The UN Secretary-General and the President of the 77TH General Assembly joined world leaders and Goodwill Ambassadors on Monday in a global call to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and get back on track to building a better world that “leaves no one behind”.
The 2022 SDG Moment, which places an annual spotlight on the 17 Global Goals agreed by countries in December 2015, took place as the world faces a deepening cost-of-living crisis against the backdrop of the Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic, which have halted development, especially in low-income countries.
“The world has a long ‘to do’ list”, António Guterres told world leaders, asking for more finance and investment from the public and private sectors, to meet growing needs.
A moment of great peril
Acknowledging the current “moment of great peril” for our world – characterized by conflicts, climate catastrophe, division, unemployment, massive displacement and other challenges – Mr. Guterres said that although “it was tempting” to put long-term priorities to the side, development could not wait.
“The education of our children cannot wait. Dignified jobs cannot wait. Full equality for women and girls cannot wait. Comprehensive healthcare, meaningful climate action, biodiversity protection – these cannot be left for tomorrow”, he underscored, highlighting that across all these areas, young people and future generations are demanding action.
“We cannot let them down. This is a definitive moment… The perils we face are no match for a world united…Let’s get our world back on track”, the UN chief urged world leaders.
Solutions are at hand
The President of the General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, echoed Mr. Guterres’s words, and said that it was timely and more necessary than ever to “re-dedicate ourselves to the SDGs” as the world falls behind.
“The pandemic was a postcard from the future, a bleak future of interlocking global crises. One that we want to avoid and that we can avoid. We must now regain the speed lost to the pandemic and to our inaction. Solutions are at hand”, he said.
Mr. Kőrösi added that it is time to “get serious” about saving the world, with all pleasant and unpleasant consequences that this entails, and asked UN Member States to deliver on promises made.
A call to children
Holding a placard of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at the podium, Prime Minister of Barbados and UN Environment Champion of the Earth, Mia Motley, reminded the General Assembly what each of the SDGs meant, from ending poverty and achieving gender equality, to protecting our planet.
“A world that is driven by a climate crisis cannot provide a sustainable future for us. Are we so arrogant to believe that there will be no failed societies and no extinct species, as history shows us otherwise?”, she asked world leaders.
She urged the children of the world to “lead a revolution” in changing our habits to end plastic pollution and waste, and “hold the leaders’ feet to the fire” to make the world a better place to live in.