Global Goals Dinner

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg on the Global Goals Dinner in New York, 20 September 2016.

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Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you – fellow Sustainable Development Goals Advocates Richard Curtis and Paul Polman – for making this important event possible.

Both Richard and Paul are true pioneers, well ahead of their time.

Pioneers are sometimes viewed as rebels by their contemporaries.

This was also the case for the early sustainability activists.

Paul may have met resistance as a global business leader when he first started to promote his broad understanding of what is good for business.

Last year, 193 state leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals.

This was the moment when state leaders finally caught up with what people want and what our planet needs. (So we were not pioneers – let alone rebels).

The SDGs are now our roadmap to the world we want.

The pledge to leave no one behind is our guiding principle.

Why is this pledge so essential?

Nelson Mandela has put it best – and I quote: ‘As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest’.

‘Leave no-one behind’ is the right motto for our efforts.

It is also a smart motto in a world where many of the challenges we face are global.

The only way to stop communicable diseases and harmful climate change in any one area of the world is to take action throughout the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Two days ago, the Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (or ‘the Education Commission’ for short), which I launched in Oslo just over a year ago, handed over a set of proposals to the UN Secretary-General.

Thanks to this Commission, chaired by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, we know the risks we will face if we don’t make the investments needed to ensure education for all children and young people.

Let me share three important findings about what will happen if we fail to take action:

First, in 2050, GDP per capita in low-income countries will be almost 70 per cent lower than it would be if all children were learning. This amounts to an estimated loss of 1.8 trillion US dollars for low-income countries alone.

Second, by 2050, the number of lives lost each year because of lower levels of education will equal those lost today to HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Third, inequality fuels unrest. In countries with twice the levels of educational inequality, the probability of conflict more than doubles.

Girls’ education is an area where we need to move fast from words to action.

Financing is needed to tackle gender-based violence and other barriers to girls’ education.

The costs of having 37 million children and adolescents out of school due to crises and conflict are also huge.

The conflict in Syria has now raged for as long as World War II.

Education cannot wait for the crisis to end.

We need to act now.

The Commission recommends a Financing Compact for the Learning Generation. 

Under this Compact, a country’s pledge to invest more in education will trigger the support of the international community.

Norway will finance the Commission’s forthcoming efforts to reach out to countries and raise awareness.

We are determined to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.

In closing, let me stress that poverty eradication and stopping harmful climate change are within reach.

The fact that the US and China have now agreed to ratify the Paris agreement has given a big boost to our efforts.

Let us keep up the good work for sustainable development and the future we want.

Thank you.

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