Norway’s position on the post-2015 agenda – priorities and responsibilities

State Secretary Bård Glad Pedersen at the Will the World Get the Development Goals It Needs? - Seminar organised by the UN, UNICEF, FORUM, 24 April 2014, Litteraturhuset, Oslo

Thank you for the invitation to address this important topic.

The Millennium Declaration adopted 14 years ago was an unprecedented show of global unity.

At the turn of the millennium, world leaders came together and made a decision to fight poverty in all its manifestations.

This was a bold objective.

Since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, governments and partners from civil society and the private sector have mobilised widespread support for achieving the goals, and worked innovatively to do so.

The Millennium Development Goals have succeeded in mobilising global action and resources.

Perhaps the greatest strength of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is that they are measurable. They have proved that common efforts pay off, and the results are encouraging.

At present, nine out of ten children start primary school. More children than ever before attend school.

Girls’ attendance in primary school has increased and parity has been achieved on a global basis.

Due to results-based initiatives for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, infectious diseases now account for less of the global disease burden. From 1990 to 2010 their share was reduced from 47 to 35 %. These are the diseases that strike the poor hardest.

Improved health services for children, and measures such as vaccines and mosquito nets, have meant a 50 % reduction in the child mortality rate in Africa between 1990 and 2013.

Never before has such a rapid reduction in child mortality been achieved.

Although we have achieved many impressive results, our common task now should be to mobilise, and put to good use, every relevant and available resource, opportunity and initiative as we approach the MDG deadline. Prime Minister Erna Solberg is co-chair for the MDG Advocacy Group.

At the same time, we need a new set of ambitious Sustainable Development Goals from 2015. This is high on our Government’s agenda.

The international community needs to build on the original MDGs, but we also need to go beyond them.

We need to include missing goals, integrate the Rio+20 three dimensions of sustainable development, and put in place a framework for more predictable financing.

We will seek to reinforce the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and the interaction between them.

Further, we will promote the mainstreaming of human rights in the future framework for sustainable development goals. We fully support the role played by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the approach it has taken in this regard. Promoting civil and political rights should be integral to good governance and poverty reduction.

Norway has been asked to co-lead the intergovernmental consultations in preparation for the third international conference on financing for development (to be held in 2015 or 2016).

This puts us at the centre of international efforts to shape the global partnership that will support the sustainable development agenda in the years leading up to 2030.

A high level of development aid is important, but aid should be a supplement to, not a substitute for, governments’ own spending and foreign investments.

Out of all the money that goes into developing countries, approximately 600 billion US dollars comes from foreign investments and 400 billion from remittances, while 135 billion US dollars comes from development aid.

We need strong political leadership to ensure that financing of the sustainable development goals is given priority, also in national budgets.

Two weeks ago, the World Bank Group and the IMF held their spring meetings in Washington.

One clear message came out of these meetings:

The UN and the Bretton Woods institutions must work more closely with the business sector and civil society in private–public partnerships.

These partnerships should also include emerging market economies and donors.

Our overall ambition is clear: to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger through sustainable development and economic transformation.

Although the proportion of the world’s population who count as extremely poor has been reduced by half since 1990 – a fantastic achievement –, we still have a long way to go.

One billion people still live on less than one and a quarter dollars a day, and one in eight people still go to bed hungry every night.

Eradicating poverty by 2030 will not be easy, but we know it is possible. It is within our reach. And we have a moral obligation to reach this goal.

Poverty reduction requires inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

We must increase innovation, entrepreneurship and trade, and provide conditions that are conducive for business investments.

The progress made in major economies such as China, India and Brazil would not have been possible without increased trade and economic growth.

To ensure that more money are made available for development purposes, we need to use development aid smart.

We will increasingly target our aid so that it acts as a catalyst for advancing sustainable development.

There is a need to strengthen institutional capacity and to create a market-oriented regulatory framework that will help to promote private sector investments, domestic resource mobilisation, responsible natural resource management, and more efficient taxation systems that generate income.

Norway will take its share of the responsibility and contribute to developing the global partnerships that are needed to realise the sustainable development agenda.

