Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the United Nations General Assembly side event: Nigeria Governors’ Forum: “The Role of Subnational Actors in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” in New York today:
This event caps off an unpreceded and enthusiastic week of five summits. We focused on the urgency of delivering on healthcare, climate change, all 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), enhanced financing and implementing the Samoa Pathway for Small Island Developing States, some of the most vulnerable countries in the world.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement are concrete and ambitious blueprints for a future of safety, security, dignity and prosperity for all. They are for people, for planet.
This event is a fitting way to close out the week, because subnational governments — state and provincial governments — are the closest layer of government to people. You are the leaders that can make a difference for young people — helping to provide the jobs and financing needed to transform economies. You have the power to take the 2030 blueprint and embed it in your planning and budgeting from day one.
However, we are all facing strong headwinds. Rising inequality, intolerance spreading like wildfire, and the deepening impacts of the climate crisis. We see growing frustration and anxiety amongst today’s young people and amongst the most marginalized communities.
In response, we must all do more — including state, provincial and regional governments. This is the only event this week to focus on the state and provincial layer of government. This is our opportunity. State and provincial governments offer some of the most strategic entry points for Governor leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals in three areas: infrastructure and energy; education and technology; and financing.
First, infrastructure and energy: Over the next 10 years, we will need to make a transformational change in our energy supply, our transportation systems, the way in which we make our buildings and build our cities. It is estimated that some 75 per cent of the global infrastructure needed by 2050 is yet to be built. We need to make sure it is sustainable, zero‑emission and climate‑resilient.
State and provincial governments have significant decision-making power on issues including building codes, which need to change to help us transition to a zero‑emission building stock. Governors will also be decisive in moving electricity grids from brown to green energy, including investing in solar and hydropower.
Navarra in Spain generates more than 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources. In Canada, which has one of the cleanest electricity systems in the world, four provinces require electricity utilities to deliver an ambitious amount of energy from renewable or alternative energy sources.
Second: education: In many countries, states and provinces have a significant influence over education curricula, standards and spending. Access to quality education can make or break the lives of our young people.
We are currently experiencing a global education crisis. More than one in five young people worldwide are not in employment, education or training. This is happening at a time when education and training are more important than ever, to prepare for the challenges and opportunities of the future — from new technologies to changing labour markets. By committing your state budgets to investment in strong education systems, you will reap dividends.
Third, technology: Nigeria is an incredible example when it comes to leveraging technology for good. Crowdsourcing and mobile monitoring systems are delivering information to millions of farmers, increasing crop efficiencies and delivering more healthy food to those in need. And the use of big data in weather forecasting provides Nigerian farmers with predictive tools against climate impacts. Meanwhile, in the health sector, artificial intelligence is enabling life‑saving drugs to reach communities faster. These are all critical entry points for investment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Today we will hear about many more: from integrating gender equity across your planning, to prioritizing early interventions on health and education, to investing in the economic transformations necessary to protect your countries and the world from the impending climate crisis.
At the local level, we need government ministries, parliamentarians, civil society and others to come together and integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into budgets.
Subnational governments account for about a quarter of total public spending. If we are to implement the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda needs to be central to that exercise. There is massive potential for SDGs and climate action by states and provinces. It is time to walk the talk.
Over the past decade, more than 90 city mayors representing 650 million people have mobilized around the world for climate action and sustainable development, through the powerful C40 network. Is it now time for state and provincial governors to build your own global movement? How incredible that would be. Provincial and state governors from around the globe could exchange data and information and share best practice to take bold, transformative action to implement the SDGs.
This meeting is a unique opportunity to delve into how you can localize the SDG’s at the state and provincial level. Your contribution will be absolutely vital to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.
This past week, young people around the world have asked us to lead. They have said we are not doing enough. They are right. We need to step up our efforts. The path is clear.
We have less than 11 years left to 2030. As we enter a decade of action to deliver the SDGs, I count on you to use your influence to localize the SDGs’ in your states and provinces. The United Nations will support you every step of the way.