UN General Assembly highlights world's to-do list to save global goals
The UN secretary-general and the president of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Monday joined world leaders and goodwill ambassadors 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."
With time running out on the achievement of SDGs, and against the backdrop of calls for bold solutions to solve the world's deepening challenges in this year's UN General Debate, which opens Tuesday, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres convened the third SDG Moment to urgently spur stronger commitments to ensure successful SDGs implementation.
"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, characterized by conflicts, climate catastrophe, division, unemployment, massive displacement and other challenges, the secretary-general 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 stressed.
The UNGA president, Csaba Korosi, echoed Guterres' words and said that it is 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.
Korosi 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 SDGs at the podium, Prime Minister of Barbados and UN Environment Champion of the Earth, Mia Motley, said that "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?"
Motley urged young people to lead a revolution to "change 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.
Amanda Gorman, a poet, activist and supporter of UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), shared one of her inspiring pieces about leaders' accountability and ending poverty.
Meanwhile, SDG advocates and K-pop superstars, the BLACKPINK, appeared in a video message inviting the world to take specific actions to tackle climate change and boost sustainable development.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas, UNICEF goodwill ambassador, hosted the event. She reminded the room that time is running out, "as we are nearly halfway to the 2030 deadline" to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
"We all deserve a just, safe, and healthy world to live in. The present and the future is on your hands," she told the General Assembly.
According to the Sustainable Development Goals report 2022, the confluence of crises -- the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the Ukraine crisis are creating "spin-off impacts" on food security, health, education, the environment, peace and security. The combined crises could lead to an additional 75 million to 95 million people living in extreme poverty in 2022.
The world also faces a global education crisis with an estimated 147 million children missing more than half of their in-person instruction over the past two years. Additionally, women and girls remain disproportionately affected by the socioeconomic fallout of the pandemic, grappling with an increase in unpaid care work and domestic violence.
Countries have taken action to advance the SDGs and tackle the multiple crises by strengthening social protection, developing sustainable policies, and expanding essential services.
According to the report, while countries have taken steps to keep the promise of the SDGs, the severity and scale of the world's challenges call for an urgent and collective response as set out in Our Common Agenda, which was launched by the secretary-general in 2021 and seeks to rescue the SDGs through stronger international cooperation and reinvigorated multilateralism.
The annual SDG Moment aims to provide a snapshot of progress, highlight actions that show change is possible, and advance the transformations needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It was created by the political declaration adopted at the first SDG Summit in 2019, which mandated the UN secretary-general to convene the event as part of every high-level week of the General Assembly from 2020 to 2030.