South Africa gives UN 2030 Agenda thumbs up

By Nthambeleni Gabara

New York – South Africa has endorsed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of bold new Global Goals, President Jacob Zuma told world leaders at the 70th session of the United Nation’s General Assembly in New York, on Sunday.

“South Africa endorses this transformative post 2015 Development Agenda without any reservations.

“The triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality that the development agenda seeks to address is the primary focus of the South African government and people.

“The Goals are also aligned to South Africa’s National Development Plan as well as to the African Union’s Agenda 2063,” he said.

President Zuma said the outcome document represents a victory for developing countries as it affirms that the 2030 Agenda should build on the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals.

While the 2030 Agenda is universal in that the goals apply to both developed and developing countries, President Zuma said there is a clear recognition of the Principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.

The negotiations of the 2030 Agenda have also taken place against the backdrop of the recently concluded Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, as well as the current United Nations Framework for Climate Change Convention negotiations.

“We are also pleased that the 2030 Agenda contains a specific goal on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

“All the 17 goals, including those on poverty eradication, education, health, job creation and inequality contain specific references to addressing the challenges that confront women, the youth, people with disabilities and other vulnerable sectors of our society.

“We are also pleased that the 2030 Agenda contains a stand-alone goal on the means of implementation. This is to ensure that adequate attention is placed on the achievement of the goals,” he said.

President Zuma said despite such progress, the world has not adequately addressed underdevelopment, inequality, increasing poverty and economic exclusion.

Millennium Development Goals

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which was adopted 15 years ago, became a clarion call for directing and promoting global socio-economic development and for removing millions of people from poverty across the globe.

The UN Secretary-General’s most recent report on the MDGs indicates that the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined significantly.

In South Africa, there has been a huge increase in a number of areas, such as education, health and gender equality.

The primary school enrolment including the participation of girls has increased. Child and maternal mortality show a decline.

Targeted interventions in fighting diseases, such as HIV have also saved thousands of lives. The achievement of the MDGs has been uneven across geographical regions with regions such as Africa lagging behind, due to historical reasons of underdevelopment.

“This is the context in which we adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at this historic 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

“The goals and targets, cover all three dimensions of sustainable development and enable us to continue seamlessly from the MDGs.

“They range from ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives, ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls, conserving and sustainably using the oceans; to addressing climate change,” President Zuma said.

Global partnership welcomed

President Zuma also welcomed the commitment to the Global Partnership to ensure the implementation of the post 2015 Development Agenda.

“Significant work and consultation has gone into negotiating the 2030 Agenda. We now have a document which we can confidently say reflects our global development aspirations, building on the progress made in the past 15 years.

“The full implementation of the 2030 Agenda will move the world forward towards the realisation of the United Nations Charter vision of social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, as pledged at the founding of the United Nations 70 years ago,” the President said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the 2030 Agenda as a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.

“The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is an agenda for people, to end poverty in all its forms – an agenda for the planet, our common home,” Ban said.