Helen Clark: Learning from what works to accelerate MDG progress

22 Sep 2010

Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP

On the MDG Summit Side Event: “Turning evidence into practice: Learning from what works to accelerate MDG progress”

22 September 2010, New York

Your Excellencies, Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNDP welcomes you all to this side event on turning evidence into practice.  We are honoured to have UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon give our keynote address today, and to have present eminent panelists: President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia, and President Choummaly Sayasone of Lao PDR.
 
In the last decade, significant strides have been made towards many of the Millennium Development Goals and targets - reducing poverty, empowering women and increasing access to basic services like health care, education and clean water.  Yet, we also know that progress has been uneven across the Goals, and within countries and regions.

This event focuses on what is one of the most important outcomes of our efforts to achieve the MDGs: what has been learned from experience and how that can be applied more broadly.

There is now a great deal of evidence about both the obstacles to MDG progress and how to overcome them.

That evidence reveals that there is a range of tried and tested policies which, adapted to national contexts, will ensure MDG progress, where there is the leadership, capacity, and funding to implement them.

The question before us here today is how to act on the evidence. Moving forward from this Summit to 2015, how can we put evidence into practice and, as called for in the Summit’s Outcome Document, accelerate progress on the MDGs?

In response to this question, UNDP has developed an MDG Acceleration Framework, designed to help countries do just that.   

The Framework enables governments and development partners to identify systematically the bottlenecks preventing MDG progress, as well as the tested and proven solutions which can help overcome them.

UNDP has been working with UN Country Teams and governments in ten countries the pilot the Framework. The results suggest that it is effective in supporting programme countries to prioritize what works, and turn strategies into action which will accelerate MDG progress.   

Togo, for example, focused on the bottlenecks preventing small farmers – in particular women – from growing more and better food.  Using the methodology offered by the MDG Acceleration Framework, the country has prioritized concrete actions – including increasing farmers’ ability to purchase fertilizers and seeds, and better equip agricultural extension officers to target women farmers.  

We are delighted to have President Houngbo of Togo joining us today and look forward to his intervention in our discussion.

In Tajikistan, the Framework is being used to operationalise its strategy to expand small scale, low cost, and renewable energy production in rural areas. The methodology helped partners to bring various stand-alone activities together and incorporate lessons and experiences from projects within Tajikistan and other countries. The action plan, now being completed, focuses on measurable, tested, and feasible actions with clearly defined responsibilities.

In Uganda, the Framework is helping the government and partners identify the bottlenecks which have frustrated their efforts to reduce maternal mortality. Considering experiences and lessons from across the country, priority actions were agreed upon – including improving communication between villages and the health units responsible for referrals and medical supplies, addressing cultural barriers to the utilization of services, and improving incentives to better retain health workers.

I am delighted that we have the opportunity today to hear directly from our eminent panelists from Colombia and Laos on their countries’ experiences with the MDG Acceleration Framework.

Going forward the UN development system wants to ensure that all countries get the support they need to accelerate progress, particularly those recovering from conflict and natural disasters. With the right mix of policies – focused on recovery and peace-building - and strong international support, impressive MDG progress is possible – even after devastating setbacks. With thanks to exemplary political leadership, we see that Liberia, after its traumatic conflict, is now making progress on the MDGs.

Many countries have development strategies which align their national priorities to the MDGs.  The next five years must be about turning these strategies into the concrete and proven action that will accelerate MDG progress.  If we focus our collective efforts on this task - the MDGs can be met.  

With that, I would like to invite UN Secretary General to join us on the podium.