At the one-day "integration segment" held before the HLPF, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded delegates the world is "lagging behind" on the SDG timetable, and highlighted the work of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination in integrating innovation and keeping in view the impacts of frontier technologies.
Discussions focused on the theme of “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” and onterlinkages among the SDGs to be reviewed at the 2019 HLPF session.
8 July 2019: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a discussion of how the UN can contribute effectively to achieving the SDGs, and how synergies and trade-offs might be managed, in its one-day Integration Segment ahead of the 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
The concept note for the session recalls that in 2018 (A/RES/72/305) the UN General Assembly (UNGA) redefined the mandate of the ECOSOC Integration Segment, deciding that it would take place the day before the HLPF, among other changes to enhance its role in coordinating inputs from Member States, the UN system and relevant stakeholders to the HLPF.
ECOSOC Vice-President Valentin Rybakov (Belarus) chaired the Integration Segment on 8 July 2019, which featured three interactive dialogues on the topics of: pursuing a people-centered 2030 Agenda for a healthy planet; prosperous and peaceful societies in the SDG era; and partnering for people, planet and prosperity. Discussions also addressed the theme of “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,” and on interlinkages among the SDGs to be reviewed at the July 2019 HLPF session, namely SDG 4 on quality education, SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth, SDG 10 on reduced inequalities, SDG 13 on climate action, SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, and SDG 17 on partnerships for the Goals.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reminded delegates the world is “lagging behind” on the SDG timetable, and highlighted the work of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) in integrating innovation and keeping in view the impacts of frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, and new kinds of weaponry. Simona Petrova, CEB Secretary, said the fourth industrial revolution, in which AI is changing the future of work, is already taking place, while 40% of people in the world are still not connected to the internet. She called for education, retraining and true innovation in the sense of “doing things differently – and doing different things” rather than only “using gadgets.” Delegates were informed of a UN system-wide strategic approach and road map (CEB/2019/1/Add.3) regarding capacity building on AI, developed through the CEB.
In the dialogue on a people-centered 2030 Agenda, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, UN Committee for Development Policy, noted that technology is not neutral in its impacts, and highlighted the importance of addressing inequalities (SDG 10) and promoting peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16). She added that we must look at how each Goal is pursued, in order to make sure efforts do not push people behind in other ways.
Other speakers called for: investing in children, closing the digital divide for children and enabling meaningful child participation; promoting global governance of AI; introducing gender-sensitive tax systems; strengthening labor institutions; and tackling inequalities that start in the home, by recognizing the economic value of women’s unpaid care duties and initiating a fairer distribution of chores among boys and girls. Fukuda-Parr emphasized that people-centered development must go far beyond social services to encompass issues such as taxation and illicit financial flows.
In the dialogue on prosperous and peaceful societies, speakers stressed the importance of decent work (SDG 8) in fighting inequalities. They discussed the impact of technology replacing human labor, and called for increased investment in empowering women, fighting transnational crime, and undertaking regional and international cooperation and partnerships. Guillermo Roque Fernández de Soto Valderrama, Colombia, stated that the SDGs must be “a vector for growth” in guiding investment, noting that Colombia has integrated the 17 SDGs into its national development plan. Concluding the dialogue, moderator Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), urged countries to move toward a vision of human security, rather than national security.
On partnering for people, planet and prosperity, speakers emphasized the need for leadership, political will, development partnerships between government and non-government actors, and meaningful stakeholder engagement. Satya Tripathi, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), reported that just 23% of the environment-related SDGs are on track to achievement, and highlighted the importance of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and green fiscal policies.
Concluding the session, Rybakov affirmed the role of the CEB as the “natural interlocutor” for ECOSOC. He reminded delegates that the HLPF is completing its first four-year cycle of follow-up and review in 2019, and looked forward to the UNGA’s SDG summit in September 2019. [Meeting Webpage] [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General’s Remarks] [Webcast]