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UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES FOCUS OF ECOSOC ON INNOVATION IN 2013 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION
Following are the opening remarks made today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the opening of the High-level Segment of the 2013 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva:
1 July 2013

“Your Excellency, Mr. Nestor Osorio, President of ECOSOC,
Your Excellency Mr. Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation,
Your Excellency Mr. Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly,
Honourable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the President of the Council, Ambassador Nestor Osorio, for his leadership.

Innovation lies at the heart of addressing the interlinked challenges of global development. I therefore welcome your decision to focus ECOSOC’s attention on this theme.

Every development success has drawn in large measure from absorbing knowledge, technology and ideas and adapting them to local conditions. In other words, by innovating.

Ultimately, a successful development strategy must build extensive innovation capacities that address local challenges and foster growth.

Science, technology and culture are necessary elements for any post-2015 development agenda.

The need for innovation is clear:

Nearly 40 per cent of the world’s population still relies on traditional biomass energy sources that cause toxic smoke, killing nearly two million people a year.

Seventy-five million young people worldwide are out of work, and many others face poor wages and working conditions.

At least 70 per cent more food will need to be produced to meet rising demands and achieve food security.

At the same time, we can draw further on the extraordinary innovations that are happening all around us.

Mobile phone subscriptions, for example, have risen to more than 6 billion, and with it many mobile applications in health, banking and learning to advance development.

Whether in information, transportation, communications or lifesaving medicines, new technologies help countries leapfrog to new levels of sustainable development.

But innovation is about more than high-tech products. Innovations in business models can be just as important. And across a range of sectors, low-cost, low-tech grassroots innovations can often be more effective.

Many solutions for sustainable development are waiting to be scaled up. This requires the right incentives and ensuring that knowledge and information are shared in a collaborative, open and problem-solving manner.

Young people deserve special attention and support. Their passion, creativity, energy and innovation will help to bring new solutions to old problems.

Excellencies
Ladies and gentlemen,

As we focus on the theme of innovation, let us recognize the enormous promise and progress of the Millennium Development Goals.

Indeed, the MDGs have been one of the greatest innovations in the history of development work.

Two important tasks now stand before us.

First, with less than 1,000 days before the deadline to achieve the MDGs, we must accelerate progress.

Second, we must shape a global agenda beyond 2015 with poverty eradication and sustainable development at its core.

These twin tasks are part of the same effort.

Greater progress towards the MDGs will fuel confidence and mobilize support for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda. And our post-2015 efforts should build on the work begun and the lessons learned through the MDGs.

To help advance these goals, I am pleased today to launch the United Nations 2013 Millennium Development Goals Report.

The Report highlights a number of successes on key MDG targets that have already been met, or are within close reach by 2015.

The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has been halved.

Over 2.1 billion people gained access to improved sources of drinking water.

We have made remarkable gains in the fight against malaria and tuberculosis.

These achievements show that the combined actions of governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector can make a profound difference.

However, the Report also outlines serious challenges.

Environmental sustainability is under threat, with continuing loss of forests, species and fish stocks, and rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Nineteen thousand children under age five die each day, most from preventable diseases. Women continue to be denied an equal opportunity in decision–making at all levels.

We must intensify our efforts, particularly to tackle the disparities across regions and between different social groups.

In May, my High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda produced a report that underscored a fundamental formula: Without ending poverty, we cannot build prosperity. Without building prosperity, we cannot tackle environmental challenges. And without environmental sustainability, we cannot end poverty.

A rich and dynamic global discussion is under way, underpinned by contributions from key constituencies, including civil society, the private sector, scientists and scholars, and the UN system itself.

Our challenge is to pull together these views and aspirations and craft a post-2015 agenda that is ambitious, inspiring and universal – relevant to all people and all societies. The United Nations system stands ready to support Member States in this effort. I will set out my own thoughts in a report in the months ahead.

On all the important tests to meet global economic, social and environmental challenges, I will continue to count on this Council for advice, leadership and action.

The future we want is within reach. Let us innovate together to achieve it.

I wish you a productive meeting. Thank you.”


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For use of the information media; not an official record

SG13/02E