Helen Clark: Speech at Government of Turkey High-Level Side event on “Sustainable Development and the Post 2015 Development Agenda – Voices from the Region”

27 Sep 2013

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
at Government of Turkey High-Level Side event on “Sustainable Development and the Post 2015 Development Agenda – Voices from the Region”

As Chair of the UN Development Group, I am pleased to take part in today’s side event.  I would like to thank the Government of Turkey and the colleagues from the Permanent Mission of Turkey to the United Nations in New York for organizing this important discussion.  I especially thank Minister Yilmaz for his engagement in the global and regional processes which are contributing to the formulation of a new development agenda. Minister Yilmaz is a member of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. We also thank Minister Yilmaz for joining UNDP and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in convening a regional dialogue on the post-2015 development agenda in November in Istanbul.  At UNDP we greatly value our Partnership Framework Agreement with Turkey

Earlier this month, here at the UN, the Secretary-General and I launched A Million Voices: The World We Want – a report on the global conversation facilitated by the UN development system.

Turkey is one of the 88 countries where there was a national consultation, along with fourteen other countries in the Europe-CIS, covered by UNDP. 150,000 people from the region engaged in the process, including hard to reach groups such as the unemployed, people with disabilities, and people living in rural areas.  

The findings of the global conversation contain important messages for UN Member States as they consider a new development agenda. One clear message is not to drop the unfinished business of the MDGs – much remains to be done for many countries to reach the targets. We need to accelerate our efforts through to the end of 2015 – and be prepared to carry unfinished business over to the new agenda.

Another clear concern was persistent inequality – this was highlighted in the Europe and Central Asia feedback.  People talked about the need for more equality between men and women, between rural areas and urban areas, among different ethnic groups, and between the rich and the poor.  In the Europe-CIS region, the urban/rural divide was particularly marked. Job opportunities and better healthcare and education are all perceived to be more readily available to people living in capital cities than to those living in rural areas.  

Around the world, participants in the global conversation voiced concern about job security. In the Europe-CIS region stories were told about how high unemployment causes hardship and results in poor working conditions and rights violations. People spoke about how when jobs are scarce, they are more willing to accept any working conditions.

Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls came through strongly as a priority in the consultations in many countries, including Turkey. Gender equality is a ‘fast track’ to development and inclusive economic growth. More than half of the women and men in Turkey who participated in the post-2015 conversation, however, have a high sense of optimism on this issue, saying that they believe gender equality will improve in the post-2015 period.

Another point commonly made in the consultations was that people want their governments to do a better job, to be honest, to be responsive in delivering services, to facilitate job creation, and to be environmentally responsible. In the Europe-CIS region, the issue of lack of trust in public institutions arose consistently.

Overall there was a call for greater accountability for promises made – we can be certain that delivery on the next global development agenda will be closely scrutinized.

The global conversation facilitated by the UN development system around the Post-2015 agenda is unprecedented in the UN’s history. It has taken the debate far beyond the level of governments and enabled a wide cross section of the world’s peoples to participate. At UNDP we hope that the voices of the one million people who participated will be heeded when Member States begin negotiating on the new agenda next year.

The regional consultation planned for November in Istanbul is an important opportunity to explore further what the development priorities of the diverse Europe-CIS region are.

Once again, I thank the Government of Turkey for their leadership in the ongoing work to arrive at a new development agenda.