03 June 2019

The Deputy Secretary-General on Social Justice for Sustainable Development: How to build a new relationship with each other and with creation to meet the SDGs

Four years ago, world leaders came together at the United Nations to adopt the universal and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals at its core.
The 2030 Agenda is a roadmap for a collective response to some of greatest challenges facing people and our planet.
It aims to end the scourge of poverty and create shared prosperity on a healthy and peaceful planet.
It promises to leave no one behind.
We have made important progress over the last four years.
Governments, the private sector and civil society have embraced the SDGs and sought to align policies, plans and systems with the integrated nature of goals.
Extreme poverty and child mortality rates continue to decline.
Electricity access in the poorest countries is on the rise.
Globally, labour productivity has increased and unemployment is back to the levels before the financial crisis.
That is all good news. 
But the 2030 Agenda is not about incremental change.  It is a transformative agenda that requires transformational change in our development pathways.
The Secretary-General just issued a Progress Report on the SDGs which found that the world is simply not going far enough fast enough.
On present trends, extreme poverty is not on track for elimination by 2030.
Hunger is on the rise for the third consecutive year.
Wildlife is being lost at an alarming rate with around one million species already facing extinction.
Disadvantaged population groups remain largely excluded.
Globally, youth are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.
Women face new obstacles and age-old hurdles.
In short, the global response has not matched the ambition of the agenda. The most vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most. And our natural environment is in a perilous situation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Faced with such challenges, and with deep polarization within countries and across the world, no country, no group, no organization can go it alone.
We need everyone, including faith-based organizations, to rally around the SDGs.
Long before the SDGs, faith-based organizations and their leaders embodied the principle of leaving no one behind and led the fight for social justice, human rights and sustainable development. 
Faith-based organisations knew what they are talking about when they called for a truly integrated, people-centered and ambitious 2030 Agenda.
And faith-based organizations are already showing leadership and mobilizing resources and networks to support the hardest to reach – and to shift attitudes and behaviors toward implementation of the SDGs.
We must do more to harness your unique capabilities.  We need innovative, multisectoral and multi-thematic partnerships and the space to leverage these partnerships.
For example, faith-based organizations and donor communities have worked to boost resources for development. Muslim organizations are exploring the potential of Islamic financing to support the SDGs.
With rise in xenophobic rhetoric, anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, there is a growing global interest in engaging religious actors as peace mediators and as builders of inclusive and peaceful societies.
Time and time again, faith-based organisations have stood in the face of rising tensions and conflict.
They have provided space for open and constructive dialogue.
They have served as a powerful reminder that humanity can find a way through the most complex and challenging of issues.
They have given us hope.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In September, Heads of State and Government will gather in New York for a series of Summits aimed at kickstarting a new phase of deeper more ambitious action for sustainable development.
Alongside high-level meetings on health, financing and the development of Small Island Developing States, we will convene two major summits on Climate Action and the SDGs.
The clock is ticking, and the stakes are high.
We are calling on all leaders from all sectors to come to this world gathering with a clear plan for unleashing a more ambitious response to the agreements of 2015; and to showcase examples of scalable, just and tailored solutions.
We are also keenly aware that we are closing in on a critical decade that will make our break the vision and promise of the 2030 Agenda.
In September, we intend to launch a global call to action to ensure that world leaders use 2019 and 2020 to get us back on track; to ensure the world shifts onto a trajectory that is compatible with peace and prosperity for all on a healthy, thriving planet.
It is our responsibility and within our power to make this decade one of action and delivery for sustainable development.
I invite all of you to participate in our world gathering in September and to join our global call in 2020.
I am certain that faith-based organizations can and will provide the guidance and the spirit we all need to reach the goals by 2030.