High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Adopts Declaration of Commitment to Ambitious, People-centred Post-2015 Agenda

The High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development closed its eight-day annual session today with the adoption of a declaration that committed ministers from around the world to establishing a “strong, universal, ambitious, inclusive and people-centred” post-2015 development agenda that completed the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals and responded to new challenges.

Through the text, Forum ministers welcomed what had been achieved through the Millennium Goals, which had set out a common vision and contributed to “significant and substantial advances” in several areas.  They requested the President of the Economic and Social Council to issue summaries of discussions in the Forum and in the Council’s high-level segment, which runs until 10 July, to the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which convenes from 13 to 16 July in Addis Ababa.

“Our meeting was convened under a heightened mindfulness of the forthcoming post-2015 development agenda,” said Council Vice-President Mohamed Khaled Khiari (Tunisia) in closing remarks, the most ambitious one yet at the United Nations. Delegates had covered much ground, with substantive and practical deliberations on how to make the Forum fit for supporting implementation of the new agenda.

Throughout the session, he said, debates had shown that the Forum could be what Heads of State and Government attending the 2012 Rio+20 Conference had envisioned:  one that provided leadership and political guidance, brought enhanced coherence to the institutional framework for sustainable development, served as the apex of follow-up and review of the new agenda, and offered a strengthened science-policy interface.  “We will need to continue these discussions so we can hit the ground running,” he said, noting that several participants had suggested elaborating a road map to prepare the Forum for delivering on its role as soon as the agenda was adopted.

The declaration capped a day that featured the Forum’s adoption of its 2015 report, as well as two panel discussions.  In the first — on “Reviewing and monitoring progress:  What have we learned and how can it advance implementation?” — delegates weighed how national reviews to be conducted by the Forum starting in 2016 could best advance implementation of the sustainable development goals, with many advocating that existing review mechanisms be used to maximize impact.  The second, on “Realizing the sustainable development goals:  Matching ambitions with commensurate means of implementation — resources, technology and capacities”, focused on financing, trade, debt sustainability and capacity-building as ways to advance the new agenda.

The Forum’s programme dovetailed with that of the Council’s high-level segment, which was held in parallel meetings under the main theme of “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals:  what it will take”.  The segment featured continued general debate on how to prepare the Forum for peak performance in 2016 and the start of two-day deliberations in the Annual Ministerial Review, the Council body established in 2007 to assess the Millennium Development Goals.

During the Council’s general debate, speakers highlighted steps to make a successful transition to the new agenda, with some advocating a “fresh look” at the Forum’s sessions.  It should focus, they said, on its key mandates, such as identifying best practices, new trends and challenges, and strengthening the science-policy interface.  Conversations must be broad in scope, engaging the civil society, business and scientific communities.  Several delegations welcomed the 2015 edition of the Global Sustainable Development Report as a way to drive substantive discussion, with Egypt’s delegate cautioning that it should not be used as a monitoring tool.

This year’s Annual Ministerial Review would include four national voluntary presentations from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Philippines and Zambia. It would also feature a mandated review of implementation of the Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. Thursday, 9 July, to continue its high-level segment.

Statements

DAMIRA NIYAZALIEVA, Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, said that on 10 July, her country would present its national voluntary report to the Annual Ministerial Review, offering an in-depth evaluation of institutional progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as well as its vision for the transition to the sustainable development goals.  The High-level Political Forum’s most important task was to create institutional frameworks for cooperation with other platforms, inform the global community of results and develop recommendations to solve persistent challenges.  The national component of the review was most important, as it reflected a country’s needs and culture.  It must be held on a voluntary basis and consider the views of the scientific and business communities.  In Kyrgyzstan, the “Unity in Action” programme, carried out with the United Nations, must be optimized to move towards more effective policies.  Improving coordination mechanisms was a priority, she said, stressing the need to strengthen the role of parliaments in achieving the sustainable development goals.

MARIA LUISA NAVARRO, Vice-Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Cooperation of Panama, said that only through cooperation and ethical commitment could challenges be overcome in implementing “The Future We Want” outcome from the “Rio+20” Conference.  Panama was committed to strengthening the science-policy interface, through, among other things, improved access to reliable data in areas related to the three dimensions of sustainable development.  Stressing the need for capacity-building, including for middle-income countries transitioning to high-income countries, she proposed establishing a United Nations hub to house regional agencies already operating in Panama.  A humanitarian assistance logistics hub also would allow the quick distribution of aid across the region, which was increasingly affected by natural disasters.  Panama’s geography made it an ideal candidate for hosting such hubs.  Indeed, achieving the sustainable development goals would only be possible through ambitious cooperation and support.

RITA SCHWARZELÜHR-SUTTER, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany, said that in September, States should agree on the new agenda’s follow-up architecture, while leaving flexibility for countries and regions to “flesh out” the details.  The Forum would be an apex of review processes at national, regional and global levels.  Those reviews should not only inform on the implementation of global targets, but also enable States to showcase best practices, lessons learned and challenges ahead.  At the national level, States should build on their sustainable development strategies.  Governments were accountable, first and foremost, to their citizens.  As such, national reviews for achieving the post-2015 agenda should involve civil society.  Regions should be able to choose the regional forum most appropriate for mutual learning.  In some cases, the United Nations regional commissions would be suitable.  States, she added, should participate at least twice in the reviews until 2030.

KAZUYUKI NAKANE, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that in March, his country had hosted the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, where the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was adopted.  Stressing the importance of mainstreaming that issue into development, he said Japan had proposed designating 5 November as World Tsunami Day.  He hoped a resolution would be adopted at the General Assembly’s next session to that effect.  In addition to addressing the unfinished challenges of the Millennium Development Goals, including gender equality, States must tackle new issues, such as the need for high-quality infrastructure and establishment of the rule of law.  It was vital to build a global partnership in which all stakeholders played a role and worked to overcome the traditional North-South divide.  Japan, committed to human security, would continue to contribute of the United Nations as it marked its seventieth anniversary.

