Statement by the UN Resident Coordinator Mr Anders Pedersen during UN Botswana Open House

Nov 13, 2015

Gaborone,Botswana

On behalf of the United Nations Country Team in Botswana, I am very happy to welcome you all to today’s UN Open House in Botswana to mark the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations.

This indeed is an exciting moment for the United Nations, it is a time to reflect and build upon our collective actions, achievements and to set priorities for the next development agenda. After seven decades of existence, we have lessons learnt and experiences to share. As United Nations we have triumphed, we have stumbled in our effort to ensure that everyone is put at the heart of the national agenda and in the midst of all these we never lost heart, because we had you in mind…”we the people”

2015 has been a memorable year for the UN family; after leading the world largest consultative processes, countries finally adopted the widely acclaimed Sustainable Development Goals, hence our focus on the SDGs this morning. For nearly 15 years, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been a guiding force on many issues affecting all people across the globe. Through the MDG framework, much progress has been made in reducing preventable deaths, getting more children into schools, reducing extreme poverty and in ensuring more people have access to safe water and nutritious food. However, progress has been uneven and many of the most pressing issues for the world, including addressing inequalities, promoting inclusive economic growth, protecting children from violence and combating climate change were not adequately covered in the MDGs.

The SDGs now present an opportunity to set a course for the next era of human development that is transformational for both people and planet. The Sustainable Development Goals are designed to build on the eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. The MDGs aimed at an array of issues that included slashing poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and access to water and sanitation. Enormous progress has been made on the MDGs, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets. Despite this success, the indignity of poverty has not been ended for all. The new SDGs, and the broader sustainability agenda, go much further than the MDGs, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.

For the first time governments of rich and poor countries have committed to bring to zero the number of poor people, to end child hunger, and to bring to an end the death of children from preventable disease. It is a level of ambition never seen before in world history.  And the goals apply not just to developing countries, but to all countries around the world, because even rich countries suffer to some extent from poverty and other forms of deprivation. This is why the term “leaving no one behind” is so important! As the UN Secretary General has often stated, this is the first generation in world history that can end absolute poverty in the world, a noble objective indeed.
The 17 goals also commit governments to creating open and accountable institutions free of corruption where the rule of law stands paramount. You will agree with me that all these aspirations, must be backed up by responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels so that the voice of citizens is heard. The successful implementation of these goals requires fundamental and transformative shifts in the way we perceive, plan and implement national developments.

Distinguished Guests,The SDGs could have not come at a better time, as they represent collective global push to tackle the root causes of poverty, through a sharper focus on issues of justice, inequality and equity. They embrace the need for a global transformation that leaves no one behind and gives every human being a fair chance of leading a decent life, the principle that we have seen Botswana government embracing over the years.
Today we celebrate our Annual Day, United Nations Day (although late), by opening our doors to all Batswana to see by themselves the work of the United Nations and to discuss development issues of concern to Botswana. By doing so, we recommit ourselves to strengthen even further our support to the Government of Botswana and all our partners in pursuit of our joint development aspirations. We have come a long way, very long, but obviously there are still outstanding challenges; increasing inequalities, stubborn poverty, and gender based violence, the need to diversify the economy, etc. Together I am convinced that we will also be able to overcome these.

Let me conclude and on behalf of the United Nations thank the Government of Botswana and all our partners for your continued support and close partnership with the United Nations.Thank you!

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