Helen Clark: Opening Speech at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Event on Post-2015 on “Ending Poverty: Why Strong, Accountable Institutions Matter”

Sep 24, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the UN Development Group
Opening Speech
at the     
United Nations General Assembly High Level Event on Post-2015
“Ending Poverty: Why Strong, Accountable Institutions Matter”
Ford Foundation, New York


I am very pleased to join this High Level Event on Post-2015. I thank the Government of the United Kingdom and Transparency International for their invitation.

In UNDP’s work in more than 170 countries and territories we see how much good governance and effective institutions matter for development. Low institutional capacity, poor co-ordination within government, ill-defined accountabilities, and poor incentives often stand in the way of good strategies and policies being implemented to reduce poverty and advance human development.  

When institutions, policies, and governance systems are weak, there’s little trust in them, and the risks of corruption and abuse of power grow – making it harder, if not impossible, for countries, communities, and people to get ahead. Corruption can stand in the way of people getting basic services - research by Transparency International has found that corruption raises the average price a household pays for water by as much as thirty per cent. That can push services entirely out of reach of the poor.

The post-2015 development agenda will establish goals and targets for the next fifteen years. In the public feedback through the MyWorld Survey on priorities for the new agenda, honest and effective governance ranks highly among the five million people who have responded.
The report of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals proposes a goal to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions”.  It further proposes targets around providing people everywhere with a legal identity they can use to claim their rights and pursue opportunities; ensuring public access to information; and reducing corruption.

Member States will now consider in negotiations how they want to deal with these proposals.

Overall, the future agenda needs to be shaped with implementation in mind. In monitoring progress on targets and indicators, the new agenda could itself be a vehicle to boost accountability, increase transparency, and strengthen institutions. Broad constituencies across governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector could come together to establish transparent and locally meaningful targets for which they would be accountable. These days, people’s growing awareness of their rights and growing access to information and communications technologies make civic engagement a powerful force in development.

UNDP welcomes the draft statement issued by the participants in this event. We believe that transparent, responsive, and accountable institutions are a vital part of what it takes to improve people’s lives and implement a sustainable development agenda.

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