14 June 2019

High-Level Political Forum Activities United in Aim to Drive Ambitious Action on Sustainable Development, Deputy Secretary-General Tells General Assembly

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the informal General Assembly plenary meeting to brief Member States on the scope and format of the activities of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, under the auspices of the General Assembly:

Allow me to begin by thanking the President of the General Assembly for bringing us together at this opportune time.  We are about 100 days from high-level week 2019 where sustainable development will take center stage.  The findings of the Global Sustainable Development Report and Special Edition of the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Progress Report underscore just how important this year’s meetings will be.

It is clear that since 2015, progress has been made across a number of the SDGs.  The 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] has inspired an impressive early response from Governments, the private sector, local authorities, civil society, the scientific community and many more.  But it is also clear that we must move much further and much faster to achieve our Goals by 2030.  

Your leaders and those from other sectors, participating in the SDG Summit, will take stock of this situation.  And it is essential that they respond with an ambitious call for a decade of action that gets the world back on track.  In doing so, they can kick-start a new phase of SDG implementation — one that goes beyond a focus on individual goals; prioritizing deep structural changes in society and the economy that will realize the human rights of all, with an urgency that the global scientific consensus demands.

The Global Sustainable Development Report and the SDG Progress report provide some concrete suggestions on the way ahead.  They remind us that to accelerate SDG implementation, more ambitious action is needed on cross-cutting issues and levers of change such as finance, data, behavior change, resilience, effective institutions, technology and local action — all of which should be underpinned by more effective international cooperation and a commitment to crises prevention.

The Global Sustainable Development Report goes even further, identifying specific entry-points — on food, energy, urban development and sustainable and just economies — that scientific analysis indicates could unleash the greatest benefits across the SDGs, while minimizing trade-offs.  It lays down a challenge that leaders in those sectors must now respond to.

These cross-cutting issues and entry-points are as relevant for the Financing Dialogue as they are for the review of the Samoa Pathway.  The emphasis on integration and a systems approach is as relevant for the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit as it is for the SDG Summit and the High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage.  This reinforces a crucial point that the President of the General Assembly has been making too — all five meetings of high-level week are deeply inter-connected, united by their determination to generate more ambitious SDG action that leaves no one behind.

At the end of four years of the Economic and Social Council High-level Political Forum, your voluntary national reviews show that there are good foundations to build on.  But the September High-level Political Forum must move beyond reporting on what each country has done.  The Secretary-General is encouraging leaders to come to the Climate Summit not just with a speech but with ambitious concrete plans and impactful solutions at scale.

And I join the President of the General Assembly in encouraging all Governments and all stakeholders to come to each of the meetings of high-level week with strong acceleration commitments.  When reverting to your capitals, please encourage them to dig deep; to ensure that these commitments are as credible, actionable and transformative as possible.  Please also encourage your Governments to participate in each meeting at the highest possible levels.  We need decision-makers at the table and that includes the world’s finance ministers who we hope will come in large numbers to the High-level Dialogue on Finance.

The United Nations system stands ready to fully support Member States as you prepare for September.  We are mobilizing our resident coordinators and our United Nations country teams to support host countries to identify game-changing solutions.  Our climate team is working closely with many of you in relation to the Summit’s nine areas of action.  The Department of Economic and Social Affairs; Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States; and World Health Organization (WHO) are supporting the intergovernmental consultations, that I hope will deliver ambitious and consensual outcomes. 

The Department for General Assembly and Conference Management and colleagues in other Departments are preparing to ensure high-level week runs as smoothly as possible.  And the Department of Global Communications is working with partners to maximize the global reach of this year’s high-level week and the connection with people across the world — including through our United Nations Information Centers, the SDG Media Zone and the SDG Media Compact — a new initiative that will bring content on high-level week to some 50 of the world’s leading media and entertainment outlets.  We are also engaging our partners in civil society, business and youth organizations to support a broader mobilization and we are working to leverage assets, such as the SG’s SDG Advocates, Envoys and United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors.

Expectations are high.  Challenges are universal.  But solutions can be found, including those that prioritize the most vulnerable people and countries.  We can achieve the SDGs by 2030.  We can win the race against climate change.  Through high-level week 2019, leaders from Government and beyond can send a clear signal to the world:  We are taking the decisions that will get us back on track.  And we are gearing up for a decisive decade of concerted, transformative action to end human suffering and protect our planet.  This is a tall order.  But I trust that, over the next 100 days, we can lay the ground for a game-changing high-level week.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.