As world leaders gather next week for the annual high-level opening of the General Assembly, the UN’s Midtown East campus on weekends hosted an energetic range of actors – from youth groups and women’s organizations to mayors, community activists and business leaders – looking to increase support for the Goals in the future SDG summit.
The summit on September 18 and 19 will mark the midpoint of the SDGs, between their launch in 2015 and their Deadline 2030.
The 2030 targets are not on track
As things stand, the goals and commitment of UN Member States in adopting the 2030 Agenda to ‘leave no one behind’ are in serious trouble: despite some progress, there have been widespread implementation gaps over the years emerge across all 17 goals, which aim to tackle everything from poverty, hunger and gender equality to access to education and clean energy.
Lagging public interest in achieving the Goals, geopolitical friction, and perhaps most critically, the global coronavirus pandemic, have left the SDGs in need of a global bailout.
“Today, only 15 percent of the targets are on track, and many are moving in the opposite direction,” the Secretary-General said, adding: “Monday’s SDG Summit will be the moment for governments to put forward concrete plans and proposals to come to the table. to accelerate progress.”
Not just ‘checking boxes’
But he emphasized that the SDGs are not about ticking boxes.
“They are about the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people and the health of our natural environment. They are about righting historical wrongs, healing global divisions and putting our world on the path to lasting peace,” the UN chief said.
Everyone must do their part to revive the Goals and ensure a better life for people and the planet.
Mr Guterres then praised the courage and conviction of the activists present, saying he knew their global fight for the SDGs ‘endangers your security… freedom’ [and] even your life.”
“I urge you to continue,” he said, similarly urging the business community present “to see that sustainable development is the best business plan of all.”
“To the women and youth who join us: continue to call for change in your communities and fight for your rights and a place at every table, the Secretary General said.
Finally, the UN chief said: “To the local authorities here: the SDGs will not be saved in New York. They will be saved in your communities. So continue to listen to the people in your community and incorporate their needs and concerns into your policies and investments.”