UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday said the world “is challenged like never before” but the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) still offer a roadmap to get back on track.
“It would be easy to lose hope. But we are not hopeless. Or helpless. We have a path to recovery. If we choose to take it,” Mr. Guterres said.
The UN Secretary-General made the comment at the SDG Moment – a major event marking the start of the 76th General Assembly’s High-Level Week.
The SDG Moment is held in advance of major meetings on food systems, climate, energy, jobs and social protection and the event is designed to build the momentum needed to deliver on the Decade of Action and Keep the Promise of the SDGs.
Mr. Guterres was joined by more than 30 Heads of State, a debate led by top UN officials on Covid-19 and a performance by K-pop sensation BTS, headlined also by the President of the Republic of Korea.
For the UN chief, this SDG Moment is all about “coming together to save our planet and each other.”
Earlier this month, Mr. Guterres launched “Our Common Agenda”, a plan to strengthen and revitalize the whole multilateral system and rally the world around common objectives.
In the document, the Secretary-General points to five areas for urgent action, the first of which is the world to come together to end the pandemic.
Second, he highlighted the need for a sustainable and equitable recovery for all, so that the world stays on track to end poverty by 2030.
He then pointed to equal rights for women and girls as the third are for action, saying none of the SDGs can be achieved without gender equality.
Another priority is to end the war against the planet, by committing to net zero emissions by 2050. Mr. Guterres also asked Member States to shelve plans for any new coal-fired power plants after 2021, and mobilize $100 billion a year for climate action.
Lastly, he stressed the importance of an equitable global recovery, asking people everywhere to work with their governments to put people first in their budgets and recovery plans.
“My friends, the pathway is there. The choice is ours. Let’s move forward with hope and conviction,” he concluded.
Speaking at the event, the new president of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, said that “going forward, the gaps in political will and resource commitment, remain a common fault line”, hampering progress towards reaching the SDGs.
“This must change. Let the setback that the world has seen, strengthen our resolve and reinforce our determination to recover from the pandemic and to build the SDGs. Together it is possible,” he said.
One of the members of Korean boy band BTS, V, said that he had also “felt bewildered and troubled” by the setbacks of the past 18 months, but said now was “an ideal time of our lives to take on new challenges.”
“What is important are the choices we make when we are faced with change right? Some of you heard the news that we were coming to the UN and a lot of you were wondering whether we were vaccinated. And yes, all seven of us, of course, we received Covid-19 vaccination,” J Hope added.
BTS focused in how their generation felt lost last year during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic when graduations and other important events were cancelled. But they sent a message of encouragement to all people around the world.
“I hope we just don’t consider the future as grim darkness. We have people concerned for the world and searching for answers. There are still many pages left in the story about us and I feel like we shouldn’t talk like the ending has already been written,” said Junkook.
Besides world leaders, leaders from business, civil society, local authorities, the SDG Advocates and the UN, highlighted the need to scale up solutions.
For the UN, to get the SDGs back on track and prevent the worst impacts of climate change, a profound shift in economies and societies everywhere, is now needed. (Source: UN News)