26 February 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks to First Meeting of the Sustainable Development Council [as prepared for delivery]

I thank the Government of Spain for inviting me to this very important first meeting of this newly established Sustainable Development Council.
Let me start by commending Spain’s remarkable track record in support of sustainable development.
Through initiatives like the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund, established together with the United Nations, Spain has proven itself a steadfast supporter of sustainable development from day one.
In my previous role, working hand in hand with Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Member States and the global community, Spain played an active role with the United Nations in conceptualising the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In current times when we are faced with the dire consequences of climate change, eroding trust in institutions and in governments, rising inequalities, fraying social cohesion, mass movement of people and persistent discrimination against women and girls, we need to find hope in new innovative development solutions.
A universal and integrated Agenda 2030 is our global roadmap for a development approach, centred on people and sensitive to our planet. It is our best hope for humanity’s future.
In that global context, your participation in the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals, the presentation of Spain’s voluntary national review at last year’s High-level Political Forum, and the Government’s generous contribution to the newly created Joint Fund for the 2030 Agenda reaffirm Spain’s continued role as a global leader in the pursuit of creating a better world for all.
The creation of this Sustainable Development Council is yet another important milestone.
By taking this step and embracing the universality of this agenda, Spain is joining many other countries that have assigned an explicit role in SDG implementation and monitoring to its national sustainable development councils.
National Councils are critical institutional components for promoting public participation and engagement in sustainable development at the national level.
Constructive engagement with all levels of government is also a new expectation of the 2030 Agenda. As all of us in this room know well, the SDGs cannot be implemented by governments alone -- they require the engagement of all stakeholders.
Only by coming together as the whole of government and whole of society can we begin to fully operationalise the aspirations set out in our collective vision towards 2030.
Multi-stakeholder councils, comprising representatives from academic and scientific communities, business and civil society, have a strong and important role in working with governments in designing, implementing and monitoring the sustainable development pathways undertaken.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The 2030 Agenda embraces the concept of participation across its breadth, but SDG target 16.7 aims specifically to “ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels”.
We have to redefine our approach to leaving no one behind. The people we serve are no longer to be viewed as recipients and beneficiaries.
We need every single member of our communities to be an active agent of change.
This requires us to work across the internal and external boundaries of public institutions.
It requires us to balance perspectives from different actors operating in different sectors.
It requires us to engage vulnerable and marginalized groups - to hear their voice and enable meaningful participation in our collective decisions.
In this context, inclusive national participatory processes, such as this Sustainable Development Council, have an important role in ensuring all voices are heard and considered in the decision-making process.
The benefits of meaningful stakeholder participation are evident.
The active involvement of non-state actors in policy-making help governments to understand better the needs and demands of their citizens and strengthen service delivery; and enriches the policy-making process itself.
I hope this Council will provide a model platform for fruitful and inclusive dialogue at all levels and an inspiration globally for how we can achieve the sustainable development goals.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of you on our collective journey to sustainable development.
Together, let us make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for all. 
Thank you.