Helen Clark: Opening Remarks at the Switzerland-UNDP-UNFPA Side Event "From MDGs to SDGs: How Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Can Contribute to Financing the Post-2015 Agenda"

Jun 23, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Opening Remarks
at the
Switzerland-UNDP-UNFPA Side Event
"From MDGs to SDGs: How Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships Can Contribute to Financing the Post-2015 Agenda"
Geneva, Switzerland

I thank the Government of Switzerland for hosting this dinner. Switzerland is a committed development partner, both globally, and in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable countries.
At the UN in New York, Member States are deliberating on the post-2015 agenda and the sustainable development goals.

A critical element in these discussions is to look at the kinds of partnerships and financing which will be needed to implement the next development agenda. That makes our topic this evening on how multi-stakeholder partnerships can contribute to financing the post-2015 agenda very relevant.

To kick off our discussions, let me make three points:

•    First, it is important to assess how successful the MDGs have been in galvanizing partnerships;

•    Second, focusing multi-stakeholder partnerships on a goal, or a specific target, can be a powerful way to build momentum and make progress; and

•    Third, strengthened global partnerships will be critical for the success of the SDGs.

Allow me to elaborate briefly on each of these points.

First, looking at the lessons from the MDGs, they taught us that global agendas can attract resources, motivate action and engagement, and make major progress on human development. Overall, the MDGs renewed world attention on development.

The MDGs were an inspirational concept; but they were also limited in number, easy to communicate, and were measurable and time-bound. That enabled monitoring of progress at the national and international levels.  

New partnerships formed to advance certain goals or targets also helped. The GAVI Alliance, for example, headquartered here in Geneva, brought a range of stakeholders together to deliver on MDG4.

Under GAVI, each partner adds value: governments provide political and financial support; foundations help with the funding required; international organisations bring their expertise and wide presence in developing countries; NGOs and civil society organisations bring advocacy and often the insights gained from local presence; and pharmaceutical companies have played a part. As a result of this strong alliance, an estimated six million deaths have been averted since GAVI was launched in 2000.

Other multi-stakeholder partnerships also exist on issues likely to be included in the Sustainable Development Goals. They include the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child initiative focusing on child and maternal health. Sustainable Energy for All has also brought a wide range of stakeholders together.

That brings me to my second point: where such partnerships are broadly based and collaborative, and where they focus on a specific development outcome, goal, or target, they are most likely to galvanise the action and investments needed to make headway.

The UN system can play a role in building these partnerships and engagement, as the Secretary-General has shown through his initiatives, and as the UN development system has shown through its wide outreach beyond government partners to gather input for the post-2015 process. Implementation and monitoring of the future framework will also benefit from the involvement of a wide range of actors.

It will also be essential to have clear goals and targets, around which partnerships can be formed. Ideally they will need to be limited in number, easy to communicate, action-oriented, and designed so that progress can be measured.

As you are aware, the co-chairs of the Open Working Group (OWG) on the SDGs released a zero draft of their report on 2 June. It includes seventeen possible areas of goals and 212 targets. The challenge now is to focus the draft, so that partnerships can form around a limited number of clear priorities.

My third point is that a strong global partnership will need to be formed around the whole sustainable development agenda.

MDG 8 was about strengthening global partnerships for development. Its had successes - on debt relief for LDCs, on access to essential medicines, in the spread of ICTs, and in widespread championing of the MDGs.

MDG8, however, did not include enough measurable targets. The question I pose is: should the next agenda also aim to monitor, measure, and uphold accountability for commitments made.

Member States are discussing means of implementation – including financing - for the post-2015 agenda. There will also be a conference organized in Addis Ababa in July 2015 on financing for development.

The Monterrey Consensus noted that all sources of finance – public and private, domestic and external – had an important role to play in supporting development. Over the last decade, the sources of available finance have also become increasingly varied. Some would go so far as to say that we live in a ‘new age of choice’ for development finance.

The different sources of finance can be valuable complements to each other. Public finance, for example, can be a catalyst for private finance. “Impact investing” – investing which aims to make profits while advancing sustainable development has a role to play. The Global Impact Investing Network involves those who see that ultimately sustainable development is in everyone’s best interest.

In conclusion, let me emphasize again that building strong, multi-stakeholder, partnerships will be critical to the success of the post-2015 Agenda.

To facilitate such partnerships, it is important that Member States do negotiate a set of sustainable development goals which is easy to communicate, action-oriented, achievable, and limited in number.

The global partnerships for development which were encouraged by the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs need to be expanded for the SDGs. That will require leadership including from all nations represented here tonight.

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