Tokyo Conference Helps to Leverage Human Security Approach in Finding Solutions for Today’s Global Challenges, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Forum

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as delivered, to the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development’s session on “Society:  Realizing a Sustainable and Resilient Society based on Human Security”, in Tunis today:

I am delighted to have the opportunity of sharing a few reflections on the importance of realizing a sustainable and resilient society based human security.

Over the years, the Tokyo International Conference on African Development has built an impressive track record of improving socioeconomic conditions thanks to its core principles of African ownership and international partnership.

The partnerships that the Tokyo International Conference on African Development has brought to life have supported increased access to health services, education, water and sanitation, and helped promote peace and stability.  However, the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals which are also captured in the first six goals of the Sustainable Development Goals — including on housing, health, education and gender — has left many struggling.

And new challenges are calling for renewed commitment, genuine partnerships, and urgent action at scale.  The impacts of the war in Ukraine have created a perfect storm for food security, energy, and access to finance with particularly devastating impacts on the economies of the continent.  And the triple planetary crisis of climate, biodiversity and pollution, growing geopolitical instability, humanitarian crises and a breakdown in social trust will knock sustainable development progress further off-track.

In a context of little or no social protection floors and tight fiscal spaces, people around the world — especially young people — are under immense stress, disillusioned and fearing for their future.

It has been two decades since Japan called our attention to the concept of human security, a notion that is rooted in the partnership of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development.  Achieving human security — freedom from fear, want and indignity — is more important than ever to protect the peoples of Africa from threats to their survival, dignity and livelihood.

It is also critical to empowering all people — including women, children and other vulnerable groups — to shape and fully own the process of building communities and nations.

Today, we need to use the concept of human security to redefine what delivering on sustainable development in 2030 actually means, and illuminate recurring ‘blind spots’.  Doing so will super-charge the partnership between Japan and Africa, in support of Agenda 2063 — the Africa We Want — and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including the Sustainable Development Goals.

To support this important work, the Secretary-General — in collaboration with the Government of Japan — launched a special report on human security last year.  It shows that building sustainable and resilient societies depends on our ability to break down silos, fill in gaps and embrace the concept of sustainable development embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today, I want to share five ways in which the human security approach can contribute to overcoming today’s complex context as we advance the implementation of the Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.

First, the lens of human security aids in preparing for the future and delivering on Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.  Faced with systemic risks, we must step up our work on recovery, prevention and anticipating future crises in an integrated manner.  Foresight analysis and social protection research will be key tools.

Second, we need a revolution in data.  Indicators of development progress need to go beyond focusing solely on narrow concepts of well-being to better measure vulnerabilities.  Current discussions to explore measurements beyond gross domestic product, as called for by the Secretary-General in his report on Our Common Agenda, are critical, as is the development of a multidimensional vulnerability index to truly account for countries’ vulnerabilities to global shocks.

Third, people-oriented and people-centred approaches should be at the heart of everything we do.  Re-establishing trust and fostering a stronger social contract between governments and people must be integral to our efforts.

Fourth, the New Agenda for Peace, called for in Our Common Agenda, provides a valuable space for constructive dialogue on the peace-development-humanitarian nexus.  We need a reset of the current responses to preventing and exiting conflict.  Women will be key players in this endeavour.

And fifth, we must pay greater attention to digital threats, including online propaganda and hate speech, while finding ways to use technology to serve people, rather than the other way around.  We must also ensure foundational learning includes as a prerequisite the use of digital tools in teaching and learning for all.

The Tokyo International Conference on African Development provides us with the opportunity to leverage the human security approach in finding solutions for today’s global challenges.  Doing so will help countries and communities across Africa access the very best solutions to accelerate progress.  Only then can we deliver on our promises and help millions of people in Africa co-create a sustainable and inclusive future.

For information media. Not an official record.