Secretary-General, at Millennium Goals Event, Says Sustainable Development ‘Must Be Based on Commitment to Eradicating Poverty’

25 September 2013

Secretary-General, at Millennium Goals Event, Says Sustainable Development ‘Must Be Based on Commitment to Eradicating Poverty’

25 September 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General, at Millennium Goals Event, Says Sustainable Development

‘Must Be Based on Commitment to Eradicating Poverty’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a special event on achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in New York on 25 September:

I thank the General Assembly for organizing this important event.  At the turn of this century, Member States agreed on a bold vision for the future that reaffirmed the fundamental values of freedom, equality, solidarity, tolerance, respect for the planet and shared responsibility.  That vision, enshrined in the Millennium Declaration and rooted in the UN Charter, recognized the need to combine efforts to advance simultaneously on three fronts:  development; peace and security; and human rights.

From the Declaration came the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] — a pledge to free all women, men, girls and boys from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of poverty.  A promise to make the right to development a reality for all.

The MDGs have galvanized unprecedented national commitment and international support.  Substantial progress has been achieved.  However, prospects for achieving all the MDGs differ sharply across and within countries and regions.

More than 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty.  Far too many people face serious deprivations in health, education and access to sanitation and clean water.  Progress is hampered by large inequalities related to income, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, location and the realization of human rights.  Less than two and a half years remain to fulfil the promise.  The challenges are profound, but there is much we can accomplish in that time.

Two days ago I hosted a High-Level Forum on MDG Successes.  We saw how accelerating MDG progress at a whole new scale is possible through high-level political leadership, smart investments, innovative technology and policies, and harnessing the power of multi-stakeholder partnerships.  Substantial additional commitments from Governments, the World Bank, private business and philanthropy brought the total new investment in boosting MDG achievement to $2.5 billion.

We must do everything we can to achieve the MDGs by the end of 2015.  This will also provide the best possible starting point for agreeing and implementing a universal sustainable development agenda after 2015.

The world has changed radically since the turn of the millennium.  New economic Powers have emerged and new technologies are reshaping our societies.  New patterns of human settlement and activity are heightening pressures on the planet.  The impacts of climate change are growing.  Inequalities are rising in rich and poor countries alike.  This new era demands a new vision and a responsive framework to implement it.

Sustainable development — enabled by the integration of economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship — must become our global guiding principle and operational standard.  The transition to sustainable development must be based on a commitment to eradicate poverty.  This is an indispensable requirement — a matter of basic justice and human rights.  In a world of great wealth and technological advances, no person anywhere should be left behind.

You are working hard to define a post-2015 development agenda.  The General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is focusing on universal goals and targets.  The UN system is eager to support you.

Many entities and partners have taken part in the discussion.  These include my High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, co-chaired by President [Susilo Bambang] Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President [Ellen] Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom.

We have heard from the UN System Task Team, the UN Global Compact, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the UN Regional Commissions.  Civil society and academia have provided important recommendations.  And we have listened to more than a million voices as part of “The World We Want” exercise.

My own report, “A Life of Dignity for All”, draws on these ideas and sets out my sense of the transformations we need and can achieve.  The common ground in these wide-ranging consultations far outweighs any differences.  The emerging outlines of a new agenda are becoming apparent.  It must be bold in ambition yet simple in design, supported by a new partnership for development.  It must be universal in nature yet responsive to the complexities, needs and capacities of individual countries.  It needs to be rights-based, with particular emphasis on women, young people and marginalized groups.  And it must protect the planet’s resources, emphasize sustainable consumption and production and support action to address climate change.

Guided by this far-reaching vision, we can define a concise set of goals that will capture the imagination and mobilize the world — just as the MDGs have done.  We must be open to new and innovative partnerships, pioneering approaches to data and rigorous accountability mechanisms.  The Millennium Development Goals have shown that we can make profound differences in people’s lives.

The journey we started in the year 2000 has seen us build a solid foundation for further progress.  The children born in that year are now entering adolescence — many with the education and health they need for a good start in life, but many more still lacking.  As they move into full adulthood, and as our own development efforts mature, let us recognize the important task that is before us.  Let us commit today to finish the job and do what it takes to secure a future of peace, justice and dignity for all.  Thank you very much.

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