The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development — convened under the auspices of the General Assembly on the margins of its annual general debate — today approved a political declaration launching an “ambitious and accelerated” new decade of action in pursuit of critical development targets.
By the terms of the declaration, which will be forwarded to the Assembly for endorsement, Heads of State, Ministers and other senior Government officials reaffirmed their pledges to end poverty and hunger, combat inequality and build peaceful, just and inclusive societies — all enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Stressing that poverty continues to pose the greatest global challenge, they vowed once again to “leave no on behind”, while committing to more tangible steps to reach those furthest behind first.
Among other things, leaders spotlighted climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and emphasized that mitigation and adaptation constitute immediate and urgent priorities. They voiced concern over the slow pace of development progress; recognized the threats of violent extremism, terrorism, corruption, humanitarian crises and forced displacement; and drew attention to the special challenges facing countries in special situations. States also vowed to focus on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, mobilize adequate and well-directed funding, “lift the level of ambition” in national policies and build stronger multilateral partnerships.
“We started this journey together in 2015, and we know our destination,” said Secretary-General António Guterres, in opening remarks, describing a global horizon characterized by eradicated poverty, a climate-smart economy, empowered women and young people and a healthy planet. Today, however, the world remains off-track, with persistent conflicts, lingering inequality and alarming levels of youth unemployment. Issuing an appeal for action and “brave decisions” at the global level, he called for a major surge in development as well as scaled-up, long-term private investment. Efforts are also needed to combat illicit flows of capital, money laundering and tax evasion, he said, also calling for specific attention to solutions that make the greatest impact — including gender equality, sustainable cities and tackling the climate crisis.
Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, commended States that are undertaking tremendous efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — sometimes under difficult circumstances — while calling for new ways to accelerate progress towards their implementation. Recalling that many people around the globe have been lifted out of poverty since the 2030 Agenda’s adoption, he warned that in some nations — particularly least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, middle-income countries and nations affected by conflict — many people still live below the poverty line. Among other things, he urged world leaders to make the next decade a period of accelerated action, build resilience to disasters and economic shocks and harness the potential of technology and scientific innovation for development.
Mona Juul (Norway), President of the Economic and Social Council, said the message is clear: The world needs to accelerate efforts and aim much higher. “Our policies are not yet yielding the deep changes needed to combat exclusion and poverty in all its forms,” she stressed, pointing out that inequality remains unacceptably high in and between countries. “We, as owners of the 2030 Agenda, must move into a higher gear to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth and ensure productive employment and decent work for all,” she said, stressing that just and participatory transformation requires peace, justice and accountable institutions. An efficient United Nations is also critical, she said, urging Member States to use the summit to “rally us to action”.
During a plenary session, Heads of State and Government, Ministers and other Government officials outlined their countries’ commitments to the 2030 Agenda, which many hailed as a crucial blueprint to move the planet towards a greener, more just and more peaceful future.
Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, voiced the European Union’s firm commitment to do more to implement the letter and spirit of the 2030 Agenda, including by implementing a comprehensive “European Green New Deal”, transforming the bloc’s entire food system and making its transport systems green and intelligent. “We must stand up for multilateralism and defend it against attempts to go it alone,” he added, calling for all partners to “join the race to the top”.
Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, described the 2030 Agenda as the “common horizon for the next decade” as well as the first line of defence against the existential challenges facing humankind. In line with the spirit of multilateralism and the Charter of the United Nations, he called for efforts to implement a more just and equitable international economic system, while also rejecting the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impacts and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions.
Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, warned that the widening digital divide threatens to leave least developed countries behind and necessitates urgent action. A large percentage of the populations of those countries lacks access to electricity, lives in poverty and suffers from the worst effects of climate change. While “our plight is our duty”, he said their efforts to achieve the sustainable development targets continues to be hindered by constrained resources.
The Forum convened a fireside-chat-style panel discussion on the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report, titled “The Future is Now”, which featured several scientific experts. It also held the first of two Leaders Dialogues, on the theme “Megatrends Impacting the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”, which was co-moderated by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.
The Forum will reconvene for its second and final day at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 25 September.
TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, welcomed the increasing number of countries that are integrating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into their national development plans as well as reporting on progress through their voluntary national reviews. Commending States that are undertaking tremendous efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals — sometimes under difficult circumstances — he called for new ways to accelerate progress towards their implementation. While strides have been seen in certain areas, the 2019 special edition of the Sustainable Development Goals progress report clearly indicates that such progress is largely uneven within and across countries and regions. “We, therefore, must deepen partnerships to unlock the trillions of dollars needed to finance the [Goals],” he stressed.
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, many people around the world have been lifted from poverty, he continued. However, many others — particularly in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States, middle-income countries and nations affected by conflict — still live way below the poverty line. Meanwhile, the devastating impact of climate change ravages communities, children drop out of school, women still die in childbirth and endemic hunger remains unabated. In that context, he urged leaders to make the next decade a period of accelerated action — mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda into budgetary and national development plans — and to use today’s summit as a chance to share their visions on how to enhance national implementation efforts, build resilience to disasters and economic shocks, harness the potential of technology and scientific innovation and strengthen national statistical capacities.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the 2030 Agenda underpins all the work being carried out during the General Assembly’s high-level week. “We started this journey together in 2015, and we know our destination,” he said, spotlighting the eradication of poverty, a transition to a low-carbon and climate smart economy, the empowerment of women and young people, a healthy planet and “fair globalization” as critical targets. “The business sector is beginning to understand that green business is good business,” he said, adding that access to decent work is increasing and “unmistakable commitments” have recently been made to addressing climate change. However, the world remains off-track and far from where it needs to be, with persistent conflicts and inequality threatening the gains made to date. Youth unemployment remains at alarming levels and no country is on track to achieve gender equality. The work of the 2030 Agenda must be considered through the prism of the next decade, safeguarding the promises of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Issuing an appeal for action and “brave decisions” at the global level, he called for an end to the world’s current conflicts and a major surge in financing with countries fulfilling their development commitments and replenishing critical funds for climate and health. Long-term private investment should be scaled up and illicit flows of capital, money laundering and tax evasion must be combated. Calling for attention to solutions that make the greatest impact - including gender equality, sustainable cities and tackling the climate crisis — he also encouraged States to step up local action and domestic policies and appealed to “innovators and disrupters” in the private sector as well as the technology sector to narrow the digital divide. Meanwhile, young people and civil society members must hold leaders to account, he stressed, adding: “We need all hands on deck, and we must leave no on behind.”
MONA JUUL (Norway), President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the message is clear: the world needs to accelerate efforts and aim much higher. “Our policies are not yet yielding the deep changes needed to combat exclusion and poverty in all its forms,” she added. Inequality remains unacceptably high in and between countries. The Youth Climate Summit and the 23 September Climate Action Summit moved people around the world, as young people outlined considerable challenges ahead and called for urgent and ambitious action.
“We, as owners of the 2030 Agenda, must move into a higher gear to promote sustained and inclusive economic growth and ensure productive employment and decent work for all,” she continued. Just and participatory transformation requires peace, justice and accountable institutions. An efficient United Nations is critical to making “a real difference”. Highlighting various achievements, she noted the progress Governments, businesses and civil society have made in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
“This is why this summit can, and should rally us to action,” she emphasized, calling on Member States to enter into new, inclusive and innovative partnerships and boost civil society engagement. It is also essential to bridge the gap in investments towards the Sustainable Development Goals with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as the compass. “We need to innovate and harness advances in science and technology towards the common good,” she continued. The international community must also heed the call of young people and ensure that they inherit a sustainable planet.
The Forum then adopted, without a vote, a resolution titled “Political declaration of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development convened under the auspices of the General Assembly” (document A/HLPF/2019/L.1). Annexed to it was the full text of the declaration, which will be forwarded to the General Assembly for endorsement.
The forum then convened a fireside-chat-style panel discussion on the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report, titled “The Future is Now”. Moderated by Joannie Marlene Bewa, Physician, Public Health Researcher, United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals and Founder of the Young Beninese Leaders Association, it featured four scientific experts: Peter Messerli, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland; Endah Murniningtyas, National Development Planning Agency, Indonesia; Eun Mee Kim, Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea; and David Smith, Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
Mr. MESSERLI, highlighting the report’s overarching themes and messages, said that there are still unique opportunities to transform societies. Noting how progress on one Goal affects another, he said that deciding to scale up the current food system does a lot of good but also results in the increase of greenhouse gas emissions. All the Sustainable Development Goals are connected. “We cannot progress if we continue to tick off single Sustainable Development Goals without taking all of them into consideration,” he said, calling for a new relationship between people and nature. At the same time, we also need to enhance human well-being. “We can accelerate transformation exponentially,” he stressed.
