Magdy Martínez-Solimáns tale ved Post-2015 konferencen


From vision to transformation – Debate on implementation of the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development. 26 February, 2015, 10.30-13.45, Danish National Parliament.

I thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN Association for organising this important conference and the Folketinget, its Speaker and the MPs for hosting us today. I would also like to thank my colleague Ms. Camilla Brückner and her team for UNDPs Nordic Office advice and support, and Minister Jensen for participating later today.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2015 is a year of critical importance. We stand on the cusp of a new era of sustainable development. We are the first generation with the ability to eliminate poverty and we are the last generation who can rein in climate change before it is too late. The responsibility is ours – and the time to act is now.

In 2000, when world leaders agreed on the Millennium Declaration, few could have imagined what would follow. For the first time in human history, countries came together at the United Nations and turned noble principles and high aspirations in to a set of time-bound common goals and targets for development.

Over the last 14 years, the Millennium Development Goals have generated tremendous progress:

  • Many countries have conquered access to education and water, reduced disease and poverty, and moved towards gender equality. Eradicating poverty, from being considered an impossible dream, has become the same moral obligation as eradicating slavery was centuries ago.
  • Globally, extreme poverty has been cut by half, as has the proportion of people without sustainable access to improved drinking water.
  • 9 out of 10 children now go to school, and fewer children are dying from easily preventable illnesses.
  • The world continues to fight killer diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. But we fight hard, and we fight better.
  • The MDGs have invigorated multilateral institutions and partnerships, the weight of citizens’ voices and that of civil society.
  • And, around the world, the goals have guided budget decisions and law-making processes

This year’s nomination of the MDGs for a Nobel Peace Prize is a phenomenal signal of appreciation! I am glad to echo those leaders from your country and across the whole political spectrum who made this nomination possible emphasizing that these goals have contributed to unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest and contributed to the quest for a more peaceful society.

In September, governments are due to agree on a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals. We need to build upon our MDG experience. The new framework has large shoes to fill but it will also be different in many ways. It will require an integrated approach to sustainable development and collective action to address the challenges of our time. It needs to have more ambition in terms of gender equality, sustainable economies, human rights and democratic governance. 

Our goal is to put people at the centre and protect our one and only planet. Our duty is to end poverty, leave no one behind and build lives of dignity for all.

The post-2015 framework has been developed as a political compromise between the Member States of the United Nations. It is a carefully balanced proposition of universal reach between the priorities of very different nations, from the most developed to the poorest, from the climate-vulnerable to the most resilient.

The Secretary-General was asked by the General Assembly to produce a “Synthesis Report” to regroup the decisions mate to date by the Member States. He defined the 6 essential elements that allow to explain the 169 targets and the 17 goals,
The first element is the unfinished business of the MDGs, the eradication of hunger and poverty in our lifetime. This is the agenda for DIGNITY. 

The second element is the employment, social protection, health and education, the more classic social development goals, which conforms the agenda for the PEOPLE.

For states to afford the social agenda, they need to experience economic growth, develop the infrastructures we all need, the trade, the energy, the construction of middle income nations and middle-class societies: this is the agenda for PROSPERITY. 

But growth cannot come a t all costs. We need growth “that is not disastrous” as Mogens Lykketoft said this morning. We need it to be inclusive and the economy to grow along sustainable pathways. It needs to respect sustainable consumption and production patterns so that we leave a better future to future generations. This is the agenda for the PLANET.

We cannot build such an agenda alone. We need the participation of the people, the citizens, their organisations and the civil society. We need the input of science and academia and the dynamism of the private sector. Post 2015 is an agenda for PARTNERSHIPS.

And finally, for the first time explicitly, the development agenda commits to democratic values and declares that development needs human rights and peaceful and inclusive societies, which it has summarised as the agenda for JUSTICE. 

PEOPLE, PLANET, PROSPERITY, PARTNERSHIPS, DIGNITY AND J USTICE are the six essential elements of an agenda for sustainable human development that allows us to grow, protect ad develop with respect to the boundaries and the beauty of our planet. 

As UN Member States launch their deliberations this year, they are firmly guided by the proposal of the Open Working Group that sets out 17 specific Sustainable Development Goals.

