The Coalition for the UN We Need, the Stimson Center, and other partners are holding a series of six roundtables on ‘Fulfilling the UN75 Declaration.’ Each roundtable focuses on two of the twelve commitments made by Heads of State and Government in the UN75 declaration of 21 September 2020. 

The declaration calls on the Secretary-General to “propose recommendations for transformative global action to address shared problems, deliver on critical global public goods and prepare for the threats and opportunities of the future.” Preparations for this report are taking place under a process called ‘Our Common Agenda.’ The roundtable series aims to provide input to the report based on multi-stakeholder discussions.

The first roundtable took place on 18 February 2021 and addressed the commitments to “leave no one behind” (commitment 1) and “be prepared” (commitment 12). The SDG Knowledge Hub provided highlights of the discussion here.

In the second roundtable, held on 18 March, participants focused on the commitments to “protect our planet” (commitment 2) and “boost partnerships” (commitment 10). On protecting the planet, participants expressed concern that: only 18% of COVID-19 relief packages worldwide can be considered green investments; climate action has been slowed by the rise of populism and the COVID-19 pandemic; Paris Agreement parties’ updated NDCs are not sufficiently ambitious, and in some cases have reduced ambition since the original NDC; no multilateral platform exists for countries with hydrogen-heavy industries, while hydrogen could serve as an important substitute for fossil fuel in energy-heavy industries; and illegal deforestation is responsible for 10% of global gas emissions, and a global mechanism to tackle it must be agreed.

Participants recommended a variety of mechanisms and instruments to address these concerns, including: a New Global Pact for the Environment to be included in the UN Secretary-General’s proposed New Social Contract; a common green finance risk mitigation mechanism, to help attract capital; a sustainable energy trade agreement to help localize supply chains and expand the manufacturing of solar panels, among other aims; a green hydrogen alliance; legally binding agreements for forest protection; and a Resilience Council similar to the UN Security Council that would unite climate governance with wider sustainable development efforts and address non-military threats.

Panelist Jimena Leiva Roesch, International Peace Institute, said it is “no longer in the negotiators’ hands to get to a net zero emissions world – it requires a bigger set of actors. … We need less launching and more action and coordination.”

On boosting partnerships, speakers said the UN’s governance of partnerships is fragmented and requires better follow-through on new partnership ideas and advancing new partnerships. There is a need for partnerships that integrate private and public financing to achieve the SDGs, and for other types of high-impact partnerships.

They identified data as important for assessing the progress of partnerships, and said the UN should use its data on partnerships that are working to create new, concrete commitments that “go beyond basic intentions to partner.” The UN should also, participants said, focus on identifying good practices and follow-through initiatives, and become an incubator for demand-driven partnerships.

The roundtable series continues through May 2021. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on UN75 declaration