Helen Clark: Remarks for Kapuscinski Development Lecture’s introduction “Effective policies in poverty reduction beyond the MDGs”

Sep 24, 2013

•    I am pleased to join EU Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Professor Ocampo and Professor Duflo at today’s lecture on the subject of “Effective Policies in Poverty Reduction Beyond the MDGs.”  

•    UNDP is pleased to be a co-organiser with the European Commission of the Kapuscinski Lectures – a series which began with a focus on Europe, and has now expanded to have broader global reach and host a variety of speakers.

•    My thanks go to Columbia University for hosting us today, and to all attending what I am sure will be stimulating and thought provoking lectures.

•    Professor Jose Antonio Ocampo will be providing insights into the current status of the Millennium Development Goals, and development of the post-2015 agenda.

•    Professor Esther Duflo will speak about what works in poverty reduction, referring to the research of MIT’s Poverty Action Lab.

•    I am very much looking forward to hearing both lectures, as they touch on issues which are central to UNDP’s work.

•    Over the next 2 years and three months, UNDP will have a very strong focus on acceleration of MDG progress – many targets are not met by many countries. At the same time, we are heavily engaged in the global debate about what should succeed the MDGs – not least by helping to facilitate a huge global conversation about that.

•    Two weeks ago, in the presence of the UN Secretary-General, we released the full report on that conversation – “A Million Voices – the World We Want”. National consultations were held in 88 countries, along with eleven consultations around major themes, and a major online survey of opinions on priorities for the future.

•    Major efforts were made to include the voices of those who would not normally have the possibility to be part of a global debate – including children and young people, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, displaced people, and the poorest and most marginalised overall. At all times we sought the voices of women. That it was possible to engage more than one million people in such a conversation shows the genuine interest there is in being part of shaping our common future.  

•    In the feedback, people have told us clearly that they want the MDGs to be achieved – they don’t want their objectives dropped; they do want their unfinished business attended to. Ending income poverty and hunger, achieving full gender equality, improving health services, and enabling access to education for all remain foremost in people’s priorities.

•    But people also express a strong desire for the next agenda to be more ambitious – to address both emerging issues and old challenges which were not the focus of the MDGs.

•    For example:

a)    When the MDGs were formulated, more than fifty per cent of the global population lived in rural areas.  By 2050, it is forecast that two thirds of the global population will live in cities. That means that the post-2015 framework must not only address rural development, but also how to create sustainable and livable cities.

b)    Many of the one million voices reflected in this report see energy as a vital area to address.  Currently, 1.3 billion people lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business, and nearly forty per cent of the world’s population relies on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste to cook their food and heat their homes – often with health implications.

c)    There is also a deep sense in the report that our world, as it is, is unfair – marginalising many people, communities, and whole nations. People want inequalities addressed between men and women, rural and urban areas, ethnic and religious groups, rich and poor people, and on other dimensions.

d)    There is also a desire to see decent work and jobs at the heart of the new agenda – too many are excluded from the opportunity to earn a living wage or livelihood – particularly youth. This is dangerous and destabilising for societies.

e)     Coming through as a very high priority was the call for honest and responsive government which will engage with citizens and deliver decent services.

f)    People also want sustainable development – recognising that growth at any pace can be environmentally destructive and bring few social benefits.

•    By listening and responding to these voices, UN Member States can chart new territory. That could generate the kind of public ownership, which could accelerate action on and commitment to the post-2015 development agenda.

I look forward now to hearing from Professor Ocampo and Professor Duflo on their perspectives on the MDGs and poverty reduction.

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