The common thread of the dozens of speeches given at the United Nations by world leaders at the opening of the two days Sustainable Development Goals Summit was a call for faster progress toward achieving the goals by the 2030 deadline. National leaders and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed hope amid minimal progress on the SDGs.
“Renewed faith in us from the people who depend on us will help us gain credibility, trust and a sense of security that UN-led multilateralism offers,” said Dennis Francis, president of the 78th session of the Assembly. General, in his opening speech. , on Monday, the first day of the summit. “Our eight billion voters expect from us a sign that we will keep our promises and that we are aware of the reality that we only have seven years left before 2030. They want and deserve the full assurance that we all together recognize circumstantial setbacks . that many have experienced and continue to endure.”
The 17 goals and 169 accompanying targets were created in 2015 to accelerate global development (and therefore more equal, fair and healthy societies), but most of the goals have experienced setback or stagnation. Only 15 percent of them have been fulfilled. They cover everything from ensuring safe sanitation for all to gender equality for women and girls, to quality education for all and “life under water” to preserving the oceans.
Nigerian delegates at the SDG Summit led by Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, SSA on SDGs and former Deputy Governor of Lagos State.
A combination of factors over the past seven years since the goals’ inception have contributed to the poor progress so far, said Francis, a career diplomat from Trinidad and Tobago. Factors include the COVID-19 pandemic that paralyzed the world for almost two years, the effects of global warming around the world, especially in the Horn of Africa and most of the global South such as Iraq, and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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However, Leo Varadkar, Taoiseach (Leader) of Ireland, said that although these crises have further derailed the SDGs, global heads of state must recognize that the goals were stalled before the World Health Organization officially declared the pandemic. March 11th. 2020.
“As leaders, our drive to achieve goals has not been as strong or as focused as it should be,” Varadkar said, noting that although crucial time has been lost, there is hope. (The ambassadors of Ireland and Qatar to the UN negotiated the political declaration with their member states to launch the next seven years of SDG achievements.)
Mayada Adil, a young Sudanese activist and SDG leader, who also addressed the General Assembly, said there was no other way to describe the current state of the SDGs than as a “failure.” Young people, who make up half of the world’s population, have been left behind in the implementation of the goals, she Adil said.
“What have you done to include young people in the decision-making space?” she asked the people gathered in the spacious Assembly Hall on Monday.
Adil questioned why the UN has reduced the number of young people who were given the opportunity to address the Assembly during the SDG Summit. Last year, young representatives from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Uganda, Pakistan, Nigeria and Argentina spoke at the summit, she said, noting that this year only she was invited.
Progress has been minimal, world leaders acknowledged, but the effects are significant in different corners of the world. Around 800,000 more people now have access to electricity, 146 countries are on track to reduce child mortality rates, improvements have been made in HIV treatment and more people have access to the Internet.
“We need young people in all our diversity to be seen and heard in policy and decision-making,” Adil said.
As he should at a summit of these proportions, Guterres, the UN secretary general, was optimistic about the adoption of the political declaration, although the formal process will occur later this week by the General Assembly. The secretary-general said the document could mark a turning point in accelerating progress on the SDGs in just seven years.
“I am deeply encouraged by the detailed and comprehensive draft political declaration being debated here today, especially its commitment to improving developing countries’ access to the fuel necessary for progress on the SDGs: finance,” Guterres said. “This includes clear support for an SDG stimulus of at least $500 billion a year, as well as an effective debt relief mechanism that supports payment suspensions, longer loan terms and lower rates.”