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UNGA High-Level Debate Concludes with Focus on Lessons from the MDGs, Climate Change

United Nations1 October 2013: The 68th UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-level Debate concluded its discussions on “Post-2015 Development Agenda: Setting the Stage.” Speakers discussed lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), emphasized connections between development and peace and security, and supported action on climate change.

Speakers addressed the MDGs within the context of the post-2015 agenda, with Kosal Sea, Permanent Representative to the UN, Cambodia, and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative to the UN, Denmark, saying the agenda should complete the unfinished business of the MDGs. Phandu Skelemani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Botswana, said the agenda should complement, rather than replace, the MDGs. Mariyam Shakeela, Acting Foreign Minister, Maldives, noted the multi-dimensional and interconnected nature of the MDGs and suggested a holistic framework for the next agenda. Carlos Filomeno Agostinho Das Neves, Permanent Representative to the UN, São Tomé and Príncipe, said the agenda should consolidate progress made in implementing the MDGs, particularly on education and health, as well as advancing political coherence and development convergence. Speakers also described national progress on the MDGs and called for accelerated action.

Several countries underscored challenges resulting from insufficient funding and incomplete implementation of the global partnership for development (MDG 8), including Sea, Kodjo Menan, Permanent Representative to the UN, Togo, and Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States, the Holy See.

Mamberti stressed the importance of shared goals for the international community, which he said galvanize attention. Vince Henderson, Permanent Representative to the UN, Dominica, said accepting shared responsibility was a precondition for achieving sustainable development, stressing leaders must be prepared to translate commitments into political action and undertake structural reforms. He recognized the Plan of Action, prepared by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network as a bold, optimistic and practical plan.

Numerous speakers discussed the inclusion of peace and security in the post-2015 agenda. Petersen said conflict has devastating effects on development and observed that low-income fragile States are the most off-track on the MDGs. He urged including peace-building and state-building in the post-2015 agenda. Sea said sustained peace and political stability contributed to its ability to progress on the MDGs. Pak Kil Yon, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, described peace and security as important in ensuring sustainable development and human rights. Mamberti identified war, terrorism and organized crime as the most significant obstacles to development.

Petersen further recommended the agenda: address inequality and its underlying causes, including gender-based discrimination; be anchored in human rights, including principles of accountability, participation, non-discrimination and transparency; and address gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Xavier Lasso Mendoza, Permanent Representative to the UN, Ecuador, said the agenda should include persons with disabilities and establish quantitative objectives to measure their progress. Shakeela emphasized the unique, inherent vulnerabilities of small island developing States (SIDS) and called for a SIDS-focused goal.

Shakeela, Henderson and Sea, among others, supported action on climate change. Petersen described climate change as a threat multiplier and called for increasing ambition levels in a new climate agreement that would commit all countries. Skelemani urged support for vulnerable countries to adapt to and mitigate climate change, including financial, capacity building and technology transfer support. [Debate Statements]