It is a pleasure to join you tonight.
Today has been a very important day for the United Nations. The High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda issued its long-awaited report. And as you know, one of tonight’s awardees, President Yudhoyono, was one of three co-chairs and has played a central role in this very important effort.
I bring you all best wishes from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who this afternoon left New York for a conference on Africa in Tokyo, Japan. He has asked me to convey the following message to you tonight.
I extend my warmest greetings to the world leaders and good friends of the United Nations gathered for the Legendary Appeal of Conscience awards dinner in New York.
Rabbi Schneier and the Foundation continue their important work of promoting international understanding, interfaith dialogue and peaceful co-existence. Rabbi Scheier is a strong advocate of the UN Alliance of Civilizations initiative, and I am grateful for his strong and consistent support.
I congratulate tonight’s award-winners. I thank President Yudhoyono for eminently serving on my High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
I also thank his fellow co-chairs, Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom and President Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and all the members of the Panel for producing a landmark document. The bold, yet practical, report will be a vital point of reference as we work together to develop a new framework to build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals.
The MDGs have been the most successful anti-poverty tools in history. But we are all keenly aware that there is much work to do to reach all people, especially women and the most vulnerable. That will require political leadership, as well as the engagement of the private sector, civil society, philanthropists, the scientific and academic communities and, of course, an energized and effective UN system.
I look forward to working with all partners, including the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, to create a roadmap towards 2015 and set the world on a steady course towards a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future.
That ends the Secretary-General’s message. Now let me offer a few words of my own.
What I want to stress is the huge importance of the process after 2015. (Poverty Eradication, Sustainability and Rule of Law).
The Millennium Development Goals have rallied governments, civil society and the private sector around a common agenda. But progress has been uneven among and within countries. More poor people in mid-income countries and we are lagging in the key areas of maternal health and sanitation.
That means we must accelerate our work. There are less than 1000 days until the end of 2015, the agreed deadline for the MDGs. We must make this period one of action.
At the same time, we need to look beyond. We need an ambitious post-2015 agenda that can address challenges that were not sufficiently reflected in the MDGs, such as climate change, energy, jobs, the rule of law and peace and security. And we need a set of development goals after 2015that are as inspiring and focused as the MDGs.
That’s where President Yudhoyono and the HLP have done a great job in providing inspiration and substance for the work ahead.
There are clear links between these efforts and the work of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. In an era of dramatic transition, we can only rise to the global challenges if we have a sense of shared values, as well as shared vulnerabilities and opportunities.
Thank you again Rabbi Schneier, for your invaluable efforts to safeguard freedom of religion, combat extremism and promote solidarity across lines that could divide us. Congratulations again to you and to tonight’s award-winners.
Thank you very much.