Secretary-General calls for ‘All Hands on Deck’, Reinvigorated Efforts to Ensure Success of Sustainable Development Goals
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, in New York on 24 September:
I have never seen so many people so animated around the Sustainable Development Goals as during the past three days. From the Sustainable Development Goals Action Zone on our lawn to billboards in Times Square, the Sustainable Development Goals are everywhere — as they should be.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the overarching focus of every event of this high-level week. We started this journey together in 2015 — and we know our destination: an end to extreme poverty and hunger; equality for women and girls and empowered young people; a low carbon, climate-smart economy with decent jobs, inclusive growth and shared prosperity; peaceful and just societies, human rights for all, and respect for the rule of law; [and] opportunity for all on a healthy planet.
In short, we have set our sights on a fair globalization. The good news is that the 2030 Agenda is coming to life. Governments, north and south, have begun integrating the Goals into national plans and strategies. The private sector is coming to understand that green business is good business. Cities, businesses, the international financial sector, civil society, young people and more are stepping up and taking action.
And we are making progress. Extreme poverty and child mortality rates are falling. Access to energy and to decent work is rising. And we see from this Summit, the commitment to the 2030 Agenda is an unmistakable commitment.
But, let us be clear: we are far from where we need to be. We are off track. Deadly conflicts, the climate crisis, gender-based violence, and persistent inequalities are undermining efforts to achieve the Goals. Indeed, half the wealth around the world is held by people who could fit around a conference table.
Uneven growth, rising debt levels, heightened global trade tensions are creating new obstacles to implementation. Youth unemployment remains at alarming levels. Global hunger is unfortunately on the rise. No country is on track to meeting the goal of gender equality — without which none of the others will be met, and in fact, the gap in several [of them] is growing. One million species are in danger of extinction. And at the current pace, almost 500 million people could remain in extreme poverty by 2030.
We must step up our efforts. And we must do it now. We must regain the trust of the people and respond to perceptions and experiences of alienation and instability generated by the current model of globalization. We have the best solution in the 2030 Agenda, our blueprint for a fair globalization. We must transition our economies towards net zero emissions by 2050. We must boost the development prospects of the world’s most vulnerable countries and most marginalized people.
And we must look at the 2030 Agenda not through the prism of the economy of the last decade, but the economy of the next decade, seizing the potential of the fourth Industrial Revolution and safeguarding against its dangers. That is why today, as requested by your Political Declaration, I am issuing a global call for a decade of action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Three essential areas drive my call. First, global action. Now is the time for bold leadership, both individual and collective. We need to end today’s conflicts and prevent further violence.
We need a major surge in financing with Member States meeting their official development assistance commitments; fully replenishing Global Funds on Climate and Health; boosting funding for education and other Sustainable Development Goals; supporting innovative forms of financing like Social Impact Bonds; and increasing access to technologies and concessional and green finance for countries most at risk.
At the same time, we need to scale up long-term private investment for sustainable development and make meaningful progress in fighting illicit flows of capital, money-laundering and tax evasion to better support developing countries pursuing political and economic reform.
And we need to focus on solutions that will make greatest impact across the entire Agenda, such as gender equality, a just and inclusive economy; energy and food systems, sustainable cities and taking on the climate crisis.
Second, local action. We need to step up domestic responses to make a difference where it matters — in people’s lives. This includes more deeply orienting domestic policies and action with the 2030 Agenda — developing integrated national financing frameworks; empowering sustainable
development governance mechanisms; creating insightful and inclusive data systems; and delivering ambitious climate plans in 2020.
It also includes the creation of an enabling environment that maximizes the potential of cities and local authorities, protects human rights and civic space, fosters private sector development and attracts foreign direct investment.
Third, people action. I am calling on civil society, grass-roots organizations, media, private sector, unions, academia and others to mobilize partnerships like never before. I appeal to innovators and disruptors in the private sector to embrace new business models that match the demands of the 2030 Agenda.
I call on the world of science, research and technology to ensure that new technologies narrow the digital and broader technological divide and are geared towards the common good, in line with the recommendations of my High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. I urge young people and civil society to hold leaders to account.
As we look ahead, I will convene an annual platform for driving the Decade of Action. Our first such gathering will take place in September 2020 in the context of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations. As we look forward, we know the great task before us. We need all hands on deck. We need to move together, leaving no one behind. Let us seize the momentum from this Summit and this week to move faster and farther to reach our destination for people and planet. Thank you.