'Now is the time for implementation,' Ban urges session on integrating UN sustainability agenda

2 May 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today underlined the importance of devising creative and coherent approaches in linking the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development as world leaders continue to work towards successfully implementing the UN development agenda.

“Now is the time for implementation,” the UN chief said at the opening of a three-day segment on promoting integration of the three pillars of sustainable development that began today in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at UN Headquarters in New York.

“We now have a set of goals and targets that form the basis for a coherent, integrated and indivisible approach to eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development. We must pursue the goals with their complementarity and interlinkages in mind, and with the aim of breaking down silos and avoiding one-size-fits-all solutions,” Mr. Ban said.

Noting that today's meeting was the first such gathering since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development this past year, the Secretary-General said it also follows other landmark conferences and agreements on disaster risk reduction, financing for development, and climate change.

“This Integration Segment focuses on the importance of implementation through policy innovation and integration. It is a reminder that we will have to be creative in linking the three dimensions of sustainable development,” Mr. Ban said, referring to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability.

In particular, the Secretary-General said that the financing requirements to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are “enormous,” stressing that mobilizing these resources will be a significant challenge, particularly at a time of continued economic uncertainty and financial constraints.

For its part, the inaugural Forum on Financing for Development two weeks ago had sent a clear message that the full realization of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda remains “a matter of urgency,” the UN chief said.

“We must strive to continually assess challenges of integration – whether they are policy and institutional questions, capacity or technological gaps or questions in programming and financing,” he said.

Mr. Ban also emphasized that the UN system will do its “utmost to fully support” Member States in transitioning to a sustainable development path, including in setting priorities, planning, implementing and assessing progress.

“We must ensure that actions at every level are concerted and coherent. In doing so, we have to work with all partners towards common country support objectives. Our aim to 'deliver as one' is finding broader translation in the way we work with all partners,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Ban stressed that it is also necessary to reposition the UN system in the new development setting, noting that the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review can provide relevant guidance in that regard.

“The SDGs can only be reached through national ownership and local initiative,” Mr. Ban said.

“Let us learn from each other's experiences and innovations, so we can all grow closer to the dream of a 'perfect country', and, indeed, a better world,” he added.

Also providing opening remarks today was Sven Jürgenson, ECOSOC Vice-President, who noted that the segment – which will focus on the themes of policy innovation and policy integration – comes at a “crucial” time in which world leaders have to turn the promises of the 2030 Agenda into reality.

“In 2030, the people will not judge us by our ambition, but by what we have achieved. Implementation is the process that allows us to move from a promise made to a promise kept,” Mr. Jürgenson said.

He also stressed that achieving the SDGs will require innovative solutions and concerted efforts across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

“The integration segment can give guidance for forming policies that will enable us to turn the ambitious commitments made in the 2030 Agenda into tangible results for all people,” he said.

Specifically, he noted that this year's segment would provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to identify and discuss opportunities and challenges regarding innovative and integrated policy-making; offer policy recommendations to guide the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; and underline the role of ECOSOC to serve as a platform for dialogue and exchange of views on lessons learned in policy innovation and integration at all levels.

Every year, ECOSOC convenes an integration segment for three days in May on the main theme of the Council. The outcome is a summary by the ECOSOC Vice-President highlighting the main policy recommendations arising from the discussions and providing guidance on integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development.

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