New York — By responding to an unprecedented global survey, UN Member States can turn hope into action and build a more equitable world with decent health care, education, and jobs for all, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said Monday.
As chair of the UN Development Group, comprising 32 UN funds and programmes that implemented the project, she spoke on a high-level panel about the resulting report "A Million Voices: What People Want," which gathered views and votes from more than 1 million people worldwide.
"I understand a number of Member States are already paving the way by drawing on the outcomes of their national consultations and global results to shape goals that will succeed the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after their 2015 target," she said. "I welcome this, and hope that it will also inspire other nations to do the same."
"By listening and responding to these voices, UN Member States can chart new territory--generating the kind of public ownership which could turn the world's aspirations into action through an agenda monitored and championed by the people to whom it matters most."
"The World We Want" consultations and surveys found people expect governments and the international community to create conditions for inclusive social and economic development, peace and security, within planetary boundaries. They want world leaders to focus on:
- Completing the unfinished business of the MDGs by providing universal access to water, food, better health care, and quality education;
- Managing natural resources, job creation, and security and freedom from violence;
- Redressing inequalities, notably by removing obstacles to access to public services, political participation, and job opportunities.
Calls for better education, improved health care, honest and responsive government, and jobs has dominated discussions around the world.
"A Million Voices: What People Want" was presented Monday to world leaders during the 68th UN General Assembly. Consultations and surveys will continue through 2015 so people's opinions can inform the intergovernmental process shaping the post-2015 development agenda.
More than 300,000 people engaged in face-to-face meetings in 88 countries and 11 consultations on issues such as food security, access to clean water, and governance. The WorldWeWant2015 Web platform hosted online discussions, which brought together communities of experts.
Some 1 million people participated through the MY World 2015 options survey, using digital channels, SMS and extensive offline interactions through a network of over 700 civil society partners. Most MY World votes came from India, Nigeria, Cameroon, Thailand, Philippines, Rwanda, the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil and Indonesia. Half the participants were younger than 30. An online world map show results of the survey--allowing people to separate out the results by countries, regions, gender, levels of education or age.
Panelists here Monday also included: Alicia Barcena, Director of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the chair of the UN Economic Commissions; Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning; Augustine Ngafuan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liberia; Fumio Kishida, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Milo Dukanovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro; Monique Coleman, Actress and Global Youth Adviser; Pascal Canfin, Minister of Development of France.
Reaching out to the poor and excluded was a priority
Helen Clark noted that consultations aimed from the outset to reach a broad cross-section of the world's peoples, including those who live day-to-day with poverty and exclusion. Among emerging messages, she said, was that people don't want their leaders to give up on the MDGs but want to build on those goals by improving the quality of basic services.
"In the 88 national consultations, people aired their frustration with inequality in all its forms, and expressed their desire for dignity and respect for all. In recognizing the multiple dimensions of poverty, they conveyed a clear sense that our world is deeply unfair, and that the dynamics of power and exclusion have left certain people, groups, and countries behind," she said.
"Thus the 1 million voices reflected in this report are sending a clear message that they want governments and all partners and stakeholders to work to reduce inequalities between women and men, rural and urban areas, ethnic and religious groups, rich and poor, and on all other dimensions," Helen Clark said.
"They make a compelling call for the empowerment and advancement of women and girls, investment in their education and health, and for ensuring that their rights, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights, are upheld."
The eight MDGs--which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015--form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world's poorest.
Read the Millennium Development Goals report here (PDF).