The Secretary-General’s remarks to the General Assembly High-Level Dialogue on ‘Building Sustainable Peace for all: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’

24 Jan 2017

The Secretary-General’s remarks to the General Assembly High-Level Dialogue on ‘Building Sustainable Peace for all: Synergies between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustaining Peace’


[As delivered]

Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen,
All protocol observed,

In recent decades, globalization and technological progress have generated unprecedented economic progress, with higher living standards for many and even a reduction in the number of people in extreme poverty.

But these benefits are not enjoyed by everyone. Inequality is high, and growing. According to recent figures, the eight richest people in the world have the same wealth as the 3.6 billion poorest. Children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 14 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in developed countries. Statistics like these drive discontent and erode trust in governments and international organizations.   

Globalization is also asymmetric. Money moves freely – many people think even too freely. Goods and services flow relatively unimpeded. But the movement of people remains severely restricted.

Employers can chase the lowest wages but workers cannot chase the highest.

The effects of climate change, population growth, rapid urbanization, and environmental degradation are contributing to greater competition for resources, adding to tensions and instability.

We are now dealing with some serious failures of development. Whole communities, sectors of society and even countries feel forgotten and left behind.

And there is a clear link between failing economies and the potential fragility of societies, institutions and even states. As a result, we see now devastating conflicts erupt, while old ones remain intractable.

And this is why I have been stressing the need for a surge in diplomacy for peace, including mediation, negotiation and my own good offices, where appropriate. But this alone will not be enough.

We need a global response that addresses the root causes of conflict, and integrates peace, sustainable development and human rights in a holistic way, from conception to execution.


Our priority is prevention - prevention of conflict, of the worst effects of natural disasters, and of other manmade threats to the cohesion and wellbeing of societies.

The best means of prevention, and of sustaining peace, is inclusive and sustainable development.

The universal nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and its pledge to leave no one behind, ties it to sustaining peace, in line with the General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, as the President of the General Assembly just outlined.

It is important to recognize that the links between the 2030 Agenda and sustaining peace are found not only in Goal 16 on strong institutions and inclusive societies, but across all 17 goals.

Development is an end in itself, and a central part of our work.

But while sustaining peace is not the only aim of the 2030 Agenda, implementing all the Sustainable Development Goals will make an enormous contribution to sustaining peace.

Investing in basic services and in societies that can manage shocks without falling into crisis, is investing in sustaining peace.   

Bringing humanitarian and development agencies together, to work towards common goals, is investing in sustaining peace. Disaster Risk Reduction, from sustainable agriculture to flood defences, will mitigate the effects of climate change, make societies more resilient, and help to meet our goal of ending extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

Building more effective and accountable institutions, and protecting human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, is investing in sustaining peace. The Human Rights Up Front initiative recognizes this and we must build on it.

Promoting social cohesion, so that diversity is seen as a benefit rather than a threat, is investing in sustaining peace. As societies become more multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious, people must feel that their identities are valued, even as they feel a sense of belonging to the larger community.

Ensuring the meaningful participation of women and girls in all areas of society, including conflict resolution, is investing in sustaining peace. Gender equality yields greater economic growth and higher standards of living; women’s participation in peacebuilding helps prevent relapse into conflict.

Moving to sustainable energy, so that everyone has access to clean energy by 2030, is investing in sustaining peace. Renewable energy offers reliable power to millions in Africa and Southeast Asia – the two regions most severely impacted by climate change.

Let me stress two overriding challenges.

First, education; education is a prerequisite for both peace and economic development. Good quality education systems can help transform societies, especially those affected by conflict. Equality, respect and tolerance learned in the classroom have an impact throughout society, while schools are powerful symbols of investment in people.

Second, youth unemployment deprives millions of young people of the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and plays a part in violent conflict and the rise of global terrorism. Productive employment and decent work are essential for stable, safe societies.

Education, training and job creation are part of the solution. Each year of education for boys increases their earning potential, while reducing the risk of their involvement in conflict. Educating girls is essential for gender equality and significantly improves their employment and life chances.

Mesdames et Messieurs les Représentants,

Afin d'accompagner les États Membres dans le cadre de cet agenda, l'organisation des Nations Unies doit, elle aussi, être prête à se réformer. J'ai ainsi identifié trois grands domaines de réforme.

Tout d’abord, notre stratégie et notre dispositif en faveur de la paix. Les missions de maintien de la paix consomment environ 70% du budget ordinaire de l’Organisation, mais beaucoup d'entre elles sont déployées là où il n'y a aucune paix à maintenir.

Nous devons prioriser la prévention des conflits violents et la pérennisation de la paix. Ma Conseillère principale en matière de politiques est chargée de recenser les différents moyens de prévention dont dispose le système des Nations Unies, et de concevoir une plateforme qui les intégrera.

Ensuite, il nous faut réformer le système des Nations Unies pour le développement afin de servir au mieux les États Membres. Il faut pour cela améliorer la coordination et la responsabilisation des actions menées.

Nous devons pouvoir compter sur un leadership renforcé des Nations Unies au niveau national, capable de diriger les efforts déployés à l’échelle du système. Nous devons mettre l'accent sur la poursuite de résultats collectifs et favoriser des dispositifs de financement qui privilégient l’intégration et la cohérence plutôt que la concurrence entre agences. Je présenterai dans les grandes lignes ma vision du système des Nations Unies pour le développement d’accord avec les décisions de l’Assemblée générale d'ici juin.

Enfin, nous devons procéder à une réforme de notre administration. Nous butons trop souvent contre nos propres règles. Nous n’avons pas mis au point les mécanismes et les procédures dont nous avons besoin.

Je pense que nous avons tout à gagner à adopter un dispositif simplifié, décentralisé et souple, ancré dans une culture de transparence et de respect du principe de responsabilité. Ceci doit viser précisément à améliorer notre capacité à soutenir les États Membres sur le terrain.


Together with these reforms, it is crucial to build a new generation of partnerships, with governments, civil society, regional organizations, international financial institutions, academia and the business community. In particular, there is a striking alignment between the interests of many companies and the strategic goals of the international community.

This is already clear in the explosion of the Green Economy.

But more broadly, recent research estimates that the total economic benefit from implementing the 2030 agenda runs to tens of trillions of dollars in business savings and revenue.

This represents an enormous investment opportunity for the corporate sector, whose contribution will be vital for innovation, improved skills, job creation, and developing new markets, products and services.

And the final part of the equation is funding. We must implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda -- but we must go further. Developing countries need access to new technologies and markets -- and they need the developed world to meet longstanding aid commitments.

Global efforts should support countries’ own funding mechanisms, including improved and reformed taxation systems, and should reduce illicit financial flows.
International Financial Institutions should be able to leverage resources and support countries in gaining access to financial markets and to Foreign Direct Investment.

Official Development Assistance, like humanitarian aid, should be allocated strategically according to clearly identified risks and needs. We need a global recognition that countries at greatest risk should get the most support.   


The 2030 Agenda and the Sustaining Peace resolutions are our roadmap to a safer, more resilient and sustainable world.

Here at the General Assembly, we have a unique and equalizing space to build consensus towards a better future for all.   

With your trust and support, I believe we can make progress for the people of the world.

Thank you very much.