Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the event “Emerging Challenges and Shifting Paradigms: New Perspectives on International Cooperation for Development”, in New York today:
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations has been emphasizing that it reflects a paradigm shift that demands bold changes in the way we conceive development — domestically and multilaterally. This new landscape has important implications for thinking about how development progress is assessed and financed, and about the role and nature of international cooperation for development.
The development context of a country matters. We cannot continue to address development issues without taking into account humanitarian needs, human rights, political aspects and security risks within a country. Development will only be sustainable and effective if grounded in the needs and aspirations of beneficiary populations who are the primary stakeholders in development.
The role of the United Nations is particularly important at a time of shifting paradigms in international cooperation. And one of the challenges that needs to be addresses is fragmentation. Fragmentation of financing, but also fragmentation of action.
In many countries, humanitarian, development, peace and security actors work side by side on different projects with different goals and time frames and implementing activities towards different objectives. The resulting divisions, contradictions and overlapping hinder optimum results for the vulnerable population.
The international community, including the United Nations, has to bridge the divides and strengthen the synergies across the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding nexus to realize development gains and achieve the 2030 Agenda. Development is not measured primarily from income status or a collection of socioeconomic indicators.
Taken together, middle-income countries account for almost half of global gross domestic product and 70 per cent of the world’s population. However, they vary in population, rates of poverty and inequality, natural resource endowments, development potential and economic and social performance. Despite improvements in some middle-income countries, many are still characterized by fragmented social and economic structures, with a significant share of employment in informal or low-productivity sectors. And in some, strong institution, good governance, the rule of law and inclusive participatory processes are at times almost secondary aspirations compared to the pursuit of development, despite their key role in advancing social and economic progress.
More than 100 countries have now presented their voluntary national reviews at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. These exercises have underscored the need to strengthen institutions, which is crucial for structural change and for enhancing trust in government itself. The European Union, together with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Centre, for instance, have developed the Regional Facility for Development in Transition through collaboration with associated countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and multilateral organizations. This tool aims to strengthen the design and implementation of public policies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by evaluating how transitions to greater income levels can be favoured by an improvement in strategic and regulatory capacities to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
As we move forward, the question of financing for development remains central. We continue to face a major challenge in financing the 2030 Agenda, notably in attracting and directing public and private investments. Indeed, for middle-income countries, the development challenge is not merely financial or about official development assistance, but, rather, a more far-reaching effort to build up the institutional, financial, social and technological capabilities required for advancing and diversifying the economy.
We need Governments to be able to create enabling environments for financing and investment, and for the private sector to shift towards long-term investment. We need innovative solutions and instruments for financing the Sustainable Development Goals. In Latin America and the Caribbean, private flows — including foreign direct investment and remittances — make up the bulk of external finance.
Private and public resources must be combined to maximize the impact. To best mobilize external funding, we need global partnerships, including cooperation to eliminate illicit flows and tax evasion. The challenge is not only to generate more tax revenues in the developing world, but to move towards tax structures that contribute to greater fairness and equality.
It is also increasingly clear that the international financial architecture needs to better reflect the shift in global economic and political power towards developing countries and middle-income countries. We face a fundamental question: how can we uphold our commitment to leave no one behind when absolute income poverty rates are declining but multidimensional poverty and inequality are going up?
Today, the Secretary-General will launch a new strategy outlining key actions the United Nations will take to mobilize financing for the 2030 Agenda for more just and equitable economies. Within the United Nations, we are taking decisive steps at the country level to reposition the system to better support the Member States to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals through greater effectiveness, coherence and accountability.
Last May, Member States reached consensus on an ambitious package of proposals put forward by the Secretary-General. Since then, we have moved forward quickly to deliver on the first stage of the repositioning, with the aim of implementing, as of 1 January 2019, a reinvigorated resident coordinator system across 129 countries, coordinating the wealth of United Nations expertise and programme delivery. In the following phase, we will focus on the longer-term reprofiling and restructuring of the regional offices of our agencies, funds and programmes and the regional commissions.
Redefining relations between countries at different stages of development, including in periods of transition and resilience, is a continuous process. But, we cannot be satisfied until we shift from delivering humanitarian aid to ending needs. We cannot be satisfied until all people share in the benefits and all countries have firmly and irreversibly set themselves on a sustainable and inclusive path to peace and prosperity. Thank you.