UN Development Chief says economic growth not enough to achieve sustainable development

13 Mar 2012

Singapore -- UNDP Chief Helen Clark wrapped up a two-day visit here with a major address as part of the distinguished Singapore Lecture series on the role of governance for sustainable development, which called for “the need to look beyond the speed of economic growth as a driver of development and examine its quality.”  Miss Clark also held high-level discussions with political leaders and senior government officials on future collaboration with UNDP, and signed a Statement of Intent to advance a proposed UNDP-Government of Singapore Global Centre for Public Service Excellence.

She delivered her address to more than 200 prominent members of the civil service, business community, diplomatic corps, academic community and media. “A nation committed to a vision of equitable and sustainable development, to clean and effective government, to engaging citizens in dialogue about the way ahead and in implementation, and to building the capacities required to drive the vision forward will be a nation which enhances the wellbeing not only of its own citizens, but of our planet as a whole,” said Clark in her speech on The Importance of Governance for Sustainable Development.

“Singapore has demonstrated from the earliest days of its independence that good governance matters a great deal in getting development results,” she said. “Strong vision and leadership at the political level, backed by a high quality public service contributing to the design and execution of policy, has transformed Singapore into the modern, entrepreneurial nation we know it as today.”

Clark also said that going forward globally, new models of development are needed to meet existing and emerging challenges, and that development must help reduce inequalities and inequity, while ensuring that we stay within the ecological boundaries of the one planet we have to live on.

She said that the world has experienced unprecedented development progress over the last four decades, leading to global population that, as a whole, are healthier, wealthier, and better educated than ever before. As the 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals nears, we are within reach of seeing every child enrolled in primary school, and many fewer lives are being lost to poverty, hunger, and disease.

“Sustainable development must be about enabling countries to accelerate and sustain that progress,” Clark said. “It must be about establishing a trajectory of human development which allows all people to exercise their choices and meet their aspirations, both in this generation and those to come. It must also be about enabling the benefits of development to spread to those left behind in the progress made to date.”

Miss Clark took part in an interactive discussion organized by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs with 30 Singaporean students and young professionals. Through the use of video and social media, the discussions included such topics as creating greater democratic space and enhanced transparency, access to information and citizen engagement, and the ways and means of fostering innovation and social entrepreneurship.

She also participated in a policy dialogue at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy on Why Multilateralism Matters with key policy-makers and opinion leaders from Singapore.

Her official meetings include discussions with Prime Minister H.E. Lee Hsien Loong; Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower, H.E. Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Emeritus Senior Minister H.E. Goh Chok Tong; the Minister for National Development H.E. Khaw Boon Wan; Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Law, H.E. K. Shanmugam and Head of Civil Service and Permanent Secretary (Finance) Mr. Peter Ong.

Contact Information

James.george@undp.org; 60 1666 02972

Cherie.hart@undp.org; 66 8 1 918 1564