United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Mr. Li Yong, Director General, UNIDO

Opening remarks of Mr. LI Yong
Director General, UNIDO

at the expert group meeting in preparation for the HLPF 2017
“Readying institutions and policies for integrated approaches to implementation of the 2030 Agenda”

14 December 2016, Vienna

Your Excellency Ambassador Shava, President of the Economic and Social Council,
Distinguished delegates,
Colleagues from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I have the great honour of warmly welcoming you to this expert group meeting in preparation for the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) 2017 and want to express my appreciation to the President of the ECOSOC, the representatives of the United Nations system and you, the Member States, for your strong commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda provides us with a global blueprint for action to end poverty and build an inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous world.

With its 17 goals and 169 targets, it is an action plan for people, planet, peace and prosperity, to be implemented through global partnership. It is clear that to achieve this ambitious plan we require close cooperation and integrated approaches among the various institutions dealing with the interrelated targets under the SDGs.

Institutions and policies are key.

The first High-level Political Forum held in July this year showed that several countries already fully embrace national ownership of the SDGs, and an increasing number of countries have also already established inter-ministerial structures to guide the integrated implementation of the SDGs across their Government and other actors.

At the same time, for many other countries the challenge remains to adapt or develop new policies and regulatory frameworks that integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

Inter-linkages and coherence in action are important.

I therefore hope that this expert group meeting will help participants to understand the important interrelations among the SDGs and targets. It is an important starting point to understand these complexities and possible synergies, so as to integrate them into dynamic and country-specific policies.

The SDGs will be more impactful, if they are implemented mindful of inter-linkages, and if implementation builds upon inherent synergies.


The High-level Political Forum 2017 will be held under the theme “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”. The 2017 Forum will address the most urgent needs of the world’s poor. In addition to the global partnership goal, SDG 17, which will be central to all HLPFs, the Forum next year will review the SDGs on eradicating poverty, ending hunger, ensuring healthy lives, achieving gender equality, building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and protecting the oceans.

As Director General of UNIDO, I am very pleased and honoured that, together with UNDESA, we can organize this expert group meeting in Vienna this week. The selected SDGs are particularly important for UNIDO, as they are really at the heart of our activities.

UNIDO is strongly committed to putting an end to poverty in all its dimensions.
And I remain convinced that inclusive and sustainable industrial development is the best way to achieve this. Ending hunger and promoting food security, advancing gender equality and contributing to better health and well-being for all, protecting the environment including waters and oceans are also high on our agenda.

That SDG 9 stands at the core of UNIDO’s mandate of inclusive and sustainable industrial development does not even need to be mentioned. Industry and innovation are the most dynamic drivers of prosperity and collective well-being. But no SDG can be treated in isolation, and SDG 9 is no exception. Virtually all other SDGs also have industry-related elements and targets because of the close relationship between inclusive and sustainable industrial development and job creation, sustainable livelihoods, technology and skills development, food security, green technologies, environmental protection and climate change mitigation.
Pursuing SDG 9 will therefore have important synergies with the goals under review in this meeting and at the HLPF 2017: SDG 1 on poverty eradication via jobs and sustainable growth; SDG 2 on food security via food value chains; SDG 3 on health and wellbeing by allowing, inter alia, local production of pharmaceuticals; SDG 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment; SDG 14 by reduced water contamination and pollution; and SDG 17 on a global partnership for sustainable development.

Panel 6 on Thursday afternoon will thus discuss how the impact of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation on all other SDGs could be maximized.

While UNIDO surely has a critical role to play, it is clear that the SDGs can only be achieved in partnership. All stakeholders — governments, the private sector, academia and civil society — have a role to play. The 2030 agenda is an agenda for all, and the contribution of all is needed.

It is therefore a particular pleasure to welcome the distinguished experts that will discuss the selected SDGs in preparation of the HLPF 2017 over the next two and a half days.
They will bring together the experiences of governments, the United Nations system and academia to reflect on interrelations, synergies, lessons already learnt, as well as opportunities and options for future application.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude my brief opening remarks by wishing you an interesting and fruitful debate in the next few days. The experience gained from this expert group meeting will be invaluable for the High-level Political Forum in July 2017 as well as for subsequent sessions.

It is only by joining hands that we can overcome the hurdles on the path to sustainable development. UNIDO is committed to stay by your side every step of the way.

Thank you.