Ms. KIM highlighted some key findings in the report, underscoring that rising inequalities have made it impossible for many people to enjoy the fruits of economic and social development. “This leads to multidimensional poverty disproportionately affecting women and girls, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples,” she added. Gender inequality is often compounded with other forms of inequality making it impossible for women and girls to escape intergenerational poverty. She stressed the need to build resilience through education and promote enrolment and participation of women and girls in the science, technology, engineering and math sectors. The global North has a responsibility to help the global South and “the people in developing countries to own their own destiny”.
Mr. SMITH said that the most important thing is to pursue multiple goals under a single framework as they are all related to each other. Science and technology can help do things more efficiently. Individual action is also important as people must be empowered to make an impact on the ground. Government action all the way down to the local level is critical. “We’ve got to bring everybody together so they can work on agreeing on the most important things,” he added. This is particularly important for small island developing States and least developed countries. “We cannot afford the trade-off of going after a single goal,” he added. “The problem is not that we do not know the solutions, but rather very often we do not share the solutions with each other,” he said.
Ms. MURNININGTYAS said it is not possible to implement 17 Goals “one by one”, calling upon leaders to approach the 2030 Agenda in a more systematic manner. It is important to implement evidence-based policy for 2030 Agenda implementation. Multidisciplinary science and education at all levels, and especially at the university level, is essential. Governments, the private sector and civil society must rethink their connection and collaboration and improve on methods to achieve the 2030 Agenda.
Mr. MESSERLI asked what the most important actions will be to implement the recommendations enshrined in the report and stressed that “countries must bring [them] to the ground”. The United Nations should support Governments to implement innovations that fit their national circumstances, he underscored, adding that it should also assist them in bolstering national data collection capacities.
MAHMOUD ABBAS, President of the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, described the 2030 Agenda as the “common horizon for the next decade” as well as the first line of defence against the existential challenges facing humankind. He further underlined the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, stressing that “the measure of the commitment to achieve the [Goals] is the means we deploy to that aim”. Calling for moving on the action areas of the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda, he urged Member States to remain true to their pledges to “leave no one behind” and reach the furthest behind first. In line with the spirit of multilateralism and the Charter of the United Nations, he also called for efforts to find a more just and equitable international economic system. He also reaffirmed the internationally enshrined right to self-determination for peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation and for respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of States, while rejecting the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impacts and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions.
ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, President of Malawi, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, called for action across such varied challenges as climate change, the need for quality education and technology. Warning that the widening digital divide threatens to leave least developed countries behind and necessitates urgent action, he noted that a large percentage of the populations of those countries lacks access to electricity, lives in poverty and suffers from the worst effects of climate change. Meanwhile, the growth rate in those nations is expected to decline in 2019. “The least developed countries will be the worst affected” by the impacts of climate change, he added. While “our plight is our duty”, the efforts of least developed countries to achieve sustainable development targets continues to be hindered by constrained resources. Emphasizing that the global trading system does not benefit those countries equally to others, he declared: “Action must be taken by us, or nobody will.” In that regard, he also called for more creative and innovative methods to increase domestic resource mobilization.
PRAYUT CHAN-O-CHA, Prime Minister of Thailand, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the region recently adopted a Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, which aims to support global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda. He stressed the need to accelerate implementation, localize the Sustainable Development Goals through home-grown knowledge, and forge cooperation with all sectors of civil society. Acceleration can happen through enhancing connectivity and tackling inequalities through the use of science, technology and innovation. ASEAN is also focused on promoting the sustainable use of ocean resources. Localization of the Goals is possible by encouraging public participation in policymaking, promoting local approaches to development, empowering communities through promoting greater financial inclusion and preparing for ageing societies, he continued. Cooperation is needed to promote free trade and strengthen resilience to natural hazards. “If we want to pass [on] a sustainable world to our children and grandchildren, there is no time to waste,” he stressed.
