17 July 2020

Deputy Secretary-General Announces Details of 2020 ‘SDG Moment’, to Convene Virtually on Margins of General Assembly High-Level Week

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed’s remarks on the “SDG Moment”, in New York today:

We have just come through two hectic and fruitful weeks of the high-level political forum, and I hope you agree that the sessions have been encouraging, both the active participation throughout and the strong commitment to rally behind the Sustainable Development Goals as a way out of the current crisis.

This is therefore also a good time to discuss our plans for the “SDG Moment”, to be convened by the Secretary-General this September — what we hope to achieve, some of the key elements, and the preparation work that still lies ahead.  We have shared a short background note in advance of this meeting and I look forward to hearing your views and answering any questions.

The Political Declaration of the Sustainable Development Goals Summit requested the Secretary-General “to organize an annual moment in the context of the general debate of the General Assembly to highlight inspiring SDG Action”.  This request emerged as Member States recognized that the world was not on track to achieve the Goals and called on all actors to bring more ambition and urgency to their implementation efforts over the course of a Decade of Action.

The COVID-19 pandemic has without doubt made the Sustainable Development Goals challenge even more difficult.  But, by exposing the immense fragility of our world, the pandemic has also made [the Sustainable Development Goals’] implementation even more urgent.

Moreover, we have seen, in the massive mobilization of Governments, individuals, communities, researchers, international organizations and the private sector, both the need for and power of collective action at all levels.  This emphasis on urgency, focus and solutions is what we must bring to the fore for the Decade of Action.  And this is the spirit in which we are approaching the SDG Moment.

By placing a spotlight on the Sustainable Development Goals during every high-level week between now and 2030, we hope to generate greater momentum, solutions and solidarity to address the massive implementation gaps that we are all so keenly aware of.

This year, the SDG Moment will happen in a virtual meeting — it will consist of a three-hour virtual meeting.  With plans for high-level week now firming up, the Secretary-General intends you convene the virtual meeting on Friday, 18 September, at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, to allow for maximum participation from your capitals.

While in future years it is our intention to convene the SDG Moment on the Monday before the beginning of the general debate, this year’s date will ensure the availability of interpretation services and will lead up to the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The meeting will consist of three primary components.  The introductory component will set the scene for the Decade of Action.  It will start with an address from the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly, setting out the task before us.  It will provide a snapshot of Sustainable Development Goals progress and trends at the global level and across each of the five regions, drawing on the work of [the Department of Economic and Social Affairs] and the Regional Economic Commissions.

It will also include an analysis of some of the critical interventions needed to get the world on track to deliver by 2030, with a particular focus on solutions to fight poverty and inequality, bend the curve on climate change and environmental degradation and accelerate towards gender equality.

The second component of the virtual SDG Moment will feature contributions from the Member States.  And the third component will showcase contributions from a full range of stakeholders including from civil society, the private sector, cities and local authorities and others, that help address the gaps and needs identified by States in the second component.

Let me turn now to the participation of leaders.  An invitation to the SDG Moment will be issued to all Heads of State and Government in the coming weeks, and we look forward to robust participation. 

In addition, for the meeting’s second component, we will provide a speaking opportunity to Heads of State and Government from those countries that present voluntary national reviews at the high-level political forum in a given year.  We will be requesting leaders to make short interventions focused on the major gaps in implementation in their country, and importantly, on plans and needs to recover sustainably and accelerate progress over the course of the Decade.

With this approach, we hope to build on and reinforce the work of the high-level political forum, while providing a snapshot of the broader challenges that all Governments are facing.  This will also ensure that, between now and 2030, all States will have at least one opportunity to participate in the SDG Moment should they so wish.

In the coming weeks and months, we will work closely with interested States from the 47 that presented voluntary national reviews at the high-level political forum this year, on the parameters, duration and modalities of the interventions for this meeting.

Before concluding, allow me to draw your attention to one final point included in the background note.  As the United Nations marks its seventy-fifth anniversary, we recognize the pressing need to bring the substantive work of the United Nations, including during the high-level week, to the widest possible global audience.

If the agreements reached by Member States are to be implemented, then they must appeal to hearts and minds and concerns of the general public across the world, and they must motivate action by a vast array of stakeholders.  That is why we have decided to complement the virtual SDG Moment with three other important initiatives.

First, we will host a short global broadcast that will bring the essence of the SDG Moment to a much larger global audience.  The broadcast will consist of a high-quality production that showcases critical actions and emphasizes the need to transform our future to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.  It will be available on UNWEBTV and we hope that it will reach across the world through various media distribution platforms and engagement with national broadcasters.

Second, building on last year’s success, the SDG Action Zone will take place virtually over three days during the high-level week.  The Action Zone will provide a dedicated, open and inclusive space for multi-stakeholder engagement and enable more global audience participation than the virtual SDG Moment.  It will showcase critical actions to accelerate Sustainable Development Goals implementation in countries around the world.

Third, we envisage the holding of a series of national dialogues to socialize the Sustainable Development Goals conversations around opportunities and needs at the local, country or regional level.  These will be convened by the Resident Coordinator, local United Nations offices and other partners in collaboration with Government, civil society, local populations, media and others.

These conversations will draw on relevant local expertise, provide another opportunity for countries to showcase their ambition and complement the global broadcast and virtual SDG Moment.  We will harvest each year the best examples of ambitious country-level actions or plans to recover better and accelerate implementation.  We will share more details on these initiatives as they become available.

Moving forward, we will of course explore synergies with the other high-level meetings being planned for September, including the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations and sessions on biodiversity, gender equality and financing for development.  We will also ensure regular communication and engagement along the way.  We will count on your support and you can count on ours.  And we encourage any partners interested in supporting this endeavour to contact [the Executive Office of the Secretary-General] to discuss further.

We are committed to ensuring the SDG Moment grabs the attention of the world and, over the decade, sustains the energy, ambition and momentum necessary to achieve the Goals.  Now, I would like to hear your views, questions and any suggestions you may have to maximize the reach and impact of this very first SDG Moment that you have asked the Secretary-General to convene.

For information media. Not an official record.