Statement by Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary General

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Summit [Opening Plenary]

New York
25 September 2015




I am honored to stand before you today at this historic summit, on behalf of UNCTAD, the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development, as you meet to ratify the most comprehensive plan of action for global development that we have seen in the 70 years existence of the United Nations.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a bold, inclusive and collective vision for transforming the world we live in to achieve the future we all want.

I take great personal satisfaction in the fact that the agenda before you offers a universal consensus on dignity for all, a better planet for all, and prosperity for all, in close accordance with the founding vision of UNCTAD.

As you all know, the international community functions at its best when the relevant actors complement, rather than compete with, one another.

With the historic agreement on Sustainable Development Goals, I am pleased that the central role which trade and development plays in sustainable development has been recognized and I assure you that the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development stands ready to make a lasting contribution to the end of extreme poverty and the shift of our global economy to a low carbon future.

We at UNCTAD are uniquely appreciative of the trust that the SDG agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda places in our fifty years of expertise and experience.

The challenge before us now is to turn from decisions to actions, from negotiations to implementation. The role of UNCTAD and the entire UN development system has been strengthened in the Financing for Development process, and with the SDG means of implementation. At UNCTAD we are already supporting Members on monitoring and accountability of over 50 SDG targets.

For all of us in the UN system the scale at which we operate, and the efficiency with which we deliver must now achieve new synergies and resonance with the new agenda.

Make no mistake about it. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals will require a massive investment push over the next 20 years into a broader set of sectors and industries than we have ever seen undertaken on a worldwide scale. At UNCTAD we have calculated that there is unmet need of $2.5 trillion annually in developing countries alone.

Yet, today the gloomy state of the world economy imperils the chances for such an investment push. The slow pace of growth in global trade has us on track for the slowest period of trade expansion since the end of the Second World War. This is unacceptable and incompatible with the enabling environment needed to achieve the SDGs.

The Least Developed Countries will be the "testing ground" of the SDGs - the LDCs will make or break the SDGs. Massive needs must be met there, particularly in investment and infrastructure, if the SDGs are to be met.

This makes it all the more worrisome that the world economy today, particularly in emerging markets, is in a much more anxious state than it was even six months ago, let alone six years ago, when we'd hoped the worst of the financial crisis was behind us.

Growth in emerging economies is what carried the MDGs, not just because of the poverty reduction in emerging markets themselves, but also because of a sustained commodity boom that fuelled growth across all developing regions.

Turning today's more uncertain growth prospects into tomorrow's SDG achievement raises the bar much higher for all countries, especially LDCs. And precisely at the time when the developing world is facing growing risks from market turmoil, human suffering and violent conflict.

But it is in the darkest hours when cooperation between all peoples of all nations is most important, and it is my belief that the SDGs can reinvigorate the ambition of international cooperation. And within our own sphere of expertise, UNCTAD will help accomplish this.

We have the tools to needed to generate the massive push of investment needed, to leave no one left behind, and to reinvigorate our multilateral spirit.

And as we now turn to the actions needed to achieve the SDGs, I am confident that we can undertake them with the same level of ambition with which we have committed to them.

Thank you for your kind attention.