The Deputy Secretary-General's Remarks to International Conference on Sustainable Development “Breaking Down Silos: Fostering Collaborative Action on the SDGs”

The Deputy Secretary-General's Remarks to International Conference on Sustainable Development “Breaking Down Silos: Fostering Collaborative Action on the SDGs”

Friday, September 28, 2018

UN Headquarters (via VTC.), New York, 27 September 2018

As prepared for delivery

I wish I could have been with you today but I am happy to be able to join you via VTC at the sixth International Conference on Sustainable Development. 

I congratulate the Earth Institute and the Center for Sustainable Development of Columbia University, the Global Masters in Development Practice and the Sustainable Development Solutions Networks for creating this innovative and dynamic global event.

It’s inspiring to see this meeting bringing together global leaders, scientists, private sector, activists and students from all over the world to find common ground to collaborate on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

At its core, the 2030 Agenda is a ground-breaking and inclusive global promise to eradicate poverty and achieve a better future for all on a healthy planet. 

It is an ambitious agenda: creating an inclusive, resilient, secure and sustainable future for everyone, everywhere. And achieving it will clearly be a complex undertaking that requires a transformative shift in our development approaches. 

Large numbers of people are on the move. Millions are undernourished, mainly due to conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change. We face the new threat of global terrorism. And there are loud demands from many quarters for fair globalization.

The solutions cannot be confined by borders, either physical or metaphorical. They must be regional and global, and they must cross traditional sectors.  

Inequalities of outcomes and opportunities can only be resolved by addressing root causes. That is the only way to remove impediments to the full realization of people’s aspirations for better lives and a better world.

The interconnected and integrated nature of the SDGs demands much greater policy synergy and coherence across the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, environment and social. 

The Millennium Development Goals were often pursued in silos, because the links and trade-offs across the goals were not clearly recognized. The 2030 Agenda moves beyond this approach and cuts across interlinked global challenges. 

Tackling climate change and achieving sustainable production and consumption patterns, for example, are central to achieving the SDGs. These measures have the potential to unlock vast economic growth in all regions and for all people. 

Peace and security are cornerstones of the 2030 Agenda. It is based firmly on the relationship between security, humanitarian action and sustainable development. Gender equality is now its own goal, crossing sectors and ensuring that the participation of women is core to our efforts.

The SDGs challenge all of us to embrace integrated thinking, to go beyond specific areas of expertise or advocacy, and to find solutions that connect sectors, stakeholders and resources.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The success of our collective journey to 2030 will depend to a large extent on how effectively the Governments that lead implementation embrace inclusivity. 

That means bridging the gap between people and policy by engaging parliaments, local authorities, civil society, indigenous peoples, the scientific and academic communities, the private sector and other partners.

Many countries are already showing how public participation can lead to less corruption, greater transparency, and better laws, policies and programmes, and to financial planning that supports a whole-of-government approach. Consultative approaches to designing and allocating national development budgets, and to monitoring their impact, are critical. 

For this reason, it is essential to create an enabling environment for participation, embracing difference and demonstrating tolerance. 

We need greater efforts towards responsible leadership and legal frameworks that adhere to international human rights standards, and greater investment in transparent and accountable institutions.

Success will be measured in how well we live up to the commitment to leave no one behind. We need to ensure that we provide a voice and a platform for the most marginalized, vulnerable and excluded communities and individuals. 

This is why one of our flagship efforts is our partnership with the European Union on the Spotlight Initiative, focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Silos create the illusion that global issues can be solved in isolation. As all of us know, they cannot. 

The interconnected challenges we are facing today demand that we break down the silos and overcome internal and institutional barriers towards more collective efforts to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.

I am glad to say that over the past few years, integrated partnership models have slowly emerged.  As of June 2018, almost 4,000 partnerships had been registered by stakeholders through our online platform, the United Nations Partnerships for the SDGs. Many more have been formed at local and regional levels around the world, inspiring action and building new spaces for participation. 

We need more innovative, multi-sectorial and multi-thematic partnerships that can be brought to scale quickly, engaging all parts of society, and particularly the young people who will be key to the success of the 2030 Agenda. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Within the United Nations, we are making strenuous efforts to overcome silos. 

The Secretary-General is leading a repositioning of the United Nations development system which refocuses the work of UN Resident Coordinators on sustainable development, with the overarching objective of eradicating poverty in all its forms.

UN Development system reform is about becoming much more effective, well-coordinated, transparent and accountable, to better assist countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

I look forward to hearing about the outcomes of your reflections and I am eager to see your new ideas, commitments and multi-sectorial partnerships in support of the 2030 Agenda. 

Thank you.