The proposal has the potential to be truly transformative – it embodies a view of sustainability at large.

Some are already testing it: Bangladesh would like to experiment a possible target on migration and remittances. Albania has formulated a national goal with associated targets in a consultative manner on national assessment of measurability using existent indicators and baselines. In 3 areas:

  1. comprehensive accessible information on public finances,
  2. service delivery on the areas of water, electricity and land titling, and
  3. time for opening a business

While the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals in September is expected to provide only a ‘marker’ on climate change, it is essential that countries strike a legally binding deal to tackle climate change at their meeting in Paris later in the year. With the impact of rising temperatures and changing weather patterns on the natural environment, health and productivity, human development as a whole is at stake.

In fact, next month, the Sendai conference on disaster risk reduction will encourage us to think hard about what progress means and how it can be sustained over time. The focus will not only be narrowly on disasters but also on the consequences of economic shocks and the effect of insecurity on health –events that have dragged countries back by decades; events that have stolen the life prospects of whole generations.

Preemption is key. Many tragedies that are unfolding today could have taken a different course. For instance, we had the know-how and technology to combat Ebola before its current outbreak. We are now faced with a more radical effort and immense human suffering. Beyond the needless deaths, the tragedy is multiplied: children missing school, lost harvests, markets destroyed and wealth wiped from national budgets.

Implementing the post -2015 agenda will require significant investment s. You may be aware that the third Financing for Development Conference will take place in Addis Ababa in July. It will be critical. A good result in Addis will bode well for reaching agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals and for achieving them. More than the Millennium Development Goals, this new agenda is about hard policy choices. But the availability of financial support will still be important for many nations, especially the Least Developed Countries, and is an important trust -building signal.

Implementation goes beyond financing. Developing countries need to do their part: tax their wealthy citizens, collect revenue, fight corruption and illicit flows, give priority to productive social spending. Mutual accountability is at stake.

Governance and aid can provide the framework where trade and private investments skyrocket development.
This is why the future development framework that is being proposed is to be universal in nature. We understand universality to mean ‘all rights, for all people, in all countries’.

While the benefits of concerted action might be more easily discerned for developing countries - what might the new agenda mean for countries like Denmark? The SG’s report states that “Universality implies that all countries will need to change, each with its own approach, but each with a sense of the global common good.”

Denmark will likely be present, at the highest levels in the United Nations political process on post-2015 in the coming months. The post- 2015 Agenda presents Denmark with an opportunity to take a candid look at itself, and to compare its social policies and quest for sustainability with those of its neighbors in Scandinavia and Europe, and beyond. It allows to compare this year with the last one, and the next one. 

It should allow different constituencies – government, parliament, civil society, media – to analyse the data, to compare year -on-year progress against a demanding framework of objectives. It should help you to check if you are indeed making progress on reducing inequality, enhancing the quality of education, greening the energy mix, improving water management … So that people in Denmark can also enjoy even further rising prosperity, sustained well-being and a natural environment that is safeguarded for future generations.

But above all,

It means that Denmark’s impact on the rest of the world needs to be carefully explained and universally respected, especially its role as development actor. This is about aid. But it is not only about aid. It is also about the way in which Denmark, Danish people and businesses relate to others; it is about being a good global corporate actor and partner. 

When we convened the private sector to discuss the SDGs, Danish pharma business leaders explained to us how important the MDGs has been for their bottom line in Asia, for the production and their exports.
Development is not an old-fashioned statist budgetary burden – but a public-private partnership where stimulus and coverage of ODA opens avenues to the dynamism and revenues of FDI. 

It is also a global voice for a better international order.

This is also why the UN has taken the conversation on the post-2015 Agenda to the world. Millions of people from all walks of life have expressed their aspirations and needs in national consultations, thematic meetings, online spaces, and the global MY World survey. Over 7 million people have expressed their priorities for the ‘world they want’. I would like to thank Denmark for having supported this process.

Denmark’s legacy as a first mover and global leader in advancing and advocating for sustainable development, positions it well to continue its leadership in the context of the new development agenda.

At the UN, and in the Development System of the United Nations, we look forward to the years ahead to build, in part thanks to the Denmark commitment and entrepreneurship a life of dignity for all.


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