New York

23 September 2013

Secretary-General's welcome address at Opening Session of "MDG Success: Accelerating Action and Partnering for Impact"

When world leaders agreed on the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000, few could have imagined what would follow.

For the first time in human history countries came together at the United Nations and turned noble principles and high aspirations into a set of time-bound common goals and targets for development – the Millennium Development Goals. 

This bold experiment has helped to catalyze one of the greatest surges in human well-being that the world has ever seen.   

Thirteen years later, I am pleased to report that success in many areas and many countries is within reach. 

Poverty has plummeted, health has begun to improve and literacy has soared.

What first seemed fanciful and naïve to some has become achievable. 

Clearly, our progress remains incomplete, and many MDG targets are yet to be met. 

And the clock is ticking.

We have but 829 days, as of today, until the end of 2015, our deadline to achieve the MDGs.

So why, with so much left to do, and under a looming deadline, do I say that success is within our reach?

Simply put, because people working together all over the world have proven that transformational change is possible in an accelerated timeframe. 

Today you will see proof. 

You will see evidence of government focus, of international institutions doing things differently.

You will see progress driven by coalitions of actors that have come together across every imaginable barrier.

Together they – we -- have produced real, massive and inspiring change. 

Even as we rightfully celebrate these achievements, we must learn from both success and failure, to deepen and accelerate our efforts in the precious two years that remain. 

We must focus, strategize, and mobilize. 

And let us do all that, based not on theory, but on actual practice and all the experience represented here in this room today. 

The MDGs were agreed by governments, but governments alone cannot realize them.

In this chamber we have representatives of governments, civil society, business, finance and philanthropy, knowledge institutions, and international organizations.

The quantum leaps necessary for MDG success have come, and will come, from partnerships and coalitions among a broad range of stakeholders such as those here today.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships are being increasingly recognized as development game-changers, fostering a race for results.

From galvanizing political will to filling financial gaps, the added value of diverse partners is profound.

I, and the entire United Nations system, have invested in leading major multi-stakeholder partnerships because they deliver. 

We need only look to those that will feature on the programme today to see that this is so: from Every Woman Every Child and the Global Education First Initiative, to Sustainable Energy for All, Scaling up Nutrition and the Zero Hunger Challenge, as well as the Call to Action on Sanitation, and the UN Global Pulse.

The day after tomorrow, at the Special Event hosted by the President of the General Assembly, Member States will consider what remains to be done to meet the 2015 MDG deadline.

I hope the discussions today will offer insights for these deliberations and others.

We must transcend the limiting sector-specific thinking that unfortunately tends to dominate our development strategies.

This morning, we will begin by considering the key overarching lessons learned from our MDG and partnership efforts to date, across many issues.

What has worked, and what hasn’t?

How can we adapt our strategies accordingly?

Thus armed, we can address the unique challenges of working in country-specific contexts.

Together we can chart ever more efficient paths from global will to community impact.

In the afternoon, we will examine two trends.

First, philanthropy.

This is a rising tide many parts of the world. 

It represents an exciting opportunity, especially in Africa.

Let us look at how philanthropists from the continent can catalyse action at scale, especially in those places where it is needed most. 

Second, innovations in science and technology.

These offer game-changing opportunities for effectiveness and efficiency.

So does innovation in organization and mobilization models, and in institutional structures and ways of doing business.

Let us look at how we can best leverage innovation in service of our MDG goals and beyond.

Our panel members are passionate, engaged, and committed leaders in their fields.

The vibrant discussions today will show us that, when we work together, anything is possible.

I urge you all to maintain the momentum of today and continue these discussions tomorrow, the day after and beyond.

I thank you for your commitment and leadership.