By Haruna Gimba
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has joined world leaders in a global call to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and get back on track to building a better world that leaves no one behind.
The 2022 SDGs Moment, which places an annual spotlight on the 17 Global Goals agreed by countries in December 2015, took place on Monday in New York.
“The world has a long ‘to do’ list,” Guterres told world leaders, asking for more finance and investment from the public and private sectors, to meet growing needs.
Acknowledging the current “moment of great peril” for the world, characterised by conflicts, climate catastrophe, division, unemployment, massive displacements and other challenges, Guterres said that although “it was tempting” to put long-term priorities to the side, development could not wait.
“The education of our children cannot wait. Dignified jobs cannot wait. Full equality for women and girls cannot wait.
“Comprehensive healthcare, meaningful climate action, biodiversity protection – these cannot be left for tomorrow,” he underscored, highlighting that across all these areas, young people and future generations are demanding action.
“We cannot let them down. This is a definitive moment… The perils we face are no match for a world united…Let’s get our world back on track,” the UN chief urged world leaders.
Similarly, the President of the General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, echoed. Guterres’s words, and said that it was timely and more necessary than ever to “re-dedicate ourselves to the SDGs” as the world falls behind.
“The pandemic was a postcard from the future, a bleak future of interlocking global crises. One that we want to avoid and that we can avoid. We must now regain the speed lost to the pandemic and to our inaction. Solutions are at hand,” he said.
Kőrösi added that it is time to “get serious” about saving the world, with all pleasant and unpleasant consequences that this entails, and asked UN Member States to deliver on promises made.
Holding a placard of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at the podium, Prime Minister of Barbados and UN Environment Champion of the Earth, Mia Motley, reminded the General Assembly what each of the SDGs meant, from ending poverty and achieving gender equality, to protecting our planet.
“A world that is driven by a climate crisis cannot provide a sustainable future for us. Are we so arrogant to believe that there will be no failed societies and no extinct species, as history shows us otherwise?” she asked world leaders.
She urged the children of the world to “lead a revolution” in changing our habits to end plastic pollution and waste, and “hold the leaders’ feet to the fire” to make the world a better place to live in.
Poet, activist and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supporter, Amanda Gorman, shared one of her inspiring pieces focused on leaders’ accountability, ending poverty and protecting the Earth.