Statement H.E. Mr. Mikheil Janelidze, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia at the High Level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 

New York, 21 April 2016

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Mr. President,/Mr./Madam Chair, 

Let me start by thanking you/the President of the General Assembly H.E. Mogens Lykketoft for convening today’s important debate as we embark on the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

As this is the first high level meeting on SDG implementation we should exert our best efforts to make the start of this big journey a success. The success can be achieved only through joint actions on the multilateral level and responsible actions on national levels, with a leadership of the governments, full and responsible participation of the private sector and all other stakeholders.

Strength is in unity, and United Nations should play an important role in breaking the walls and borders, should take a holistic approach and mobilize all for delivering the results which can lead us to change.

We, the Member States, should believe in the transformative power of SDGs which are based on the shared interests and concentrate our actions towards reinforcing our efforts.

We should not let anyone be left behind; We should ensure that each and every step we make creates better conditions for future generations.

It is highly symbolic that this debate coincides with the signature of the landmark Cop 21 Paris Climate Agreement, which marked the turning point in uniting global action toward a climate resilient world.

Implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals requires our concerted commitment to carry out cross-cutting reforms, [--], openness to innovative solutions, be it through innovative financing strategies or technology innovations, [--] our readiness to bridge partnerships with the private sector and civil society and much more - all to live up to our commitment to the shared promise.
As we take stock of our common challenges and opportunities in implementing the Agenda for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace, let me share some of Georgia’s experiences in terms of localizing the agenda and driving change on a national level.

Georgia has launched an intensive process of translating the SDGs into national goals, aligning them with country’s strategic priorities. This process envisages close consultations with the civil society on the implementation of the national goals. One of the key elements in pursuing the development agenda is the SDG focused partnership between the Government and all relevant stakeholders, including the UN agencies. The donor coordination mechanism which has become an important instrument for the dialogue between the Government and development partners aims at enforcing the key principles of aid efficiency and effectiveness. 
Georgia’s development agenda is first of all about a citizen, their rights of equality. We are building a state where justice is a driver, civil liberties is a cornerstone and inclusiveness is a framework.

Georgia, with a history of more than three millennia, is a country which has always been a home for many nationalities and ethnic groups, respecting the rights of minorities, preserving cultures and traditions. Today we are on a path of becoming responsible and full-fledged member of the European family, thus ensuring one of the best up to date standards for human development.

Together with the reforms linked with the introduction of the best European standards in human rights, rule of law, justice and social protection we are embarked on ambitious agenda of economic reforms to address still the biggest challenge for our nation - unemployment and poverty. In that regard the Government has devised an ambitious 4 point reform plan. [---] Let me provide some of the highlights of this 4 point plan:

Strong private sector is a driver of job creation and the role of the government is to ensure relevant business environment for the sustainable development of the responsible businesses. Although Georgia has today one of the best business environments in the world, proved by many international organizations, we are moving forward and are improving conditions further, by reforming the tax system, simplifying taxes as well as administration. We are integrating Georgia in the global markets through liberal trade and investment policies and agreements. Trade is development. Open and non-discriminatory trade is key to ensuring local, regional and global integration, creation of opportunities for all.

We are creating favourable conditions and mechanisms for fostering business start-ups, innovation and technology development, through particular encouragement and support of young people in this area. Young people with entrepreneurial skills should have opportunity for the realization of their ideas, which will lead not only to the national development but will contribute to solving the global challenges. [--] We should make sure that on global level each and every person has the right and opportunity for self-realization.

Education and human capital, i.e. the power creating the future, gaining the knowledge, experience and skills that foster the creativity and drive innovations – are at the center of our vision. Our goal is a strong education system, with the focus on economy, aimed at balancing the workforce demand and supply of professionals provided by the education institutions. To create jobs for young people, we are launching the dialogue between the public and private actors aimed at strengthening their cooperation and promoting labor-market professions.

We should encourage student mobility and exchange, strengthen cooperation in the field of science and professional education and make it accessible for everyone interested in it. [--] Georgia is proud to be a place of many international students.

Regional and infrastructure development is one of our core priorities. Development of transport and logistics, with necessary environmental consideration and integration of sustainability risks, using Georgia’s potential as a key “Silk Road” country between Europe and Asia is a major part of this endeavor. Cooperation with our international donors in implementing these projects, that also have significant regional and rural dimensions, should also be stressed in this regard. [---] We invest for the interests of our country and the interest of the regions.

Finally, one of the most important pillars of the 4 point plan is the governance reform. Increasing effectiveness of the work provided by the state agencies and ensuring higher level of transparency with the amplified public participation is germane to all our development efforts. One of our new initiatives to this end is the introduction of the single front service office for the whole government – enabling state agencies to provide all necessary services to private businesses based on the principle of “One Window”.


Agenda 2030 is about inclusiveness and leaving no one behind, but we cannot be successful in our endeavours if we fail to sustain peace.

There are millions who live in conflict affected areas. It is our duty to ensure that they live in a just and peaceful world!

There are millions who are forcefully displaced and it is our duty to uphold their rights, including the right to return!

In this context, let me stress the needs of people living under foreign occupation in Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali/South Ossetia regions of Georgia, as well as the IDPs and refugees that have been expelled from these regions. Together with the international community, we will do our utmost to ensure that they too are not left behind and equally benefit from the transformative agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals!

I thank you!