We have identified a few priority areas:

Good governance is our top priority. This includes the rule of law, independent justice systems, transparent and effective institutions, democratic participation and decision-making, property rights and freedom of expression.

Good governance is crucial for eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable development.

Good governance is both a precondition for development and a result of development, and it is essential if we are to achieve the sustainable development goals – once they have been adopted.

Democratic governance is one of the critical “missing” MDGs.

Together with Denmark and Ireland in the Open Working Group (OWG) and with the other Nordic development ministers, we have jointly stated that democratic governance and the rule of law should be made a stand-alone, “headline” goal.

In the Open Working Group, good governance is currently subsumed under the heading of peace and stability.

In our view, achieving peaceful societies and building democratic societies are both very important goals. And although they overlap, they are separate goals.

Another top priority for us is education.

Norway will promote efforts to achieve agreement between the UN, the World Bank Group, NGOs and private partners on an ambitious, but realistic set of targets for education for all by 2030.

We will promote targets for free and compulsory basic education for all boys and girls.

We will seek to move beyond the original MDGs, by focusing on quality of education, learning outcomes and the development of skills.

Education for girls is also a key focus area.

In the area of global health, there seems to be broad agreement on a sustainable development goal that combines targets covered by the MDGs with new targets, such as reducing non-communicable diseases.

Together with six other countries, we launched the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative to develop ambitious targets that can apply to all countries.

We are also discussing how to build on the current international consensus from Cairo and Beijing on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and translate this into action.

Achieving global acceptance for sexual rights is a sensitive issue.

We must find constructive and innovative ways of advancing this agenda.

Gender equality is imperative, both from an economic and human rights perspective.

I am encouraged by the broad support that is emerging for a stand-alone goal on gender equality.

Targets could include combating violence against women and girls, child marriage, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation.

Securing women equal access to property, land and other assets could also be a target, as could ensuring that they have equal rights to participate in political and economic decision-making.

In many nations, middle class salaries are flattening out, while poor, vulnerable and marginalised groups are falling even further behind.

Reduced social mobility increases the risk of social instability.

The post-2015 framework must include targets that promote inclusive growth for job creation, shared prosperity, and equal opportunities for all.

Sustainable Energy for All is another “missing” MDG that has high priority for Norway.

We seem to be making some progress in generating support for a stand-alone goal in this area.

Norway, together with partners including Mexico, Tanzania, Pakistan, Denmark and the UN secretariat, is promoting the Secretary-General’s initiative Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All). This initiative has three pillars: increased access to energy, increased energy efficiency, and increased use of renewables.

This could be the basis for a model sustainable development goal – a goal in which all three dimensions of sustainable development are clearly included.

Finally, climate change is of course a priority for us.

It is the single biggest challenge of our common future.

It poses a grave threat to our efforts to eradicate poverty and ensure sustainable development.

The new sustainable development goals (SDGs) should boost efforts to reduce emissions, build climate change resilience and promote adaptation to the effects of climate change.

We must make the SDGs climate smart and promote solutions that benefit the global climate.

The Prime Minister will participate at the climate summit in New York in September. The COP 21 in Paris next year will be the main arena for tackling climate change, and the development goals should support these efforts.

The fact that we are suggesting that some priority areas should be “stand-alone” goals or cross-cutting issues does not mean that we are ignoring other important issues.

We are aiming for a limited set of goals that are ambitious, but at the same time realistic and reachable.

Friends,

Public participation in political processes is a central feature of any dynamic and democratic society.

Your participation here today can be seen in this light

It is inspiring to see how UNICEF, the UN family and NGOs have joined forces to create this arena for shaping the future development goals.

I strongly support the consultations you are conducting – here in Norway and around the world.

So far, almost two million voices have been heard in these consultations.

This is impressive, and it bodes well for formulating ambitious and reachable development goals.

We have received a new draft from the Open Working Group. There has been progress in many areas, but there is still work to be done. Not least when it comes to good governance.

We trust that you will continue to work for a post-2015 framework that can mobilise the international community to end poverty and ensure sustainable development for all.

A post-2015 framework that sets out the development goals the world needs.

Thank you.

 

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