Helen Clark: Speech at the “Consultations on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Southern Perspectives”

Sep 21, 2015

Following unprecedented public consultations on the post-2015 development agenda, and after many months of negotiations between UN Member States, agreement was reached in early August which on what will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of this year.

“Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development” is due to be adopted by world leaders just a few days from now. At its centre is the urgent task of eradicating poverty within the broader framework of achieving sustainable development for all.

The new agenda is broader and more ambitious than that of the MDGs. It has goals and targets aimed at achieving inclusive growth, decent work, infrastructure and improvements, along with those on comprehensive social policy and environmental sustainability. Goal Sixteen promotes peaceful and inclusive societies with access to justice for all and accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Member States have agreed that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will apply to all countries regardless of their level of development. To ensure that prosperity is shared and the planet’s natural limits are respected, transformational change is needed in countries at all income levels. This conveys the strong message that development is not just something which happens to somebody else somewhere else.

UNDG and UNDP Support to Implementation 

UNDP and the whole UN Development System are fully committed to successful implementation of the new development agenda. Our support for it will be based on an approach we are calling “MAPS” - Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support to support countries to achieve the SDGs.

• First, under mainstreaming, we will, at national request, work with countries to reflect and incorporate the SDGs into national development plans, policies, and budgets. This work is already underway in a number of countries.

• Second, we will support countries to focus on and accelerate progress on their development priorities. Here, we will draw on our experience with the MDG Acceleration Framework, which over the past five years has helped many countries to remove bottlenecks and accelerate progress on lagging targets.

• Third, the policy expertise of the whole UN development system will be available to governments as they pursue integrated policy solutions to sustainable development challenges.

Advocacy is also very important. The UN Millennium Campaign is being reformulated to support promotion of the new global agenda around the world, and to continue to involve citizens in it. A clear message from the global outreach on the design and content of the new agenda was that people and their organisations around the world want to stay engaged, and be part of both implementation and monitoring progress.

Enhanced Global Partnerships

Last week, the UN Secretary-General, the head of UN Economic and Social Affairs, and launched the last UN MDG Gap Task Force, which looks at implementation of MDG 8 on partnerships for development. The Report concludes that despite significant progress, persistent gaps in reaching ODA targets, and insufficient access to markets, affordable medicines, and new technologies remain barriers to development. Rejuvenated global partnerships, underpinned by shared goals and mutual accountability, are needed. These must reflect the changing geopolitical landscape and the full diversity of financial flows and development actors – including within the Global South. This is about more than financing. It is also about reforming global institutions.

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda, agreed in July, updated the financing for development framework and set important priorities for development investment – including in social protection, jobs creation, nutrition, and agriculture; and it agreed on new global technology and infrastructure financing mechanisms.

The financing needs of the new global agenda are great, and all sources – domestic and international, public, and private – will need to be drawn on. For many low income countries, Official Development Assistance will remain very important.

The Addis Action Agenda calls for greater public resources, including ODA to boost countries’ capacities to mobilize domestic resources. Investments are needed, for example, in the capacities of governments to collect taxes, and development and implement effective policies and plans. This includes the capacities to design bankable projects and attract investment. Transparent and accountable governance based on the rule of law also builds confidence in a country and helps to stem illicit financial flows.

To meet the demands of the new sustainable development agenda, huge investments – public and private – will be made over the next few years. It will be important not to sow the seeds of future debt crises. Some countries, including a number of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), are experiencing significant debt sustainability challenges at this time. Fresh approaches are needed which take into account inherent vulnerabilities and catastrophic events which can throw countries off course through no fault of their own.

While each country has primary responsibility for its own economic and social development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognizes that national efforts must be complemented by enabling an international economic environment. Coherent, mutually beneficial trade policies, monetary and financial systems, and more effective global economic governance are all important. Global governance institutions should increase the voice and representation of developing countries in the decisions which impact on them. Without inclusive decision making and the engagement and ownership which results, global agreements may go no further than nice words and distant aspirations.

In the past fifteen years, global trade has increased considerably, with greater participation by developing countries overall, including LDCs. In 2013, however, the merchandise exports of least developed countries accounted for little more than one per cent of world trade . Barriers to trade and the remaining Doha Round issues need to be tackled.

The creation, development and diffusion of new technologies are vitally important for sustainable development. Member States in Addis agreed, calling specifically for the transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries on favourable terms.

Looking ahead, we need to ensure that all countries, in particular the poorest and most vulnerable, are able to make good use of all available financing opportunities. Stepped up capacity support for that is critical to ensure that all countries can access the financing instruments most suited to their needs.

UNDP is supporting a number of the national partners in Asia-Pacific, and will soon in Africa too, with Development Finance Assessments which map financial flows, and help ensure that diverse financing streams complement and reinforce each other. To achieve the SDGs, this work supporting integrated national financing frameworks will need to be scaled up.

UNDP has also teamed up with the OECD to provide “Tax Inspectors Without Borders”. Under this initiative, international tax audit experts from the Global South and North, work alongside national tax authorities, helping to build their capacity to assess and collect the taxes owed by international companies.

A number of developing countries –India included- have become critical drivers of both global growth and South-South Co-operation.

India’s roles in delivering on the SDGs within its own borders and in supporting efforts internationally are pivotal; without India, the Sustainable Development agenda cannot be achieved.

UNDP, as a knowledge broker, capacity development supporter, facilitator of partnerships, and multilateral organization with a universal presence in developing countries, is committed to supporting South-South and Triangular Co-operation to maximize its benefits for sustainable development. We look forward to deepening our partnership with India in the interests of ensuring that South-South and Triangular Co-operation can play their full part in advancing the new global agenda as a complement to and not a substitute for traditional North-South ODA flows.

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