For information only - not an official document
9 June 2015
Remarks of the UNOV/UNODC Director-General/Executive Director
UN Youth and Students Association of Austria - Global Advancement Programme
8 June 2015
Guten Abend, und vielen herzlichen Dank für die Einladung!
I'm very glad to be with you today.
Your programme director suggested that I address the issue of generational responsibility.
You are at a pivotal moment in your lives, on the cusp of great careers, with a whole lifetime of experiences ahead of you.
You have many ambitions and aspirations, and I very much hope that they go hand in hand with a sense of duty.
We have a responsibility to the children of the future, and for the world they will inherit, and you can help make a difference.
The question of generational responsibility is very pertinent for the United Nations, which was founded seventy years ago, with the devastation and horrors of the Second World War.
The world's leaders at that time came together with the determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
It was with this sense of responsibility for the future that they signed the UN Charter and founded the organization I have the privilege to serve here in Vienna.
This year, in fact later this month on the twenty-sixth of June, we will celebrate seventy years of the UN Charter.
It is a time for reflection, but more importantly it is a time for renewed commitment and redoubled action.
As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said many times, 2015 presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
We are the first generation that can end global poverty. We are the last generation that can slow global warming.
The seventieth anniversary comes as the world is building on the lessons and achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, to define the post-2015 development agenda.
It is also the twentieth anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth, which seeks to address the problems you face and increase opportunities for your participation in society.
Young people have in fact played a very big part in shaping the discussion on the post-2015 development agenda.
Last year, the UN launched the My World survey. We asked people from around the globe to share their views on what development goals mattered most.
This survey was an opportunity to use offline, online and mobile technologies to truly reach out and hear from the most marginalized, to listen to people who often struggle to have their voices heard.
More than seven million people have taken part in the survey, and seventy per cent of those people are under the age of thirty. Maybe some of you also took part.
This was the largest survey ever undertaken by the UN and it was a remarkable result, helping to provide a picture of the hopes and dreams of one in every one thousand of the citizens on this planet.
And this picture has provided very important input to the discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals to be included in the post-2015 development agenda, which is set to be adopted at a special Summit this September.
The post-2015 agenda will build on the MDGs.
As I am sure you know, the MDGs included eight goals, ranging from cutting extreme poverty rates in half and stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS to providing universal primary education, to be achieved by the target date of 2015.
The MDGs galvanized the world, and extraordinary progress was indeed achieved.
We were able to lift seven hundred million people out of extreme poverty, and cut the number of people suffering from hunger nearly by half.
Despite this progress, however, much more remains to be done.
The Secretary-General's synthesis report on the post-2015 development agenda made clear that conditions in today's world are a far cry from the vision of the Charter, highlighting that "amid great plenty for some, we witness pervasive poverty, gross inequalities, joblessness, disease and deprivation for billions".
The post-2015 development agenda is thus a call to action - to take up the unfinished work of the MDGs, to take advantage of innovations and new technologies that have emerged since 2000, and to work together for a better, more just world.
The international community has recognized the need for the post-2015 development agenda to be transformative and universal, and the My World survey has been very instructive in this regard.
The survey asked participants to vote for six out of sixteen issues which are most important to them and their families.
The top six priorities identified include a good education; better healthcare; better job opportunities; an honest and responsive government; affordable and nutritious food; and protection against crime and violence.
That is to say, while people believe that MDG concerns like education, health and food matter for development, they also care about governance, and protection from crime - priorities that were not part of the MDGs.
By addressing these priorities, the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, have the potential to be more comprehensive and integrated.
And indeed, the discussions on the post-2015 agenda thus far promise to break new ground, with proposed goals on inequalities, economic growth, jobs, energy, climate change, sustainable consumption and production, peace, justice and institutions.
Another aspect of the SDGs that I would like to point out is that they are meant to be universal, for developed and developing countries alike, and based on shared responsibility.
This is very important, because the world is facing increasingly interlinked and complex challenges that transcend borders.
That is true whether we are talking about Islamic State or Ebola, global warming or the continuing tragedy of migrants dying at sea.
These problems cannot be solved by the actions of any one country or region, and they require collective, coordinated responses, involving the participation of a broad range of actors, including civil society.
This interconnectedness, and need for partnerships, are very clear in our daily work here in Vienna.
In addition to being the Director-General of the UN Office at Vienna, I am also Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
In fact, the Austrian capital hosts the only entity in the entire UN system that deals with challenges posed by transnational organized crime, illicit drug trafficking, corruption, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, piracy, wildlife crime, cybercrime and terrorism.
All of these challenges have implications for development, which has been recognized in the discussions on the post-2015 agenda.
One of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, goal sixteen, focuses on "Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels".
UNODC has established research expertise on drugs and organized crime, and our Office has also been contributing to discussions on developing indicators for rule of law-related targets.
This is also very important, because another lesson of the MDGs is that being able to measure progress is essential if we want to support governments in upholding their commitments.
That is why the SDGs need be based on clear, meaningful targets that can be agreed globally, customized at the national level and supported by monitoring and evaluation.
So as you can see, UNODC has a lot to contribute to the post-2015 agenda.
Vienna is one of the UN's four global headquarters, and other members of the UN family here also have their part to play in support of an ambitious and aspirational post-2015 development agenda.
You probably know the International Atomic Energy Agency from the headlines on Iran or Fukushima. But the agency also promotes peaceful uses of nuclear energy, for example by using nuclear science in medicine and agriculture.
The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization is establishing global verification to detect clandestine nuclear tests, and the data from this system is also being used for other purposes, such as tsunami warnings, tracking migration on marine mammals and monitoring ash clouds from volcanoes.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization promotes competitive and environmentally sustainable industry.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, or UNOOSA, promotes international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space.
Now, it may not be readily clear what outer space has to do with development. But the data that satellites can collect from space can support decision making as well as monitoring and evaluation on different dimensions of development, including hunger, poverty and health.
In fact, UNOOSA just held a global conference on satellite-based Earth observation in climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.
Just another example of the use of satellite technologies: UNOOSA manages the UN-SPIDER programme, which stands for "United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response".
After the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last month, UN-SPIDER was able to compile satellite-based information showing which areas and roads had been destroyed, which helped aid agencies target their relief efforts by showing how they could reach people in need faster.
I've just mentioned some of the UN bodies based here in Vienna. There are others too, covering environmental matters and trade law, for example.
And there are of course many more members of the UN family all over the world, bringing diverse expertise and contributions, but working together as one UN.
While we continue to face many grave problems, the UN system has shown a remarkable capacity to adapt and respond over its seventy years.
I am confident that we will be able to rise to the post-2015 challenge and support a truly inspiring set of sustainable development goals.
And you have a role to play here too. We need you to step up, to engage and speak out.
Whether you choose a career in public service, or another path, you have the means to help others, to think beyond personal or national interests, and to help build a more just, peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
This is what generational responsibility means.
Thank you very much again, and I wish you all the best with your studies.
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