Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the “Solve at the United Nations” event, in New York today:
Well, the clock is certainly ticking on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We certainly have no time to waste. To achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we need solutions, we need innovation and we need genuine partnership.
So, I am pleased to welcome you today to “Solve at the United Nations”. And I would like to thank the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its commitment to sustainable development.
I worked very closely with Member States, business, civil society and academia on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the accompanying Sustainable Development Goals when I was Special Adviser to the Secretary-General. Each of those Goals feels like one of my children. Like a family, the Goals are all different but interrelated, and each depends on the others.
Together, they are a bold and transformative blueprint for a world of peace and prosperity where no one is left behind. In practice, that means ending poverty and hunger, providing opportunities for all to fulfil their potential, and protecting our home, the planet. These are the essential ingredients for peaceful, just and inclusive societies that are free from fear and from violence.
Some of the solutions we need already exist, some are in the pipeline, and some still need to be dreamed up. This is where I believe you all come in. I commend the United Nations Academic Impact for reaching out to universities and other institutions worldwide to enlist their aid in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And I thank [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] and Solve for heeding the call.
The challenges truly are many. Today, an unprecedented 65 million people around the world have been displaced due to conflict and disaster. There are 21 million refugees. Half are under the age of 18. We cannot allow them to become a lost generation. The world is closing its doors on these refugees, even though investing in them is investing in future peace.
Behind the immediate concerns of conflict, refugees and global economic uncertainty, climate change now poses a tangible and increasing threat. It is already having devastating effects on communities, nations and regions. And it is a proven threat multiplier, meaning that if we don’t address it now, the chances of future wars, conflicts, disasters and mass displacement will grow.
That is why it is essential that we work together as an international community, a global family, for a low-carbon future and implement the promise of the Paris Agreement. And we must do this holistically, in tandem with working to achieve all the other Sustainable Development Goals. We need solutions to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes. These are now the leading causes of mortality, representing 60 per cent of all deaths.
We need better sanitation, cleaner air and water, sustainable cities and agriculture, and governance that puts people first. Working for the Goals is not charity; it is self-interest for us and those who will follow. It is investment in preventing future disaster, conflict and crisis.
The Secretary-General has made crisis-prevention a top priority. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is our only insurance policy. We need the best and brightest minds — scientists, technologists and academics, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, business leaders, policymakers and activists — to work together in a global partnership for a better future.
I thank you for your commitment. We look forward to learning more from you, and to benefiting from your ideas. I wish you an inspiring and productive meeting.