The power of partnership is the recipe for meeting the Millennium Development Goals and advancing beyond 2015, the UN Secretary General affirmed in an event bringing together players from a range of UN multi-stakeholder initiatives in New York on 23 September.
UNESCO’s Director-General highlighted the Global Education First Initiative in a panel that included the principals of FAO and WHO, Water Aid and the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Energy.
With 828 days left to the target date for achieving the MDGs, the Secretary-General stated that success is within our reach “because people working together all over the world have proven that transformational change is possible in an accelerated timeframe. The quantum leaps necessary for MDG success have come, and will come, from partnerships and coalitions among a broad range of stakeholders such as those here today. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are being increasingly recognized as development game-changers, fostering a race for results.”
The message was made clear: no single entity can tackle the complex challenges of water, nutrition, education, energy and health alone. Government ownership and responsibility, however, is fundamental.
"We have to include to grow,” stated President Humala of Peru, underlining his government’s conviction that only inclusive policies could ensure sustainable economic growth.
UNESCO’s Director-General emphasized that education was key to the success of many other initiatives, including improving child and maternal health. The Global Education First Initiative was about partnership involving governments, the private sector and civil society to increase access, improve quality, train teachers, foster shared values to cope with global challenges and build bridges between school and economic needs. “Education is a public good, and the success of any initiative,” said Mrs Bokova, “starts with national ownership and accountability.” Speakers agreed that national oversight and accountability mechanisms, combined with good systems to collect, analyze and use data properly, were “critical weapons” to increase the chances of reaching the MDGs. Mr da Silva, Director-General of FAO, noted the importance of building social protection, including access into education, into initiatives to reduce hunger, insisting on the need for effective governance.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon underscored that the two institutions they lead were working in close synergy driven by the conviction that “development, peace and security are inseparable.” Mr Kim affirmed that partnerships had to build development knowledge, and address the “data deficit” because insufficient evidence is a serious obstacle to effective policymaking. He pledged the Bank’s support to several of the Secretary-General’s initiatives.
The private sector has a vested interested in partnering to achieve the MDGs “because business in the 21st century has to grow differently, respecting the limits of the planet’s resources,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman. “We have to learn to do more with less, and responsible business is part of the solution. There is a new generation of business leaders who understand that they have to come up with business models to contribute to society in order to continue to operate.”
Education was the focus of several events attended by the Director-General on the first day of the UN General Assembly. At the 2nd Bunengi STEM African First Ladies meeting, the Director-General affirmed that “to sustain Africa’s renaissance, science, technology, engineering and mathematics education should lie at the heart of national development strategies.” She drew attention to the role of partnerships to promote innovation, citing the UNESCO-L’Oréal for Women in Science programme, projects with the private sector and support to governments in building STEM into national development strategies.
Mrs Bokova also insisted on the role of partnership to rebuild education systems in the “Education Cannot Wait” side event, alongside Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. The event focused on planning, prioritizing and protection education in crisis and crisis-prone zones.
She emphasized the role of literacy, skills training and partnership during a roundtable on inclusive finance for development with UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, UN Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. "Financial inclusion is social inclusion," said Mrs Bokova, placing special focus on empowering women through the provision of basic literacy and accounting skills in community learning centres.
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, the Director-General met with the President of its 68th session, Mr John Ashe. She pledged support for his agenda, including small island developing states, risk preparedness, water and south-south cooperation.