Voices around the world are demanding leadership and action in 2015 on poverty, inequality and climate change. These universal challenges demand global action, and this year presents unprecedented opportunities for achieving the future we want. This is the year that world leaders gather at the United Nations in New York to adopt a new agenda for sustainable development. The new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will guide policy and funding for the next 15 years, beginning with a historic pledge to end poverty. Everywhere. Permanently.
Sustainable development and climate change are two sides of the same coin. Impacts of climate change threaten to undermine decades of development gains and risk future development paths. Many of the main drivers of poverty in developing countries are intertwined with climate change, such as increased droughts or more erratic storms. Member States have a key opportunity to act on slowing the destructive pace of climate change this year with the potential for a new, meaningful and universal agreement to reduce carbon emissions and adapt: this would be major step toward helping build climate-resilient communities and a sustainable future.
The SDGs must finish the job that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) started, and leave no one behind. This is the deadline year for the MDGs, which rallied the world around a common agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty. The MDGs established measurable, universally agreed objectives for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, preventing deadly but treatable disease, and expanding educational opportunities to all children, among other development imperatives.
The MDGs drove progress in many important areas: on income poverty, access to improved sources of water, primary school enrolment and child mortality. Yet the job is unfinished for millions of people – we need to go the last mile on ending hunger, achieving full gender equality, improving health services and getting every child into school. Now we must shift the world onto a sustainable path. The new development agenda should apply to all countries, promote peaceful and inclusive societies, create better jobs and tackle the environmental challenges of our time – particularly climate change.
In preparation for this new development agenda, UNDP helped facilitate the largest global conversation that has ever taken place on long-term development issues and priorities.
UNDP designed a consultation process that was taken forward by scores of UN country teams and the entire United Nations Development Group (UNDG). UNDP was also a founding partner of the UN’s unprecedented MY World survey, which has drawn responses from 7 million people in every region of the world. Together with hundreds of face to face meetings with people living in poverty and marginalized groups, MY World has allowed people everywhere to provide direct input into the design of the new agenda.
UNDP led the preparation of a detailed report on these global consultations. A Million Voices: The World We Want, A Sustainable Future with Dignity for All was a key point of reference for the Secretary General’s December 2014 synthesis report to the General Assembly on the post-2015 agenda. In collaboration with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the rest of the UN system, UNDP has also worked to support the UN Statistics Commission in identifying measurable indicators of progress for the new goals and their targets.
Looking forward to 2016 and beyond, UNDP and the entire UNDG team are preparing to work with national governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners to see how the new SDGs can be most effectively integrated into existing national development strategies. UN country teams and national governments will collaborate on efforts to strengthen partnerships, accountability mechanisms and timely data monitoring, with UNDP poised to play a central role, drawing on our long-established local relationships and intergovernmental convening ability.
In most developing countries, the UNDP Resident Representative serves as the UN system’s Resident Coordinator, working with all UN agencies, funds, and programmes in a Delivering as One UN country team. This requires forging close collaboration with governments, development partners and UN country teams on policy advocacy, while supporting national development priorities through United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs).
To carry out these UN leadership responsibilities, UNDP relies on the proven development expertise of a deeply committed international staff, and provides institutional encouragement for innovation. Our reputation for thought leadership is ultimately what gives UNDP our greatest added value as a development partner.
That reputation isn’t new – it’s part of UNDP’s institutional DNA. And it is a continuing tradition.
For the past 25 years, UNDP’s Human Development Report has brought innovative and influential new thinking to many major development issues. Our Human Development Index (HDI) has become the most widely accepted alternative to narrow macroeconomic measures of national progress, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The official incorporation of HDI data and analysis in policy planning in dozens of developing countries—with support from UNDP—has helped raise health and education standards for millions of people worldwide.
Groundbreaking regional Human Development Reports continue to prompt important policy dialogues and reforms in Africa, Asia, the Arab States, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean, on issues ranging from civic engagement and climate change to food security and criminal justice reform. The 2014 global Human Development Report—“Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience”—shed important light on challenges facing all of us as we prepare for the new post-2015 development agenda and our promise to leave nobody behind. The Report showed that while overall human development trends are positive, people in all countries remain vulnerable to a variety of risks and that some still suffer much more than others when adversity strikes, and recover far more slowly.
In recent years, UNDP has also been at the forefront of efforts to introduce greater accountability and transparency in the use of public resources, beginning with our own projects and programmes. One of the hallmark innovations in this area is the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which has supported more than 300 multilateral, bilateral and private philanthropic aid donors in publishing regular online reports about their projects, financial contributions and related information of public interest.
Transparency is core to UNDP’s mission, and UNDP is committed to working in the open to accelerate the development of a sustainable future for all. In 2014, UNDP was ranked the top performer in the Aid Transparency Index, in an evaluation of 68 agencies worldwide. Information and data about UNDP’s activities, funding, results and stories are now more open and more accessible than ever.
Strong leadership and global action are required to deliver an agenda that reflects the hopes and aspirations of the world’s peoples. UNDP will continue to unite nations and communities for the benefit of the most vulnerable and excluded, and work to transform human development in the years to come.