Deputy Secretary-General Urges Summit Consultations Bring Promise of Sustainable Development Goals ‘To the Fore’, Rekindle Ambition, Solidarity, Commitment

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the Sustainable Development Goals Summit consultations, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to address this second consultation on the Political Declaration of the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Summit.  It is deeply encouraging to see the level of engagement here today from ambassadors and delegates, from all regions and groups, and all stakeholders.

So far, the enthusiasm and positivity in this process is reminiscent of the atmosphere that delivered the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Agenda and the Paris Agreement [for climate change] in 2015.  This year’s SDG Summit must rekindle the clarity of purpose, ambition, solidarity and commitment that made those breakthroughs possible.

Member States are keenly aware of the challenges that our world has experienced since 2015.  You know that the SDGs are severely off track.  You know that they were off track even before the global pandemic hit.  But you also know that by embracing transformation and generating a surge in leadership and solidarity, we can still deliver on the vision and promise of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

As you gear up for intensive negotiations over the coming months, I urge you to keep that vision and promise of the SDGs to the fore.  The promise to eradicate poverty in all its forms.  The promise to transform our economies and societies in ways that will both dramatically reduce inequalities and decisively tackle the climate crisis and the war on nature.

For his part, the Secretary-General is fully committed to supporting Member States to adopt a forward-looking, ambitious, consensual and impactful political declaration.  And he has requested me to chair an internal SDG Summit Steering Committee to ensure that the United Nations system is fully mobilized to support the Summit’s broader preparations.

Allow me to share with you where we stand in our preparations to date.  On 24 April, we will release the special edition of the Secretary-General’s SDG progress report.  This year’s SDG progress report will build on the scientific foundation provided by the Global Sustainable Development Report, which will be released later this month.

The progress report will go one step further by zooming in on two key areas. First, it will provide you with the latest update on the state of SDG progress.  Here, regrettably, there are likely to be few surprises.  Looking at progress from 2015 to 2022, the data will show that our promises remain in peril. 

It will highlight which areas are furthest behind and where we have seen strong progress.  While there remain challenges regarding data availability and timeliness, progress has been made in the past seven years, and to fill gaps, we will employ now-casting on some key indicators.  As you know, global figures can often mask regional and country realities.  Shortly after the SDG progress report’s release, we will update all online SDG country profiles and ensure these are brought to your attention.

In addition, I have requested the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other United Nations entities to look more closely at a select number of countries in every region.  The aim is to illustrate better the trends in specific contexts since 2015 and the potential for progress by 2030 if specific policy measures and investments are made.

The second component of the SDG progress report will include an analysis of what is needed to get the SDGs back on track.  It will be centred on profiles of resilience that demonstrate humanity’s capacity to overcome adversity.  And it will include concrete and ambitious recommendations for your consideration.

First, recommendations to make governance systems fit to drive transformation — such as on integrated policymaking, public sector capacities, data systems and the power of an all-of-society approach.

Second, recommendations regarding policy interventions that have clear multiplier effect across the goals will be highlighted — within key transitions such as energy, digitalization, food and social development.

And finally, recommendations to secure a more enabling global environment for SDG acceleration.  Here we will look at issues of trade, science and technology, governance of global public goods and of course finance.

The Secretary-General continues to urge Governments, especially the G20 [Group of 20], to deliver an SDG stimulus plan in advance of the Summit and to usher in a broader, deeper reform of the international financial architecture.  He believes a strong commitment in the political declaration on both of these proposals is essential.

I have also discussed with the President of the General Assembly a number of other ways by which the United Nations system can fully support the Summit.  Allow me to take this opportunity to update you on three of these.

First, in the coming weeks, the Secretary-General will write to world leaders encouraging them to announce a national commitment at scale to SDG transformation at the Summit and to actively engage with civil society, youth and other stakeholders in advance of the Summit.  We believe such actions are a critical complement to the collective will as expressed in the political declaration.  Our resident coordinators and country teams will be fully activated behind this.

Second, we are looking to informally mobilize Member States, business and other actors behind a series of high-impact initiatives that can unlock transformative change on the ground in the years ahead.  Here we will seek to generate support for ongoing national efforts to advance the major transitions needed to achieve the goals — whether on energy, digital, food, education or social protection.

We will also look to support progress on cross-cutting issues such as gender equality; on levers of change such as finance and governance; and on to boost progress emerging from major convenings this year.  The United Nations system has already put forward proposals in this regard and we look forward to discussing a shortlist of these in further detail with you in the coming weeks.

Third, plans are afoot to ensure that the SDG Summit process embodies the all-of-society approach required to achieve the goals.  In addition to participation in the intergovernmental process and mobilization at the country level, the United Nations system is seeking to secure ambitious and verifiable commitments at the Summit from business and local authorities.

We are also preparing a cohesive integrated stakeholder engagement plan around the Summit.  And we are advancing actions aimed at maximizing communication, as well as public and media engagement around the Summit.  The Secretary-General has stated clearly that the SDG Summit is the centrepiece of the United Nations system’s work this year.  And we are committed to building connections and momentum across other major convenings and processes.

Follow-up on Our Common Agenda, for example, including the ongoing policy briefs series, are leveraging lessons from SDG implementation efforts and are squarely aimed at turbocharging SDG implementation.  We must also build step by step on the regional fora for sustainable development, the recently concluded conference on least developed countries, the United Nations Water Conference, the high-level meeting on disaster risk reduction and more.

The same applies in September when we must treat the convenings on Financing for Development, on climate, on health and on the Summit of the Future and indeed the general debate itself as opportunities to lift the ambition, strengthen momentum and make 2023 a genuine turning point for the SDGs.

As the President of the General Assembly said earlier today, we must ensure that the SDG Summit results in quantum lead in our implementation efforts.  We must pursue this change with the vigour and determination that our current situation demands.

The Secretary-General and I, Under-Secretary-General Li [Junhua] and his team, and the entire United Nations system including our resident coordinators and a new generation of United Nations country teams look forward to fully supporting you and to engaging with you on a regular basis in the coming months.  I urge you to think big and to aim high.  And I wish you all — particularly our two dear co-facilitators — the very best in this crucial endeavour.

For information media. Not an official record.