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
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.
UAE AND THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT