As a new year gets underway, I want to thank you for your partnership and reflect on the year ahead. I hope our shared efforts last year leave you encouraged and ready to tackle 2016 and the profound opportunities and monumental changes in front of us.
2015 was a historic year for the United Nations and for global cooperation, from the Financing for Development action agenda to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals to the landmark climate agreement. Each of these moments was a testament to the power of global cooperation in a time when the challenges we face – from swelling refugee populations to violent extremism to persistent inequality and a changing environment – defy borders and demand collaboration, challenges for which the UN is singularly and increasingly essential.
In 2015, we embraced a new future. In 2016, we must move from bold vision to meaningful action.
This year, we will see many significant shifts in our landscape. UN Member States will select a new Secretary-General, U.S. citizens will elect a new President, and we all will begin the urgent task of implementing the global goals for sustainable development and the historic climate agreement reached in Paris. We are in a new era of development that increasingly understands the need to break down silos, find fresh approaches, and fully engage all sectors. The private sector, in particular, has a leading role to play in solving critical development challenges.
The international community will also need to tackle the harrowing toll of humanitarian crises and redouble efforts to address their underlying causes. This year’s first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, among other avenues, presents an opportunity for imaginative and determined leadership from all quarters to address the needs of people affected by war and disaster and to renew our shared commitment to cooperation.
In this year of major transitions, we have a historic opportunity to lay the groundwork for change. It will take people from every sector and every part of the world to realize a sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future for all. Foremost, we must continue to strengthen our support for and deepen our partnership with the UN, the world’s platform for peace and progress. By joining with the UN, which has the reach and vision to solve global problems, we can advance lasting change around the world.
To help usher in the new era of sustainable development that the world has rallied around, I want to share some areas where there is enormous need and opportunity to increase collaboration:
Prioritize the rights and needs of girls and women. Empowering girls and women is not only a human rights obligation; it is key to advancing sustainable development. The new Sustainable Development Goals framework enshrines this notion, recognizing that progress for girls and women will drive progress for everyone.
Build on the momentum for climate action. Climate change poses a threat to virtually every aspect of human endeavor. The agreement reached in Paris gives us a real and meaningful opportunity to respond to this challenge. We must deliver on the promise of the Paris agreement, promote sustainable energy for development, and continue to connect the climate and development agendas.
Harness the data revolution for sustainable development. Good data is the foundation for good policies, programs, and decisions that can solve global problems. We must continue to work together to close data gaps, improve data collection, and harness the data we have to advance sustainable development.
Grow the community working for global change. Sticking with the status quo won’t solve global problems – we need new ideas and new partners. Together, we need to expand the conversation on international issues to strengthen support for the UN in the U.S. and around the world and to engage new audiences – from teenagers to tech companies – in finding solutions.
While these priorities will be reflected in our efforts this year, we recognize that the landscape in which we operate continually shifts, and we must remain flexible and nimble. By leveraging the strengths and resources of each person and each sector, we can create the world we want.
Thank you again for your hard work and support; you are the engine of our efforts, and we look forward to continuing our work together.
Nelson Mandela once asked, “When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?” Working together and with the UN, I am optimistic that we can rise to the challenges of our time and build a better world.
UN Photo/Martine Perret