Helen Clark on the launch of the Second MDG Progress Report for Papua New Guinea

15 Feb 2010

Remarks by Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
On the occasion of the Launch of the Second MDG Progress Report for Papua New Guinea
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

It is a pleasure to be with you all this morning, my last day in Papua New Guinea, after what has been an action-packed and informative visit.

At the outset, I wish to congratulate the Minister for National Planning and District Development, Paul Tiensten, on the launch of Papua New Guinea’s Second National Progress Summary Report on the Millennium Development Goals.

I also congratulate the MDG steering committee and its technical working group for providing the data on which the report is based.

Through the launch of this report, the Government of Papua New Guinea is contributing to a better understanding of where the obstacles to MDGs progress lie in this country, and what can be done to overcome them.

The MDGs are enormously important. Their achievement would mean a huge improvement in peoples’ lives –  lifting incomes, expanding opportunities for education and better health, empowering women, tackling deadly and debilitating diseases, nurturing our environment for current and future generations, and forming strong global partnerships for development.

In 2000, I was one of the heads of government who signed the Millennium Declaration. That document enshrined the MDGs as the international community’s collective commitment to create a better tomorrow.   

Back then, 2015 seemed a long time away, giving ample space to achieve the goals. Now, with a little more than five years left on the clock, there is an urgent need for all stakeholders to work together and to accelerate progress in these last five years. 

This September at the UN in New York there will be a special High Level Summit on the MDGs. This presents a major opportunity to generate renewed commitment to reach the goals, mobilize support for scaling up MDG successes, identify remaining gaps, and agree on how best to fill them.

Papua New Guinea’s MDG report is an important contribution to these efforts.

Experience in over 140 countries suggests that, by providing a sharp and frank analysis of where there has or has not been progress, these types of reports can help determine where more deliberate action is needed to accelerate development results.

The process of preparing such reports is also valuable when it brings together all those with a stake in development around a common assessment and priorities. As well, when citizens and policy makers alike learn more about the challenges in their communities, it can provide an impetus for renewed efforts to meet the MDGs.

I understand that in preparing this report, Papua New Guinea has brought together government officials and a range of stakeholders, including civil society groups.

That is important, because achieving the MDGs will require the collective action and commitment of all Papua New Guineans, from national government officials to local ones, from NGOs to business owners, and from villagers to urban dwellers.

Following this launch today, the dissemination of the report offers more opportunities to engage government, parliament, civil society, and the media in open discussion about what it will take to achieve the MDGs. The best outcome would be the development of a consensus on the way forward.

The report identifies HIV/AIDS as probably the single most important impediment for the achievement of the MDGs in Papua New Guinea. It indicates that if the present HIV incidence rate continues to climb, it is unlikely that any of the MDGs will be achieved in the foreseeable future.

We know that reversing the epidemic is possible. It requires government and civil society to work together to confront the challenges underlying the epidemic, including gender inequality, stigma, and discrimination.  The UN is fully committed to supporting efforts in this area.

The findings also point to an urgent need to improve maternal health and, critically, to address gender-based violence, itself a driver of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

As I will make clear in my remarks shortly to the National Women’s Forum, advancing the status of women – for example through promoting women’s empowerment and girls education, and improving child and maternal health - is a proven way to accelerate progress toward all the MDGs.

Looking ahead, the significant rise in GDP anticipated from the sale of liquefied natural gas provide tremendous opportunities for Papua New Guinea’s development.

Used well, the large revenue streams could provide not only strong funds held in trust for the future, but also the resources to meet the Millennium Development Goals and set Papua New Guinea on a sustainable track towards development.

Strong national leadership, and effective and transparent budgeting with the increased resources, have the potential to see every child in Papua New Guinea in school, every family able to access a community health post with trained health workers, every family accessing clean water and sanitation, and the upward trend in the HIV/AIDS epidemic reversed.

International development agencies too need to refocus their efforts on achieving the MDGs.

As Chair of the UN Development Group, I have made it a priority to encourage all UN agencies, funds,  and programmes  to scale up our efforts to help countries achieve the MDGs; and to focus on how  we can help countries overcome bottlenecks standing in the way of progress.

It is not a matter of simply doing more of the same. Things will need to be done differently if we are to help countries transform their prospects and meet the MDGs.

We stand ready to continue working with Papua New Guinea to design and implement policies which go beyond the conventional small project to bringing about systemic change for the better in the critical areas like health and education.  

Making progress on the MDGs will require stretching all available resources as far as possible for development. It will require unwavering political leadership at all levels, coupled with strong vision and smart policies. It will require long-term strategies to ensure that how nations develop and grow is sustainable. And it will require strong partnerships with all contributors to development – national governments; the multilateral, regional and bilateral partners; NGOS; and the private sector.

Let us use today’s event, and this report, to reinvigorate MDG progress in Papua New Guinea.