We must act now – for people and our planet

The world is facing challenges of an unprecedented nature. A polarized political landscape, worrisome signs of a global economic slow-down, growing inequalities, conflicts and a global environmental crisis. The evidence is clear: we must act now. The international community has a brief window of opportunity to accelerate action, using the plan in place to achieve a positive outcome for everyone: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 transformative Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There are positive signs indicating that momentum for action is growing across the globe. The interest among UN Member States to showcase their endeavors is also increasing. At this summer’s High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), 47 countries presented their efforts towards a sustainable future.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is urging world leaders to heed the call for change.

“I am asking leaders to come to the September summits not with beautiful speeches, but with concrete actions, plans and commitments to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change,” Mr. Guterres said.

The world is also witnessing a growing youth movement involving activists for change. One of the leading voices of this movement belongs to 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who is articulating the urgency to act, and to do it now.

“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people, to give them hope,” Ms. Thunberg said. “But I don’t want your hope. I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. […] I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

A week to ignite more global action

The tools to put out the fire is at the world’s disposal. They consist of 17 SDGs, agreed upon by all 193 UN Member States in 2015, and they present a plan that, if realized, will move us forward, promoting sustainable development for all. But the latest data on SDG progress launched by UN DESA this past summer, tell us that progress on many of the goals has so far been slow, with the most vulnerable people and countries continuing to suffer the most. More needs to be done, and faster.

We must remain resolved to leave no one behind. Stakeholders must put forward good practices, partnerships and initiatives and work together at all levels to fulfil the vision and goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Only through a new multilateralism, that brings together governments, the business sector, civil society and multilateral institutions can we shift the world towards a sustainable and resilient path to achieve the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind.

This September, the international community has the chance to accelerate action and to rekindle the inspiring vision of the 2030 Agenda. From 23 to 27 September 2019, world leaders will take part in a series of summits and high-level events to boost action: the Climate Action Summit, the High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, the SDG Summit, the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, and the High-level Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway.

“The five summit level meetings during high level week represent a key opportunity to demonstrate that multilateralism works – that it can deliver tangible benefits to people’s lives,“ said the President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, as she addressed the HLPF in July.

Out of these five summits, UN DESA is leading preparatory and coordination efforts for the SDG Summit, taking place under the auspices of the General Assembly, the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development and the High-level Midterm Review of the Samoa Pathway.

Ways to scale up ambition: register SDG acceleration actions! 

The voices for global action are many ahead of these high-level events. From youth and indigenous representatives, business leaders, to celebrities, scientists, financing experts and others. UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin is also encouraging action on the global goals ahead of the SDG Summit, calling on international actors to register their SDG acceleration actions in a new registry set up by UN DESA.

“If countries follow the call of Secretary-General António Guterres to come prepared with ambitious plans, their acceleration actions could trigger further commitments, stronger partnerships and faster action, snowballing into an unstoppable movement towards sustainable development,” Mr. Liu said.

“The people of the world do not want half measures or empty promises,” Mr. Guterres said. “They are demanding transformative change that is fair and sustainable. Let us use the world gathering in September to ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion. And, together, let us kickstart a decade of delivery and action for people and planet,” he said.

For more information:

Action for people and planet – Five summits

SDG Summit

SDG Acceleration Actions

High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development

High-level Midterm Review of the Samoa Pathway