Held on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum at the UN Headquarters in New York, the SDG Media Zone engages experts, innovators, content creators, young leader, and personalities to highlight actions and solutions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. Day 2 was filled with engaging panels covering a broad range of topics including sustainable cities, poverty, plastic, Small Island Developing States, Peace and Justice, and much more. Our special guest, Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, discusses the slow progress made in achieving the SDGs and the way forward. Whether you were able to join us or not, you can learn more about today’s panels and watch them here.
According to Luis Alfonso de Alba, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require drastic action, including by the private sector. Lise Kingo, CEO of UN Global Compact, stresses how important it is to have concrete examples of good practices. Similarly, Ann Rosenberg from SAP Next-Gen touches upon the need for new ideas and new ways of doing business.
Pedro Conceição, the Head of the Human Development Report Office at the UN Development Programme, presents the Preview of the 2019 Multidimensional Poverty Index and discusses how it can help to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Unlike other reports, the index assesses progress on various dimensions of poverty at the country level while also looking at how multidimensional poverty varies within a country, revealing huge inequalities between the poorest and the wealthiest people. This data can help design policies tailored to specific regions and tackle poverty more effectively.
More than half of the world’s population currently lives in cities – by 2030, this number will rise to 60 per cent. To foster inclusive and sustainable cities, Maruxa Cardama, Chair of the 68th UN Civil Society Conference highlights the importance of giving youths a voice and also a role to play. Similarly, Steve Chiu, the Youth Representative of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, highlights youth empowerment as a way of creating inclusive societies. Glocha Youth Representative Ali Mustafa further explores how to give youths opportunities for meaningful engagement in these inclusive and sustainable systems.
Following a field expedition in India, Heather Koldewey, co-lead of the National Geographic Society’s Plastic Work and Sara Hylton, an award-winning photographer from National Geographic explain that people are unable to make the connection between dumping plastic into rivers and the impact on ocean pollution. Heather Koldewey stresses that while people do see plastic as an issue, it has become so ubiquitous that they can’t see any alternatives.
With regard to the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed says that while progress is slow, people are engaged, partnerships are being forged and young people are involved. She reminds us that most countries are committed to tackling global warming and that even where national governments are not, subnational governments and citizens continue to take action. Responding to climate change will be paramount as all the Sustainable Development Goals are intertwined and cannot be achieved individually.
What is the priority for Small Island developing states? According to Courtenay Rattray, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations, small islands face challenges in all of the Sustainable Development Goals. Low economic growth is leading to youth unemployment as well as brain drain. Congressman Jerry Tardieu adds that in order to create jobs for the youth, small islands need to think outside of the box and create partnerships. Maria-Francesca Spatolisano, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, addresses how some of the existing partnerships between these developing states and other countries can help small islands overcome their vulnerabilities.
The chief of Early Childhood Development at UNICEF, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, discusses the numerous benefits of investing in family-friendly policies and moving from maternal to parental needs. Laura Turquet, Manager of the World’s Women Progress Report from UN Women notes that while families can be a place for girls to strive; it can also be a place of sexism and discrimination. By investing in family-friendly policies, governments have the potential to reduce gender inequalities and drive progress on the SDGs.
Charles Chauvel from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reveals that the most important finding from the SDG 16+ Report is that the implementation of SDG 16 can only be achieved through a collective effort with the private and public sector, academia, civil society, and more. Similarly, Ana Carolina, 16×16 Youth Advocate, stresses the importance of putting youths at the centre of discussions on peace to gain a different understanding of the challenges and issues that people may face. The Counsellor of the Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations, Alan George, highlights how justice needs to be modernized to be more engaging and consistent.
Tolu Olubunmi from the UN Department of Global Communications unveils the partnership between the UN ActNow Climate Campaign and the Movie Angry Birds 2. Present on stage, Red the Angry Bird joins forces with one his archenemies, a green pig to stress the importance of collective action and behavioural change in the fight against climate change.