High-level Event Highlights Imperative of SDG Implementation
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The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with high-level officials from approximately 136 UN Member States making statements on taking action at the country level, and interactive dialogues addressing ‘financing poverty eradication and sustainable development' and ‘technology and data for SDGs.'

View of the opening ceremony of the High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the chamber of the UN General Assembly21 April 2016: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a High-level Thematic Debate on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with high-level officials from approximately 136 UN Member States making statements on taking action at the country level, and interactive dialogues addressing ‘financing poverty eradication and sustainable development’ and ‘technology and data for SDGs.’

Throughout the statements and discussions, speakers stressed the need for an “enabling environment” to achieve the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They noted that the commitments and agreements that have already been made and must be fulfilled, outlined gaps in current capacity to implement the Goals, and highlighted the need to “not just leave no one behind, but allow everyone to move forward.” Some expressed the view that this is a transitional time leading into implementation of the Agenda.

Opening the event on 21 April 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, UNGA President Mogens Lykketoft said the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development (FfD), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the Paris Agreement on climate change provide the international community with a framework to solve the root causes of migrant and humanitarian crises. UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said achieving the 2030 Agenda will require breaking down barriers “across borders, across sectors, and across functions.”

Forest Whitaker, SDG Advocate and Actor, urged attendees to help get average citizens involved. Sunny George Verghese, Co-Founder and CEO, Olam International, said attitudes have changed both in the UN and the private sector with regard to partnerships, as the SDGs highlight that “how we do business is as important as what we do” as business.

In a dialogue moderated by Ghida Fakhry, broadcast journalist, Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), said every government has agreed to achieve the Goals and must make a plan to do so. He emphasized the need to invest more in children, education, and low-carbon energy, and less in the military. He also called for mobilizing resources from rich countries, which have “let the rich people off the hook.” Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), said the science and engineering communities should build the scientific infrastructure and human capacity to develop road maps and plans for implementing the SDGs.

The interactive dialogue on financing poverty eradication and sustainable development included detailed discussions on successful frameworks and strategies for financing the SDGs, the paradigm shift towards low-carbon societies, and enhancing international cooperation in tax and finance matters. The interactive dialogue on technology and data for the SDGs focused on enhancing technology development and cooperation for the SDGs and opportunities and challenges in harnessing the data revolution for the SDGs.

Statements by Heads of State and Government and other high-level officials took place throughout the day and into the evening, with speakers highlighting actions being taken in their countries to advance SDG achievement at all levels, and calling for various forms of support and cooperation to fulfill the 2030 Agenda. [IISD RS Meeting Coverage] [UNGA President Press Release] [UNGA President Opening Remarks]


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