PEIMAN SAADAT, Director-General for Environment and Sustainable Development of Iran, associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, urged a focus on sustainable development challenges, stressing that poverty eradication should remain the central objective of the post-2015 agenda.  More was needed than simply addressing the symptoms of underdevelopment.  The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities continued to underpin collective efforts.  In that context, he urged committing to “a new phase” of international cooperation, with a global partnership playing a pivotal role in fulfilling unmet Millennium Development Goals commitments and implementing the new agenda.  That required providing developing countries with non-discriminatory access to means of implementation, which would enable them to deliver on the agenda.  The Forum played a major role in the voluntary State-led review process, a major part of which was a “light” reporting format, with due regard to minimizing the burden on countries.

TONY PIPA, Special Coordinator for the Post-2015 Development Agenda of the United States, highlighting steps to make a successful transition to the new agenda, said the planning for those changes should be transparent.  He urged taking “a fresh look” at the Forum’s sessions, as he questioned whether panels were the best way to motivate substantive discussions.  It should focus on its key mandates, such as identifying best practices, new trends and challenges, and strengthening the science-policy interface.  The idea for the Forum to be a platform for a two-way conversation with the scientific community was compelling.  Civil society must be at the table.  He supported national reports that fed into regional analyses, which, in turn, informed the Forum.  He urged the creation of guidelines that were sufficiently flexible to handle different Governmental structures.  A concise and substantive Global Sustainable Development Report could drive discussions at the Forum, while open data platforms could drive evidence-based decision-making.

ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka) said the business of the Millennium Development Goals was unfinished, and, in the transition to the sustainable development goals, States must keep in mind “where we have failed”.  For its part, Sri Lanka had achieved 13 indicators.  It had halved poverty at the national level; achieved the universal primary education target; made progress in gender equality in all levels of education; and met the target for the percentage of people with access to safe drinking water and sanitation.  States also must keep in mind that poverty eradication was the world’s greatest challenge, making the transfer of capacity to implement the new agenda vital.  He urged countries to honour their official development assistance (ODA) commitments, stressing a particular a focus on the challenges of middle-income countries that were handicapped by limits on development financing.  They required concessional development finance, including after their graduation to middle-income status.

IBRAHIM OMAR DABBASHI (Libya), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the African Group, supported the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, stressing the role of technologies and the need for a technology transfer mechanism.  He hoped the Third International Conference for Financing for Development could advance efforts by assessing progress achieved in the Monterrey and Doha Declarations, settling the matter of external debt and considering the links among development sources.  Development could not happen without security, and vice versa, making a return to stability a key factor for re-launching development and the economy.  He hoped the United Nations would help return safety and security to Libya, notably by helping to build military institutions.  His Government hoped such efforts would help Libya solve its security and institutional problems.  It was time for all countries to cooperate to implement the Convention against Corruption and return assets stolen from developing countries.  He hoped all stakeholders would help Libya recover its stolen funds.

KELBONE A. MAOPE (Lesotho) said the Forum would play a decisive role in following up on the implementation of sustainable development commitments and reviewing progress beyond 2015.  It would play a critical oversight role, provide guidance and recommend actions at national, regional and global levels.  Lesotho recognized the links between poverty eradication and the promotion of sustainable development, and urged a coherent approach to the new agenda that integrated sustainable development’s three dimensions.  The institutional structure of sustainable development had been strengthened with the Forum’s establishment and he looked forward to its regular reviews and implementation.  A strong interface between science and policy would be important for the Forum to establish itself as a platform that provided guidance.  Integration should be a high priority for United Nations operational activities.  It was important to mobilize resources to encourage the participation of a critical mass of stakeholders, he said, calling for national ownership of implementation and review processes.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) called for a vision for the Forum in three five-year phases.  The Forum, which would continue to be linked with the Economic and Social Council, must build on the deliberations of the Council system, as well as with the World Bank and other development banks.  Coordinating with regional structures, such as the European Union and African Union and their respective economic commissions, would bring results in all regions.  The varying conditions among countries demanded that suitable indicators be developed through the use of reliable data provided by the United Nations Statistics Bureau.  Criteria should be realistic, understandable and measureable, yet flexible.  The means of implementation must transcend finance and technology to address other issues, such as fair rules of trade and investment, sovereign debt restructuring and intellectual property rights.

ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the high-level segment was very significant as the world charted a new future.  The issue of financing for development and climate change, and how the Council would accommodate itself to stay engaged in those matters, would determine the body’s relevance.  He welcomed the United Nations system’s efforts to establish the sustainable development goals, but warned that steps were needed to go beyond “business as usual” in order to ensure that the United Nations system truly worked as one, in a well-coordinated and well-focused manner.  Least developed countries welcomed support from the private and philanthropic sectors.  But that did not mean the traditional role of official development assistance (ODA) should be diminished.  Countries should fulfil and move beyond their ODA commitments.  All stakeholders must work to achieve the Istanbul action programme, which called for halving the number of least developed countries by 2020.  The Council’s high-level segment should create a global financial order that was more democratic and inclusive.  It was time to think beyond the tinder box, he concluded.

MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) said access to markets and technology for development were more important than foreign aid.  It was vital to redress unfair trade and economic rules that encroached developing countries’ limited policy space.  The strategic aim of the post-2015 agenda should be to create an international environment conducive to development, by reforming the international financial system, global governance and debt; repatriating illicit funds; and cooperating in the fields of finance and technology.  Public-private partnerships must be revitalized to advance the sustainable development agenda.  No country should be a safe haven for illicit funds, nor prevented from implementing or restructuring its debt rescheduling commitments.  He supported creation of a road map from now until the 2018 review of the Forum to ensure the body would be adequately equipped to provide leadership and guidance; follow up implementation; and strengthen the science-policy interface, among other things.  The Global Sustainable Development Report should be broad in scope, but it should not be used as a monitoring tool.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said the Forum had a unique, fundamental role in ensuring follow-up, review and effective implementation of the sustainable development goals.  It must become a reference point for strategic guidance, recommendations and political leadership to implement the new agenda and promote the exchange of best practices and lessons learned, while fostering system-wide coherence of sustainable development policies and implementation mechanisms.  To achieve that, the Forum must enable the full participation of Member States and allow for greater engagement with the heads of United Nations agencies and international organizations as well as independent experts.  A transparent, participatory approach to the Forum’s agenda was needed.  He welcomed further, more in-depth discussion on how the Forum should be strengthened in order to take on the increasingly wide range of issues for its follow up and review, as well as how to ensure a bottom-up and wholly participatory approach to implementing the sustainable development goals.

