This is a truly landmark day.
Together we are embarking on a journey with profound implications for the well-being of the world’s people – and in particular billions of the least privileged and most vulnerable members of the human family.
I thank the panel and three co-chairs for taking on this hugely important and meaningful task.
Often I am asked to speak to young people -- the young women and men who will inherit the fruits of your endeavours.
I always tell them: “put your head in the clouds but keep your feet on the ground.”
Be idealistic, but be realistic too.
That is my advice to you as well.
Be bold. But be practical.
We need both.
Next year we must present an ambitious plan to Member States.
The deadline for the Millennium Development Goals is fast approaching.
The MDGs have been a success.
They have saved lives.
They have focused political attention on poverty and hunger, health and education, and the link between environment and development.
They have generated dynamic and effective partnerships.
The MDGs remain our target and our yardstick as we press ahead to achieve them by 2015.
But even then, poverty will still be a global issue. So too will hunger, child mortality, water and sanitation, women’s health and environmental decline.
We need a clear post-2015 development agenda -- an agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries -- with the fight against poverty at the fore -- and sustainable development at the core.
The MDGs provide a firm foundation to build on.
We can draw many positive lessons and examples from more than a decade of implementation.
At the same time, we can also see challenges that were not adequately incorporated in the eight-goal framework.
For example, how shall we reflect the hunger for political inclusion and democracy that we are seeing in the Arab region and elsewhere? People want a meaningful voice in their societies.
The world has changed in other significant ways since the turn of the Millennium – environmentally, demographically and politically. We will have to take these factors into account.
We must also work to safeguard the gains we have already made that are under threat from unstable markets, price volatility, food insecurity, natural disasters and climate change.
But along with new challenges, we also have new opportunities.
Strong growth in many developing countries has reduced poverty and strengthened South-South cooperation.
Greater access to information technology is empowering people and expanding opportunities throughout the developing world.
And new green technologies mean we can improve the well-being of all while keeping our environmental footprint within planetary boundaries. .
Our new development agenda must reflect these challenges and opportunities.
It must meet the needs of people and planet.
The MDGs have helped us to conceive of and work towards a world of justice and potential for all.
Our next development agenda must accelerate progress on this urgent task. It must be just as concrete, just as inspiring, and even more ambitious.
I count on your ideas and wisdom, and look forward to your report.
I thank you for your commitment and leadership.