Helen Clark: “Delivering on the MDGs - Accelerating for the future”

Sep 26, 2012

Remarks for Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator at the
UNDP Side Event “Delivering on the MDGs: Accelerating for the future”
Opening of the 67th UN General Assembly
The Millennium Hotel, Weds 26 Sept

Thank you for joining us for UNDP’s side event on delivering the MDGs. I welcome the decision-makers and leaders on our distinguished panel and in the audience. I’m pleased that so many are here to illustrate how countries continue towork together to deliver on their MDG commitments.

The purpose of this event is to focus on the importance of completing what we started – by accelerating progress to meet the MDGs by their 2015 target date.

In June at Rio+20 world leaders called for continued efforts to achieve the MDGs.

The MDGs have succeeded in creating a common agenda which unites countries and peoples around the world. Their time-bound, clear, and measurable targets have focused action on the most basic indicators of sustainable human development.

This year’s MDG Progress Report highlights important progress on the goals :

  • preliminary estimates indicate that the global target of cutting in half the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day was met in 2010.
  • the targets for expanding access to improved sources of water and significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers have been met.
  • in the last decade, global malaria deaths declined by nearly a third, and many countries have achieved near parity in primary education between girls and boys.

These are major achievements. Millions more people are escaping extreme poverty, living healthier lives, and pursuing better futures. 

But more effort is needed to sustain these gains and reach those still untouched by this progress. Disparities within and between countries remain striking. Overburdened and ill-equipped institutions, neglected agricultural sectors, missing sanitation and energy services, chronic malnutrition, and discrimination against women and girls, ethnic minorities, and other groups remain barriers to MDG progress in many countries.  

An important tool increasingly used by countries to remove barriers to MDG achievement is the MDG Acceleration Framework. Developed by UNDP in 2010, it gained the support of the whole UN Development Group, and is now being applied in more than forty countries where it helps drive joined-up efforts to overcome the bottlenecks preventing progress towards lagging MDG targets.

In Niger, a MAF action plan for addressing hunger and malnutrition was developed and is supporting the government in its determination to address the underlying causes of food insecurity. The Government itself has budgeted significant resources to this end, and development partners are helping. 

Country experience with the MDGs provides vital information on how the post 2015 framework could be shaped. From experience, we know that national ownership and leadership are critical for success. We know that gender equality, health improvements, and access to energy can drive progress across the Goals. We know that partnerships work, and that targeted investments can bring rapid improvements. We know that effective policies, drawn from what works, can bring about dramatic change. And we know that in our increasingly interdependent and volatile world, development will only succeed and endure if it is sustainable development.

It will take time to distill and apply what has been learned from the MDG experience to reach consensus on a post-2015 agenda. Yet, while we accelerate efforts to meet the 2015 MDG targets, we must begin planning for future goals and targets. 

A UN Task Team on this, co-chaired by UNDP and UNDESA, has already reported to the UN Secretary-General. It proposes a vision for and the possible contours of a post-2015 agenda, grounded in human rights, reducing inequality, and ensuring environmental sustainability.

The United Nations Development Group is supporting broad consultations in more than fifty countries on the future we want, and more countries want to host such dialogues. There will also be at least nine global thematic meetings, and a global dialogue through ICTs and social media to enable as many voices as possible to be heard.

The Task Team report and the consultations are all valuable inputs to the Secretary General’s High-level Panel on post-2015 and to the work of the Open Working Group on sustainable development goals mandated by Rio+20.

But our immediate task is accelerated action on the MDGs. That is why this discussion today is so important.  We offer the MDG Acceleration Framework as a tool for understanding where the real blockages to MDG progress are, and for developing action plans to overcome them. We are privileged to be joined by our eminent panel for this conversation on how, together, we can accelerate MDG progress.

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