I am honoured to attend for the first time as Secretary-General this High-level Segment of the Economic and Social Council.
Yours is a sacred mission: to lead the UN's worldwide work for human uplift and development.
This year, I believe you are better prepared than ever for this challenge. The Council has undertaken bold new initiatives to reenergize its functions and to rejuvenate its mission. As a result, it is well on it way to becoming the global hub for devising and overseeing development policies and practices.
Just consider two of the Council's most striking innovations: the Annual Ministerial Reviews and the Development Cooperation Forum. The Ministerial Reviews can help the Council better assess national progress towards the internationally agreed development goals. At the same time, the new Development Cooperation Forum can help countries to better gear international development cooperation towards achieving these goals.
These two new functions could not have come at a more opportune juncture. We stand at the mid-point of the race to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. A strong and sustained effort now can mean the difference between the success and failure of our grand endeavour. Needless to say, millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance.
That is why I particularly welcome the focus of the Annual Ministerial Review, which will concentrate on the first and last Millennium Development Goals – cutting extreme poverty and hunger in half, and building the global partnership for development. Advancing on these two items is essential for human uplift, and it underpins our entire UN development agenda.
All of you have before you my analytical report for the Ministerial Review, as well as The Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, which is being launched right here, right now. This report is the result of a broad interagency effort spearheaded by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. It shows that progress towards the Development Goals has been slow in some of the world's poorest countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. However, its main message remains encouraging: the Millennium Development Goals remain achievable in most countries, but only if political leaders take urgent and concerted action.
Countries in Africa and elsewhere are demonstrating that rapid and large-scale progress on the MDGs is possible. As this weeks national presentations on implementation experiences will show, it flows from strong government leadership and sound governance good policies. It requires practical strategies for scaling up investments in key areas. And it needs adequate financial and technical support from the international community.
Experience has also shown that successful national development strategies must be aligned with the MDGs through internal effort – not imposed from outside. Such strategies should be coupled with a broad-based and balanced macroeconomic policy that fosters growth and employment creation. Decent jobs, especially for women and youth, provide the strongest link between economic growth and poverty reduction. Their generation must become a higher national policy priority, along with related efforts to enhance productive capacity and improve access to markets.
All of this will simply not occur without adequate financing, much of which has to flow from a strengthened global partnership for development.
I cannot stress strongly enough the need for developed nations to keep their promises. They have to meet the 0.7 per cent Official Development Assistance target. Today, I urge donors to issue timelines for scaling up aid to reach their target commitments by 2010 and 2015.
As they do so, they must also address the disparities in the global trade regime which handcuff so many developing nations. The world desperately needs a successful conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations. Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies, and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities – and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world.
The time to convert existing promises into actual progress is now. We must convert the “global partnership for development” into more than a catchy slogan, and turn it into fact so as to address the most pressing development issues of our day, from climate change to trade and aid. By acting now, we can still deliver by the 2015 deadline.
That is the task facing this Council, as well as the entire international system. I am confident that today's ECOSOC can and will come through, and provide the leadership and guidance that we all seek.
For my part, I will spare no effort to ensure that the entire United Nations system functions in a coherent, effective, and efficient way for our Member States, and for all the ordinary people whose hopes and aspirations rest with us.
I thank you very much, and look forward to working with all of you.