A Global Restart

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the SDG Advocacy Group-meeting in Davos, 21 January 2016.

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Secretary-General, Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

The 2030 agenda is a global call to action.

For the first time in history, the international community has agreed on a roadmap to the future we want that will leave no one behind.

We have agreed on a comprehensive plan that is indivisible and borderless and that addresses fundamental aspects of economic, social and environmental development.

Only a few years ago it was difficult to believe that 193 countries would be able to agree on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It certainly required a leap of faith. The recent shift in global thinking has not come a day too soon.  

Business as usual would have been a recipe for social, economic and environmental bankruptcy. Addressing poverty, inequality, conflict, forced migration and global warming is not something that can wait. These are highly complex global challenges that affect us all, no matter where we live or how we make a living.

We must take action now. The 17 goals adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 are not a menu. They are a marching order. The first line of the preamble to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reads,  ‘This agenda is a plan of action, for people, planet and prosperity.’ So, I repeat, action is what world leaders agreed to.

Now that we understand the urgency and have the SDGs to guide our efforts, we must invest in the future we want. These efforts will require innovative and massive investment – and smart investment that takes us in the right direction.

We can achieve the 17 SDGs by building on and learning from the successful Millennium Development Goals campaign. Progress made on education, health and equal rights – which were central elements of the MDGs – has strengthened the foundation for sustainable development in all areas. We have also learned some general lessons from the MDG campaign that will be helpful in our SDG efforts.

First, progress on any given goal will be faster if we make use of effective partnerships. These should involve all the crucial actors: governments, the private sector, the UN and the development banks, civil society, science and academia and NGOs. And if we make use of suitable investment models, we can scale up financing from millions to the trillions that are needed.

Second, the 17 SDGs are part of a holistic sustainable development agenda. We must get away from ‘silo’ thinking and cultivate the synergies between goals. One good example is the well documented synergy between education –particularly for girls – and health.

Third, simply establishing goals does not lift people out of poverty or safeguard our environment. Unless national governments show political will and resolve, progress will be limited or non-existent. Goals must be accompanied by coherent strategies, policies and investments at national level. This will require improving tax revenues, halting illicit financial flows, eliminating tax havens and combating corruption.

Fourth, good data are needed as a basis for good policies and programmes and the decisions needed to tackle global challenges. We must therefore improve data collection at national and global level.

Lastly, and this is an issue that cannot be stressed enough, it has proved very difficult to make progress in areas that are affected by crisis and conflict. These areas of the world fell behind on most MDGs. Crisis and conflicts are our common global enemy. The international community, must therefore act together to improve the situation in these areas.

Like other countries, Norway will do its utmost to reach the goals and targets at home. Just like other countries, we will struggle to meet all the goals.

We will only succeed if we work together. The spirit and determination of state leaders at the SDG Summit in New York was clearly evident. We must not let this determination be weakened.  If we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we can be the generation that finally ends extreme poverty. We are also the last generation that still has a chance to stop irreparable damage to our climate. It’s now or never.