SDG Forum

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the Sustainable Development Goals  Forum in Seoul in South Korea 15 April 2016.

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Thank you Ambassador Dho for introducing me. Thank you also for the close cooperation we have had on advocacy for several years now. First we worked together on the Millennium Development Goals – and now we are working on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Mr Speaker, Members of Parliament, Chairperson Kweon, UN Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Gass, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.

Let me first say how pleased I am to be in South Korea. I am here to learn from this country’s tremendous development experience. South Korea’s efforts and the hard work of its people are an inspiration to other countries.

Since I arrived yesterday, I have already enjoyed some of the culinary, cultural and technological marvels of South Korea. I have also travelled back in time to another era of your history. This morning I laid a wreath of commemoration on the Participating Nations Monument at the National War Memorial of Korea. Three Norwegian soldiers died here in active UN service.

I look forward to visiting Ulsan and Busan tomorrow to learn more about important industrial drivers of South Korea’s impressive performance in the world economy.

The world’s top diplomat, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, often use examples from his beloved South Korea when he talks about global goals and development in general. He has much to be proud of – and so have the people of this country.

Ban Ki-moon has demonstrated a deep commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development. His strong leadership was instrumental in establishing the ambitious and universal SDG agenda.

The topic for today’s discussion is the importance of politics, partnerships and public participation. All essential factors for eradicating extreme poverty – and doing so in a sustainable way.

I was one of the 193 heads of state and government who adopted the SDGs in New York last September. That was a milestone on the road to sustainable development.

However, simply establishing goals will not in itself lift people out of poverty. Unless national governments show the political will and resolve to make progress on a given goal, progress will be limited or non-existent.

This means that goals must be accompanied by coherent strategies, policies and investments.

National ownership of these globally agreed development goals in parliaments and populations is crucial. To make a difference, global goals also have to be translated into enforceable domestic legislation, and taken into account in budget processes.

In short, parliamentarians and other politicians have a major responsibility for ensuring national ownership of the SDGs, and for mobilising resources for targeted efforts to reach the goals.

SDG progress will be faster if we adopt partnership models involving governments, the private sector, UN agencies, international development banks, civil society, academia and NGOs. 

The UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child health initiative is an excellent example. It is a partnership between national governments, the UN, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. Last year I took part in the launching of the Global Financing Facility, which is an innovative financing mechanism for the Every Woman Every Child initiative. We expect this mechanism to make a difference for the SDG goals related to maternal and child health.

The Vaccine Alliance known as Gavi is another outstanding example of what can be achieved when the right partnerships are formed. Gavi was created in January 2000, based on a pledge of USD 750 million over five-years.

Gavi brought together key UN agencies, governments, the vaccine industry, the private sector and civil society.

By 2015, Gavi had been part of efforts that reached 500 million additional children, preventing more than 7 million deaths in the process.

Gavi aims to reach an additional 300 million children between 2016 and 2020. This will prevent a further 5-6 million deaths.

To put these figures in perspective – a number of children equal to the entire population of Norway will be saved over the next four years thanks to this partnership.

Similar partnerships and financing mechanisms must be established in all the SDG areas.

My Government has set education as its number one development priority. We are doubling Norwegian funding for global education over the current parliamentary period.

More funding is required however. At the Oslo Summit on Education in July last year, I launched the International Commission on the Financing of Global Education Opportunities.

Under former UK Prime Minster Gordon Brown’s leadership, the commission will submit its report to the UN in September.

I look forward to studying the recommendations, and will be looking for innovative partnership approaches that strengthen the case for investments in education.

I am pleased to see many young people in this room. You have everything to gain from a successful SDG campaign, including inclusive and sustainable economic growth that addresses youth unemployment.  

Young people are important change makers. Your active participation in the SDG campaign is needed, not least to hold governments, politicians and the private sector accountable to the goals.

The SDG process included a global consultation process. This was the largest development conversation in history. Stakeholders at all levels of society participated. The millions around the world who took part in the consultations in one way or another will stay engaged.

Remember, the SDGs were adopted against the backdrop of the global climate crisis, the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and a migration crisis that is also posing huge challenges for Europe. The SDGs provide a global response to our common challenges, and we need to step up to the plate to achieve them.