For me, the Millennium Development Declaration embodies a great, humanist ambition to promote the human rights and dignity of every girl and boy, every woman and man, in every society across the world.
The MDGs were designed to tackle extreme poverty and hunger, to improve maternal health and reduce child deaths, to address the failure to get children – girls and boys alike - to school, to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, to ensure environmental and biosphere protection, to combat endemic diseases and to build a global partnership for development.
There has been great progress, including in some of the poorest countries – but advances have been uneven, especially in Africa, and much remains to be done in order to realize the future we want for all people.
Our tasks now are clear – we must make a new big push to help countries reach the MDGs by 2015 and we must start shaping a new global development agenda aimed at ensuring sustainability.
The global conversation has opened on the post-2015 agenda, to which we must all contribute. With our mandate to promote international cooperation in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information, UNESCO’s contribution is essential.
A new development agenda must be bold. It needs to balance universality and focus. It needs to be universal in terms of its appeal and contents, while helping us focus on what is most urgent – the eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequalities, and the ending of discrimination. It needs to place the values of equality, human rights and sustainable development at its core. It must respond to the needs of contemporary societies – notably, by accelerating Education for All, by fostering social inclusion and tackling unemployment, in particular among the youth.
It must help us deal better with environmental degradation and unsustainable practices. Last, but not least, it must promote peace and security, by urging people to learn to live together in a peaceful and just manner, giving priority to mutual understanding, tolerance and dialogue.
UNESCO is making a strong contribution in the preparations for the post-2015 agenda, mobilizing all its strengths to make the case for the centrality of education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information for sustainability and for building the inclusive, knowledge societies we need for the century ahead.
Our collective vision is clear. We live in a new age of limits – in terms of resources and sustainable practices to ensure the survival of our planet. This means we must make far more of the boundless energy of human ingenuity and knowledge. We must release the full power of innovation and creativity, and the potential of all, to craft new solutions that are inclusive, just and sustainable.