Now is the time for a global plan to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are woefully off-track halfway towards their 2030 deadline, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday in New York.
Mr. Guterres was speaking at the opening of a high-level forum at UN Headquarters where world leaders adopted a political declaration to accelerate action to achieve the 17 goals, which aim to drive economic prosperity and well-being for all people while protecting the environment.
“The SDGs aren’t just a list of goals. They carry the hopes, dreams, rights and expectations of people everywhere,” he said.
World leaders adopted the SDGs in 2015, promising to leave no one behind. The goals include ending extreme poverty and hunger, ensuring access to clean water and sanitation, as well as green energy, and providing quality universal education and lifelong learning opportunities.
UN General Assembly President Dennis Francis noted that despite commitments, 1.2 billion people were still living in poverty as of 2022, and roughly eight per cent of the global population, or 680 million people, will still be facing hunger by the end of the decade. The international community cannot accept these numbers, he said.
“With concerted, ambitious action, it is still possible that, by 2030, we could lift 124 million additional people out of poverty and ensure that some 113 million fewer people are malnourished,” he said.
Each of the 17 goals contains targets, with 169 overall, but the Secretary-General warned that currently only 15 per cent are on track, while many are going in reverse.
The political declaration “can be a game-changer in accelerating SDG progress,” he said.
It includes a commitment to financing for developing countries and clear support for his proposal for an SDG Stimulus of at least $500 billion annually, as well as an effective debt-relief mechanism.
It further calls for changing the business model of multilateral development banks to offer private finance at more affordable rates for developing countries, and endorses reform of the international finance architecture which he has labelled “outdated, dysfunctional and unfair.”