“The time for bold and audacious action has arrived” Deputy Secretary-General at the Global Gateway Forum

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s keynote remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the EU Global Gateway Forum, in Brussels today:

I wish to start by thanking President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Commission for the invitation to this Global Gateway forum.

We are not meeting in ordinary times.  The Secretary-General has said it:  “The world is unhinged.”  Old fault lines are becoming new theatres of war.  New conflicts are emerging and becoming more complex.

The human tragedy that unfolded in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory in recent days reminds us that the horrors of war take an unbearable toll on civilians, especially women and children, and affect countless innocent lives.

In Europe, the Russian Federation invasion of Ukraine has shown that no continent is spared.  In Afghanistan, the deprivation of women’s basic rights is causing immense suffering, depriving people of life-saving assistance and dimming hope for a bright future.

In many other places, efforts to ensure full participation of women in societies and economies are being challenged.  As we mark Women and Peace and Security week at the United Nations this week, we must always remember:  where wars rage, women suffer.

In several countries of Africa, we saw development setbacks in recent months with unconstitutional changes, where governance and the social contract have been broken.  Our common values and our shared determination to change this reality bring us together today.  The attacks on peace and human rights share similar root causes.

We need strengthened political leadership, with courage and ambition to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  The EU Global Gateway is an important solution to do just that.  The Gateway and its pillars recognize the scale and sense of urgency needed to address the root causes of conflict, structural development gaps and other vulnerabilities.

We all know it.  Sustainable, inclusive development — anchored in good governance, human rights and the rule of law — is the only way to achieve durable peace.  It is humanity’s main prevention tool.

Sadly, development has been systematically underresourced.  Inequalities within and between countries have been exacerbated.  We are now facing many interconnected crises — in finance and debt, food security, energy insecurity and the socioeconomic impacts of conflicts that came on top of those created by the pandemic.

The increasing cost of living is fuelling mistrust in democratic institutions and their capacity to deliver on the aspirations of all citizens.  Climate chaos is threatening the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement and inflaming security challenges and mistrust is poisoning global politics — weakening multilateral cooperation and our ability to respond.

Halfway to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we are only on track to meet 15 per cent of the goals globally.  We have gone into reverse on some of our most fundamental priorities, including the means of implementation.

At the SDG Summit, world leaders and the Secretary-General unveiled a clear development to-do list to achieve the SDGs in the second half.  First, a focus on key transitions ranging from digital, to food systems, to energy, through education, social protection and jobs, to climate and biodiversity.

These transitions can help accelerate and change the scale of implementation to achieve the SDGs.  They can change the game.  It will take much more emphasis on integrated policy advice, capacity-building and connecting bankable pipelines across these sectors.  The Global Gateway, with its links and synergies across digital, energy and transport — and anchored in sustainable development — can be transformative in this regard.

Second, we need to reinvigorate the means of implementation, in particular financing for development.  In the immediate term, we must transform support for the SDG Stimulus into tangible investment, with a target of at least $500 billion annually.  The Secretary-General will spearhead the formation of a dedicated leaders group to further this ambition.

We must also deal with the crippling debt that is limiting the fiscal space for too many countries as they seek to accelerate action on the SDGs.  In Africa, this is forcing many to spend more on debt-servicing than education and health. The Global Gateway can also offer solutions to these challenges, by making available resources for education and other social sector priorities.

More structurally, we must keep focused on a reform of the international financing architecture.  International financial institutions are no longer responsive to people and planet; nor to the challenges of today.  But, they can reform; there is leadership and momentum.  This is a key component of Our Common Agenda that will be at the centre of next year’s Summit of the Future in the UN.  It is an opportunity we must seize.

As we embark with urgency at the second half of the 2030 Agenda, all attention needs to be on action at the country level.  This is why Commissioner Urpilainen and I have been working hard to strengthen the European Union-UN cooperation partnership to maximize the impact of our joint efforts on the ground, meeting people where they reside.

This is also why on the margins of the SDG Summit in New York, we held a side event on the Global Gateway, with a focus on the digital dimension and the role that digital technology plays in accelerating progress towards achieving the SDGs.  At the right scale, the digital transformation and connectivity along with other key transitions can have multiplier effects across development challenges.

At this time of great need, we are ready to take the European Union-UN partnership to the next level through convening financing and partnerships; by ensuring coherent deployment of resources, aligned to national priorities; by working even closer with the World Bank and other international financial institutions; and by making full use of the leadership role and convening capacity of Team Europe and the reinvigorated resident coordinator system.

We can get it done.  There are already multiple examples of synergies where the European Union and UN teams have joined forces around some of the Global Gateway priority areas.  The European Union and the UN have worked hand in hand to support Governments in developing integrated national financing frameworks.

More than 85 countries are already using these frameworks to build a more sustainable financing architecture at the national level.  For instance, in Colombia, this has helped align over €60 billion of public spending with the SDGs and mobilize hundreds of millions in private finance through green bonds, an impact venture accelerator and other instruments.

There are opportunities to scale up such collaboration.  To identify and mobilize market-ready investment programmes that can be used as landing pads for our partnership, in support of country priorities.  To create joint investments for the transition to green economies.

We have only seven years to deliver on the promise of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.  The time for bold and audacious action has arrived.  The Global Gateway initiative provides us with an integrated approach that can help us take a leap for the SDGs.  It showcases how cooperation can bring us closer to a more sustainable, equitable, and prosperous world, as envisioned by the SDGs.  Let us work together to get there and to leave no one behind.  Thank you.