SDG Moment set the stage for recovering better to Keep the Promise of the SDGs

Call for world leaders and everyone, everywhere to deliver a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future

NEW YORK, 21 SEPTEMBER 2020 – As the world tackles a myriad of challenges—the COVID-19 pandemic, the catastrophic impacts of climate change, increasing conflicts and widening inequalities — this year’s SDG Moment called for a profound and urgent shift to keep the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and secure a more sustainable, peaceful and inclusive world.

Convened by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the SDG Moment saw close to 30 world leaders shared their perspectives and plans for setting the world on course towards achieving the SDGs. They were joined virtually for the event by leaders from civil society, academia, the private sector and the UN development system who called for much greater urgency and demonstrated that solutions do exist to end the pandemic and pursue recovery strategies that will get the Goals back on track.

“Our world is challenged like never before-from climate change, to conflicts, to COVID-19-which are putting the Sustainable Development Goals further out of reach,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his opening remarks “It would be easy to lose hope. But we are not hopeless. Or helpless. We have a path to recovery. If we choose to take it.”

Held in advance of major meetings on food systems, climate, energy, jobs and social protection, the SDG Moment focused on building the momentum needed to Keep the Promise of the SDGs during this crucial decade of action and transformation.

The meeting saw a particularly strong focus on youth action and inter-generational leadership. A special contribution from global K-Pop sensation BTS attracted millions of viewers, opening the doors of the United Nations and the SDGs to a new audience.

The SDG Moment also called for a surge in action to meet the WHO COVID-19 vaccination targets, including 70% of the global population by mid-2022. It called for much greater international solidarity, particularly on issues of debt, liquidity and climate finance. The event called for an urgent rethink of national policies and recovery plans to ensure they both stimulate economies and accelerate the transitions required to achieve the SDGs.

The impact of COVID-19

The pandemic exposed underlying systemic fragilities and has threatened decades of development gains with the fallout from the pandemic expected to push 70 more million people into poverty. Violence against women has increased, economies have been decimated and inequalities within and between countries have worsened

A deeply uneven global response to the pandemic has greatly undermined the ability of developing countries to maximize progress on the SDGs. Vaccines were developed in record time, but just 2% of the total has been administered in Africa. Trillions of dollars have been mobilized to respond to the pandemic and drive economic recovery, but analysis shows that only a fraction of these resources have been available for developing countries and directed towards driving the green, social and digital transitions that are critical for SDG progress.

Why the SDGs Matter

The pandemic has made the achievement of the SDGs more necessary. At a time of great uncertainty, the SDGs – a unifying agenda for ending poverty, tackling the climate crisis and achieving gender equality – show the way forward for a strong recovery from COVID-19 and a better future for all on a safe and healthy planet.

To scale up action on the SDGs would require transformational change with regard to current policies, governance arrangements and economic systems. There is a need for equitable access to vaccine supply, expansive stimulus packages in key sectors and access to financing for developing countries.

About the SDG Moment

General Assembly resolution 74/4 calls on the Secretary-General to organise an annual moment in the context of the General Debate of the General Asembly to highlight inspiring SDG Action. The first SDG Moment took place in September 2020.

Where: On-demand on UN Web TV

More information is available:

Keeping the promise of the SDGs Digital Campaign of the SDG Moment

The UN has launched a digital campaign, Keeping the Promise which calls on people around the world to make a promise to take action for a better future for all. Users are asked to choose from 11 promises inspired by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – the world’s to-do list to protect our planet and all its people.

The Joint SDG Fund is also supporting this initiative. 

Social media


@UN @antonioguterres @aminajmohammed

Media Contacts

Francyne Harrigan, UN Department of Global Communications T: +1 917-209-6320 /


Sharon Birch, UN Department of Global Communications T: +1 212-963-0564 /