IB PETERSEN (Denmark), associating with the European Union, said the Forum should stand as an inspiring platform where leaders exchanged best practices and “helped one another to the finish line of the sustainable development goals”.  The links among national, regional and global levels would be critical to ensuring the Forum’s relevance.  The Forum should not be a place to condemn each other for lack of progress, but rather to foster inspiration to improve implementation across all levels.  The involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including the private sector and civil society, was needed.  Noting that peer reviews would promote implementation, he said the Forum should be a place where lessons learned in sustainability were exchanged, as economic, social and environmental progress were three parts of the same solution.  He encouraged cross-cutting themes — such as sustainable consumption and production — to have a place in future sessions.

RON PROSOR (Israel) said the new agenda would not succeed without full gender equality.  “It is time to put the gender divide behind us and move ahead to a world that is truly equal,” he stressed.  New tools were needed to implement the sustainable development goals and to measure, monitor and follow-up on progress.  The most efficient measurement tools were needed to recalculate the route towards full, efficient implementation of the new agenda.  Gross domestic product (GDP) alone was not fully representative of well-being.  Indicators on health, education, personal security, employment and housing must be considered to get a full picture of social progress and human capital.  Israel had developed new ways to measure well-being and sustainability, such as in land use, life expectancy, air quality, labour force participation and election turn-out.  It also had developed an ability to react quickly to emergencies, having sent search-and-rescue teams to Nepal and set up field hospitals with cutting-edge medical technology.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), endorsing the Group of 77 and China’s statement, called for well-structured global solutions to financing for development challenges.  It was vital to acknowledge the multidimensional nature of sustainable development and poverty eradication to ensure that no one was left behind.  She called for new pathways to sustainable development, including by consolidating economies and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns.  Global vulnerabilities, notably climate change, must be reduced so that people lifted out of poverty did not fall back into it.  To implement the post-2015 agenda, there must be a strong global development alliance equipped with the necessary resources, including technology transfer and know-how.  It was important to strengthen partnerships with civil society and the private sector.  With the signing of a peace agreement, the post-conflict situation in the country would improve.  State involvement in rural areas also was essential to ensure a peaceful, more just society.  The United Nations system must be transformed for effective implementation of the new agenda, and strategies must be results-based.

ISABELLE F. PICCO (Monaco) said the current session must serve to facilitate the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals, with a more inclusive framework.  The new agenda must take into account the three dimensions of sustainable development in balanced manner.  She welcomed inclusion of oceans and climate change in the new agenda; both were needed for the road map to be transformative.  Evaluation of progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals showed significant challenges ahead.  The Forum must ensure proper cooperation and coordination and effective use of resources in working to implement the new agenda in order to avoid duplication.  The Forum also must focus on science and examine the documentation available in order to better measure gaps and progress.  She welcomed the Secretary-General’s proposal to set guidelines for follow up in the Global Sustainable Development Report.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Millennium Development Goals had changed the lives of millions of people.  In her country, where more than 90 per cent of targets had been achieved, the changes were visible.  The poor had access to clean water and health services, while men and women were treated equally.  People would be at the core of the post-2015 agenda and the world would be on a path to sustainable development.  The transition to that path required localization of the sustainable development goals in each country’s development context.  Viet Nam had a sustainable development strategy covering the 17 goal areas, with indicators and a review mechanism.  Implementation would require an “all of Government” approach.  Parliamentary support and oversight would be essential, as would engagement with individuals, communities, non-governmental organizations and the business sector.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said the Forum must be a dynamic place for dialogue and political impetus for action on sustainable development.  The 2015 session would set the foundation for its functioning, so it could find its place within the United Nations system.  The Forum must be supported by existing mechanisms, forums and other bodies, as well as follow-up on all the goals, to ensure there were no “silos” in follow-up procedures.  It must orient development policies by using verified and disaggregated data.  A strategic report should be submitted to the Forum so it could adopt an action plan to either accelerate or reorient the agenda’s implementation.  In addition, the institutional link between the Forum and the Council must be reinforcing in nature.  Reform of the United Nations was essential following the adoption of the post-2015 agenda, so the Forum could establish effective links within the system.

ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI (India) said the collective project to end poverty was “half done”, as 1.3 billion people continued to live in poverty, 805 million were chronically undernourished and 1.7 billion lacked access to essential medicines.  The “staggering” inequity within the global picture of poverty was stark:  child mortality in low-income countries was 20 times higher than in high-income nations and a person born in a poor country lived 15 to 20 years less than one in a rich country.  It was also important to recognize that historical consumption patterns and reckless lifestyles must change.  If the world consumed at the same level of most advanced nations, 15 planets would be required to meet peoples’ needs.  Regarding the Forum, the goal of review was to enhance implementation and integration.  The Forum’s role must always be a facilitative one, rooted in the latest evidence but aimed at finding and spreading solutions.  The reviews should seek to enhance cooperation, with a focus on information sharing.

GONZALO KONCKE (Uruguay) said the new agenda should save the lives of the marginalized and poor.  There should be a cross-cutting system for respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, with gender equality integrated in each area.  Supporting the Forum’s mandate to promote leadership in sustainable development and review the agenda’s implementation, he said the Forum’s current session was in a transitional stage.  With the adoption of the new agenda, it would be a platform for political dialogue.  ODA was an important financing source and special attention must be given to middle-income countries in that regard.  If the goal of cooperation was to eradicate poverty, it was paradoxical to use a method that did not address the needs of 70 per cent of the poor who lived in middle-income countries.  He advocated the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

WANG MIN (China), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said developing countries’ lack of resources and technical means were unresolved issues.  The gap between the North and South was “huge”, trade protectionism was on the rise and global governance reforms had been slow.  Against the backdrop of global economic integration, countries should cultivate a sense of common destiny and revitalize international cooperation.  Eradicating poverty was at the core of the post-2015 agenda and countries should proceed from that basis, so as to promote sustainable development.  The international community should adapt to globalization trends, build open economic models and promote free trade and investment while respecting the development path chosen by countries.  He advocated respect for equality and fairness.  Efforts to finance development should be strengthened, with States working together to create a post-2015 agenda, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  The means of implementation for the agenda should be strengthened.

