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26 November 2012 - Informal discussions on the post-2015 development agenda "Toward a new generation of development goals" - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Q: Do you think we move to SDG too quickly?

I am in a question mode. I think we are facing a challenge and I am not quite sure that we are ready to face it, to respond to it.

I am pleased that a lot of people, including my country, think that our future agenda should be based on a global approach, integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development, that poverty eradication would be impossible without a more sustainable development strategy which requires more equitable, long term and environmental friendly development strategies. There is a sort of consensus in many capitals, and that I share, that the two processes, MDG’s and SDG’s, should converge. It sounds like common sense.

The problem is that here we are not only facing the diversity of the various forums, but we are facing some political and conceptual hurdles. I think the first ones will be the political ones. In this organisation, there are many countries which are genuinely worried that there will be a sort of dilution of the MDG’s into the SDG’s and that the main concern of poverty eradication linked to the ODA, to the level of ODA for instance, will be forgotten in a sort of mass statistics, and goals which actually should also be implemented by developed countries. We have to keep MDG particularity and to determine how to keep it.

On one side, there is a sort of conceptual agreement MDG’s and SDG’s should converge.

On the other side, the first question says “don’t forget SDG is about poverty eradication”.

The second element is conceptual. Everybody is speaking about SDG’s but frankly we still don’t know what the SDG’s really are. Some of them are quite easy to identify but what about the other ones, what are they going to be? I think we need a conceptual work. I’m sure that outside, in universities, in think tanks, answers exist but they have to reach the political level. It was quite easy to identify MDG’s, which was in political terms something positive, but with the SDG’s, how are we going to work: how are we going to conclude some conference and say “here are the SDG’s”? That is a real question.

And there is a conceptual question whether we should handle the SDG’s the same way as the MDG’s. The MDG’s are top-down oriented, you can define MDG’s. On the other hand, SDG’s are very diverse, they also can be very diverse according to the countries. They are a lot of ideas floating around.

On the French side, we are very keen on the idea of a social protection floor, a basic social protection for everybody in the world. There is the question of what well being measure can be used instead of GDP. There are a lot of innovative questions that we have to integrate.

I would also like to go back to the question of sequencing. A lot of countries are expecting us to say how much. Because there is also a question of money. A group is supposed to meet about the means of implementation.

I’m convinced that as long as this group has not really published or issued its conclusions for a lot of countries it would be difficult to take a commitment to SDGs or MDGS. They want to see where the money is.

So, again, I’m more on the question mode. At the same time, our groups are only starting their work, actually they have not even started because we have not succeeded to create them, our SDG group.

They are a lot of different questions, and some of these questions obviously will not be able to answered in the UN, at our level. We would need to have the civil society, we would need to have the universities, the think tanks, bringing, filling us with ideas. We have to think of other processes than top-down approach.

Learn more about MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU