[As prepared for delivery]
“Mo bien contente visite sa jolie paie Maurice » [I’m happy to be in beautiful Mauritius. – Creole]
I first want to thank you for the film you have just shown. I am touched to see these images and I hope that they show you the work that the United Nations as a whole is doing to achieve a better world for all.
This is my first visit to Mauritius as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
I can think of no better way to spend my first morning than with all of you here today.
There is deep meaning to the presentation of a Mauritius SDG stamp by an institution that I am told is the oldest postal service in the Southern Hemisphere.
I know stamps from Mauritius are prized around the world.
We use stamps to send messages – and today the people of Mauritius are sending a loud and clear message to the world:
Yes, we can end global poverty by 2030.
Yes, we can build a life of dignity for all.
Yes, we can build healthy economies and a healthy planet.
Yes, we will leave no one behind.
We can do it.
We were all proud last September when world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
But we know the true test will be implementation.
To realize this Agenda, mindsets have to change.
We will need high-level, high-energy political commitment.
We will need a renewed global partnership for development.
We will need to go beyond traditional statistics and embrace a data revolution.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda demands that any policy, plan or action considers the most vulnerable.
It says we must prioritize social goals and the integrity of the planet and transform our economy.
It summons us to look beyond national borders and short-term interests and act in solidarity.
Institutions – starting with the United Nations -- must adapt and become fit for an even bigger purpose.
But this agenda will not be realized in New York or Geneva. It will happen in communities and it will take everyone.
That is why I am so greatly encouraged by your commitment today.
You know that we must involve leaders like those here from civil society. It is you who will help shape and implement policies – and hold leaders to account.
We must rally leaders like those here from the private sector. It is you who can be a critical engine room for action.
We must engage with leaders like those here from academia. It is you who can help ensure informed decision making.
And we must reach out to leaders like those here from Parliament and local governments. It is you who are crucial to grounding policies to everyday realities and making a real difference in people’s lives.
In a word, sustainability is development that respects people and the planet.
Sustainable development requires us to make the linkages between climate change, energy, food security, water scarcity, global health and decent work.
From rising sea levels to increased risks of cyclones and droughts, you are very familiar with the challenges that arise when sustainability is not integrated with development.
Small Island Developing States magnify the issues of sustainable development due to unique vulnerabilities, and therefore we must pay extra attention to the needs of nations like Mauritius – and we have much to learn from your experience and example.
Your country demonstrated very strong results towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals – expanding education, enhancing gender equality and reducing poverty and infant mortality.
Mauritius has been a leader in raising the unique perspectives and contributions of Small Island Developing States in advancing sustainable development.
Indeed, the first such global plan for the 21st century was developed right here – the Mauritius Strategy.
Mauritius has been at the forefront of promoting the ocean economy as a pillar of development. You are one of a few countries with a dedicated Ministry of Ocean Economy.
I am very pleased that President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim accepted my invitation to co-chair the UN-World Bank High-Level Panel on Water.
And, of course, Mauritius was among the first 15 countries to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
You are helping to prove that we must move from aspirations to action – from intentions to implementation.
I am here to reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to fully support Mauritius on that critical journey.
Let me be specific and point to three critical areas.
First, we are honoured to work with you in your efforts to translate the global agenda to the national level through the adoption of ambitious policies and measures – as well as critical monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
Second, we are greatly encouraged to support your adoption of Vision 2030 and other bold measures to reduce poverty and inequality, including your Marshall Plan Against Poverty.
Third, we will continue to strongly support the widest possible coalition of supporters for the SDGs – as we have here today. The UN agencies and programmes will work closely with the government, private sector, civil society and many other partners in Mauritius to achieve significant and lasting results for all Mauritians.
As a nation on the forefront of meeting the sustainable development challenge, Mauritius is well placed to be an example for the world.
We will continue to look to the experience of Mauritius.
We will learn from your approaches to integrate the economic, environmental and social dimensions of development.
And we will support you every step of the way.
From here, let us send a message across Mauritius and around the world.
Let us all step forward to make sure no one is left behind.
Let us together build a better, more sustainable world for all.