New York

20 May 2019

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at informal briefing on the Global Sustainable Development Report and Special Addition of the Secretary-General's SDG Progress Report [as prepared for delivery]

Opening Remarks:

Excellencies, dear colleagues, good afternoon to you all.
It is my great pleasure to convene this briefing on two landmark reports that provide essential updates on our collective endeavor to achieve sustainable development.
In a moment, we will receive a presentation from Under Secretary-General Liu of UNDESA and the Administrator of UNDP, Mr. Achim Steiner – co-chairs of the UN System task team that worked on the Special Edition of the Secretary-General’s Progress report on the Sustainable Development Goals.
In preparation for September’s SDG Summit, this year’s report contains two main parts.
The first is a statistical update on SDG progress, based on the latest data generated from official sources that respond to the SDG indicator framework. I thank colleagues across the UN system for strengthening this chapter, including by drawing on now-casting and forecasting of progress where feasible, as this helps us to look at a trends or trend reversals objectively in real time for robust decision-making.
The second part of the report seeks to respond to the fact that the many gaps in data and the requirements of the current indicator framework limit our ability to provide a detailed and through overview of progress.
It therefore draws on the deep well of evidence provided by voluntary national reviews, the regional sustainable development forums and other follow-up mechanisms to provide an analysis of how governments and other stakeholders have responded to the SDGs. It also identifies eight cross-cutting issues that require urgent attention.
Following the briefing on the SDG Progress report, we will hear from the co-chairs of the independent group of scientists that have produced the Global Sustainable Development Report.
Specifically mandated by the General Assembly in 2016, this is the first Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) of its kind, and has been eagerly awaited.  I look forward to hearing the key findings and the co-chairs’ insights into their implications for achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
Common to both reports is a clear message that we are off track when it comes to achieving the SDGs and that a deeper, more ambitious, more transformative, and more integrated response is urgently needed to get back on track.
Similarly, both reports are unequivocal on the fact that the 2030 Agenda remains the most compelling roadmap we have for overcoming the many challenges we face to end poverty and achieve sustainable development
I look forward to hearing your views on both reports.
End Opening Remarks.
 Closing Remarks:
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
Thank you all for these excellent presentations and thoughtful contributions.
To conclude, allow me to underline four central messages that I see emerging from both reports.
First, despite the commitment and action taken these past four years, we are currently moving much too slowly to meet the SDGs by 2030.  This has enormous implications for the welfare of the world’s most vulnerable, for economic stability and global peace; and for the health of the planet upon which our prosperity and survival depends.
Second, we urgently need a deeper, more ambitious response to achieve the 2015 agreements on sustainable development, financing and climate change – agreements that continue to provide us with the best possible road-map for achieving better outcomes for people and planet alike.
Third, the GSDR identifies a number of specific entry points for advancing SDG implementation.
It is important to view each of these as prisms through which to reinforce our overall efforts to advance SDG implementation and climate action, in a truly integrated manner.
Through the human well-being entry point, for example, we can support efforts on SDGs on poverty, zero hunger, and women’s empowerment and reducing inequalities and building inclusive and effective institutions.
Similarly, the entry point on sustainable and just economies can help us to advance action on SDGs on sustainable agriculture, sustainable consumption and production, life below water, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and investment etc.
Fourth, both reports stress the need for robust action on the levers of change or means of implementation.
Transformation will require strengthened governance and strong institutions, application of science and technology for the benefit of all, and increased investment in sustainable development, with incentives for the private sector and a significant increase in public funds.
In addition, the GSDR singles out the importance of individual and collective behavior change.
Fifth, I would like to make a point about data. It is still a challenge to obtain quality and timely data from all Member States right across the 169 targets and 230 indicators. Lack of data impacts our ability to provide the most comprehensive overview of global progress and limits the decision-making and policy capacity of governments and others.   Much greater investment in national statistical capabilities is essential.
I have asked UN-DESA and other relevant UN development system entities to look again at how we might overcome this data challenge in future reports on SDG progress, working together with national statistical systems.
Finally, these reports provide us with a reminder also on the response need from the UN Development System to support member states to achieve the goals – and on the support member states need to provide to the UN system to enable them to do so.
Excellencies, dear colleagues,
I would like to thank all those involved in preparing the SDG Progress report, and particularly the Taskteam members and our co-chairs. I also thank the independent group of scientists, particularly the co-chairs for their work and for agreeing to join us so soon after the report’s release.
These reports demonstrate that with leadership, partnership, solidarity, innovation we can achieve the Goals by 2030. We can win the race against climate change.
In September, through the SDG Summit, the SG’s Climate Action Summit and the high level meetings on universal health coverage, financing for development and the Samoa Pathway, we have an opportunity to bring these messages to the world and to signal that we are moving forward, together, with conviction, with ambition and with a view to embarking upon a decade of action and delivery – for people and planet alike.
Thank you.