DANIELE D. BODINI (San Marino) said the creation of the sustainable development goals was a vital way to overcome the present unstable social environment.  It was paramount that the goals were achievable, as the credibility of national plans — and the United Nations itself — was at stake.  Governments, civil society and the business community must take ownership of national goals.  The roles of the Forum and the Council were fundamental for verifying country performance and, without finger pointing, should provide constructive suggestions.  “We have to apply one set of universal and accepted indicators,” he said, stressing that the Forum should follow up under the auspices of the General Assembly.  “What we are trying to do is of historic importance,” he said, stressing that the process must be user friendly so that countries large and small could benefit.

DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said poverty and hunger were serious impediments to economic and social progress, exacerbated by the impacts of climate change.  If least developed countries were to graduate, now was the time to address their issues.  Those that were also landlocked were the most vulnerable segment of the international community:  they had inadequate trade infrastructure and limited access to international trade.  She reaffirmed the need for cooperation to create a universal and non-discriminatory trading system that would offer robust capacity-building to remove their supply side constraints.  Investment in knowledge, technology and innovation was “a must” for overcoming the technical divide between the North and South.  She reaffirmed the right to development in that regard.  ODA also should be strengthened and allocated among sectors in a balanced manner.  Nepal had met many of the criteria to graduate from least developed country status but had been dealt a serious blow with the recent earthquake.

PETER WILSON (United Kingdom), associating with the European Union, said accountability was crucial to the success of the sustainable development goals.  The Forum offered the opportunity to share lessons when progress on the targets was off track.  Effective monitoring meant that no one must be left behind — a principle that must be “hardwired” into monitoring.  The most vulnerable must be reached and no goal should be considered met unless met by all groups. Data must be disaggregated, while data capacity and capability must be improved, as strong data would show where progress was off track.  Full participation in the process by Governments, civil society and business was needed.  Indeed, broad participation was vital in the Forum, and importantly, at the national level, where the hard work of implementation was carried out.  The agenda should be understandable to everyone.

GUILHERME DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil), associating with the Group of 77 and China, said the cross-cutting of the three dimensions of sustainable development was an unprecedented achievement.  The new agenda would promote closer coordination among stakeholders at the global, regional and national levels.  The new agenda was a call to non-governmental stakeholders to respond to the challenge of eradicating poverty.  Indeed, more civil society participation would be essential, while all countries should embrace the agenda on the basis of common but differentiated responsibilities.  Capacity-building, science, technology and innovation had been acknowledged as critical means of implementation.  At the regional level, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) would launch in 2016 the Forum of Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, whose mandate and expected outcomes would be defined after the adoption of the post-2015 agenda.

KIRSTIN DONALDSON (Australia) said the Forum should be an apex of the global review system, and a thematic approach was the best way of organizing its work.  To have impact, the Forum must also be accessible and relevant to policymakers and development partners.  In that regard, he welcomed more variety in Forum sessions, including through interactive discussion and informal exchanges.  She welcomed further discussion on how existing thematic reviews, such as those produced by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report, could inform global discussions at the Forum.  Some of the analysis in the Global Sustainable Development Report was useful toward delivering on the Rio+20 pledge to bring together dispersed information and assessments.  Recognition of regional and subregional diversity was essential, she said, noting the merits of regional mechanisms such as the Pacific Island Peer Review Process.  There should be flexibility for countries to carry out meaningful national reviews that were contextually appropriate, focused on generating information needed to improve national policymaking rather than trying to re-cast analysis into consistent formats for comparison.  Those reviews should go beyond data generation to help countries identify progress, gaps and lessons learned.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), associating with the European Union, said the international community’s achievements in recent years had been remarkable, citing the Open Working Group’s participatory manner in that context.  It was important to set in place the Forum’s functions to ensure implementation of the new agenda.  Implementation must first and foremost be focused at the national level.  The Forum would play a crucial role in tracking progress, promoting learning and serving as a platform for multi-stakeholder partnerships.  Most importantly, it could ensure political leadership for action.  It should not reinvent or “duplicate wheels that were already turning”.  Rather, it should draw on existing monitoring mechanisms and add value by aggregating their results at the global level.  By monitoring financial and non-financial means of implementation, efficiency and impact would be maximized.  In addition, the Global Sustainable Development Report must be a flagship publication, accessible to scientists and policy makers alike.

EVGENY VELIKHOV, President of the International Association of the Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions, said the world was approaching a social and economic turning point.  Many developing countries, having emerged from the 2008 financial crisis, were now moving through the difficult process of rehabilitating their economic situations.  A smooth transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals must be ensured.  Regarding stability and security, global violence had increased and there were threats to peoples’ spiritual health.  Against that backdrop, the United Nations agenda must be reviewed.  “We must be prepared for new challenges”, he said, especially amid the rapid use of information and communications technologies.  National monitoring and evaluation policies must be improved, as should civil society participation in decision-making.

Conclusion

Council Vice-President MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), co-facilitator of negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda, said the Secretary-General, the President of Rwanda and Prime Minister of Norway had recently spoken about success related to the Millennium Development Goals, outlined in the Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.  Because a good goal set had been created, millions of lives had been saved. “We should be proud,” he said, as the gains made were better than anything that had been done in the past 200 or even 500 years.

At the same time, he said, the challenges around poverty, hunger and disease were enormous and the new challenges of inequality, biodiversity loss, climate change, and threats to peace and security had become commonplace in policy discourse.  The good news was that those issues were coming on stream at a time when “we have tools to do incredible things to deal with them”.

Thanks to lessons from the Millennium Development Goals — and the outcomes from the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the Open Working Group — there was a path forward, he said.  The task was how to move ahead, which was where the Forum would come into its own.  The sustainable development goals had set a high level of ambition, bringing the world together for first time on a universal agenda.  Because States were agreeing the means of implementation, an impressive outcome could be reached that signalled a seriousness to tackle the challenges ahead.

