Primer on Global Goals Week 2018: Events, Themes and Actions
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Making use of the energy in New York this week as world leaders gather to open the new UNGA session, Global Goals Week brings together the international community with another objective: driving progress on the SDGs.

From 22-29 September 2019, events scattered around the City and UN Headquarters aim to spur collaboration and raise awareness of SDG implementation challenges and innovations needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The week opens with a spotlight on youth, and another early highlight will be the UN Secretary-General's high-level meeting on financing the 2030 Agenda.

Making use of the energy in New York as world leaders gather to open the new session of the UN General Assembly, Global Goals Week brings together the international community with another objective: driving progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). From 22-29 September 2019, events scattered around the City and UN Headquarters aim to spur collaboration and raise awareness of SDG implementation challenges and innovations needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This September marks the third anniversary of the SDGs’ adoption by all UN Member States in 2015. Events taking place as part of Global Goals Week, as well as side events to the UNGA’s general debate, will set the stage for the next year of work to implement the SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda.

Several themes can be pulled out of the large number of events convening this week. The week opens with a spotlight on youth, as the UN launches a “youth strategy” called Youth 2030 on 24 September. The launch event will include the announcement of an initiative to empower young people called ‘Generation Unlimited.’ Also beginning on 24 September will be the ‘World’s Largest Lesson,’ which aims to bring the SDGs to classrooms around the world. In addition, this year’s report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s ‘Goalkeepers’ initiative focuses on the potential for youth to end poverty in Africa.

Food systems, hunger and nutrition are also receiving a great deal of attention during Global Goals Week, starting with a multimedia exhibit on ‘Tech and the end of hunger’ presented by the World Food Programme (WFP), Global Pulse, and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD). The WFP will team up with the other Rome-based agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – for an event on breaking the conflict-hunger cycle, which builds on a May 2018 Security Council resolution and broader UN efforts on “sustaining peace.”

IFAD, FAO and GPSDD will continue their focus on ending hunger, along with the governments of Kenya, Ghana and Sierra Leone, and the Gates Foundation, hosting an event on ‘Data to end hunger.’ Attendees will hear the announcement of the largest-ever financial commitment on agricultural data for development. The power of storytelling is also likely to come through, with a performance from The Moth Global Community Program.

Transforming food systems will be the focus of an event that aims to “stretch the very fabric” of SDG 2, organized by Kellogg, FReSH and the SDG 2 Advocacy Hub. Nutrition will be woven throughout the week, with a cooking challenge at NYU to highlight “nutrition without borders” with award-winning chefs, and a forum hosted by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

Global Goals Week coincides not only with the UNGA’s general debate, but also with the annual Climate Week NYC. This year Climate Week comes on the heels of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, California, US. Events in New York will include the One Planet Summit, the first annual Climate and ESG Asset Owner Summit, and an evening gathering on ‘Building Sustainable Cities to Fight Climate Change.’

Global Goals Week 2018 will explore the roles of technology and data in driving SDG implementation with events on: disruptive technologies for inclusive business (Business Call to Action’s 8th annual forum); the Social Good Summit’s focus on unlocking the potential of technology to improve the world; and a panel on fulfilling the SDGs using blockchain (SDG Blockchain Forum), not to mention the events on technology and data in ending hunger, as noted above.

An early highlight from the week is expected to be UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ high-level meeting on financing the 2030 Agenda. The half-day event will introduce the Secretary-General’s strategy to finance the Agenda, and aims to build momentum for three priorities in scaling up SDG financing:

  • Aligning global financial and economic policies with the 2030 Agenda,
  • Enhancing sustainable financing strategies, and
  • Seizing the potential of financial innovations, new technologies and digitalization to provide equitable access to finance.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment will hold its third annual conference, building on efforts in the past few years to identify “guiding principles and practical approaches” to align international investment treaties with the SDGs. Climate Action and UNEP-FI are organizing the third edition of ‘Sustainable Investment Forum North America,’ involving asset owners and managers, commercial banks, development institutions and national policy makers in a discussion on accelerating sustainable investment. Other events aim to engage businesses: the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit; the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit; and a UNDP event on emerging business models for aligning the private sector with the SDGs.

An overview of the coming week would not be complete without noting the efforts to engage everyone in achieving the 2030 Agenda. A TED event called ‘We the future’ will share stories from people around the world who are working on “small and big problems.” On 25 September, the anniversary of the Global Goals’ adoption, the UN SDG Action Campaign holds an all-day event called ‘Global Day to #Act4SDGs.’ The initiative engages tens of thousands of people in a mass mobilization through hundreds of simultaneous events around the world, inspiring more people to take action for the SDGs in their homes and work.

Discussion, brainstorming and civic mobilization are not the only activities being planned; legislative progress is also on the agenda. The first-ever regional agreement on environmental transparency will open for signature in a ceremony on 27 September. In order for the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazu agreement) to enter into force, it needs 11 ratifications from among its 33 States Party.

At this time next year, the international community will be reviewing overall progress towards the 2030 Agenda for the first time at the level of Heads of State and Government. Subscribe here to follow our coverage and analysis from this week, and the coming months of work at the UN and around the world.


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