6 February 2012
Panel discussion on the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability
Remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Panel discussion on the Secretary-General’s
High-level Panel on Global Sustainability,
Monday, 6 February 2012, 11.00 (Room XX)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In August 2010, the Secretary-General asked his High-level Panel on Global Sustainability “to reflect on and formulate a new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it”. This was a truly daunting task, and we are fortunate that such a dedicated group of leaders answered his call. With the report of the Panel, I believe that major progress has been made towards the sustainable future that we all seek.
Sustainability is about providing choices to future generations. It is about ensuring that our actions today do not preclude opportunities tomorrow. It is about choosing to work for environmental protection, for social equity, and for economic growth in an integrated fashion. The innovative work undertaken by the High-level Panel has provided us with a set of practical and sustainable solutions.
But of course, this is only the start. Complacency is not an option. We must move forward because a world where climate change can push entire populations to the extremes of subsistence is not sustainable, whether due to 1) the devastating impact of rising sea levels on small island states, or 2) as a result of the two billion hectares of crop-land lost annually to desertification. A world where populations are not effectively consulted on their own government is not sustainable. A world where more than 74 million youth are unemployed, and where more than 450 million workers live on less than one dollar and twenty-five cents a day, as they did last year, is not sustainable.
Addressing these challenges effectively will require making choices. We must be pragmatic: some of the choices will be difficult. When weighing these choices, we should consider some of the choices that have already been made. Since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted in 2000, global military expenditure has doubled. In 2010, military spending exceeded 1.6 trillion US dollars. This is a choice. But in a world where approximately 1.5 billion people have no access to energy, and one billion people have no access to clean water, it is not a sustainable choice.
And so, prioritizations and action on these priorities are called for. At a time of general austerity and budget cuts, finding solutions may seem particularly challenging. But we should take inspiration from the knowledge that dedicated and focused work can produce results.
Progress achieved based on the Millennium Development Goals offers clear evidence of the potential: the MDGs have helped to lift millions of people out of poverty, and by 2015, it is now expected that the global poverty rate will indeed fall below 15 per cent, well within the target of halving extreme poverty levels. Targeted interventions have also succeeded in reducing child mortality, and today nearly 12,000 fewer children are dying each day than 1990.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thanks to the hard work of the High-level Panel, we now have 56 solid recommendations on which to make progress. And with the Secretary-General already taking action on the proposal to establish Sustainable Development Goals, as outlined in his recent Action Agenda, I hope that we will be able to measure progress within this field in the coming years.
La mise en œuvre de ces objectifs ne se fera pas sans efforts et sans une forte volonté politique. Genève, quant à elle, a un rôle phare à jouer car elle est l’hôte, non seulement de nombreuses entités des Nations Unies, mais elle demeure aussi un véritable centre de réflexion sur les affaires mondiales et humanitaires. L'approche holistique requise à travers ce rapport est à la taille de cette ville où l’on débat à la fois des questions liées au travail et au commerce, en même temps que celles ayant trait au désarmement et à l’humanitaire, aux droits de l’homme et à la santé.
Ce jour, les panélistes réunis dans cette salle apportent une dimension particulière à l’événement, et traduisent l’importance que l’Organisation des Nations Unies accorde à son partenariat avec la société civile et les entreprises. C’est un très grand honneur d’accueillir Madame la Présidente Calmy-Rey, qui a prononcé un discours sur la durabilité qui a fait date lors de la réunion d’ECOSOC qui s’est tenue au Palais des Nations l’année dernière. Sous la présidence de Madame Calmy-Rey, la Suisse a grandement contribué aux efforts internationaux pour faire de ce monde un monde plus sûr, plus respectueux de la nature et plus prospère.
Je vous remercie. Je demanderais maintenant à Monsieur Janos Pasztor, Secrétaire exécutif du Groupe de haut niveau de présenter nos invités et de présider les débats.