CONFERENCE KEYNOTE ADDRESS
AMBASSADOR SAMANTHA POWER
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Photo credit: UN DPI/NGO
Ambassador Samantha Power, Permanent Representative of United States of America to the United Nations, delivered the keynote speech at this morning’s opening ceremony. Her address was punctuated with enthusiastic applause as NGO representatives listened from the Trusteeship Council Chamber and two overflow rooms.
“What cause could be more worth joining than eradicating the world’s worst suffering and empowering people to live with dignity?” she asked.
The former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist emphasized our responsibility to ensure that the noble post-2015 development goals being crafted are actually met. Power offered words of encouragement to this end by citing groundbreaking progress in recent years: hunger reduction in Brazil, decreasing HIV rates in Malawi and Botswana, and ever-shrinking child mortality rates in Rwanda. Tempering this positive message, Power considered the difficult balance that civil society organizations must strike between addressing a broad range of important issues and avoiding this dilution of resources by allocating resources more narrowly.
Widespread threats necessitate universal goals
Such widespread threats as climate change demand universal solutions. Ambassador Power placed special emphasis on climate change, which was absent from the Millennium Development Goals. She explained, “Today, thankfully, we understand that if we don’t aggressively reign in climate change, its negative consequences could wipe out any progress we stand to make on other fronts.” Given these and other global threats, Power was clear about the need for a truly universal agenda, stressing that “we can’t meet global development goals if we only set targets for one part of the world.”
Conflict prevention as development
Power offered her recommendations to the leaders of the NGO community as they seek to work more effectively with governments. She emphasized the importance of development goals that promote peace and good governance. Far from being peripheral to poverty reduction, Power explained, passing just laws and building credible institutions ensure that societies are sufficiently cohesive to allow for effective development activities. Citing evidence that severe violence and extreme poverty go hand in hand, Power encouraged the NGO community to fight the inclusion of peace and good governance goals in the development agenda.
Ambassador Power closed her compelling address with an injunction to communicate widely and effectively about post-2015 development goals, since marginalized and poverty-stricken groups and regions are those with the most at stake in the development agenda.
“All of our destinies are interwoven with one another,” Power explained poetically. “More than ever before, inequality and poverty in any part of the world not only goes against our values but also undermines our shared security and our shared prosperity.”
Pax Christi International Intern / University of Toronto Student
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