H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC, Excellencies,
I am honored to address you all today at this inaugural ‘SDG Moment’.
When mandated by the General Assembly, few of us could have known the setbacks the pandemic would cause the SDGs and the urgency that this would present to us today.
In less than a year we have seen social and economic damage on a scale not seen since the Second World War.
At least 71 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty;
Approximately 270 million people face acute food insecurity;
And an estimated 1.6 billion children and youth have seen their education threatened.
Allow me to be frank: progress on the SDGs was inconsistent and off-course well before COVID-19 shook the world.
The pandemic has unveiled the dangers inherent in delay. It has reminded us, starkly, of the need to act.
Not since the United Nations was founded has the world required such levels of collaboration, cooperation and dialogue.
These are the moments for which we were built.
It is for this reason that I have included the SDGs and Decade of Action amongst the priorities of the 75th Session.
Halting the spread of COVID-19 and regaining progress against the SDGs must be our collective priority. Countries in special situations, including the Least Developed Countries, should be prioritized.
It will not be easy, but the SDGs themselves provide us the very blueprint needed to recover, better.
We must look to 2020 with renewed vigor. The pandemic may have set us back, but it can also be the board from which we bounce back further and faster.
As countries across the globe embark upon socio-economic recovery plans, let them be guided by the SDGs. Let us choose a more equal, more green, more resilient world.
On this, I am confident that UNDP and the broader UN System, under the guidance of the Deputy Secretary General, are accelerating efforts at the national level.
As I open this segment on ‘SDG Gaps and Plans’, I urge Heads of State and Governments to share the plans and measures to innovate and inspire greater action through transformative pathways over the course of the decade.
I support the efforts of the Secretary General in the reform agenda and appreciate the timely and far reaching reforms of the United Nations Development System. UN Country Teams are key players in this crucial effort and must continue to support national efforts and priorities, particularly around COVID recovery and the SDGs.
The Decade of Action may have started with a global emergency and a dramatic setback, but we can choose to let this strengthen our resolve. We can choose to go forward with unwavering ambition to achieve the SDGs while overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.