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UN Secretary-General Hosts High-level Event on MDG Acceleration and Partnerships

United Nations23 September 2013: A high-level forum of the UN Secretary-General on ‘MDG Success: Accelerating Action, Partnering for Impact' took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 23 September 2013.

Opening the forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made the case that success on the MDGs is within reach. The proof is in the results of multi-stakeholder partnerships, he said, and the UN has invested in these “development game-changers” because they deliver.

Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, said a binding climate regime will “allow us to be aggressive” on climate change within the new development agenda. He said the MDGs have shown that collaboration makes it possible to achieve great things. Ethopia's experience on MDG 4, in particular, gives confidence, while achievement of MDG 5 has become a national agenda.

Ollanta Humala, President of Peru, said “growth for inclusion” is no longer enough; the new strategy must be “inclusion to growth.” Producing wealth is a collaborative process that only succeeds if all social sectors are included. Ban noted that Humala will host the upcoming General Conference of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima.

Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, announced additional World Bank Group funding for MDGs 4 and 5 on women's and children's health, of at least $700 million through the end of 2015. On the data deficit, he outlined the Bank's support for partnerships, for example on natural wealth accounting.

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, recalled his experiences as a member of the UN High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP). He said responsible businesses understand more than ever that they cannot succeed in societies that fail, and they see that the cost of inaction is starting to exceed costs of action. He highlighted the need for partnerships on growth in Africa, tropical forests, food security, sanitation, environmental degradation, obesity and hunger, adding that the working methods of the past are not suited for the problems of the future.

In a session moderated by Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), panelists addressed mobilizing support for partnerships.

Graziano da Silva, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), called achieving zero hunger a precondition for other gains. He challenged the importance of collecting data, noting that projects often stall because of initial data collection, and said if there is political will, the problem can be solved with or without data. Conversely, having more data will not create political will. The missing piece on the MDGs now is governance, he concluded.

Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), discussed the “mega-partnership” between the UN Secretary-General and the World Bank on sustainable energy, and said transforming energy models is not charity but long-term big business. Energy is the “ultimate enabler” of all other goals, particularly on women's health, which is threatened by indoor air pollution.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), noted that on MDG 2 on education for all, coverage does not mean quality. Global citizenship is needed to bridge MDG 2 and the future post-2015 agenda on education, to ensure quality of education.

Barbara Frost, Chief Executive, WaterAid, called for cross-cutting targets in the post-2015 agenda, to ensure that “what we measure is what we do.” The agenda needs to address universal access to basic services, she added.

Joy Phumaphi, Chair, independent Expert Review Group (iERG), discussed the role of accountability in the new agenda, to link the use of resources to results, outcomes and impacts on lives, and said accountability mechanisms have been central to achievements on MDGs 4 and 5 in the few countries that have fulfilled them. She specified the need for independence in the accountability mechanisms. She underscored that an accountability mechanism is the place to start on integrating various issues, as it can monitor whether efforts are operating in harmony, especially at country level.

A participant commented that partnerships seem to emphasize resources from outside the country and asked about responsibilities for national governments. In wrapping up the session, Chan echoed the importance of government responsibility. She also said accountability and transparency are “worth their weight in gold,” that building developing country capacity is not charity, and that we must continue to push for equity in the MDGs: “we don't want more rich countries full of poor people.”

In another session on partnering, moderated by Ray Chambers, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Financing the Health MDGs and for Malaria, additional funding for MDGs 4 and 5 was announced by the IKEA Foundation. The Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, said Samoa's partners “share the wheel,” on the premise of national ownership and global responsibility. He credited partnerships for Samoa's expected graduation out of LDC status in January 2014, as well as the responsibility taken by all stakeholders according to their own capacities.

A session on philanthropy in Africa moderated by Zeinab Badawi, BBC highlighted new models for philanthropy, and explored whether philanthropy should be distinguished from profit-seeking activity. The panelists included the founders and Heads of four African foundations: The Elumelu Foundation, The Motsepe Foundation, the WellBeing Foundation, and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

The final panel was moderated by Judith Rodin, President, Rockefeller Foundation, and addressed the next generation of innovation and partnerships. Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, displayed three recent medical innovations to help women and children, noting that the challenge now is to get them out to people in need. He noted that financing is key in this regard, because volume lowers price. He also highlighted an innovation of paying per child immunized, in an example of focusing on results rather than allocations.

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook, said connectivity can be an enabler of health, development and education outcomes, and provide transparency to hold governments accountable. She also noted the need to include women in connectivity.

Bill Gates, Co-Chair, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said people need to know what's there and how to access it, calling for innovation in health product delivery. On accelerating to the end of the MDGs, he said that innovation can allow childhood deaths to drop at an increasing rate. Gates also shared a criticism of the MDGs regarding the almost arbitrary setting of targets.

Anne Bouverot, Director General, Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA), said mobile technology is the farthest-reaching technology innovation; there is service in every country in the world. She highlighted new technologies for sending and receiving money through mobile phones.

Responding to a participant question about GMOs, Gates said opinions in rich countries is not a good reason to deny small farmers part of human knowledge, which could provide an alternative to buying insecticide and dealing with its problems.

John Ashe, UNGA President, provided a summary and remarks on the way ahead. He said the discussions had shown how firmly the multi-stakeholder approach has taken root. [UN Press Release on High-level Forum] [UNRIC Press Release] [Event Questions and Answers] [Opening Remarks of UN Secretary-General] [World Bank Press Release] [Webcast] [UN Press Release on IKEA Financing] [UNGA President's Closing Remarks] [Remarks of Deputy UN Secretary-General to Event Luncheon]