18 July 2016, New York – Statement delivered by Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, on behalf of the EU and its Member States at the General Debate of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (11-20 July 2016)
– Check against delivery –
2015 was a milestone year, with landmark agreements in New York, Addis, Sendai and Paris, re-casting the way the international community should work together to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication by 2030.
We all share these universal goals, as much as we share the responsibility for making them a reality, in all countries. Our 2030 Agenda is ‘indivisible’, with strong inter-linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its transformative power lies in the integrated approach to economic, social and environmental challenges.
We now have to bring this Agenda to life. Countries at all stages of development need to take it into account in their planning, budgeting and implementing processes. And we need to continually keep track of progress at all levels, hold ourselves to account, accelerate implementation, and foster broad ownership and partnership, transparency and inclusivity.
The European Union and its Member States welcome the steps already taken in the UN: GA consultations on Follow-up and Review at the Global Level, the agreement on the framework for the Global Sustainable Development Report and the publication of the first SDG Progress Report by the United Nations Secretary General. We see the list of global indicators, adopted by the UN Statistical Commission, as an adequate framework to start measuring progress, and we support further adjustments based on methodological improvements and data availability. Strengthening statistical and monitoring capacities and data disaggregation remain critical. Missing data means missing people.
We welcome the contributions to delivering on the 2030 Agenda from relevant UN fora, including the UN Environment Assembly-2, the World Humanitarian Summit, and the World Health Assembly in 2016. We invite all high level international fora to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda including, in 2016, Habitat III.
This High Level Political Forum is the first major “accountability moment” since the adoption of the Agenda, with the national voluntary presentations at its core. We are encouraged by good representation from different regions and country groups, including four EU Member States. Let us use this opportunity to draw clear and practical conclusions to inform our way ahead.
Meeting here at the UN once a year cannot however replace systematic mainstreaming of the SDGs into national strategies and reports. Implementation is impossible without a multi-stakeholder approach, with active engagement of non-governmental organisations, private sector, academia and others. It requires responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels, enforcing non-discriminatory laws and ensuring public access to information.
Inclusiveness is also the key to making this Forum relevant and effective. This year’s theme “Ensuring that no-one is left behind” cuts across several central issues.
Tackling inequalities, and in particular gender inequality, is absolutely essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Women’s and girls’ empowerment is a matter of human rights and democratic governance, of social justice and smart economics. Without it, neither peace nor development can be sustainable.
Millions of people are on the move worldwide. We can only manage these unprecedented migratory flows if we act globally, in partnership. This includes investing in economic and social development, security, resilience, environmental and climate protection. We must address the issue of irregular migration, in order to unlock the real potential of migration as driving force for development.
We will not succeed if we do not tackle the root causes of conflict, invest in peace and good governance, and respect, protect and promote the rule of law and human rights. We have to move away from piecemeal approaches, strengthening the links between development, humanitarian, peace and security, and migration policies.
The EU and its Member States are determined to play our full part in implementing the 2030 Agenda. We are already making concrete contributions, with our new initiative on the circular economy, the EU Energy Union, the follow-up to the Paris Climate Agreement, a reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the European pillar of social rights, our activities on Corporate Social Responsibility for example along global supply chains, our strategic frameworks for gender equality actions in internal and external policies, and with our external assistance programmes – placing emphasis on policy coherence.
The European Commission will put forward later this year an overarching initiative mapping out how the EU will contribute to implementing the SDGs through our internal and external action. We will also present a proposal for a new European Consensus on Development, outlining how the EU and its Member States can respond to global challenges and the 2030 Agenda through our development policy.
We will continue to work closely with our partners – especially those most in need. We have collectively committed to the target of 0.7% of gross national income as Official Development Assistance, and provide duty free and quota free market access to least developed countries. We seek innovative forms of cooperation with our many, varied partners around the world, including through development assistance, reinforced cooperation with the private sector, political dialogue and mutual lesson-learning.
The 2030 Agenda calls on each and every one of us to change our way of work for the better. This includes institutional change and improved coordination within the UN system. It is a challenge for us all, but also a tremendous opportunity. The EU and its Member States are determined to take this great journey to the very end, together with all of you.
 Estonia, Finland, France, Germany
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