Opening address at High Level Event on the world's poorest people

UN Building, New York City, 18 July 2016

                                                                             Check against delivery

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

First, I would like to thank the Netherlands, Kenya, the Overseas Development Institute and CIVICUS for making this important meeting happen.

The pledge to leave no one behind is the guiding star of the SDG era. It is like putting the high jump bar up to a world record height.

We have put the bar that high to help us see what a massive task we have set ourselves and ensure that we mobilise resources accordingly.

Why is this pledge so important?

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’. 

Eradicating extreme poverty, ensuring mothers and children do not die from avoidable complications during birth, making sure that everyone is nourished – and gets a quality education is our common responsibility.

So leaving no one behind is the right motto for our efforts.

It is also a smart motto.

I see the 17 SDGs as a roadmap for fixing what is broken in our globalised and interdependent world.

If we are to achieve lasting peace, stop forced migration, fight pandemics and ensure environmental sustainability anywhere in the world, our common SDG efforts must apply everywhere in the world.

Since we are smart and determined to do what is right – we will not leave fragile and marginalised areas and populations behind. 

Like a champion high jumper training for a world record attempt, we have to approach our goal in a systematic and holistic way.

We know from the MDG campaign that reaching the most marginalised is difficult.

This is mainly due to problems of access and high costs.

It is often hard to reach people trapped in areas of crisis and conflict for obvious reasons of safety.

And it is costly because a good deal of infrastructure has to be built from scratch in the poorest and most marginalised areas of the world.

This means that people living in these areas fall behind on virtually all the development taking part elsewhere in the world, and that they do not enjoy even the most basic rights.

However this should be taken as a challenge – not a discouragement.

If it takes preventing and stopping wars – if it takes building basic infrastructure from scratch – to reach the most vulnerable, marginalised and destitute, we are going to do it.

We are going to do it for our common good – regardless of where we live and how we live.

Education and health are two key factors for success. Let me offer a few examples of what my own country is involved in when it comes to these sectors.

When my Government took office almost three years ago, we put education first in Norway’s development policy.

We are doubling development aid for education over a four-year period. In 2016 we will invest about 340 million US dollars in global education.

Girl’s education and education in emergencies and crises are given particular attention.

37 million children and adolescents are out of school due to crises and conflicts. So far, the international community has done too little, too late in this field. It is also crucial to find better ways of bridging humanitarian and development aid. 

Children and young people who are not in school are at a higher risk of exploitation. Girls have a greater risk of child marriage or sex slavery, boys of becoming child soldiers.  

Norway has played an active role in developing the Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies.

Together with Argentina, Norway has also played a leading role in establishing the Safe Schools Declaration, which protects schools and universities from military use during armed conflict. The declaration was adopted in May 2015 and has been endorsed by 54 states.  

I encourage all states to join the Declaration.

At the same time, the downward trend in financing education must be reversed to ensure that no one is left behind.  

Last summer I initiated the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunities,

The commission’s report will be presented to the UN Secretary-General in September. My hope is that this report will mobilise additional political will and financial resources for education.

Turning to our global health efforts, Norway’s investments in 2016 will amount to 365 million US dollars. Our two main funding channels are GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance and the Global Fund to Fight Aids Tuberculosis and Malaria. Both initiatives are increasing their efforts and resources to help the hardest to reach.

As you continue this important meeting, I encourage you to do what record breakers do: keep your focus on the goal – not on the obstacles.

If we do that, we can – together – achieve a breakthrough in sustainable development – leaving no one behind.

Thank you.