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Speech at the UN Sustainable Development Summit
New York, 26 September 2015.
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Mr President, Mr Secretary-General, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,
I was a foster child. Ten months old I arrived by train to my new parents in the northern part of Sweden. I had the good fortune to be taken into a loving home and to be brought up in a society where the legacy from the past does not prevent a good future, a society where people take responsibility – not only for themselves but also for others.
The 2030 Agenda carries that same shared responsibility. It is grounded in the firm belief that poverty can and should be eradicated, that climate change can and must be stopped, that equal societies are better societies – and the foundation for a better future for all of us.
We have a new roadmap – it is universal. No country can shirk its responsibility. But governments’ efforts alone will not be enough. Efforts are needed at all levels, across all sectors, and by all stakeholders.
That’s why Sweden has launched an initiative with 9 world leaders in a high-level support group to bolster momentum for the implementation of the agenda.
The mission ahead of us as a global community is not only morally right, it is also economically smart. Because equality and development are two sides of the same coin.
When we promote gender equality, talent and strength are released.
GDP grows when more women work. Skills are unlocked when all girls and boys go to school.
We cannot afford to hold half of the population back. All legal, social and economic barriers to women’s and girls’ empowerment must be removed. When we promote decent work for all, competitiveness will increase.
Some say that this is a contradiction in terms. I say it is a win-win-win situation. A win for employees. A win for employers. And a win for our societies. With decent work that respects fundamental labour rights, we can increase both productivity and inclusive growth.
When we develop new solutions to reduce emissions, we will stop climate change and in doing so create new jobs.
My goal is for Sweden to be among the first fossil-free welfare nations, and I want Swedish companies to develop the climate-smart innovations that the world is asking for.
Our development cooperation will help to break the link between development and fossil-fuel dependence. We remain the key donor to the Green Climate Fund. We stay true to the goal of one per cent of our gross national income to ODA.
What we need now is determination and start fulfilling the goals. And in doing so we all gain something more. We return to the true purpose of society: to grant all girls and boys the simple things that I once was granted. A fair chance, an equal education, a decent job – a free life.