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Statement at UNESCO Leaders’ Forum

Paris, 6 November 2013

"Norway is ready to assume its share of the common international responsibility, and will focus particularly on energy, health, education and gender equality, as key building blocks for the post-2015 framework", said state secratry Hans Brattskar in his statement.

Check against delivery

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank you for your valuable contributions earlier today on this important agenda. It is a particular pleasure for me to be able to represent the new Norwegian Government in this debate at the UNESCO Leaders’ Forum.

As a point of departure, let us not forget that the world has seen remarkable improvements in living standards, education and health over the last few years. The Millennium Development Goals have helped mobilise global action to lift more than half a billion people out of extreme poverty.

Our first ambition, however, should be to fulfil all the goals as soon as possible. That should be the starting point as we now discuss new development goals and ambitions.

State secretary Hans Brattskar (right) at Leaders Forum in Unesco, Paris
State secretary Hans Brattskar (right) at Leaders' Forum in Unesco, Paris. Left: Dankert Vedeler, special adviser at the Norwegian delegation in Paris. (Photo: Børge Olav Romsloe, The delegation in Paris)

Norway believes that the new agenda should include goals relating to health, women’s rights and gender equality, and global education. A lot has been achieved, but further action is needed.

Women represent nearly two thirds of the world’s illiterate and over 30 million girls are still deprived of education around the world. We need to give priority to securing girls’ and women’s right to education in developing countries.

The equal participation of men and women in society is not just a question of human rights, but also an important factor in economic development and prosperity. We have seen this in Norway, where the steadily growing number of women in our workforce has made a very important contribution to social development and economic growth.

The post-2015 development goals should also make reference to access to energy, because this is so essential for all kinds of development. We need to focus on increased use of renewable energy, enhanced energy efficiency and the development of new green technologies.

We must make another concerted effort towards attaining the MDGs, including MDG 2 on achieving universal primary education, as well as the Education for All goals. Norway will maintain its high level of funding for education.

We strongly encourage consolidated efforts in the field of education both within the UN family – with UNESCO and UNICEF being the most important organisations in this context – and in existing initiatives such as the Global Education First Initiative and the Global Partnership for Education. By pulling together, we can build a solid platform for a balanced and coherent post-2015 education goal.

We should focus on the most marginalised and excluded groups, and do our utmost to reach out to children who are deprived of fundamental human rights. Education is not only a right and a goal in itself; it is vital for attaining goals in almost all other sectors of society. In the words of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: “When we put education first, we can reduce poverty and hunger, end wasted potential – and look forward to stronger and better societies for all.”

It is crucial that we achieve a universal and coherent global development agenda, with clear and communicable goals and measurable targets, which addresses poverty eradication and sustainable development in all their dimensions. Education must have a central place on this agenda.

Norway welcomes the fact that the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda was so clear on this point. All the consultations, conferences, research projects and dialogues that have discussed the new development goals arrive at the same conclusion. Education must be our primary focus in the quest for sustainable development.

Norway will seek to work closely with our partner countries, fellow donors, the multilateral agencies and non-state actors to make sure that the post-2015 education agenda continues to be given priority.

UNESCO has a crucial role to play in moving this agenda forward. We must remember that “Education for All” preceded the Millennium Development Goals. Needless to say, UNESCO’s unique normative work within the fields of education, culture, science, communication and information provides truly valuable input to the post-2015 agenda. As we continue to build our societies, we must address issues such as quality of life, and not only physical quality of life, but also emotional, spiritual and cultural.

Norway is ready to assume its share of the common international responsibility, and will focus particularly on energy, health, education and gender equality, as key building blocks for the post-2015 framework.

We should all offer our full support to the Secretary-General and his good offices to drive forward the process towards developing a new set of internationally agreed goals in 2015.

Thank you