27 June 2019

Deputy Secretary-General, at Forbes 400 Summit, Challenges Philanthropic Leaders to Pursue ‘Most Ambitious’ Path towards Realizing 2030 Agenda

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, for the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to welcome such an accomplished and influential group of philanthropic leaders to the United Nations for the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy.  I want to thank Steve Forbes, Randall Lane and the Forbes team for bringing this high-profile event back to the United Nations.  Let me extend my special gratitude to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet for your extraordinary leadership and vision.  You have truly set the gold standard for philanthropic giving around the world.  I also want to applaud all of you here today who have signed the Giving Pledge.  I thank you for your example and for encouraging others to do so.

As all of you know, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a pivotal framework and 2019 is a pivotal year.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are our pathway to a more just, peaceful and sustainable world.  They provide an excellent foundation for informing and guiding ambitious philanthropic strategies, priorities and outcomes.  We are seeing the Sustainable Development Goals take root in national policies, regional strategies, in business operations, institutions of higher education, and crucially, among communities and citizens across the world.

At the same time, we know we must accelerate our efforts.  The clock is ticking.  Climate change is ravaging the planet — with a particularly brutal impact on many of the world’s most vulnerable people, communities and nations.  Staggering numbers of children and youth — especially girls and young women — still lack access to basic education and health-care services.  People in many countries are starved of economic opportunities, decent work and social protection.  Reducing poverty and inequality are essential to delivering for people.  Our collective experience has shown that development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive.  High and rising inequality poses a challenge to human development, the fulfilment of human rights, social cohesion, peace and security and sustainable development both within and among countries.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals takes transformational change.  Governments, the United Nations and a diverse range of private, philanthropic and civil society stakeholders must all commit to working together in a more collaborative and effective way.  It is encouraging to see a shift in the traditional norms of philanthropy towards a more collaborative model of donors and stakeholders working together for scalable interventions that address systemic issues.  Major philanthropic investments in cross-cutting, high-return priorities have tremendous potential to unlock progress across multiple Sustainable Development Goals while moving the needle on the world’s most pressing problems.  These areas range from quality education and health services to zero-carbon energy and environmental conversation to the economic empowerment of women and girls.

As you all know, making a large, multi-year philanthropic bet on an ambitious social change issue requires hands-on engagement.  Fortunately, we have the benefit of the insights and lessons of some of the most experienced and effective philanthropists in the world here today.  Transforming our world to achieve the 2030 Agenda very much depends on leadership, innovation and strategic collaborations at both the global and the local level.  We must draw on the knowledge and experience of local communities and actors on the ground to ensure we replicate and scale up the most promising models.  The United Nations stands ready to help you in this endeavor, whether through our convening power, our networks or our presence and experience on the ground in some 165 countries across the world.

In closing, allow me to stress one final point.  Look at the challenges we are facing in our world today and you will see very clearly, that we are at a moment in time where we cannot afford half measures.  We need action that is ambitious, and we need that action to be taken urgently and at scale.  We have 10 years left to meet our global goals, including ending poverty and hunger, empowering all women and girls, creating shared prosperity and averting the worst impacts of climate change.

This September, the Secretary-General will set out a call to action for all our leaders and for all stakeholders to step up to this challenge.  He will be asking everyone to join him and millions more across the globe to kickstart a decade of unprecedented action for the Sustainable Development Goals.  I invite you all to join this movement.  I also challenge you to identify and pursue the most ambitious contribution that philanthropy can make to achieving the transformation that our planet and its peoples so desperately need.

Thank you for your vision, determination and commitment to creating a better world in which no one is left behind, and all live a life of dignity.  I look forward to continuing this engagement in years ahead.  I wish you all a fruitful exchange and insightful dialogue.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.