In Mauritius, Ban urges focus on small States in realizing development targets
9 May 2016 – Small island developing States magnify the issues of sustainable development due to their unique vulnerabilities, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling for extra attention to be paid to the experiences and needs of nations such as Mauritius as leaders continue to work on implementing development targets.
“As a nation on the forefront of meeting the sustainable development challenge, Mauritius is well placed to be an example for the world,” said Mr. Ban at an event in the country on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We will continue to look to the experience of Mauritius. We will learn from your approaches to integrate the economic, environmental and social dimensions of development. And we will support you every step of the way,” he added.
The Secretary-General noted that while everyone was proud this past September when world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs, mindsets must change in order to realize the implementation of such targets.
“We will need high-level, high-energy political commitment. We will need a renewed global partnership for development. We will need to go beyond traditional statistics and embrace a data revolution,” the UN chief said.
For its part, the 2030 Agenda demands that any policy, plan or action considers the most vulnerable, Mr. Ban emphasized.
“It says we must prioritize social goals and the integrity of the planet and transform our economy. It summons us to look beyond national borders and short-term interests and act in solidarity,” he said.
To achieve this, institutions – starting with the UN – must adapt and become fit for an even bigger purpose, Mr. Ban said.
“But this agenda will not be realized in New York or Geneva. It will happen in communities and it will take everyone,” the Secretary-General stressed.
Specifically, Mr. Ban said that realizing sustainable development targets will encompass involving leaders from civil society, who will help to shape and implement policies, as well as hold leaders to account; leaders from the private sector, who can be a “critical engine room for action” leaders from academia, who can help to ensure informed decision-making; and leaders from Parliament and local governments, who are crucial to grounding policies to everyday realities and making a real difference in people's lives.
“In a word, sustainability is development that respects people and the planet,” the Secretary-General said. “Sustainable development requires us to make the linkages between climate change, energy, food security, water scarcity, global health and decent work.”
The Secretary-General noted that Mauritius had demonstrated strong results towards achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), by expanding education, enhancing gender equality and reducing poverty and infant mortality. The country has also been a leader in raising the unique perspectives and contributions of small island developing States in advancing sustainable development.
“From rising sea levels to increased risks of cyclones and droughts, you are very familiar with the challenges that arise when sustainability is not integrated with development,” Mr. Ban said.
Indeed, he highlighted that Mauritius has been at the forefront of promoting the ocean economy as a pillar of development, and is one of a few countries with a dedicated Ministry of Ocean Economy.
Noting that Mauritius was among the first 15 countries to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, Mr. Ban said he was very pleased that President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim had accepted his invitation to co-chair the UN-World Bank High-Level Panel on Water.
“You are helping to prove that we must move from aspirations to action – from intentions to implementation,” the UN chief said. “I am here to reaffirm the commitment of the United Nations to fully support Mauritius on that critical journey.”
As such, the Secretary-General said he was honoured to work with Mauritius in the country's efforts to translate the global agenda to the national level through the adoption of ambitious policies and measures – as well as critical monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
Moreover, Mr. Ban said he was greatly encouraged to support the country's adoption of Vision 2030 and other measures to reduce poverty and inequality, noting that the UN will continue to strongly support the widest possible coalition of supporters for the SDGs.
“From here, let us send a message across Mauritius and around the world,” Mr. Ban said. “Let us all step forward to make sure no one is left behind. Let us together build a better, more sustainable world for all.”
At a press conference with Mauritius Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the Secretary-General reiterated the leadership role that Mauritius plays among small island developing States, as well as its contributions in areas including climate action, promoting the ocean economy, and advancing sustainable development.
“I am impressed by Mauritius' achievements in socio-economic development and in consolidating democracy,” Mr. Ban said.
“Its economic policies, focusing on growth and employment and its strong social welfare system, are models for others. These initiatives have contributed to helping Mauritius become an upper-middle-income country,” he added.
The Secretary-General noted that the country's leadership role and socio-economic performance will also be instrumental in promoting women's economic empowerment and strengthening gender equality.
“Mauritius will continue to have an important leadership role in its implementation along with other States, and this ties into the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“Mauritius has much to offer the world, and in particular, Africa, by way of promoting peace, maintaining unity and national identity while respecting the diversity of its people,” the Secretary-General said.
Arriving in Mauritius yesterday evening, Mr. Ban met with President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. The tow discussed implementation of the SDGs, efforts to combat climate change and, in particular, the situation of the small island developing States. The Secretary-General also thanked the President for accepting his invitation to co-chair the UN-World Bank High-Level Panel on Water.