World leaders called to recommit to the SDGs

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
SDGUN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis on Monday called on world leaders to re-commit to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A combination of factors, including the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the Ukraine conflict, have presented a series of complex and intersecting crises, said Francis in his opening remarks at the SDG Summit, held on the sidelines of the General Debate of the General Assembly.

While this has dramatically altered the trajectory of the entire world, it is – as is too often the case – those in the most precarious circumstances and those who are already the most vulnerable that suffer the most, he noted.

Despite commitments to eradicate poverty and reduce hunger being at the core of this agenda, alarmingly, 1.2 billion people were still living in multidimensional poverty as of 2022. It is estimated that approximately 8 percent of the global population, or 680 million people, will still be facing hunger in 2030, said Francis.

“Can we accept these numbers or, because they make us uncomfortable, should we pretend they do not exist and carry on with business as usual? Surely, we cannot,” he said. “To do so would amount to being reckless. Rather, we must do more to lift people sustainably out of poverty and hunger not merely because it is the right thing to do in the name of humanity but also because to do nothing would be to fan the flames of discord and conflict, with well-known terrible consequences.”

He called on world leaders to re-commit to the SDGs.

“While there have been setbacks, we cannot relent in our resolve and determination to do our utmost to rescue the SDGs. … The fact that we are lagging in our promise cannot be the death knell of our blueprint, nor should this summit be a forum to point fingers, apportion blame, and certainly, not to accept defeat. Instead, bold and transformative actions must be prioritized to support the well-being of our global constituents, particularly those left farthest behind,” he said.

“This is our moment to re-dedicate ourselves to the SDGs, and to reinvigorate progress across the entirety of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.

With concerted, ambitious action, it is still possible to lift 124 million additional people out of poverty and to ensure that some 113 million fewer people are malnourished by 2030. Such achievements would also generate gains across other goals related to health, nutrition and education, he said.

Adequate investment in the SDGs is therefore a win-win for all, with cross-cutting and knock-on benefits reverberating across the globe, positively impacting every society and every community, he said, calling on world leaders to make this strategic investment in the SDGs through effective domestic resource mobilization accompanied by fulfillment of the targets set for the inflow of official development assistance and productive partnerships with the private sector.

He stressed the need to reform the international financial architecture to promote affordable, stable long-term financing for sustainable development across the Global South, where development has been in perpetual deficit.

“We must remember, the world is watching. Our 8 billion constituents are looking to us for a signal that we will keep our promises and that we are alive to the reality that we have only seven years left before 2030,” he said. “They want and deserve full reassurance that we – all together, recognize the circumstantial setbacks that so many have experienced and continue to endure, and that we stand ready to support them in their time of acute need, and, most importantly, that we see the heightened sense of urgency and we are all prepared as the world leaders gather here today to raise our ambition and recommit to meaningfully delivering the 2023 Agenda and its 17 SDGs.”

Francis challenged world leaders to demonstrate emboldened leadership and announce groundbreaking commitments at the summit to support and complete the 2030 Agenda.

“As we navigate the challenges ahead, the SDGs will remain a true blueprint for humanity and will continue to be our guideposts to deliver peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability for all peoples, everywhere,” he said.

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