8 February 2023
UNGA Meeting Hears Countries’ Initial Views on SDG Summit Declaration
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Delegates offered perspectives on the elements to include in the political declaration to be adopted by the 2023 SDG Summit.

They also offered views on resources, inputs, and processes to draw from while formulating the declaration and on transformations necessary to improve implementation of the SDGs until the next SDG Summit in 2027.

The second informal consultation on the political declaration of the SDG Summit will be held on 2 March.

Permanent Representatives of Ireland and Qatar to the UN convened an informal meeting to hear delegates’ preliminary views on the scope and substance of the political declaration to be adopted by the 2023 SDG Summit in September. The co-facilitators also outlined their approach to the consultation process and timing of future meetings.

The meeting convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 3 February 2023, as part of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, characterized the Summit, which comes at the mid-point in SDG implementation, as an opportunity to take stock of progress made thus far and offer recommendations for transformative action going forward. When making interventions, she invited delegates to consider guiding questions when providing input on:

  • making the political declaration relevant, impactful, and a source of high-level political guidance;
  • elements to be included in the political declaration, while keeping it succinct, impactful, and easy to read, and ensuring it provides recommendations to advance the SDGs;
  • resources, inputs, and processes to draw from while formulating the political declaration; and
  • transformations necessary to improve implementation of the SDGs until the next SDG Summit in 2027.

Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of Ireland, noted that while the dates for the Summit are not yet fixed, it would be helpful to hold it early in the UNGA high-level week. He said the advance version of this year’s Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), to be released in March, will inform the Summit, as will the UN Secretary-General’s SDG progress report, forthcoming in mid-April.

Mythen said the co-facilitators will hold several informal consultations to achieve agreement on a draft declaration in June, so it could be presented to the UNGA President later that month. He said the co-facilitators would leave a placeholder to note main messages from the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), taking place under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July.

As per Mythen, at the end of February, the co-facilitators will issue an elements paper containing an outline, with no specific recommendations. On 2 March, a second informal consultation will be held.

In early April, the co-facilitators will propose a zero draft, to be followed by a third and fourth informal consultations, on 30 April and 16 May, respectively. Informal consultations to finalize the draft declaration are planned for 2 and 9 June. Mythen assured delegates the co-facilitators will also meet with stakeholders and major groups to ensure work is conducted in an inclusive and transparent manner.

Al-Thani emphasized the declaration should be: 1) inspirational, visionary, and ambitious; 2) action-oriented, with bold recommendations; and 3) give a sense of progress and gaps, identifying actions and commitments needed to overcome challenges.

Cuba, for the G-77/China, cautioned about the consultations overlapping with other negotiations, including the Financing for Development (FfD) Forum, and recommended the political declaration: send a political message on global commitment to the SDGs, with a view to eradicating poverty and hunger; highlight progress, challenges, and gaps; and propose transformative and comprehensive solutions to achieve the SDGs while addressing global inequalities.

The EU suggested the overall objective be to build on the example of the 2019 SDG Summit and to ensure specific and concrete commitments. He said the action-oriented declaration must not “revisit” the 2030 Agenda but focus on transformative change, be science-based, and reflect the urgency of meeting the SDGs in the face of multiple intersecting crises. He urged the declaration take into account the “geopolitical context,” emphasize inclusivity, and reflect the principles and cross-linkages of the 2030 Agenda, including human rights and policy coherence.

To accelerate SDG implementation, the EU recommended the declaration mention universal social protection, localization, and the engagement of all stakeholders. He recommended the declaration build on synergies with other processes, including COP 27, COP 15, and the Transforming Education Summit, as well as Our Common Agenda, and suggested the outcomes of the talks towards a high seas treaty, the LDC5 Conference, and the FfD Forum also be taken into account.

Singapore emphasized that the world today is “vastly different” form 2015 when the 2030 Agenda was adopted, and progress is at risk of being reversed by the confluence of multiple crises. Among other recommendations, he said the declaration should:

  • draw from the UN75 Declaration, the UN Charter, and international law;
  • reflect a sense of urgency and the need for accelerated implementation;
  • be “laser focused” on inclusive societies and economies, placing the principle of leaving no one behind (LNOB) at its core;
  • emphasize the need for partnership and global solidarity; and
  • focus on means of implementation, including by incorporating the outcomes of the FfD Forum.

Morocco, for the Like-Minded Group of Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries (MICs), said the declaration should represent a deliverable call to achieve the SDGs by bringing solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, and addressing high levels of indebtedness and low digital capacities, among other challenges.

Liechtenstein hoped to agree on “an honest assessment of where we are and where we decide to go together.”

Switzerland said the declaration should be structured around three dimensions: taking stock of realities; recognizing challenges; and providing guidance and recommendations on the course to be followed. He urged stronger focus on transformation pathways that maximize co-benefits, and highlighted the role of subnational actors in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Calling for coherence among processes, Mexico said the declaration needs to reflect and commit to addressing the health, food, and climate crises, prioritize partnerships and stakeholder engagement, and call for strengthening statistical capacities everywhere as “we cannot improve what we cannot measure.”

The Republic of Korea emphasized the need to reflect digital cooperation and climate action.

Colombia stressed the need for an ambitious roadmap for transformation. She said developing countries “must have solutions” that increase their fiscal space to protect the future of people and the planet. She called for the declaration to include gender equity “as a prerequisite” and guarantee partnership with marginalized groups, including Indigenous Peoples.

The US called for reaffirming the principles of the 2030 Agenda, highlighting, among others, human rights, inclusion, international law, science, and technology and innovation. He also urged drawing from reports by other international organizations and stakeholders’ best practices, to improve implementation.

Georgia emphasized that the SDGs cannot be achieved without peace, pointing out that “Russia’s aggression threatens the SDGs.” He suggested building on Our Common Agenda and linking to the outcome of the Summit of the Future.

The Russian Federation said the declaration should: take into account “new and emerging challenges”; focus on opportunities; identify new drivers of sustainable development, such as resilience, science, and technology; and “unite and not divide us.” He said the negotiation process “should not be contaminated by political differences.”

Recognizing stalled progress, New Zealand, for Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (CANZ), stressed there is a balance to be found in celebrating gains as well as highlighting obstacles. This, she said, will show that the SDGs remain relevant and ambitious, and underscored the need to “double down on implementation.”

Delegates from Pakistan, Türkiye, Japan, Rwanda, Barbados, Holy See, the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and well as representatives of stakeholders and major groups also made statements.

Mythen concluded by saying he was encouraged by the tone of the discussions of specific issues for the declaration to address, which, he said, the co-facilitators will use as they prepare the elements paper. [Video Recording of Informal Consultations on Political Declaration of SDG Summit] [UNGA President’s Letter Circulating Co-facilitators’ Invitation to Consultations] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

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