As Chair of the UN Development Group for Europe and Central Asia, I am honored to welcome you all to this important regional consultation. I want to thank Minister Cevdet Yilmaz and the Ministry of Development for their leadership which has brought us together in this event. Building on Turkey’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals, Turkey is highly engaged in the process to develop a new set of goals to put the world on a more sustainable and equitable path.
This event is an important milestone on the road to the creation of a new development agenda. Many of you have already taken part in this process – by reviewing progress on the Millennium Development Goals, by voting on priorities, by writing analyses, and by leading change in your countries. Many of the governments represented here have contributed to the Secretary General’s High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda, or take part in the intergovernmental Open Working Group for sustainable development goals.
The road we are on is unfolding in an unprecedented way. So far, over 1 million people have engaged in this global conversation – through the processes supported by the UN Development Group including the MY World survey, focus groups in remote areas, and through a range of other innovative outreach methods in 88 countries.
Turkey is one of the countries where this dynamic global conversation took place, along with 14 other countries in the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, all represented here by civil society. Rough estimates give us an idea of the scope of the process so far. In North America, the process has engaged at least 35,000 people, in continental Europe at least 95,000 and in Eastern Europe and Central Asia at least 150,000 people have taken part in discussions and surveys on this important topic. We have deliberately gone out from capital cities and tried to engage those who do not normally take part in global policy discussions.
The global conversation thus far contains two important messages: First, people around the world are asking us to finish the job and secondly, the want us to be more ambitious.
People consulted have made it clear that first job of any new development agenda is to keep our promises and complete the MDGs. Education, health, water and sanitation, and gender equality remain critically important, and not only for people living in poorer countries. Even in this region, where extraordinary progress has been made, we cannot lose sight of the goals we have. Marginalized groups, including ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, and migrants, continue to face particular economic and social disadvantages throughout the region. During the crisis and its aftermath, they have been hit harder by unemployment, income losses and reduced access to health services.
We cannot lose sight of the goals we have, but the one million people the world over have also made a call to be more ambitious. The million voices call for action to reverse what they perceive as rising differences in incomes, persistent discrimination against certain groups, and growing vulnerability and insecurity stemming from inequality. Across the world, and this region, people talk about their frustration with various forms of inequality, discrimination and exclusion they experience. We see increasing awareness of the need to dig ‘beneath the averages’, and a demand for real change.
The million people who have engaged in this process call compellingly and repeatedly for the empowerment and advancement of women and girls, investment in women and girls’ education and health to ensure their equal rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Through the consultations, we discover that in our convictions we have much in common. People everywhere, for example, worry about jobs. Facing low wages, informality, and lower benefits, people are insecure about their prospects to find and keep jobs, earn a decent wage. Discrimination continues to plague working women around the world.
It is also a common refrain that people also want their governments to do a better job: to be honest and responsive in delivering services, to ensure human rights and to take responsibility for the planet.
The member states of the UN took an important step this September towards a universal agenda that applies to all countries and all people. This call for a universal agenda resonates in our region, where all countries face challenges reaching the socially excluded and propelling economic growth without making irreversible negative impact on the environment.
We at the UN Development Group are committed to responding to the calls we have heard throughout the consultative process so far, and we promise to work to keep the consultative processes open all the way until September 2015 when the new agenda is set to be adopted. We look to governments to do the same.
I wish you all a productive regional consultation. I ask you to consider three questions over the next two days in order to move the global debate forward:
1) Explore the issues and priorities that this region should put forward in the global debate
2) Consider not just why but how our priorities can be integrated into a global development framework that helps to move us from intention to action.
3) Think about two sides of the same coin: measurability and integration. Measurability to keep our focus on real results on the one hand and integration to move us beyond sectors and silos towards real transformational change.
This event is part of a process and a global conversation. We are getting an increasingly clear picture of the World we want. We look to you these two days to give it shape and explore how to get there.