Helen Clark: Speech to the Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament

AGORA moderator's picture

• Next month, world leaders will gather in this chamber to launch an ambitious new sustainable development agenda. It will build on progress made since the Millennium Declaration, and seek to reduce poverty and inequality, improve people’s lives, and promote peace, security, good governance, and the rule of law.

• Many voices, including yours and those of your parliamentary colleagues, have helped shape the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to re-imagine the ways in which national and international institutions will have to work if we are to attain them.

• Two and a half years ago, delegates at the 128th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Ecuador adopted the Quito Communiqué. They called for parliaments to play a central role in the implementation of the SDGs, ensuring that development policies and plans are drawn up through participatory and inclusive processes, with regular progress reports submitted to parliaments for review.

• Delegates at the 130th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly last April in Vietnam went further in crafting the Hanoi Declaration, committing parliaments to translating the SDGs into enforceable actions at the national level including – crucially – via the budget process, and by mainstreaming them into the deliberative processes of parliaments.

• Both the Quito Communiqué and the Hanoi Declaration form part of the widespread recognition that weak governance and institutional capacities, as well as the absence of peace and stability, were significant challenges to making progress on the Millennium Development Goals. Proposed SDG 16 is a direct response to these lessons; it aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”.

• Both the Quito Communiqué and the Hanoi Declaration recognise that the law-making, oversight, and representation functions of parliaments afford unique opportunities to advance the new global development agenda. Every time a law is made, MPs can call attention to whether it is consistent with the SDGs, and move amendments if it is not. Parliamentary committees can ensure that their scrutiny procedures hold Ministers and officials to account for national progress on the SDGs. And parliamentarians, in representing those who elected them, can ensure an ongoing dialogue with civil society over such progress.

• Through seventy parliamentary support programmes worldwide, UNDP supports parliaments and parliamentarians to play a key role in making progress in areas reflected in the SDGs.

• Allow me to highlight a few examples.

• On energy (SDG 7), UNDP partnered with the NGO Climate Parliament to support MPs in India in 2013 to:

• more than double India’s 2020 renewable energy target to fifteen per cent in the new national Five Year Plan;

• more than double renewable energy investment to one per cent of the national budget through an initiative in the Estimates Committee;

• encourage, successfully, the Government to re-establish a generation-based incentive for wind power with funding of USD 130 million; and

• play a key role in launching USD 157 million in tax-free bonds for renewable energy.

• On climate change (SDG 13), UNDP worked last year with the Climate Parliament and a group of members of the National Constituent Assembly in Tunisia on a Constitutional amendment on the protection of the climate ecosystem. Adopted by 144 votes to 21, the amendment makes Tunisia the first country outside Latin America with a constitutional commitment to protect the climate.

• On gender equality and women’s empowerment (SDG 5), UNDP supported a Baseline Study on Gender in Botswana. The study contributed to the action plan of the National Policy on Gender and Development, approved on 18 March 2015, and is now under implementation.

• In Cape Verde, with UNDP’s support, the Network of Women Parliamentarians has succeeded in advocating for the government’s adoption of specific procedures and an implementation framework to combat gender based violence.

• As Administrator of UNDP, and as a former parliamentarian and Inter-Parliamentary Union member, I acknowledge the significant commitments all of you have made – not least by participating in this event – to making parliaments fit for purpose to help attain the SDGs. I commend the Inter-Parliamentary Union for bringing you together for this valuable purpose. I conclude by assuring you of UNDP’s ongoing support for this valuable discussion, and for the partnerships which I am sure will emerge from it.

SOURCE: www.UNDP.org, August 31st 2015: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/speeches/2015/08/31...