Sustainable Development Goals Must be Rescued, Put Back on Track for Future Generations, Secretary-General Tells Moment Event

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Sustainable Development Goals Moment Event, in New York today:

Let me begin by expressing my deep sadness on the recent loss of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, whose funeral took place today.  The world bids farewell to an extraordinary leader and her lifetime of service.  It is service and action for humanity that brings us together today.

We meet at a moment of great peril for our world.  Conflicts and climate catastrophe.  Mistrust and division.  Poverty, inequality and discrimination.  Rising costs of food and energy.  Unemployment and declining incomes.  Massive displacement and dislocation.  The ongoing effects of a global pandemic.  And a lack of access to finance for developing countries to recover — a crisis not seen in a generation.

Each peril is pushing the Sustainable Development Goals further out of reach.  And in the face of such perils, it is tempting to put our long-term development priorities to one side — to leave them for a sunny day.

But development cannot wait.  The education of our children cannot wait.  Dignified jobs cannot wait.  Full equality for women and girls cannot wait.  Comprehensive health care, meaningful climate action, biodiversity protection — these cannot be left for tomorrow.

Across all of these areas, young people — and future generations — are demanding action.  We cannot let them down.  This is a definitive moment.  All of you here today — and those tuning in from around the world — give me immense hope that we can put our hands on the wheel of progress and steer a new course.  That we can rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and get back on track to building the better world that leaves no one behind.

The world has a long “to do” list.  We need finance and investment from the public and private sectors.  We need a reformed financial architecture that benefits developing countries, providing critical financing and debt relief. This is the only sustainable pathway to address the obscene inequalities that exist in every country, while ensuring that the world doesn’t slide into a recession.

Governments need to invest like never before in the health, education and wellbeing of all people — including refugees and migrants.  We need expanded universal social protection to protect people against economic shocks, while boosting job-creation — especially in the digital, care and green economies.

The Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions is one critical opportunity to reach these goals.  We must all do more to lift up women and girls in every walk of life.  And we need to save our planet — which is quite literally on fire.

This means addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate breakdown, biodiversity loss and pollution.  It means supporting the Global Biodiversity Framework to transform how we use and preserve our natural gifts for the future.

And it means moving away from our suicidal dependence on fossil fuels and jump-starting the renewable energy transition in every country — and supporting developing countries as they make this shift and adapt to the changes around them.

Above all, there can be no sustainable future without peace.  By embracing peace and tolerance — and more importantly, by living these values every day — we can move one step closer to the sustainable, equal and just world that every person deserves.

The task before us is immense.  And young people are demanding action — not only for themselves, but for the generations of the future.  The perils we face are no match for a world united.  Let’s get to work.  Let’s get our world back on track.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.