Highlights Vol 23, No. 1 - January 2019

Staying on-track to realize the Sustainable Development Goals

2019 will be a critical year for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN DESA will be fully engaged in the preparation of the two High-level Political Forums, one in July under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), completing its first cycle, and one in September at the summit level under the auspices of the General Assembly. We must seize the momentum to implement the 2030 Agenda and use this opportune year to assess progress and to strengthen our political will to act to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in all regions.

Many countries are aligning their national policies and institutions behind the Goals to improve people’s lives. Businesses are taking action to invest in new technologies, opening up new markets, and building the sustainable and inclusive economy of the 21st century. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders are also using these Goals to drive change at the local, subnational and national levels and holding their Governments accountable.

Even though progress is being made, gaps are evident. The world remains on a trajectory of increasing inequality, and it is facing armed conflicts, humanitarian and environmental crises, as well as economic, financial and climate challenges.

Moreover, the scale and pace of change in public and private investment in sustainable development remain alarmingly insufficient. We, therefore, urgently need a surge in financing, investments and technological innovation.

In 2019, UN DESA will launch the Global Sustainable Development Report, an analysis by an independent group of scientists undertaken every four years to assess where we stand. Additionally, over the next months, the department will release several other analytical reports to assess progress made towards the SDGs to provide context to this year’s high-level discussions.

This spring, UN DESA and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will also co-facilitate a conference, seeking to amplify the interlinkages between climate action and the broader 2030 Agenda and share best practices on attracting financing for both.

High-level Political Forum in July

The HLPF will be convened under the auspices of ECOSOC from 9 to 18 July 2019.  It will address the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”. Fifty-one countries, both developed and developing, will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs)— sharing their national experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learnt, in implementing the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.

At the same time, the July HLPF will review progress in the thematic areas of quality education (SDG 4), decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), climate action (SDG 13), peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16), and partnerships for the Goals (SDG 17). UN DESA is coordinating a series of Expert Group Meetings on each goal to prepare and inform the thematic discussions at HLPF.

High-level Political Forum in September – SDG Summit

The HLPF under the auspices of the General Assembly will take place at the summit level on 24 and 25 September 2019. Heads of State and Governments, joined by leaders from civil society organizations, foundations, the business sector and other stakeholders, will focus on the overall implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Areas of progress towards the SDGs will be identified. Actions for scaling up will be considered. A political declaration of Heads of State and Government is expected to give guidance on how to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. The SDG Summit will complement the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, to be held the day before.

UN DESA has launched a call to receive good practices and success stories in SDG implementation by all stakeholders through its SDG Good Practices portal. The main findings of this evidence-based stocktaking will be highlighted and showcase in the lead-up to, and during the Summit.

A series of side events and special events will also be organized to complement the July HLPF and the SDG Summit, aiming to engage and mobilize partners around the SDGs. The special events will include the SDG Business Forum, Partnership Exchange, SDG Film Festival, Chief Sustainability Officers event, Major Groups and Other Stakeholders meeting, an event with universities and higher education institutions, and Local and Regional Governments Forum, which will convene mayors from the world’s major cities to focus on ways to localize the 2030 Agenda.

Other related events

In 2019, four years after the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), we will also have the opportunity to review progress on its commitments and the current state of play on the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum and SDG Investment Fair in April 2019 will be critical junctures for building momentum in response to emerging risks to the economic outlook and potential opportunities. These will feed into the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in September 2019.

In September 2019, the UN General Assembly will also hold a one-day high level review of the progress made in addressing the priorities of small island developing States (SIDS) through the implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway. The high-level review will result in a concise, action-oriented and inter-governmentally agreed political declaration.

As the United Nations Secretariat entity responsible for economic, social and environmental issues, UN DESA leads the work from the Secretariat side, preparing for and ensuring the success of the 2019 HLPF in July, the SDG Summit, the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (FFD), and the SAMOA Pathway high-level meeting to review progress in September at the beginning of the 74th session of the General Assembly, as well as all other related side and special events.

For more information: High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Making every drop count – a decade for action

Access to clean water and sanitation is a basic human right that affects our health and our safety. We need safe water to drink every day, and we need adequate sanitation facilities to ensure that everyone has the ability to attend school or work, and is protected against sexual assault. And, we need to manage the flow of wastewater safely to protect our fragile ecosystems. But we have a long way to go.

Today, about 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services, and about 2.5 billion people—36 percent of the world’s population—live in water-scarce regions. More than two billion people must drink contaminated water, resulting in a child dying every minute. Globally, 80 per cent of wastewater flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused, and droughts and floods are increasing in severity as a result of our changing climate.

The Water Action Decade, launched on World Water Day last March, is working to halt this growing water crisis. The “International Decade (2018–2028) for Action – Water for Sustainable Development,” as it is known in its unanimous General Assembly resolution, serves as a platform for countries to share some of their major water challenges and possible solutions. The Decade puts greater focus on sustainable development and an integrated management of water resources to achieve social, economic and environmental objectives.

“The Water Action Decade provides a unique framework to support efforts to overcome these challenges by energizing the implementation and promotion of programmes and projects on integrated and sustainable management of water and sanitation,” said Liu Zhenmin, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General. “It further provides an exceptional opportunity to strengthen cooperation and partnership at all levels to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 and other water-related goals and targets.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, with the support of UN-Water, has drawn up a plan for the Decade, which will be active until 20 March 2028. In it, the Secretary-General calls for the energized implementation of existing water programmes and projects, and mobilized action for water as a tool for sustainable development.

Countries and organizations around the world are already implementing this plan by sharing their experiences with water and sanitation projects on a new website for the decade – www.wateractiondecade.org.

Additionally, the Government of Tajikistan, with the support of the UN system, organized the High-level International Conference of the Decade in Dushanbe from 20 to 22 June under the theme “Promoting Action for Policy Dialogue.” The Conference was attended by high-level delegations and representatives from 120 countries, including heads of state and government, and provided valuable opportunities for Member States and other stakeholders to promote actions, partnerships and policy dialogue to support internationally agreed water goals and targets.

On 28 November, the General Assembly’s Second Committee adopted a resolution by consensus, calling for a United Nations Conference on the Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the Decade, to take place on 22-24 March 2023 in New York.

Furthermore, Member States requested the President of the General Assembly, to convene a one-day high-level meeting to promote the implementation of the water-related Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda in New York in 2021.

All of these different actions are in line with the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Water, which in its outcome document, “Making Every Drop Count,” emphasized the need to convene UN meetings on water at the highest possible level to spur commitments of global leaders.

For more information:

Water Action Decade

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