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Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Opening Remarks - SDG 1 Preparatory Conference for the 2017 High Level Political Forum (HLPF)

May 11, 2017

UN City, Copenhagen, Denmark

 

Ending Poverty: The Road to 2030

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to welcome you to the High-level Political Forum preparatory conference on “Ending Poverty: The Road to 2030”. It is a great pleasure to partner with the World Bank and UN DESA for this important meeting, which presents us an opportunity to take stock of progress and challenges on SDG 1 (to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”)  ahead of the upcoming HLPF that will take place in New York in July.

We are in the second year of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. The Member States are in the driver’s seat for SDG implementation. They have been active in embracing the new development agenda and goals into their national plans and strategies. Many of them have also initiated in identifying and promoting their country-specific SDG accelerators with the aim to address multiple goals to the greatest extent possible with available resources.

The UN development system is firmly committed to assisting Member States in making the 2030 Agenda a reality. Guided by a common approach called “MAPS (Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support)”, the UN development system has been working closely to support Member States on SDG implementation and monitoring. We are increasing our efforts for a better integrated and coordinated approach to sustainable development that leaves no one behind. Based on demand from Member States we are providing integrated and interdisciplinary policy support.

Last year’s HLPF, the first of the SDG era, was significant as an initial stock-taking to foster momentum and set the bar high for subsequent years. I am pleased to see that HLPF has been successfully settled as the central, global platform for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. The fact that the number of countries that will present their Voluntary National Reviews doubled[1] from last year also demonstrates the increasing recognition of the importance of HLPF to facilitate sharing of experiences with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

However, a 10-day Forum has its limits to cover progress and challenges of countries across 17 goals in a comprehensive manner. Therefore, the meetings taking place in the lead-up to the HLPF, focusing on regional and thematic perspectives, including this Conference, will provide invaluable inputs to the HLPF.

“Leaving no one behind” is the most inspiring and ambitious of the aspirations included in the 2030 Agenda. Inspiring because it is uncompromising in asserting the universality of the Agenda. Ambitious because, even though extreme poverty rates are at an all-time low[2], and MDG 1 was fully met, this still left many people behind – in developing countries, 767 million still lived in extreme poverty in 2013.

To meet SDG1, we need to revisit some long-held assumptions about what it takes to reduce poverty. First, we cannot assume that improved economic conditions will necessarily result in poverty reduction. Ensuring this link is likely to become more challenging in the foreseeable future. Second, we cannot assume that development and the progress towards poverty eradication is steady; it is vulnerable to volatility, shocks and crises. Third, we also cannot assume that development progress will eventually bring everyone along. Addressing multidimensional poverty requires reaching the last mile of exclusion. Active policies of inclusion are needed for segments of the population that have been systematically excluded – development alone will not ensure inclusion. We need to think afresh about the factors that will enable us to make progress towards poverty eradication. I will elaborate on these points during our panel discussion.

It is critical to learn from, and build upon, experiences of different parts of the world. This is what HLPF and other related gatherings aim to support. Therefore, I very much look forward to peer exchange, feedback, and inspiration during the next two days. Thank you very much.

 

[1] From 22 to 44 (including developing and developed countries).

[2] Since 1990 the total number of people in extreme poverty fell by more than 1.1 billion.