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When I accepted the invitation of then Secretary-General Ban Ki-

moon to serve on the UNHigh-Level Panel onGlobal Sustainability,

I received a daunting task: to identify a universally acceptable

pathway for achieving low-carbon prosperity for the 21st century.

There were many ideas proposed in this group of world leaders and

brilliant minds, but when we began to articulate the concept of the

Sustainable Development Goals, there was a palpable enthusiasm

in the air.  We knew we needed a successor to the Millennium

Development Goals, and we knew that it had to mark a new era

of ambition and cooperation. The idea of a universally applicable,

unprecedentedly comprehensive set of outcomes for the future

deeply resonated – and something we felt was worth fighting for.

Certainly, for the UAE, both domestically and as a donor, the SDGs

were conceptually compelling.  They not only aligned with the

key performance indicators of our

Vision 2021

and green growth

strategy, but reinforced our government culture of data-driven

policymaking.  Most importantly, they took a full-spectrum view

of what “development” means – moving past GDP and even

health and education levels to account for the holistic experience

of all people.  This is a cornerstone of the UAE’s own approach,

manifested in last year’s pioneering appointments of ministers for

youth, tolerance, happiness, and the future. 

But moving from an earnest recommendation to adoption by 193

Member States is not an easy task and the UAE played an active

role through all stages of that process.  Realizing the importance

of the work – and the scale of the effort required – the Ministry

of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation mobilized and

led one of the most wide-ranging inter-agency working groups in

our history, ensuring both an integrated vision and the resources

to make a meaningful contribution to the SDGs’ realization.  We

were lucky to have at the helm our Minister of State, His Excellency

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, and his then-deputy, His Excellency Dr Thani Al

Zeyoudi, who is nowMinister of Climate Change and Environment,

bringing a critical tenacity to the project. We established early on,

for instance, that we would be an unfailing advocate for sustainable

energy and the empowerment of women, reflecting our own

national ideals and challenging many people’s perceptions of the

priorities of a Middle Eastern nation.  Both these focus areas are

now enshrined in the SDGs. 

The UAE places great importance on turning commitments

into action – it is an ethos that has continually driven our nation.

Therefore, we also committed ourselves to seriously undertake

implementation of the SDGs. The establishment of the UAE’s

National Committee on SDGs is a testament to that commitment. 

By bringing together 15 government entities, and covering both

our domestic and donor efforts, it will drive mainstreaming of

the SDGs in all our work, as well as the work of our international

partners. Furthermore, with Her Excellency Reem bint Ebrahim Al

Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, as the

chair, the SDGs are now in excellent hands.

It is a tremendous outcome of which we as a Ministry and country

should be very proud.