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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Speech of First Vice-President Frans Timmermans 'A World to Transform' Post-2015 Development Summit - The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

New York, 27 September 2015

Mr. Chairman,

Ladies and gentlemen,


It's astonishing just how much has happened since the Millennium summit. We all know the figures, but if you actually picture the people behind them, they become more than just numbers.

Just think about it: a quarter of the world's population was born after that Summit.

Today they are 15 years old or younger.

Of all these kids, 9 out of 10 now get to go to school.

Those who are babies or toddlers are half as likely to die compared to 1990, and their mothers, half as likely to die in childbirth.

And for the girls among them, well, their chances of having real opportunities (even if by no means equal opportunities yet) have greatly improved – at school, at work, in life.

In short: many millions have come into a much better world than the generation before them.

The Millennium Development Goals have made a difference.

And as importantly: they helped us unite against indifference.

The European Union helped to drive this agenda – because we believe this is in essence what the United Nations were set up to achieve: social progress and a fairer future.

We are ready for the next chapter.

Ladies and gentlemen, the MDGs showed us that lack of development of some countries is a threat to all. But so is unsustainable development on a global scale. This is the challenge that today we commit to overcome together.

That makes the 2030 Agenda even more universal than the previous one.

The SDGs are not just for some countries, but for all countries – rich and poor alike.

Yes, the list is long. But these goals are comprehensive because they reflect the reality of today's world – and the way today's problems are daunting, complex, interlinked.

For the very first time in the history of mankind, the boundaries of the planet are actually within sight. Inequalities are increasing, social cohesion is eroding. Global competition for resources is at an all-time high.

The models that worked for so many of us in the past are not ones that will work for all of us in the future.

We have to redefine our societies, our relationship with nature.

Of course this feels threatening. But fear can be a powerful engine. We have to be creative. Because fundamentally this is about rethinking everything we do.

All of us – people, companies, governments, international organisations.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In countries like ours, there is no excuse for not meeting our 0.7% target for official development assistance. It's more urgent than ever.

But this time under the SDGs it's not about just footing the bill: those countries fortunate enough to have a developed or emerging economy are committed to play a different role. This is not just about development aid. It's just as much about change at home.

My main message, Europe's message to all these countries is: it's also our turn now to step out of our comfort zone. It's about very concrete questions. How we have to turn around our economies to make them circular – leaving behind our “take-make-consume and dispose” growth pattern.

How we must mend our societies' social fabric, and how we integrate newcomers – all the more when they come as refugees fleeing war persecution.

It's about clean air, water and oceans. More resilient cities, that are healthy, inclusive and safe.

About tackling food waste – a third of the food worldwide is thrown away which is frankly shocking beyond belief.

And it's about our collective action to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius.

These are not impossible goals. We have innovation on our side to find solutions – if we have the will to act. In Europe we are determined to do this jointly, and we want to fully engage with the UN in experience sharing, capacity building, and progress monitoring. We want to do this together.

The SDGs will shape our development policy, and infuse our policies abroad and at home.

Ultimately, this is all about governance. About inclusiveness: societies will only accept transformation if people feel their voices have been heard. And it's about breaking out of silos. Sustainable development is not just an economic or social challenge, or an environmental problem: it's all three – and our efforts on each need to reinforce rather than undermine one another.

Ladies and gentlemen,


The Agenda is about eradicating poverty and putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do.

And this is not just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do: for our economy, for our environment, for our society, for our children and grandchildren.

We have a world to transform, this common Agenda shows the way how.

Thank you.


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