President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told global leaders at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly that the successful implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will depend largely on the concrete measures taken at the sub-national, national, regional and global levels.
“We must craft ambitious national responses towards the implementation of the agenda. We must set in motion national processes that will guide member states’ efforts to integrate and domesticate the new agenda into local content that will engender national ownership in the implementation process. Strong follow-up and review mechanism will enhance an effective implementation process where citizens have the means to access their countries’ progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, she said.
According to a from New York, dispatch, the President made the statement when she addressed the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly where they had gathered to adopt the SDGs as the new global agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of 2015.
She disclosed that the new global development agenda is the result of the most consultative process in history; noting that the negotiations culminated in the consensus document, “Transforming our World, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
President Sirleaf told the world leaders that the consultations and negotiations spanned many years, starting with the 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit to the 2012 Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development which crafted a vision of the future we want; stressing also that the SDGs and targets were formulated following protracted negotiations in 2013 and 2014.
President Sirleaf commended member states, regional groupings, civil society organizations, private sector actors, and all stakeholders who worked tirelessly to create the new global framework and reflected that given the complex nature of the inter-governmental negotiations, deserving commendation was offered to the out-going President of the UN General Assembly and the co-facilitators, as well as the Permanent Representatives of Kenya and Ireland who skillfully navigated the process.
She paid a deserving tribute to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his leadership in guiding the process and expressed how honored she was in 2013 to serve, along with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom and President Susilu Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia as one of the three co-chairs of the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Agenda.
President Sirleaf recalled that they worked with 27 panelists from around the world to set up the vision and policy framework for a bold, strategic and universal agenda and how the panel comprised representatives from every segment of society, including governments, academia, civil society organizations and the private sector.
She also recalled that 15 years ago the MDGs was launched with a vision to build a better world and that at the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the world set time-bound targets to address critical challenges confronting the world.
“The world has made significant progress in achieving many of the MDGs targets with average incomes increased, extreme poverty declined, child mortality rates have fallen, life expectancy has risen and more people in the developing world have access to improved sanitation services,” she pointed out.
President Sirleaf, however, acknowledged that progress has been far from uniformed across the world or across the goals and that there remain huge gaps across and within countries. She stressed that poverty remains the greatest challenge especially in rural areas, though urban poverty is also extensive, growing, and under-reported by traditional indicators.
She expressed appreciation that the new global development agenda calls attention to the unfinished business of the MGDs while broadening the vision to incorporate new challenges. This, she said, is why the global community contributed to making the agenda a reality.
In Africa, President Sirleaf pointed out, that a High-Level Committee was established by the African Union in 2013, which she was honored to chair and reported that the committee also launched a consultative process culminating into the adoption of the Common African Position reflecting the priorities of the African continent.
“I am very pleased to acknowledge today, that our priorities are substantially integrated into both the 2015 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Together these documents demand a universal commitment to the shared vision of eradicating poverty and hunger, safeguarding our planet and opening the doors to prosperity for the benefit of people everywhere. Peaceful societies and the revitalized global partnership are also essential for the achievement of these aspirations,” President Sirleaf noted.
She further told the Assembly that the world must pursue single-mindedly achievement of the goals enshrined in the 2030 Agenda, reiterating that it can be done. She indicated that the world has never been richer, more integrated and better educated than now; therefore, with the resources at the disposal of the world and creative power of all, especially those left on the margins of progress, including women and youth, progress can be achieved.
The President Sirleaf said dignity for all; peaceful societies all around the globe, providing every human-being with the means to live to his or her full potential are well within the means of the world. “We cannot afford to fail and we must truly leave no one behind,” she told the audience.
She said based on the common framework, with sustainability at its core, national development policies and strategies will be crafted, but with the recognition that while the goals are universal in nature, every country will have to develop its own priorities towards the achievement of the global ambition of a new world of peace, prosperity and dignity in a safe planet.
President Sirleaf called for renewed and revitalized global partnership among nations, underpinned by North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation with specific attention on fair trade, taxation and technology, while combating illicit financial flows and terrorism. “At the core of our actions,” she said, “the world must confirm commitment to transparency, accountability and mutual respect which are fundamentals of genuine partnership.”
Several world leaders also spoke at the session which was preceded by special messages from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Holy Father, Pope Francis.
President Sirleaf, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Indonesian President Yudhoyono served as co-chairs of a High-Level Panel that spearheaded the process.