ALLEN MICHAEL CHASTANET, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Growth, Job Creation, External Affairs and Public Service of Saint Lucia, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that the Bahamas is a glaring example of the current situation facing the region. The risk from climate induced disasters continues to grow. Given their unique vulnerabilities, small island developing States must receive the investment and support necessary to help these countries address risk management. The Caribbean region is acutely aware that the next decade represents a critical moment in its destiny. “It is clear that our ambitions have to be supported by the international community, civil society and the private sector,” he stressed. In the past, sustainable development solutions have been tailored along a one-size-fits-all approach. “There is an urgent need for a more nuanced approach,” he added, stressing: “We have a decade left to ensure that our work truly does not ‘leave anyone behind’.”
RUHAKANA RUGUNDA, Prime Minister of Uganda, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said African nations have demonstrated their commitment to realizing the 2030 Agenda with ambition and rigour, as reflected in their various voluntary national reviews. Primary school completion rates have risen in several nations on the continent, while gender parity in primary and lower secondary schools has increased. All African countries are signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, governance across the continent is improving and gains are being made in lifting people out of poverty. However, he said, Africa remains among the world’s most unequal regions and faces challenges in such areas as transitioning to a low-carbon economy. “We require support to fully implement the 2030 Agenda,” he stressed, while pledging to continue to implement targeted policies which create decent jobs for all, increase household income, prioritize infrastructure development, strengthen labour productivity and expand domestic markets. In that context, he also called on developed countries, for their part, to honour their official development assistance (ODA) commitments.
FRANS TIMMERMANS, First Vice-President of the European Commission, voiced the European Union’s firm commitment to do more to implement the letter and spirit of the 2030 Agenda, including by building a green and inclusive economy. The European Commission that will take up office on 1 November has already pledged to deliver a comprehensive European Green New Deal and to step up biodiversity preservation efforts, transform the bloc’s entire food system and make its transport systems both entirely green and more intelligent. Pledging to allocate significant public spending for those initiatives as well as to galvanize private investment, he said the Union also plans to launch a new international platform on sustainable finance, which will help redirect finance flows to sustainable economic and climate objectives. “We must stand up for multilateralism and defend it against attempts to go it alone,” he added, calling for all partners to “join the race to the top”. Referring to a speech delivered during the Assembly’s general debate this morning, he also emphasized that “globalism is enlightened patriotism”.
ANTONIO RIVAS PALACIOS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said that the absence of coasts on the sea is a permanent condition. The obstacles derived from it, however, are not. Through the efficient use of articulate tools these obstacles could be reduced. The road to sustainable development requires decisive action from the international community, and in particular, from transit countries and international organizations. “We do not want to be the object of permanent charity, nor of unlimited and eternal special treatment,” he stressed, calling for cooperation to strengthen this group of countries’ capacities so that they can in the future “solve their own problems”. Underscoring the important role of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries for the Decade 2014-2024, he said he looked forward to its midterm review to be held in December 2019.
WILFRED ELRINGTON, Attorney General and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that the leaders of these countries have for decades advocated the world to address the devastating impact of climate change. As these countries struggle with scarce resources, dealing with the risks and effects of climate change is often far beyond their capacity. Meanwhile, those with a historic responsibility to act on climate change fail to do so, a trend that perpetuates “one of the biggest injustices of our time”. “We need small island developing States-tailored data solutions,” and decisively urgent responses from the international financial system to reverse the declining trend of food aid to small island developing States. All these countries must have access to concessionary finance. Recent events show that there is no time to spare, he emphasized.
JUANA ALEXANDRA HILL TINOCO (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Like-minded Group of Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, said that the middle-income States category accounts for 70 per cent of the world’s population and represent one third of the global gross domestic product (GDP). That classification oversimplifies the complexities of the countries it encompasses and does not adequately reflect the myriad challenges they face. Strongly urging the United Nations development system to elaborate a comprehensive long-term strategy to facilitate sustainable development through the provision of coordinated support to middle-income countries, she added that it is crucial to advance towards multidimensional criteria that goes beyond income per capita.
