Speech to the UN


Good afternoon. Nine months ago, here in New York, the UN Secretary General gave President Johnson Sirleaf, President Yudhoyono and me a challenge, and that was to define the world’s response to development and poverty for the next generation. This meeting has been the culmination of that process, and it’s been great to see a new consensus emerging from this diverse group about the vital principles that we need.

We met in London in November and agreed to keep a relentless focus on extreme poverty. In Liberia in February we agreed that economic transformation, enterprise, business entrepreneurship, must be at the heart of our agenda. And in Bali last month the group met and – to move beyond the traditional aid relationship to a new global partnership, so that development is genuinely shared by not just governments, but also businesses and civil society.

Now, back in New York, we have brought all this together in what I believe will be a very powerful report for the world to respond to. First, we’ve absolutely nailed our colours to the mast with one clear overarching aim: to end extreme poverty in our world. Over a billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day. Getting to the point where no one at all is that poor is no longer a pipe dream; it can and should be one of the great achievements of our time. It is doable, and it means that by 2030 everyone will have what we in Britain already consider our birth right: drinking water, electricity, healthcare and a place at school.

Second, we want to build on the historic work done under the current Millennium Development Goals. But we also agreed that they weren’t perfect. There wasn’t enough focus on the devastating effect of conflict, of violence. They overlooked the importance of strong institutions, accountable government, the rule of law. So, we’ve agreed, on this panel, that there must be a transformational shift in the way that we do things.

Rich countries meeting their aid commitments is important, but it will not be enough on its own. And our report will make clear that we need to tackle the causes of poverty, not just the symptoms. Above all, we need a focus on economic growth driven by a strong private sector as the most powerful engine there is to lift people out of poverty. We need a recognition that development has to be sustainable for the planet for the long term, but there’s this new commitment to strong institutions and governance because these are essential to end conflict, to protect the rule of law, to stamp out corruption and insecurity and to hold governments accountable. This, I believe, is a totally new addition to the Millennium Development Goals: the importance of good governments, lack of corruption – what I call the golden thread of development.

And finally, we agreed that our report must be clear, it must be compelling, it must be accessible, so people around the world – including thousands who’ve contributed their views – can debate it, can implement it and can demand action from us all. So, we’ll be finalising clear and challenging goals and we’ll be setting out illustrative examples of the goals we should believe – believe should be there, and what should succeed the Millennium Development Goals after 2015. And as I’ve said, it is a real breakthrough that agreement is emerging to include goals that go to the heart of this golden thread that links open economies and open societies: fair and accountable institutions, equal economic and political opportunities for women, open and fair rules to boost enterprise and growth. I believe this clarity will be a real achievement which will help the panel’s ideas stand the test of time in the years ahead.

It’s been a huge privilege to lead this work with Presidents Johnson Sirleaf and President Yudhoyono, and I look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with them as we campaign for our ideas in the weeks and the months to come.