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Speech by Minister for the Environment and Food of Denmark

21.04.2016  22:41
Speech by Minister for the Environment and Food of Denmark, Esben Lunde Larsen, at the President of the United Nations General Assembly's High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 21 April 2016.

(Check against delivery)

Intro – choices and actions

Excellency’s, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by quoting the famous Danish Philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard – the founder of existentialism. He said: “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you'll never have.” Søren Kirkegaard believed that man creates his own life by his choices and actions.

When we adopted the 2030 agenda last year – the world made some important choices. Choices that hold the perspective of a promising future for our planet. A new agenda for humanity and global dignity. A future that no man should be afraid of.

Now - time has come for us to act in accordance with our choices. We must deliver and implement the SDG’s in real life. The task is immense. It will take true leadership and commitment at the highest political level. We need to create a continued momentum and engage all stakeholders in the process if we are to succeed.

That is also why today’s meeting is so important. It reminds us of the huge responsibility we are all carrying. So allow me to thank the PGA for calling for this event. The presence of all of you here today is a testament to the importance and transformative potential of the 2030 Agenda.

Denmark’s action plan
The SDG’s are universal. Everybody should take a new stand and spur new action. We must all begin by asking: What can I do in my own country to fulfill the goals? And how can I help other nations in pursuing the agenda?

In Denmark – my government is right now developing an action plan for our follow up at national and international level. All policy areas will be involved. And the priorities will build upon our core experiences within sustainable growth and development cooperation. We will have a special focus on how to break down the silos between different policy areas and truly integrate the three dimensions of sustainability in future policies.

Denmark’s contribution globally
Denmark’s global contribution to the 203o Agenda will mainly focus on three areas:  finance, technology and partnerships.

All wrapped up in a Danish mind-set - that is the base upon which we have built our society. And which for decades has spurred the transition towards green and sustainable growth in Denmark. It’s a mind-set where each individual take up the responsibility to work for a better future for the benefit of themselves and the society as a whole. 

Let me elaborate a little.

First – Denmark delivers and will deliver on finance: Since 1978, Denmark has met the international target of providing 0.7 pct. of GDP to official development assistance. And we will continue to do so.

But even if all countries were to deliver on the 0.7 pct. - it would still not be sufficient to foster the transformation needed. It is essential to engage all stakeholders and all financial flows – ODA, private investment and innovative financial mechanisms.

Coming to technology: If we are to succeed - we all have to chip in our knowledge and green tech solutions.

Denmark is indeed willing to do so and we do have something to offer. Denmark has a long standing tradition for prioritizing a high level of environmental protection, food safety and sustainable food production.

A strong collaboration between the public and private sector and academia, have enabled us to develop smart green technology solutions to our domestic challenges. While at the same time ensuring economic growth and increasing employment.

Today Denmark is a global hub for clean technology - that effectively can address the solutions to many of the 17 SDG’s.

Let me just mention a few: Danish water- and waste water technology can help implementing SDG no.6 on water and sanitation. Danish food technology and practices can deliver on SDG no.2 on food security and sustainable agriculture. Our sustainable energy solutions can contribute to goal no. 7 on energy and climate. And finally we have good experiences to share on building international partnerships - contributing to the SDG no 17.  

This leads me to the third main delivery from Denmark –partnerships.  Global transformative partnerships are essential in order to showcase and transfer the best practices and solutions at the global arena.

To this end let me highlight The Global Green Growth Forum initiated by Mexico, Korea and Denmark in 2011. Today the 3GF counts more than 20 partners - including Ethiopia, China, Kenya and various companies and organizations.

The key objective of 3GF is to push forward public-private partnerships that can foster the development of new resource efficient solutions. Especially in areas that are critical to the green transition. We bring together leading businesses, investors, key public institutions and experts in order to effectively drive market penetration and realize the potential for green growth.

And the 3GF has a proven track record of success. As an example let me just mention that we are about to start up a new partnership in Kenya. The aim is to reduce water use in the food sector by introducing smarter and more efficient water technology.  That will help Kenya in delivering on the SDG on water and food security.

Outro – Follow-up and review
In closing – let me highlight the importance of follow up and review. An effective, accountable and transparent follow-up and review system at the global level is a precondition for success.

The Follow-up and Review process must pave the way to a successful High Level Political Forum in July. And that is important - since the High Level Political Forum will be the first checkpoint - showing if we are on track on the 2030 agenda.

Let me finish where I began - with Søren Kierkegaard the Danish philosopher. We are the ones to create the future for our planet – by our choices and by our actions. Last year we chose the SDG’s. Let us now turn them into action and work for a new global agenda where nobody should be afraid of their own future.

Thank you.