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Note: Following is a partial summary of today’s Economic and Social Council Partnership Forum. A complete summary of today’s Forum meetings will be available later today following the conclusion of the afternoon meeting as Press Release ECOSOC/6821.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the fight for a healthier planet — one in which all people lived better lives — could only be achieved by joining forces.  Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognized the catalytic role of partnerships, he said the collective effort of all stakeholders would be critical in addressing the greatest challenges.  “I am of the view that to achieve sustainable development for all, we are going to need strategic partnerships that will deliver strong results,” he said, adding that transparency and accountability would be key.  Describing today’s Partnership Forum as a unique gathering of Governments, the private sector, philanthropy and civil society, he said he looked forward to a dialogue that would generate fresh ideas.

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, emphasized the need for collaborative, multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  It was critical to explore ways to bring together stakeholders from Governments at all levels, the United Nations, international financial institutions, civil society, the private sector, academic and scientific communities, technology leaders and innovators, philanthropic institutions and grass-roots organizations.  Drawing attention to several high-level events he had convened to drive implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said the Ocean Conference, to be held at Headquarters on 5‑9 June, would be organized around seven partnership dialogues.  Securing a sustainable future would require letting go of old grievances and scepticism in favour of joining forces through new and inclusive ways of thinking, partnering, financing and delivering on the group, he said.  “Strategic and innovative partners hold the key,” he added. “We must embrace partnerships as a fundamental part of the solution.”

AMINA MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, in a video message, said “the clock is ticking and we have no time to waste” amid climate change, rapid urbanization, mass movements of people and other global trends affecting communities and financing worldwide.  The 2030 Agenda had set the bar high and partnerships were key to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring their success.  In fostering partnerships, critical elements included delivering results on the ground, providing effective financing and garnering significant private-sector investment.

Yet, she said, how those investments were directed would affect results such as job creation and addressing climate change.  Local, national and regional partnerships were equally important and young people needed to be empowered to become part of those widespread changes.  Promoting effective partnerships would entail including innovation and finding new ways to move forward.  “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we can’t afford to fail,” she said, “but nothing is impossible when we work together in partnership.”

Keynote Address

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice, said “we cannot just continue with business as usual” as a range of current situations were untenable.  Elaborating on some of those challenges, she said the Elders, an independent group of global leaders working for peace and human rights, had issued a strong message about famine affecting four African countries.  “Any country facing famine in the twenty-first century is an indictment against all of us and we should hang our heads in shame,” she said.  Also disgraceful was the ongoing war in Syria.  In addition, addressing the existential threat of climate change was another colossal challenge.

In 2015, she said, world leaders had, with the 2030 Agenda, demonstrated a clear understanding that no one country alone could protect its citizens from climate change and, with the Paris Agreement, had committed to adopting new approaches.  A new paradigm must be created to replace the current silo landscape to foster a global solidarity to reach the world’s most vulnerable people.  Recent waves of populism had been seen in many countries, but it was clear that taking climate action now was imperative.  The 2030 Agenda focused on reaching those most in need.  Some of the world’s poorest countries were leading climate action.  Inspired by their call for a new era for development, addressing climate change and leaving no one behind, she said climate justice was the antithesis of short-term thinking.  More carbon emissions were detrimental on many levels.  The question now was whether countries had a choice between economic growth and sustainable alternatives in, for example, building infrastructure.  To answer that question, a new wave of infrastructure investment must provide a guide to supporting sustainability.

However, she said, not all action that was good for the planet was good for people and climate justice needed to prevail.  Local communities must be consulted, she said, providing examples of renewable energy projects that had infringed upon rights.  Civil society was a key player in that regard.  Going forward, there was a risk that States could withdraw from commitments they had made and choose to work alone.  The same spirit that had been seen after the Second World War was needed now, she said.  A new level of consciousness was needed to rise above the challenges of the time and reach a common ground pursuing shared values.

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