United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

United States of America

U.S. Statement on the Goals and Targets Session of the
Post-2015 Intergovernmental Negotiation Process
Delivered by the U.S. Coordinator for Post-2015 Development, Mr. Tony Pipa
March 26, 2015
 Thank you, Mr. Co-Facilitator. Before I address goals and targets, I again want to offer
our thanks for the productive sessions thus far this week. I want to particularly highlight
the excellent panel Tuesday afternoon on member states’ implementation and the
interactive dialogue yesterday morning. These afforded a very important opportunity to
ground our discussion here in the hopeful reality of work already underway. We look
forward to more such conversations.
 We want to begin our discussion of goals and targets by first reinforcing our
appreciation for this group’s collective effort during the Open Working Group. That
experience built a strong foundation of shared vocabulary, a formidable evidence base
from which to draw, understanding of mutual interests and concerns, and of course a
report that serves as a guide for our discussions here.
 We recognize as well that we build these goals and targets on a strong lineage from the
Millennium Development Goals and the Rio+20 Conference, and that we must thus
use their lessons wisely.
 Rio+20 directed us to create goals that are “action-oriented, concise, and easy to
communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable
to all countries”. The MDGs made plain the power of a common vision – to mobilize
action and cooperation and to develop a drive for better metrics. They showed us that the
targets that most easily translated to clear actions were also the most achievable, and – as
we mentioned in during our stocktaking session – they remain a model for the effective
and transformative use of the multilateral system.

 We remain as committed as ever to this overarching objective: to define a set of clear,
ambitious, and actionable strategic priorities, each based on evidence and
implementability, with a convincing rationale for how they will drive action and
achieve results.
 Through this lens, the goals and targets from the Open Working Group set us on a good
path - they are ambitious and aspirational, and move us closer toward a common vision.
But as an integrated framework for action – especially if intended to be implemented as a
complete package – they still pose real challenges. This framework is too variable in
technical rigor and clarity of intent to be acted upon consistently.
Yesterday, you reminded us of the journey taken during the OWG. Yet while the process
itself stretched for 18 months, we reflect that the negotiation of goals and targets occurred
predominantly during the final three to four months – and with no sense of finality.
Indeed, as we and others said when that process drew to a close, we believed that we
could advance further in prioritizing cutting-edge issues, and that many of our targets
could be stronger – and we pledged to work with others in this forum and process to
make them so. We think our work here should help us make good on that pledge.
 Throughout the sessions this week, we have heard calls to avoid prioritizing any one part
of the agenda over any other. Without improvement of the targets, we do not see a
pathway to this outcome. We thus argue here that – as a starting point - we should work
to raise the agenda to a common technical standard and to a common degree of
 Our motivation is simple: we want this agenda, and the goals and targets in it, to succeed.
We believe that improving the credibility and clarity of our targets will strengthen – not
weaken – our political bargain, and will give us a more salient common cause around
which to rally.
 Yesterday morning we spoke of having a sense of urgency to implement this agenda. Our
experience shows that the clearer we all are about what we are trying to achieve, the more
successful we all are in mobilizing action to achieve it. Doing this upfront work will
indeed help us accelerate our efforts and progress – and build and maintain that sense of
 From our own review, we have become firmly convinced that improvement is
possible, critical, and motivating in its own right.
 We must, as we have argued from the outset, iteratively and continually ground our
thinking in the best available evidence and experience. Since the OWG ended, we have
not had a chance to look at where it landed and ground it – in the lessons compiled from
years of development experience and in the latest, most cutting-edge evidence and
science – and indeed, political science is a part of that, since it is indispensable in
understanding how we accelerate development progress.
 As yesterday morning’s panel demonstrated, technical experts have been doing just this
since the report came out. We appreciate and are interested to hear their ideas. .
 In this context, we want to thank the Technical Task Team for their hard work and
analysis. We believe their contribution to be a thought-provoking and important
starting point to an essential conversation.
 When applying the same criteria of specificity and measurability, our own analysis
found additional opportunities for refinement – for example, we found 32 of the agenda’s
outcome targets to lack specificity. We also found 16 additional targets to be
insufficiently implementable or feasible, according to the logic we are articulated above
- clear actions delineated, and based on latest evidence and achievability, or in line w
agreed upon international ambition. We would welcome a full review of the task team’s
work to further the conversation.
 Looking across the entirety of the agenda, we found 32% of targets to be excellent as is;
half to be in need of modest work - implementable but in need of added clarity, and
18% in need of considerable work to be made actionable. We also found a few specific
points worthy of note.
1. Specificity of target language. In more than half of the targets, our exact level of
ambition is unclear – so it would helpful to review and ensure we are being as
precise and ambitious as we want.
2. Quantification. 70% of targets lack any specific, quantifiable metric. While we
are not advocating that every target be quantifiable, we should ensure we are
getting the balance right throughout the agenda.
3. Separation of environmental and economic elements of the same challenge.
Despite a clear demand for integration, there remain some instances where targets
are divided unnecessarily.
 What does it mean in practical terms to make meaningful technical improvements?
In our view, it means taking a target like target 8.3, on business enabling environment:
o Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent
job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage
formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises
including through access to financial services
There is little disagreement around the importance of this issue, but the target itself can
be strengthened by prioritizing particular actions that are proven drivers of investment,
just as an example,
o Increase the rate of business startups by 50% and the value-added of new products
and services, by fostering an enabling environment for entrepreneurship,
creativity, and innovation
 We can use as our model and guide the suite of already exemplary targets – ones that are
time-bound, actionable and clear – e.g. target 3.1 by 2030 reduce the global maternal
mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. We see every reason to make our
outcome targets this clear and precise, wherever possible.
 We see the potential for more to be done between member states and other external
experts to improve targets as we suggest here, through engagement with each other and
with the technical task team, and welcome ideas on how best to tackle this challenge.
We also recognize that ours will ultimately be a negotiated and normative process, and in
that context, we continue to have some outstanding substantive concerns about certain
targets that we would expect to be able to address at a later stage.
In response to comments yesterday however, we briefly want to reiterate our position that
we need to avoid overtly political issues that do not belong in the post-2015 process, and
that are being handled comprehensively through other UN processes.
We look forward to working with all of you to strengthen all pieces of the post-2015
agenda to make it all the more successful, and to your continued leadership on these
points, Mr. Co-Facilitator. Many thanks.