Marking three years since historic moment: Efforts continue to keep the promise of the global goals
Three years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world has seen both important progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and setbacks that require urgent action. “We have only 12 more years until 2030 to fully realize this transformative agenda, but these Goals are absolutely within our reach. It will require policy makers’ unwavering attention, a laser-sharp focus on implementation of these Goals, and a true sense of urgency,” said UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin at the recent 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
The SDGs have galvanized actors across the board and helped forge promising partnerships. Many governments have adapted their national institutions and policies in line with the SDGs, often in coordination with parliaments and local and regional governments. NGOs, the private sector, academia and many other stakeholders are continuously stepping up their engagement for the 2030 Agenda and its vision of leaving no one behind.
This broad commitment has led to significant achievements, as the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 shows. Since the turn of the century, the maternal mortality ratio in sub-Saharan Africa has declined by 35 per cent and the under-five mortality rate has dropped by 50 per cent. Basic education has been expanded. In the least developed countries, the proportion of the people with access to electricity has more than doubled. And, globally, labor productivity has increased, and unemployment rate decreased.
However, despite these successes, the world is lagging, and even backtracking, in some areas. For the first time in a decade, the number of people who are undernourished has increased, mainly due to conflict, drought and disasters linked to climate change. Gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprive them of basic rights and opportunities. 9 in 10 people living in cities breathe polluted air. And investment in critical sustainable infrastructure remains entirely inadequate.
It will take strong resolve to address the major global challenges that are making the SDGs harder to achieve, such as runaway climate change, a growing number of conflicts, inequality and persistent pockets of poverty. Solutions are available. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the blueprint for a more sustainable and peaceful planet. By engaging young people, tackling climate change, increasing financing for sustainable development, and harnessing the power of technology, the challenges can be overcome.
Effective multilateralism is a further crucial element for SDGs success. For its part, the United Nations is engaged in a comprehensive reform of its development system which aims to make it more effective, cohesive and accountable in delivering on the 2030 Agenda.
The central global UN review forum for the SDGs, the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), is another key tool and has seen a year-on-year increase in participants. 108 countries have conducted Voluntary National Reviews at the HLPF, in which they presented how they are implementing the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.
“The HLPF allowed us to pause, take a step back, and gauge how we stand on the road towards the SDGs. We are proud of the many advances we have been making. But we also emerge with a better awareness of where the gaps are. This knowledge will help us to focus efforts in the year to come,” said Mr. Liu, as the HLPF closed its 2018 session.
As the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly kicks off its high-level week on 24 September, three years will have passed since the historic adoption of the SDGs on 25 September 2015. Events to mark this occasion are currently being planned and as in previous years, the SDG Media Zone will feature many interesting panel events and interviews, showcasing actions to deliver the goals on the ground.
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