“Today, we are here to start the job of moving the recommendations in Our Common Agenda from ideas to action – from abstract to concrete,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
Briefing the world body on Our Common Agenda, launched in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a guide to realizing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) he provided a progress report and call to action.
‘Far off track’
Midway to the deadline set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, progress has been made, but much more remains to be done, he said.
“Halfway to 2030, we are far off track,” he said. “This must be the year when we lay the foundations for more effective global cooperation that can deal with today’s challenges as well as new risks and threats down the line.”
Turning words into action is key, he said. Efforts can regain lost ground by addressing challenges that have emerged since 2015, including gaps in intergovernmental cooperation.
Significant steps include the breakthrough on loss and damage, the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, the Transforming Education Summit, the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection, and the establishment of a UN Youth Office.
‘Closer to the edge’
“But, they are clearly only a beginning,” he said. “We need to go further and deeper. On climate, on conflict, on inequality, on food insecurity, on nuclear weapons – we are closer to the edge than ever.”
However, collective problem-solving mechanisms do not match the pace or scale of the challenges, he said. He warned that current forms of multilateral governance, designed in and for a bygone era, are clearly not adequate to today’s complex, interconnected, rapidly changing and dangerous world.
‘Rescue the SDGs’
The SDG Summit, to be held at UN Headquarters September at the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda deadline, “must mark significant progress”, the Secretary-General said. He urged Member States to bring a clear commitment to rescue the SDGs by setting out their national vision for transformation, grounded in concrete plans, benchmarks, and commitments.
“The SDG Summit must make our commitment to leaving no one behind a reality in law and policy,” he said.
New policy briefs
He reiterated a call on the Group of 20 countries to agree on a $500 billion annual stimulus to support countries of the global South before the SDG Summit. Meanwhile, he said his office will be issuing 11 policy briefs addressing such pressing issues as cyberwarfare and a building a more effective global economy.
He said many of the policy briefs’ proposals can also contribute to preparations for the Summit of the Future, to be held in 2024, which will be “a generational opportunity” to reinvigorate global action, recommit to fundamental principles, and develop multilateral frameworks that work for today’s world to “move us in to the future we want”.
General Assembly vision
General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi told the world body that his vision encompasses investing in the preparations for the Summit of Future to “turbocharge” SDG implementation at all levels. For that to happen, he encouraged Member States to review the lessons learned from voluntary national reviews, determine where to unlock new commitments, and spur the adoption of innovative policies based on scientific inputs.
“We have profound choices to make about the future we want,” he said. “And in this new paradigm, we must adapt, we must change. If we miss this moment to lay new foundations; it will not come again.”