SSC Newsletter 34: Now is the time

Published on 18 September 2023 at 20:47

Now is the time for a global plan to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are off-track halfway towards their 2030 deadline, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday in New York. 

In a significant milestone for global development, the United Nations General Assembly recently convened a high-level forum at UN Headquarters, where world leaders came together to adopt a political declaration aimed at accelerating action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These 17 goals, adopted in 2015, hold the promise of driving economic prosperity, well-being for all, and environmental protection. However, as we approach the end of the decade, significant challenges persist, making this declaration a crucial turning point in the pursuit of a more equitable and sustainable world.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized that the SDGs are not merely a list of goals; they symbolize the hopes, dreams, rights, and expectations of people worldwide. The goals encompass a wide range of objectives, including the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, promoting green energy, and providing quality universal education and lifelong learning opportunities. World leaders made a solemn commitment to leave no one behind when these goals were adopted in 2015.

Despite these commitments, a stark reality remains. As of 2022, 1.2 billion people continue to live in poverty, and approximately eight percent of the global population, or 680 million individuals, still face hunger. These statistics are unacceptable, and the international community cannot stand idly by. UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis urged concerted and ambitious action to uplift millions out of poverty and ensure that fewer people go hungry by 2030.

Each of the 17 SDGs comprises specific targets, totalling 169 in all. However, Secretary-General Guterres cautioned that only 15 percent of these targets are currently on track, with many showing regression. The newly adopted political declaration is seen as a potential game-changer in accelerating progress toward these goals. It includes a commitment to financing for developing countries, supporting the proposal for an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion annually, and establishing an effective debt-relief mechanism. The declaration also calls for changes in the business model of multilateral development banks to offer affordable private finance for developing nations and endorses reforms in the international finance architecture.

Secretary-General Guterres highlighted six critical areas that demand immediate attention. These include addressing hunger as a shocking stain on humanity, accelerating the transition to renewable energy, ensuring equitable access to the benefits of digitalization, providing quality education, creating decent work opportunities, and protecting the environment against climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. Gender equality was also emphasized as a cross-cutting theme.

The UN has responded to these challenges with a series of initiatives. These efforts encompass transforming global food systems to ensure access to healthy diets, increasing investment in renewable energy transition, expanding internet access, generating millions of decent jobs, and extending social protection to millions of people.

The adoption of this declaration is a testament to the unwavering commitment of global leaders towards implementing the SDGs. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) plays a pivotal role in advancing the three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social, and environmental—and provides a platform for monitoring and reviewing progress towards these goals.

The two-day SDG Summit represents the centrepiece of the UN General Assembly's high-level week, where leaders from around the world converge to address the most pressing global issues. The adoption of the political declaration signifies a critical moment in the pursuit of the SDGs, as it signals a renewed dedication to achieving these vital goals. With challenges persisting and time running out, the international community must seize this moment and take decisive action to ensure a more equitable, prosperous, and sustainable future for all.

Source: UN.ORG - Silent Spring Consultants support the UN SDGs Goals