Helen Clark: Narrowing the implementation gap for achieving MDGs

Sep 21, 2011

Remarks for Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, on the occasion of the General Assembly Side Event:  Commitments to accelerate progress on the MDGs
“Narrowing the Implementation Gap for Achieving MDGs”
Wednesday 21 September, 2011
UN New York, Conference Room 2


I thank Japan for co-organizing this event. Japan’s leadership has been and continues to be vital for maintaining global momentum to achieve the MDGs.

As the world’s most comprehensive internationally agreed goals on development, the MDGs have helped unite countries, engage citizens, inspire policies which put people at their very centre, and focus attention on what works. At last year’s MDG Summit, Member States shared experiences and lessons from their countries and unanimously agreed to work together to accelerate progress to meet the MDGs. 

One year later, the Secretary General’s latest MDG Report follows a familiar story line. Many countries are making impressive strides, including towards off-track MDGs. Yet, progress on many goals and targets in many countries continues to be slow and uneven. The global economic slowdown, high food prices, increasingly frequent natural disasters – including those associated with climate change, and the persistent exclusion of women, minorities, and other groups make accelerated progress difficult.

Participants in the MDG Follow-up Meeting hosted by Japan in June, reaffirmed their commitment to accelerating MDG progress and sustaining it beyond 2015. The meeting focused on the many practical ways in which countries are accelerating progress, through catalytic and inclusive policies which are nationally owned and supported by broad partnerships.

It was agreed, among other things, that a joined-up effort was needed to identify and address the underlying bottlenecks preventing progress. A number of countries shared their experiences with the MDG Acceleration Framework.

Endorsed by the UN Development Group, the MDG Acceleration Framework is a tool which enables governments and development partners, within established national processes, to identify and systematically prioritize the bottlenecks blocking MDG progress, and then devise ways to overcome them. It works by breaking down silos between sectors, MDGs, and disciplines, in favour of an evidence-based, cross-sectoral, and problem-solving approach. Broad stakeholder engagement helps build national ownership and align the efforts of all partners in action plans.

To date the Acceleration Framework has been applied in fourteen countries and there is demand for it from many more.

In Colombia, the private sector and local governments are partnering to implement regional MDG action plans designed to reduce poverty and gender in equality in the poorest and most disadvantaged communities. In one region, a local electricity company is helping strengthen small agro-businesses; in another, business development training helps poor women in rural municipalities grow their incomes.

In Niger, the MAF analysis found the lack of rural credit to be a significant bottleneck to accelerating poverty reduction and reducing hunger. Under Niger’s MDG acceleration action plan, supported by government and development partners, an initiative was launched to expand the availability of rural credit. As well, land titles are being issued to incentivize pastoralists to invest in the irrigation canals and reservoirs which help sustain livestock in times of drought.

In Ghana, a shortage in the number of skilled personnel available for maternal health services is being addressed by expanding training for midwives and traditional birth attendants.

The implementation of each of these examples demonstrates the importance of co-ordinated and nationally owned approaches, which are supported by development partners. Participants in the Tokyo Follow Up meeting recommended that the MDG Acceleration Framework be applied wherever it can be useful with the priority support of development partners wherever appropriate.

Around the world we are finding a growing interest and a strong commitment from governments in taking the Acceleration Framework forward, as well as increasing engagement from development partners, such as the EU.  In the coming year, the UN will help another twenty countries deploy the MDG Acceleration Framework to identify practical solutions to MDG bottlenecks. We look forward to working with our partners to support the implementation of acceleration action plans.

Even were every MDG target met, however, there will still be great development challenges after 2015. As we work to accelerate MDG progress, thought must also be given to building consensus on a post 2015 development agenda.

That agenda will need to be guided by shared values and commitments; shaped by the great challenges of our time, including sustainability and equity; informed by lessons learned from fifteen years of the MDGs; and built through wide and global engagement. The UN’s role in this process will be critical to ensure legitimacy for and facilitate agreement on a path which helps all countries and people realise a more sustainable, inclusive, and prosperous future.

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