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UN chief urges clear commitment to rescue SDGs

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres has urged the Member States to bring a clear commitment to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by setting out their national vision for transformation, grounded in concrete plans, benchmarks, and commitments.

Guterres made the call on Monday in New York while addressing the UN General Assembly about his report on “Our Common Agenda” which he gave to the Member States about 18 months ago.

He also spoke on the preparations for the “Summit of the Future” that would be held in 2024.

The UN chief urged the member states to support “turbocharged” efforts to get back on track to realising the SDGs.

“Today, we are here to start the job of moving the recommendations in Our Common Agenda from ideas to action – from abstract to concrete,” he said.

Briefing the world body on Our Common Agenda, launched in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a guide to realising the 17 SDGs, he provided a progress report and call to action.

According to him, midway to the deadline set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, progress has been made, but much more remains to be done,

“Halfway to 2030, we are far off track. This must be the year when we lay the foundations for more effective global cooperation that can deal with today’s challenges as well as new risks and threats down the line.”

Turning words into action is key, he said efforts could regain lost ground by addressing challenges that have emerged since 2015, including gaps in intergovernmental cooperation.

Significant steps include the breakthrough on loss and damage, the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, the Transforming Education Summit, the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection, and the establishment of a UN Youth Office.

“But they are clearly only a beginning,” he said. “We need to go further and deeper. On climate, on conflict, on inequality, on food insecurity, on nuclear weapons – we are closer to the edge than ever.”

“However, collective problem-solving mechanisms do not match the pace or scale of the challenges,” Guterres said.

He warned that current forms of multilateral governance, designed in and for a bygone era, were clearly not adequate to today’s complex, interconnected, rapidly changing and dangerous world.

The SDG Summit, to be held at UN Headquarters September at the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda deadline, “must mark significant progress”, the Secretary-General said.

“The SDG Summit must make our commitment to leaving no one behind a reality in law and policy,” he said.

He reiterated a call on the Group of 20 countries to agree on a $500 billion annual stimulus to support countries of the global South before the SDG Summit.

Meanwhile, he said his office would be issuing 11 policy briefs addressing such pressing issues as cyberwarfare and a building a more effective global economy.

He said many of the policy briefs’ proposals can also contribute to preparations for the Summit of the Future, to be held in 2024, which will be “a generational opportunity” to reinvigorate global action, recommit to fundamental principles, and develop multilateral frameworks that work for today’s world to “move us in to the future we want”.

Also speaking, General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi told the world body that his vision encompassed investing in the preparations for the Summit of Future to “turbocharge” SDG implementation at all levels.

For that to happen, he encouraged Member States to review the lessons learned from voluntary national reviews, determine where to unlock new commitments, and spur the adoption of innovative policies based on scientific inputs.

“We have profound choices to make about the future we want. And in this new paradigm, we must adapt, we must change. If we miss this moment to lay new foundations; it will not come again,” he said.

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