Helen Clark: Opening Speech on the occasion of the President of the General Assembly’s Special Event towards Achieving the MDGs

Sep 25, 2013

Opening Speech for Helen Clark, UNDG Chair and Administrator of UNDP on the occasion of the President of the General Assembly’s Special Event towards Achieving the MDGs.

United Nations, New York

Without doubt, the MDGs have been the most successful global anti-poverty initiative in the history of the United Nations. The vision of the Millennium Declaration of 2000 and the quest to achieve the MDGs have brought governments, development experts, civil society, and, increasingly, the private sector together around a common cause. 

The global partnership built around the MDGs has helped expand access to health and education, establish social protection systems, and lift hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. 

A number of MDG targets have been met, and more could be met before the end of 2015. The UN Development Group is committed to supporting MDG acceleration to that end.

In 2010, the UN Development Group piloted the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) – an approach which supports countries to identify and overcome obstacles in the way of achieving MDG targets. Now, more than fifty countries are applying the approach, which leads to pragmatic action plans to speed up progress. 

Countries select the MDG on which they want to accelerate progress. The acceleration action plans are helping countries to engage new partners, and to align the efforts of all actors around the priority actions required to meet MDG targets. 

In this final push for MDG progress by the end of 2015, the UNDG and its Country Teams around the world will: 

  • continue to mobilise support for acceleration action plans already underway, and encourage more countries to adopt acceleration initiatives; 
  • support countries’ efforts to monitor progress towards the MDGs, and use the evidence and lessons learned to guide policies at global and national levels. 

Over the past year, the UN has been facilitating an unprecedented ‘global conversation’ on what the post-2015 development agenda should look like. The voices of more than a million people have been heard. We reached out to the poorest and most marginalized who seldom have the opportunity to be heard in a global debate.  

A key message from the consultations has been: don’t give up on the MDGs. Achieving the MDG target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty still leaves one billion extremely poor people in our world. We must be bolder and more ambitious about leaving no one behind. The world has the resources and the knowledge to eradicate poverty and hunger. With political will, peace, and adequate resourcing, all people could have access to adequate health services and education. 

While policymakers often deal with issues in silos, citizens don’t. They see the links between poverty and a degraded environment, and between peace and justice, citizen security, strong communities, and effective institutions. They want the complex challenges our world faces tackled in an integrated way.  

The strong feedback also is that people want to stay engaged with the global development debate, and are demanding accountability for promises made. This suggests that wide ownership of a renewed development agenda is possible.

Now we must make as much progress as we can on the development goals we have. The greater the success of the MDGs, the greater the credibility of a new development agenda will be. 

So: MDG acceleration matters now – to deliver on the vision of the better, fairer future expressed in the Millennium Declaration, and to bring hope and opportunity to the lives of many millions more people. At the UN Development Group it is our hope that Member States will leave this event inspired to redouble efforts on the MDGs, and to build an inclusive and equitable future for all. 


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