Opening Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative, South Africa – Mr. Gana Fofang SDG and Agenda 2063 Roll Out Workshops Johannesburg

Jun 15, 2016

the UN Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Development System and the UNDP Resident Representative, South Africa – Mr. Gana Fofang

The Honourable Minister in the Presidency - Minister Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe

The Commissioner for Economic Affairs in the African Union Commission – Commissioner Dr. Anthony Maruping

The Kazakhstan Ambassador to South Africa - H.E. Mr. Talgat Kaliyev

All National Governments represented here

Members of CSOs and the Private Sector

Colleagues in the UN Family

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the UNDP Regional Director for Africa – Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, and on my own behalf, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you all to South Africa to this regional workshop on integrating Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 into National Development Plans and Strategies.

Let me start by thanking the Government of South Africa for agreeing to host this event and in particular, to Hon. Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for joining us in inaugurating this conference, and for his personal leadership in spearheading South Africa’s National Development Plan – Vision 2030. I wish to recognize the leading role that the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation has played in bringing the implementation of the National Development Plan in South Africa into the spotlight and my UNDP colleagues for jointly organizing the conference.

I thank the Government of Kazakhstan for the financial support and leadership for this initiative, and I wish to recognize in particular His Excellency, Ambassador Talgat Kaliyev of Kazakhstan for his Government’s keen interest in partnering with UNDP to advance the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 in the African Region in the spirit of South-South Cooperation.

I am also delighted to recognize Dr. Anthony Maruping, the Economic Commissioner of the Africa Union Commission who will share with us his insights into the role that Africa has played in shaping the global agenda for sustainable development and bring it all back home as articulated in the African agenda 2063.

Finally, Let me also extend the same appreciation to other national governments, CSOs and other stakeholders represented here for the commitment shown to issues affecting Africa as we all rally around the global and African vision of ‘a United and Prosperous Africa’ that will leave no-one behind’.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Last year was a watershed year for global development. Member States reached major new agreements which set the global development agenda for a generation – across the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement, the Sendai disaster risk reduction framework, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development.  The 2030 Agenda was shaped by many voices including Africa.

Agenda 2030 therefore belongs to the Member States of the United Nations and to the world’s peoples. This is our shared agenda. This conference should help make the SDGs vision a reality. I challenge all of us to take a long introspective look at ourselves as we discuss the best way to implement the SDGs at the country level, mindful of Agenda 2063. This is a bold but necessary step which shows the pragmatism and the level of preparedness that was absent on the continent at the turn of the millennium when the MDGs were first agreed upon.

The SDG agenda and Agenda 2063 demonstrate the scale and ambition of the new agenda which have the potential to transform nations and lives. They both propose transformative shifts to deal with some of the systemic and structural barriers to development on the continent. Implementing both agendas will be a huge undertaking – but one that should be faced with brevity as the alternative would leave Africa on an unsustainable development path.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Work begins on implementation of this new global agenda in much tougher times than those which prevailed when the MDGs were launched.

·      Global economic growth now is far from robust and Africa is facing up to more serious challenges than previously anticipated and bring to the spotlight how relevant and accurate sweeping statements such as “Africa Rising” really mean to the man on the street.

·      Fast technological progress and deepening globalization create opportunities for some people, but profound challenges for others, including for young people who struggle to find work.

·      Many communities and countries are being affected by severe natural disasters, and with climate change we can expect worsening weather events for decades.

·      A significant number of countries are experiencing violent conflicts causing loss of life, major development setbacks, and the displacement of people on a huge scale.

These realities offer important benchmarks for the implementation of the global and continental agendas which enjoy a high degree of convergence. The challenge would be how to translate the global and regional goals into responsive strategies that will see a transformed continent by 2030. The good news is that the 2030 Agenda sets out a bold and universal agenda which responds to these volatile and unpredictable times.

The SDGs offer this opportunity as the agenda aims to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs, advance economic, social development and environmental sustainability simultaneously, and to build peaceful and inclusive societies for more sustainable development.

This workshop is timely therefore, as it happens just before a lot of the countries represented here will be going into their national development planning processes. Ensuring that the global and regional goals are incorporated in our national development plans on the get-go will reduce transactional costs of implementing and reporting on parallel objectives as it was the case with MDGs.

The investments made today will help focus the efforts of development actors and resources at various levels towards a common purpose and vision.

But agendas remain mere words on paper unless they are implemented. So what will it take to achieve this bold new Agenda?

·      First, let’s affirm the critical importance of strong national ownership of and leadership on the 2030 Agenda. In this, we are off to a good start: many countries are already working on integrating the SDGs into their national policy frameworks and plans. South Africa’s National Development Plan - Vision 2030 is closely aligned with the vision of the SDGs.

·      Second, sustainable development requires an integrated approach to implementation – requiring cross-sectoral implementation of the SDG agenda. Often the key obstacles to achieving an important goal may lie outside an immediate sector targeted for attention.

We must remember that although presented in a ‘silo approach’, the SDGs should not be treated as isolated from each other as many goal areas and targets overlap. Such interactions need to be mapped out on the on-set in order to highlight the interlinkages.

·      Third, broad coalitions around the SDGs are neededGovernment commitment is vital, but insufficient on its own. Implementing the SDGs will be a huge task. It will require active government leadership and a broad coalition of actors, including CSOs, the private sector, philanthropy and multilaterals to make it happen. The way in which businesses do business will also have a huge impact on whether development is inclusive and sustainable.

·      Fourth, finance. Money isn’t everything, but it helps. All available resources must be drawn on for the new agenda – domestic and international, public and private, and environmental and developmental.


Official Development Assistance (ODA) will remain important, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable countries, including Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States - many of which struggle to raise significant domestic revenue and attract private finance. It is clear that small middle-income countries facing crises also need specific support.

·      Fifth, generating and sharing new ideas, knowledge, and technologies. Every country has relevant experiences to share, and every country has new things to learn. South-South Co-operation is playing a growing role in development, as evidenced by this very conference, and is greatly valued by developing countries. It will be significant in achieving the SDGs.

I am confident that this meeting will lay the foundations for the effective implementation of SDGs and Agenda 2063 at the country level. I would like to assure you that The United Nations Development System stands ready to provide

Integrated and coherent support to Member States’ efforts to achieve the SDGs. The UN Development Group has agreed on an approach to support countries in implementing the SDGs called MAPS which stands for:

·      Mainstreaming the agenda into national plans and budgets,

·      Accelerating progress across the agenda, and

·      Joined-up policy support from across the system.

Within this context, and important in Africa, UNDP will also provide specific packages of support in fragile and conflict-affected settings. In recent years, as some crises in this region have become protracted, UNDP has championed a resilience-based approach which better joins up humanitarian and development responses. The aim is to help strengthen capacities of communities’ cope even in the most dire circumstances, and to provide a basis for rapid recovery when peace is secured.

We look forward to working closely with the African Union and governments, civil society and private sector actors across this region to progress the new agenda.

I wish you very productive discussions here in Johannesburg.

I thank you.


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