Opening remarks by Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator: Launch of the 5th MDG Progress Report

03 Dec 2013

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ACHIEVING THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALs

Launch of the 5th MDG Progress Report

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ulaanbaatar

3 December 2013

Opening remarks by Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator

Your Excellency Ms. UYANGA, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Parliamentary Sub-Committee on MDGs

Your Excellency Mr. CHULUUNBAT, Vice Minister of Economic Development

Distinguished Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to address you today, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team, at the launch of Mongolia’s 5th MDG Progress Report.

First of all, congratulations! The Report took over a year of research, consultations, writing, re-writing and writing again by a handful of very dedicated people to finish. I would like to sincerely thank all of them for their great work! Among them, I would like to especially acknowledge the team in the Ministry of Economic Development who took the lead and pushed the process through. It was not an easy one but the result is obvious: a good quality Report, with figures and analysis that we can all stand by. Thank you and congratulations again!

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Some of you will remember: earlier this year, on 28 March to be exact, we had a national consultation on accelerating the MDGs. At that meeting, I had asked the audience several questions. While preparing my address today, I realized that all those questions are still valid and pertain very much to this meeting and this audience as well. At the risk of being accused of recycling my old speech, and with your permission, I would like to pose those questions to you once again.

The first one:

1.     Where does Mongolia stand against its MDG targets? What has been achieved? What remains?

In March we did not have a full answer. Today we do. The 5th National MDG Report answers that question. And what does it say? It says that Mongolia’s experience in achieving the MDGs has been uneven.

Mongolia has already achieved, or will do so by 2015, many of its targets. But, some targets such as reducing poverty by half, reversing the spread of tuberculosis, and protecting the environment will require significant additional effort to be achieved. While complimenting the country for its achievements, we also have to acknowledge that work in many areas is far from done.

That brings me to the second question:

2.     What happens to those MDG targets that are lagging behind? Do we give up? Do we continue?

The MDGs expire in 2015. In March, I highlighted to you that we had 1000 days to the 2015 deadline. Today we have much less time, but the answer to my question is the same: we cannot give up!

We need to put effort and resources to accelerate their achievement.  Whether it is generating employment for youth; or promote women in decision making; or reducing air pollution in UB – we need to continue advocating and working to achieve all of the targets that are lagging behind. Many countries are doing just that and even though there is little time left for the MDGs to expire, they are making significant strides in achieving their goals.

The third question:

3.     It is clear that we cannot give up, but then how do we move forward?

The answer is quite simple: make the MDGs a priority!

The MDGs are not the UN’s MDGs. Mongolia was among the ....... countries that signed the Millennium Declaration in the year 2000 and it was among the first that developed a set of national targets. They are your national MDGs. They are not just your targets, they are in fact your promises. As such, they need to be at the center of all your work.

But are they? Let me give you an example. The Parliament recently finalized its deliberations on the Government’s budget. This budget covers all planned expenditures for 2014. The question is: to what extent is this budget aligned with the MDGs? In many respects it is. But, for Mongolia to have any real chance of achieving the MDGs that are lagging behind by 2015, the linkage between the targets and the budget allocations need to be much more explicit and much more deliberate.

The same applies to all relevant national strategies and policies.

4.     The fourth question I would like to put in front of you today is what happens after 2015? What is the Post 2015 Agenda for Mongolia?

For several years now the world has been asking: what happens after 2015? There has been a very active consultation process all around the world. People from all walks of life have contributed to this discussion which is now captured the UN Secretary General’s Report “A life of dignity for all”, which he presented to the UN General Assembly in Sept this year.

The UN Country Team led a number of consultations in Mongolia as well. The results of these consultations were submitted to UN HQ and I am happy to report that Mongolian voices are captured in the Secretary General’s Report. As the world continues to debate the Post 2015, we now need a Mongolian vision for the post-2015 period as well as a medium-term development strategy that will ensure a smooth transition from the MDG period to the post-MDG period.

Some thoughts on this:

o   The MDG timeline will be over in 2015 but there will be a lot of unfinished business. For instance, even if we achieve the MDG target of reducing poverty by half, it still means that 18 percent of the population is below the national poverty line, which is unacceptable in a country growing as rapidly as Mongolia. This requires a renewed emphasis and a new approach to old issues. In this new approach, it is also crucial that we look beyond averages, disaggregate data and focus on the most vulnerable.

In sum: we need to continue our work and finish the unfinished business with dedicated and well researched and resourced programmes which are based on sound evidence.

o   We also need to look into additional areas. Climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss are significant issues for Mongolia. Recognizing their importance Mongolia has prepared a Green Development Strategy that aims for a sustainable development model for the country. Within this Strategy, there has been discussion on a set of sustainable development indicators. This is very much in line with the global discussions that have been happening over the last 2 years. I would like to sincerely congratulate the Government for taking the bold step of formulating such a Strategy and for their innovative approach in coming up with measurable indicators to monitor its success.

What needs to be done now is to bring these thoughts to bear on devising a Post 2015 agenda for Mongolia. This Agenda should not only look at the unfinished business but also those additional development challenges that were not sufficiently captured in the original MDGs, then devise targets and strategies to deal with them.

o   Finally, Mongolia needs to review its experience with MDG 9. Mongolia is unique. As early as in 2005, it recognised the crucial importance of good governance to achieving the other Goals and adopted a 9th MDG committing itself to ‘Strengthen human rights and foster democratic governance.’

In many fora, the world has applauded Mongolia for taking the lead in making governance a key component of its MDG-framework. This came out very strongly at the Community of Democracy event hosted in Mongolia earlier this year, as it did in many post-2015 discussions.

But, when you look at MDG 9 in the 5th MDG report, you will see a different picture. You will see that there is either no data or it is impossible to track progress achieved. When the whole world is now talking about how to incorporate governance and human rights explicitly into a new set of Post 2015 goals, Mongolia needs to make an effort to reflect on its experience with MDG 9, determine how it can revitalize its targets and share its story and lessons learned with everyone else.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mongolia has made giant strides in many areas and its rapid economic growth is much talked about. But economic growth does not automatically translate into benefits for all people. The MDGs are an important tool to remind us that economic growth is necessary but insufficient.

They are not perfect and they do not cover all the development challenges this country faces. But they are powerful in their message and in their simplicity. And most importantly, all the goals all the targets in this 5th MDG report that we are launching today are yours!

As such: I end with a call for action to making achievement of the lagging MDG targets a centerpiece of your work so that all children receive at least a primary education; no woman (not even one of them) dies giving birth; and people even in the remotest soums have access to basic sanitation.

It is only through:

  • Strong champions and consistent and constant advocacy for the MDGs
  • Political will combined with dedicated funding and concrete action; and
  • Concerted effort and cooperation

that this can be achieved. I count on all of you to work towards those. Most importantly I invite the highest levels of government to embrace the MDGs and make them their Goals and their Targets. The UN as always stands ready to support you in this endevour.

Thank you for coming to this meeting today. Thank you again to MED for preparing a good quality 5th MDG Progress Report. Thank you to all of you who have been involved in the process, especially UN colleagues who have worked tirelessly in support of all the technical work that went into the Report. And finally, thank you to the Parliament, represented here today by a number of prominent Members of Parliament, for taking such strong interest and ownership of the MDGs. As the voice of the people of Mongolia, your participation, ownership and monitoring means very much. We appreciate your presence.

I wish you a successful meeting.