Speech by Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit

in New York

Friday, 25 September 2015 in New York

Mr President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

In just a few days’ time, we in Germany will be celebrating 25 years of German unity. In Europe we will be celebrating the end of the Cold War. What had been a divided Europe grew together in peace and freedom. Many had dreamt of this for decades, but hardly anyone believed it possible. Today, though, we know this: nothing has to remain as it is. Change, change for the better, is possible. And we also know that every great plan has its seed in the mind.

Today we are united here in our goal of eradicating absolute poverty by 2030 – another goal which not all that long ago was too often dismissed as a pipedream. But now, 15 years on from the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, it is clear that we can in fact manage to achieve it. We have already come half way. Absolute poverty has been halved. This gives us every reason to believe that we will manage the next stage too.

We want to change our world. And we can. We want to give the world a more humane face. And we can. That is what the 2030 Agenda is for. To this end, we are adopting new goals which cover the entire spectrum of global development and which apply to all, industrial and developing countries alike. If we are to achieve these goals, we need a new global partnership.

In order to establish such a global partnership, we need, firstly, efficient structures at all levels – national, regional and global. That is why we in Germany will further develop our National Sustainability Strategy in the light of the 2030 Agenda. As early as 2016, Germany will be one of the first states to report on implementation in the High-level Political Forum. Germany also supports regional organisations and partnerships which allow efforts to be combined. Furthermore, we are committed to strong global structures enabling us to master challenges which would overwhelm individual states.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa was one such challenge. It was a bitter warning which made it abundantly clear that good interaction among all stakeholders, with a reformed World Health Organization at the centre, is absolutely crucial. Together with Ghana and Norway, we asked the Secretary-General of the United Nations to set up a High-level Panel to identify the correct lessons from this epidemic and to ensure that the world will be able to respond faster and more effectively in future.

Seventy years after its foundation, the United Nations as a whole, with its unique legitimacy, is still indispensable when it comes to resolving the issues facing humanity. But it, too, needs to adapt to new challenges. Germany will play an active part in the necessary reform process.

Secondly, a global partnership needs the necessary financial resources. Viable structures will enable us to make efficient use of these resources. The Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July showed how such resources can be mobilised.

Germany stands by the obligation to use 0.7 percent of its GDP for development assistance. Our development assistance budget will increase substantially in each of the next few years. State support is important, but it can only be one aspect: private investment, too, is crucial for the development of our states. Mobilising such investment must be a focus of our policy.

In Paris at the end of the year, we want to adopt an ambitious climate agreement which obliges all states to do more for climate protection. This agreement would fix the framework for a sustainable development path to keep global warming below two degrees. For this we need a shared vision of how to attain decarbonisation at global level before the end of this century. Here, too, the right investment is necessary. It is important – and Germany will do its part – that the industrialised countries stick to the pledge they made in Copenhagen and make 100 billion dollars a year available to the developing countries for climate protection from 2020. In this way, we will create the confidence that all countries in the world can develop in a climate-friendly manner and that particularly vulnerable countries can receive help to adapt to climate change.

The key prerequisite for successful development is and will remain peace. But millions of people – more than at any time since the Second World War – are being forced to flee war, terror and violence. Their suffering is exacerbated by their lack of prospects for the future and by the destruction of their environment. Anyone who witnesses the suffering of those who have left their homes to seek protection and a future elsewhere, and who is aware of the challenge facing the countries which take in the refugees, knows that in the end there can be but one solution: we must tackle the causes of flight and expulsion.

The 2030 Agenda provides the right framework for this. It balances economic, ecological and social aspects of development. Each and every one of us should, indeed must, work to implement this Agenda – so that people the world over can live a life in dignity. This must be our shared aspiration. By agreeing on the Agenda we are setting the course for efforts to tackle the causes. The priority now is to work towards this end at all levels – national, regional and global. Germany will do so.

Thank you very much.

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