Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen: Statement on the Round Table Conference on MDGs in Sierra Leone. April 2013.
I am very pleased to be here at this Round Table Conference as part of the global MDG Momentum: 1000 days of Action.
My thanks go to the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Kaifala Marah and the Government for holding of this round table discussion. This is testament to the Government’s commitment to advancing the MDGs and sustainable human development in Sierra Leone. It is also a pleasure to see our partners and colleagues from various agencies, civil society and academia all contributing to achieving the MDGs in diverse ways.
Through events around the world, we are now marking 1,000 days to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs are the most successful global anti-poverty push in history. World poverty has been cut in half. More girls are in school. Child mortality has dropped. We are fighting killer diseases. The list goes on. But, too many women still die in childbirth, when we have the means to save them. Too many communities still lack access to sanitation. Too many families are still being left behind.
The origin and history of the MDGs is very familiar to this audience – many of you have lived and breathed the MDGs for the past decade and more.
In signing the Millennium Declaration in 2000, heads of delegation from 189 countries including the president of Sierra Leone - agreed to an ambitious vision for the new millennium to advance human rights, development, and peace. The MDGs were then launched as a pathway towards that vision. By offering measurable and time bound goals, targets, and indicators, they sought to convert the principles and ambitions of the Millennium Declaration into concrete achievement.
The MDGs provided a unifying vision for policymakers, development experts, and civil society. Their clarity, conciseness, and measurability brought diverse actors together around a common cause.
In Sierra Leone despite significant recent political and socio-economic achievements, the country will not meet ALL its targets for the MDGs by 2015. But we in the UN are committed to helping the GoSL to achieve the MDGs. This is why the UN Transitional Joint Vision has been aligned with the Government’s policy priorities as outlined in MDG's and the Agenda for Prosperity.
I’ll like to commend the Government of Sierra Leone for providing effective leadership in driving progress towards the achievement of the MDGs and undertaking awareness raising campaigns which have resulted in the general population’s greater awareness and engagement regarding the MDGs.
As the UN Secretary-General said, we have 1,000 days to close the gaps – 1,000 days to accelerate actions. Here are some ways or recommendations, according to the Secretary-General to step-up our efforts:
· First, we need to scale up success through strategic, targeted investments – in health, education, energy and sanitation. Above all, by empowering women and girls who can boost results in all other areas.
· Second, focus on the poorest and most vulnerable people who are finding it most difficult to make progress despite their best efforts.
· Third, keep our fiscal promises. These are difficult budgetary times. But we cannot balance budgets on the backs of the most vulnerable.
I do believe that this is an opportunity in Sierra Leone to take action NOW that will add momentum as we look beyond 2015 to the challenges of sustainable development. The MDGs have helped unite, inspire and change the world. In the next 1,000 days, let us give 1,000 percent. This round table is an opportunity to discuss what we have achieved, what has worked and to identify and agree on the best way forward to intensify efforts on the MDG work and use every last minute remaining until the end of 2015. 31 December 2015 is little less than 1,000 days away, so there is no time to lose!
The more Sierra Leone and the world can achieve the MDGs, the more it will be possible to build confidence and support for a bold and ambitious post-2015 development agenda. As you know a major global consultation on post-2015 has been running since last year.
The UN itself is facilitating:
· national level dialogues on post-2015 – already scheduled or held in 74 countries,
· eleven consultations around themes ranging from health and education to equality, governance, energy, environment, and conflict and security,
· an online global conversation through social media, reaching very large audiences.
The post-2015 framework can be seen as the next stage of implementation of the vision of the Millennium Declaration. There is an emerging consensus on the desirability of designing one framework which is aimed at achieving poverty eradication within the context of sustainable development. This reflects the consensus reached at Rio+20, where Member States agreed that sustainable development goals should be made “coherent with and integrated into the UN Development Agenda beyond 2015”.
The United Nations will continue supporting sustainable development in Sierra Leone as well as the implementation of the post-2015 agenda