Helen Clark: Speech at High-Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Apr 21, 2016

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires action at all levels – from the local to the national and global levels.

Strong national ownership is the foundation of all efforts. If the SDGs are incorporated into national and local plans, policies, and budgets, then there is a good chance that action will follow. In other words, the global agenda will work if it is domesticated.

• Doing that successfully will require whole of government approaches. Following economic policies which widen inequality and have a severe impact on the natural environment cannot result in sustainable development. So, joined up planning across ministries and sectors is needed.

• Action by governments on implementation of the 2030 Agenda is vital – but not sufficient on its own. Parliaments, civil society, and media all have roles in supporting and monitoring SDG achievement. The private sector too needs to be fully engaged – how it does business will have a big impact on whether development is inclusive and sustainable.

• Then, while money isn’t everything, it does help. All available sources of finance must be drawn on for the SDGs – domestic and international, public and private, and environmental and developmental.

• And finally, international cooperation, including South-South Cooperation, will play a key role – including through sharing knowledge, best practice, and technologies.

The role of the UN development system

The UN development system will play its part in support of the national and global efforts to achieve the SDGs. Already, 95 UN Country Teams have been approached for support with implementation. 

The support being given includes analysis of how national plans can be aligned with the SDGs and localising the SDGs in sub-national plans and budgets.

UN Country Teams are also gearing up to support national level monitoring and reporting, including at this early stage by assessing where gaps may be in data availability and statistical capacity. 

To conclude

The SDGs are achievable with strong national ownerships and leadership backed by global solidarity. The agencies of the United Nations development system are committed to doing whatever they can to build the more peaceful, inclusive, and sustainable world envisaged in the 2030 Agenda.


UNDP Around the world