The questions revolved around whether the Forum would be able to carry out its core responsibilities in a manner consistent with expectations, he said.  For the Council, the question was whether it could adjust to the new demands that came with the post-2015 agenda, including engagement with civil society, business, subregional entities, cities and parliaments.  “You simply have to address this,” he said.

Outlining five developments that must transpire in the next year to ensure the Forum’s success, he said the national, regional and global dimensions of monitoring, data collection and collation, and trends assessment would have to converge better than in the past.  The same was true for support from international organizations, as “siloed” reports would be insufficient for helping the Forum grasp the challenge of sustainable development.  How the world’s leadership engaged would need to refocus on how to provide the political impetus for advancement.  The science-policy interface, and cooperation with the “gate keepers” of information and statistics, would have to work seamlessly, as the system could no longer have science being isolated and statistics not driving decisions.  As for funding, it must ensure that global action in individual countries actually happened; that was where parliaments and businesses entered the equation.

Following those remarks, Turkey’s representative said comments by her Armenian counterpart on a so-called blockade were baseless.  The gates between the then Soviet Union had been converted to a border, and the rail linking Armenia and Turkey had been operational at the time.  Land border gates were closed in 1993.  The current state of border gates did not constitute an embargo or blockade against Armenia.  Transit between Armenia and third countries was carried out through Turkey.  Though there was no bilateral trade, Turkey was among Armenia’s biggest trading partners, with around $200 million-worth of volume in trade.  Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue would pave way for full normalization in the region, where Armenia could be part of existing cooperation schemes.

The Forum then adopted the draft ministerial declaration entitled, “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals: what it will take” (document E/2015/L.19-E/HLPF/2015/L.2) by consensus.

It also adopted its 2015 report (document E/HLPF/2015/L.1), which contained information on the organizational aspects of the 2015 meeting.  It would be updated by the Secretariat and issued as a full report of the Forum’s proceedings for consideration by the Council.

Panel I

This morning, the High-level Political Forum held a panel discussion entitled, “Reviewing and monitoring progress: What have we learned and how can it advance implementation?”

Moderated by Nikhil Seth, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), it featured keynote speaker Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and Chair, Global Partnership for Education.  The panellists were: Faeqa Bent Saeed Essaleh, Minister for Social Affairs of Bahrain; Mario Néstor Oporto, former Minister for Education and Chair, Communications and Information Technology, of the Congress of Argentina; and Josef Moser, Secretary-General, International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions.

The panel also featured two lead discussants, Kodjo Menan, Permanent Representative of Togo to the United Nations, and John Romano, TAP Network, United States.

Delivering her keynote address, Ms. GILLARD said it was a historic movement for sustainable development.  The United Nations had begun to lead an effort towards a more equitable and inclusive world.  “A new era beckons us,” she said, one which could only be reached by working together.  But that could not be achieved without universal access to education.  Business as usual was not an option, she said, adding that a business-as-usual scenario would mean that the world would not see the first universal cohort of African girls finish primary education until 2111.

“Our aim has always been to unlock the power of a genuine partnership,” she said, stressing the need to involve civil society in the developing world and to hold all actors accountable for results.  The Global Partnership for Education was working on a new strategic plan and aimed for a clear results framework for equity-related outcomes.  The Partnership had provided $4.3 billion to developing countries in recent years; however, education remained vastly underfunded.  The external gap in financing for education was an estimated $39 billion per year.

There were promising signs, including the recent creation of a financing commission in Oslo to guide and inform the global debate and plans to scale up education funding at the Addis Ababa conference next week, among others, she said.  She called for the kind of “step-change” that had been seen in health during the Millennium Development Goal era.  She made a number of recommendations, including immediate advocacy efforts to boost the Global Partnership for Education model; bringing together new engagement from the private sector and philanthropists; joining together efforts within developing countries to mobilize domestic resources, including taxation; addressing the needs of children in conflict; and ensuring the ability to scale up financing, bringing the efficiencies that come with scale to country-led implementation.

Council Vice-President VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) then took the floor to open the discussion.  He said that starting in 2016 national reviews would replace the national voluntary presentations of the Council’s Annual Ministerial Reviews.  The national reviews would be State-led, voluntary and include developed and developing countries.  It was important that those national reviews advance the sustainable development goals and were useful nationally, regionally and globally.  It would also be important for the review process to ensure coherence and interlinkages with existing thematic platforms and to see how those platforms could effectively follow-up and review the implementation of the sustainable development goals and their targets.  Panellists this morning would share ideas on how reviewing and monitoring progress could support implementation and mobilize means of implementation; how countries could best prepare for the process of doing national reviews; what the role of the United Nations system and development partners in the monitoring and reviewing process would be; and how the reviews could be organized so that they were transparent and inclusive.

Mr. SETH said that the Forum was the “crown jewel” of the institutional framework for sustainable development.  Never before had there been an agenda as detailed and comprehensive mandated by the General Assembly.  Discussions on the monitoring and review of the agenda had been central to the agenda itself; the issue had already been under discussion for several years.  “We only treasure what we measure,” he said, asking the panellists how they saw the future of the monitoring and review process.

Ms. ESSALEH said the year 2015 marked the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals, and would require a review of important progress made over the last 15 years.  In Bahrain, considerable progress had been made towards achieving the Millennium targets.  The country was now focusing on review mechanisms and looking forward to the sustainable development goals.  Reviews could help the country to take tangible action and identify what was lacking.

