to adopt the new, transformative and inclusive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Determination to end poverty by 2030

“I thought this was a very exciting moment,” Mr. Wu said with a smile, standing once again in the majestic UN General Assembly Hall where history was made on 25 September 2015.
"It was the first time that we defined the clear meaning of sustainable development"

Wu Hongbo

UN DESA's Under-Secretary-General

“It was the first time that we defined the clear meaning of sustainable development,” he explained, outlining its three dimensions - economic, social and environmental development.

Mr. Wu also emphasized that it was “the first time that we said loud and clear that we intend to end extreme poverty by the year of 2030.”

Defining moments during a year of global action

UN DESA has played a leading role in facilitating the work that resulted in two major outcomes during 2015: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“I feel extremely proud of the colleagues in my department,” Mr. Wu said. “We were there, each and every step with Member States in discussions and providing our own knowledge and expertise.”

Mr. Wu recounted the work of the Open Working Groups, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and Member States negotiations, which eventually led to the adoption of the new agenda.

“That is a good gift we could provide for the 70th Birthday of the United Nations.”

Work transforming our world has only begun

Discussing the critical next steps involving the implementation; Mr. Wu expressed confidence given the preparatory actions already taken around the world.

team_GAHall“I’m greatly encouraged […] this is a stage that is more complicated and more challenging - to transform your words and plan into reality and actions,” he said, underlining the need of instituting the development agenda at the national level. “If you want them to be implemented in reality, you have to streamline them into the national plans.”

Regarding funding, Mr. Wu highlighted that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Ethiopia on 15 July, provides options for fundraising. “This is something we found missing with the MDGs.”

Inclusive SDGs process – a success story

Looking ahead towards the imminent process of realizing this ambitious development agenda, Mr. Wu said he already sees a clear difference in the ownership and level of commitment by Member States, compared to the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Member States started very slowly with the implementation of the MDGs because they did not feel like the owner, but this time it is totally different. Their involvement starts from the beginning. So that is a success story. We continue to engage all the multiple stakeholders in our future implementation.”