UN forum sees growing momentum to advance sustainable development, calls for more accelerated action to meet 2030 deadline
Support for the bold 2030 Sustainable Development agenda remains very strong, but resource mobilization and policy development still need to be significantly scaled up to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), leaders told a major UN forum to promote sustainable development.
More than 100 ministers, joined by mayors, business and civil society leaders, and international organizations are engaged in dialogue at the High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) to consider how barriers to sustainable development can be overcome.
Speaking at the opening of the three-day Ministerial Segment of HLPF today, UN Deputy Secretary-General commended countries for the progress they have made and called for both public and private sectors to do much more to deliver for people and planet.
“The HLPF has really lived up to its expectations. The Forum has gathered governments and actors from all walks of life with the “one heart” that guided the vision of the 2030 Agenda,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs who also joined the opening today. “The Forum has proved itself to be a vibrant place of convergence where commonalities and interlinkages are highlighted, policy coherence is underlined and the poorest and most vulnerable are on the top of the agenda.”
The Forum meets annually under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), including a three-day ministerial segment, and will meet in 2019 at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the UN General Assembly to review the overall progress towards the SDGs. This year’s forum, which started on 9 July under the theme “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies,” will conclude on 18 July with the adoption of a Declaration that will encapsulate the global community’s promise to leave no one behind on the road to a fairer world.
Progress and challenges on the road to 2030
This year alone forty-six countries have submitted their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs)– a platform for sharing their experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learnt, in implementing the sustainable development agenda. Since the adoption of the SDGs, more than 120 countries have submitted their VNRs.
Although the UN Secretary-General’s recent report on SDG progress found that a fast-changing climate, conflict, inequality, chronic poverty and hunger, and rapid urbanization are challenging countries’ efforts to achieve the goals, more people are leading better lives today than they were just a decade ago and the under-five mortality rate dropped by almost 50 per cent in least developed countries.
“One of my takeaways from this week is that, at the national and local level, the most inspiring change is taking place,” said Marie Chatardová, President of ECOSOC earlier, at the close of the first week. “We were reminded that transformation toward sustainable and resilient societies is truly powered by citizens and their local authorities.
“They can sometimes implement changes in policy and legislation more quickly and effectively than their national level counterparts,” she added. “But change is not easy. And nothing can replace the impact of national policies and action.”
Largest gathering on SDG progress
In addition to the ministers, more than 2000 non-state actors are attending the Forum. Moreover, there have been some 600 applications for side events, showing immense support for the need to show and accelerate progress on the SDGs.
Today, more than 100 mayors gathered at the first-ever Local and Regional Governments’ Forum at the United Nations to discuss the importance of localizing the 2030 Agenda. On 17 July, the third SDG Business Forum will bring together leaders from businesses, governments, UN agencies, key international organizations, and civil society to discuss the private sector’s role in delivering the 2030 Agenda.
One of the side events that opened today, the SDG Media Zone, organized by the UN Department of Public Information and its partners, UN Foundation and Public Foundation, features two days of live-streamed conversations with top-level executives, representatives from the non-governmental and public sectors, and young advocates rallying for positive change in the political and economic lives of countries everywhere.