World Leaders Gather in New York to Address the SDGs
New York, September 11, 2023 – As the world prepares for the annual high-level opening of the General Assembly next week, the United Nations Midtown East campus witnessed a dynamic gathering over the weekend. Participants included youth groups, women’s organizations, mayors, community activists, and business leaders, all uniting to rally support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in anticipation of the upcoming SDG Summit.
Midway Mark for the 2030 Goals
The SDG Summit, scheduled for September 18-19, will mark the midpoint in the journey towards achieving the SDGs. Launched in 2015 with a promise to ‘leave no one behind,’ the SDGs aim to combat issues ranging from poverty, hunger, and gender equality to access to education and clean energy.
Off-Track Progress Threatens Global Agenda
Regrettably, as of now, the SDGs and the commitments made by UN member countries to fulfill the 2030 Agenda are in jeopardy. Despite some progress, there are glaring implementation gaps across all 17 Goals. These gaps have hindered efforts to address critical global challenges, including poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability.
Call for a Global Rescue Plan
Several factors, including waning public interest in achieving the SDGs and geopolitical tensions, have compounded the problem. However, the most pressing issue has been the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, which has necessitated an urgent global response.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating,
“Today, only 15 percent of the targets are on track, with many going into reverse.”
He stressed that the upcoming SDG Summit is an opportunity for governments worldwide to come forward with concrete plans and proposals to expedite progress.
Beyond Mere Compliance
Secretary-General Guterres underscored that the SDGs are not merely about meeting targets but about addressing the aspirations, rights, and well-being of people and the environment. They also encompass rectifying historical injustices, healing global divisions, and forging a path toward enduring peace.
A Call to Action for All
Secretary-General Guterres commended the courage and dedication of the activists present, recognizing the risks they face in their global pursuit of the SDGs. He urged them to persist in their efforts. Additionally, he called on the business community to recognize sustainable development as the most profitable business plan.
Addressing women and young participants, the Secretary-General encouraged them to continue advocating for change in their communities and to demand their rights and inclusion at every decision-making table.
Localizing the SDGs
Finally, Secretary-General Guterres emphasized the pivotal role of local authorities in revitalizing the SDGs. He stressed that the rescue of the SDGs would not occur in New York but in communities around the world. He called on local leaders to listen to the needs and concerns of their communities and to integrate them into their policies and investments.
As world leaders gather in New York for the annual General Assembly, meanwhile, all eyes are on the upcoming SDG Summit as a critical juncture in the journey towards achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, the urgency of the situation, underscored by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has set the stage for a global call to action. Furthermore, the fate of the SDGs now hinges on the commitment and collaboration of nations, activists, businesses, and local authorities worldwide.