Let me begin by wishing you all a happy and prosperous New Year. I am pleased to join you for today’s handover of the Chairmanship of the G77 and China.
I thank the Government of Algeria for its leadership in 2012.
Ambassador Benmehidi deserves to be acknowledged for his skilful stewardship in promoting many difficult [but] very successful resolutions of many issues.
The turbulent global economy of the past year presented considerable challenges to policy-makers in the G77 and China.
In developed countries, concern over sovereign debt and public sector deficits continued to stifle growth, and official development assistance declined.
The knock-on effects in the developing world meant fewer jobs were created; fewer people were lifted from poverty and slower progress was seen in education enrolment and completion.
Social instability persisted in many countries.
Yet throughout, the G77 and China maintained its commitment to multilateralism, working with each other and with the broader international community to address our common challenges.
Today, Fiji assumes the important responsibility of leading the Group.
Prime Minister Bainimarama, I encourage you to build on the efforts of your predecessors in fostering cooperation -- both within the G77 and China and with other partners.
You can count on the full cooperation of the United Nations Secretariat.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last January I shared with Member States my vision for achieving the Organization’s strategic priorities.
In my 5-year action agenda, I identified five areas in particular where opportunity and need are two sides of the same coin.
Preventing conflicts and disasters, human rights abuses and development setbacks;
Building a safer, more secure world;
Supporting nations in transition;
Empowering women and young people.
In seeking progress in these areas I identified two key enablers: partnerships and a strengthened United Nations.
Your support remains essential.
Last June – thanks in large part to the engagement of the G77 and China – the Rio+20 Conference outlined a compelling vision for a more sustainable world of dynamic growth, shared prosperity and environmental protection.
A number of important meetings and processes during the year ahead will help us move closer to that goal.
The special event of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals this year is hugely significant.
It is an opportunity to intensify our focus on achieving the MDGs by 2015.
We will also continue to pursue global consultations on the post-2015 development agenda.
The work of my High-level Panel of Eminent Persons will be concluded later this spring and will inform my report to the 68th session of the General Assembly.
In the coming months, I also hope the General Assembly will reach agreement on the details of a universal, high-level political forum for sustainable development that will be open for business by September.
I also look forward to a set of sustainable development goals beginning to take shape with the General Assembly receiving the report of the Open Working Group on SDGs.
As agreed in Rio, these will be integrated with the post-2015 development agenda. The UN system is already supporting the work of the Group through an inter-agency technical support team.
I will also keenly follow the work of the intergovernmental committee that Rio+20 called for to work on sustainable development financing.
This year we will begin to prepare for the important 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.
Also in 2014, in consultation with Member States, I plan to convene world leaders to mobilize the political will for a final climate change agreement.
As we look ahead to a busy and productive year, I will count on your engagement and leadership on all these issues.
By working together in common cause, you can turn challenge into opportunity and move closer to a world of peace and prosperity for all.
Thank you very much.