Interview with Mr. Wu Hongbo - USG for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA News)

Uploaded by UnitedNationsDESA on 30.09.2012

It's a great pleasure to welcome Mr. Wu Hongbo
DESA's Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Mr. Wu, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us today.
Good Morning Helen.
Welcome to my office and this is the first time that I receive your interview and
excited for that.
After taking office as DESA's new Under-Secretary-General
on the first of August,
what are your first impressions getting to know your staff
and the many and varied issues handled by the department?
That is a very good question.
Because I came here only last August and I'm pretty new
in this job and in this department.
The first impression is that this department is rather large,
you have over 500 staff
who are very
and hardworking.
They have rich pool of experiences
and knowledge.
I'm very much impressed
by the quality
of the staff.
And another thing that impressed me greatly is that
the atmosphere with which you work
for years
that is the kind of atmosphere of coordination, cooperation, and harmony.
As far as the
responsibilities or the mandates of DESA,
it is rather complex. DESA covers a very extensive ground,
I think almost all the social and economic
developing areas are
wholly or partially responsibilities of this department.
We are facing a lot of challenges
we think that
all of us
in DESA, we can make a difference
for the future.
As for the specific issues and I think that some interrelated
some which will provide foundations for the social and economic
for instance the Division of Statistics.
Without statistics nothing can be done.
If you are basing your analytical reports on the wrong or
different sets of the statistics, you're in trouble.
And for instance,
the Division of Sustainable Development,
that is very important
uh... many of our colleagues in the divisions
uh... are doing a wonderful job
the which actually
ensure the success of Rio+20.
I think together
with concerted efforts
we are going to make difference
in the future.
Thank you Mr. Wu.
What is your vision for DESA and what priority areas have you identified
as the department moves forward promoting development for all?
Well when I was Ambassador,
we had been following the world situation very closely
and I also read the
outcome documents.
I think there is one thing very very clear to us.
We as international community
are at a very critical juncture
in our social and economic development.
In the past we were talking about the
Millennium Development Goals
which are very important
should be push forward and implemented as much as possible.
in the past few years
we witnessed
a lot of new challenges.
For instance,
shortages of energy,
the food
shortage of clean water and drinking water,
and that all pointed to one issue,
that is whether we're going to
have a sustainable development or not.
This is where
I think DESA
and all my colleagues
get involved
and so this is the
top priority
for the department.
This is also
the view
of the Secretary General.
uh... I recently, I was on the
Secretary General's retreat
in Torino, Italy.
He reiterated
his five priorities;
out of the priorities.
Number one priority is sustainable development.
So there been no mistake.
we are
the priority department
and we are leading
the efforts of the United Nations.
As far as the specific work of our department is concerned,
I think we have
three integral parts of our work.
To summarize in this very short
phrases: one is analytical,
the other is norm setting,
the third one is
capacity development.
In those three areas we're strong experiences,
rich experiences,
we have a lot of expertise.
So in the future, I would like to
make sure
that are
analytical reports are of high quality
and they can point to right directions.
They would
the heads of states or member states
with uh...
government policy advises,
that would
ensure the future
And secondly it is norm setting.
we are talking about uh... economic global
we are talking about
the changing situation
and we're talking about
a lot of the challenges.
You need
rules for the game.
But this is where
the strong
points that we can demonstrate;
norm setting.
I think if you look around
the world's
international organizations,
The United Nations is the only one
that have a strong
to do norm setting.
Normative work is a strong point
of DESA.
So we'll have to bring into play
our best
capability in doing so.
Thirdly the
capacity building and development
that is very important to service as a linkage
between the policy plans
and also the capability at a country level.
So we have good plans
that can be put into practice
or be implemented
with the people
well-trained for that.
So I believe
the sustainable development is our top priority.
Its also the top priority
of the Secretary General
and to the United Nations.
I actually said at the Torino retreat
if we are trying to list the legacies
of the United Nations for the next five years,
maybe less than five years,
I think sustainable development is
number one.
We can do it,
the United Nations
needs it,
the international community
needs it.
So I think we will do this
with all our all out efforts.
Thank you. DESA led the way
to Rio+20,
and our department is also playing a leading role in preparations for the
post 2015 development agenda.
How best to do you think the world community can keep the momentum
beyond MDG's target date of 2015?
It's for me uh...
it is rather complex issue,
the awareness
of the need
for sustainable development
post 2015,
is there.
In the past uh... month or more, I talked to many PR's
they always asked this question:
how we can implement the
of Rio+20.
Because by complexity of the situation, I mean you have
MDG is being implemented.
We still have three years ahead of us.
The efforts should not be relaxed.
We should push forward strongly
to implement as much as possible MDG's.
Then we come to Rio+20.
It launched
two intergovernmental
processes. One is the
development agenda post 2015.
The other is the formation
of the SDG's.
They're also very interesting and very complex.
Some PR's talking to me they say well, um, we are
not very clear
what will be the future,
could you give me a clearer picture
of the way ahead
in this direction.

I tried to convince them
that's the SDGs
will be
part of the sustainable development agenda post 2015.
But we have a parallel
but I think they were converge
at a certain point
uh... this is of course member states driven.
But we will
provide our advices,
and technical support. I think the momentum
is there
the point is that
many members states,
they are not
timely informed.
They are not given sufficient materials and information
about how
they will
from here.
I think this is the responsibility
for DESA
and other
uh... agencies involved in developing the program.
The second point
I would like to say is if we want to keep the momentum
of the member state's international community
informing sustainable development for the future,
we need
successful coordination of efforts
within the UN system.
I'm so glad before I came here there is UN system task force
on the development agenda
in place
that has been going on and we too
in DESA, we have a DESA task force.
What we need is to
coordinate their efforts.
Now people are talking about
uh... United Nations
deliver as one.
I think to start with
we should the deliver as one, as one department.
If we are sending from different divisions conflicting messages
we are only confusing things.
So these are efforts we should make.
However, I believe the momentum
for sustainable development
is there.
We'll do our best
to push
this program
and the process forward.
We envision
that by September next year
there will be a big event
of United Nations.
Then, by then I think the Secretary General will delivery a very important a statement
to summarize the experiences of MDGs,
and also by that time
the high-level panel of eminent persons
will be able to produce their recommendations.
By then
I think over at least fifty countries we'll have a country-wide consultations
around these issues
and we are going to mobilize the regional commissions
to get involved
to make sure that all the voices are heard
all of the proposals are considered
all the useful suggestions will be debated or even included
in the final document.
So I'm confident.
i think
you're just as confident as I am.
If we do our job well
then I think we will be successful.
I think all the DESA colleagues
share my wish
that is, we will not say sorry
to our future generations.
And we are trying
to do this,
that is what we are doing today
in the next few years
will serve
their well-being
the happiness of our
future generations.
Thank you so much Mr. Wu for taking the time to meet with us today
and for sharing your vision
as DESA forwards
promoting development for all.
Thank you very much. Thank you.