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27 June 2013 - Defining post-2015 framework for sustainable development with people in extreme poverty - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(Unofficial translation)

Event organized by France and ATD Quart-monde to define the post-2015 development agenda.

Photo credit: Franceonu

ATD Quart Monde tries to address a challenge that is a priority for all of us albeit a very difficult one: giving a voice to the most disadvantaged populations and ensuring our involvement in the definition of the post-2015 agenda. Of course, it’s key to ensuring respect for the dignity of the human being, but also with a view toward ensuring the effectiveness of the future development agenda. It’s therefore from that dual perspective that the French government supports the study being carried out by ATD Quart Monde.

Indeed, we know that we cannot simply rehash the process of defining the MDGs, which didn’t involve the populations concerned. These MDGs, despite all their positive attributes, may have created threshold effects that were detrimental to those most in need. The objectives were relative and not absolute and may have caused policies to focus on the populations close to the poverty line who can therefore swiftly rise above it, to the detriment of the most disadvantaged populations. Paradoxically, the MDGs may therefore have sometimes contributed to the exclusion of the poorest populations and certain deceptive policies. Within the post-2015 framework for development, the complete and utter elimination of extreme poverty must therefore be the top priority.

In this context, all actors, especially the most vulnerable, must be allowed to have a say. And it’s with this goal in mind that even in France we continuously consult with the civilian population, notably following the Conferences on Development and International Solidarity, which took place from November 2012 to March 2013, throughout French society.

ATD report reminds us that although increasing globalization has led to the rapid emergence of certain countries, it has also been associated with increasing inequality between countries and even within countries. Developed countries haven’t been spared. Moreover, it’s a reality that has prompted France to adopt a five-year plan to combat poverty in order to promote access to housing for the most vulnerable populations, encourage youth employment and increase health coverage, because even in the industrialized countries, let me repeat, poverty is becoming increasingly prevalent.

However, the ATD report highlights a second key issue for the French authorities: the link between the eradication of extreme poverty and environmental protection. The most disadvantaged populations are also the most vulnerable to environmental degradation and this assessment invalidates the argument that we often hear in favor of delaying action in the face of environmental challenges: that we should focus first of all on economic and social issues before addressing environmental sustainability.

This is not our vision. Economic growth undeniably plays a role in the fight against poverty. But our main challenge today is to make this economic growth more sustainable for people and the planet. If we want to guarantee everyone a decent life and the same opportunities in 2030, we have no choice but to embark on a transition toward models of growth, production and consumption that are more sustainable, and therefore more just, stable and rational.

This is why we want the notion of sustainable development, with its three independent pillars - economic, environmental and social – to be the focus of the post-2015 agenda. Moreover, the Rio+20 agreement converges with this agenda by recognizing the usefulness of the goal of universal sustainable development. The goal of universal sustainable development doesn’t mean that we lose sight of the eradication of poverty. The other issues we want to see addressed in this agenda, such as inequality, social inclusion, changing patterns of consumption and production and damage to the ecosystem, are essential to eradicating poverty. And this was clearly underlined by the various MDG monitoring reports.

Efforts to promote sustainable energy for all, the right to safe drinking water and sanitation are obviously the weapons of choice in the fight against poverty and they are also based on sustainable development. Sustainability is therefore a response to the fight against extreme poverty, that’s the basis of France’s position with respect to defining the future development agenda.

Thank you.

Click here to download the program for this event.

Learn more on Millennium Development Goals.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU