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OAS Secretary General Participated in Presentation of Document on Sustainable Development at the United Nations

  September 9, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, participated today in New York in the presentation of the document “The United Nations in the Age of Sustainable Development,” to which he contributed as member of the High-Level Advisory Panel of the President of the General Assembly of that global institution.

The document (available here) asserts that achieving sustainable development is mankind’s “overriding challenge” in the XXI Century and examines how countries must use global cooperation to overcome extreme poverty, economic instability, social inequality, and environmental degradation—issues that are all closely interconnected. “Our common fate and our generation’s place in the great moral chain of humanity call us to action,” the document states.

The text content is the result of a year’s work conducted by the Panel under the direction of General Assembly’s President, Vuk Jeremic, with contributions from Professor Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University; Sheikh Muhammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait; Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister of Pakistan; Mohamed Benaissa, former Foreign Minister of Morocco; Micheline Calmy-Rey, former President and Prime Minister of Switzerland; Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, former Foreign Minister of Senegal; Markos Kypriano, former Foreign Minister and Finance Minister of Cyprus and former European Union Commissioner for Health; Miguel Ángel Moratinos, former Foreign Minister of Spain; Nur Hassan Wirajuda, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia, and the OAS Secretary General.

Secretary General Insulza expressed his satisfaction with the content of the document, “which raises the challenge of sustainable development as a multifaceted task that goes beyond environmental care and also includes the fight against poverty, inequality, and economic instability”.

“This issue is particularly important for Latin America and the Caribbean because in our region two facts paradoxically occur: we are a hemisphere endowed with vast and rich natural resources, but at the same time the problems of hunger, lack of water and extreme poverty remain strong, and we also suffer severely from the climate change phenomenon, which periodically hits us with hurricanes and floods, among others, that substantively affect the population,” he added.

During the presentation of the document, the General Assembly’s President emphasized that there is no country, or a small group of countries, that can hope to meet the challenges of sustainable development alone. “Perhaps for the first time in history, we can truly say ‘we are in this together,’” Jeremic asserted. At the event, held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the document contributors who spoke agreed to underscore the need to strengthen the multilateral institution as the fundamental way to meet the objectives outlined in the analysis.

The High-Level Panel says in the document that despite the multiple crises facing the planet, “this is no time to despair, but for resolve.” “The United Nations must be the vital center of the sustainable development effort, one that draws on every stakeholder: private businesses, non-governmental organizations, universities and research centers, international financial institutions, and of course the UN organs themselves,” it adds.

The document is based on the conclusions of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development, Rio +20, held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. On that occasion, the countries decided to launch a process to create the “Sustainable Development Goals,” which are based on the Millennium Development Goals and will continue by 2015 to lead the global development agenda. In addition, they called for a High-Level Political Forum, led by heads of state and governments, to oversee the creation of the new agenda.

To meet these objectives, the document prepared by President Jeremic’s Advisory Panel recommended a “revitalization” of the UN General Assembly, since it is the body that has the mandate to “agree on Sustainable Development Goals, set an overall strategy, adopt milestones and timetables for the period to 2030, monitor annual progress, and make periodic recommendations on needed course corrections.”

At the same time, the document presented today urges the United Nations General Assembly to create “an effective bridge with the G20, the current forum for the world’s major economies and with the international financial institutions, including the Bretton Woods institutions and the multilateral development banks”. “The Assembly should also have,” according to the document, “close ties with the world’s finance ministers and the scientific community, both for guiding the work program of the UN, and for advising member states on best practices.”

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-333/13