In the post-2015 era, an institutional framework was needed to help States transition from sectoral planning to the adoption of an overall implementation programme, she said.  A review and follow-up mechanism was needed to help countries assess progress at the national level.  Implementation mechanisms would require capacity in the areas such as data and statistics; therefore, capacity-building was crucial.  She called for the establishment of indicators for all Arab countries depending on their capacity; the adaptation of national goals to global goals; sustainable development reports issued in a regular fashion; a participatory approach; and international support in financing, technology transfer and capacity-building.  Follow-up monitoring reports needed to be as specific as possible and should be complemented by guidance and proposals that would help support the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

Mr. OPORTO said a country’s population must be the target of sustainable development; the population must be involved and must enjoy the fruits of justice.  “We can’t design development targets if our population is not prepared to be actively involved,” he said, calling for education in that respect.  Growth at the expense of natural resources or the rights of workers was not a sustainable model.  In the case of education, Argentina had adopted a law to ensure universal education for children at the primary level; as a result, universal primary education had been achieved and teacher training was being strengthened.  A challenge was how to transition from a mode of education that rewarded excellence and expelled those who did not excel to a more inclusive model.  While there had been successes in Argentina’s enrolment numbers, regional and national assessments revealed a certain drop in educational outcomes, including a growing number of dropouts.  “We should be measuring not only enrolment figures but graduation figures,” he said in that respect.

Two major future challenges were to resolve school enrolment and graduation issues, as well as to maintain constant training to improve teachers’ work, he said.  Argentina also needed to shift the access of its education as a complementary activity in social programmes and link it to egalitarian social models.  “Education is political and a condition for social equity,” he said in that connection.  A true information and communications technology revolution was also needed.

Mr. MOSER said the Millennium Development Goals had demonstrated that such goals could only be achieved if proper accountability tools were in place.  Drawbacks of those goals had been shortcomings in governance; a lack of transparency and accountability; and a lack of ownership.  There was also a lack of legal, financial and institutional independence and a lack of audit capability.  National oversight institutions had a crucial role to play, he said, encouraging all countries to modernize accounting standards.  An independent and comprehensive audit mandate could help to ensure the implementation of the sustainable development goals.  A public accounting system that provided a strong review of public finances was necessary.  A “true and fair view” was necessary to foster the accountability of decision-makers.

Indeed, only Supreme Audit Institutions could provide reliable, objective and unbiased information related to an effective review and monitoring mechanism, he said.  A measurable, true and fair view of the State budget would enable the budget authority to take fact-based decisions.  He urged all States to support the role of such institutions by including a clear commitment to strengthening them and by increasing transparency.

Mr. MENAN said Togo had achieved results in the areas of food security, combating HIV/AIDS and other Millennium targets.  Going forward, it was working to create conditions conducive to capacity-building, improving the ability of institutions to implement the sustainable development goals, improving the capacity of a productive private sector, enhancing national reconciliation and peace processes and democracy, and increasing opportunity in sustainable development by harnessing the energy of young people.  The country’s national programme also sought to promote peace, security and justice at all levels.  It sought to promote inclusive governance and development to meet all people’s needs.  The national programme sought to strengthen the synergy of different sectors with a view towards creating wealth; the plan was a strategic one that sought to create optimal conditions for the involvement of different stakeholders.

Mr. ROMANO said the Millennium Development Goals’ lack of a robust accountability and review framework was something the international community could learn from.  Reviews must be State-led but people-driven — not just inclusive, but participatory as well.  A lesson that could be learned from the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review was that “it wasn’t as successful as it could have been”.  That review had not ambitiously included the participation of all stakeholders.

With regard to the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council, he said that the very active role of civil society could be replicated in the follow-up and review mechanism for the sustainable development goals.  The Open Working Group process had been equally engaged with civil society.  If citizen participation was not rooted in the follow-up and review process, the sustainable development goals ran the risk of lacking accountability and transparency.  He asked the panellists a number of questions, including how countries could be incentivized to engage civil society in their review processes.

As the floor was opened for questions and comments, a number of speakers stressed that all States should report to the Forum on the implementation of the sustainable development goals as their capacity permitted.  Many emphasized the importance of including civil society voices in those reports, noting that such inclusiveness would help to ensure that reviews were conducted in a transparent way.

In that connection, the delegate of the European Union said the world had learned from the Millennium Development Goals that countries that had made open and transparent commitments had been successful in delivering on those targets.  Reviews on the implementation of the sustainable development goals should be made publicly available, he said, adding that the appropriate selection of indicators, as well as the availability of high quality, disaggregated data would be essential to ensure that targets were met by all and that no one was left behind.

A number of speakers stressed that accountability went much further than simply reporting.  In that regard,Canada’s delegate emphasized the need to strive for a Forum that was a platform for real dialogue and was action-oriented.  “Follow-up and review cannot be a static exercise,” she said, stressing the need for dynamic processes that encouraged the sharing of experiences between all actors.  In addition, the Forum should provide support where necessary.

Several delegates raised questions for the panellists.  The representative of Palau asked Ms. Gillard what she felt was the most effective way to put in place good governance and to avoid corruption.  He also asked Mr. Moser and Mr. Romano how to ensure the participation of marginalized groups, particularly the poor.

Ms. GILLARD responded that transparency was the enemy of corruption and other challenges to good governance.  She also stressed the need for an emphasis on early childhood education and warned that adding a pre-primary year of education was not possible within existing global resources.  It was crucial that civil society was “at the table” in planning education strategies.

Ms. ESSALEH said that Bahrain had integrated sustainable development into its social and economic planning.  Each Government ministry had been charged with implementing the sustainable development goals.  The key consideration was political will, which existed in Bahrain.  At the regional level, there were a number of related instruments adopted under the Arab League, she added.

Mr. OPORTO said the sustainable development goals were ambitious, and that, on education, they focused not just on primary education but on middle and secondary schooling as well.  Early education and literacy was a foundation for equity.  For more children and teenagers to study for more hours over more years, “we have to find a way to increase our means,” he said.

Mr. MOSER said many countries could not account for their national budgets, and that the main causes of the problem were a lack of accountability, a lack of transparency and a lack of ownership.  “We need a true and fair view,” he stressed, adding that the international community must be able to react to mistakes made in the past.  Responding to the representative of Palau, he said that audit opinions needed to be based on fact in order to make improvements in the health care sector, the education sector and other areas that affected the poor.

Mr. MENAN said Togo would ensure that education had an essential place in its national policy.

Mr. ROMANO reiterated that the review of the sustainable development goals should be participatory, and should include major groups and other stakeholders.  A peer review process would be helpful and in-person and remote participation were both needed.  The Forum could gain much from including the poor, he said, noting that a voluntary trust fund existed to bring stakeholders from the South to the global discussions at the Forum.

Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of Azerbaijan, Italy, South Africa, Switzerland, Burkina Faso, the major group for women and the major group for children and youth.

Panel II

The afternoon’s panel discussion on “Realizing the sustainable development goals:  Matching ambitions with commensurate means of implementation — resources, technology and capacities” was chaired by María Emma Mejía Vélez (Colombia), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, and moderated by Jos Verbeek, Adviser at the Office of the World Bank Group President’s Special Envoy on Post-2015 Development Issues.

The panel featured:  Endah Murniningtyas, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment at the Ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia; Shin Dong-ik, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea; Evgeny P. Velikhov, Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, President of the Russian Association for Sciences Support and Honourable Secretary of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation; and Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Lead discussants were Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Megan Arrowsmith Haddock, International Research Projects Manager at the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Opening the panel, Ms. MEJÍA VÉLEZ underlined the importance of including all relevant actors in discussions in rising to the challenge of mobilizing financing, knowledge and needs required in the new development agenda.

Mr. VERBEEK said the World Bank shared the vision of ending poverty and making sure no one was left behind.  The Bank was also working with partners on data collection.  Questions on moving efforts from the Millennium Development Goals to the poast-2015 agenda had raised issues such as how to ensure no one was left behind and how to best serve the needs of the poor.

From a Member State perspective, Ms. MURNININGTYAS said the new goals were ambitious and all efforts were needed to implement them effectively and efficiently.  The Forum, as such, should play a strong role in that regard.  It should, among other things, provide political leadership at the highest level.  Based on Indonesia’s experience, she proposed that the Forum should form a global framework that would bring the goals into action.  Stocktaking was also needed of States’ technology capabilities with a view to help them use those and other sustainable methods.

Mr. SHIN said the new ambitions envisioned inclusive and transformative goals.  On resources, the evolving landscape of development assistance must be recognized and addressed accordingly to build a new framework for financing.  After the Korean War, the Government of the Republic of Korea had mobilized a five-year domestic economic development plan to reduce aid dependency.  Since then, economic growth had flourished.  The private sector’s role in financing and innovation called for incentivizing companies.  In that vein, it was also essential to compose public-private partnerships to build capacities, including in technology transfers, and to create synergies themselves.

Mr. HEUER said the new goals were needed.  They were, however, useless unless placed on a base of science, education and capacity-building.  Research and development depended on science, which was the foundation for innovation.  Education ensured the key to sustainable development progress and knowledge transfer, which closed the gap between the developing and developed countries.  To be successful, global strategies were also needed.  Free knowledge transfer was crucial, he said, noting that European Organization for Nuclear Research was available to share its experience with the Forum during the implementation phase of the new goals.  With that in mind, he said the new agenda must include science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

Mr. VELIKHOV described an ongoing partnership to create the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a major project that aimed at harnessing the sun’s energy.  In 1985, the Russian Federation had partnered with, among others, the European Union, China, India and Republic of Korea, with a view to building the reactor.  Materials to build the reactor were needed.  In 2006, participants had agreed to jointly equip it.  All parties had equal rights to and interest in the project.  Such a venture was not easy, he said, but the reactor would be built and would benefit partners and the world.

Mr. LALE-DEMOZ said the proposed goals had been elaborated to address risk, universality and coherence.  Weak rule of law, crime, corruption and illicit financial flows were barriers.  Combating illicit financial flows would contribute to the environment needed to foster development.  Vigorous actions were needed to tackle that issue along with transnational organized crime.  The greatest challenge was to include all stakeholders, including the private sector, to build capacity for all levels of government and to build productive societies free of terror and full of opportunity.

Ms. ARROWSMITH HADDOCK highlighted the importance of partnerships.  The Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies had issued guidelines on the scope of civil involvement worldwide.  Civil society and volunteer groups must be involved in the planning and implementation to ensure that the goals would be achieved.  To do so, she suggested knowledge of civil society groups should be enhanced.  None of the goals would be achieved without partnering with civil society and volunteers, she concluded.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers described their own strategies and shared lessons learned and raised issues of concern.

Armenia’s representative said mobilization of resources was critical to delivering a transformative agenda.  As a landlocked country, Armenia was prioritizing the role of transportation in attaining the new goals.  Enhancing infrastructure was essential to broadening trade.  He expressed disappointment that a railway between Armenia and Turkey had been blocked.  Turning to other transport corridors, he said a new railway would play a pivotal role in promoting regional connectivity.

A representative of the major group on children and youth said enhancing a universal education for all would turn youth into a means of implementation themselves.  Among concerns, he said partnerships must include all stakeholders and initiatives should be examined to determine their environmental side-effects.  It was clear, however, that youth was seen as a catalyser for development.  However, young people’s potential had yet to be unlocked.

Azerbaijan’s delegate asked the representative of the Russian Federation how science, technology and education could be used to help achieve the new goals.  He then said the Armenian delegate’s comment on the blockade was not accurate.  He called on Armenia to implement the four Security Council resolutions on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A representative of the ITU said the power of information and communications technology (ICT) must be recognized as a tool for development.  Successful implementation of the agenda could not happen without the smart use of ICTs.  She asked how technology could be better used and how to garner interest among youth in taking up science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Panellists underlined the importance of technology, with Ms. MURNININGTYAS saying the issue was highlighted in capacity-building efforts in their respective countries.  Mr. SHIN agreed, adding that green growth strategies were aiming at developing new partnerships.

Mr. VELIKHOV said the work on the reactor was international in nature.  Through such institutions, cooperation was essential.

Mr. HEUER said many institutions were needed to make efforts to reach youngsters as young as age six and to keep them interested.  Youth must be involved in the implementation of the new goals.  “Without young people, we cannot do it,” he said.

Annual Ministerial Review

Opening the Economic and Social Council high-level segment’s Annual Ministerial Review, Mohamed Khaled Khiari (Tunisia), Vice-President of the Council, delivered opening remarks on behalf of Council President Martin Sajdik (Austria).  Pointing to the example of Kuril, a shantytown in Bangladesh, he said the Millennium Development Goals had empowered the local community.  They had also helped to build sanitary facilities and provide loans to entrepreneurs.  Like the Millennium Development Goals, the sustainable development goals meant change — tangible change that must improve people’s well-being and that of the planet.  Poverty continued to be all too real in too many places across the world.

