New York

13 January 2016

Deputy Secretary-General's Remarks at Ethics for Development Side Event at the UN General Assembly [As Delivered]

It is a pleasure to be with you this morning. It gives us a valuable opportunity to reflect on the moral code that should underpin the realization of the new goals. I thank Ambassador Flores and the Permanent Mission of Panama for organizing this timely and innovative event focusing on the role of ethics in relation to the 2030 Agenda. 

Last September, UN Member States adopted an ambitious Agenda for Sustainable Development.  For this, they should be rightly proud. It constitutes a transformative plan of action for the people of the world, for our planet, and for our common wellbeing over the next 15 years. 

The 2030 Agenda is grounded in, and guided by, the fundamental values and principles laid down in the UN Charter, in particular its Preamble.  It is also inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – containing economic and social as well as civil and political rights.  It brings together the three pillars of the UN: peace and security, development and human rights.  

The Agenda clearly demonstrates that progress in these three areas is interrelated and mutually re-enforcing.   I would go as far as to say that, in many ways, the 2030 Agenda is a 21st Century Declaration of Interdependence.

The Agenda is about:
- achieving sustainable development;
- tackling poverty and inequality;
- promoting human well-being, peaceful societies and justice on a healthy planet;
- pursuing gender equality and respect for human rights;
- and building strong institutions and inclusive societies.

Fundamental principles that underpin the new goals are interdependence, universality and solidarity.  They should be implemented by all segments of all societies, working together.  No-one must be left behind.   People who are hardest to reach should be given priority.

This is the underlying moral code of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  This demonstrates the Agenda’s profound ethical foundation.

These principles must be studiously applied as we prepare to implement the Agenda.  That means that we need to be ready to change how we work.  We must discard silo-thinking, we must integrate action across different sectors.   We must be informed by those whom we seek to support and listen to their aspirations.   We must pursue these ambitious goals and targets on their behalf. 

We must be ready to think – and to act - comprehensively and holistically.  Every actor, every country, every international and regional organisation has a responsibility to work in synergy, translating the Agenda into practical realities on the ground. 

This new way of thinking and working also applies as we renew and reinvigorate international cooperation for development.  We will need contributions from all sectors of society.  We will need to mobilize the international community, including the private sector, civil society and the scientific and academic world around the transformative goals and objectives adopted on 25 September last year.

The United Nations system anticipates and hopes that Member States will apply the principles and values underlying the 2030 Agenda when they translate and integrate the new goals into their national planning.

The High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF) in July will oversee a number of follow-up and review processes.  The Forum will provide an opportunity to reflect on the extent to which the principles have been applied and on the impact that has been achieved.

We must make sure that the SDGs turn into realities for the millions and millions of people who have justified expectations for positive change.

This is perhaps our most important moral and ethical challenge.

We have, with the new SDGs, embarked on a global journey without precedent in scope and ambition.  The 2030 Agenda reflects the voices of all who must be heard.  It connects people around the world through common principles and values.  These ethical waymarks will guide us towards a life of dignity for all. 

Let us make the 2030 Agenda a living and lasting Declaration of Interdependence for the 21st century.