UNDP Around the world

Helen Clark: Opening Speech UNDP 50th Anniversary Ministerial Meeting

Feb 24, 2016

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to UNDP’s 50th Anniversary Ministerial Meeting. It is a testament to the last five decades of partnership that so many senior Ministers and Heads of Government have travelled to New York to mark this important milestone for UNDP.

For fifty years UNDP has been working on the frontlines of development, advocating for change and connecting countries to the knowledge, experience, and resources they need to help people build better lives. The world has changed immeasurably in that time, and UNDP has changed with it. But the core mission of UNDP is more relevant than ever – that is, to support countries to eradicate poverty in a way which simultaneously reduces inequality and exclusion, while protecting the planet on which we all depend. 

Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by world leaders in this General Assembly Hall last September, provide the framework for the next phase of our work. Now, UNDP and the broader UN development system must work effectively with countries to advance this big, new, more complex, and transformational sustainable development agenda.

We have already taken steps to ensure that UNDP is fit for purpose in the SDG era. We have a more focused Strategic Plan; we have restructured our headquarters to eliminate duplication and improve efficiency and effectiveness, and we have moved much more of our policy, programme, and other support closer to the field. We have also implemented measures which have led to UNDP being ranked among the most transparent development organisations in the world.

Yet the ambition and breadth of Agenda 2030 will demand a great deal more of all of us. To be truly fit for purpose in the SDG era, UNDP must be ever more proactive, responsive, and innovative. That is the reason we have invited Ministers here today. We want your strategic engagement on the key challenges before us. We want to hear your assessment of where we can be most helpful in support of your national development efforts.

Our discussions today will focus on the themes at the heart of the sustainable development agenda and UNDP’s work in support of it, including: 

o    Eradicating poverty; leaving no one behind – looking at the specific measures which lead to inclusive growth and the eradication of poverty in all its dimensions
o    Protecting the planet, sustaining development – the importance of balancing economic growth and improved livelihoods with the need to protect the environment;
o    Preventing violent conflict, building peaceful societies – ensuring governance, peace and security are durable and benefit all parts of society; and
o    Managing risk and building resilience – looking at how to identify risks and take appropriate action to prepare for disasters and adapt to climate change.

I invite you all to share your most ambitious visions of how UNDP can support Member States in these areas. To move from agreement to action on the Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP must help to deliver results; and it must build and sustain new partnerships to tackle this complex agenda in these challenging times. Above all, UNDP must be relevant to you and your countries, and tackle the challenges which you identify.

Today’s meeting therefore is an opportunity to help shape the future of UNDP around the world. The conclusions and recommendations which emerge from our discussions will help guide our work as your partner for years to come.

Allow me once again to welcome you all most warmly to UNDP’s 50th Anniversary Ministerial Meeting, and to wish us all a day of discussions which will inspire our work together for human and sustainable development.