6 August 2020

Deputy Secretary-General, Briefing Member States on Upcoming Sustainable Development Goals Moment, Outlines Criteria for Participation

Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed’s briefing, as prepared for delivery, to Member States on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Moment, in New York today:

Thank you for joining this briefing on the SDG Moment to be convened by the Secretary-General in September.

At our last meeting, I set out the overall objectives and contours of the Moment and was grateful to receive your feedback and questions.  As we strive to find the best possible format to deliver on your request to the Secretary-General, your perspectives are invaluable.  We have made progress in this regard.

On Tuesday of this week, you have received a background note that was revised following consultations and now elaborates on Member State participation in the SDG Moment.  Before providing some additional rationale for the proposed approach, allow me to recap the overall parameters.

The SDG Moment will place the Decade of Action to Deliver the SDGs on the agenda of world leaders and key stakeholders during every high-level week between now and 2030.

As we grapple with implementation gaps that were already evident before COVID-19, and look to recover better together from the pandemic, this annual SDG check-in will instil a renewed sense of urgency, ambition, accountability and transformative possibility into our collective efforts.

Building on the High-Level Political Forum, the Moment will provide an annual snapshot of SDG progress, highlight implementation and investment shortfalls, and showcase the kind of critical interventions that both States and stakeholders are advancing to increase the pace and scale of action.  And each year, we will ensure coherence with other high-level meetings — such as those taking place next month on the seventh-fifth anniversary of the United Nations, biodiversity, gender equality and financing for development.

In light of pandemic-related meeting constraints, this year’s SDG Moment will be convened for three hours on the morning of Friday, 18 September.  Time is therefore limited, but I am sure that with the format being conceived we can make the Moment both exciting and productive.  While we expect that the vast majority of the contributions from Heads of States and stakeholders will be made virtually, we are looking into the possibility of holding this meeting in a hybrid format and will provide more details in due course.

The SDG Moment meeting will be complemented by three other initiatives.  First, a global broadcast event will bring the essence of the SDG Moment to the widest possible global audience.  Second, the United Nations development system together with partners will hold national and regional dialogues to bring the Decade of Action closer to local decision makers and communities.  And third, a virtual, interactive SDG action zone during high-level week will provide dedicated space for a full range of stakeholders to delve deeper into what is needed to deliver the Goals by 2030.

As the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states, the primary responsibility for achieving sustainable development rests with Governments.  In this spirit, we will ensure that adequate time during the SDG Moment is dedicated to Member States, and to hearing your perspectives as you wrestle with major challenges and seize the opportunities that the SDGs provide.

Since the SDG Moment is intended to provide a snapshot rather than a comprehensive picture of SDG implementation, we intend to provide speaking time to approximately 20 Heads of State and Government each year, with a three-minute speaking slot each.  This will provide all interested States at least one opportunity to address the SDG Moment between now and 2030.

Having reflected on the feedback provided in the last briefing, we have updated the criteria and the process we will use to identify the Member States that will deliver interventions each year.  In the note circulated on Tuesday, we provided criteria that build on our previous proposal.  The criteria are as follows:

First, States must be represented at the level of Head of State or Government.  Second, Member States must have completed at least one voluntary national review, with priority being given to those who have done so in 2020.  Third, priority will be given to those Governments that commit to outlining the implementation gaps they are facing, as well as the plans and actions they intend to take to fill those gaps over the course of the Decade of Action.  This requirement goes to the core of generating the level of ambition needed to deliver by 2030.

Fourth, the line-up for each year will need to ensure that the different circumstances and situations facing countries are well represented, and that gender balance is achieved as much as possible.  Fifth, equitable regional representation is essential.  The background note identifies the number of Member States that will be able to speak each year from across the five regional groups.

Following today’s meeting, I intend to write to the chairs of the regional groups providing further information and requesting their support in nominating States that express interest and that fulfil the above criteria.  In order to ensure adequate preparation time for the nominated States, we will be seeking nominees from the Chairs by Friday, 21 August.  As you are all well aware, there is no perfect process to determine participation in such a meeting.  But, we will do our best.

And we believe this process will allow for a fair, transparent and balanced line-up; will ensure the SDG Moment is distinct from — but also reinforces — the work of the High-Level Political Forum; and will help bring fresh urgency and ambition to this vital work.

We also note that Member States will have opportunities to highlight their commitment to accelerating SDG implementation in the general debate and in the other high-level meetings.  And we are looking into steps to ensure ongoing engagement and follow-up with States once they have contributed each year.

Right now, we are just over six weeks away from the first SDG Moment — a meeting that we hope will kick‑start the Decade of Action and kick off a crucial few weeks for the United Nations and leaders everywhere.

The Secretary-General and I are enthusiastic about the journey ahead, and grateful for your constructive and active engagement so far.  Today offers another opportunity to hear your reactions and insights.  We are here, first and foremost, to listen.  I look forward to your feedback and I thank you for your ongoing support.

For information media. Not an official record.