Sound policies, strong institutions and a respect for the rule of law were the building blocks for an enabling environment for people to thrive.  “Good leadership and resilient populations create conditions that enable change, transforming lives of individuals and communities across the globe,” he said.  It would also require more investment, moving from billions to trillions.

The high-level segment of the Council was a key venue for the global dialogue on sustainable development, he said.  It would provide substantive guidance through its annual theme, focusing on areas that required highlighted attention.  In addition, the experience and lessons learned through the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review and its National Voluntary Presentations would form a solid and invaluable foundation on which to construct the follow-up and review of implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.  This year’s would include four National Voluntary Presentations from Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, the Philippines and Zambia.

The session would also feature a mandated review of implementation of the Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.  “Let us identify the most innovative paths forward for managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the post-2015 development agenda,” he said, keeping in mind both the people and the planet itself.

Several speakers then delivered keynote addresses.  Speaking first was Sonja Steßl, State Secretary for Administration and Public Service in the Federal Chancellery of Austria, who spoke on behalf of Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.  She said that, while the Millennium Development Goals had made significant strides, shortfalls remained, for instance, in achieving the targets regarding gender equality and the reduction of hunger, child and maternal mortality.  Going forward, sustainability in its social, economic and environmental dimensions needed to guide the actions of the international community and become the cornerstone of global politics.

Addressing the issue of inequality would be of crucial importance, she said.  Enforcing labour rights, achieving gender equality and fair trade could create a base for sustainable development of societies.  Apart from their broad nature, the sustainable development goals would be universally applicable, global in nature, action-oriented, concise and, ideally, easy to communicate.  The success of the new agenda depended upon the availability of the necessary means for its implementation, she said, adding that significant financial resources, both public and private, and capacity-building, private sector involvement and a wide range of other supportive policies and measures would be required.  In addition, effective and transparent follow-up and review, operating at the national, regional and global levels, would be necessary, with an effective accountability framework established.

Roza Otunbayeva, Founder of the Roza Otunbayeva Initiative, former President of Kyrgyzstan and member of Club de Madrid, said Central Asian countries had demonstrated that education was the single most important factor to unlock development gains.  Her country had graduated from socialism with almost 100 per cent literacy, she added, stressing the need to build on such accomplishments.  “Education is the bridge between poverty and prosperity”, she said.  Sustainable development goal 4 called for 12 years of publicly-funded education and required the teaching of critical thinking skills to avoid deep fractures within and between societies.  The Millennium Development Goals on education had unleashed unprecedented progress, but they had not focused on inclusiveness.  A new focus on early education gave all children strong foundations from the start.  School meals, for example, could help to achieve the first five sustainable development goals on hunger, health and other areas.  Kyrgyzstan was working with the World Food Programme (WFP) to bolster its school nutrition programme, she said in that regard.

The declining trend in aid for education must be reversed and new sources of financing identified, she said.  Her country was spending nearly $100 million on new schools and other educational expenses.  North-South and South-South educational exchanges should be expanded.  It was critical to tap the youth dividend by putting education first.  Gender equality and women’s empowerment was also critical, as her part of the world struggled with patriarchy and religious strife.  During the last 15 years, the world had learned to work in an orchestrated way; the successes made brought satisfaction.  Nevertheless, the new Sustainable Development Goals included new areas, such as the fight against corruption.  The World Bank should aid the establishment of a modern legal framework that would help developing countries have a fair deal with investors.

Turning to the issue of migration, she said that migrant workers’ remittances were the second largest source of development financing.  Hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz citizens went abroad to work for meagre wages and faced unsafe or unfair working conditions.  Target 8.8 of the sustainable development goals promoted safe working conditions for migrant workers and those in precarious employment.  She urged all Member States to pay particular importance to that target.

Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals and Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York, said the world had now become an integrated market system.  It worked well in certain ways, with trillions of dollars of output each year.  However, the quality of that growth — what it meant for the future we want — was not there.  The Millennium Development Goals were adopted because, despite all that growth, more than a billion people were trapped in absolute poverty, and an AIDS epidemic was sweeping the planet.

“The market system does not care about people in extreme poverty — it’s not designed to,” he said.  It did not solve problems of fairness and equality, and exploitation was built into it.  In addition, the market system did not care about nature.  The business-as-usual approach would not produce the future we want.  Targets such as the Millennium Development Goals and the new sustainable development goals were like a “New Year’s resolution” to remind humanity about what was important.  The lesson of the Millennium Development Goals was that some headway was made to focus attention on the most vulnerable, and certain goals were pursued.  “It’s a matter of focus and resources,” he said in that regard.

The sustainable development goals were good goals, he said.  On achieving universal secondary education, he urged countries to make a plan regarding the teachers that were needed and the resources that were required to achieve the target.  The agenda was harder than anything any Government had done before, because it required economic development that was socially and environmentally sound.  He proposed that countries create sustainable development ministries, adding that the achievement of the targets had to be a multi-stakeholder endeavour.  Meeting them would also require financial investment — which no one wanted to talk about — as well as data.  Finally, he urged States to get their universities to apply to the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and to use the Network to brainstorm national solutions.

Nanxi Liu, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Enplug, Inc. and Co-Founder and Board Member of Nanoly Bioscience, United States, provided the perspective of a young entrepreneur in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and the new sustainable development goals. Inspired by Millennium Development Goal number 4 on reducing child mortality, her company had invested in a system that enabled vaccines to survive without refrigeration.  Describing her personal background as a Chinese immigrant in the United States, she said that she made the most of the opportunities she had, including working with the Colorado state legislature and getting a scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley.  After developing a number of innovative scientific products, she finally worked with a polymer that acted as a vaccine stabilizer.

The young people she worked with recognized the value of taking risks and thinking big, she said.  She stressed the need to leverage the talent and innovation of young people across the world, and to provide them with the confidence and funds necessary to succeed.

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