Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organization. She is also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group.
Helen Clark: Speech at the High-level Stocktaking Event on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the UNDG
High-level Stocktaking Event
Post-2015 Development Agenda
United Nations, New York
Post-2015 is a big opportunity to accelerate human and sustainable development. It’s the opportunity for this generation of world leaders to inspire action which is bold enough to eradicate poverty and put our world on a sustainable path.
This Stocktaking Event brings together many who have invested a great deal of time in establishing a strong Post-2015 Agenda. It invites us to step back, see how far we have come, and consider what is ahead. It is timely and important. Next year’s negotiations will benefit from Member States reaching a common understanding of what has been achieved so far and what remains to be done.
The Post-2015 Process: Achievements to date
Two years ago, the UN released a system-wide report on post-2015 titled “Realising the Future We Want for All”. It envisaged a universal development agenda which would build on the experience of the MDGs and address emerging and growing challenges. It recommended a set of goals and targets grounded in equality, sustainability, and human rights, and it highlighted the need for collective action which respected country realities.
The report argued that the Post-2015 Agenda would benefit from seeking broader ownership from the outset than the MDGs had, including by responding to the needs and expectations of the world’s people. The UN development system took this suggestion forward and facilitated an unprecedented consultation around the world and on-line. This enabled people from all walks of life to share their priorities for the new agenda. We see this as an early and significant achievement in the post-2015 process.
National consultations were held in almost 100 countries. They reached out to those in the poorest and most marginalized communities, which are not usually asked for their perspectives on global agendas. People came together from civil society, academia, and officialdom to discuss important themes, including governance and economic growth, among others. The global MY World survey enabled more people to share their priorities.
Taken together, nearly 5 million people have participated in this ‘Global Conversation’ to date. The Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel and Open Working Group on SDGs drew on the consultation findings to inform their discussions and in making their recommendations. The proposal of the Open Working Group reflects much of what people said they want in the new agenda, including some of the most transformative elements. This is important as it builds trust in the work of the United Nations.
The call to “leave no one behind” came from people around the world. This is reflected in the OWG’s proposal, including in the targets aspiring to move to zero, such as those on poverty, hunger, and illiteracy among youth. The proposal also contains a goal on peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, access to justice for all, and building accountable and inclusive institutions. It targets the rule of law and participatory, representative, and honest government. This meets a key concern of the more than two million people who ranked honest and responsive government as one of their top priorities in the MY World survey.
The OWG’s prioritization of addressing climate change, ecosystem degradation, and other environmental threats is also very significant. Human development and sustainable development must go hand in hand.
Realizing the Post-2015 Opportunity: The Work Ahead
At UNDP, we are excited about the transformational approach recommended by the OWG. But we know that the post-2015 process still has a way to run.
Agreement on the ‘what’ of the agenda also has to consider the ‘how’ – the means of implementation. The UN development system is now reaching out widely with consultations on what it would take to implement an ambitious new agenda. Through these, we seek to build broad constituencies of those in governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector who can help translate the global agenda into local action. The need to invest in governance capacity, involve the private sector, and engage people in monitoring progress have been among the findings so far.
In your discussions today and in the coming months, I encourage you to ask the following questions about the new agenda as it is emerging:
• Can it be implemented?
• Does it set clear priorities?
• How can countries with less capacity, more limited resources, and lower data capacity be supported?
• Can we get global citizenry and the private sector behind it?
We expect that the Secretary-General’s synthesis report will consider these and other issues, to inform the negotiations leading up to next year’s Summit. UNDP along with the whole UN development system stands ready to work with Member States and their partners in their effort to agree on and deliver an ambitious agenda which will improve the lives of people everywhere. Let’s not miss the “post-2015 opportunity”.
- 26 May 2015:Helen Clark: Achieving the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda-The role of the public service
- 12 Jan 2015:Helen Clark: 2015: Speech to Women’s International Forum, "An Important Year for Gender and Development"
- 07 Dec 2014:Helen Clark: “What will it take to achieve coherence in the 2015 agreements?” Speech at closing session of the Development & Climate Days event on “Zero Poverty. Zero Emissions. Within a generation?” at the UNFCCC COP, Lima, Peru