This 68th UN General Assembly session comes at a time of profound global changes. In a world that has made such huge progress, it has also created huge inequalities, persistent conflicts, restless and jobless young people, and an erosion of natural resources.
As the Prime Minister of Viet Nam makes a speech in the UN General Assembly, I hope that he will inspire others by sharing how Viet Nam reduced the number of people living in poverty by a third in less than ten years. Viet Nam has also made remarkable progress to reach UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Reductions in child and maternal mortality, improvements in health and increased access to education, have brought hope to millions of Vietnamese citizens and their families. These are remarkable achievements of which Viet Nam should be rightly proud, and for other nations it’s a story of hope and possibility.
But in order to reach all eight MDGs there are still three goals where Viet Nam needs to do more. In fighting HIV, ensuring environmental sustainability and in developing partnerships, Viet Nam still lags behind.
On the other goals, although the targets set at the national level have already, or are likely be reached by 2015, not everyone in Viet Nam is yet sharing in that success. Across provinces, districts and villages there are still too many disparities and differences. Viet Nam must ensure that the most vulnerable, including ethnic minorities, those with disabilities, unregistered migrants, women and children are not left behind.
With 2015 fast approaching the task ahead is still daunting, with no time to rest on our laurels. To sustain momentum beyond 2015, it is also time to set out a visionary new development agenda.
As the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon said as he opened this year’s General Assembly “The MDGs have captured the imagination, generated remarkable gains and beaten back doubts about development itself.”
A new post 2015 development agenda must catch the imagination in the same way, sustain the momentum, and yet go even further. For example the empowerment and rights of women must be at the heart of everything we do.
We mustn’t waver on our commitment to end poverty, but ensure that social justice and care for the environment are not sacrificed in the pursuit of economic growth.
Over the past twelve months to help build “The World We Want” the UN collected the views and voices of more than a million people worldwide. Viet Nam played a strong role in this process, and now has very credible voice in shaping the post 2015 development agenda.
From the voices of over a thousand people consulted here in Viet Nam, I was continually struck by how simple and universal their hopes and desires are. They called for a more just and equal society, for decent work, good education and training. They expressed a desire for good, affordable health care, and a social safety net for those in need. They want public services that meet their needs, an end to corruption, and for institutions that treat everyone with respect. Most of all they want to be listened to and aspire to be included in decision-making processes.
These sentiments are reflected by 19 year old Cham: “The future I want in Viet Nam is one where there are no barriers among people from different religions, culture or gender and where young people will have the opportunity to be more involved in policy making and where we can own our future”.
We hope the world leaders at this year’s GA will continue to fight tirelessly for an end to poverty, for sustainable development and lasting peace. But we all have a role to play in turning hope into action, through hard work, commitment, skill and integrity. Together let us build the future we want – and that our world needs./.