The Formulation Process of the Sustainable Development Goals and UN Support

Oct 23, 2015

By: Ola Almgren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Philippines

Good morning all. Thank you to Secretary Balisacan for the invitation and opportunity to say a few words about the world’s new development agenda; the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

 

The Agenda, and its 17 sustainable development goals with 169 targets, was formally adopted by Member States one month ago tomorrow, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York.  The Philippine delegation was led by Secretary Balisacan.

 

It is a bold, ambitious, and transformational agenda.  It is also a universal agenda applying to all countries, and in an extension to each one of us as individuals.

 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are an agreed vision to put people and planet on a sustainable path by 2030. In the words of United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the Global Goals represent a “universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds a historic turning point for our world.”

 

17 goals with 169 targets can be seen as an immense agenda and it is of course.  But these are the essential component parts to shift the world to a path of sustainable development - to deliver on economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

 

In a very simple message; the Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs - aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and take action against climate change.

 

They aim to improve living conditions in the present while safeguarding the resources of our planet for future generations.

 

The SDGs bring together several strands of international work in one common agenda for sustainable development, and these are:

o   the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction;

o   the International Conference on Financing for Development and, we hope;

o   the agreement on climate change we are expecting from Member States at the COP 21 in Paris in December this year.

 

The Agenda 2030 follows the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 and its Millennium Development Goals that come to an end this year, 2015.  Much progress has been made.  More work remains.

 

It has been said, when MDGs were introduced they came as a surprise and it took five years to understand them and five years to work them into national development plans, leaving only five years to actually implement them.  True or false, this time there has been very careful preparation in the lead-up to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

 Already in 2010, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon took the initiative to establish a Post-2015 Development Agenda aimed not only at accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but also at advancing the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015, the end-year as we know of the MDGs.

 

This work entailed national and local consultations which identified thematic concerns for each of the Member States, including with the Philippines.

 

In June 2012, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Rio de Janeiro, UN Member States unanimously called for a process to develop a set of sustainable development goals.

 

These two tracks came together in September 2014, with a new intergovernmental process bringing the Post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs together – leading to its unanimous adoption in September. 

 

In the lead up to the launch of the SDGs, the United Nations and partners ran MY World, a global survey which captured people’s voices, priorities and views, for global leaders to listen to when they began the process of defining the new development agenda for the world.

 

Almost 8.5 million people across the globe – including more than 100,000 Filipinos – have voted for the issues which are the most important to them and their families – from good education to better healthcare, better job opportunities to an honest and responsive government and affordable and nutritious food.

 

 

The SDGs are the result of a five–year–long transparent, participatory process inclusive of all stakeholders and of people’s voices. They represent an unprecedented agreement around sustainable development priorities among 193 Member States. Governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, academic and research institutions, NGOs, and multilateral organizations mobilized their networks and got involved.

 

Apart from the process, how else are they different from the MDGs?

o   The SDGs take on a whole of planet, whole of humanity approach;

o   They broaden the scope, and raise the ambition;

o   The SDGs are universal, there is no longer a North and South;

o   The SDGs recognize the interconnects: no peace no development, no development no peace; people, prosperity and planet, and

o   Partnerships must bring together the strengths and resources of government, the private sector, civil society, the youth.

 

The SDGs are far more than inspirations or words of good intent.  They provide a guide for action in the key areas where countries, including the Philippines, will have to invest in order to move forward.  These SDGs need to be backed up by national policies, and will play a major role in shaping where and how resources are used.

 

On behalf of the United Nations system in the Philippines, I congratulate the Philippine Government, National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Balisacan and the Philippine delegation for being one of the 193 member states who have worked tirelessly in the numerous intergovernmental negotiations and experts meetings leading towards the adoption of Agenda 2030 last month.

 

The United Nations system in the Philippines welcomes the commitment of the Philippines in pushing this agenda forward, as highlighted by Secretary Balisacan in the Philippine Statement at the UN General Assembly, and I quote, “To move forward and achieve the overarching goal of eradicating poverty, we must now develop our national plans and budgets for its implementation and monitoring. In doing so, we will collaborate with civil society and all stakeholders in line with the principle of inclusiveness and accountability.”

 

The United Nations stands ready to assist the Philippine Government reflect the SDGs in national and local development plans and policies. Sustainable development requires governments to take a “whole of government” approach to decision-making across the economic, social, and environmental spheres. Similarly, the UN must take a whole-of-system approach to supporting countries with SDG implementation.  This common approach is called ‘MAPS’ which stands for Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support.

 

o   Mainstreaming refers to the support we can give governments as they incorporate the agenda in their national and local strategies, plans, and budgets, and strengthen their data systems.

 

o   On acceleration, we can help identify the obstacles and bottlenecks in the way of making progress on goals and targets, and to identify actions which could speed up progress on multiple targets at the same time. We draw on many successful examples from the use of a specific MDG acceleration tool in more than fifty countries in recent years.

 

o   On policy support, we can provide coordinated and demand-driven advice and technical assistance across many Goals, drawing on the great depth and breadth of knowledge and programme experience gained by the UN over many decades.

 

Across the three components of MAPS, we will seek to build and facilitate partnerships, improve data, and deepen accountability.  

 

The sheer breadth of the agenda, plus the welcome call to leave no one behind, means that we will have to change the way we work with governments and other partners to produce, make available, and analyze data. We hear the call of Secretary Balisacan in his UNGA statement “for official statistics to be more disaggregated, frequent, timely, and accessible”.  We need the information to avoid the risk of leaving the most vulnerable behind and not properly addressing new challenges that impede development and harm our planet.

 

The Philippines is privileged to have Statistician Dr. Lisa Bersales who co-chairs the Inter-agency and Experts Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDG), and we are confident that, under her able leadership and with the invaluable inputs of all participants, the outcome of this work will be satisfactory leading to the SDG Indicator Framework in March 2016.

 

In his statement at the UN GA, Secretary Balisacan underscored the Philippines’ commitment to the SDGs – “The Philippines pledges to make the 2030 Agenda a reality and to leave no one behind. It is our sacred responsibility to our children and to future generations, and our solemn duty as members of the United Nations.”

 

On behalf of the United Nations System in the Philippines, we offer our full support and commitment to a strong partnership with the Philippine Government, and all development actors and stakeholders to implement and achieve the SDGs by 2030 and leave no Filipino behind.

 

Maraming salamat. Thank you

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