Speech by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina Mohammed

Keynote speech at the 19th General Assembly of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Ms Amina J. Mohammed,  in Sydney on the 14th of November.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here today and glad to have the opportunity to discuss the post-2015 Development Agenda and how the IFRC can collaborate on this matter.

We are all aware of the importance and magnitude of the task of defining a new development agenda. This is both a great opportunity and a huge responsibility for the United Nations and the rest of the international community.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. The MDGs have contributed to achieve significant and substantial progress.

However, we are now less than 800 days to the 2015 target date and immense challenges remain. Indeed, more than 1 billion people still live in extreme poverty and prospects for achieving all the MDGs differ sharply across and within countries including those that are most vulnerable to shocks and disasters.

This situation can partly be explained by the fact that new challenges have emerged while some old ones have intensified. The secritical issues include: conflicts and fragility, humanitarian disasters, employment (especially for the youth), inequality, demographic dynamics, knowledge gaps, environmental challenges and climate change.

Notwithstanding, in more than a decade of experience, we have learned that focused global development efforts and humanitarian interventions can make a difference. Through accelerated action and unrelenting efforts, the world can achieve the MDGs, protect the most vulnerable and generate momentum for an ambitious and inspiring post-2015 development framework. Now is the time to step up our efforts to build a more secure, just, dignified and sustainable future for all.

Voices at all level have made clear that business as usual will not acceptable. The post-2015 development framework will need to build on the progress achieved through the MDGs while confronting persistent inequalities and new challenges facing people and the planet.

The post-2015 agenda provides the opportunity for a paradigm shift in international development to build on the MDGs and address the eradication of poverty within the context of sustainable development in its three core dimensions, i.e. economic, social and environmental, as identified at the Rio+20 conference.

Emerging consensus highlights the need to promote a universal, single and coherent post-2015 global development agenda.

Based on several inputs, the Secretary-General submitted to the 68th General

Assembly last month, his report entitled “A Life of Dignity for All” summarizing his vision for bold action to achieve the MDGs and providing recommendations for post-2015.

The SG underlines on his Report some key elements of the emerging vision for the post-2015 development agenda. He underlines the following ones:

i) Universality, to mobilize all developed and developing countries and leave no one behind;

ii) sustainable development, to tackle the interlinked challenges facing the world, including a clear focus on ending extreme poverty in all its forms;

iii) inclusive economic transformations ensuring decent jobs, backed by sustainable technologies, and to shift to sustainable patterns of consumption and production;

iv) peace and governance, based on the rule of law and sound institutions, as key outcomes and enablers of development;

v) a new global partnership, recognizing shared interests, different needs and mutual responsibilities, to ensure commitment to and means of implementing this new vision; and

vi) being “fit for purpose”, to ensure the international community is equipped with the right institutions and tools to address the challenges of implementing the sustainable development agenda at the national level.

For this ambitious development framework to take shape and unfold there is general agreement among the international community that a business-as-usual approach is neither desirable nor feasible. A paradigm shift must take place to bring about a radical change of course and action.

Building resilient and sustainable societies and ecosystems means addressing both climate and disaster risks, and integrating these risks, as well as potential opportunities, into development planning.

I welcome the proactive role that the IFRC has played in the design of the post-2015 agenda including through your recent position paper which calls for the agenda to take into account the needs and rights of the most vulnerable people in setting targets and indicators for development.

As an Observer to the United Nations General Assembly, the IFRC is an important player on the design of the UN Post-2015 development agenda as well as ongoing consultations for a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (that is, the Hyogo Framework for Action II).

Your reactions to the report of the High Level Panel were well received and have helped in shaping the report of the Secretary-General, A life of Dignity For All.

I wish to particularly commend you for initiating the Red Cross Your Voice platform which is further amplifying external voices into the design of the Post-2015 development agenda. It is important that this be streamlined with ongoing processes including the UN’s My World platform to ensure coherence and maximum impact.

The practical experience the IFRC has gained through responding to natural and man-made disasters in non-conflict situations is extremely valuable in the post-2015 development planning process.

As you are aware, half of the world’s extreme poor live in conflict-affected countries, while many others are suffering from the effects of natural disasters that have cost $2.5 trillion so far this century. In addition, exposure to disaster and natural hazards is also expected to increase in light of urbanization, climate change, ecosystem degradation, migration, food insecurity, conflict and fragility, and other unexpected shocks. Climate change and disaster risk are fundamental threats to sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.

As policymakers face unique challenges in translating these complex, global, interrelated issues into specific policies and development interventions, dialogues and exchanges of views are crucial to inform positions on how to formulate a post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

During Special Event towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2013, countries lauded the remarkable progress made so far towards achieving the eight Goals, but also expressed concern at the unevenness and gaps in MDG achievement and agreed to take the purposeful and coordinated action required to accelerate progress.

In the Outcome document of this Special Event, countries agreed:

  • to hold a high-level Summit in September 2015 to launch an ambitious and transformative development agenda that will balance the three elements of sustainable development (providing economic transformation and opportunity to lift people out of poverty, advancing social justice and protecting the environment).
  • to give a mandate to the Secretary General to synthesize the full range of inputs available from the ongoing processes in the GA and report back before the end of 2014.
  • o  to initiate an inclusive intergovernmental consultations at the beginning of the 69th session of the GA.

During the next 12 months, the work of the Member States Open Working Group on SDGs, the High Level Political Forum, and the Experts Committee on Sustainable Development Financing will be intense. In September 2014 we hope to have ready all the inputs needed for the formal launch by the General Assembly of the final phase of the intergovernmental negotiations leading, eventually, to a Summit in 2015.

While the SDG and other post-2015 related processes are both ongoing, the international community will ultimately need to arrive at one single and cohesive development agenda for post-2015, with sustainable development at its core, and imbued in the key principles of human rights, equality and sustainability.

Over the next two years, Member States will be discussing and unpacking a number of critical issues including the concept of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and means of implementation including the role of trade and ODA. These discussions will be happening in parallel with the negotiations on Climate Change and it will be important to acknowledge how the Post-2015 agenda and the UNFCCC negotiations reinforce each other within the context of a sustainable development agenda that puts poverty at the center.

The voice of the IFRC will need to be heard in this process. The organization is playing a key role so far including through the Voices campaign.

Going forward to the intergovernmental negotiations, the voice from the capitals need to be heard clearly to enhance ownership and ensure member governments are fit for purpose to implement this integrated agenda when agreed.

The United Nations System will continue to support the Member States as they deliberate and negotiate and will also ensure that the voices of the people will be lifted up and brought to the attention of Member States.

Colleagues; ours is the first generation with the resources and know-how to end extreme poverty and put our planet on a sustainable development course before it is too late.

We must aspire to eradicate poverty, protect the environment and promote economic opportunity for all. Failure is not an option – we must work together to create a world where all people live with dignity and fulfill their potential.

A unique opportunity exists in 2015. Specific attention to climate change and disasters in sustainable development goals will ensure the required coherence between climate negotiations and a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action. This will enable the international community to commit to an inclusive, equitable, risk aware and comprehensive approach to sustainable development for generations to come.

I thank you for your attention and call for all of you to engage with this process, to make your voices heard, including through the IFRC. There is a need for wider consultations with stakeholders at the local, national, sub-regional and continental levels to ensure our global ownership and accountability.

I wish you all a very constructive General Assembly and I look forward to hearing the outcomes. Thank you.