New York

09 July 2018

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at First Meeting of the High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs [as prepared for delivery]

Ladies and gentlemen, 

I am delighted to join you for the first meeting of the High-Level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs. 

I commend Under-Secretary-General Liu for assembling such an accomplished group of advisers and experts. 

This meeting reflects the importance and urgency we attach to repositioning the Department of Economic and Social Affairs as a thought-leader in the global discourse on sustainable development. 

As you are aware, Member States recently passed a landmark resolution which sets out the most comprehensive reform of the UN development system in decades. 

It provides a strong mandate to the Secretary-General to ensure a transformed UN response which delivers results on the ground, tailored to specific country needs to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

At the heart of these reforms is the recognition that a coherent, integrated and coordinated United Nations system at the global, regional and country level is imperative for us to remain relevant and effective. 

The demands and expectations of Member States on the United Nations are high, and rightfully so.

The world faces immense challenges.

While the global economy is projected to be on a stable growth trajectory, new risks and uncertainties loom large. 

The multilateral system developed over the past seven decades is being confronted by growing voices of populism, protectionism and isolationism. 

Income inequalities continue to grow within and across regions. 

More people have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution than at any time since the Second World War. 

Climate change is an inescapable reality, yet our collective efforts continue to fall short. 

Fortunately, the 2030 Agenda provides an inspiring roadmap for a better future. 

With new partnerships and approaches, we can address our shared vulnerabilities while seizing common opportunities.  

We must also look to the far horizon for emerging challenges.

One clear example is the advance of frontier technologies. 

Breakthroughs in genetics, robotics, renewable energy, artificial intelligence and related technologies offer great promises for eradicating extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development. 

But many of these technologies may also impose unforeseen costs on societies. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your advice and insights will be critical across these challenges and concerns.

Secretary-General Guterres and I greatly appreciate your commitment to support the United Nations.  

DESA has a strong role to play in providing the research, analysis and normative advocacy that form the basis of inter-governmental commitments. 

I am confident that your deliberations will greatly benefit DESA’s work in steering the world towards sustainable development.

You have an exciting, challenging and complex task ahead.

We will count on your engagement and support.

Thank you.