~ Full Version of Statement As Drafted ~

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United Arab Emirates aligns itself with the statement of the G77 and China.

The UAE remains committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and we are determined to continue working with our partners here at the UN and around the world to deliver on our collective promise of a world that leaves no one behind. We are equally committed to a high level of ambition in meeting or exceeding targets at home and abroad, by 2030.

Today, I would like to track progress we have made at national level towards the implementation of the SDGs. But I would also like to take this opportunity highlight two areas that we think could form part of our collective efforts between now and the next HLPF.

Domestically, the UAE National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals was established earlier this year to align our national development and foreign assistance frameworks with the SDGs, and to ensure comprehensive data coverage and reporting. The committee is comprised of 14 members; 12 line ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office, and is chaired by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority. The UAE plans to deliver its first Voluntary National Review in 2018, during which we will elaborate more thoroughly on our progress in SDG implementation, as well as institutional mechanisms to monitor and drive implementation.

To drive collective action between now and next year, we hope that, building on the Secretary General’s annual SDG Progress Report, the HLPF can provide an action-oriented platform for Member States, UN agencies, and other stakeholders to agree on concrete reforms to undertake in the next 12 months to address gaps in implementation.

Specifically, we would propose a focus on two areas that we believe can enable and accelerate progress on all Sustainable Development Goals.

First, realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across goals and targets. However, performance on gender equality and women’s empowerment remains mixed.

In my capacity as President of the UN Women Executive Board – the UN’s principal agency dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment – I would like to note our concern that a number of targets from SDG 5 were omitted from the HLPF Declaration. The entirety of targets that make up SDG 5 are critically important, especially when we know that despite extensive efforts to achieve gender equality, women and girls continue to be subjected to discrimination, violence, and harmful practices, and denied the realization of their rights. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a cross-cutting goal – and a prerequisite to achieving all of the Global Goals. This is because we know that there is no sustainable development without women at its core.

In this same vein, I would like to reaffirm the United Arab Emirates’ commitment to the implementation of Agenda 2030, including SDG 5 in its entirety. We think the UN has an exceptional opportunity to lead by example – and to be bold by taking extraordinary measures.  This should mean:

  • a dedicated UN budget line for women’s empowerment system-wide, with a certain percentage targeting gender equality specifically;
  • strong language in the terms of reference for Resident Coordinators and all employees to ensure that gender equality is an integral aspect of their work;
  • a minimum package of health and education services in programmes tailored to women and girls; and
  • mandatory, standardized use of gender markers, with formalized protocols to address low scores.

We know from our experience that bold action brings results. In the UAE, we continue to implement internal reforms – from board quotas to tremendous education investment – to drive change. We also know that this is an ongoing commitment that requires constant vigilance. Our commitment to driving gender equality worldwide was confirmed in December when we made women’s empowerment and protection one of 3 pillars of our foreign aid policy. 

Second, in the 2030 Agenda we emphasized the importance of mobilizing all available resources in pursuit of our goals, and catalyzing resource mobilization from both public and private sources. But now the international community needs to dramatically increase its investment in capacity-building for the mobilization of private sector resources. 

We see a leading role for the UN in this area, especially given its universal reach and unique partners. As part of the reform of the UN Development System, we welcome the Secretary-General’s emphasis on improving UN support to governments to raise financing for development and would like to see it formalized into a metric for evaluation. This support could take the form of both an increase in unlocked finance, as well as a broader suite of de-risking services offered and used. 

Again, let me speak from our national experience. In the UAE we have seen the effectiveness of de-risking financing for development – namely through capacity-building in our technical and legal systems.

Finally, the United Arab Emirates wishes to emphasize that without security, peace and stability there can be no genuine development. We must all accept our collective responsibility to counter the root causes of violent extremism. To this end, it is imperative that the international community acts to hold accountable the regimes that spread conflict and regional instability by supporting and financing terrorism. In this regard, the UAE regrets that some States have sought to distract from their obligations by mischaracterizing as illegal the lawful, justified and proportionate diplomatic measures taken to address terrorism. Until all States take their responsibility to combat terrorism seriously, there can be no lasting peace and no sustainable development for any of us.

In conclusion, Mr. President, let me reiterate the UAE’s support for your leadership of the ECOSOC President to translate these important HLPF discussions into action. Together we can truly leverage this platform to identify gaps and drive implementation for progress.

With the clock ticking towards 2030, it is crucial that we identify action areas that can accelerate implementation and catalyze progress, and make the best use of convening opportunities like the HLPF to keep asking difficult questions and engage in an honest conversation on how we can do better.

Thank you.