President Sirleaf poses with other dignitaries at the conference in New York
New York, U.S.A. – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has implored participants at the International Conference on Sustainable Development to become part of a global partnership and strive to support a more sustainable, just and inclusive world.
According to a dispatch from New York, President Sirleaf made the call when she delivered the keynote address at the International Conference on Sustainable Development held at the Alfred Lerner Hall, Columbia University in New York, USA, on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.
The 2015 International Conference on Sustainable Development was organized the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (a global initiative for the United Nations), Global Association (focused in development practice programs) and Columbia University. The event was a part of the Kapuscinski Development Lecture Series of the University and was moderated by international journalist, writer and moderator, Femi Oke.
President Sirleaf stressed that the world has travelled a long-road to reach an historic moment with the endorsement of the Millennium Declaration, which was signed by more than 180 countries and translated in 2002 into quantifiable and time-bound goals to end human suffering from poverty, hunger, and disease, to ensure environmental sustainability and to form a new global partnership.
She recalled that in 2012, the Secretary General of the United Nations appointed a High Level Panel of Eminent Persons to consider what might constitute a successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); urging the panel members to consider the most pressing development challenges of the 21st century.
The Liberian leader reflected that she had a great pleasure chairing the Panel alongside United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron and Indonesian President S. Banbang Youdhoyono. “Together with 24 other high-level persons, from the academia, government, the private sector and civil society, we put forth a set of 12 potential development goals, encapsulated in our report: “A New Global Partnership”, she said.
President Sirleaf pointed out further that the United Nations concurrently established an inter-governmental process, under the Open Working Group, and subsequently launched a full Inter-Governmental Negotiation which resulted into the 2030 Agenda, including 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be agreed upon by Heads of State and Government on 25th September, 2015 at the United Nations General Assembly. “This really is an historic moment. There will be more Heads of State and Governments at the United Nations General Assembly than since the UN’s founding. It is a unique opportunity to set the world on a safer, more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous path,” President Sirleaf emphasized.
Most importantly, the Liberian leader said, the new agenda has been shaped by the world’s global citizens owing to the widespread global consultations that were held from men and women, young and old, rich and poor; from the global north to the global south. She also indicated that despite the diversity of the global community, they have managed to craft a coherent and ambitious vision for the world.
Touching on the Ebola situation, President Sirleaf indicated that the belief that all are one shared humanity – part of an interconnected world was brought into sharp focus by the Ebola epidemic that ravaged Liberia as well as two neighboring countries in West Africa. “The virus killed more than 4,000 people across Liberia and has affected many many more. Families have been torn apart by this earth-shattering illness that emerged so quickly and left the global health community dumbfounded. The virus also exposed the weaknesses in our health system, in the number of trained health workers, our disaster preparedness and regional coordination,” President Sirleaf outlined.
She then announced that Liberia has successfully beaten back the virus, the country is for the second time declared Ebola free and the U.S. has lifted Ebola screening procedures and travelers’ sanctions on Liberia also for the second time.
The Liberian President pointed out that the collective spirit with which Liberia overcame the Ebola virus disease is at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. That spirit, she said, is about one humanity, one world, and working together to tackle the most intractable problems of the 21st century. “Through our collective skills, trainings and ingenuity, we can develop technologies, approaches and interventions to surmount any challenge,” she noted.
President Sirleaf said that thankfully, a data revolution is underway, which combined with new information communication technologies, is providing a whole new toolbox of data collection, compilation and analytical approaches.
She further suggested that working together, in global partnership, capitalizing on the power of new technologies, new data systems and collective actions, she is confident that the world can embark on a transformative development agenda that secures the future of both people and planet in this generation and for many thereafter.
She believed that with the Sustainable Development Agenda, the world will be a generation to end extreme poverty and the young people will sustain the planet for years to come.
Earlier, the European Commission’s Deputy Director General, International Cooperation and Development, Klaus Rudischhauser introduced President Sirleaf at the conference; while the Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Earth Institute of Columbia University and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on MDGs, Mr. Jeffery Sachs; Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Jan Eliasson; Secretary General Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina Mohammed; among others spoke at the occasion.
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