By Fabíola Ortiz
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is keen that member countries make Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) an integral part of their national policies so as to ensure that these are achieved by 2030. In an interview with IDN, he also stressed the need for the civil society to play a critical role in pushing forward this new set of global targets.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets assign global citizenship a significant role in promoting sustainable development, in line with the fact that Ban launched in September 2012 the five-year Global Education First Initiative (GEFI).
“I have been urging all leaders in the process of meeting them on a bilateral or multilateral basis that each and every member state should take a very strong ownership of these SDGs to make these goals their goals, change and reflect the goals into their national domestic economic social and environmental policies,” Ban told IDN in an interview.
The Secretary-General talked to IDN on the 38th floor of the Secretariat building at the UN Headquarters in New York after coming back from the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (October 9-11) in Lima, Peru.
The annual gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors from 188 countries took place two weeks after a historic vote at the United Nations to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Ban Ki-moon joined the discussion on October 10 at the Development Committee of the World Bank Group and IMF. The so-called Development Committee was established in 1974 and works as a ministerial-level forum for intergovernmental consensus building on development issues.
The 2030 Agenda is “centred on people”. In his remarks to the Development Committee meeting in Lima, Ban highlighted that the development path for the next fifteen years addresses the “structural factors” that have hindered poverty eradication, inclusive growth and sustainable development. Its motto is “Leave no one behind”.
“Success will rely on a renewed partnership for development among all actors, including governments, parliaments, local authorities, international institutions, civil society, academia and the private sector,” the UN Secretary-General said in Lima emphasizing: “The World Bank can step up capacity building and the mobilization of resources for sustainable development by drawing on its rich technical expertise.”
Ban Ki-Moon reiterated in IDN interview that the 17 goals with 169 targets aim to promote prosperity and well-being for everyone, everywhere, on a healthy planet.
“It is crucial and very important that these SDGs are implemented with everybody’s participation, not only with governments, but also with civil communities and philanthropists,” he declared.
The motto for the post 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “leave no one behind”, seeks to strengthen the sense of ownership societies should embrace.
Asked if he regrets that sexual diversity and LGBTI (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) rights were not included in any specific goal, Ban said that this issue is permeated in a “transversal way” all items in the new development agenda.
“It is already implicit that the SDGs are leaving no one behind. Everybody should be on board. The values of ethnicity, sexual orientation, regardless of sex or where you are coming from, whether is poor or rich. There is no discrimination, it is a people centred vision,” Ban told IDN.
For the UN Secretary-General, the next fifteen years are a “moment of hope” particularly for the people in Africa, where the SDGs shall work converging with the Agenda 2063 adopted in the African Union (AU) 24th Ordinary Assembly on January 31, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
SDGs and Agenda 2063
African countries listed eight aspirations they want to achieve in the next five decades. These will serve as pillars for the continent to develop its economies. In operational terms, the Agenda 2063 will have a rolling plan of twenty-five, ten and five years with short term action plans.
The aspirations for the “Africa We Want” provide a framework for addressing past injustices and realization of the 21st century on the African continent by way of eradicating poverty in one generation and building a shared prosperity through social and economic transformation of the continent.
“We aspire that by 2063, Africa shall be a prosperous continent, with the means and resources to drive its own development,” with sustainable and long-term stewardship of its resources, reaffirms the document.
Among the ideals, in fifty years, Africa shall be free from armed conflict, terrorism, extremism, intolerance and gender-based violence. Those are major threats to human security, peace and development.
The continent will also be drugs-free, with no human trafficking, with no organized crimes and other forms of criminal networks, such as the arms trade and piracy.
Before that, by 2020, all remnants of colonialism will have ended and all African territories under occupation fully liberated.
Added to this, the continent’s population will enjoy affordable access to independent courts and judiciary that deliver justice without fear or favour.
In Ban Ki-moon’s words, the UN is seeing with “great priority” African peace and development, with good rule of law and good institutions.
“The production of the 17 SDGs covers all the spectrums of human lives as well as planet and Earth. Particularly when it comes to African development, the SDGs are alive with Africa Agenda 2063,” stressed the UN Secretary-General in a group meeting with four journalists.
And this is why the UN is “very much engaged with African Union and each of the African countries through development projects, through peace and security agendas,” he said.
Ban described the African development aspirations as a “visionary agenda” with which the UN is working very closely.
“I believe Agenda 2063 and SDGs should go hand in hand and their basic programs be aligned with each other,” he added.
According to Ban, the global development agreement was an inclusive process adopted by leaders around the globe in which “millions of people have participated”.
Financial and technical cooperation play a key role in the full implementation of the SDGs in the next years, he pointed out. But it is also going to be costly. Heads of State or Government, relevant ministers – ministers for finance, foreign affairs and development cooperation – and other special representatives gathered in Ethiopia from July 13-16 to explore ways on how to fund the ambitious set of goals that include ending poverty, hunger and achieving food security.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was the outcome of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development that discussed mechanisms to finance development. According to UN estimates, to comply with the new goals the world will need $11.5 trillion a year or a total of $172.5 trillion over a 15-year period.
“After three long years of negotiation, the world has adopted this framework which lays down the ground rock of providing financial and technological support for the developing world”, said Ban to a selected group of journalists.
The final document in Ethiopia affirms the “strong political commitment” to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development in the spirit of global partnership and solidarity.
“This agenda must be underpinned by equally ambitious and credible means of implementation. (…) to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development and the means of implementation for the universal post-2015 development agenda; and to reinvigorate and strengthen the financing for development”, says the document.
The final document recognizes that many countries, particularly developing nations, still face considerable challenges and “some have fallen further behind”. Inequalities within many countries have “increased dramatically”, informed the paper.
The Secretary-General took office in January 1, 2007 and is due to finish his post as the chief administrative officer of the organisation by December 31, 2016. Ban welcomed the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, founded in 1945 that is currently made up of 193 Member States.
In his opinion, one of the largest contributions of the UN was participating in the decolonization process in African and Asian countries. Between the 1950’s and 1960’s, more than forty nations became independent on those two continents.
“A huge contribution for humanity is the decolonization process of many countries from the colonial systems. It was the UN who really promoted the rapid decolonization process. This has been the basis of African development on developing states,” he told journalists.
In the course of the last decades of the independence of many African countries, some have undergone through a “smooth transition to democracy”, while most of the countries had to go through a “very turbulent tragic path towards democratic transition”. There are still some states facing this challenge nowadays.
“Looking back at the 70 years of the UN, I am conscious of certain concerns about effectiveness and efficiency and what kind of legacy UN has left. I am very proud what UN has been doing in the last seven decades. All the important agreements for human rights, good governance and democracy have been done at the UN,” Ban declared.
The sustainable development agenda will guide the world towards a better security, more prosperous and more sustainable path, he added.