I thank the President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Ashe, for bringing us together.
I sense great dynamism in this room. Civil society groups are driving progress across the international agenda. On peace, human rights, inequalities, rule of law, climate change, poverty eradication, sustainable development and many other issues we rely also on you to push for progress among governments – and generate action on the ground.
I thank you for your collective contributions to the United Nations. You give great meaning to our work. And you give hope to many people around the world.
President Ashe is leading the General Assembly at a crucial time. He understands that 2014 is the year we are to (1) accelerate progress to reach the MDGs and (2) to prepare the groundwork for a post-2015 agenda as well as (3) prepare a legal agreement on climate change, all by the end of next year. And he is committed to progress on all three fronts.
I commend President Ashe for planning a series of thematic debates and high-level events to mobilize the international community and enrich the intergovernmental deliberations.
The General Assembly special event on the MDGs in September produced a clear roadmap for preparing the post-2015 agenda.
Elaborating a new development agenda has already benefited from an unprecedented and inclusive approach. Non-governmental organizations, the private sector, local authorities, trade unions, academics and citizens themselves have all been involved.
On the journey to our new development agenda, there are a number of important milestones.
The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals will finish its stocktaking work this week. In March, it will start preparing its proposals.
In September, we expect to receive the report of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on the important issue of sustainable development financing.
The Secretary-General, for his part, has been asked to bring together the full range of contributions into a synthesis report that will serve as input to the intergovernmental process.
In 2015, that agenda is to be endorsed at a summit-level meeting by leaders from around the world.
As Member States deliberations continue, we also have substantive progress on the broad contours of the sustainable development agenda.
Drawing from inputs from civil society and others, the Secretary-General’s report, “A Life of Dignity for All,” identified many common ideas in the contributions on the post-2015 vision.
The Open Working Group is also finding a number of areas where consensus is emerging.
We can already see that the world wants an ambitious yet realistic agenda that applies to all countries – rich and poor.
Poverty eradication should be the central objective. The agenda must integrate all three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental. There is also a need to take into account the importance of institutions and governance to sustain progress.
Clearly, we have to keep the issues addressed in the MDGs high on the international agenda.
At the same time, we should explore emerging themes.
We can use the events and thematic debates planned by the President of the General Assembly to help set the stage.
I sense a great deal of commitment and energy around the Open Working Group. I am confident that positive results will be reached by September 2014.
I am also optimistic about the platforms and practices we have put in place to support the engagement of civil society.
Even before the days of the first Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the United Nations had a strong tradition of working with civil society through “major groups.” This trend has been re-enforced in recent years.
You have made your voices heard in the Open Working Group and the Committee on Sustainable Development Financing.
Many of you spoke during the General Assembly’s special event – at the plenary and the roundtables.
As part of an ongoing global conversation, we have canvassed the views of more than 1.7 million people around the world who told the United Nations what kind of world they want to see after 2015.
Now we have to intensify this engagement with civil society.
Today’s briefing should be the first of several.
At Rio+20, States created within ECOSOC a high-level political forum on sustainable development that allows governments officials to hold a dialogue with civil society representatives. Its next meeting at the end of June provides another opportunity for this valuable exchange.
I also encourage civil society groups to participate in meetings of the Economic and Social Council on sustainable development issues.
And given your strong contacts with people around the world, I hope you will keep raising public awareness and undertaking advocacy around our common efforts to shape a development vision for the long-range future.
We are at a crossroads on our journey to define the future development agenda.
I count on you to continue advancing alongside governments every step of the way.
Civil society organizations are a source of ideas and inspiration.
You are key critical development partners, agents of change, and watchdogs.
You have built an impressive track recording in supporting the achievement of the MDGs.
You have a critical role to play in ensuring accountability at all levels.
I hope you look beyond the adoption of the new agenda – and think about how you can ensure that the post-2015 vision is transformed into reality.
As the Secretary-General has said, we should strive for a life of dignity for all.
I am confident that by joining forces, we can achieve this goal.