Mr. PAROLIN, observer of the Holy See, said that while no single State or Government, organization or financial institution can by itself make good on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its commitment to eradicate poverty in all its forms, “a special responsibility lies with those in public office”. Calling on Governments to encourage and welcome the strengths and capacities of academia and business enterprises, of faith communities and civil society organizations, the observer stressed the need to marshal financial and technological resources to assist developing countries, especially those struggling the most due to wars and conflicts, geographical isolation and extreme environmental degradation.
MICHAEL ASHWIN ADHIN, Vice-President of Suriname, stressing the importance of youth involvement, said that his Government has an intergenerational approach, which provides opportunities for youth to participate at all levels of decision-making. As a commodity-based economy strongly dependent on extractive industries, Suriname is vulnerable to external price shocks and is implementing macroeconomic reforms to stabilize the economy while also protecting the vulnerable by putting in place a broad social safety net. With a heightened focus on agricultural and tourism sectors, he added, Suriname is optimizing the use of underutilized fertile land and increasing employment opportunities in remote regions.
CHUNHUA HU, Vice Premier of the State Council of China, stressed the need to uphold multilateralism and take effective measures to deepen the global partnership for development. China is committed to building a prosperous society by putting people’s development front and centre, identifying sustainable development as a fundamental State policy and remaining committed to winning the fight against poverty. China is on track to eradicate abject poverty by 2020. Providing education and health care to all Chinese citizens remains a top national priority as well. China is still a developing country facing uneven and inadequate development. “The 2030 Agenda represents a better future for all,” he said.
TARIQ AHMAD, Minister for State for the United Kingdom, lamented that the world remains far from achieving the targets established in the Sustainable Development Goals. Educating girls would particularly improve global economic and social conditions, but 131 million girls are left out of schools. On top of its existing support for the education of girls in conflict zones, the United Kingdom will provide an additional £515 million to help children gain an education, he announced.
ISSA DOUBRAGNE, Minister for Economy and Development Planning of Chad, associating himself with the Group of 77, Group of Least Developed Countries and the African Group, said that poverty, economic recessions, climate change, diminishing aid and insecurity are major challenges in the way of achieving sustainable development. Boosting international solidarity and further promoting international cooperation is critical. Chad recently presented its first national voluntary report, giving an account of its progress and outlining what it intends to do to tackle future challenges. “We have to work, all of us, for the good of our people and our countries,” he added.
Leaders Dialogue I
The Forum convened the first of six leaders dialogues, on the theme “Megatrends Impacting the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Co‑moderated by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana, and Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, it featured a range of Heads of State, Heads of Government and senior officials from international organizations.
Mr. AKUFO-ADDO, opening that segment, recalled that “quantum leaps” in the well-being of people are required to ensure that no one is left behind. However, the global response so far has not been ambitious and transformative enough. Megatrends including demographic changes, economic and financial shocks, conflict and disease outbreaks, climate change and technological innovations will fundamentally shape the course of the future, he said, stressing that “the choices we make in managing these trends will be key to achieving sustainable development”. In that regard, he called for forward-looking approaches and requested speakers to consider a range of related guiding questions.
Ms. SOLBERG declared “we know what we need to do” in line with the road map that is the 2030 Agenda. The pace of collective efforts is not fast enough, requiring 2020 to serve as the beginning of a decade of action. Spotlighting climate change as one threat that risks setting the entire agenda off track, she went on to call for inclusive youth participation in decision-making and quality education for all, as well as efforts to address financial gaps and to improve tax collection systems. Norway has come a long way, she said, citing its strong tax system as one driving factor of its development success. “We are all in this together,” she stressed.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOĞAN, President of Turkey, said that the 2030 Agenda is critical to leaving “no one behind” and providing people with education and health care. Many problems in the world today are caused by a lack of compassion and empathy rather than a lack of resources. Turkey has welcomed millions of refugees and is rebuilding schools and hospitals in Syria. Everyone must benefit from radical development. Technological advancements should focus on making progress in education and health care. There is a need to develop public-private sector partnerships, he added.
