Helen Clark: Opening Speech at the UNDP Side Event on Accelerating Progress, Sustaining Results: Transitioning from MDGs to SDGs

Jul 9, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Opening Speech
at the
UNDP Side Event
Accelerating Progress, Sustaining Results:
Transitioning from MDGs to SDGs
ECOSOC, United Nations, New York

I am pleased to welcome you to this event on accelerating and sustaining progress in the transition from the MDGs to Sustainable Development Goals.

I thank our eminent panelists for joining us, and Ambassador Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark, and the Permanent Mission of Denmark for working with UNDP to co-host this event. Denmark has been a strong and consistent champion of the MDGs.

The 2014 MDG Progress Report launched on Monday does report a lot of progress against the goals and targets set almost fourteen years ago. Nonetheless, the progress has been uneven. Many people around the world continue to live in extreme and degrading poverty, and preventable conflicts and disasters are wiping out the hopes and dreams of many in affected countries.

As an international community, we have to do better. We need to make the most of the remaining 500 days of the MDGs to accelerate progress, build resilience within countries to sustain results achieved, and set our sights higher for a post-2015 agenda which leaves no one behind.

It will also be important to maintain momentum by transitioning quickly from the MDGs to the new SDGs. In doing that, we need to learn from the lessons of the MDG experience, and make the best use we can of the structures and frameworks which are already in place for example, for accelerating progress and monitoring and reporting on it. This side event is an opportunity to share ideas on these issues.

Since they were launched, the MDGs have been widely embraced. Countries and groups have modified them to fit their own contexts, and many have anchored them in their development plans, and mobilised external support around them.  

The fact that the MDGs were few in number, clear in objective, and easily measurable made them easy to communicate. That helped inspire global action around them.

As designated MDG ‘scorekeeper’ at the national level, UNDP has partnered very widely with developing countries to build national statistical capacities and thereby improve monitoring and reporting of MDG and broader development progress.  

Building on this experience and given sufficient resources, we plan to work with a number of governments to set baselines for the post-2015 development agenda, and to identify data and capacity gaps which will need to be addressed.

UNDP is also particularly proud of the MDG Acceleration Framework which has been deployed since 2010 in more than 58 countries. It has become an invaluable tool for accelerating progress.  

In Tanzania, for example, the MAF Action Plan on poverty and hunger led to an accelerated roll out of the country’s social safety net programme and a big expansion of it – from the originally planned 220,000 households to be reached by 2017 to a planned total of one million by 2015. The strong support of the World Bank for the MAF process and action plans is proving to be very important.  

A number of countries have already begun to use the MAF approach for addressing priorities which go beyond the MDGs, but are likely to figure in the post 2015 agenda – like inequalities, the economic empowerment of women, education quality, and non-communicable diseases.

The experiences of MDG acceleration will position countries well as they move on implementation of the post-2015 agenda. UNDP is also building upon its practical experiences with the MAF to design – in collaboration with partners – a second generation acceleration mechanism for the SDGs. We are also supporting countries to pilot illustrative goals, and holding inclusive dialogues in more than fifty countries to identify ways of moving quickly on the SDG agenda when it is launched.

There is now no time to lose. There is substantial unfinished business from the MDGs, which must carry through to the post-2015 agenda. But with clear goals and targets, strong national and local ownership, focused action plans, and capacity built for implementation, mountains can be moved to achieve the MDGs and future SDGs. We count on the efforts and support of all Member States to this end.

UNDP Around the world