Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, Welcoming remarks at UNDG Side Event on “The SDGs In Action: Country-Led, Country-Owned”

Sep 21, 2017

To make good on the promise to make the SDGs a reality for all, we need everyone to work together. Credit: UNDP

As prepared for delivery.

I am delighted to welcome you on behalf of the UN Development Group to this discussion on the margins of the 72nd UN General Assembly, bringing together a diverse panel to explore and share perspectives on putting The SDGs In Action. 

Although it seems like yesterday, two years have passed since the 2030 Agenda was adopted in this very building. Since then, the leadership demonstrated by people and governments at all levels clearly establish that the SDGs are indeed Country-Led and Country-Owned, the focus of today’s event. 

The 2030 Agenda has done more than any other framework to bring the UN System together, and in a way that is truly transformative – disrupting business as usual with its insistence on integration and indivisibility, its call for broad-based ownership and its commitment to leaving no one behind. I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panelists about the innovations, partnerships, new solutions and thinking that are enabling their countries to implement the SDGs. 

The commitment to 'Leave No One Behind,' especially those left behind furthest, may now be the most repeated phrase in development – representing a new social contract with every man, woman and child, a statement of intent for humanity in the 21st century.  Where does this lead in practice?  How do we reach those who go to bed hungry; those who are forced from their homes by violence and disaster? If we really deliver on this promise, we will not only be moving the vision of our predecessors – who forged the UN Charter – closer to reality; we will be strengthening the family of empowered nations and peoples to take us beyond 2030 and into an ever more prosperous, peaceful, and sustainable future.  This is the universal promise of the SDGs.  

On this third day of the General Assembly debate on peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet, we give specific attention to the lives of people everywhere: their diversity, their agency, and yes, their leadership. With 1.4 billion people living today in fragile and conflict-affected settings, with increasing inequalities and an increase in extremism, development must step up more than ever – to integrate security, justice, and efforts at conflict prevention and resolution into its agenda. Development planning and policy tools must cut across sectors and themes; silos should once and for all be a thing of the past. In the room today, we have the 2016 UNDG results report “Lift-Off: Agenda 2030 – Shared Results of the UNDG in 2016”, which illustrates the collective results and impact achieved by the UN development system through 131 UN country teams supporting 165 countries and territories, bringing together development and humanitarian responses in protracted crises.

To make good on this promise to make the SDGs a reality for all, we need everyone. And I mean everyone, to work together. We need investment bankers to work with rural farmers. Policy makers to strategize with activists. Young leaders to work with civil engineers. We need to invest in local economies so that resources are allocated in a way that overcomes exclusion and inequalities. We need to empower households, small businesses and local governments, ensure that people can get the finance they need to build better and more resilient futures. 

Today, we are privileged and honored to have:

1)    His Excellency Mr. Adama Borrow, President of the Republic of The Gambia, 
2)    His Excellency Mr. Almazbek Atambayev, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, 
3)    His Excellency Mr. Jong-moon Choi, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Republic of Korea, who is also the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission this year, and 
4)    His Excellency Ambassador Miguel Ruíz Cabañas Izquierdo, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.  

They have kindly agreed to join us today to share their country’s experience to accelerate progress on the SDGs. Although faced with vastly different contexts, each of these countries are utilizing the SDGs on their path to peace and prosperity. 

For the UN to support countries in a unified way, we also need new partnerships within and across countries, with citizens and civil society organizations taking an active and leading role.  I am pleased that we are joined today by the Founder and CEO of the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders and look forward to Ms. Mavic Cabrera Balleza’s reflections.

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