Helen Clark: Speech at the High-Level Side Event hosted by G20 Turkish Presidency, “G20’s Contribution to implementation of the SDGs”

25 Sep 2015
I thank Deputy Prime Minister Yimaz and the Turkish Presidency of the G20 for taking the initiative to organise this timely side event, and for the leadership they have demonstrated in putting development at the centre of their G20 presidency.

Turkey has succeeded in guiding the G20’s discussions and work programme towards the inclusiveness, investment, and sustainable development the world badly needs. The Turkish G20 Presidency has opened up a number of G20 meetings to include counterparts from Low Income Developing Countries. This event today indicates yet again Turkey’s determination to open the G20 to feedback from non- members.

Turkey’s Presidency has coincided with the culmination of the process leading to the adoption of “The 2030 Agenda for Global Action” by world leaders today. The Agenda seeks to eradicate poverty in all its dimensions while also protecting the one planet on which we all depend.

Embedded in the 2030 Agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals, which apply to all countries – regardless of their level of development. To ensure that prosperity is shared and the planet’s natural limits are respected, Member States have agreed that transformational change is needed in countries at all income levels. This conveys the strong message that development is not just something which happens to somebody else somewhere else.

As reflected in its sub-title, the 2030 Agenda aims at nothing short of “Transforming our World”. Achieving that demands the full attention of all capitals, and of the UN, and all other international and regional organisations and groupings, including the G20. That is why this event is so important – it explores how the G20 can help achieve the SDGs.

G20: Collaborative action for global good

G20 leadership and engagement with the SDGs is vital.

Many remember the critical role the G20 played to stabilise the world economy in the aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis. In our interconnected world, ongoing and effective co-ordination by the G20 of the world’s largest economies will provide the context within which the 2030 Agenda can be achieved.

Many of the leaders attending the G20 Antalya Summit will have spoken here at the UN just weeks earlier, expressing their commitment to realize the 2030 Agenda and achieve sustainable development for all. The Antalya Summit also takes place just ahead of the COP21 on Climate Change for which increased ambition is urgently needed. Thus the Antalya Summit’s timing is ideal for the G20 to throw its full weight behind the 2030 Agenda.

The Turkish Presidency has positioned the G20 well to seize on this opportunity – with its emphasis on those three “i”s of implementation, inclusiveness, and investment –

With a view to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the G20 has put forward a range of concrete actions – including on:
• reducing the costs of remittances,
• strengthening developing countries’ tax assessment and collection capacities,
• expanding energy access, and
• making long-term financing available at the levels needed.

In keeping with the Turkish Presidency’s focus on inclusiveness, the G20 has strengthened its work on shared prosperity within and beyond G20 Members, as well as its engagement with low income developing countries, partners in civil society and the private sector. The G20 is a very important forum in bringing traditional donor countries and emerging and South-South development partners together, enabling its members to explore new ways to co-operate.

As the Turkish Presidency rightly emphasizes, realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will require massive new investments, not least in infrastructure. Stepping up investment in sustainable and resilient infrastructure could meet many other needs simultaneously – including by creating jobs and laying foundations for long-term development gains.

The new agenda fits well with the G20’s agenda

First, it is a broader agenda, going beyond the MDG-era issues to encompass productive capacities, inclusive growth; peaceful and inclusive societies; and tackling climate change and the way our societies produce and consume goods and services. The G20’s programme of work has evolved to encompass many of the aspirations reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Clearly G20 efforts to help developing countries prepare and finance infrastructure projects is a good match for SDG 9 on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation. As well, the six priority areas of action identified by the G20 Development Working Group each have an SDG counterpart.

The new G20 Framework on Inclusive Business, designed with the support of UNDP and the World Bank, opens up new opportunities for low-income people and communities to participate in markets. This will also contribute to achieving several SDGs.

Understanding the inter-linkages between the SDGs is critical. To realize this ambitious set of Goals by 2030, policies and actions with beneficial impacts across a range of goals are needed. By convening senior officials from different sectors of governments, the G20 can identify and foster the whole-of-government approaches which are so critical for sustainable development.

A second way in which the 2030 Agenda is different from the MDGs lies in its universal applicability. The G20 could embrace this universal agenda as an overarching strategic framework for its work.

Individual G20 countries can also lead by joining the “early adopters” of the SDGs, and blazing a path for others to follow. Over the past year, UNDP has worked with a range of countries to pilot SDG implementation. Drawing from the global agenda, each pilot country developed targets and indicators which reflected its own local priorities and context.

To realize the new agenda, global action must be taken to address shared challenges – from climate change to financial and economic stability and communicable diseases.

The G20 was created precisely to maximize the impact which the collective action of major economies can have. It owes its existence to the realization that there are challenges which cannot be addressed by any one country alone. The big challenges – climate change, violent conflicts and the security and refugee crises they generate, an unsettled global economy, the threat of contagious disease, and deadly natural disasters – need collective action. The G20 can help generate the resolve to act.

Almost a year has passed since G20 Leaders in Brisbane agreed to promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth, and to raise G20’s collective GDP two per cent above the level it would otherwise be in 2018. As the G20 continues to work towards this goal, the focus should not be only on the speed of growth, but also on its quality – that is critical to the aim of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.

A G20 growth agenda which reinforces the 2030 Agenda should include investments and measures designed to benefit poor and marginalized communities, create jobs, and sustain livelihoods.

UN-G20 partnership for the SDGs

UNDP is working closely with other UN agencies, funds, and programmes to support countries in implementation of the SDGs. Our mandate and presence in more than 170 countries and territories, enable us to help design and support the kind of integrated solutions needed for sustainable development. We greatly value our interaction with G20 mechanisms, and seek to bring value to the discussions.

A strong UN-G20 partnership also supports the outreach of the G20 to the great majority of the world’s nations.

By working together, we increase the chances of success in achieving the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The G20’s role in support of that is vital.