Thank you for the warm welcome.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Sixteen years ago, the 21st Century began with a paradox.
Our globalized world had delivered great prosperity and great stability. It was more interconnected and interdependent than ever before, living standards were booming and the promise of technology seemed boundless.
And yet, millions around the world had been left behind.
How could we have achieved all that we have – and yet still live in a world with so much poverty?
One response to this paradox was the Millennium Summit – held at the United Nations headquarters in New York exactly sixteen years ago today.
The Summit's outcomes – the Millennium Development Goals – were the recognition by many countries of the world that there remained much to do.
Our then Prime Minister, John Howard, announced to the summit that we in Australia were the country of the fair go.
With those two words, he said, Australians neatly encapsulated our view that all people had the right to freedom, self-respect and the peaceful pursuit of prosperity.
Mr Howard recognised then, as we all still recognise today, that bridging the global economic divide would remain a key objective for the United Nations into the new century.
In the years since the Millennium Goals were agreed, we have taken great strides together to realise this goal.
Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, and mortality rates for children under five have halved.
But much remains to be done.
The 2030 Agenda, which produced the Sustainable Development Goals, presents us with a roadmap to push forward. To build on these achievements and to harness the momentum the Millennium Development Goals have generated.
It also represents a global recognition of both the changing face of poverty and the complexity of the challenges we face to eradicate it.
In 2013 an estimated 375 million people, almost 12 per cent of the global work force, got by on less than the World Bank's measure of absolute poverty of a $1.25 per day.
The challenges are significant – but we have ample cause for optimism.
193 countries have come together in the United Nations to forge the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
In seventeen goals, the 2030 Agenda articulates the ambition of each of these nations to keep working towards a better world.
Australia took an active role in the development of these goals – lending our voice of experience in our region to the conversation of ideas spurred on by the United Nations.
So it is no accident that many of the 2030 Agenda's sustainable development goals line up directly with our own development priorities.
I'd like to highlight just three of those goals – on growth, on gender and on governance – which build on the strengths of our aid program in the Pacific, in health and education and in poverty reduction.
First – Goal 8 – highlights the role of private sector led economic growth in driving poverty reduction.
This, of course, is the entire point of our Government's economic diplomacy agenda, championed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop – which has been delivering results around our region for three years now.
Where traditional diplomacy builds stability, economic diplomacy delivers growth – recognising the crucial role of investment, trade and of economically productive infrastructure.
I saw this first hand during my recent visit to Malekula Island in Vanuatu, an island to which I was the first Australian Minister to travel.
In Malekula, Australia is helping rural cocoa growers improve the quality of their crop, establishing better links to markets and ultimately get more money into the pockets of rural families and communities.
Creating economic opportunity, particularly in agriculture, is one of the few paths to prosperity in remote island communities.
It is pleasing to see that Australian businesses, like Haigh's Chocolates are seeing the value in buying and marketing a boutique product produced in the Pacific region. This is sustainable development in action.
And as a chocoholic myself I can attest to the quality having spent my time travelling around the Pacific, and there is a lot of cocoa grown in the Pacific, of having my own mini quality testing.
Second – Goal 5, on gender equality – also matches neatly with Australia's development program.
Our focus on gender is driven by a recognition that empowering women is a strong contributor to economic growth and stability.
If we empower women, we empower families and we empower societies.
That's why our aid program requires that 80 per cent of our total investments effectively address gender issues in their implementation.
To give an example which illustrates this point, I recently visited parts of Fiji recovering from the devastation of Cyclone Winston.
The cyclone had a particularly devastating impact on economic infrastructure, including town markets.
In Fiji, women make up three-quarters of the market vendors.
So rather than just rebuild the market, we are working with local women's groups to identify issues which are of importance to them.
In the township of RakiRaki, which I visited, the women vendors at the market often have to stay overnight with young children – often at significant cost and personal risk.
So as part of our assistance not only is Australian funding the reconstruction of the market in RakiRaki, but we are also funding a new accommodation centre which will mean the women can stay in a safe place when they bring their goods to market and in turn make it easier for them to earn an income and retain that income.
This is 'building back better' with women's empowerment and combatting gender based violence which is at the centre of our thinking.
And thirdly, Goal 16 – on peace and governance, the largest single component of our aid program – dovetails perfectly with our efforts on anti-corruption in various forums, including the G20.
It reflects our commitment to human rights – witnessed by our bid to join the UN Human Rights council in 2018.
And is clearly evidenced by our ongoing commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.
I have seen first hand the lead role that Australia has played amongst the Pacific Islands Forum member states in supporting the Solomon Islands Government in a moment of need, and creating the necessary pre-conditions for its future stability, peace and prosperity.
As RAMSI heads towards its expected conclusion next year, we can all be proud of Australia's efforts to promote peace and governance in our region.
Now, all countries will plan and prioritise these goals differently – and some will need more support than others to drive change.
Australia is committed to working with developing countries in our region to help enable this change.
Our Pacific island neighbors face particularly complex development challenges – which we are committed to helping address.
In fact, I leave tomorrow for the Pacific Islands Forum, where sustainable development issues are front and centre of the agenda.
We will also continue to work with our partners in the private sector – and to look for new partners.
This will include initiatives like our Business Partnerships Platform, which designs and builds commercially sustainable solutions to development challenges.
We have had very strong early response with these partnerships – a clear sign of strong interest from business and investors.
Ladies and gentlemen our approach to development is practical and results driven.
The early results are showing this. You see, we recognise goals are only as good as the steps you take to meet them.
This is why Australia's priorities are aligned so closely with the Sustainable Development Goals we have worked so hard to help shape.
And that is why we have taken practical steps to ensure we can deliver results to match our ambition.
The Addis program on development finance is another practical means for us to meet this ambition.
This work program acknowledges that success for the sustainable development goals will require us to mobilise ALL sources of development finance – public, private and international.
It highlights the importance of ensuring development countries can sustainably raise the means to support their own prosperity – including by effective taxation, strengthening financial markets, building market access to improve trade and encourage and facilitate private investment.
One concrete example is Australia's participation as a founding partner of the Addis Tax Initiative.
Our commitment through this program to double our investments to help developing countries strengthen their tax systems by 2020.
Now while we clearly have the momentum for change, we should not underestimate the scale of the challenge before us.
Even in Australia, despite our place at number two on the Human Development Index, we face challenges in reducing poverty, in doing more to support gender equality and in continuing to improve the safety and sustainability of our cities.
So success for the 2030 Agenda will require a concerted effort by all of us.
That is why the diversity in the range of groups here today is so crucial to our success.
It will take all voices – private sector, Government, Non-Government Organisations and civil society – to generate the ideas we need to succeed.
I want to close by congratulating the Global Compact – along with the Australian Council of Social Services, the Australian Council for International Development and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network– for bringing these voices together today.
Can I also acknowledge all those who have signed on to the statement of support for the Sustainable Development Goals and thank you Sam for the documents that you have provided to me. And again we can see a practical way of those four sectors coming together.
And I wish you the very best in the conversations to follow and I look forward to hearing and following the work that you do.
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