Helen Clark: Speech at High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development side event “The SDGs are Coming to Life – Stories of Country Implementation and UN support”

On behalf of the United Nations Development Group, I am pleased to welcome you to the launch of this publication, “The SDGs are Coming to Life: Stories of Country Implementation and UN Support”. We thank the Republic of Korea, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and the Republic of Sierra Leone for co-hosting this event with us.

The report is a collection of case studies of how SDG implementation is rolling out at country level. The UNDG is committed to working with Member States to exchange experiences on this. We can all learn from each other on how to turn the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda into reality for people.

This new report provides insights into a range of actions and partnerships for SDG implementation in sixteen countries from across all regions of the world. It identifies opportunities for partners to engage with the new global agenda, and highlights the critical supporting role which the UN development system can play.

Around the world, countries are integrating the 2030 Agenda into their visions, strategies, and plans at the national, subnational, and local levels by:

o aligning their national development plans with the SDGs, assessing the risks to progress, and strengthening their monitoring and accountability mechanisms;

o building capacities to co-ordinate sustainable development efforts across sectors and to drive coherence across policy areas and between levels of government; and

o raising public awareness of what needs to be done, and building innovative partnerships for action.

Allow me to highlight four key observations drawn from the case studies.

1. Early actions to adapt this ambitious and integrated 2030 Agenda to national and subnational contexts are well under way. This report highlights the efforts of just sixteen countries, but 95 of the 131 UN Country Teams around the world report that they have been requested by their host governments to provide support to the national SDG response. We are supporting the formulation of long-term visions, mapping existing national plans against the SDGs, and the establishment of dedicated government co-ordination bodies. These initial steps often include public awareness-raising campaigns.

A number of countries have already moved well beyond design and mapping: Uganda, for example, is now undertaking SDG-oriented budgeting and strengthening multi-sector planning at the national and subnational levels.

2. Governments are calling on the UN to convene and facilitate inclusive national dialogues with all members of society on SDG implementation. As a result, the breadth and the depth of partnerships for the SDGs are expanding – with civil society, the private sector, philanthropy, academia and UN agencies.

In Morocco, for example, the national consultation on the SDGs involved digital entrepreneurs, journalists, musicians, and celebrities.

In many countries, our UN Country Teams are supporting greater awareness of and engagement with the 2030 Agenda through training of civil servants, parliamentarians, and mayors and local government officials.

3. High priority is being given to national tracking and reporting on SDG progress. In thirteen of the sixteen countries featured in this report, the UN development system is supporting comparisons of the global indicator framework against existing data and national indicator sets. In Indonesia, for example, the UN is helping to find ways to improve the availability of data, including by using big data. Data disaggregation, which captures progress across different population groups, is vital for ensuring that no one is left behind.

4. Some of the most inspiring examples of early action come from countries in special situations. The publication includes examples from Sierra Leone which is striving to recover from the crisis caused by Ebola, and from Somalia which still faces significant security challenges. Many other countries with complex challenges are embracing the SDGs as part of the solution. They are undertaking long-term visioning exercises, conducting risk assessments, and establishing SDG-aligned action plans and budgets. In Somalia, a multi-stakeholder National Development Council to advise on SDG implementation has been created. The UN development system is proud to be a partner in these initiatives.

UNDG support for SDG implementation

As I said earlier, many governments have called on the UN to support their SDG implementation efforts. The UNDG, comprised of over 30 UN entities, is responding to these requests in a co-ordinated way through the MAPS approach – which stands for mainstreaming, acceleration, and policy support. This builds on our long experience of supporting countries to achieve their development goals. It draws on the insights gained from our experience with the Millennium Development Goals, and on the global consultation process which led to the creation of the 2030 Agenda. MAPS can be adapted to any development context to support domestication of the new global agenda, to unblock bottlenecks to progress, and to source policy expertise from across the UN development system.

Member States are in the driver’s seat for SDG implementation. The initiatives presented in this publication are testament to countries’ commitments to make the SDGs a reality. The UNDG is fully committed to backing Member States in their endeavours.

I take this opportunity to thank the many contributors to this publication. They include colleagues across the UNDG, UNDP’s analysts, and the UN Country Teams which provided the country level information.

It is now my pleasure to launch this report.

Source: United Nations Development Programme