Remarks --- Report on the United Nations High-level Political Forum 2020: Japan’s Role in Recovery from COVID-19 Pandemic and Achievement of SDGs

Distinguished Speakers and Panelists,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

My thanks and congratulations to the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Japan and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies for hosting this significant post-HLPF outreach event. 

I am delighted to join you on this occasion.  We will be able to reflect on how to accelerate progress in our pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals by capturing and building on the synergies and interrelations between the SDGs.  This is critical in this Decade of Action and Delivery and in the aftermath of COVID-19. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the greatest shared global challenges we have faced since the founding of the United Nations. 
The foundations of our societies have been shaken to the core. The pandemic has brought us to the worst recession in decades, with consequences for the most vulnerable as extreme poverty is pushed up. Institutions and citizens are reeling from widespread disruption. 

In addition to the pandemic, biodiversity has been disappearing, and greenhouse gases have been at record levels, preventing the achievement of other SDGs.  

We need a path that brings health to all, revives economies, brings people in from the margins of society, protects our environment and builds long-term resilience, sustainability, opportunity and peace. 

We need to build better together.

The 2030 Agenda and the SDGs were designed to address the fragilities and shortcomings that the pandemic has now fully exposed. They demand a swift transformation to inclusive, just, resilient, low-carbon economies that deliver growth, more and better jobs and a cleaner environment and eradicate poverty. 

An important main message from the 2020 HLPF and its review of SDG progress in the new context of COVID-19, is that the 2030 Agenda should be placed at the heart of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In short, the 2030 Agenda provides the guiding light we need to respond to the pandemic’s socio-economic impacts and chart a course for a transformative recovery. Effective implementation of the SDGs will reduce the risk of future pandemics and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
We now benefit from a significant amount of knowledge about important interactions in the advancement of the SDGs, where interventions around one Goal or target can affect the potential of meeting others. 

For example, this is made clear through the annual Global Conferences on Strengthening Synergies between the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda organized by UN DESA and UN Climate Change.

In this regard, I wish to thank the Government of Japan for their sharing of good practices and active contributions to the Climate and SDGs Synergy Conferences, including at the online Conference convened earlier this year, and for its continued interest in hosting this Synergy Conference next year. 

The 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report also taught us that SDG progress can be accelerated by focusing measures on food or energy systems or enhancing human well being.

Acting on evidence about interlinkages can help harness synergies across Goals and targets to generate multiple positive outcomes and mitigate trade-offs.

Advancing the SDGs needs to be pursued in ways that reduce tensions with other Goals and that are fully inclusive of vulnerable groups and regions.

As we address and recover from this current crisis, we need to be thinking beyond and set our sights high. 

Through the SDGs, let us move forward – together – to a world of dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet. 

Thank you.

File date: 
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Ms. Spatolisano