SDG Summit Highlights Need for Accelerated Action to Reach the Goals by 2030
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The SDG Summit was the first HLPF to convene under the auspices of the UN General Assembly since the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015.

Heads of State and Government adopted a political declaration that launches an ambitious and accelerated response to the Agenda and pledges to make the coming decade one of action and delivery.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced an “annual platform” to drive a decade of action, the first of which will take place in September 2020 in the context of the UN’s 75th anniversary.

The Summit also officially launched the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report.

25 September 2019: During the SDG Summit, which was convened by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, Heads of State and Government adopted a political declaration that launches an ambitious and accelerated response to the Agenda and pledges to make the coming decade one of action and delivery. The Summit also officially launched the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (2019 GSDR).

The SDG Summit was the first High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to convene under the auspices of the UNGA since the adoption of the SDGs in September 2015. The Summit featured six “leaders dialogues” on: megatrends impacting the achievement of the SDGs; accelerating the achievement of the SDGs: critical entry points; measures to leverage progress across the SDGs; localizing the SDGs; partnerships for sustainable development; and the 2020-2030 vision. It took place for one and a half-days on 24 and 25 September, during the UNGA high-level week.

Opening the meeting, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the 74th session of UNGA, noted that progress on the SDGs is uneven and called for new partnerships to unlock the trillions of dollars needed to finance the SDGs. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced an “annual platform” to drive a decade of action, the first of which will take place in September 2020 in the context of the UN’s 75th anniversary. Mona Juul, President, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), stressed the need to aim higher to meet the SDGs, while promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth, bridging the investment gap, and combating exclusion and poverty.

During a “fireside chat” on the 2019 GSDR, Peter Messerli, Co-Chair of the independent group of scientists who produced the report, warned that the Earth system is approaching tipping points that may be “irreversible or even unmanageable.” He called on countries to act on the report’s recommendations, and to establish national SDG knowledge platforms to enable policy makers to interact with different sectors. Eun Mee Kim, also a member of the group of scientists, cautioned that the world is “going backwards” on inequality, climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecological footprint.

Titled ‘The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development,’ the GSDR report brings together scientific evidence from around the world to illuminate how action taken immediately – or not taken – will determine the existence of humanity, stressing the need to become more strategic about multiplying the effects of actions. It presents four levers of change (governance, economy and finance, individual and collective action, and science and technology) that can trigger change in six areas, or “entry points,” namely:

  • Strengthening human well-being and capabilities;
  • Shifting towards sustainable and just economies;
  • Building sustainable food systems and healthy nutrition patterns;
  • Achieving energy decarbonization and universal access to energy;
  • Promoting sustainable urban and peri-urban development; and
  • Securing the global environmental commons.

Among other initiatives announced during the Summit to make progress on the Goals, Frans Timmermans, Vice President, European Commission, reported on plans to deliver a European Green New Deal and launch an international platform on sustainable finance.

Lord Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, Minister for the UN and the Commonwealth, UK, announced a pledge of GBP 515 million to help over 12 million children in developing countries, half of them girls, to attend school.

King Willem-Alexander, the Netherlands, said the public and private sectors in his country have created a common roadmap to achieve a circular economy by 2050.

President Andrzej Duda, Poland, announced specific accelerators launched in Poland for SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 12 (responsible production and consumption) and 13 (climate action), including through plans to increase energy efficiency and reduce smog.

Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, stressed the need for a “systematic change in thinking” in finance ministries to take climate change into account, and said his country aims to be climate neutral by 2035.

President Lionel Aingimea, Nauru, highlighted efforts to establish an intergenerational trust fund and strengthen the public financial services sector.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Vanuatu, for the Pacific Islands Forum, noted that Forum members have successfully mobilized USD 1.5 million for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) despite facing important environmental, health, gender, and economic challenges.

Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark, said his country is ready to take the lead on SDG 7 and highlighted that Denmark has doubled its GCF contribution.

Trisha Shetty, Young Leader for the SDGs, said leaders “are failing” to deliver the bold commitments they made in 2015, and announced that the Young Leaders will mobilize people for a year of “super activism” to hold governments accountable.

Before the Summit, countries and stakeholders had been encouraged by the UN to register SDG Acceleration Actions to speed up SDG implementation.

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said the Summit had sent three messages:

  • a renewal of the commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda;
  • wide recognition that we are off track to achieve the SDGs by 2030, and greater urgency is needed; and
  • acceleration actions announced during the SDG Summit, as well as the initiatives announced during the Climate Action Summit and the High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, can catalyze a more impactful phase.

Looking ahead, Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia, said 21 of the 169 SDG targets have a 2020 deadline, including targets related to biodiversity and natural resource management, noting these will determine progress on the 2030 Agenda. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women, warned that the 2020 targets will not be met, national and global financial systems must address wealth concentration, and governments must end fossil fuel subsidies.

Also on next steps, the political declaration, adopted by Heads of State and Government and high representatives, requests the UN Secretary-General to engage governments and stakeholders in generating solutions and accelerating action to address systemic gaps in implementation, and to organize an annual moment to highlight inspiring action on the SDGs, in the context of the UNGA general debate. The declaration further commits to:

  • leave no one behind;
  • mobilize adequate and well-directed financing;
  • enhance national implementation;
  • strengthen institutions for more integrated solutions;
  • bolster local action to accelerate implementation;
  • reduce disaster risk and build resilience;
  • solve challenges through international cooperation and enhance the global partnership;
  • harness science, technology, and innovation with a focus on digital transformations for sustainable development;
  • invest in data for the SDGs; and
  • strengthen the HLPF by carrying out an ambitious and effective review of its format and organizational aspects for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda during the 74th UNGA session.

[Earth Negotiations Bulletin Coverage of SDG Summit] [SDG Summit Website] [UN Secretary-General Opening Statement] [UN Press Release of First Day of Summit] [UN Coverage of First Day of Summit] [UN Coverage of Second Day of Summit] [UN News on Summit]


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