IVÁN DUQUE MÁRQUEZ, President of Colombia, said his country has taken a leadership role in implementing the 2030 Agenda, having arranged its development strategy on a plan fully in line with each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Colombia is largely focusing on overcoming inequality by increasing citizens’ access to food and education. Colombia has implemented a food school programme to ensure that food reaches 2 million children by 2020. It is also moving towards clean energy, providing clean drinking water and sanitation services to all citizens, and promoting gender equality. “We are empowering communities,” he said.
KERSTI KALJULAID, President of Estonia, recalled that 15 years ago her country, along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), began an innovative partnership on digital development. “We have the technological means to allow girls to study, and all children to go to school” even when no physical schools are available or attending them is dangerous. However, an address is still required to work and live. Politicians must create a new global agreement to provide decent work, education, social services and eventually retirement to all their people, she stressed, warning that many countries’ social service systems have been “left back in the industrial era”. In that regard, she called for collective efforts to bring them into the future.
MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said that like many others his country faces a range of megatrends including migration flows, technological changes and shifts in financing for development. Nigeria has made efforts and some progress in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including by establishing a Government office dedicated to their implementation. In addition, as a vital part of its economic recovery and growth plan, the country established a national social investment programme. Noting that Nigeria has its share of climate migrants, he called on the international community to deliver on its commitments in the areas of finance, technology and capacity-building.
RUMEN RADEV, President of Bulgaria, said that the annual increase in global defence spending is an indicator that the security environment is not improving. Sustainable development can only be built on a more effective global security mechanism favouring dialogue and multilateralism. Expressing support for “open science” he added that the pursuit of technological superiority leads to “the encapsulation of science within a narrow geographical framework”. It also causes scientific migration and increases the technological gap between counties. Further, development strategies must consider the peculiarities and characteristics of diverse societies as cultural difference can generate risks such as religious extremism and terrorism.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, President of Ukraine, said that his country’s goal is to achieve substantial economic growth, eradicate poverty and create jobs. “Now it is time to move faster and with bigger confidence,” he added. No country has achieved sustainable development when it is facing aggression from another country. Ukraine lost more than 15 per cent of its GDP and more importantly 13,000 of its citizens due to the occupation of the autonomous Republic of Crimea by the Russian Federation. With international support, Ukraine will be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
SHINZO ABE, Prime Minister of Japan, noted all the achievements his Government has made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. “We have spread the Sustainable Development Goals all over Japan”, in schools, businesses and municipalities. Japan also aims to further accelerate its efforts in the private sector. An increasing number of businesses all over the country are implementing the 2030 Agenda. “Let us mobilize the power of all stakeholders to maximize the power of our actions,” he added.
MARJAN ŠAREC, Prime Minister of Slovenia, said “our horizon is clear” — namely, to meet each of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Noting that almost two thirds of Slovenia is covered by forests and the other third by agricultural land, he stressed that being green does not start in the forests but “in our minds”. For example, in its Constitution the country enshrines the right to drink potable water. Slovenia was also declared the first “green destination” country in the world. The first United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) artificial intelligence centre is slated to be established in Slovenia, he said, underlining the country’s commitment to continue to move forward
DAVID MALPASS, President of the World Bank Group, warned that “Brexit”, negative interest rates and trade frictions between nations are all threatening the world economy. “The global slowdown is apparent,” he stressed, noting that the real growth estimates for 2019 were recently lowered to 2.6 per cent. Some parts of Europe are in recession, or close to falling into one, while others are experiencing stagnation. Noting that poverty is likely to increase, he said that while structural reforms are available to address those challenges, overly large Government programmes and high debt loads pose major obstacles. Developing countries can implement well-designed structural reforms to deliver good outcomes for their people, as well as committing more investments to human capital and physical infrastructure, he added, pledging the World Bank’s support.
JESSICA ORTEGA, Indigenous Youth Caucus, said the inability to address rising megatrends will only exacerbate inequality and perpetuate crimes against the world’s people. Warning that a growth-centric economic model continues to prioritize profit and economic dominance at the expense of people and the planet, she said the needs of indigenous peoples in particular are being ignored. “States refuse to be made accountable for their international obligations as they pursue unjust economic policies,” she stressed, citing rising authoritarianism, repression, corporate domination and the ongoing marginalization of minorities as other rising challenges. The pledge to leave no one behind will remain mere lip service if no action is taken, she added.