Deputy Secretary-General Stresses Single, Coherent, Ambitious Agenda in Remarks to Round Table ‘Towards a New Generation of Development Goals’

27 November 2012

Deputy Secretary-General Stresses Single, Coherent, Ambitious Agenda in Remarks to Round Table ‘Towards a New Generation of Development Goals’

27 November 2012
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Stresses Single, Coherent, Ambitious Agenda in Remarks

To Round Table ‘Towards a New Generation of Development Goals’

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s closing remarks at the informal round-table discussions “Towards a New Generation of Development Goals”, organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung New York Office, in New York on 26 November:

I thank the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for organizing this discussion.  I bring you greetings from the Secretary-General, who is travelling.

The Foundation has been a close partner to the United Nations for many years, and shares the Organization’s commitment to the rule of law, good governance and social and economic progress for all.

This day has brought valuable insights into the guiding principles and key elements of a vision for the post-2015 global development agenda.  This broad exchange of views is a good example of how the process is unfolding and should proceed.

We must continue to emphasize transparency and inclusivity.  In particular, we must ensure that the voices of the poor and marginalized are prominently heard.  We must also ensure that our deliberations are based on the best social, economic and environmental science and information.

That is why the United Nations, through the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), is facilitating national consultations in around 100 countries, as well as a number of thematic consultations.  Two overarching objectives should guide our work:  first, to eradicate extreme poverty and achieve universal, equitable development; second, to safeguard our finite and fragile natural resource base to protect development gains and secure the well-being of future generations on a planet in danger.

The work that started with the Millennium Development Goals is not finished.  Completing that work by 2015 is priority number one.  But, we must also recognize that the Millennium Development Goals are a staging post on a longer road.

We must raise levels of development so that all people can live in dignity, free from want and fear.  It is unacceptable that we continue to live in a world where millions and millions live in de-humanizing poverty, in a world of growing inequality.  We must close the gap, but in a way that avoids overstepping the planet’s ecological boundaries.  So, as we rethink development, we must balance all three dimensions — economic, social and environmental.

Three work streams are converging in the post-2015 agenda:  the Open Working Group of Member States on Sustainable Development Goals; the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel; and the work of the United Nations system, including the Task Team on post-2015 and UNDG consultations.

Their conclusions need to result in a single, coherent and ambitious agenda.  Let me reflect on what such an agenda may look like, or what we should be thinking about.

First, the principles outlined in the Millennium Declaration remain as relevant as they were in 2000.  They should, therefore, permeate the expanded post-2015 agenda.  We must also build on the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals.

Second, the heart of the agenda should be a single set of global goals or targets, universal, but recognizing different national priorities, responsibilities and capacities.  The goals or targets should be clear, concise and easy to communicate to people and policymakers, and to all relevant stakeholders.

Third, it is obvious that a new agenda must take a number of pressing issues into account, some of which have emerged in the past few years and some of which were not adequately accounted for in the Millennium Development Goals.  These include growing inequalities, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, changing population dynamics, migration, urbanization, the digital divide, the rule of law and rights perspective, and governance and accountability at all levels.

This leads to my fourth point:  how to address a broad set of development needs without ending up with a long list of goals.  Such an approach would only weaken the agenda.  Length is not the right measure of comprehensiveness.  We must avoid ending up with rhetorical declarations or a negotiations process characterized by identifying lowest common denominators.  Let’s think how the goals and targets are relevant at the global, regional and local levels.  Member States will need to define priorities and cluster themes and goals in a way that recognizes and takes advantage of their inter-linkages.

Fifth, and finally, as we define new goals, let us not neglect the importance of the Global Partnership for Development — Millennium Development Goal 8.  The issues that Millennium Development Goal 8 seeks to address remain urgent, with many promises unfulfilled.  These include trade, knowledge and communications technologies, access to essential medicines and financing for development.  Let us also recognize how the world has changed and is changing.  New global players have emerged and so have new global challenges, especially climate change.

A new global partnership for development must include commitments by all countries, albeit differentiated.  While official development assistance will remain critical to least developed countries, the new partnership must embrace new forms of financing for development.  And, it has to include stronger partnerships among all relevant actors, including Governments, Bretton Woods institutions, the private sector, civil society, as well as academia, think tanks and philanthropic foundations.

The months ahead will be challenging and exciting.  We have a tremendous opportunity.  Let us leave here energized and focused on how to define aspirational goals for the future that will build on the Millennium Development Goals, complete the work of eradicating extreme poverty and address the full range of sustainable development challenges we know we must face.

Ultimately, let us also remember that our measure of success is the difference our work makes for the lives of the people of the world we are to help and serve.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.