First of all, let me thank you for the opportunity to speak at this meeting on this special occasion. As the Secretary-General said, we can all take inspiration from this beautifully renovated ECOSOC Chamber.
I was especially grateful that he and Minister Carlsson also recalled words of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, who placed such importance on the work of ECOSOC and the economic and social imperatives for the United Nations.
Your deliberations here in the Economic and Social Council will indeed reverberate beyond this new Chamber. By aiming to secure better conditions for the millions of people living in poverty, you help stabilize societies. By closing gaps in wealth, education and gender equality, you right wrongs. By allowing people to flourish in better living conditions, you take away incentives to undermine peace. By promoting economic and social progress, the environment for respect of human rights is enhanced.
This will not be easy to achieve in a world that is struggling to recover from the global financial crisis. Not only developing but also developed countries still suffer from debt problems, banking fragility and fiscal pressures. These combine to impede economic recovery worldwide.
The jobs crisis continues unabated, with some of the most serious and profound consequences affecting younger generations. This crisis is making more serious inequality problems worldwide.
At last year’s Rio conference, Member States agreed that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today. In Rio we all reaffirmed our commitment to free humanity from poverty as a matter of urgency.
The global slowdown has narrowed the space for investments in education, health, sanitation and other drivers of development. Our efforts to end poverty and reduce inequalities are also significantly affected by the decline of Official Development Assistance (ODA) during the last two years.
At times of crisis, we need more than ever to protect and support the poorest and the most vulnerable. National governments have the primary responsibility to develop sound national policies. They are the ones to mobilize domestic resources as key components of sustainable development. But we all also recognize that developing countries need a favourable international environment and additional resources for development.
Financing sustainable development requires significant resources from different sources as well as their effective use. I thank those Member States who have increased their ODA, and encourage all others to fulfil their commitments and the long-agreed target of 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product for ODA.
This is crucial for our drive to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Progress in the around 1000 days of action between now and the end of 2015 will also generate greater momentum for the post-2015 period.
One of the main challenges for the post-2015 development framework is to arrive at a coherent framework of priority areas and to understand the mutually strengthening links between them. This is important for the transformative change, which is so strongly needed.
For its part, ECOSOC has long taken a holistic and integrated approach to development. You can therefore play a crucial role in promoting dialogue among Member States about a dynamic and forward-looking post-2015 development agenda. This is a daunting but, at the same time, inspiring challenge.
Whatever vision and agenda is ultimately agreed among Member States must be backed by a sound framework for action. A post-2015 agenda that lacks means of implementation will be hollow.
This is yet another good reason for ECOSOC to address the question of financing for sustainable development and promote renewed commitment to the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration. The intergovernmental committee of experts initiated by Member States has a paramount responsibility to propose options on an effective financing strategy.
Partnerships will be crucial in the period ahead. That is why we all welcome the strong representation here from the Bretton Woods institutions, UNCTAD and the WTO.
I know that ECOSOC provides an effective venue for civil society and the private sector to participate in the debate about the road ahead post 2015.
The Secretary-General and I wholeheartedly support this widening dialogue. We just returned from very productive meetings at the World Bank Spring meeting last week. We covered critical development issues in depth, including access to education, sustainable energy, empowering the world’s women and girls, overcoming poverty and inequalities and of course achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
We also talked in depth with Ministers of Finance about the importance of investing in sanitation, the MDG most lagging. Rather, we discussed how to bring the rule of law more fully to play in development strategies. In both cases we have a major reference point provided by the General Assembly: the 2010 resolution on the Sanitation Drive to 2015, and the Declaration adopted at the high-level meeting on the rule of law on 24 September last year.
Also in conjunction with the World Bank visit last week, the Secretary General had a first-ever meeting with the Presidents of all the world’s multilateral development banks. This was the first step on the way to strengthening cooperation between the banks and the UN system.
It was gratifying at the meeting to see the high-level engagement from both the United Nations and the World Bank with the world’s finance ministers. At the same time, we are not only counting on high-level leaders to drive progress. Our focus should always be at the grassroots. The Secretary-General took part in the event “Global Voices on Poverty”, open – thanks to the Internet – to great number of people around the world.
When we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals we have to place people and realities on the ground first. That is why we are framing the post-2015 development agenda through a truly broad and consultative process. UNDP is conducting national consultations in almost 100 countries.
If we also harness the power of partnership we can accelerate progress across the development agenda. In this context, let me highlight the importance of the work of ECOSOC in promoting South-South Cooperation, as an additional form of partnership, exchange of experience and also financing mechanism.
This and the coming year are very important for the strengthening of the enablers and intergovernmental arrangements for sustainable development. In addition to the pressing matters I have just outlined, particular attention should be given to the role and format of the High-Level Political Forum launched in Rio last year.
In conclusion and more broadly, the Secretary-General and I count on all of you to push for progress toward 2015. You can contribute to a future direction and vision, bold yet practical, for truly equitable and sustainable global development.